Building Brunswick Balke Collender (Part 1)

With work on the tracklaying progressing, and hitting a wiring snafu, it seemed like a good time to work on something else to clear my mind and feel like I was making progress. I started work early on on one building, the power house for the Brunswick Balke Collender pool table factory. I started working on this some time ago, but this weekend, after my electrical glitches (and I will have more to say about that in the future), simple scratchbuilding seemed like a safe way to make some progress.

Starting the Building Construction from scratch process. A big (11×17) pad of grid paper, drawings of the building, and pencils and squares.

For Brunswick, I had plans of the restoration/modifications made in recent years, obtained through the City of Toronto’s public development application portal, the Application Information Centre. Many City’s now have these public portals, if you keep an eye on them, all kinds of useful modelling information can turn up on them. Old industrial buildings are nice, as while they often have a lot of windows and detail, large parts are also very regular and repetitive for laying out windows and brick rows, which definitely aids in modelling them.

Building up blocks of windows from Tichy Styrene parts, groups of four of different heights and widths to match the appearance of the prototype building.

For this project, the lone picture I have of the pre-replacement modern windows, through combining blocks of off the shelf windows, I can recreate the look of the building. Each window is four windows glued together using a small strip of styrene in the back to provide strength and to wick glue along to bond the frame.

The process of building a wall, cutting out window openings in a 0.060″ Styrene inner core, installing the windows, and adding brick sheet overlay.

Last year I built the portion of the side wall I need. Because almost all of my buildings are low relief against the backdrop, almost none of them actually have four walls, and most are only bits of the buildings. I means I get to replicate a lot of different looks and styles, but don’t have to do too much of any. My technique for scratchbuilding is evolving, but at the moment, it generally involves using 0.060″ styrene to create inner walls, marking where I need to cut the window and door openings, and doing so with a Nibbler. Slow and steady work with this, it generates a lot of annoying little bits of styrene, but with some care, you get window openings the perfect size to slot your windows into. For this building, I am using off the shelf windows, for others, I will be drawing my own parts to 3D print, and resin casting windows for the models. With the windows in, the last step is to prepare an overlay of brick styrene, and cut the windows out of that. With that done, you have a wall.

IMG_8223Brunswick Balke Collender looked like this from late May 2019 to February 2020. With a gust of motivation, soon the printout and cardboard will be replaced by a ready to be painted styrene building.

Sometimes, I find I need to be in the right mood, and for a variety of reasons, this project sat off to the side as other layout tasks (who cars about track and running trains, lets build some awesome buildings, says the guy whose wiring doesn’t seem to work right!).

When I came back to the project this past weekend, I decided that I could knock out the main wall in a day. I transferred all the planning dimensions from the paper pad to the styrene, and set to nibbling out windows, suffice to say, it was a bit of a slow and steady wins the race task, something I sometimes struggle with. Some of my windows are more carefully cut out than others, something that has a knock on effect on fitting the windows evenly if they are too big. Important reminder, go slowly and test fi/check as you go. Its easier to take more material off than to add more on!!

Working my way around the front wall of Brunwick. Transfer to Styrene, cutting out windows, test fitting, finishing the cutting, and all the windows in to check before gluing.

I was back at it tonight working on getting the windows glued in and the brick on the exterior started, but I’ll save that for a follow up post along with starting the process to get the building to stand on its own feet and be ready for eventual installation on the layout. Still lots to do on this one, but its starting to look the part on my workbench.

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