The back corner of the layout needs a factory. I decided to create a freelanced model of "Canonsburg Milling". This was a real factory, but I have no prototype photos of it. The first thing I decided to work on is the basic framing of the model. I had some leftover Plastruct I-beams and H-columns, so those were cut to fit the space where the factory is to sit.
The next photo shows the basic shape. The tracks are at a slight angle to the backdrops, so it will require some special fitting.
I then used some more structural shapes to build up the vertical framework of the back building. The box car is there, of course, to make sure that I didn't make the structure too wide.
I did the same thing to the other section of the building. When I spotted a box car on left side of the building, I discovered I had made it too wide. Some surgery was required to make it a bit skinnier.
I then carefully built the framework that connects the two separate sections together. The left section is two-stories tall, while the back section is three-stories tall. The center section floats between them with the freight cars parked underneath. It is two-stories tall. Not shown yet in this photo is the concrete foundation. I glued scale two-foot tall styrene strips around the perimeter of the building to represent the foundation.
The structure is a brick building. I am using JTT Plastic Pattern Sheets (part #97422), which are labeled as "HO-scale", but the individual bricks are actually perfect S-scale! The sheet is very flimsy, so it requires more reinforcements than just the basic framework. In this photo I am gluing the first wall section to the frame work. I used four Banta "Factory Windows" (part #5001) for the windows. Since it is a brick wall, the window frames have been set in from the front of the brick, so I added some additional framing around the back of the wall so that I had enough glue surface to attach the window frames. You can see that in the photo since the layout lights are shining right through the thin walls.
This is the structure shown from the front of the layout.
Again, another check with actual cars to make sure they cleared the building.
I cut a solid piece of the brick sheet for the side wall. I made it a bit wide in the center area of the structure, because I don't know yet how I am going to handle the transition to the center section. I also cut a solid sheet of 0.020" styrene for the inside, center wall. This wall is not visible from the front of the layout, so I just cut it out of a sheet of plane styrene.
The next step was to fit and cut a piece of 0.030" styrene for the front section's roof. The last time I went to my local hobby shop, I wanted some new 0.030" sheets of styrene, but all they had was the new black styrene by Evergreen, so I got that. It is all going to be painted in the future anyway, so it doesn't really matter what the color of the source material is. I made the walls stick up about 2 scale feet above the roof line. I am gluing a strip of 4" wide styrene to the top edge of the front wall. I will follow this up with another strip of brick sheets on the roof side later on. The idea is the give the impression that the structure's walls are thick.
I glued a strip above the roof line on the side wall as well. Next, I cut and shaped the front wall of the center section. I used Grandt Line N-scale 40-pane window frames (part #8002). These were left over from my N-scale days, but they are big enough to act as small factory windows in S-scale. Because the N-scale window frames are much thinner than the S-scale window frames, I didn't need to use any reinforcement around the back of the window frames. The red brick sheet is Plastruct "HO-scale, 1:100" red brick, part #PS-97. The JTT sheet appears to be identical to the Plastruct one, so it could be that Plastruct makes them both. The only thing different I noticed is that the JTT sheets have small "rivets" on the face side of the sheet. A couple of light passes with a fine, flat file removes those without damage to the bricks' face. The red brick is also two scale feet taller than the roof line.
And here is the building in its position on the layout.
I cut some small walls and glued them to the inside edge of the exposed front wall (see orange line).
Moving on down the building, it is now time to install the wall section above the track entrance port. Some custom cutting was required here. I used these small, light-pressure plastic clamps to hold the piece in place while I applied glue to the various joints.
The next skinny side wall had to be installed first before I can install the longer (and longest) wall section. Because of the height of the building, I had to cut two sections of plastic brick sheet. If the seam is noticeable, I will add some decorative strips later.
Several sections of brick sheet were necessary to completely fill this long wall. I added a freight loading door in the covered section as well. Ramps from a boxcar can be put between the car and the door to load and unload goods and products.
This is the back side of the structure showing the long wall section. Additional bracing was needed to make sure the sheets stayed straight.
I have one more wall section to build. However, this section is going to have an exposed loading dock, a freight door, and an second-floor entry (probably a back door only used in case of emergencies). I wanted a staircase leading to the second floor. But to determine exactly where to cut the opening for the second-floor door, I had to build the staircase first. This is the S-scale kit #301 (you can continue to order these from Mike Fyten, but you'll need to contact him via e-mail).
The kit comes with a simple staircase assembly jig (shown here built-up).
You then build the basic structure on that jig. The important thing to remember is that you need to keep the two stairjacks in alignment with each other. Building the landing support (left side of the photo) helps to keep them square. Installing the treads is then very simple. Just make sure to keep the glue away from the jig, otherwise they become one.
