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Some Neglected Areas of Structure Kits

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Some Neglected Areas of Structure Kits
Posted by AVRNUT on Monday, June 11, 2012 6:12 AM

HO scale building & structure kits have come a long way in the past couple decades. There are now highly detailed, quality, craftsman kits for almost any type of structure...........Almost! There are a few areas of classic Americana that for some unknown reason have gone totally neglected by the kit manufacturers. I've always wondered why. I've searched the catalogs and online offerings of just about all of them & keep coming up with nothing.

1. Those of us that grew up in the transition era well remember the mid-size Grocery Stores that dotted the landscape of every town in America. There were the type of "supermarket" that pre-dated the huge, sprawling ones we have today. They were usually false front, brick structures, roughly about 60' wide & perhaps 80-100' long. The store marquee was usually located along the false front. Predominate among them were stores like A & P, First National and IGA. Just about every town had one or two of them. They are classic Americana, yet there are virtually no kits of these types of stores, that I know of.

2. Why does every manufacturer insist upon putting out a kit of "the little red one-room schoolhouse"? I live in the northeast, where there are a considerable number of these one-room schoolhouses still standing. I've seen very few that were red. Most are white, gray or just stained shingle. What about the typical school found in most small to mid-size towns of the transition era. Usually brick, two or three stories and intended to accomodate two or three hundred kids. Here again, I find almost no kits for these type of structures, yet they existed in nearly every town.

3. I can find virtually no kits of the typical mid-size town Hospital, yet most towns had one. In fact, except for a couple European versions, I can find no HO kits of any Hospitals.

4. Automobile Dealerships: If you grew up in the post WWII era, as I did, think back. Remember what the typical car dealership was like? Often made out of irregular cut stone, painted white, with large showroom windows & two or three service bays. Colored pennants adorned the lot and every September, when the newset models came out, searchlights pierced the sky out front. Almost everyone in town turned out to see the new cars. It was a social event! Here again, this is a structure area that is classic Americana, yet almost totally neglected by the kit manufacturers.

All of these aforementioned types of structures are typical to every town of the transition era, an era of railroading that a very large percentage of model railroaders embrace on their layouts. So, why do the kit manufacturers so totally ignore these types of buildings? We have tons of kits of downtown stores, gas stations, factories, warehouses, stations, engine houses, chrurches & homes. I would really love to see some well done kits of the aforementioned structures. It's one area of the hobby that is lacking.

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Posted by mobilman44 on Monday, June 11, 2012 6:34 AM

Hi!   And welcome to the forum!

I've been a kit builder since the '50s (planes, ships, cars, but primarily RR stuff) and have seen a remarkable surge in the number and variety of kits that have come up in the last 20 years.  

Cornerstone has (in my opinion) been the leader in this for plastic kits.  And of course there is a plethora of laser kit manufacturers that have started producing many new types of structures as well.   The problem with many of the new laser kits is that they are not as well advertised as the Cornerstone kits and one often has to do some serious "looking" to find the various offerings.

The kits that you find lacking are probably right around the corner, or already out there but "hidden".  I've found that by doing an "advanced search" on the Walthers site (leave mfg space blank) one can get a good idea as to what is out there.   And of course, a Yahoo or Google search might pick up what Walthers doesn't carry.

Good Luck! 

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by AVRNUT on Monday, June 11, 2012 7:05 AM

Hi Mobilman44;

Thanks for the welcome & the search tips. I'll give it a try on the Walther's site. I'm also looking for a reasonable facsimile of an engine house kit that I can kitbash into the engine house partially visible in my avatar photo. No luck yet. It's the engine house of the Aroostook Valley Railroad in Presque Isle, Maine. It was a shortline that operated from 1910-1996 in Northern Maine. Probably going to have to scratchbuild it. I have a few photos of the whole building & can get a good idea of scale dimensions from the 44 tonner parked in front of it. I have an undecorated Bachmann Spectrum 44 Tonner that I'm going to do up as AVR #12, as in the photo. The building itself is still standing & being used now as a truck terminal/maintenence shop. I'm hoping to take the 5 hour drive up there this summer & get some more good, detailed photos of it.

