Friday, June 30, 2017


As my railroad “seasons in” (roadbed and track acclimate to my basement), I finally have cleared enough of the “critical” projects to begin working on the railroad scene.  First up is some “urban renewal” in Eugene.  From very early on in the construction process, I have had structure kit walls taped together and propped up in appropriate locations for the downtown rail customers at Eugene.  I have begun assembling those buildings into their permanent form.

The first building tackled was the Rubenstein’s Furniture store, just down from my Eugene Depot.  I began with a Walthers Hardwood Furniture kit, 933-3044.  Walthers Cornerstone structures often reflect Walthers’ Milwaukee, Wisconsin, location.  Their structures tend to reflect larger structures in older, more established cities.  My needs are more modest.  Although Portland has similar structures, most of Oregon was built in the Twentieth Century and to more modest scale.  Even for Eugene, Oregon’s second largest city, most structures were no more than three stories high.  I needed to cut down the Walthers kit from four to three stories.  I also wanted to lengthen the building, as Rubenstein’s was a major Eugene retailer—longer, not higher.  Fortunately, the column and panel architecture of the Walthers kit lent itself to cutting and splicing. 

Walthers Hardwood Furniture kit cut apart for removing one story and lengthening.

My Rubenstein’s Furniture occupies a niche corner formed by a basement wall and the backdrop spine behind Eugene.  Indeed, the large structure is intended to mitigate the visual impact of the wall corner and termination of the backdrop.  This location means none of the rear wall is visible.  I could use both long walls of the kit to form the front (visible) wall while blanking the back and rear side wall.  I used the second side wall as part of the back wall, as just a bit of daylight shows through the corner windows.

I used large sheets of Evergreen styrene to create walls and floors.  I also needed to extend the roof.  I removed the kit’s center entrance panel, intended as the main public entrance in the kit.  That still provided four window panels to add to the five panels from the other long wall of the kit.  Floor support strips provided wall stiffeners.  I chose to add floors to my structure for the visual effect.  This structure has very large windows, so various forms of view block are appropriate.  I chose the floors to provide both view blocks and building strength and alignment.

Assembly involved fitting the pieces back together and generally following Walthers intended assembly.  I installed one intermediate floor as I built the structure to provide some strength as I handled the structure for painting and window and door installation.  With windows installed, I installed the remaining floors and the blind end wall.  The roof was added and then its details.

A significant new material greatly assisted me through construction.  Noted Southern Pacific historian and modeler Tony Thompson has been singing the praises of canopy glue for some time.  Tony uses it to attach painted surfaces and dissimilar materials.  This was my first opportunity to give it a try.  I am very satisfied.  I used Pacer Industries Formula 560 glue.  This has the appearance of white glue but is much better with adhesive properties on non-porous materials such as the kit styrene.  As the name implies, it is marketed to the scale model airplane market for attaching canopies to fuselages.  It seems to be much tougher than an earlier, similar material, Microscale KrystalKlear.  It certainly holds large painted structure pieces together well. 

As I completed assembling my structure, I found I needed to raise the foundation to the same level as the track roadbed for the spur leading into the building.  A bit more cork roadbed was glued down so plate C boxcars can enter. 

Furniture structure foundation.

Though major assembly is complete, I still have a bit of detail to work on, notably the water tower.  I partially assembled the tower and gave it a generic paint job, pending a decision about signs and color or weathering scheme on this device.  I also will need to weather the building and settle it into its scene, but that awaits a more general project on the roads and ground treatments in the depot area.  For now, I literally have a cornerstone of my Eugene downtown scene.

Rubenstein’s Furniture with major assembly complete.

While I awaited glue setting on the furniture store, I tackled another building in the Eugene depot scene—Pierce Freight.  Pierce Freight was a freight forwarder, still active into the 1950’s and 60’s.  It still showed on the Southern Pacific SPINS diagram for downtown Eugene in 1977.  I chose another Walthers Cornerstone kit for my rendition of Pierce Freight—the REA Transfer Building, kit 933-3095.  This kit already fit my three-story high goal, but it needed to be longer.  It also occupies a sliver of space between its track spur and the backdrop.  I needed to both lengthen the kit and cut down its depth.  Once again, I created a blank back wall and used the former second long wall to lengthen the structure.  I chose to add two bays to the standard four bays. 

Construction was very similar to the furniture store.  The kit walls were cut and spliced as needed.  The end walls were cut to the desired depth and the roof cut to that depth. Once again, I needed to extend the roof, easily accomplished with more styrene sheet.  The original kit has skylights that would be split in the aft sections, but not at the halfway point.  The extended roof could not use the trimmed skylight pieces.  Instead, I added part of an elevator housing and a air conditioning unit on the new blank roof extension.

Freight transfer building wall sections prepared for splicing.

Rough-assembled freight transfer building

Rear view of rough-assembled freight transfer building showing floors and extended and trimmed roof.

I chose to paint this brick structure white, as that is what the one photo I have showing a piece of the building indicates.  I used Rustoleum rattle spray cans for painting both structures.  They have quite a selection of paints, likely close chemical cousins to the old Floquil line of hobby paint—owned by the same corporation.

Pierce Freight in place with major construction complete.

I am happy finally to add substance to my Eugene scene.  I will continue to flesh out the structures here and elsewhere around the layout.

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