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Peter's Model Railroading | Articles | Structures | Union Fuel Depot


This is a custom-made kit by fellow S-scale modeler Jamie Bothwell. He presented a hands-on, how-to-build-structures clinic at a recent NASG Convention. The kit is of his own design and he used a laser-cutter that he has access to to create the kit. He offered to send me one, and I said yes. The kit is based on "Union Fuel Company" in Pennsylvania, with a photo included in the instructions showing the real building. I figured it was a generic-enough fuel depot that I can integrate it into my layout in the future. The kit is meant to be built within the confines of a 45-minute clinic, so it is easy and quick, if you just use the core parts of the kit. These parts are laid out in this first photo.

The first step is to glue two of the walls together. There is no clean-up required, as the tabs at the ends of the walls line up perfectly. I used the Rite-Way Clamping System, which I bought many years ago, to hold the walls are a perfect 90-degrees. The walls were slightly warped, so I used one at the bottom and one at the top of the walls to make sure the two stayed together while the glue set. I am building these on a glass plate, so that I can press down on the wall sections, thereby ensuring that the bottoms of the walls are in alignment as well. I used yellow carpenter's glue for the glue-up.
(external link: Rite-Way Clamping System)

Once the two halves were cured, I could then attach them to each other. I, again, used the clamps at the bottom, but since the clamp box comes with only two, the tops of the walls still needed to be held together. This shows the alternative to using the clamps, which is to simply stretch pieces of painter's blue masking tape. Don't use regular tape, as that will leave a residue which may affect the painting later on. Masking tape prevents that.

There was nothing to do to the roof panels, so I applied glue to the top of the walls where the roof panels would touch, installed them, and then applied masking tape to hold the parts in position.

The kit does not come with anything for the roof covering, so I used some black paper (the photo is too over-exposed) that I cut into two-foot by 10-foot strips. I marked lines on the roof panels, so that I could line up the paper strips to them. Each strip was then glued into place, starting at the bottom left piece, and overlapping each end. The next row was positioned slightly over top of the row below it. Each row was alternately started from the left or right, so that no seams lined up. So, now I have a roof made out of tar sections. When the glue had cured, I used a pair of scissors to trim the excess of each row, and to clear the gap for the chimney. The glue did escape from the paper here and there, but I figured that makes it look like the tar that they used to "glue" the tar paper to the roof.

The window frames consist of two parts. There is the inner part which fit perfectly into the walls' openings. The instructions state that glue is optional, but I applied glue to make sure they'd never come loose. The exterior frame part goes over top of that to hide the visible gaps. Light applications of glue prevented glue from oozing out.

The doors consist of three pieces. The back of the door has just the window in it. Then there is a part that overlays that to give the 3D-relief at the bottom of the door. And the last part is the three-sided frame that covers the gap between the door and the wall. The ends of that last frame part are a bit long, so a file was used to make sure they are flush with the bottom of the building.

The chimney is the last part to this basic building. I glued the two blocks of wood to the ends of one of the chimney sides, pressing all three firmly to the glass plate that I am building it on, so that the edges are flush.

It was then just a matter of applying the remaining three sides of the chimney to the core pieces. I wrapped the whole thing with masking tape so that I could put it aside while the glue dried.

The completed chimney fits perfectly in the gap in the roof, so then it was a simple matter of applying glue to the portion that touches the building and install it, making sure that it is vertical. The extra square of wood in the photo is supposed to be the chimney cap, but I haven't decided how I am going to finish this building, so I decided to leave that off for now.

I applied the included corner strips to the building to hide the wall ends, filing those that were a bit long. That completes the building. For now, this is how far I am going to take it, until I have an actual use for the building on my layout. I don't know what color I'd want to paint it, and I don't know if I want to install an interior and add lighting, so the windows are left unfinished for now.