Christopher Brimley updated March 28, 2011


Christopher Brimley's Tags


Browse Articles » How-To Text View Magazine View

  • Building a Miniature Apartment House

    Model Builder - November 1940 - Page 24

    The fun of model railroading lies in the development of a system which looks real as life. Models of the greatest conceivable variety may be included. Factories, gas stations, signal towers, roundhouses, and other industrial units have their places in your railroad empire. But don't forget to provide living quarters for the populace of your model community.

    Apartment houses are not often seen in model systems, but a group of these buildings will make an interesting, modern variation. The three buildings illustrated in this article may be used as one unit or separately. They will form a fine residential section for your railroad.

    Apartment buildings are often surrounded by some kind of park with well-kept lawn and trees. When you are building your models it is best to do some landscaping too.

    Construction suggestions for the apartment buildings are given in this article. Study the drawings and read the notes carefully. Model Builder instructions often provide two or three methods of constructing a model on the theory that you will choose the method which is handiest for you. Beyond doubt, the simplest way to make a building is to lay it out in the form of a pattern with the two sides and ends all in one piece. The corners may be scribed and the building bent to shape. This is simple in the case of small buildings, and will be found to save a great deal of time and labor. However, in the case of the apartment houses and other large buildings, sheets of cardboard large enough to do this are not easy to find. The materials which you have at hand will guide you in choosing the method of construction.

    Model Builder - November 1940 - Page 25

    All three apartment buildings can be built in the same manner. Large sheets of poster board can be used to make the walls. Lay out the walls and windows on the board, and then cut out with a sharp pointed knife or a razor blade. Cut out the roof. Assemble the building with wood reinforcements on the inside of the corners. Small brads and cement may be used for this work. The base bands, copings and cornices may be added.The windows which were cut in the walls must be finished. They may be glazed with cellophane or celluloid after the building is painted. Window sashes are painted on the cellophane. If you desire other windows, they may be painted on with a stencil.

    Building "C" has a skylight on the roof. This is built up from cardboard and may be glazed from the inside. Inside the cellophane a thin tissue paper may be cemented so the skylight will be translucent but not transparent.

    The water tank on top of Building "C" is built of a tin can. Wire rings encircle the tank and a respaced closer at the bottom than at the top. A cone is cut and attached to the top of the can. This forms the roof and is crowned by a short pinnacle. It is easiest to make it of cardboard. This is done by drawing a Circle, on the board, slightly larger than the diameter of the can, and then cutting out a thin slice as you would a piece of pie. The board then may be turned and cemented in the shape of a cone. The supports beneath the tank may be made of wire and wood. For this, thin strips of balsa wood could be used satisfactorily.


    Rods, square sticks, or heavy wire may be used as the vertical supports or posts. Use the most convenient material. The complete tank unit then is attached to the roof. Small holes may be punched in the roof to receive the uprights or legs of the tank. They then are pushed into these holes with a drop of cement added.

    Building "A" follows the same, construction procedure as the previous one. On the front elevation a strip of cardboard with the windows cut out may be added. This, is placed vertically in the center and makes the wall a little more interesting. A penthouse may be added, as indicated on the plans.

    Building "B" has a framework of structural steel that is exposed, This is a little construction touch that is nice to add to a system occasionally. A derrick may be added if desired, and it could be swinging a steel girder into place.

    Painting the buildings is the last step. Colors ground in Japan are best for this purpose. They come in cans or tubes and must be mixed with turpentine. This paint dries rapidly to a dull finish. If Japan colors are not obtainable, use any paint that is not glossy.

    The walls would be stone or concrete and should be painted in the color of this material. A very light grey, almost white, is mixed. A touch of orange, yellow or red may be added. The roof may be painted a fiat black.

    The windows that you did not cut out may now be painted on with a stencil. This stencil is easily made by cutting out a window from a piece of cardboard. Do not cut away the cross bars in the center openings but leave these in. Leave plenty of cardboard around the windows. Place the stencil where you wish the window and paint it in with a thick bluish paint. It should not be watery as thin paint would run between the stencil and the wall and the painted windows would have jagged edges. Wipe off the paint on the stencil after each application.

    The structural steel work may be painted orange, and the tank and skylight a light grey. The roof of the tank and its supports may be black.

    Article Album (1 photo)

    Share - Report
  • Rick Schoch likes this
  • Rick Schoch
    Rick Schoch Ah, you've been going through those old mags too. What a fascinating slice of history. #1 it makes you want to stand up and salute those old pioneers. #2 it makes you realize how good we have it today, not only with great kits but also a plethora of scrat...  more
    March 28, 2011
  • John Pestana
    John Pestana I agree. It is really fun to look through the older magazines. I especially like the RailNews articles.
    March 29, 2011
  • Steven  Smith
    Steven Smith I love those old articles.. Back then You had to make stuff scratch and it built skills
    March 31, 2011