Hilton (Heljan) Grand Hotel Mostly Complete

With some minor detailing and touch-ups, I was able to finish my Heljan Grand Hotel kit(s).   I was fortunate to get one, but a trade with a friend scored me a second one allowing me to double it up to get some more 'city height'!  And its quite tall!  My tallest building yet! Yikes! When will it stop!

I didn't make any major changes to the kit, but a lot of smaller things were done to it, or added to it.

As is always a good idea, even if you like the color it comes in, I repainted the entire building.  This includes a coat of black paint on the interior walls to impede translucency, and a light grey-ish color for the building exterior work (Model Masters Camouflage Grey), and a buff tan and metallic bronze for the windows and window frames (both of the later from conventional hardware store spray paints).

I liked the kit's exterior elevator with the glass walls detail, but felt like a second elevator was necessary (and yet, on my 20 story Aoshima apartment building, its all stairs! Go figure!), so I created my own 'glass' elevator shaft by painting the back wall for the shaft a dark grey (with some wires and other random strips of material to simulate the inner workings of an elevator) and using the metallic bronze paint on a strip of clear acrylic for the window trim on the glass face.

I also added an elevator, with an SMD LED in the elevator roof, to the left-hand elevator 'shaft'.  I think this is my favorite feature.

At the top of this new elevator shaft is a backlit "Hilton" logo.  This was fairly simple; used my ink jet printer on some decent paper (e.g. somewhat thin paper for photo printing), sandwiched between the same logo printed on my ink jet on transparency sheets to create the sign, and then backlit with three LED's.

On the rooftop, 3 Miniatronics flashing red LED's were added, with the center one sitting on a Plastruct girder-created 'antenna' tower.

On the ground floor, I wanted to do something to make the entrance less tall (and loose as much of the remaining legacy of HO this kit may have) so I added a backlit sign for the "Hilton Grand Hotel" using the same method as described above.
The windows received three different treatments: Thin black styrene sheets; masking tape, or packaging tape.  Each in turn gives the effects of dark, occupied and shades drawn.

Lighting the interior was the easiest part.  I used a flexible strip of 30 SMD LED's from trainaidsa called the FX 12 Volt Flexible Lighitng strip.

This was simply wrapped around a piece of styrene (actually, sintra) that goes up the interior of the building and was soldered to the leads for the other LED arrays in the building.  Wallah! The lights are on, but still nobodies home!
I was too impatient to set up the tripod for some 'night photography' but of the dozen or so I hastily shot, the below shows how it looks at night with some of the other structures:
As I mentioned at the top, still need to attach a few more details (e.g. the ground floor is empty and needs some detail, some sanding and touch up is also required of paint that got damaged, etc...).


  1. Ok, so I think you've managed to convince us all that your awesomeness is complete. I can't believe how quickly your churn out these really great structures! And the lighting is amazing despite the simplicity of it all. You wanna come help me finish up my one tiny strip-mall?

  2. :-) Thanks Don! I wish they went faster...in truth, I usually spend entire Saturdays plugging away at these things. I guess, all told, this building took 3 or 4 Saturday's and a few Sundays...call it 24-36 hours per building! Not sure I have my priorities right however! :-) I'm actually trying to get my major structures done as quickly as possible (2 more to go) so I can finally position the city and wire up the buildings and get back to running trains again!

    Thanks again for your kind words!

  3. Jerry, This is outstanding. I love it. I love the night scenes too. Damn I need to figure out this lighting thing. I agree with you on the time it takes to do some of these buildings. I've got one building now that has taken me too about 80 hours and it's not done yet. And I've not even thought about lights yet. Grrrr.

    Great job... oh and the time it takes...it's all worth it in the end.

    Looking great!!!


  4. Hi. Just discovered your blog - and like it. (still reading the old posts)

    I noticed you mentioned you were having problems with coach flicker in an earlier post - there is a solution:

    You are using DCC so your track supply is high freqency AC - first take the wires that come from the wheels (pickups) and connect these to a '40V rectifier' (try google shop - should be less than £1)

    Next connect the output of the rectifier (DC) to your coach lights.

    But also connect a capacitor in parallel across the output of the rectifier - this acts as an energy storage device. (again google shop for 40V capacitor less than £1) - you'll need to experiment with the size (microFarads) of the capacitor - the bigger the number the more the electricity storage.

    If you buy the capacitors and rectifiers in bulk they are very cheap (less than postage).

    If the lighting uses light-emitting-diodes then you have to get the connections the right way round.

    Asking on you favourite forum/shop/model club should get you more info - this is a method that is well known - it definately works.

    There are some products that simplify the work



    (no personal association with these sites)

    If you find you need a too big capacitor - you can use multiple small ones in parallel and hide them under the seats/coach frame/bogies

    It's diy stuff - but you can solder and its about as simple as you can get.

    There's a similar energy storage tech that might be useful for your erratic KoF III - http://www.tonystrains.com/technews/lz-powermod-rev.htm

    it too uses a capacitor to store energy - lenz make it - but probably other manufacturers might do the same - fitting it in the small engine might be impossible - some people permantently couple a small wagon to the shunter to hide the electronics (the connecting wires can be disguised as vacuum brake cables)

    Best wishes.

  5. Thanks-as always-Bob!

    SF5Xe+ - Thanks for the really informative post! Since I haven't run any trains for about 6 months, this issue hasn't bothered me lately, and I've known there is a solution (all I knew was that it something 'using capacitors'!) so I really appreciate the detailed explanation and resources you've provided! Once I get past the 'urban' phase of my layout I can begin to pay more attention to my loco's again...and I expect I will be trying this method out! Thanks so much!

  6. FWIW, the Kato lighting kits have a built-in rectifier (else they would light in only one direction of travel!) so adding a second rectifier gets you nothing.

  7. Now you mention it - yes - leds - so just a capacitor between the electronic bit and the lights - one thing to watch for is if you have many many coaches.. on switching on the dcc for the first time charging the caps takes a little power surge - can be enough to trip overload protection (depending on the type installed). Probably wont happen..

    The other thing is (as probably a 1000 other people have told you) is to adjust/clean the electric pickups on the wheels - in N scale everything is easier said than done though..