I grew up in Aroostook County, Maine & well remember the Aroostook Valley Railroad & their little 44 tonners shuffling freight cars up & down the valley. I'm primarily building a layout based on the Bangor & Aroostook. The Aroostook Valley Railroad had their yards right alongside the BAR's mainline in Presque Isle, so I'm incorporating their yards into the layout too.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Monday, June 11, 2012 7:18 AM

I agree there is many missing links that is sorely needed.How about those small Mom & Pop  ice cream stands that appeared to be everywhere?

Another missing link that was everywhere was the Lawson's Dairy stores and Frisch's Big Boy restaurants.

 

Larry

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Posted by AVRNUT on Monday, June 11, 2012 7:39 AM

Hi Brakie;

Yes, we still have a few of those mom & pop roadside "homemade" ice cream stands up here in rural Maine, but they are fast disappearing. Also rapidly vanishing are the independently owned mom & pop type roadside burger stands & drive in eateries. There are still a few, but the chain fast food places have pushed them out. When I was growing up in the 50's, about the only "chain" fast foods we ever had up here were A & W Rootbeer Drive-ins and Dairy Queens. Everything else was pretty much local owned, mom & pop.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, June 11, 2012 7:46 AM

Aurora offered this HO scale shool in the 1960's.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Aurora-School-House-Complete-In-Original-Box-/320921265042?pt=Slot_Cars&hash=item4ab865e392

As you can see, they can still be had on Ebay.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by mlehman on Monday, June 11, 2012 8:11 AM

I think the answer to where to find these kits is to consider kitbashing. I rarely build structures without making some kind of modification  or just totally re-purposing the kit.

Here are a few suggestions

1. This one's a five-and-dime, but with new signage would make a credible grocery store:

http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/933-3464

2. For a medium sized brick school, using either the DPM or Walthers modular brick walls parts could yield whatever size school you need.

3. Ditto for a hospital.

4. You're in luck. Walthers has a car dealer on the way. It's for imports, but could just as easily be domestic cars with changing the signage:

http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/933-4023

Then there's a older kit available as a built-up, but can probably still be found as a kit:

http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/931-805

So my tip would be to ignore what the box says it is supposed to be and consider if the parts have possibilities for conversion to what you need. With plastic, it's usually a pretty easy deal to move things around, add on, or cut off things as needed.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by Medina1128 on Monday, June 11, 2012 8:27 AM

This is one area that seems to be a problem for many modelers; a lack of the specific models they want to model, and it reminds me of my days as a drag racer; if there was something we needed, we made it. There are plenty of pictures, plans, etc. of a plethora (ya like that word?) and plenty of modeling materials. I'm going to model our little church. There are NO models that come close, so I'll be ordering the materials to scratchbuild it.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Monday, June 11, 2012 8:32 AM

The City Classics grocery store is one of my favorites:

It's a simple kit to build.  I added my own interior because it has nice, big windows to see through.

A lot of structures are what they are just because of the signs you put on them.  DPM's "Pam's Pet Shop," for example, is just a small two-story building with a storefront.  It doesn't even come with signs, so I made mine a train shop.  With some signs and perhaps a reconstructed Emergency Room entrance, the DPM "M.T. Arms Hotel" kit could easily be a hospital. 

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by Randy Stahl on Monday, June 11, 2012 8:37 AM

Wow, I didn't know anyone else knew about the AVR . I know several ex AVR employees and spent a good deal of time "chasing" the AVR right of way. It would be neat to add some trolley cars !!!

 

Randy

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Posted by AVRNUT on Monday, June 11, 2012 8:44 AM

I usually do ignore signage & minor kit details and look at any given kit for the kitbashing potential. I recently bought the Walther's Cornerstone kit if "Bill's Glass Shop". With the exception of the signage & the need for a few additional side windows, the building is virtually identical to the offices co-habitated by the Aroostook Valley Railroad and the now defunct Maine Public Service Company.

Thanks for the tip off on the new Walthers Car Dealership kit. That is VERY much like a Chevy/GMC dealership that once stood up in Caribou, Maine back in the 1950's. Some very minimal kitbashing will do the trick on that one. I'll be buying one of those when they're released. I make a lot of my own signage. Making your own signage decals is actually fairly simple. All you need is any good computer printer, some clear-backed decal paper (available through Staples & other office supply stores) and microset decal solution. Properly size your decal image, print it out, treat it with micro-set solution, let it dry a couple hours & you're good to go!

