How to turn a model railroad building into wargame scenery

My newest structure, which we used during this week's game night, started life as a Walthers kit, Backshop 933-3039. I found it in a resale shop for 6 bucks! This exact kit is currently out of production, but a slightly larger version is available.

Though in HO scale (roughly 18mm scale) this building's large entrances (intended for HO railroad engines) and extremely high ceilings suggested possible use in 28mm wargaming. Being from Walthers, it's no surprise that the molding of parts is flawless, assembly is dead simple and the resulting structure is very sturdy. However, a few changes had to be made.

In order for larger 28mm vehicles to access the structure, the front and back entrances were enlarged.

The grooves for track in the floor, as well as the rest of the floor, were plastered over.

The large windows looked great, but for wargaming purposes some of them need to be reduced. Luckily, this kit comes with rolling door and brick options for the various entrances, which happened to be the same width as the windows! These, along with a bit of brick I had cutaway from the enlarged doorways, were used to mostly brick up the windows on one side.

This added the impression of rolling window shutters as well.

Also, it had a sloping roof, unsuitable for the placing of miniatures. This was remedied by cutting away the roof guides on the inside of the parapet walls and making new edge supports for the flat roof out of various bits of plastic.

Perhaps most importantly, the kit has no 2nd story floor. Luckily it included two extra roof supports and some other I-beam bits which I sawed up and used to make supports for the floor. The floor itself is a piece of plastic cross-stitch mesh fabric, a material I find supremely useful for walkways, windows, grates and other wargame terrain details. As always, I lightly sanded both sides so that the soft plastic will better accept glue and paint. Superglue is a must for this type of material. This mesh was also used for a ladder and the grating over the drains on the ground floor.

Nearly all the various techy bits are pieces of Pegasus Hobbies Hexagon and Chemical Plant kits. Hexagon panels have obvious attachment points where they are meant to clip together, but the tech sections from panels are easily trimmed with a pair of clippers.

After assembly, painting was quite easy. I primed the entire thing with Krylon Ruddy Brown. Windows, grating and roof were primed black. I did a "wet" drybrush of colors, followed by a lighter drybrush for some sections. Then I glued in the windows and gratings that had been primed black and painted those. Brown wash and orange drybrush helped dirty up the details, then I lightly dusted the building with a clear matte spray to protect the paintjob.

In the end the piece is very playable. The roof and 2nd floor accommodate figures well and two of the sides have adequate cover on the ground floor. We found during a recent game that the interior was large enough to accommodate big 28mm vehicles.

Most importantly, the finished product is generic enough to would work well in near-future and sci-fi genres that our club tends to play. These pictures show it being used in a game of WarEngine, and it will feature prominently in our upcoming post-Halloween zombie game.

Much of the inspiration for this building is owed to the wonderfully 40k-ified railroad buildings featured at Necromundicon, which are far more detailed than mine, but also more tied to the “Grimdark” 40k setting. Our club isn't known for playing 40k, but those who do will be pleased to know that this building scales well along side the 40k plastic building kits.

—Karl, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

0 responses to “How to turn a model railroad building into wargame scenery

  1. Really nice work, with just enough detail and an awesome paint scheme to "pop" on the tabletop — and supremely playable to boot. Well done!

  2. It is a really fun piece to play with. Thansk for the report, Karl.

  3. pingback //: Games played: WarEngine and In the Emperor’s Name | Chicago Skirmish Wargames

    […] both scenarios in about 3 hours. In the WarEngine game, we decided on the spot to make use of the excellent 2-story warehouse terrain piece that Karl had brought in. We plopped it in the center of the table, put a tank inside and said that […]

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