Review by George Riley/photos by the author
There was a time in the not-too-distant past where ramshackle freight depots and warehouses crowded the right-of-way of railroads both large and small. They provided revenue for the lines both as a loading point and destination for products of all kinds. These structures featured large loading doors at the height of railcars, trucks, or wagons. A covered loading platform protecting workers and lading from the weather usually faced the track side, as freight cars could be parked for days as they are loaded or unloaded. Either owned independently by a manufacturer or forwarder, or by the railroad itself, these structures added rich texture to their era. Sadly, time and progress have gradually taken a toll on these structures, particularly the wooden ones, that by decay or accidental fire, have ceased to exist.
Banta Model Works offers a laser-cut and stripwood kit to build an example of one of these once common structures in F scale (1:20.3). While this model represents a smaller specimen of the genre, with a footprint that measures 20” long by 14” wide and a height of 12”. the completed model has a definite presence.
The model is built on a core of laser-cut MDF over which individual pre-cut stripwood planks are applied. This provides that “scratchbuilt” look over a solid structure. While all of the key components are laser-cut, including all of the windows, doors, rafters and roof vents, some strip wood trim does need to be cut by the builder. However, these parts are easily trimmed to size adding to the home spun appearance of the model.
Following a very complete set of instructions, which includes several sheets identifying the individual pieces, assembly is very straight forward. While not required, all of the core parts were sealed with sanding sealer prior to assembly and the other parts were either stained or pre-painted. The color scheme and level of weathering is up to the builder’s individual taste. The review model was finished using commercial spray paints and wood stains that are available at any home improvement or hardware retail outlet.
Prior to painting and staining, each overlay piece was distressed to accentuate the wood grain with an old reciprocating saw blade. This technique has the blade laid perpendicularly to the part and drawn along the grain. On large scale models this additional step really stands out and adds to its realism. The individual boards for the front, rear and lower end walls are pre-sized making their installation quick and easy.
Some trimming is required around the door and window openings and the peaks of the end gables, which while not difficult, takes a bit of care and patience. The front-loading dock is similarly planked. The laser-cut windows easily fit into the walls while the doors may need to be slightly sanded along their edges for a proper fit. The freight doors are separate and can be added in either the open or closed position.
Tissue paper is supplied to replicate the rolled roofing commonly used to this type of building. The modeler is required to cut the roofing material into roughly 2 3/8” or four scale feet wide strips. These are applied to the roof either with spray adhesive as recommended by the manufacturer or with thinned white glue. Once placed and dry, the roof can then be painted using the builder’s choice of colors. Colors commonly used for rolled roofs on buildings of this era are black, gray, oxide red or green.
When assembly was complete except for adding window glazing, the model was given an overall coat of clear matte spray finish to seal the model. However, even with sealing, this and similar laser-cut structures are not in any way weatherproof and should only be displayed outdoors when there is no chance of precipitation. The final step involved adding the clear glazing to the windows. This was accomplished using Aleene’s Tacky glue; a polyvinyl acetate (PVA) adhesive which dries clear.
The model is surprisingly easy and fun to assemble despite its rather imposing size. The end result is a substantial scale structure that features individual board by board construction. The kit is very well designed for ease of construction and features quality wood and MDF components, precisely laser-cut. Discounting the time needed for the paint, stain, and glue to dry, the model can be finished in two or three evenings using only a hobby knife and sandpaper.
Banta Model Works
421 Hopkins Road
Dummerston, Vermont 05301