A New Station

I've long admired these relatively simple, yet classic, French railway stations.  I picked up a kit on my trip to Paris at Transmondia and was able to steal some time this summer to get it done.  The model is from a French specialist company called ARA productions, and its a model of a PLM (Paris-Lyon Mediterranean) prototype.  Its a combination of molded plastic and laser cut for the details.

My construction method for any kit isn't particularly fancy or special.  I have started to do some basic best practices as with any kit.  For example, washing the plastic parts, filing edges to ensure they are square, etc...   One unusual bit of preparation I had to do with the kit was to flatten out the warped one-piece plastic roof section.  To do this I placed the roof section on a block of wood, covered it with a piece of aluminum foil, and then lightly pressed down on the roof under the foil with a clothes iron on low heat.  I was fortunate that this measure worked to take the warp out of the roof!

As I'll be adding interior lighting, its essential to give the insides of the building a dark undercoat (I used a black primer) and then another coat of a more neutral (and appropriate) color for the interior walls. This prevents any light from seeping through the plastic.
I also paint all of the walls and detail pieces separately before construction.  I find this makes painting and detailing a lot easier, although it does become harder to cover up extra glue blobs after construction as it'll require paint touch ups!  I'm not sure if the colors I used are prototypical, they are however the same as what I saw another modeller do with a similar structure in a French model railroad magazine (actually, my wife noticed the buildings in the photos and asked why I don't have any 'cute' buildings like this! So it had to be yellow and green with white trim after that!).
I didn't take any photos of the assembly process, but it was pretty straight-forward (in fact, the instructions were all in French and the illustrations were pretty vague, so it was a little bit of a puzzle!).   I added several SMD LED's....two under the passenger canopy, two at the front door as entrance lights, and I replaced the bulb and shortened the staff on an older Viessmann light for the side of the building.
Above and below you see more or less 'finished' shots of the assembled station wired up with lighting.   I'm quite pleased with the look as it fits this area of the layout quite well (yes, no skyscrapers or urban sprawl on this end of the layout!) and makes for a nice 'rural scene'.
Adding this station into this long neglected section of the layout has also 'forced' me to reckon with the lack of scenery, which I've also been getting a bit done during the busy summer days!  More on that in a future post!

As always, thanks for reading!


Buildings from the UK

One of my discoveries on my trip to Gaugemaster in the UK last Fall was the line of various buildings and accessories produced in that market.  Despite the 1:148 scale of N Gauge in the UK, I can't find any discernible issues with using these buildings along with normal 1:160 (the reality is, the degree of accuracy of scale seems to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, from model to model, and depending on the time period).

So here's a quick post of a few neat little buildings I picked up.

 The Hornby Corner Terrace Pub.  Can always use a pub, right?
 Hornby Modern Petrol Station:
Graham Farish "Low Relief Factory"(behind the Petrol Station there!):
And this two-story office building from Graham Farish:
The interesting thing about these buildings (which all come in the 'finished state' you see above) is that they are made out of some ceramic type of material.  I'd think it makes it impossible to kit bash these structures, but it does also give them a nice patina as well.  I did find that you'll still need to put a coat of paint on the interior walls to stop light bleed-through if you care about that sort of thing.

Here's a view of how I used a couple of these (plus a scratchbuilt 'false front' 'Michelin' warehouse):
That's it for today! The slow hobby days of summer have struck, so little to talk about on the layout at the moment.


Hamburg Hobby Shops

And so I finally arrive in Germany, home of Marklin, Trix, Kibri, and so many famous brands across the world in the hobby of model trains, and of course, I find model trains (and train stuff!) everywhere!

My visit to Hamburg was primarily to see Miniatur Wunderland, which was just as amazing as it looks.  Of course, there was time allowed to visit some local shops which are so conveniently located right outside the main train station (Hauptbahnhof), shown in the above photo.

One comment on the train station...there's a book shop in the arcade of shops within the station. On the second floor of this book shop was a site that confirmed to me that Germany's love of its trains is not an illusion to us outsiders.  In this normal, mass-market bookstore there were at least two very large walls filled with model train and real train magazines.  It was quite amazing to see more train - related books in a general bookstore than you will likely see in any major hobby shop anywhere.  The scale and enthusiasm for this hobby is just amazing there!  To be fair, I was also somewhat impressed on how frequently I saw train and model train related magazines in other European countries, but the quantity and scale in Germany was just incredible!

Back to the hobby shops....The two hobby shops I visited are shown in the map below, and they are both within very easy (probably less than 10 minutes to get to the furthest) walk from the train station. 

Exiting the station towards the East, a short walk up Kirchenalle  talks you to the first shop, Modell Bahn Kiste. A nice little shop with some N Scale, and some interesting used N Scale items on sale.  They apparantely have another shop in Hamburg further to the north which I did not get too but seems to be the bigger of the two.  The shop staff was very friendly, and spoke good English and is a great shop to visit!
H.P.A. Schellhaß
Another five minute walk up Kirchenalle (look for the 'lollipop' semaphore type signals both shops display) is H.P.A. Schellhaß Modell & Hobby.   This store seemed to have a bit more N Scale stock, and I picked up a Minitrix ICE3 while there.  Again, the gentleman who was running the shop was extremely friendly and spoke good English, which of course was great considering my limited knowledge of German (and confusion after just coming from France...you know, you just get the "Merci" thing down and then you need to switch to "Danke"!). Fortunately, Europeans seem to have a sixth sense of being able to determine whether or not you are an American before you even say a word!).
So after visiting these two shops, Miniatur Wunderland, and of course the 3 shops in Paris, you would think I would be done, right?  No, after all, this is Germany, where your normal expectations about  the relevance of this hobby get blown away.  On the other side of the train station (exiting from the West), there's a considerable shopping area populated with larger department stores and the like.  By chance, we stopped into Karstadt Sports, which seemed like a typical store for athletic or sporting accessories.  And it was, except for the "Spielwaren" in the basement.  Here I found a toy store in the lower floor with yet more model train accessories and items....literally a third hobby shop within easy walking distance of the station! Amazing!  Can you imagine model trains being sold at this sort of store in the US? Not me!  Again, more friendly staff were available to answer questions and exchange friendly discussion.
Each shop was a pleasant visit...the only disappointing thing is that with the Internet, its not as if you will find things that you could not otherwise easily get.  But for me, these visits are not about finding something not available to me otherwise, but its about the experience....an opportunity to share a part of this hobby with people from across the world.  It makes this hobby, a truly global hobby, that much more enjoyable for me.