Cibola Depot

I have delayed long enough (5 years) time to build the depot for the company town of Cibola. I actually started this project long ago but never got further than the base and stem walls. I like the size and the design but the material I have used does not really appeal to me. I think I can live with it if the rest of the construction job is good.

Currently the building is mounted on a piece of 1/2″ styrene plastic screwed to  a sheet of  3/8″ plywood. The walkway is made of birch coffee stirs laid out to look like tongue and groove flooring while the express freight / baggage dock is floored with pine tongue depressors.

The stem walls are made from cedar that has been run through the table saw to create a board and batten siding. This is the part I really do not like. It was an early attempt at trying to make the siding weather proof. It couldn’t peel off if it part of the original wood. It looks a little bird-housy to me but maybe it will improve once complete.

Here is the current status. I have included a 1/20.3 Greenman to give an idea of its size. Click on the pictures get a larger view.


There is no flooring on the inside as this building will not have an interior. Windows and doors will all be modeled closed.

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Getting started is dragging. I think the first thing to do is reinforce the walls and fix some of the gaps and alibis in the siding. You can see some of these areas at the corners and along the sides. Since this is made from scrap pieces there are quite a few misaligned joints to fix.

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Because the grain runs vertically on the wall sections I need to reinforce them horizontally. I glued in 3/4″ X 3/4″ pine supports all the way around the top edge.

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Going around the outside of the building I fixed all the misaligned sections and replaced the missing battens. Let me point out once again that cutting these on the saw is a very poor way to do this style of siding. Now the building is starting to look a lot better. Less Junior High School wood shop birdhouse project…much more model railroad building.

Time to do the doors and the window. I measured all of the openings and congratulated myself. At some point I had cut them all to the correct size and uniformly. Because the roof will be permanently attached I will not be able to get inside the building to install clear acetate for the windows. All of the doors and the window will have to be built separately so they can put in place from the outside after painting.

It is not my favorite way to build these but really not that hard to do. I made each door frame and then the door. All were fitted to their openings and the battens cut back to allow a flush mount. Details for hinges and handles were added.

With the door frames in place I could now cut and glue the lower furring strips. I am using 1/8 by 1/4 bass wood. By holding it up to the base I could use a razor saw to make the cut across the wall. The wood is soft but working against the floor made it hard to reach. Using a small screwdriver I then chiseled the end of the batten off. Sometimes the batten was already split from the wall and either cracked more or broke off completely. Repairs were made. All in all a lot of time was wasted. Another reason why this sucked as a way for making this siding.

To finish, the furring strip was glued in place and cut at the corners as needed. I did the top furring strips in the same manner. They were much easier to reach. A little sanding along the top of the walls to square them up and I had the bottom of the structure done.

Looking pretty good now. Way better than I ever thought it would.

Next is the roof but first I wanted to gauge the final project so I placed a few people and details for concept. The depot will be a busy place


I am now stuck trying to decide on a gable form for the roof. My ideas are a regular right angle gable.

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A Salt Box gable.

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Or a reverse Salt Box Gable.

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After consulting with some train buddies who are also excellent carpenters and home re-modelers I settled on the original gable. Boards were cut and the ceiling and gables fitted into place.

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I cut pieces of hardboard for the sub-roof and glued them on. I did not get the sections lined up perfectly so I took the roof out to the table saw and ran the lower edge through the saw. All lined up nice and smooth now.

Trim was added all the way around and a roof was glued on underneath where it would show. Looking better all the time.

With battens and a attic vent the roof construction was done.

The main roof only covers the track side of the platform and rear freight dock. A cover over the side deck is needed. It is a simple design similar to that found on any patio of the period. I started by joining  the posts and beam using pins made from round craft toothpicks. Once the glue dried I cut off the extra. The bottom of the posts are done the same way to attach them to the platform. A couple of supports were added between the building and the support beam to keep the assembly in place and a piece of hardboard was attached for the sub roof. All it needs now is a strip of 1/8″ strip wood for the trim.

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The overhangs on both sides of the building also need support. For the track-side passenger waiting area I made carved posts out of beads and 3/8 x 3/8 strip wood. The beads are wood and plastic and already had holes through the center. I cut two lengths of square stock for each post and beveled one end. A hole was drilled and a bamboo skewer was glued in. The beads were added with the final piece of square stock glued on top. Like the plane posts these were pinned top and bottom in the same manner using the round toothpicks. To dress them up a little I added gussets at the top of each post.