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Posted by AVRNUT on Monday, June 11, 2012 9:08 AM

<B>Randy Stahl:</B>

Hi Randy. Yes, I well remember the AVR. There IS a book on it! It's called "Aroostook Valley Railroad-History of The Potatoland Interurban in Northern Maine", by Charles. D. Heseltine and Edwin B. Robertson. Small, paperbound book of 92 pages, lots of photos & a copy of their rolling stock & loco roster. I just recently found & bought a copy on Ebay.

My layout is transition era (mid 1950's) after the AVR dismantled their overhead electric lines & went all Diesel. But, one of their Brill Trolleys sat on a side spur near the engine house for many years, well into the 50's, before it went to the Kennebunk Trolley Museum where it now resides. So, eventually I'll pick up a Brill Trolley (a dummy unti, if I can find one), redo it in AVR markings & put it in the layout.

AVR's last Caboose, #7, was a wood, 2-window Caboose they had purchased from the CP. Looked for a long time for a DECENT kit or RTR of one. (Don't like True-Lines version). Finally found on Ebay (and I was the winning bidder) a partially finished all wood kit made many moons ago by Custom Trains of Dartmouth, NS. It's THE exact Caboose type as AVR's #7. A man in New Jersey had the kit. The body is all assembled & he did a fabulous job. Need to complete the detail parts, railings, ladders & roof walk. I will do her up as AVR #7.

The real AVR #7 still exists. She's privately owned & sits in a guy's back yard up in Blaine, Maine.

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Posted by Randy Stahl on Monday, June 11, 2012 9:14 AM

I've driven past the caboose a few times I think , Is Blaine between Mars Hill and PI ? Last time I saw it the car was for sale and needed paint BADLY. I'm not familier with brill trolleys on the AVR , I know that they had a snowplow that was built from a GE steeplcab electric. I assume you will be doing the interchange at Washburn ?

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Posted by AVRNUT on Monday, June 11, 2012 9:32 AM

Randy;

Blaine is just south of Mars Hill, going towards Houlton on Rt.1. Hope somebody will buy that Caboose & restore it before it rots beyond the point of no return.

We're still in the early construction stages of the layout. While it's going to be a pretty large one (20' x 12' x 9' outside dimensions, somewhat "J" shaped), I will have to compress somewhat to get all the elements I want. I will have one fair sized town area, incorporating the AVR yards. Would love to be able to scale all three major towns in the valley, Presque Isle, Caribou and Fort Fairfield, but I'll have to settle for having one major town on the layout. So, I'm taking a bit of license by incoporating elements from all three towns into the one. I want to leave room for the Aroostook County countryside, the AVR bridge over the Aroostook River & hopefully some representation of the Washburn interchange.

Spent much of my growing up in Fort Fairfield, out on the Center Limestone Road. My family had several Potato Farms out there. My grandfather also had a camp up on Mud Lake, near Sinclair. Going to try to incorporate those elements in the layout too.

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Posted by mlehman on Monday, June 11, 2012 9:34 AM

AVRNUT

SNIP

Thanks for the tip off on the new Walthers Car Dealership kit. That is VERY much like a Chevy/GMC dealership that once stood up in Caribou, Maine back in the 1950's.

SNIP

Glad to help.

You do have a fascinating prototype in the AVR. I vaguely remember a trackplan from 30 or 40 years ago that depicted it and/or the BAR, which I found charming??  Already committed to Colorado NG, so not in my life time, but I think you've made an interesting choice.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by Randy Stahl on Monday, June 11, 2012 9:46 AM

I'll second that , very interesting prototype, should make for a very interesting railroad !

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Posted by AVRNUT on Monday, June 11, 2012 10:14 AM

We're having fun with it. Fortunately, my wife is also a model railroad enthusiast. She had an HO layout when she was a young girl. We're both approaching retirement, so we will gradually have more & more time to devote to it. Our main obstacle here is that Maine is now almost totally devoid of Hobby Shops. There were once a bunch of them scattered about the state, but most are gone now. Nearest one in Maine is roughly 90 miles away & they are more into R/C stuff, but do have a train section. There IS one in Intervale, NH about 65-70 miles from here that we are going to ride over to & check out soon. There is a Model Railroading Museum there & they have a full service Model Railroading Shop on site. My wife is a High School Teacher. This Thursday is the last day of school, so once she's done, we're going to drive over & see what they have that we can't live without.

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Posted by G Paine on Monday, June 11, 2012 10:59 AM

AVRNUT
There were once a bunch of them scattered about the state, but most are gone now. Nearest one in Maine is roughly 90 miles away & they are more into R/C stuff, but do have a train section.

That sounds like Ray & Robins Hobby??? If you go there, you are not far from Maine Modelworks located in Rte 1 in Falmouth. One of the best around, and trains only
http://mainemodelworks.com/

Maine Trains in Kezar Falls closed last fall. Train & Trooper is in the process of moving from Phillips to Readfield, about 20 miles from Augusta. OOPs - I just checked his website, and the domain is up for sale - don't know whats going on there!!

There are a couple of shops located south of Porland, but I have not visited tham.

Highrailer has closed his storefront, and is doing only shows and direct internet sales
http://www.highrailer.com/

Where ate you located??

George In Midcoast Maine, 'bout halfway up the Rockland branch

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Monday, June 11, 2012 11:05 AM

I suspect the order of popularity for structures runs something like this:

1. Railroad structures - depots, roundhouses, water towers, etc.

2. Railroad served structures - factories, coal yards, lumberyards, etc.

3. Downtown buildings near the station.

4. Small buildings such as houses, shops, and 1 room school houses

5. Everything else - hospitals, supermarkets, larger schools

Add to this the fact that most of us are really short on space especially for non-railroad stuff and you wind up with too little demand for hospitals, etc.  Personally, I doubt that I'll have any of the 4 you listed because of a lack of space.

Kitbashing, parts building, or scratch building appear to be your best options.

Good luck

Paul

 

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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Posted by AVRNUT on Monday, June 11, 2012 11:34 AM

Hi George;

I'm in Andover, Maine. Western mountains, northwest of Rumford, northeast of Bethel. I was aware of the one that was once in Phillips, but wasn't sure what happened there either. Maine Trains is still selling online, but according to the website is selling out of self storage bins somewhere down in Massachusetts. Haven't been down to Maine Modelworks yet, but I understand it is good. That's a good 90 miles south of us here.

There was once a Hobby Shop in Lewiston (can't remember the name of it now), but it was fair. Also used to be one in downtown Bath that was okay, but it's gone now too. A small one once in Rumford that had very limited stock, but it closed a few years back.

Oh, for the days of Woolworth's! Back in the 60's-70's, a lot of the Woolworth stores had surprisingly good & well stocked hobby departments, especially for trains. In the last few years Maine has become a LHS wasteland.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Monday, June 11, 2012 12:08 PM

There is a healthy and thriving Maine Trains in Chelmsford, MA.  It's not the same shop or owner as the former Maine Trains in Maine.  They co-existed for a number of years.

Maine Trains in Chelmsford is a small but well-stocked brick-and-mortar shop, with some Internet presence.  Gerry does mostly HO, with some N-gauge.  He makes a point of stocking New England roads like the B&M and Maine Central.  I've seen custom-painted GP9s for the St. Lawrence and Atlantic, since you're up that way.

I've been to the shop in Intervale.  It was several years ago.  I think the shop was full MSRP on everything.  The model train museum is worth seeing once - it's mostly layouts that have been acquired or donated.  Most have running trains, but they just run in loops at the push of a button.  Check their hours and make sure the museum is open when you plan your trip.

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Posted by Santa Fe all the way! on Monday, June 11, 2012 1:59 PM
Would be nice if someone would make a small hospital for me to park my new Classic Metal Works ambulance in front of.
Come on CMW, make a '41-'46 Chevy school bus!
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Posted by AVRNUT on Monday, June 11, 2012 2:03 PM

Hi MisterBeasley;

Yes, Im familiar with the "Maine Trains" you spoke of. They have a website I have visited and it's a "dot com" web address. However, there is also a Maine Trains website with a "dot net" address & think it is the same guy that operated here in Maine. I think he has moved to Mass & is currently operating out of a storage facility & taking orders online. At least that's the impression I get from what it says on the webpage. He seems to have a huge stock.

Here is the link:

http://www.mainetrains.net/

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Posted by AVRNUT on Monday, June 11, 2012 2:11 PM

Santa Fe:

Someone either is or was making a resin kit of a 41-46 Chevy Schoolbus. I'm sure I saw one on Ebay just a few weeks ago & was thinking that it would be good for my early/mid 50's layout time theme.

