Sunday, January 11, 2015

Building Ballantine's Beer Distributor, Part 1

As the Valley Local heads south into Wethersfield, the first industry it encounters is the Ballantine's Beer Distributor.  Click here for an introduction to this industry on my layout, and click here for all the posts I've done about it so far (you can also click "Ballantine" on the Topics list).

I don't know of ANY photos of this building before it was demolished, and have only a sketch John Wallace did from memory:

And, thanks to Bill Shanaman, I also have a photo of one wall as it was being demolished:

Given these bits of information, I finally decided to use Walther's Grocery Warehouse (aka Miranda's Bananas) as a starting point. Here it is as it comes:

Actually, this photo shows it much more finished and painted nicely. It doesn't look like this right out of the box.
Strangely, the Walthers photo shows the truck loading dock side of the building (which will face the backdrop on my layout, but the track side is similar). If you imagine this building without the office on the roof, and red brick instead of stucco, and squint a bit while comparing to the sketch and prototype photo, you may agree it's a pretty good start. So let's get going!

First, I had to decide on colors and paint:
  • Brick would be red (Floquil Southern Freight Car Red)
  • Concrete would be Floquil Foundation
  • Windows/Doors - rattlecan gray
  • Roofs - PollyS Grimy Black
  • Base - rattlecan brown 
After painting the lower walls, but before painting the brick, I used a straight edge and X-Acto to remove the office "appendage" from the trackside wall.

Then I had to mask to paint the brick.

This was my First Ever masking job, so I did some research and many folks recommended Tamiya tape. I took my time lining things up, and it worked VERY well. I just used the (relatively) expensive Tamiya right where the paint separation would be - for any additional masking I just used regular inexpensive masking tape.

I was REALLY pleased with the results of the masking! No bleed or anything. Here I am just painting the concrete sills by hand.
I discovered very quickly that even an easy-to-build kit will take a LONG time if you do it right - and by "right" I mean painting and preparing the parts as much as possible before assembly. Sure, if I'd just put this structure together - believing "all parts molded in appropriate colors" - it'd just look like a plastic building. Investing extra time and effort before assembly makes a huge difference.

Next up - brick mortar lines:

In a previous post I asked for advice on how to do the brick mortar lines - and I really appreciate everybody who weighed in both in the comments and by email. As you can see above, I tried a number of techniques (using - primarily - the "extra" office walls for practice), but finally settled on a wash of PollyS MILW Gray, thinned 5:1. Of course, after I did this John mentioned that Ballantine's likely would have painted its brick walls red - including mortar - to comply with Wethersfield historical sensibilities(!)

But I'm pretty happy with how my gray wash worked and will likely use it in the future. (translation: I'm not undoing these cool mortar lines).
Like most of you, I do my hobby in fits and starts - all too often life hijacks modeling plans. So it was a while before I was able to get back to this project after the mortar lines were done. But, thankfully, today all the parts FINALLY got on the workbench for assembly ...
FINALLY starting construction!

I painted all the small parts on their sprues for easy handling, but to save construction time, I used my sprue nippers (which I highly recommend, btw) to remove them all and divide them up in separate compartments.

I wanted to remove the wall caps but they're similar enough I didn't want to confuse them - so I labeled them with a sharpie.
Windows & doors go in first. I used Tenax most of the time - applied with a microbrush - but used the thicker glue (in the needlepoint applicator) for the loading doors (the microbrush had a hard time getting to the joint)

Next is glass, applied with canopy glue- works like Elmer's white glue, dries totally clear.

While waiting for the windows to dry (recommended handling time is 3 hrs) I decided to assemble whatever else I could. Here's the sign. Clamp parts in place, then flow Tenax along the joints.

Although I didn't need the "roof-top office" I figured it might make a nice building in its own right - and I didn't need the spare parts for anything else - so I set it up in my gluing jig and, again, flowed Tenax along the joints. Here it is upside-down with the roof being attached.

FINALLY! Walls are going up!
From this point on, things go pretty quickly. Just be careful you make tight corners (make sure at least one of the gluing surfaces are paint-free and that all gluing surfaces are free of burrs). The kit comes with a base that helps line things up. Since I knew what side would face the backdrop, I planned to put that wall on last. That way any fudge-factor would be hidden from view. In between allowing joints/corners to dry, I added the roof-top vents and put together the chimney (note to self: paint vents gray/silver in the future).

Next up - finishing the walls, and adding the roof and loading docks, I'm not sure yet how I want to go about adding the loading dock roofs (they're at an angle and can't be clamped in place), and I discovered that removing that roof-top office wall may require some finessing (there's a gap in the wall top covers where it used to be).

But all in good time. Once the painting & wall prep was done, things went more quickly - but it still took me part of an afternoon & evening to get to this point. I'm really glad how it's turning out though. Hopefully I'll have it ready to go on the layout by next weekend - provided life doesn't get too much in the way...

Wintertime is the best time for modeling - so I hope you're able to get to your workbench too!

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