Northern Light & Power Kit by Walthers

By Ty’s Model Railroad - 6/28/2012 11:10:00 PM

Completed Walthers Cornerstone Northern Light and Power kit

One of the last and largest structures for my layout is my Walthers Cornerstone Northern Light & Power kit. I immediately fell in love with this model due to its style and large, round-top windows. The building will be installed in the vacant space between the track leading into the right lower mountain tunnel portal and the road passing around the turn-table area. Instead of a power plant, the Pioneer Press Daily Advertiser will be the tenant. The model will be complete with custom lighting and a printing press. I’ve always had an interest in press-printing and journalism and because I already had the company name on a Woodland Scenics dry-transfer sheet, I thought it was a good fit.

Northern Light & Power kit partially painted with Humbrol brick red enamel paint

Like all Walthers Cornerstone kits, all pieces are precision molded with quality materials. Besides the 4 walls, roof, one-piece chimney, and base pieces, the kit includes an under-track hopper kit, roof support trusses, an internal firewall, roof vents, and separate windows and doors. I always prefer detached windows and doors as they make painting much easier and convenient as there is much less masking required. I carefully cut each piece off its plastic carrier structure and trimmed and sanded off any spurs. I then washed each piece in warm, soapy water. This step is always very important for proper paint adhesion. 

Northern Light & Power kit partially painted with Humbrol brick red enamel paint

I started by carefully assembling the 4 main walls, ensuring the structure was kept level and the walls joined at a perfect 90 degrees. I painted the main structure with brick red Humbrol enamel, thinned 3:1 with paint thinner. I also used the same paint colour on the chimney and firewall pieces. At the same time, I sprayed the windows and doors with Testors light aircraft gray. I didn’t remove the windows at this point from their carrier, making them much easier to paint in one easy step. Other small components such as the roof vents and trusses were painted with metallic aluminum paint. 

Northern Light & Power kit with green masking tape around windows and building trim

After the main structure dried for 24 hours, I masked the entire building to prepare for painting the trim and foundation. I used the same light aircraft grey colour that I used on the windows for the trim, which took about three coats as I was brush-painting them. Once the trim had completely dried, I made any necessary touch-ups with either the brick red or light aircraft grey paint using a fine detailing brush. I then weathered the entire building with powdered pastels and sealed it with two coats of Testors Dull-Coat. 

Northern Light & Power kit with green masking tape around windows and building trim

Partially constructed Northern Light & Power kit with trim painted in light aircraft grey enamel

I felt that the roof pieces lacked detail so I used trip styrene to make a paneled look. I first divided each roof panel into four equal sections and glued on 1mm x 1.5mm strip styrene. I then glued a piece of the strip styrene along the total length of the edge of one roof section. I made sure this piece overhung the roof panel slightly, thus covering the gap between the two roof sections once they were assembled on the structure. The entire roof was then spray painted flat black. 

Northern Light & Power kit roof panel modifications with strip styrene

For the large double door, side entry door, and overhead bay door, I used dark green enamel to add a bit more interest to the colour scheme of the building. I masked off the door frames and transoms so they would remain the light grey colour I had originally coloured them. The last step was to weather the doors with dark powdered pastels and seal with a final coat of dull-coat. The windows were also weathered and sealed with the same method. 

Painted and weathered windows for a Northern Light & Power kit waiting to be installed

The window glazing included with the kit is thick and oddly obscure, so I opted to use clear styrene from Evergreen. This product is thin and almost perfectly clear so it looks a lot more like real glass. After removing each window from its carrier, I carefully glued it to a clean sheet of the clear Evergreen styrene. I glued each window side by side to get as much use out of the styrene sheet as possible, leaving only a large enough gap between each window to accommodate a razor blade. After the glue had dried, I carefully cut each window with a sharp hobby blade and trimmed off any overhanging styrene. This process was very quick and before I knew it, I had a nice pile of glazed windows ready for installation. 

Firewall and roof support trusses inside of a Northern Light & Power kit

Before installing the windows, I painted the interior walls with dark grey enamel. I also scraped the paint off the surfaces of the windows and window openings where glue would be applied for better adhesion. I then applied a small bead of glue around each window and mounted it to the inside of each opening, pressing down for several seconds to ensure it was properly seated. Once the windows were all installed, I added the three roof support trusses and the interior wall. Though the interior wall could be optional, there is no additional roof truss to replace it if it isn't used. 

Light bulbs and rigid steel power leads inside a Northern Light & Power kit

Lighting was next. I didn’t use the styrene light diffuser box method used in previous models due to the fact that this building’s interior is completely open and visible due to the large amount of windows. I instead wired two automotive 12v bulbs between the roof support trusses using rigid steel wire to support each bulb. I originally wired the bulbs in series but changed to a parallel circuit as they were too dim. The wire leads run down the back wall and exit out of two small holes in the foundation. 

Scratch built printing press made of styrene for interior scene of a Northern Light & Power kit

Scratch built machinery made of styrene for interior scene of a Northern Light & Power kit

The interior was quite a lot of fun to build. A staple piece of equipment for any press company is the printing press, so I immediately went to work scratch building it scrap styrene. Once the press started to look somewhat realistic, I sprayed it flat black and detailed it with metallic aluminum rollers and highlights. The final and most imperative detail was the print itself, which I created in Photoshop and printed as a long strip on standard printer paper. I then glued 2 printed strips directly to the press, weaving it in between the rollers. 

Scratch built printing press made of styrene for interior scene of a Northern Light & Power kit

The remainder of the interior is mostly just random pieces, shapes, and parts thrown together in an attempt to make it industrial and factory-like. The large box structure with the grate on top sits behind the interior wall and serves to fill the large void. Its purpose is completely up to the imagination! Just remember, the interior will be mostly out of view but getting just a glimpse of any interior parts scene makes it entirely more realistic and believable to the viewer. 

Painted a weathered roof panels for a Northern Light & Power kit

Finishing the roof was the last step. I glued on the vents and added weathering effects. My first attempt at weathering with powdered pastels failed as they almost completely dissolved when I sprayed them with dull-coat. I instead opted for dry-brushing the roof with steel and rust enamel paint. Last, I placed the two roof panels to the main building. They sit snugly on the roof trusses so there is no need to glue them. This allows future access to the interior. 

Completed Walthers Cornerstone Northern Light and Power kit

This kit was undeniably a lot of fun to build. It is currently the largest structure I have ever put together. I might still be able to fit one or two very small structures on my layout but definitely nothing as large as this one. I must say that the feeling is almost bittersweet that this kit is finished. Guess I will just need a larger layout. 

Completed Walthers Cornerstone Northern Light and Power kit

Completed side of a Walthers Cornerstone Northern Light and Power kit

Completed Walthers Cornerstone Northern Light and Power kit with interior lighting effects

Illuminated interior scene of a scratch built printing press inside a Northern Light and Power kit

Completed Walthers Cornerstone Northern Light and Power kit with interior lighting effects

Completed Walthers Cornerstone Northern Light and Power kit

Completed Walthers Cornerstone Northern Light and Power kit showing roof panels and smoke stack

Completed Walthers Cornerstone Northern Light and Power kit

Completed back side of a Walthers Cornerstone Northern Light and Power kit


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