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Posted by G Paine on Monday, June 11, 2012 2:32 PM

AVRNUT
There was once a Hobby Shop in Lewiston (can't remember the name of it now), but it was fair.

Freight Station in Leweston closed some time ago, they still do local shows

AVRNUT
used to be one in downtown Bath that was okay, but it's gone now too. 

The Bath shop closed sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. Typical problem, he wanted to retire, but could not find a buyer...

I know Andover, one of my nieces and her husband live up that way. Site of one of the earliest satelite communication ground stations back in the early 60s.

George In Midcoast Maine, 'bout halfway up the Rockland branch

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Posted by Ron High on Monday, June 11, 2012 3:02 PM

It`s nice to see some interest in the AVR I always thought it was an interesting road.My primary interest is NH and B&M in the late 1950s to 1960s. I bought 3 Bachmann units many years ago to someday try modeling it ,If I could find time and a little more space it would be fun. Got a few shots in wintertime in the early 1970s chased them 2 engines and 8 or 10 cars out to the interchange at Cairibou? Maybe it was Washburn.

There was a small article with photos ,I think in MR in the 1960s kind of a railroad you can model article . That is how I became aware of the AVR. I have had the Robertson book for years.

Ron High

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Posted by chutton01 on Monday, June 11, 2012 3:11 PM

Seeing as how this thread is wavering between Maine-style model railroading, and the OP about hard-to-find model structure types, I'll go contrarian and answer the OP:

1. Those of us that grew up in the transition era well remember the mid-size Grocery Stores that dotted the landscape of every town in America.

One word: Plasticville

2. Why does every manufacturer insist upon putting out a kit of "the little red one-room schoolhouse"? I

This one is a Plasticville Fail.

3. I can find virtually no kits of the typical mid-size town Hospital, yet most towns had one. In fact, except for a couple European versions, I can find no HO kits of any Hospitals.

One word: Plasticville

4. Automobile Dealerships:

One word: Plasticville

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Posted by AVRNUT on Monday, June 11, 2012 3:14 PM

That was it! Freight Station! I couldn't think of the name for some reason, but kept thinking it was railroad related.

My oldest friend lives in Boothbay & he has always been a railroading nut too. He used to frequent the Bath Hobby Shop. We were talking about it recently & he said the guy eventually did find a buyer, a young guy with visions for the most well stocked HS on the planet. After buying the business he went totally hog-wild ordering stock & literally stocked himself out of business. Incurred so much debt, that he couldn't pay, that he was forced to liquidate the business. At least, that's what my buddy Earl told me.

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Posted by AVRNUT on Monday, June 11, 2012 3:25 PM

I'm not a Plasticville fan by any stretch of the imagination. Their stuff is okay for kids toys, but not really for me. I'm more interested in serious attention to authentic detail & realism. A structure with "Plasticville School, Plasticville Store, Plasticville Airport" etc, plastered all over it isn't my cup of tea. No offense, but my modeling tastes went way beyond that stage over half a century ago.

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Posted by AVRNUT on Monday, June 11, 2012 3:53 PM

Ron High;

The Aroostook River Valley was once a beehive or railroad activity, mainly centered around Potatoe & Lumber cargos. You had the BAR's lines running through the county, The AVR's little 36 mile line and The CP had a spur line out of Canada that crossed the border into Fort Fairfield & went on to connect with the BAR lines in Caribou and Presque Isle. VERY active railroading area right up into the 1960's.

What spelled out their doom was in 1969-1970, when they finally extended Interstate I-95 north from Bangor up the 118 miles through the middle of nowhere to Houlton. It really killed the BAR's business. The AVR hung on until 1996, but could last no longer. The highway & trucking companies got all the cargo. Prior to that there were only 3 or 4 two-lane roads connecting Aroostook County with the rest of humanity and they were all notoriously bad roads to boot. The "Hainesville Woods" road was particularly brutal. It was ALWAYS in terrible condition, over 100 miles of nothing but forest, no houses, gas stations, towns, restaurants..........no nothing! Just you and the Moose that you frequently had to dodge. As a kid back in the 50's, I remember my dad cursing every mile of it whenever he had to drive it.

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