- Freight Forwarding Depot in HO scale -
St. Lawrence Freight Forwarding Co.
Boy, you can't beat a 35mm SLR camera and outdoor light, eh? The completed St. Lawrence Freight Forwarding Co. shown here outdoors on the St. Lawrence Division club switching module on a warm June afternoon. Note the "slipped" piece of siding immediately below the office window and also the sag in the main roof.
Photo: Chris Butler

A little while ago, I was asked to build a small HO scale wood kit for the St. Lawrence Division club layout. The kit was a medium complexity Campbell "DeWitt's Depositary and Delivery" wood structure. It consists of a 2-storey main building with a stone foundation, plus a shed and a shack as additions. Its proportions and unique roofline make it a most pleasing structure to look at. I modified the kit somewhat in order to fit the space that was allocated to me. I also renamed it to be the "St. Lawrence Freight Forwarding Company" - after our club.

St. Lawrence Freight Forwarding Co. structure components
A partially assembled view showing the main building, the shack and shed.
Photo: Chris Butler

I wanted to give this building a well-used and run-down appearance. I also wanted it to be a focal point of our portable switching module. I achieved the interesting and run-down look by using a lot of different colours and textures. When doing this however, one must be careful not to over do it and finish up with something that looks a little like a kids play structure. This was avoided by carefully selecting colours that were both subdued and believable.

The exterior walls of the structure were stained with a diluted coat or two of Floquil depot buff then when dry, lightly sanded with 1500 grit wet/dry sand paper to age them. For the wall corner trim, I used the same approach but used Floquil boxcar red.

The lean-to shed was stained with Floquil cherry stain (hard to get these days) while the shack was stained with diluted Floquil southern green. All walls were then weathered with an uneven brush coat or two of heavily diluted Floquil engine black paint. All walls were assembled, painted and partially weathered while flat on workbench before final assembly.

Campbell shingles being applied to the roof of the freight depot
I get no end of "help" from the guys at the club including advice on which way up to apply the shingles...
Photo: Grant Knowles.

Before I glued the cardstock roof in place, I carved a curve in each of the two roof sections so that the main roof would appear to sag.

The plastic injection moulded windows were cleaned up and modified with an X-acto knife to remove some panes while others were "boarded up" with 0.020" styrene. As well, I carefully carved small chunks out of the windows trim in order to really get the impression of old and run down across to a person viewing it. Also, some of the windows were altered to appear as open. The windows and doors then cleaned with a mixture of warm water and dishwashing detergent. When dry, they were airbrushed with Floquil boxcar red. Finally they were painted with blobs of Floquil reefer grey to represent peeling paint and then dry brushed with Floquil Poly S reefer white.

Campbell shingles being applied to the roof of the freight depot
After the gummed shingles are dry, I'll trim up the ends using an X-acto knife with a fresh #11 blade.
Photo: Grant Knowles.

The stone foundation was actually a moulded clear plastic sheet, which had to be glued to the cardboard foundation. The "stones" were hand painted with Floquil earth as a base coat and also to represent the mortar between the stones. When dry, I then brush painted it with various shades of hand-mixed Floquil colours to represent the individual stones. This approach is very similar to an artist painting an oil or watercolour painting and mixing colours up on the fly and is great fun.

An additional loading dock was added at the rear of the main building for road vehicles.

Rail and road loading docks
The photo above shows the two loading docks that I scratch built for the depot.
Photo: Chris Butler

The rail freight door was modified with the addition of some scribed basswood detailing (the stock door looked a little bland to my eye) and road freight doors were made from the scribed Basswood sheet left over from the one piece decking.

All of the dimensional basswood details (rafter ends, decking, stairs, etc.) were given extra grain by running an Atlas Snap saw edgewise over it. Once that was done I stained it with a mixture of rubbing alcohol and shoe dye (both black and brown). When dry, I could then glue the pieces together. If you try to stain it after gluing, the glue will stand out like a sore thumb, as it can't take stain at all.

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All photographs and content © copyright 2002-4, Chris Butler - All Rights Reserved, except where noted
Last updated: October 2004.