This part of the Ilchester railroad infrastructure seems to be fairly short-lived, it was around in my era of 1950, and very camera shy. It appears in parts in only a few photos I can find after years of searching. It is the raised Freight House on the left side of the photo, railroad east of the station. The B&O always ran east to west and always had a north side and south side of the tracks, regardless of what a compass indicated. On the B&O, Washington, DC was not south of Baltimore, but west.
This might be the best picture that exists and it appears to be from August 1952 according to one caption. The board and batten siding and peaked roof are not things found on many eastern B&O structures.
My guess is that this station, its freight house, and coal trestle were originally built to serve the local community. Baltimore had some of the earliest “suburbs” in the nation. Areas like Roland Park were built in the 1890s and even had one of the first shopping centers. It was served by street cars and I suspect it served as a model for future possibilities. Pure conjecture, but early photos of Ilchester show long wood passenger platforms on both sides of the rail along with the coal trestle that could serve local coal deliveries. I wonder if the B&O thought Ilchester could become the next suburb served by passenger trains into the city? The station and infrastructure were built after the 1903-05 realignment, maybe adding the station was hoped to serve more than the boarding school or convent on the top the hill behind the station. The history of this area is not well documented and the effort of several modelers have served to add to the knowledge base. County historians look to fellow B&O modeler John Teichmoeller for definitive information about this community.
How to model this elusive freight structure? Photos show board and batten siding and the building on a raised platform. The overhead view shows a peaked roof structure about 1/4 the length of the station and half its width. Their are standard B&O plans for a 16’x 20′ freight house, so maybe that size is appropriate. I know modelers build on less information and this may be all I ever find, so that’s what I am going with. On the up side, as soon as I complete the structure we all know a new photo will turn up. If so, at least the historical record can be set straight and I’ll have another structure to build.
There is a similar freight house at Dickerson, MD on the Metropolitan Subdivision and I used photos of it to supplement the photos of Illchester I found.
Using the rough dimensions from the overhead photo, I constructed the 15’ x 24’ raised wood platform from an old plastic kit from an unknown manufacturer. It was very close to the construction and dimensions of the platform in the standard B&O plans book available from the B&O Railroad Historical Society. The plastic kit was supplemented with scale Evergreen “lumber” to enclose the lower part of the structure which was painted a dark grey/black brown.
The steps were from an old Campbell kit, but these are easy to replicate with styrene or scale lumber. They were painted the same color as the platform.
For the structure, I found another very old kit at a train show that had lots of board and batten sided parts along with a bunch of windows and doors for future projects. It took a while, but it’s always good to have something inexpensive to find at a train show or new hobby shop.
I cut the siding pieces to create 23’ x 12’ structure with a 8’ x 8’ opening for the door. I used scribed siding for the door. The doors is Evergreen scribed siding and matched the roof pitch on the Station building. The trim boards are Evergreen strip.
The roof is .060 styrene with the edges painted black to represent the trim boards.
The roof was covered with faded black construction paper to simulate tar paper roofing.
I used the same paint colors as those on the station for my rendition of the Cream and Black colors I remember seeing on old structures painted in this combination. It also matches favorably the Cream color shown on a 1939 paint chip card I received in an email some years ago. To match it, I airbrushed Vallejo Model Air 71.270 White (it is not a pure white) mixed with 10 drops of Vallejo Model Air 71.244 Sand Beige added to the almost full bottle. For the Black trim I used Vallejo Model Air 71.251NATO Black, it is a weathered flat black that has a slight brown hue that matches my recollection of the color.
I have recounted the background of the development of the MJB Models kit for Ilchester, now I offer an overview of constructing the model for my era. The blog that recounts the background research is at, https://bomodeling.com/2018/12/04/ilchester-maryland-part-one-the-bo-station/. The kit was a gift from my friend Don Barnes, so I don’t know the price, but it was not inexpensive and the quality is reflected in the well thought out design by Mark Bandy. This model represents a signature structure on this part of the Old Main Line and instantly recognizable to those that follow this part of the B&O.
The instructions for this kit are pretty straightforward and consist of numbered and lettered parts diagrams for each sheet of laser cut parts and then a series of exploded diagrams of the construction process. They are more than adequate to build a great model. However, the walls are created by layering-on parts to create built up subassemblies of multi-part windows, multi-parts doors, and various sidings so it pays to test fit twice and glue once. I am sure this was done to allow the model to be painted prior to assembly, thus allowing a great rendition of a detailed two color paint scheme. My challenge was to do the kit justice.
Unlocking which color to paint which parts prior to assembly was the most difficult part of the project. And related to that, which paint colors to use to duplicate the colors of a particular era. The early 1960s photo below is a good rendition of the Cream and Black colors I remember seeing on old structures painted in this combination. It also matches favorably the Cream color shown on the 1939 paint chip card I received in an email some years ago. To match it I airbrushed Vallejo Model Air 71.270 White (it is not a pure white) with 10 drops of Vallejo Model Air 71.244 Sand Beige added to the almost full bottle. For the Black trim I used Vallejo Model Air 71.251NATO Black, it is a weathered flat black that has a slight brown hue that matches my recollection of the color. Though somewhat subjective, it is what I have chosen.
While the literature indicates the primary color of a station in my era is Cream, I often see B&O models painted the darker buff color. I always remember a light color, such as shown in the preceding photo taken sometime after 1950 and before 1970 when the station no longer appears in photos of the area.
The first question to answer in building the kit was on which sheets does one paint which color. The photos below will help someone building thIs kit.
The kit’s parts are well cut and it only takes a slight trim with a razor blade to free them for their laser-cut sheets. I refrained from cutting the parts out until I could paint them to help them resist curling from the application of paint. I don’t know if it would have happened, but I thought it was a good precaution. I glued the basic frame together with sparing amounts of yellow wood glue and clear coated them. I did this long before I looked at the rest of the kit as I needed a mock up of the station for layout planning purposes. As seen in the photo below it was a pretty solid foundational structure and a perfect stand-in structure for the finished product.
I started building the kit a little out of order from the instruction sheets as I wanted to start on the side hidden from normal viewing on my layout, the trackside. I assembled one door and window on the north side, west end. The window and door attach behind that black painted intermediate piece that is covered by the adhesive shingle sheet on top and the siding piece inset on the lower portion. I added the vinyl glazing supplied with the kit, but cut it to window size and used canopy glue instead of the supplied double sided tape as the space was too small for much tape to bite. The glazing has to no wider than the door or window to fit within the cutout of the basic structure assembled first.
The pieces fit precisely, so before I glued this piece to the basic structure I started building the other window, door, trim, shingle pieces. I wanted to be sure my building techniques were as precise as the laser cutting. I was close. I left the edge trim pieces unglued where they met the next wall to allow the corners to be glued together. These are black trim pieces and they look better as precisely matched as possible.
I don’t remember ever building a structure kit that went together this well. I took my time with each step and test fitted every piece before letting it set overnight and then I came back to glue it the next day. I set it up on a different table and just did one step a night. It was hard not to rush, but the kit deserved this level of attention.
Progression on the kit went well as you can see it coming together. I repeated the steps for each side and it everything fit as expected. I was sparing with the glue and test fitted parts multiple times. The adhesive-backed, laser-cut parts fit very well, but there was not much dwell time. When you place an overlay part in place it didn’t take long for it to be very strongly adhered.
Interior walls seem to be front to back (north to south) as one can see through from the trackside out the backside windows in period photos. Speculation would put the passenger waiting room on the west end with a door for in and out on the trackside. Passenger trains had been discontinued on the OML in 1949. There are no doors on the south side away from the track. The center portion of the station would probably be occupied by the station agent’s office and the east end a small freight storage area. This was apparently supplemented by the separate freight house to the east (a future blog post).
The interior walls were constructed from scrap styrene as the interior is not detailed, but I wanted someone looking very close to see the separation and I wanted to add some lighting to the center freight agent’s office. Looking at lighting in photos in a previous blog I noticed three shaded exterior lights on the trackside of the building. I turned to Woodland Scenics products as I have success with them lighting the Point of Rocks station. The HO scale lamps seemed a little oversized so I used the N scale JP5658 Gooseneck Wall Mount Lights for the exterior pendant lights and one JP5740 Warm White LED Stick-On Light for the freight agent’s office overhead light. These were all connected to a Woodland Scenics JP5701 Light Hub under the layout. The next photo shows my less than neat wiring, my goal was to make sure the wires were secure and out of sight inside the structure and could be installed without drilling holes in the model.
Before the roof sections are installed, I added one final detail to the interior, the windows in period photos show window blinds. Take a look at the prototype photos in the previous blog referenced earlier. I added these with trimmed pieces of manila folder, cut slightly wider than the windows to give them a slight offset and not appear glued to the window “glass”.
The roof intersections have some unusual angles that I would have trouble creating in 1:1 scale, so slight trims and test fits helped me get them very close and then use the roofing material to close the gaps. The tarpaper roofing material supplied is excellent and guidelines for installation are lightly laser-cut into the roof sections. A slight overhang of the tarpaper was needed to cover the facia boards that are added near the end of construction.
The final facia trim work adds the finishing touch. There are some precut pieces that are too short, but this is easy correct by trimming some extra boards from the sheet the trim is cut from and blending them in with canopy glue and NATO black paint.
Currently MJB Models is not producing kits and Mark’s website is dormant. But if you ever want to build an excellent kit, please try one of his products. As I built it, my only trepidation was putting in as good an effort into building it as he had put into engineering and producing the kit. This is not a slight to anyone and I love building Al Westerfield’s older kits, this is on par or might even exceed that level of design and detail, though in a structure.