I felt like sitting on the deck and working on a model yesterday – and as a result, I’ve made a good start on the section house for Port Rowan. As the above photo shows, the four walls and two roof panels have been assembled and painted/stained, the chimney has been installed, and windows have been cut and framed.
I have very little information about this structure – it appears in a couple of prototype photos, but often in the background. There is one decent photo of the track side face – a black and white picture taken from the elevated coal track, looking towards the yard throat and a CNR 10-wheeler on the turntable lead. Most of the track side face of the section house appears in the left foreground of that picture:
(Click on the image to find out more about the question of rooflines)
This photo was invaluable – showing that the section house had board and batten siding, plus the general arrangement of doors and other details – including the use of what appear to be planks instead of rails for the hand cars. Naturally, this is the side that nobody will see, since it faces towards the backdrop, but I’ve decorated the face appropriately – even including the horseshoe over the doors, which I created by curling a piece of wire then flattening the wire by squeezing it with pliers:
I used a similar technique to create the door handle.
Another prototype photo – of a crew turning a locomotive on the turntable – shows the west side of the structure, including the window. The good news is that photo is in colour, so I’m confident of the red siding and black roof.
The colour photo shows tarpaper on the roof, although the black and white photo shows shingles. I decided to go with the tarpaper because I like the look. The colour photo also shows details like the brick chimney (on the model, a resin casting from Model Tech Studios that I piked up at a train show). And it shows that the wall everybody will see – the end wall facing the fascia – is blank:
Working from the measurements determined through the building of many, many mockups, I cut four wall sections out of .010″ thick black styrene sheet. I then laminated individually-stained boards onto these pieces, topped by individual battens. The black styrene prevents white from showing through any gaps between boards. Since .010″ sheet is too thin to be structural, the finished walls were then edged with .060″ x .060″ styrene strip, and laminated to sections of .060″ standard (white) styrene sheet cut to fit inside this frame.
With four walls completed, I assembled the structure, adding two roof panels cut from .060″ thick styrene sheet. I drilled and squared a hole for the chimney, added tarpaper roofing material cut from masking tape, and painted the roof. I then fit the chimney – which I had previously painted – and added more masking tape as flashing.
While I made good progress, there’s still much to do – from adding glass to the windows, to building the set offs (two of them) for hand cars, to adding the clutter and building the hand cars. I have S scale white metal kits from Wiseman Model Services for hand car and a trailer (like the one seen in the prototype photo). And, of course, I’ll have to build the adjacent oil shed. I’ll mount both structures on a small base and work it into the scene with ground cover, etc.
The scene is coming together nicely and it’s great to have a section of the layout – even a small section like this – that’s so close to looking finished. While there are always details to add, it’s satisfying to get rid of most of the mockups in the Port Rowan yard – just the oil shed to do:
The lesson of modelling what you see – not what you think you see
This is a trap into which I sometimes fall – particularly when I’m enjoying working on a project and I’m keen to finish. In the interests of describing this project – warts and all – I must confess that I goofed royally when starting this structure.
I started with the track side wall for the section house. As I was beavering away on this, I worked from my prototype photo but at some point I simply assumed the paired doors were centred under the peak. Obviously, they aren’t – the prototype photo clearly shows that. But that’s how I built them – as this (unfortunately fuzzy) image illustrates:
What to do? My first thought was to scrap the side and start over, but I’d put a lot of work into the doors and I was pleased with how they turned out. Fortunately, this side faces away from the viewer, so it’ll only ever be seen at a shallow angle – for example, if I take a photo looking along the yard tracks. So, I decided I might be able to salvage the wall – and if not, I could rebuild.
It’s not a perfect fix – the butt joints in the boards are visible – but it saved me having to start from scratch and given that this side won’t be easily seen on the layout, I can live with it. If this wall was to face the aisle, I would’ve started over.
Lesson learned? Probably not. But maybe someone else will learn from my mistake…