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Phillip Friddell
19 articles

I Didn’t Want to Do It!

May 9, 2021 · in Diorama · 12 · 1.6K

But I did it anyway. A highly-valued friend of mine, an individual I've known since 1965, asked me to build a firehouse for another friend's HO layout while our family at his place for dinner one Saturday evening. Truth be known there was no interest whatsoever on my part to do such a thing, but a friend is a friend so I eventually, and more than a little reluctantly, agreed. Chalk it up to comradeship, a desire to help someone who possessed no modeling skills regarding buildings in that scale, or maybe it was just the 12-year-old Bourbon we were enjoying at the time, but a repackage of Bachmann's Pleistocene-era fire station accompanied me back to my house that evening. Heck, it was just a building, and it was polystyrene. How bad could it be?

The answer there was bad. Really bad. Bad in all capital letters. BAD!

The plastic was thick, as were all the the sprue attachment points. Nothing in the kit fit properly with anything else inside that box---truth be known it's doubtful anything had ever fit especially well on that model given the era in which it was tooled---and the passage of the many decades since its birth in the late 1950s or early 1960s hadn't helped matters any. To make things worse, the kit wasn't a Bachmann original issue but rather a far more recent repop somewhat poorly molded in some unknown offshore facility. The instructions were shaky as well, at least in terms of part identification, although it must be admitted that there weren't all that many parts in the first place and the instructions were therefore superfluous to the task at hand.

Anyway, the thing got itself built, but a fair number of kit parts were scrapped (read "they were so bad I threw them away and started over from scratch" here) and some other details were scratch-built as well, albeit more out of necessity than any desire on my part to be doing that sort of thing. The kit's cardboard interior baffles were given to one of my grandkids to play with and were replaced with sheet styrene items that actually baffled the light inside the structure, while a minuscule amount of groundwork was added for effect and to hopefully make it easier to blend the station in with the rest of the layout once it got to its final home.

Painting and weathering were the fun part of the event and provided several enjoyable hours of entertainment---in point of fact they were the ONLY enjoyable hours of the entire project, but a commitment is a commitment so the thing was duly finished and delivered.

The model was finished off in various colors of old Floquil, Testors ModelMaster paint, along with assorted acrylics and oils, while the minimal graffiti was done with a Sharpie on clear decal stock.

Its owner says he likes it a lot, which makes the whole thing worthwhile, mostly, but to paraphrase the Woodrow Call character after his thousand-mile trek with the body of Augustus McCrae in the novel Lonesome Dove, I guess I'll be more careful what I promise people from now on!


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12 responses

  1. I think many of us have been down the path of being asked to model something for a friend or a family member. Really tough to decline such a request. What you've done with that firehouse looks quite good although I can feel your pain in trying to work with that Bachmann pop-off kit. Your attempt to build it certainly came out well. True grit and determination come to mind.

  2. Thanks, Jim! I have to admit the phrase "never again" comes to mind every time I think of that project!


  3. Turned out nice.

  4. Looks great, Phillip (@phillipfriddell). I have been building model train and model planes for many years now and find that all of our building techniques work for both. Having both hobbies doesn't do the wallet any good.

    • I am also a model railroader and model builder. I agree that the skills required are similar for both hobbies. I also got back into 1/32 scale slot racing a few years back...too many hobbies, LOL.

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    Walt said on May 10, 2021

    Excellent looking building. I love the touches, variations in tone on the bricks and the graffiti is a nice touch. I wouldn't have wanted to build it either but sometimes those are the best builds to do! I am sure your friend, and the final recipient will be very pleased!

  6. Hard to tell from the pictures, but did you use strips of fine grit sandpaper to mimic the tar roof covering? Would your friend send a picture of it installed in the layout for us?

  7. It was a hassle from start to finish but it came out ok in the end.

    Josh, the roof was slightly textured as it came with the kit. All I did was airbrush a fairly thick coat of Floquil Grimy Black on it, a radical departure for me since my paint is normally thinned to the point of being almost translucent, and then washed it several times with highly diluted white indelible artist's ink. I'm glad you like the effect.

    I'll ask about getting a photo of the layout and will post it if I receive one.

    Thanks to all!

  8. The Firehouse looks amazing, Phillip, and kudos to your skills amd persistence over than less than perfect kit!
    It's really hard (practically impossible) to say no to such family requests...

  9. Well done Phillip, and I fully agree friendship along with some 12 year old bourbon can lead to some interesting agreements. Firehouse looks great.

  10. 12 YO Bourbon? Modeling? I'll drink to that!
    For something you weren't wanting to do, it sure came out great! Friendship is important, so kudos to you for doing something very nice for a friend.

  11. 🙂 ... Greetings ... 🙂 :
    Well made firehouse Phillip !
    Hope to see this project in your friend layout.

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