Head Tide/N. Whitefield Station & Section House

Publication: Maine 2-Foot Quarterly
Publication Date: Spring 2008

The BEST kit is based on the prototype stations found at either Head Tide or North Whitefield on the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway. Since these stations are mirror images of each other, the kits include an extra set of front and rear walls (as well as station signs) which conveniently allows the modeler to choose either one. I built mine to represent the North Whitefield station.

The kit consists of laser cut walls, roof panels, roof brackets, shingles, freight doors, and flooring. The plastic windows, doors and chimney appear to be from Tichy. Strip wood, copper flashing, paper signs, three metal figures and a few crates and barrels round out the kit. Window glazing is not included.

I began by studying the instructions and parts. The nine page instructions are excellent and packed with numerous steps by step color photos as well as a page on heavily weathering clapboard siding. The instructions are logical and appropriate and include two early prototype views of the Head Tide station and section house.

The kit employs a creative "double wall" system to minimize the need for interior bracing and to provide a unique method for aligning and strengthening the numerous roof brackets. To minimize warping, I started by hand painting the exterior and interior walls, roof panels, roof brackets, freight doors, and trim strip wood. Since I model the WW&F during the Winslow Branch era, I chose the prototype's light green/dark green paint scheme. If you are modeling this post 1902 scheme, the Testor;s Acryl European 1 Dark Green is perfect for the trim, eaves, and lower wall, etc. The contrasting light green is easily matched using a mix of 4 parts Pale Green to 2 1/2 parts Flat White. The roof and interior walls were painted using Testor's Poly Scale (acrylic) Br. Sea Gray Medium. The freight section was marked off with a pencil and painted, Poly Scale Nato Tri. Brown, as I do not intend to detail in the future. Based on the surviving WW&F Albion station, the passenger section walls and ceiling were sheathed with bead board (similar to boxcar sheathing) and painted a light gray. The freight section was unsheathed and unpainted. I washed the window and door castings in warm, soapy water, allowed them to dry and then spray painted the European 1 Dark Green. The chimney was spray painted with the freight car red described below.

If you are modeling the Wiscasset & Quebec RR (or the WW&F RR prior to 1902), I recommend using a mustard yellow with freight car red trim. Using Floquil paints, the mustard can replicated using a mix of 3 parts AT&SF yellow tp 2 parts Depot Buff. The freight car red can be mixed using 4 parts Oxide Red to 3 parts Caboose Red. (Note that these colos are essentially identical to Franklin & Megantic Railway station colors seen in the prototype color photo appearing on page 41 of the winter 2007 issue of the Maine Two Foot Quarterly.) There is no evidence that the W&Q used buff and brown. Both the mustard/red and light green /dark green paint scheme colors have been mixed to match actual paint samples that still exist, and prototype hounds can find a more complete explanation of the paint colors of W&Q and WW&F structures in Addendum A of Narrow Gauge in the Sheepscot Valley: Volume 3.

After the wood parts had dried overnight, I began assembly. The "double wall" system provides for near perfect alignment of the eave roof brackets. When I added the two roof panels, only the tops of the six end brackets needed some gap filling with wood and/or extra carpenters glue. When removing the roof supports from the fret, be extra careful. I broke two of them but was able to repair them with carpenters glue and tweezers. Luckily, BEST includes extras of each of the three styles. Care should also be taken when assembling the double walls to be sure that one is using the correct station sides ( Head Tide or North Whitefield) as well as the correct side of the front and rear inner walls. If using carpenters glue (which I recommend as it is more forgiving than ACC in this regard), clamps or weights are helpful when gluing the inner to outer walls. To prevent fingerprints and damage, I do not install windows and doors until the very end. I glued the front wall to the left wall and the rear to the right. When these had stiffened up, I used the roof panels to hold it all square and a couple of rubber bands to keep it tight). I let this dry overnight. I must commend BEST for having excellent tolerances on their laser cut slots and tabs. All of the main joints were a perfect friction fit and required absolutely no sanding on my part.

Following the directions, I applied the 1x6 strip wood to the roof trim but something just didn't look right so I began examining the prototype photos of the Head Tide and North Whitefield stations found in Volumes I and II of Narrow Gauge in the Sheepscot Valley. The prototype roof fascia was most likely 1x10 with solid roof trim on the end that matched the profile of the wooden gutters on the front and rear. Of course, there is no HO scale wooden gutter stock, so I began looking through my strip wood assortment. I found some 1/16" quarter round and got inspired. First, I sanded the front and rear edges of the roof to vertical using an Emory board. Next, I applied new 1x10 strip wood along the roof perimeter. The next layer was the kit's 1x6 and the final layer was the 1/16"quarter round. I let this all dry and then sanded away a good portion of the front of the quarter round. The combination resulted in very believable wooden gutters and matching trim), and I plan on using this technique on many more of my structures. I painted the new trim Dark Green and the top pf the gutters black.

