Tuesday, April 14, 2015

001 Franke Furniture & Coffin Shop Kit - Getting Started

Train shows aren't much fun for me in Utah because there is virtually no On30 products on the tables.  Occasionally I find an O scale item that I can use.  Recently I saw this laser kit from Wild West Scale Model Builders at http://www.wildwestmodels.com/.

The kit that I chose was the Franke Furniture & Coffin Shop, which you can see here http://www.wildwestmodels.com/products/franke-furniture.html.  I liked the lines of this model.  It is very interesting on the deck/smokestack side.  It is also a multi-function building that can be easily modified.  I paid $148.99 for the model.  That was a bit more than I would pay for a small laser kit, but I liked it and there was nothing else interesting in the show.

Lord Bentley of The Shetland Islands has appeared to inspect my work.  Good boy!

Inside the sturdy box there is a large assortment of parts and a big surprise....

Wow!  This is probably the best set of instructions that I've ever seen.  Its a book, a thick one, I believe strongly in reading the directions BEFORE you start.  The book has been in the car with me for several weeks and I've read it cover to cover several times.

The book is mostly in black and white, but the drawings are crisp and clean.  There are great ideas included.  Ok...let's go see if they work.

Before I get started I spend time figuring out what it is exactly I want to build.  Yes, there are instructions and a pretty cover shot on the box.  But I can guarantee you, I NEVER build a kit like it is supposed to built.  There are two reasons for that.  The first is that I just don't like seeing the same kit on every single layout, with all of them looking the same.  I've seen the Atlas barn (probably under another name now) about a billion times.  It always looks the same.  The second is that when I build a layout I have a theme, a date and setting, and each structure has an age.  Each of those and other factors gives the structure a unique look.  For instance, let's look at setting.  This building, built at the same day, date and time, would look amazingly different if built in Colorado and Kentucky.  The Colorado building would have brownish red streaks and less weathered.  The Kentucky building would be a silvery blue-grey with heavier weathering due to more humidity in the air.  Time spent figuring out what you are trying to make will show as quality when you put it on the layout.

The next thing I do is look at other modeler's interpretations of the same building.  I do this not so much to steal ideas but to force me to look outside the box to see what new ideas I can bring to the table.  Wild West has a page with their customer's model shots, so I started there, on page #2.


My decision is this will be an eastern building, built in Kentucky, with moderate weathering and use wear and tear.  It may be used on an upcoming demonstration layout for the Skeleton Crew.

Next, we start work.  The instructions say to color (I never say paint because that implies paint instead of other coloration techniques) so I start preparing parts for painting.  There are two types of people in the world; those that divide the world into two types of people, and those that don't.  For those of us that do divide the world into two types of people, there are two types of people.  There are those that put nail holes into boards because they think you can see them on the prototype, and those that think it is a waste of time.  I'm a nail holer.  To do this I use a pin vise and a needle.

With the needle in the pin vise I carefully put three nail holes on either sides of where the two boards join.  This takes time, so have the TV going in the background.  Right now Captain Jayneway is taking the starship to warp....

The pin vice is pointing to one special board.  Boards have a finite length.  While board separations are prevalent on the model.  However, a close eye shows this board to be 27 feet long, which is highly unlikely.  Therefore, using a SHARP hobby knife I cut some extra board separations to make it more realistic.

After cutting the boards I emboss the nail holes into the boards and we are good to go.

Next I send all the edges of the piece.  Laser cutters do not cut at a 90 degree angle to the surface but a few degrees off of 90, which leaves an angle on the side of the piece.  I sand it and any sprues down with a fine grit sanding block.

I keep moving on to the next piece.  With this type of plywood the sprues are VERY TOUGH.  You have to be careful cutting them so as to not break the piece.  I keep the blade in my hobby knife very sharp.

While removing the scrap material I keep the pieces in a bag marked "scrap."   I do this because, should I break something, I have the same thickness wood to make a repair piece.  The extra wood is also used for structure modifications.

On long piece cuts I worry about the board breaking.  To reduce the risk I use a steel straight edge to prevent the knife from slipping.

Some of the pieces are lasered on BOTH sides so that the inside of the building can be detailed as well.  Naturally the inside and outside of the building don't weather and get painted the same.  My trick is to figure out which is the outside and to put a bright yellow dot on that side.  I keep a pack of these on my workbench, along with a glass of Jack Daniels on ice.  I put a yellow dot on the instruction page for the piece as well.

Enough for tonight.  Give me some time to get back into the swing of blogging!  Questions are welcomed.


  1. Glad you are back at the bench. It appears that JD has replaced sweet iced tea. :-) I am also anxious to see how your "little helpers" have grown in the past year or so. Lindley

  2. Mr. Perry - It's good to see you back! We'll have to do a Skype session when you get a chance. I'm sure that you picked the "Kentucky" style build to honor me being born in Louisville! (grin).

    Rick the Richlawn Railroad Wade

  3. Scott- great kit to get back to blogging! Looking forward to progress updates in O scale.

    Mark Lewis
    Hickory, NC

  4. Thank you for posting this. I have never built anything with a kit like this before, so I emailed Wild West Models to see if they'd share the instructions (PDF) so I could get an idea of what's involved, but they haven't bothered to respond to even decline. Your post helps a good bit.

  5. I haven't had a chance to finish this, but I plan too. It really looks nice and small enough for an On30 layout.


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