The anchor braces and the hand rails go on next. I had to use various tricks to make sure that they went on straight. The tops of the hand rails have railing caps on them. These can be a bit of a challenge to get on. I did not put the short hand rail section on the top of the landing, because I may have the staircase up against the brick wall. We'll see. It'll be easy to add if I need it.
Next up is the exterior loading dock on which the staircase will sit. I wanted mine to look like poured concrete. I came up with the idea of using some Lego® blocks I won on eBay a while back as my mold base. I put them on a piece of glass and then put some weights on them, to make sure they made good contact with the glass. I then mixed and poured Plaster of Paris into the Lego mold. After three days of drying, it was easy to remove the Lego blocks and this photo shows what I had left. The blocks are easily cleaned up with hot water and soap, and the top of the casting will be sanded smooth.
Here's another mock-up to mark off where the openings for the upper and lower doors are to be. The wall is held in place by clamps, and the staircase is held in place by some metal weights.
I then cut the openings and glued the doors into the brick sheet.
The brick sheet is very flimsy, so I added some more bracing on the structure's framing. There is an angled strip of styrene on the bottom that needed to not go all the way across so that there was space for the bottom freight door.
And here is the last wall section installed on the building. I put another angled piece of styrene across the middle section to give it some more support. I then glued a strip of scale 4" wide styrene trim (see clamp in the top of the photo) around the inside of the exposed roof line, like I had done with the roof of the first section.
Next I glued sheets of 0.030" styrene to act as the roof. I ran out of 0.030" styrene, so for the middle (white) section I had to use two 0.015" styrene sheets laminated together. To complete the basic structure, I cut and glued a strip of brick along the inside of the exposed wall (these are glued to the 4" strips mentioned above).
And here it is! The basic shape of the building. It is made up out of Plastruct ABS and Evergreen styrene strips of all shapes and sizes (whatever I had), black and white styrene sheets, white and red brick sheet, and N- and S-scale Grandt Line doors and windows. Once painted, you won't be able to tell the difference.
The tops of the walls stick out above the roof line. My intent was to apply some decorative trim to that. This photo shows the work almost completed. I added a scale 4"x12" strip of styrene to the outside of the wall, about three bricks down. Next, I added a 1"x10" strip of styrene on the inside wall. This is what I am gluing in place for the last section of the walls when I took this photo. To finish the trim, I added a 1"x12" strip of styrene flat on top of those two pieces (which is finished in all but this last wall section).
On the walls themselves I wanted to break up the monotony of the large, tall walls. I added a 1"x12" strip of styrene over the bricks. Next, I added a 2"x8" strip of styrene flush with the top of the 1"x12". I then applied a 2"x2" strip of quarter-round up against that 2"x8". I initially thought about taking this decoration all the way around the whole building, but I decided that it is only needed on the taller walls.
So far the trim looks nice from a distance.
The only area that needed some serious work was the portal above the track. Here I did a temporary set-up that made sure that whatever I was going to do here wasn't going to interfere with the tallest equipment I have. What you can also see in this photo is the corner treatment that I have done. At first I was going to glue two strips of brick on the corners. But, when I tried it out, it just didn't look right. I decided that a scale 8" angle strip looked better. I'll probably paint it a contrasting color, so that should look nice.
I then fabricated a portal above the track using some strips of the brick sheet material. It was tedious and time-consuming, but it makes the building look distinctive, I think. This completes the trim on the building.
Looking at it from the other angle, you can see that I have added vertical strips of brick sheet material in between the large windows of the front wall. I also added some strips above and below the window. It kind of breaks up this large wall.
Then I went digging around in my scrap box for anything I could add to the roof. The two white tanks came from a N-scale building. I fabricated some brass wire to show feed tubes going to and from the tanks. The exhaust pipes on the roof are just pieces of leftover tubing.
I used Krylon Primer Gray to spray paint the entire structure, inside and out, back and front. In addition to providing a base coat for the final paint coat and setting up the color of the mortar lines, it also prevents the plastic from shining any light through. After the structure dried I noticed some issues that I need to address first before the rest of the painting is to continue.
I fixed the aforementioned issues and sprayed the new styrene I added. It is now time to paint all of those individual bricks. I searched high and low looking for a shortcut to do this, but I could not find any. I am using a high-quality flat brush, that has most of the paint removed from it, and dabbing it flat on the face of the brick. For a structure this size, it takes several sessions (i.e. days). It is important that there is not too much liquid paint on the brush, or else the paint will drift into the mortar lines, which is not what you want. Also, dragging the brush down the bricks, much like you would typically use the dry-brushing technique will not yield desirable results. It will leave the bricks with obvious streaks that are hard to hide.
This is the structure with the first coat of brick color applied. I used Polly Scale "PRR Tuscan" red.
