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  • Build a Market in HO Scale

    Build a Market in HO Scale

    By Christopher Brimley

    Design Preservation Models (DPM) started to finally update their stagnant selection of structures last year. One of the first newly-released kits is the Stone Bakery (243-12300) in HO scale. Fortunately, some of the traditional methods of building a DPM structure have changed, while others you wish had changed, didn’t. While I will go over some of the changes in DPM’s construction and what I like or dislike, this is not a review of the kit, just some of my thoughts.

    Your little market or corner grocer were at one time commonplace. As the country progressed and people’s lifestyles changed, markets and corner grocers started to disappear. While many of these smaller markets do still exist, they are primarily in larger cities in the downtown areas where large grocery stores typically aren’t found. So, a little market like this could fit in your layout in almost any era with some slight modifications.


    A traditional DPM kit included four walls, a door, sheet styrene for a roof, strip styrene for support ,and acetate for windows. The walls were simply butted into each other with nothing to guide you. This wasn’t very difficult to do, you just needed a little patience. Now, the kit comes with slots for the corresponding parts to link into, as well as locking tabs for the side and back walls. It all goes together very well, and I was pleasantly surprised, however, there was one big hang up with the kit -- the windows were still molded in with the walls.

    First, I gave all the parts a quick bath in warm soapy water and allowed them to air dry. I then began to assemble the kit, and it went together very easily. I used plastic cement to fix it all together. Another thing I noticed, which was very nice to see, was little to no flashing on the parts. This expedited construction nicely.


    Because of the molded-in windows, I devised a very simple technique to solve this issue:

    1.  I spray the building with my air brush using the color I want the window frames to be. I used Reefer White (414113).

    2.  Next, I mask the windows, but not in the traditional way. I take .005” sheet styrene and cut it to be a perfect fit in the opening. To hold it into place, I dip each short end into a little rubber cement, which cleans up very easily.

    3.  I then spray the building the color I want for the brick. For this I used Boxcar Red (414281). Also, for this building I went ahead and traditionally masked off the store front after the red was dry and sprayed it with Steam Power Black (414110).

    4.  I removed the plastic masks to reveal the window frames. I just stab the masks with my hobby knife and pull them out. You should have very clean and crisp looking windows now.

    For the bay window I was a little undecided on what to do with it, so I ended up brush painting it. I used SP Lark Dark Grey (414182) for the bulk, Reefer Grey (414116) on the panels and Reefer White on the window frames.

    I then went through the building and painted all of the sills and lintels on the windows, the chimney caps, and the cornice with the Reefer Grey. Next, I painted the back doors with Roof Brown (414275). For the roof, I masked it off and sprayed it with SP Lark Dark Grey. I then went through and painted the molded-on details with various colors.


    The kit includes many detail parts to use on the kit. Another hang up I have with the kit is there are holes all over the building for the details to go into. If you decide not to use these parts. it will require a good deal of work to fill all of the holes in. I decided to go ahead and add all of them to the building. On the back they give you a fire escape, down spout, and electrical conduit with panels. They also give you five window AC units and a sign for the front.

    Also included in the kit is a sheet of dry-transfer decals for you to use as you wish on the structure. I added one of the larger signs to the side of the building and then weathered it heavily.

    On the bay window I decided to add shingles to the roof. You can buy commercial shingles in many styles, but I decided to go with some homemade ones. Before I started to apply the shingles, I first made some flashing.  I used .010x .100” strip styrene that I painted with a silver paint pen. I cut an angle into one end and attached them to the brick above the roof.

    I used a sheet of mint colored paper I cut into a strip that was about 3/16” wide to form the shingles. I then cut it into little squares and applied them to the roof using Cyanoacrylate (CA) glue. As each row was made, I dabbed on a little diluted India Ink to age and color the shingles so they are not uniform.

    The Store Front

    To make the market, I started by adding signage to the outside. I designed my own that I added to the included sign and to the top of the store front. Next, I added a few signs to the windows as well. I also decided to paint the door to the upper floors red to add a little more color to the building.

    Fruit Stands

    To really emphasize that this is a market, I decided to add fruit and vegetable stands outside. To build the two stands, I started by building the base of the box by gluing a strip of .020x .250” to a strip of .020x .125” strip and then glued the two together. This gave me a base that is about 3 scale feet deep. Next, I added three strips of .020x .040” onto the underside to have something for the legs to attach to. I then cut the legs from .030” square strip into two different lengths to have the box sit at a slight angle. I also added .020x .040” strip supports to the sides of the legs to make the stands look a little more visually pleasing. To make the sides of the boxes, I added strip of .010x .080” to the sides of the base and then added a .010x .060” divider. To finish them off, I painted them Concrete (404317).

    To make the fruit, I found a very simple solution, colored sprinkles. In N Scale, I made fruit using micro-beads and painted them, but for HO, the sprinkles are perfect. I found a mix of six different color sprinkles at Michael's that were the perfect diameter. To glue them to the boxes, I decided to use the same method that you would use to glue down ballast to your track bed. I made up a mix of diluted white glue in water, I added the sprinkles, and dripped on the mix. At first I thought I had succeeded, but then after letting it sit for a few hours, I realized the sprinkles were dissolving and the glue mix had turned into a gel.

    To make this work I knew I had to use something that would setup fast. So, I scraped out the gelatinous mess and started over, this time using CA glue. First, I added a layer of glue to the bottom of the box and then applied the sprinkles. Next I added another layer of glue to the top of the sprinkles and then applied more sprinkles. This worked brilliantly and I have had no signs of sprinkles dissolving.

    Window Displays and Awning

    To add a little depth to the large storefront windows without doing a full interior, I just did the window displays. For each display I did a simple stack of cereal boxes, sugar, graham crackers, and canned food. I found the images of these items online and then sized them to the appropriate dimensions. The items were glued to a simple base made from .060x .250” strip styrene.

    The last detail to be added to the building was a simple awning. I made the design on my computer, printed it, cut it out, and then glued it into place with CA glue. I aged it slightly by dry brushing on some dark grey paint.

    I hope you will be able to take something from this article and be able to apply it to your future structure endeavors.


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  • Christopher Brimley
    Christopher Brimley Thanks Rick
    January 7, 2011
  • Rick Phipps
    Rick Phipps Christopher, I am going to show my newbieness here and ask anyway. I see where you sprayed the brick. How did you make them look like individual bricks? it looks like cement between the bricks but what did you do to achieve the effect?
    January 7, 2011
  • Christopher Brimley
    Christopher Brimley Rick, I love answering "newbie" questions. To do the mortar, I took a light concrete colored paint and thinned it with a little rubbing alcohol and brushed it on quickly. Because the paint is so thin, it flows into the mortar. There are other ways to a...  more
    January 7, 2011
  • Rick Phipps
    Rick Phipps Well, I love the effect. It is so real. I guess practice makes perfect. LOL
    January 7, 2011