The floor and station platform were built as per the directions. As an experiment, I tired using Mirco Mark's Railroad Tie and Bridge Stain for the flooring and platform. It was a little too black on its own so I followed this up with a wash of Roundbell Hobbies' Driftwood stain. I added some nail holes to the platform boards and gave it a final wash of India ink in a rubbing alcohol solution. The kit subfloor has a pattern of square holes which allowing for placement of 12x12 wood pilings on uneven landscapes.

I constructed the section house without interior bracing as I wanted the doors open and the interior wall visible. I stained the interior walls and ceiling with Floquil walnut and then drew in the edges of boards to simulate interior sheathing boards. I may go back and add some 1/16" square trim to stiffen up the structure. As per the prototype photos, I added 1x6 trim to the front and rear edges of the roof. With most pf the major construction finished, I turned my attention to the roofing.

Jim Pasquill suggested that I try dry brushing different shades of brown and gray using Delta brand "Ceramcoat" acrylic paints found in craft stores such as Michael's. I studied some pictures I had taken of the now demolished North Whitefield Hilton Store (with its all-shingled annex) and came up with a variation of his technique. Older shingles are predominantly gray with plenty of dark brown/black in the crevices and extremely light gray highlights on the exposed edges. I began by dry brushing a light layer of Golden Brown in random patterns on the sheet of shingle material. I followed that up by heavily dry brushing a good layer of the Dark burnt umber. Next, I dry brushed a light layer of a gray color called Mudstone. I applied the shingles as per the directions except I did not glue the kit's paper guidelines to the roof. Instead, I just used a mechanical pencil and ruler to draw some parallel lines on the roof. The process only took a few extra minutes and I was able to avoid any potential ridges. With the shingles on, I realized that I needed an extremely light gray to bring out the highlights of exposed grain. I didn't have any other craft colors at the time so I used a light dry brushing of Floquil SP Lettering Gray followed up with another more "streaky" dry brushing of Floquil Grime. With all these layers, I think I may have finally captured the look of roof shingles that are several years old.

Based on prototype photos, I substituted some 1x4 strip wood weathered with Roundbell's Driftwood stain and an India ink wash for the kit's copper roof peak flashing. The stack was mortared using "Dusty White" color EZ Mortar & Surface texturing paste from Railroad Builder's Shop, PO Box 931, Belmont, NH 03220. The technique couldn't be any easier: wet a cloth, smear on the mortar and then use another wet cloth to wipe off the excess until it looks like a real chimney. I trimmed some of the copper flashing and applied it to the base of the stack so that about 4 inches was visible above the shingles. I dry brushed the copper flashing with some Ceramcoat Spring Green followed by a light dry brushing of Floquil Dark Green and then Railroad Tie Brown. On the section house, I substituted some 1/16" shrink tubing for the dowel supplied with the kit. I painted it silver and dry brushed it with Floquil Rail Brown paint. 1x4 strip wood was added around the stovepipe as per the prototype photos.

For the windows I used 0.005" clear plastic from Evergreen. Using a metal dial caliper, I marked off the inner width of the windows on the sheet of plastic and then cut the strips with some very sharp scissors. The "glass" was held in place with white glue. Once dry, I glued all the windows to station and section house with white glue. The very final step of assembly of this kit was the application of the station sign. The prototype North Whitefield sign survived and can be viewed at the Boothbay Railway Museum. The wooden sign is painted black with a yellow (or gold) perimeter and lettering. I used a yellow Crayola washable marker to gently stain the white letters of the model paper sign. I recommend making one or two light pressure passes so you don't smear the black ink. I let the paper dry overnight, cut one the sign and glued it to a 2x12 board that had been painted black. When dry, I used a tiny needle file to carve in the corner curves. I then painted the perimeter Floquil AT&SF Yellow and tacked the sign to the station using two small dabs of Walther's Goo. If I had to build this kit over again, the only thing I would do differently is take the time to mask off and spray paint the panels of the man door light green as it is a distinctive feature of the prototype.

There are a few minor prototype discrepancies. The clapboards of the kit's siding are 6" instead of the prototype 4" but I personally do not find this detail to be that noticeable or objectionable. The Tichy station windows provided are pretty wide and probably the closest commercially available casting, but I do wish that BEST had custom cut them as the prototypes are extremely wide. On a similar note, the section house windows are a little short. In all fairness though, these are subtle discrepancies and I'm guessing that most modelers will find the Tichy windows quite acceptable.

All in all, I found BEST's kit of the Head Tide or North Whitefield station to be an easy and absolutely enjoyable experience. Their roof support design is ingenious, sturdy and time saving. The photo-filled instructions are top notch and having extra walls and signs provides the modeler with some much-appreciated choices. The model captures the prototype quite well, so whether you are modeling the WW&F or just want a small unique station, this kit come highly recommended.


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