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Review of the HO Scale Branchville Station kit by the N Scale Architect
by Dave Rutan

Branchville Station: HO Scale BSH003
Railway Heritage Models
Mfd by The N Scale Architect
48 Kensington Court, Hackettstown, NJ 07840 (908) 684-8478.

For anyone interested in modeling that pastoral branch line of the Lackawanna railroad affectionately called the Sussex Branch, one station among them all is an absolute must. Branchville, being the terminus, boasted several industries which kept passenger and freight trains running into the village until the very end. The station building itself stood longest of any on the Sussex branch, but met its end in 1994.

The good news for modelers is that the N Scale Architect has resurrected this ancient wooden structure in HO and N Scale. The kit comes in a box adorned with color pictures of a completed model. Both ends of the structure are shown.
Within the box the joyful modeler will discover five laser cut sheets of micro plywood. One of these is a thinner adhesive backed detail sheet. Also included are white metal chimney castings, a plastic shingle sheet, templates for the roof sections (for cutting the shingle sheet,) window glazing, a parts identification sheet, and instructions.

The instructions for this kit are quite good. I've come to expect instructions for kits to be generally lacking, or to at least be aimed at those who are experienced in the hobby. With the well written descriptions and numerous photos, anyone who knows which end of a hobby knife to grasp will have no difficulty following the steps to complete this model. To the experienced scratch builder, this kit will look like a gift from the elves who have done virtually all of your whacking and hacking while you slept, leaving only gluing and painting to be done.

Pre-painting of the parts is highly desirable as it's easier when they're still on the sheet. I made only minor touch ups on the edges of the pieces after I released them with a straight edge razor blade. The manufacturer has even supplied extras of the small parts in case of breakage. Now there's forethought as well as thoughtfulness!

One excursion I took into the bohemian ways of model building is that I used the wooden roof pieces to mark and cut out the shingle sheet instead of the supplied template. Why cut twice when you can do it once? I also used hot melt glue to install the window glazing and shades. So far this has held up very well.

I assembled my kit pretty much as per the instructions and the end product came out very well. Things I might have done to improve matters would include additional interior bracing. The walls do not look bowed on my station, but the sides are thin and stiffness would be a great plus.

This kit is timeless for any Branchville aficionado. It includes all the details necessary to model the station in any year from 1869 to 1966. Only 'subtractions' of gingerbread, chimneys and proper weathering are required to reflect age and period.
Most modelers will wish to recreate this piece of the Sussex Branch in the 1950-1966 era. This is easily done by assembling the kit, and by leaving off the center and freight end chimneys, plus any gingerbread sticking up above the roof. For added realism, you'll also want to carefully cut the trefoil ornament from the bracket that lives on the east end of the station on the street side.

For this period, the modeler will want to omit the supplied platforms and ramps on the freight end. Instead, you should install 'bash boards' on the street side. I made these from Evergreen strips, appropriately distressed with a saw blade. Imagine all the pick-up trucks banging into that while picking up L.C.L. deliveries.

The track side will require a straight platform, which extends enough to block the closest door. I added a makeshift ladder to the back of mine to match a few photos I've seen.

Those wishing to model pre-1915 need only paint the model the appropriate colors. I suggest oxide red with green trim for 1869 to 1915 and light gray with green trim for 1915-1945. These are approximations of course, but will have to do till we get color photos from those eras.

The final detail I added to the model was a station sign. I picked an appropriate size piece of scrap from the bits left over (you didn't throw them away, did you?) and painted it black. Then I applied decals in Railroad Roman Dulux Gold. When the decals were set, I trimmed the sign, notched the four corners and gilded the edges with gold paint.

I think the only real nitpick I have with this kit is the lack of board detail on the eaves. It's not something you really, see, but sometimes it's the not-so-evident things that really make a model great.

Is this kit worth the list price of $89.95? I say most certainly so! Good instructions, nice details, and versatility make this a great addition to the modeling world.

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