Saturday, November 4, 2017

Bank on Bank

I was looking for a fairly easy and relaxing project I could work on for 10 or 20 minutes at a time, and soldering track work wasn't going to do it, so I thought I'd take a crack at a small HO scale building I'd been thinking about for awhile.
One night last year I was driving home from a movie and snapped that. I shouldn't have. I was driving. Well, I was stopped at the light if it makes you feel better.
It's an old bank at the corner of Glen and Bank street. A bank on Bank. Built in 1955. It was a Toronto-Dominion Bank I think. I've always admired this little building. Well, ok, it's not so little. Look at that long side facade.
Hate that white sign board someone stuck on top.
Today it's a furniture store and whoever owns it now took down that thing. 

It has a sense of solidity about it. It's not showy, but has a handsome simplicity. And it's basically just a decorated box, so I thought it would be easy to model. That's what I decided to do: build it. I want to build more brick and stone buildings and develop some ease in doing so, so this seemed like a good project to give it a try.
That upper photo of the facade is my estimate of being nearly HO scale, maybe a little bigger. From that, I figured out some dimensions. The facade is modelled without selective compression, but the side wall is considerably shortened, otherwise it would take up a lot of space on the layout. In the end the basic shape is very shoebox-like - a lot of buildings are.
I wanted thick walls, and each is made by gluing 2 pieces of 3/32" balsa together with their grains perpendicular to each other.
Each wall was left to dry overnight under a stack of books. I could have used foam board or styrene, but I had some balsa left over from a project I never got around to starting, and I have a well known E. L. Moore fixation :-) so the choice was obvious. 
These are the wall's inner surfaces. The end walls are notched on the sides so the side walls will fit snuggly.
The windows and doors are trimmed with what looks like concrete pieces. And there's that nice yellow brick. I was planning on using Micro-Mark's HO scale yellow brick like I used on The Bookery. I didn't have enough on hand and contacted Micro-Mark about ordering more and they broke the bad news: they no longer make it! And hadn't done so for a few years. So, all I had on hand was some red plastic brick sheets and decided to go with that and paint the whole thing once major construction was done.
For the concrete trim I had an empty box of instant oatmeal, so it was pressed into service.
I cut the trim pieces to 6" wide, which is probably a little wider than the prototype, but doesn't look too bad.
I waffled back-and-forth about whether I should decorate each wall before assembling them into a box, or glue up the box and then decorate. In the end I added a few pieces to the unassembled walls, then glued them into a box, and finished attaching the trim and brick sheets. Peeking inside you can see the styrene floor - I think it's 0.020 inch - that was glued in after the walls were assembled. I chose styrene only because it was the thinnest sheet material I had on hand.
After installing the floor, some additional balsa strips were glued into the corners for extra bracing. In retrospect, I think this is a bit of overkill.
The floor fits ok, although its got a little flex.
You can see that the side wall is much shorter than the prototype, but maintains its style. One thing that strikes me about this model is that if I didn't know the prototype, I'd say the model was in O scale given those large door and window openings. This would likely make a good O scale model of some sort, although it wouldn't have the impressiveness of the large windows in relation to the smaller people that HO does.
At this point I wanted to see how it would look on the layout. The sidewalks are yet to be installed, so things are looking a little bare. Also, I've got this whole thing I'm working out in my mind about making sure streets turn in the correct sequence to get to the various buildings from the sidewalks - it's a little convoluted and I think I'll do a post on what I'm considering is an important planning principle to me for streetcar layouts. Anyway, it doesn't look too bad on that corner.
From this point it was more-or-less just cutting and gluing pieces into location. A pleasant and relaxing task when done on a now-and-then basis.
One thing though. I need to do a little work on improving the corners where the brick sheets come together. The digital photos highlight a few problems.
The wall that butts up against the neighbouring building has a section where there appears to be no brick, just exposed concrete block.
To hint at that, I pieced in a section on the blank side wall with a piece of plastic HO block sheet. Well, that's phase 1, refinement, painting, detailing, lighting and all that good stuff is next.


  1. Captures well the essence of the prototype and the spirit of the scratchbuilder making do with what is on hand. Looking forward to progress as it happens - take your time and enjoy!

    1. Thanks Galen. I should note that I did go out the the hobby store and buy a piece of HO scale sheet block for this as I didn't have any. The leftovers no doubt will get used on future projects.