The rear freight dock caused a bit of a problem. I had built myself into a corner. Having free wheeled the construction I had not accounted for the inset of the dock. To make it look right I knew the post and beams had to be at the far edge of the roof. I decided a double post with a foot would adequately support the roof even if this was not a proper design. To give the model strength for handling and transport I turned the posts in line with the gable and attached the foot to the base. Lesson time make a complete drawing before starting.

The front and back supports were now done. This design lets the roof be removable for the installation of the doors and window, and someday, maybe lights.

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The last bit of construction needed before paint is the skirting. I went with a simple frontier vertical board skirt. This is made from coffee stirs. They were glued on side by side and once dry trimmed to length. Once all four sides were done I turned the building upside down and sanded the bottom ends flush so they would not snag on anything.

Ready for paint.

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I have amazed myself. I am very pleased with the project…never thought it would look this good considering how rough it started out.


The structure and doors were both painted with a heavy coat of black to help seal all that ugly old wood and bring all the different material colors to one neutral starting point. I let everything dry overnight and then gave everything a coat of grey primer to help brighten the final color.

The building got a double coat of Cibola Green (Krylon Green Apple) while the doors were brush painted with craft paint Sage green. This same color was used on the building’s trim. I have painted many of my buildings in company colors but this one was influenced by the depot in Agnew CA (circa 1880). It is lighter shade on the walls with the doors, windows and trim in the darker accent color. Its not easy being green, that is why only the cool kids can pull it off.

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Since the depot represents a structure 10-15 years old that gets regular if not always professional maintenance I did not want to go heavy on the age. To keep the weathering lite the building was done with a varying degree of sanding on the sides and heavy traffic platform. The doors were sanded and then washed with black stain and a final dry-brush of faint gray.

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I have done several corrugated roofs but I want this one to look more sophisticated so I chose asphalt shingle. The shingle style I am doing is called “three tab square-cut shingles”. These came into use in the late 1920s in red, green and gray. My plan is to use 100 grit wet/dry sandpaper cut into strips and then to spray paint it black and gray.

red shingle

To start I marked the roof sections with some guidelines. These are not necessarily where the shingle edge will fall but are there to help keep the rows straight.  I marked the sheets of sandpaper in 1/2″ intervals for the tab cuts. Then I cut the sheets across those lines into 1/2″ strips. Using scissors I partially cut through the strips at each line. Sort of like making Campbell’s shingle strips in G scale.


Starting at the bottom I glued on the first row and allowed it to dry completely. I wanted it well anchored so the entire roof did not slide down. I am using Elmer’s glue as it dries clear and takes paint well. I found I could do 4-5 rows before they started to sag. I glued a section and then waited for 30-40 minutes for it to get tacky and mostly dry. During these down times I marked and cut the next sheet of shingles. It is taking about one day to do each side of the main roof. About 4 sheets. That means I am laying over 4.6 square feet of shingles. Labor intensive to say the least.

Three days later and very tired of cutting and gluing shingles, they were all on. I let them dry overnight and then made the decision to stay with the red color. They were very clean and bright. To subdue the color and duplicate some of the variegated tones of the real thing I sealed the roof with a heavy coat of matte finish. The next day I gave it multiple coats of black wash. When it dried it looked pretty good. I resisted the urge to dry brush any gray on.

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The picture does not do it much justice. In real life it is a good dark cranberry with flowing tones. A final coating of matte sealer ended it.

The last part of the structure was  to prepare the windows and their shadow boxes. These were fairly simple. I glued in a piece of acetate to the inside of the frame with Elmer’s glue to avoid fogging and discoloration. Two, 1 inch strips of matte board were glued on each side of the window with the dark finish facing in. Next, a wooden spacer was added just out of sight above the window. A shade was cut from manila paper and attached partially covering the window. Once dry the back was glued on. The window got curtains made from craft paper.

Leaving these to dry for now. They will go in with the other details.


I had a bunch of people already painted and waiting for this structure but decided the mix was not right. I kept about six of them and made nine new figures. From left to right they are: Standing woman, sitting woman, Chuck Inlow, Mik Bupp, forest ranger, Bob Cope, Dave Marconi, myself, Dan Hilyer.

The named figures are all friends from the Large Scale Central forum. Chuck and Mik are deceased, they were great fun and wonderful modelers. I thought it would nice to honor them by including them on the layout as part of this build. They will be working the “Night Shift” on the truck dock. The other four are all of us that early on said we were going to the 2018 NGRC. We will be a group of travelers waiting on a train.

I have covered making figures extensively in other parts of the site so I won’t go into much detail here, just hit the highlights. I have pics of all the real people so I will come as close as I can. Remember I am not a sculptor or artist of any kind.

