Thursday, February 20, 2020

"Eastern-izing" an "Old West" Building

I'm certainly no expert when it comes to architecture west of the Mississippi, but when you imagine an "Old West" town, what kind of buildings come to mind? Saloons? Assayer's offices? General stores? What do they all usually have in common?

False fronts.

Well, waaaaay back when I first started modeling the Wethersfield Lumber Co., I decided that Walthers' Walton & Sons Lumber kit would make a fine stand-in until I came across photos of the prototype.

Unfortunately, only the main shed was suitable based on the the one obscure prototype photo I was able to find:

The office building included with the kit, was decidedly - well - "western" looking:

No problem - my original orientation of the shed didn't allow any room for the office building (which was located on the west side of the shed - which would be between the shed and backdrop on my layout). But now that I've moved the siding, I have room for the office.

Well now.

After going through my stash of structure kits looking for something suitable, and not wanting to bother to scratchbuild since I haven't ANY idea what the prototype looked like, I gave the Walton Lumber Co. office a second look.

Hmmm...... if I "un-western-ized" it, it might just fit the bill - especially since it's at the back of the scene next to the backdrop. So I decided to tackle it, and build some new skills along the way.

Here's the problematic wall as it comes.

First step was to razor saw off the top part, using the overhang as a guide for cutting.

And here's the result. I considered just moving the cutoff piece down to splice, but realized pretty quickly that wouldn't work.

So I got a piece of .020 x .188" strip styrene (Evergreen #128) and, after marking it for cutting to fit, chopped it with my NWSL Chopper.

I ended up cutting it just a little bit long - but it's always best to cut long and sand to fit than vice versa. So that's what I did here, using my NWSL True Sander.

Here it is, ready for cementing in place with Scalecoat Probond liquid cement, applied with a microbrush.

Once in place and the glue set (which only took a minute or so), I used different grades of sanding stick to smooth out the joints and blend everything in.

Next, I tackled the overhang. At first, I considered splicing a piece in there, but it was hard to match the dimensions with what I had on-hand. And I figured a splice on the overhang would be especially difficult to do well and/or hide. So out came the snippers and off came the overhangs.

I just used the snips to remove most of the overhang. I took off the rest with a chisel from Micro-Mark and sanded smooth.

To replicate the overhang (or at least come very close), I used a strip of .030 x .100" styrene (Evergreen #135). I cut it roughly to length then used the end of a square to make sure the strip would be perfectly perpendicular to the wall. I tack glued it with the Probond, let that set, then applied more solvent to the rest of the joint.

Then all I had to do was use a razor blade to chop off the ends flush with the wall.
 Here's where I started:

And here's where I ended up:

The stock kit wasn't really suitable for my locale, but by doing this simple modification I can put it to work on my layout. Plus, I developed some new splicing/patching skills along the way. Not bad for an evening's work! 


  1. Hi Chris:
    Now I know the heritage of that little office. I purchased the office already built but I think it was the N scale version that is now a tiny HO scale TV service shop. You have done a great job changing the looks of the front wall. Cheers...George Dutka

    1. Thanks George! Really appreciate your following the blog and especially your taking the time to leave a comment. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I got one of those building in N scale. Now I have a great idea for it, because of you. Thanks!

  3. Aah! If only i'd read this a couple of years ago...Nice work!

    1. Better late than never? Hope find this tip useful for a future build!