Make Your Mark

Hampton Hill Makeover Bachmann OO Signalbox
Catalogue. No. 44-010

Of late there have been many releases of resin cast buildings in both 4mm/OO and 2mm/N gauge scales from both Bachmann and Hornby. As these are mass produced items there is a real chance that you will see the same items on different layouts. I recently had a look at the Bachmann Hampton Hill signal box from their Scalescene range, to see if it were relatively easy to customise them, to give them a more individual appearance. The following technique works as well on the Hornby Skaledale building range.

I obtained two samples of the Hampton Hill signal box 44-010 which unfortunately had been dropped, and the areas at either end of both samples had broken away. As we were doing a test of this technique the damage was not of concern and was actually fortuitous, as it gave me the opportunity to repair them, which was easily done using normal superglue, and once the broken parts had been joined, accelerator applied. This makes the glue cure very, very, quickly, and the repair was almost invisible.

Having made the repair this gave me the confidence that the chimneys of the buildings could be replaced too, so using side cutters the chimney was cut away, the top of the stacks cleaned up with a file and then replacement plastic pots were made, one from scrap tube, and the other from the Wills scenic building accessory pack SS46.

Removal of cast chimney

These give an immediate improvement to the appearance and are well worth doing even if you don’t repaint the buildings. I used Tamiya acrylics for all the paint on these buildings as they are easy to get hold of in many good quality model shops and are easy to use.

Cutting back layers

The first thing to do is repaint the areas where there is a wash applied by the manufacturer to make the base color opaque, as in some areas we’ll be removing the paint to get a weathered effect.

Original and first stage paint

I started with a dark color, Hull Red XF9, and using a sponge applied the paint in a dabbing motion over all the brickwork, you can see the difference this makes in the comparison shot. I also break it up with a lighter color Flat Earth XF52 and leave it to dry out thoroughly. This is important for the next part of the technique to work.

Once the paint has dried I use a very fine wet and dry paper to cut away some of the paint layers, if you vary the pressure you apply, you remove different amounts of paint that gives a random pattern effect. You can accentuate this with the glass fibre brush, which will allow you to get into corners and detail you can’t reach with the paper. You’ll note I’m wearing latex gloves to prevent getting glass fibre splinters which can be very painful, and difficult to remove. Work your way around the whole building and don’t get too fixated in one place, as this helps keep the finish more natural.

Adding paint texture

Once all the faces/walls of the building are done I then pick out individual bricks using a mix of either water color pencils or acrylic paint applied with a very fine brush. There are also air ventilation grills on the building and these are picked out using a thin black or very dark grey wash.

Detail painting

As the building was nearly complete I turned my attention to the cracked are of the base, and decided that by applying some grass I’d hide any remaining visible damage. Using ‘No Nails’ type glue, I cover the area of damage with a thin layer. Then using dyed medical lint I gently cover that area and press the fluffy side of the lint to the glue and leave it to set for a good few hours.

Vegetation detail

Once happy its dried you can then pull away the textile backing and it leaves the grass in place, just requiring a few weeds from scatter material. The work you’ve done should give the model a matt finish, but I usually give a gentle dust over around the base with ground up artists pastels. You can take the process further if you like, on one I cut corrugated iron panels from Wills Scenic sheet SSMP216 to fill the windows, to give a derelict ready for demolition appearance. I was pleased with how these turned out, for a few hours work of an evening, you can change a good basic model into a much more realistic and individual building, that will stand out from the crowd.

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2 Responses to Make Your Mark

  1. Russ says:

    This is very helpful and very handy,a shame there are not more articles like this

  2. David Murray says:

    Very informative article that shows the appearance of the building at various stages of the transformation. A very kind person bought me an old Hornby Dublo die-cast signal box a while ago and I’m going to install windows, floor, control panels and illumination. Then I’m going to position it on the sitting room pelmet next to my Duchess of Montrose and 7 Hornby Dublo Pullman carriages. These are just displayed as my attic bedroom ‘scruffy little branch line’ would never see a Pullman service!

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