Clough Service Station

Publication: Model Railroad News
Publication Date: May 2013

For those who have not tried a craftsman structure kit, I have to tell you, you are missing one of the most rewarding areas of our hobby. Built per the instructions, they will give you structures with loads of character. These releases also lend themselves to kit-bashing, and will allow you to exercise some of that inner creativity! I have heard more than a few model railroaders complain that building or modeling is going out of model railroading now that there are so many ready-to-run items available. I disagree. We are blessed with a good selection of kit manufacturers, who have been with us for more than a few years. Someone is building these kits. Join the fun!

Bollinger Edgerly Scale Trains (B.E.S.T) specializes in a series of craftsman level kits based on actual prototypes. B.E.S.T specializes in New England and Southwest, but there is an ever-growing selection of buildings from all around the United States. If you browse the companys website, you can see photos of both the model and the prototype structure for many of the kit releases. In quite a few cases, the prototypes are still standing, and you may view them as they appear today.

After building the Santa Fe Caf (Model Railroad News, December 2010), I was happy to volunteer for another B.E.S.T. kit.

The prototype Clough Service station was located in West Alton, New Hampshire. A prototype photo is included in the instructions. There is no date reference, but I would guess by the photo was taken in the early 1920s.

The kit build into a small structure with a footprint of 1x2 inches. Add the area for a small lot and the pump island and you have a small scene that will fit into an area six inches square. This kit will give you a building that is at home on any layout, but especially well suited to small layouts. Weve all struggled with space, even those of us fortunate enough to have a large layouts, and making things fit will remain our biggest challenge.

Clough Service Station has laser-cut walls that are tabbed and slotted. These make getting the basic structures square an easy proposition. Modelers of all skill levels, beginner through expert can assemble the kit. Only basic modelers tools are needed: A hobby knife with a supply of No. 11 blades, some sanding sticks, masking tape, a metal straight edge, a selection of squares and clamp, white or carpenters glue, and CA adhesive. I use both the thin stuff and the thicker gap filling variety of CA adhesive. Optional tools that will make things go a little faster and easier are Northwest Shortlines chopper, a set of small files, some single-edged razor blades, and a self-healing cutting mat.

Rule number one with any craftsman kit: take your time. Read over the instructions thoroughly. I recommend reviewing instructions two or three times. You may want to use a highlighter and mark the important steps. BEST provides excellent, easy-to-read instructions with plenty of photos. There is also a nice bonus sheet with techniques for weathering wood and painting stone castings.

Familiarize yourself with the parts. They come in several poly bags. I took everything out of the bags, verified I had the correct number of parts, and then took a look at colors I would need. Testors Model Master Desert Sand in a spray can is easy to find. I used Testors flat red for the building trim and gloss red for the metal castings. Floquil Reefer White was used for the light post, pump globes and some other small details. Chicago & North Western yellow was used for the pumps. Youll notice that I used solvent-based paints. There are two reasons for this. First, I had most of the necessary colors on hand, and second, solvent-based paints are less likely to cause problems with the wood parts warping. Notice that I said less likely. Using solvent-based paints is not a get out of jail free card. If you get the wood wet enough with any medium, it will warp. Use weights on the parts while the paint dries to keep them straight.

I painted all the individual building pieces before assembly. It is much easier that way, at least for me. The building walls fit together well, and I didnt have to sand much of anything. I did add nail holes in the walls, giving this kit a little extra realism and character. The kit has both inner and outer walls, and when you glue the inner wall to the outer walls, you get a strong subassembly. Be careful to line up the tabs of the inner walls to the edges of the outer walls. This makes it really easy to get the building square. The wall pieces go together only one way. It is very important to test fit here and make sure you dont get anything reversed. I can happen easier than you think. The instructions recommend carpenters glue, and that is what I used. In retrospect, you might want to consider gap-filling CA. Gap-filling CA has a long enough cure time that you will be able to move the parts around somewhat if necessary before it grabs, and CA will not warp the parts. Carpenters glue is prone to cause warping; however, you will be able to get things apart again if necessary. This is a personal choice based on your taste and skill level.

