3.17 Spano's Mobil Station

The Greystone & Rock Bottom had no gas station, but I thought it was an appropriate addition to the WR&N VIII to give it a somewhat developed feel in order to justify a railroad. I briefly considered bashing something along the lines of this marvelous example in New Hampshire—complete with miniscule post office and grafted onto the front of a house-turned-grocery store—but it would have been a space hog.

So, once again I turned to the kits I'd purchased for the aborted Black River & Western, and what was going to be D&D Auto Service, JL Innovative #310 McLeod Super Service, got rescued. I also named it for my longtime friend and modeling mentor, Rick Spano, and it's a Mobil station to honor my father, who worked for the company for 50 years.

The first thing I had to deal with is that the little building isn't quite as little as it looks, and I was tight on space. Also, it's an odd combination of laser-cut kit and older-style craftsman kit; for instance, the roof is made from a piece of cardstock the builder must measure and cut, and the rolled tar roofing is just a sheet of plain paper the builder must also cut and paint—all a bit more "fiddly" than I'd have expected for a modern laser kit. Plus, the left side wall (facing away in the product photo) is a patchwork quilt of different materials joined awkwardly with trim.

I shrunk the structure down slightly by making new office wall parts from matching milled siding stock—replacing the patchwork wall with a single piece while I was at it (below)—and I also made a new roof from micro-ply. Once the basic structure was assembled, I hit it all with flat white primer.

I made a new tarpaper roof from black 3M Washi tape, which is a thin paper craft tape available in a bazillion colors at most Staples. Its thinness creates a much better look than plain paper. I cut a strip in half lengthwise, and applied it to the microply roof; then I misted it with dark grey paint to dull the surface and add some tonal variegation.

The main door and windows to either side were swiped from the Bar Mills Earl's Oil kit as a better option than the Grandt Line ones supplied—which had to be modified to fit—and assembled them onto one large piece of acetate cut to fit the wall opening. After painting all of the forward-facing doors and windows a deep red, I sprayed the other windows with pale grey to match the rear walls, which I'd weathered with a light India ink wash. (New Englanders are notorious for painting just the fronts of their buildings.)

Hold On, There, Folks...

It was at this point, just as the station neared completion—naturally, right?—the whole project took a 90-degree turn, thanks to this reference image taken in Nashua, NH, circa 1945-50:

That Esso station in the background was vaguely reminiscent of the Mobil station from the White River & Northern IV I'd started to rebuild. Courtesy of a slight rearrangement of streets and buildings, I made room for it (and Schmuck Heating Oil, #18, got moved next door to Haber Lumber & Coal). Before, left; after, right:

The first task I had was to replace the drive motor. The original was a pager motor that unfortunately burned out at some point. I'd used the tiny double-worm drive so it would be totally self-contained—I'd planned on making a diorama for it that had no room for a large drive. Now circumstances were different, so I replaced the original drive with a healthy-sized gearhead motor. I was really sweating this, as I haven't done this sort of work in years, but thankfully it all came together quite easily—it was almost spooky how smoothly it went, even down to finding the perfect gear that also fit perfectly (with a little help from some thin-walled brass tubing).

Now the station has a home where its animation and highly-detailed, lighted interior can be appreciated. Next I need to finish detailing it, and then paint everything...

Here We Go Again

After having gone to the trouble of installing the station on the layout, I altered the size of the layout, and the station got moved into town.

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