Standard Signal Tower

Publication: Boston & Maine Railroad Historical Society Newsletter
Publication: Modelers Notes #50
Publication Date: September / October 1997

By Bob Warren

B.E.S.T.'s first kit provides us with a unique B&M structure, one based on actual blueprints (1898) of an 'armstrong' lever two-story signal tower.

The kit is comprised of laser cut wood, strip stock, metal castings, 'peel & stick' shingles, window frames and panes. A set of comprehensive instructions including how to 'weather' the completed model guides the modeler. Depicted on the kit box cover are photographs of a completed model as well as the prototype constructed at Beverly, MA, circa 1900.

Although the instructions indicate that painting can be done before or after construction, this reviewer likes to prepaint the parts. It's much easier and less conducive to getting paint where it's not wanted than if one waits till the structure is completed, especially in a multi-color structure such as this tower.

While the paint is drying, one can start construction by applying the 'peel and stick' shingles to the sub roof parts. A suggestion here is one might wish to paint the 'exposed' parts of the sub roof parts before applying the singles. This includes the outside 'under edges' as well as the 'exposed' edges. While the instructions include information regarding the color of the basic structure, none is give for the sub roof which the reviewer painted a dark gray. When applying the shingles, cut each length to slightly longer than the width of the sub roof area being shingled. Once all shingles have been applied, take a 'fresh' razor blade and cut off the excess material. After assembling the sub roof to the basic roof/end assembly, remember to apply some individual shingles perpendicular to the existing shingles over the exposed edges of the roof. Likewise, after installing the chimney, apply individual shingles between the roof and chimney.

While shingling the roof, one can also shingle the 'cable cover' at the same time, applying shingles over all surfaces except the one which will be glued to the completed tower.

As an aid to applying the shingles, draw parallel lines on the sub roof parts approximately 1/16" apart. Place the 'solid' portion of the shingle strip against the 'line', providing a uniform appearance to the end result.

The assembly of the basic structure (first floor) is straight forward as indicated in the instructions. The second floor consists of laser cut window frames and panes which have an adhesive backing eliminating the need for any glue to affix them to each other. Using the opening created by the removal of the 'window panes' from its carrier, cut the supplied window plastic to fit. Some final trimming will be required to insure that the plastic does not go above the height of the window panes. Trimmed to size window stock is affixed to the panes' adhesive backing, again, no cementing is required. The design of the panes is such that the assembled roof will fit down onto the top of the panes creating the ceiling of the second floor.

Due to the number of windows in the structure, it's a prime candidate for interior detailing of the second floor. Scribed wood could be cemented to the underside of the roof for a tongue and grove ceiling. While no stock is provided for a second story floor, again scribed wood would work well (suggest 1/16" to prevent any sagging in the future). Interior detailing is up to the builder as no information regarding the prototype is provided.

The signal pole is constructed of 1/16" square wood stock. In lieu of a butt joint between the two portions that make up the pole, miter the parts 45* prior to gluing.

Two signal blades are amongst the metal castings provided. According to several B&M rule books, the road used lower quadrant blades painted red and white. I divided the 'blade' into quarters, painting the '2nd quarter' from the end white, the rest of the blade red and the roundel portion black. Once the roundel portion dried, appropriate aspect colors were applied (green/ yellow/red).

The exposed edges of the roof rafters are cut from stock provided. Create a cutting jig from some scrap plastic to cut the rafter pieces to length as well as cut the angle at one end so that when applied the rafter edge is parallel to the structure proper. After all rafters have been installed, don't forget to paint the raw edges as well as touching up any other exposed (read raw) edges, especially if one prepainted the parts prior to assembly.

As assembled, the tower has a 2 15/16" x 2 3/4" foot print. The 'cable covering' foot print is 1 1/2" x 1"

Over the years, locomotives and rolling stock decorated for the B&M have been offered, it is now gratifying to see that there are prototypically correct structures coming on the market.

Laser cut kits are providing the modeler with opportunities never before available. For instance, this kit's window pane I mullion's' measure a scale 2" width. It will be interesting to see what future kits will offer.


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