Before assembling the walls, I installed the windows and door and then the clear plastic window material. It is sized to drop right into the window frames, and I attached it with Testors Canopy Glue. Once your wall sections are assembled, you can complete the box. This is fairly straight forward if you have test fit everything and marked the pieces for proper location. Clamp the walls together while the glue dries and make sure your tabs and slots are fully engaged. Once the glue dries, attach the trim. Here is where I hit my only snag. Step 6 of the instructions told me to use 1/32 x 1/32 square lumber for the trim that runs along the top of the walls. This didnt look right to me, and a check against the assembled build photos in the instructions, as well as the prototype photo gave me further pause. I gave Brian Bollinger a call, and within a few hours Brian responded (on a Sunday!). There was a mistake in the instructions, which Brian has since fixed. The proper lumber for the wall top trim is 1/16-inch x 1/32-inch. My point in bringing this up is that I have found that these folks want you to finish their kits. If you have a problem, contact them. Over the years, I have received help with instructions, paint, and even replacement parts, usually free of charge. The customer service at BEST is first rate.

The roof is a piece of cardboard scribed and will give you a good start at getting the proper roof angle. You will have to experiment to get the roof braces and trim cut to the correct angle. Some manufacturers give you a cutting template. This kit had a photo showing the correct angle and leaves getting it right up to you. This was not difficult to do, and actually teaches you alittle about construction techniques. I made a master and used it as a pattern for the rest of the necessary pieces. An ample quantity of peel-and-stick roofing is supplied. The signs went together easily. Paper signs are applied to the bases, and trim is glued over top.

The building went together in two sessions in about six hours. The pump island was a little more involved. There is an oil can rack, three gas pumps, and the station sign. Painting the castings was not difficult, and most of the time spent was allowing the paint to dry. Getting the proper colors into the lettering in the castings was the big challenge here. I painted the letters and the surrounding area the necessary color, and then wiped most of the paint off, leaving paint down inside the letters themselves. This works well if you allow enough drying time between colors. As with any kit, I did us a little modelers license. The instructions show red gas pumps, but I found photos of Shell gas pumps that were yellow or yellow with red trim, and that is how I did mine. The pumps come in three pieces. The pump castings, the hose that you will cut and bend from wire included in the kit, and a nozzle. This was the most painstaking work for me. The wire can be difficult to get to conform to the shape you want, but once there, it holds its shape well. I had to use a No. 61 drill bit and drill a hole in each of the nozzles to accept the wire hose. I used CA with zip kicker to get the pieces to bond instantly. Have patience here, and take your time.

When it was time to do the light pole, I departed from the instructions. Painted green florist wire in the correct diameters is provided for the light post. You have to bend, cut, and fit the wire to match the photo in the instructions. The instructions also call for you to glue the thinner wire to the thicker wire at the final assembly. I was afraid this would be too fragile, so I substituted brass wire for the florists wire and soldered the pieces together. This gave me a strong assembly that I could manipulate as needed to get the correct contours. The last thing I did was cut a black piece of construction paper to fit diagonally inside the building. This makes a nice view block.

Clough Service Station is easy, fun to build, and makes a nice scene on your layout. Add a few extra details, such as a compressor, barrels, junk, maybe an out door service rack, and youll have a unique scene of which you can be proud. You can also modernize by updating the gas pumps and soda machine. The possibilities are endless. Have fun!

Clough Service Station is easy to build. The most challenging part of the kit is hand painting the tiny details on the castings. There are two attendants in the kit. The Athearn pick up is not included, but I wanted to show a vehicle for reference. This small gas station will fit into a modest area on your layout, or may be expanded with a large lot and added details like an outdoor service rack, cars, barrels, and lots of junk. It has great possibilities.


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