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How to turn 1 building into 7 that can be reconfigured to different uses

How to turn 1 building into 7 that can be reconfigured to different uses
I am sure that I am not the only modeller here who models the same way they cook – a recipe for me is just a starting point. From there on it is how you can imagine slight changes and tweaks to suit your creativity. Building kits are no different!

I had a spare Metcalf station & waiting room kit. I don’t need another station, but I do need houses that are interesting, and also present a challenge to finish, so they have a place in the overall set design.

Today I took the card cut-outs, and built the basic modules – this kit has 7 basic units; that is 7 opportunities to make something different, that is not a station, and can be either grouped or sat separately as individual houses.

The first stage was to paint up the door and window reveals, and the barge boards and shelter supports. You will need to create some walls, so here you have an opportunity to use the different brick and stone texture sheets that can be sourced from a variety of www sites. I also used wooden panelling for the ticket office unit as no private house I know has a cashiers door and wall opening!

I decided on a blue theme for the station masters house, and brown/ochre for the waiting room and the joining roof section. After all were dry, assembly was quite fast. I used chimney pots hand rolled with plastic tube cores – these were easy to manage and trim. All the edges were coloured black and the soffit areas were either black, or I used timber textures or metal sheeting to create the look and feel I wanted.

The roof sections took a bit of time with cutting patterns and then fitting, and then cutting new tile sections. For some reason I could not get the angles right on the station masters house roof and extension, so rather than waste more texture sheeting, I opted for a feature to join the roofs; OK not exactly precise, but it works! and I can use some grass and foliage to hide the joiner to draw the eye away from the jerry-builder ‘Hambledon’ employed!!

Additional walls and canopy supports were created in card or square section plastic, trimmed, glued and painted.

With the addition of grass in the gullies and ivy up the walls, they will be ready to fit into the scenery.

I am often asked about lighting. I used to simply cement the light to a ceiling or wall inside the building. But when it blows – and believe me they blow when a small person wants to turn up the light – done like that, the blown bulb is impossible to remove. I exclusively use LED’s as they light without any heat generation – an important point when working with card and paper buildings!

I now use a ‘lighting-stick’. I use LED warm white for all my model lighting, except medieval buildings like the castle or its gate house and watch towers where I use LED’s that flicker yellow/orange to simulate the open flame lights that would have been used.

The ‘light-stick’ is a clear plastic tube that carries the LED to the desired height within the building. More than one LED can be installed, but beware of the power feed to each LED, as this can restrict the number of LED’s that can be squeezed in. For single and double storied building, this is not an issue. But if you are trying to light a 3 or 4-story building, then it becomes an issue, as the power lines restrict the space, and cause shading where the cable stop the light getting out. The choice is either use more light-sticks, or recable the LED’s with fine power lines to the end of the light-stick.


And my last points; remember to use in-line resistors or you will blow the LED’s; plan how and where your light-stick is cemented to the base board. When removing any building, the light-stick stays cemented to the base scenery, and also acts to stop your building moving around with accidental knocks, etc.

If you want to be really clever, you can set up the street and exterior wall lights on a separate power feeds, isolate the ground floor from upstairs; the combinations are only limited by your imagination and your interpretation of the ‘real-world’ which you are modelling.



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About The Author


I started with a train set aged 4. My mother was convinced it was for my father and not me. The first layout we built was a standard 6x4 ply sheet. impossible for a small boy to get across, and impossible for our cleaners to get into my bedroom! when not in use, it stood against a wall, and gradually developed a 'warped-look'! but the smell of smoke generation fluid for my Churchill loco, and lubrication oil still is fixed in my mind! my sister and I added Mini-Trix road with cars and lorries. It was with great regret it was all sold when we moved to the Far East where Dad was posted. Year later as a student I was walking past a Sheffield model shop and an 'HOe' set was on sale. so the bug bit again, and I was the only Geography/Geology student with a train set! It is turn was sold when I qualified. Then years later after settling in Thames Valley and opening my own dental practice - I re-qualified as a dentist - I took over the loft of our house and helped by my two children, we build a huge 'N' gauge layout. but in winter it was too cold to work on, rails shrunk, and fingers went numb! Summer, it was too hot, the rails expanded and buckled, and the chipboard base was a disaster. As my children grew up, there were more exciting things to do, and when the house was sold, the complete layout was dismantled and sold. I kept the 'G'scale garden rail set - this was a swap for dental treatment for one of my patients! After selling my Thames Valley practice, I moved to Hailsham and commuted between the UK and South Africa; one day my work desk became a train layout! that was sold when I moved back home to South Africa. My partner went away for a group drawl with a birthday friend, and the day she left, the local timber yard turned up with the base timber, and foam of the scenery. I created a HO/OO layout on a 6x3 base, and planned it as a series of modules that could be re-configured at shows. My partner was not impressed with a train layout in the middle of our lounge, and then I had my first heart attack, it it stayed, pushed up behind the furniture! after a fire obliterated our garage - it went from full to ash in about 3 hours! it was the fastest clear out possible, but also took out my prized wine collection and tools I used. It was completely demolished and rebuilt! For me there was only one use this empty space should be used for!! So the basis for 'Hambledon' was born. A friend of mine bolted the complete set of modules - I have 4 blank canvases to fill - and Module 1 from the lounge was ceremoniously bolted into place. So while flat on my ass on my various visits to ICU with heart failure, I planned and sketched the different areas; Castle Hill, with the dock and canal below, Brewery Hill , leading to Module 1, and then the last turn around set of tracks below Creamery Rise.

1 Comment

  1. NIGEL

    very useful and interesting idea

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