NOTE: PHOTOS HAVE BEEN RESTORED. THEY HAVE NOW BEEN DOWNLOADED TO THE JCS STUDIOS SITE< SO THEY WILL NOT RUN THE RISK OF GOING AWOL |
Here is my kitbash of four MTH bank buildings into a city station. I know others have turned MTH banks into a station, but I wanted a certain look that required a bit of surgery. First, I wanted to give the impression of a big city station, but without taking up too much space. I created that look by making the wings sections narrower and shorter than the center section. The overall footprint of the building is 34" long x 9" wide x 7 1/2" high. The wings are 11" long x 7" wide.
Here is the station set up in a temporary diorama:
The clock is a Lionel, and the taxi cabs are all from Ertl (bought from eBay at around $5.00 each)
While the MTH banks are a good starting point, they have few architectural details that don't make sense to me:
First, I eliminated the part of the side walls that extends past the roof. That is an architecturally bombastic detail that is more appropriate for a Russian government building than a US train station. Second, I eliminated the pointed cap above the center door. It just doesn't go with the rounded windows. And third, there are far few entrance doors in the MTH bank for that sized building. So I made the number of doors match the number of windows in the center section in order to give the impression of a busy city station.
A few construction details:
Whenever I kit bash something, I make many Xerox copies of all the sides of the building:
You can then cut and paste sections to make a full size mockup of your pending masterpiece. This is good technique for visualizing the final building and saves a lot of time and "do overs".
I started by completely disassembling the bank:
This is straightforward, but I did need a punch to remove the columns.
Next comes the surgery. MTH buildings are very well built, with lots of internal bracing. As you can see from the picture below, I had to break each bank into four separate walls. Here is a picture of the two wing sections:
The best way to cut the walls is with a straight edge and a Zona razor saw with 32 tpi. I like the Zona saws because they are deep and rigid. Clamp the straight edge to the wall as shown here:
Note the straightedge (in this case a steel ruler) is on the side you want to keep. That way if the saw slips you won't hurt anything. Or at least not anything on the building..I did go through a box of band aids during this project! I also went through three saws. Like I said, MTH makes tough buildings.
In some cases I had to make several cuts just to get a corner. I glued everything together with ZAP-A GAP CA+. This is the slow setting, gap filling cyanoacrylate glue made by Pacer industries. I clamped the parts together, applied the glue as a fillet, and when everything was aligned as I wanted, applied the "Zip Kicker" accelerator. (Both products are available from Micro Mark):
Since I completely broke the buildings apart, I needed internal bracing to restore the structural integrity. Here is a picture of one of the wings:
The hardest part was the center section doors. The upper story is simply the side of a bank. But each of the four doors is from the center of each of the separate banks. I had to cut the front steps and pillar supports from each banks front into 2" wide sections, and then get them to fit seamlessly next to one another, and line up with the windows above. I also had to shorten the doors and door frames, and the caps on each door. And make everything match up. In a close up view you can see some of my more successful and less successful matches:
All of this required a lot of internal bracing. The braces are Plastistruct I beams. Make sure you get the gray kind, not the white kind, as the former is much stiffer:
A couple other details:
The roofs are colored coarse texture mat board, lightly dusted with gray primer. The skylights are form the MTH operating gas station, with the "glass" painted with Testors Dull coat to make them opaque.
The skylights are from the MTH operating gas station. At $24.00 each they were not cheap, but after exhausting several options (GRandt Line, DPM, Pecos River, making my own) I finally threw in the towel and ordered the MTH ones.
Each character in the sign was made by pressing on ten "press on letters, one on top of the other. This gave the sign some depth
One more thing. I am not sure, but I think I would have a hard time getting MTH to honor these:
As you might imagine, this was a bit of work, but it was fun, and I now have a unique station for my layout: