model structure kit reviews
Product Review of Several
‘Cornerstone’ Structures
Eric Halpin

As the Algoma and Rideau is expanding and numerous structures are required for this new industrial area, I present several general comments for the members information:

1. Coke Gas Plant: this structure has quite a boxy shape measuring about 10” by 6” by 7” excluding the associated tank vessel components which measure 8” by 6” by 8”. Extra large front and side windows are designed into the wall assemblies permitting see through viewing. As I don’t like the looks of an empty see through structure it was necessary to perform some internal detailing (pipes, boiler and vessels). What is somewhat unusual about this kit was that it included an internal wall which was NOT needed for structural integrity. This wall is detailed as a brick wall with two man-doors on either side. Also it came with four detailed steel girder roof trusses which cannot even be seen to be appreciated! A nice assortment of tanks, vessels and piping come as an addition to the main structure.
Overall the kit is a nice addition to the A&R layout as a chemical plant of some sort. Its architecture is slightly gothic in style but it can fit well into any industrial zone up to about 1960 or so.

2. Engine House Machine Shop: this structure has a nice low rectangular shape with an offset boiler building and stack. It measures 13” by 8” by 5” plus stack. It is designed as a drive through rail facility with embedded floor slots for the rail. The form is complemented by unusually fine window details. This structure is a great addition on the A&R as a rolling stock repair facility. This sharp looking building would fit very well into almost any time period up to the present.

3. Prairie Star Milling: Now this is a somewhat challenging plastic kit for several reasons. If you like installing windows this kit is the one for you. I count 97 windows of assorted sizes plus numerous door assemblies! Whew, that was a job getting them in place. The structure measures about 13” by 9” by 10” plus stack. It has a unique shape and is unusual and valued for that reason alone. Plus the plastic is a creamy colored brick which is a nice change from the more common red brick. Unfortunately, the structures support base was formed in two parts which are thinner than normal. The box is large enough to handle a one piece base so why it was split in two is unknown. This design only makes the base somewhat flimsy. Plus it was slightly twisted so that the stack would have had a slight lean to it!! To add to the complications, the main sloped roof assembly was so badly twisted on the sprue that I had to send for another one from Walthers! This structure really can support track on either side of it due to loading doors being installed on each main side. Thus it will fit nicely in between tracks on the A&R. The instructions and exploded views could have been somewhat bigger especially for the first few assembly points. Also, it is important to take care which clear plastic window is being installed on the frames as some of these windows require specific clearances with wall components. This detail was not clearly highlighted in the instructions!
Have you ever found extra parts in a kit? Well this kit of mine had had about 24 window frames, 12 window glasses, 5 loading doors, 2 man doors, 2 wall units, 4 wall cornices, 8 loading roof brackets EXTRA!!! As a special bonus, a base unit for the sugar beet unloading plant was included. This kit has been designed to attach to the Prairie Star Elevator kit and a conveyor system is included. A conveyor opening is thus formed in one wall which is a bit of a pain if you are not going to use the structure as a grain milling factory. Final use on the A&R has not yet been determined but regardless it will be a handsome structre. By the way, I had a call from Walthers and they opened up several other kits and the roofs were also twisted.

Several other structures that I have recently built for friends layouts are as follows:

1. Centennial Milling Inc: This is a background kit and is made with components from the Red Wing Milling Co structure. This is an easy kit to assemble BUT I encountered the front wall being bent by 3/16”. This made it difficult to properly square up the corners and roof. Plus the three cyclone dust collectors had halves which would NOT line up properly being off-set by about 1/16”. Much filing was needed to make these sections fit reasonably together. I had earlier completed the Red Wing kit without issue so what the heck is happening here? Are background kits seconds??

2. Passenger Car Wash: This is NOT a kit to start if you are having one of those ‘all thumbs’ type days! Many small parts require real patience during assembly. I did find an error in the instructions in that a needed wire which you cut ,was stated to be 38mm long. In fact it should be cut 40mm. By the time you reliaze this error it is difficult to undo. Regardless, it is a nice detail assembly which fits well into any yard area. I can remember working around these wash racks in the late 1950s.

3. Oil Storage Tank #1015: I don’t really know where to begin with comments on this ‘Plastruct’ kit. I will start by saying the kit is basically terrible. The instructions are almost hand drawn and poorly done at that; verbal instructions or suggestions for scribing on a round cylinder were totally absent; parts were included that had no apparent use in the kit and some components appeared to have been cut by crude scissors. When you consider the nicely detailed oil/storage tank sets from other companies, it is perplexing that this company would make such a low level assembly. Avoid this kit.
The Plastruct kits were originally designed as Architectural models to various architects scales (1/4"=12", 1/8"=12", etc.) which generally don't have much surface detail (I used to build models for architects and they usually wanted a model that was built to the basic dimensions and only had major details visible). As for all the other kits reviewed it would be nice if you gave kit numbers in your reviews so we would know which kits to avoid if you happen to find a really bad one.
One other thing, the scale of the models you're reviewing would be nice too.
Trolleyfan Wrote:One other thing, the scale of the models you're reviewing would be nice too.

Eric's layout is HO, so I would assume that the kits that were done for the Algoma & Rideau are HO. I don't know for sure if the ones completed for friends are all HO though...

If you'd like to see some pictures of Eric's layout, click here --> <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""> ... ailway.htm</a><!-- m -->


I am happy to oblige on the kit numbers but I can't imagine why anyone would refer to a number versus the kits manufacturers name! Regardless here they are: Gas Plant 2905; Machine Shop 2902: Passenger Car Wash 3186 and Praire Star Milling 2914. Yes all are HO (thanks Andrew). Presently working on kit #3048 Trolleyfan.


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