If you look at real brick, you will notice that it doesn't have one solid color. I then, sporadically, applied, using the same technique with a smaller flat brush, Polly Scale's "Special Oxide Red" and "Wisconsin Central Maroon". I thought I should lighten it up a bit with some random applications of Polly Scale "Earth". Unfortunately, it made the building look like it broke out in hives!
So, I went back and applied another layer of Polly Scale "Box Car Red", over top of the Earth colors. With an extremely dry brush of the box car red, I made quick down-strokes over the entire wall sections. This helped in toning down the earth color. I am going to let it sit for a few days, and see if I need to go back over the entire building with the original "PRR Tuscan" color. In addition, the windows and doors need to be painted, as well as the concrete trim throughout the building. One thing I did learn was that I like the simulated brick of the JTT sheet better than the Plastruct ones. I don't know if Plastruct's mold is getting old, but its bricks aren't as well defined, which is very noticeable when you paint the brick faces.
I did decide to go over the brick surfaces with a light coating of the original "PRR Tuscan" color. That toned-down the Earth color and now the bricks look like they just have some slight coloration on them. About a week has passed between the above photo and the one below. Hand-painting a structure this size takes quite a bit of time. After doing the brick work, I painted the window frames and the three doors (one is hidden inside where the box cars are) with Polly Scale "Vermont Green". I then painted the building's foundation using Polly Scale "Concrete". The trimming on top of the brick was painted with Polly Scale "Earth". This was tedious, because I did decide to paint the tiny edges of the styrene trim using just a couple of hairs of the tip of the brush. There were only two places where I accidentally hit the bricks, so I had to over-paint those with the PRR Tuscan color to fix that. The last thing I did was hand-paint the two storage tanks on the roof top using Polly Scale's "Milwaukee Road Gray". Their piping was painted with Polly Scale "Stainless Steel".
Not shown, I have installed the "glass" of the windows and doors of the structure, by gluing transparent plastic to the backs of those using Formula '560' canopy glue. The photo below shows where I am applying glue (very watered-down white glue) to the roof tops. When I completed a section, I sprinkled on a thin layer of Arizona Rock & Minerals' fine (N-scale) PRR ballast, which you can see in the container in the back.
I let the glue dry overnight, and then turned the building upside-down to remove all of the loose ballast. This is what I was left with. Due to the layout lighting, the ballast on the top roof doesn't look like the correct color.
However, I wanted a black/dark-gray gravel-ly look to the roof, so I applied the india-ink-in-alcohol solution to the ballast. The alcohol wicks into the ballast very quickly, so it is easy to do. Here I stopped to take a photo, so that you can see the difference this makes.
The roof is now complete. Again, it is a bit difficult to adequately photograph this given my layout lighting restrictions. The roof "ballast" color on the top roof is actually more like the one you see in the lower roof. It turned out to be a nice weathered gray by the time it completely dried. Exactly what I wanted.
Next, I wanted to age the building a bit. I first applied a very thin coating of the india-ink solution to the walls. This made the walls a bit dirty, but it wasn't too noticeable, which is what I wanted (a very subtle application). Next, I decided to use the dry-brushing technique and went over all the walls with white paint. Again, a very light application and it, too, turned out to be hardly noticeable. Together, those two applications just give the walls a very subtle, weathered look. Next, I used Bragdon Enterprises' weathering powders and applied a yellow dirt to the bottom of the building, to represent dried mud that has flung onto the building during rain storms. The final weathering I did was to apply some black powder above the track area to indicate soot that has gotten stuck from trains moving into and out of the building's covered area.
I had earlier completed the staircase to the second story door. It was now time to paint it. I sprayed the whole thing with Krylon primer gray, and then hand-painted it with Polly Scale D&RGW Building Brown. I painted the tops of the hand rail with Polly Scale "Vermont Green" to match the doors and window frames. Not shown in the photo, I applied some weathering chalks to the staircase as well.
Although I had used the built staircase to help me determine where to put the second story door, the distance between the top of the freight door and the bottom of the second story door was just shy of what the staircase's hanger's length was, so I had to file those down a bit. However, that left me with a snug fit. A tiny bit of Aleene's Tacky glue along the back of the staircase was all that was needed to firmly attach it to the building itself. Note how the weathering along to bottom of the wall matches up with the bottom of the freight door here. That is because I will be installing the concrete loading dock here when the building is actually integrated into the layout itself. That loading dock, by the way, will hide the rather large gap between the building's concrete foundation and the brick wall that you see on the skinny wall's bottom.
Well, this completes the structure. In actual calendar time, it took me six months to build (June 2013 through December 2013). However, I worked on many other projects in between, and I did nothing to the building in the months of August and November. So, I estimate that I spent about ten weeks of modeling time to build this building. I had a mental picture of what I wanted. I think it actually came out better than I had hoped, so I am very happy.