Body position, heads and arms were set and putty added. Here is everybody in various states of progress. I had to start over on Bob Cope as he is taller than I originally thought and the first figure was to short. Oh I should mention I have never met any of these people in person. I just know them from on-line…..but we are going to have a good time in Atlanta!

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More progress. Putty, sculpt, sand, repeat.

Finally everyone is in primer. The last figure is one I made a year or so ago. I decided to include him as I needed more walking figures. I call him “Mr Bojangles”.


Time to get these painted. You might notice in the pictures that Chuck, Bob and Dave have some weird stuff on their faces. This is the frames for their glasses. I am using a different technique than the solid molded version I had been doing on figures. You can see it on Mik. This new way is to paint the figure and then cut clear acrylic pieces of  plastic for the lens and glue them on afterwards. I did this with a figure I made for my friend Aaron Loyett and it worked very well. You can see the difference compared to the figure on the right. Details on this later.

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Making the glasses is tedious but not real difficult. I have done this several different ways and it is still a work in progress. The first version I did was to mold the glasses on with modeling putty. It looks okay and is easy. But I wanted transparent lens.

Version 1: I added the side frames to the figures head using fine floral wire. Small piece was super-glued to the figure from the ears to the corner of the eye and across the bridge of the nose. Once dry they were trimmed to length. This proved fiddly  due to the stiffness of the wire.

Version 2: Using small rectangular strips of styrene I added the side-frames nose bridge with model glue. Once dry they too were trimmed to fit.

The figures were primed and painted. While they dried I cut the lenses out of clear material. I have tried both acetate and bubble pack covers (used on every product that hangs on a rack). The second one is softer and works better. To begin I made strips of equal width and then cut them either round or rectangular to length using scissors. I switched to an Exacto knife to round the edges. The lenses are small and hard to control. There is no good way to do this. I ended up just chopping the corners off until they were round. Keeping the pairs the same size and shape based on comparison.

Once cut I colored the edge black with a fine-point indelible marker. Then I used a #00 brush to paint antique gold on the rims. I trimmed the side frames while test fitting the lens. Once I got the length right I filled the eyeball with Elmer’s white glue and positioned the lens. The glue dries clear leaving the eye visible. This takes about a day and half for the fog to clear.

Hollywood’s glasses are done with wire. You can see the nose bridge piece real well.

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Chuck is done with styrene strip. I think this is the way I will go in the future.

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In the mean time the rest of the figures have been painted and finished. A few changes were made over who I would use but here they are. (click for larger view)


And I have been asked how close did I come on modeling my friends….

group 0

Hollywood and Boomer

group 2

Dan and Bob

group 1

Mik and Chuck

group 3

Well that leaves signs and few other stray details.

I copied real signs into Power Point and sized them for printing in 1/20.3

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Some are straight copies, some are made using the graphics of PP and others are a manipulation. I put local places on the railroad on the bulletin board and time schedule.

These were printed on self adhesive vinyl and then stuck to styrene backers. The edges were painted black using indelible marker. They were glued on using E6K.

All the parts are finished and it is time for final assembly.

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The doors and window went in first. They were already a press fit so I only secured them with a single drop of glue at the top behind the frame. If I ever want to remove them it should not be to difficult.

An inside view of the shadow boxes for the doors and the window curtains.


The first figures I installed were those on the benches. These were attached by either drilling holes in the bench or through the back and into the building and gluing in wood dowels. Some of the benches have dowels in their feet and into the floor. Each bench has one figure with a dowel from a figure through the bench and into the wall of the depot. The remaining figures are attached to the just the benches using the dowels.


Walking or standing figures all have dowels through one leg and are glued in using super glue. The freight and other sitting figures have dowels in their bottoms.

A few final details had to be made for Mik and Chuck. The sandwiches are thin foam for the bread and paper for the cheese & meat slices. The lettuce is Woodland Scenics ground foam. The beer bottles are sanded down from plastic model car sprue. The grapefruit and the banana are sanded out of styrene. That stupid banana took over an hour to make.

Mr Bojangles’ cane is a piece of solid copper 10 ga. wire with the insulation removed.

The baggage wagon got two dowels in the front and rear axles hidden behind the wheels. The wheels themselves are to thin and narrow to provide a strong mounting point. The dowels are painted black to help hide them.

Well it is done. It looks so much better than I ever thought it could.

As promised here are the finished pictures.

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I took this to the NGRC in Atlanta. It weighs about 30 lbs and does not fit in the jeep very well. 3200 miles later it had only a small rub on the roof and one figure that came loose.

Oh one more picture:

con 3


First place Scratch-built Structures


Best of Show

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