kit build or kit bash?

John’s very kindly been back in touch – he’s shared this kit build for his HO scale mine layout:

(If you missed his last post, you can catch up here.)

This time he talks us through his excellent mine:

“Several recent articles have discussed the building of kit buildings, and scratch building. There’s another option I use for most of my industrial facilities, and that’s kit-bashing.

It’s fun to imagine the end result, and fit something into a logical group of added walls and buildings.

The first pictures are a couple of good, medium sized industries, only slightly related, the Walthers New River Mine, and the Glacier Gravel kits. One good point was that both had corrugated siding for some of their buildings, the gravel pit also had some conveyors that went well with moving coal around.

In order to aid in moving the module, and to assure the tracks that run under would not be prone to derailments, I decided to build them on a solid plywood base.

As this and all my models moved along, I started asking questions, like would they need a powerhouse? A source of compressed air and steam? Why would they run these inside an industrial building? Would they need light? Maybe skylights? Would there be walkways to connect the roofs of the buildings? How about electrical power?

The answers to these questions then became the “add-ons” to the base building. I also found the clearance height of the gravel pit tracks was less than the coal mine, so those parts of the building were raised and while I was at it decided to raise the clearance for the tracks for the coal mine.

I also re-arranged the various out-buildings, and connected them with walkways, pipes and ladders.

To explain my arrows, pipes and air lines are made from the sprues that the pieces of model kits come on. After a few kits there are plenty left and they are different sizes. I bend them by heating over a soldering pencil, flanges and valves are styrene discs cut out by a paper punch.

The transformer was an old pill bottle, and wiring is thick thread, painted for stiffness once glued to the insulators.

When I think the model is done, I paint it to look like it was built in the Jurassic period…OK, maybe not quite that old, but 30, 40 years old. Coal mining is a tough, dirty, and normally short-lived industry, as the mines play out on a few years, so building maintenance is not a top priority. I always add lots of “rust” to the sides.

Many fine modelers use airbrush to paint and weather, I use artist brush’s, dry brush, and acrylics. I have used chalk powder but find it’s hard to get the look I want, and spraying to set the powder often changes what I thought I had.

These are the box front pictures of the 2 model kits to be “bashed”:

HO scale mine kit build

mining kit build

Picture below is the combined kits before painting

HO scale factory mine

HO scale mining layout kit build

HO scale mine layout kit bash

I suggest to all our modeling friends, try kit-bashing. It’s fun, and opens up many possibilities that solve clearance and other problems, like, what can I do with that corner? I know, build a triangle shaped building by kit bashing some side walls of a barn!

Take care and as always keep modeling!

John from Baltimore”

A huge thanks to John for sharing his kit build, or is it kit bash? It’s fab to read his thought process – no wonder his layout looks so good.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you want to stop dreaming and start doing, just like John did, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

Remember, it’s the start that stops most people.



PS Don’t forget thelatest ebay cheat sheet is here. Still updated daily.

21 Responses to kit build or kit bash?

  1. Roger Dale Shaw says:

    Amazing, great job John.

  2. AND That’s how it’s done. Thanks John!! Keep Rolling

  3. Ben Hawkins says:

    I would like to see more 0 gauge train layouts and articles on that gauge.
    I like the other scales to but hardly ever see 0 guage

  4. A lot of work gone in to that kit bashing as you call it , well done , wish i had the steadiness and patience …Dangerous Dave

  5. Bill Holt says:

    very interesting, GOOD JOB !!

  6. This work is fine art, hands down. Thank you.

  7. Scott says:

    I did the same with model car kits WAY back in the day – I get it!

  8. very nice
    bob from florida

  9. John Bullock says:

    John, great article and even greater work!

  10. Bob From Towson says:

    Your work is so good you could mistake it for CGI ,lol You have the eye of an artist!!!

  11. H. Bullock says:

    Great work. I like how you can “think out of the box”. Send more as this evolves.

  12. Cary Price says:

    Excellent scratch building John, those structures really look great!
    Cary in KY

  13. Brad Bourne says:

    Love the thinking process. It really helps me to understand how it got to the end point, and to shape my thinking to start with an issue, and get to a well done modeled layout. Thank you.

  14. FRancis liberatori says:

    Where are you trying to emulate a specific colliery and mine Or just a generic one I am trying to build a model of the call you very.or just a generic one I am trying to build a model of the colliery and mine located in Morea colliery PA where I was born 86 years ago. I remember me colliery, tracks going to mine, tracks going to huge “rock” bank where Waste From the coal coal processing was dumped, The motor generator building which raised and lowered the call cars into the mine But I don’t remember her complete foot print and Relative locations all of these other buildings in the total mine complex Anyone out there from the Mahanoy city area
    That could help me out.

  15. Garry Plesha from Battle Ground, WA says:

    Just as Bob said:
    Bob From Towson says:

    Your work is so good you could mistake it for CGI ,lol You have the eye of an artist!!! I agree, you do have the eye of an artist, it is very good.
    Hats off to you, I’m very impressed

  16. What is a good source of building models? I am not good at scratch building.

  17. John Frye says:

    Francis, My coal mine(s) are fictional and do have some resemblance to mine structures that I’ve seen. My approach is to define an area where my structures will reside when done, and make the idea fit the space. I also built all my “main” structures, bridges and so forth in my shop, so they had to be small enough to fit through a door to my basement layout room. All this combined to allow old and new stuff to be integrated into a West Virginia coal town, mine and track-work to move coal out of the area. I think my stuff is OK, and fits into what I’m doing, but i have to tell you, those modelers who measure, build and place a detailed model of a station, bridge or factory that is of a real place and building are way ahead of me. Hats off to them, they are special people!
    John From Baltimore

  18. Allen says:

    I am impressed. Incredibly great detail.

  19. John Frye says:

    Douglas, Our friend Alastair is a great source for a variety of models, and can be downloaded on all scales. Good thing about his structures is that if you mess one up building it, print another! Plastic models are available from many sources, and some new ones are coming online, most of my “base” kits are from Walthers.
    John From Baltimore

  20. Marklin ed says:

    Great mine, love the fact you use so many different items. To build the mine

  21. What makes a mine most realistic is empty wagons going into it and coal coming out, which needs the loading screens against the backscene and a connection to your staging area so empties can be shunted in and vanish and the loads appear in their place.

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