Christopher Brimley updated January 25, 2011

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  • Scale Window Mullions

    The window mullions mark nearly every plastic structure look as "model." You can make them look more like the prototype with replacement windows.
    Railmodel Journal - June 2000 - Page 55

    Robert Schleicher

    Model railroaders have an ever-increasing selection of plastic structure kits that are based on American prototype structures, Walthers, in particular, has produced some really excellent HO and N scale industrial buildings that are typical, at least, of structures found in towns and cities across America. At a glance, these models are far more realistic than the European-prototype plastic kits or the replicas of some modeler's fantasy structure that made up the bulk of the choices for HO and N scale model railroad structure kits a decade or so ago, Also, the surface textures have improved so we no longer have concrete block-sized bricks (at least in H O scale).

    Something, though, is still very much lacking in virtually all the new plastic structures. They just don't look "real." It's the windows. The majority of the HO and N scale plastic kits are made by either Heljan or Pola, regardless of whether the kit carries a Walthers, Life-Like, Con-Cor, IRC, Model Power or even a Heljan or Pola label. The window mullions in every one of these kits are far, far too thick, In the case of N scale kits, about six times too thick, and the HO scale mullions are about three times too thick. The thinnest N scale mullion I could find measured a scale 6 inches thick and the thinnest HO mullion a scale 3 1/2 inches, Prototype window mullions are about an inch or less. The problem is most apparent in N scale, but it's also obvious that the windows on HO scale plastic structure kits are twice as thick as they should be. It is possible to make plastic windows with scale-size mullions, Grandt Line has dozens, unfortunately none of the Grandt Line windows fit any of the plastic structure kits without major filing for each window opening. The British-prototype Ratio kits (distributed by F&H) have etched-brass windows and mullions to surmount the problem.

    The simplest solution is to go back to the window-modeling technique that was common in the 1940s when building kits were made of cardboard; print the window mullions on the window material itself. If the window mullions are fairily thick, like those in a Victorian house, the lines are too shallow for an HO scale model. For any N scale window and for HO scale windows with multiple panes, the printed-plastic window is far more realistic than the injection molded windows in most kits.

    You can install some interior walls to block the "see through" effect. I cut some of the Signs Galore W&1#2 Interiors for industrial shop" ($5.00 plus postage) directly behind the clear windows.
    Railmodel Journal - June 2000 - Page 56

    Signs Galore, 9 Carlson Lane, Palm Coast, FL 32137-8150 is offering pre-printed plastic replacement windows for many of the better Walthers, DPM and City Classics structure kits in both HO and N scale. Signs Galore also makes printed clear plastic windows with printed mullions for the Bachmann HO scale diesel engine house. Walthers Harwood Furniture is available ,in both HO and N scale, and because of the multiple window panes, it is a model that can benefit most from scale-size window mullions. The Signs Galore window kits are $8,00 each in HO scale and $4.00 each in N scale, plus $2.00 shipping and handling. A Harwood B Furniture #1 and Harwood Furniture #2 kit are required for the many windows in the Walthers kit. Send a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the Signs Galore price list to determine if they make the windows for the structure you want. They offer custom sheets for special projects and those prices are also on their price sheets.

    To install the Signs Galore windows, assemble the walls, roof, floor and doors, and paint and weather the building. Cut each window from the Signs Galore sheet. Apply a single drop of white glue, artist's Gloss Medium or Testors Cement for Clear Parts to the inside of each wall at each corner of each window. Carefully press the clear windows in place so you do not smear the cement onto the clear window surface. Work with one wall at a time and let it dry resting on the workbench. Since you can now actually see in to the building, you may want to add some in terior walls just so you cannot see through it. Signs Galore offers some building interior sheets of machinery and shelving that you can cement behind the windows to suggest a working interior.

    RMJ

    Article Details

    • Original Author Robert Schleicher
    • Source Railmodel Journal

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1 comment
  • Doug Alexander likes this
  • Doug Alexander
    Doug Alexander There are some great ideas and tips here. I am planning on building a Southern Rwy roundhouse, and the huge windows have been worrying me. But Robert looks to have shown me the way! Thanks for posting this.
    March 26, 2011