I am now venturing into an area that is foreign to me to a certain extent. I am talking about buildings for your large scale layout. I am going to talk about Piko buildings in this article. Why Piko? Because they have quality product which can be assembled quickly to give you an almost "instant" town on your layout. If you are not skilled in woodworking, or do not have the time, the plastic building is the way to go.
Piko offers a large selection of structures, and lately, they have been adding new ones on a regular basis. Piko buildings have many common parts that can be interchanged thereby easily lending them to kitbashing. The company wisely uses the same molds for many buildings, and only changes the color of the plastic, or adds plugs to the kits to eliminate window openings that are not wanted.
The Piko stores or main street type businesses have been selectively compressed so that you can place many of them together in a small area and have a presentable town. While the buildings look good if assembled right out of the box, they will look like buildings on every other railroad. Because of the commonality of parts, two kits can be combined to make a larger building. By changing the paint color and signs, you now have a business that is different and unique to your layout. I have seen two theaters combined to make one large more realistic structure. Color changes of stores can make a dramatic difference. The pharmacy is a bright blue color- why not make it gray or tan? I have repainted the Evening Post building to white with gray trim, and turned it into a small town City Hall and Police Station. The steak house has been repainted and make into a Post Office. The possibilities are endless.
I have seen many examples of the brewery turned into different types of factories. Two or three kits combined along with the out buildings, and suddenly we have a Hershey's factory like Ken Morgan made, or a Coca Cola Bottling plant.
Bills Body Shop can be made larger using a second kit, and re-painted to become a totally different business. The same goes for Mr. Mann's Can Factory. Your Piko Gas Stations do not have to be the brand that comes from the box. Some paint and new signs can make them into any brand of filling station that you may want.
I took the grain elevator and painted it white. I then added a scratchbuilt loading and scale house and Purina Mills signs to make it look like it belongs in the USA and not Sonneburg, Germany.
The Fire Station looks European on the box. Get rid of one tower and the castle type trim on top, and you have a more American looking structure. I have seen this done on the internet, and the results are remarkable.
The large engine house can be lengthened with additional parts, or more stalls can be added with a second kit. Why not repaint the green trim to a different color to change the appearance?
In many cases, removing the European trim and repainting the buildings will give you a look that is more unique to your layout. Use your imagination and you too can come up with some different buildings using basic Piko kits.
One word of caution. The kits do not hold up well outside if they are assembled with plastic glue. Use Marine Goop or Silicone, which is available from Home Depot, to put the walls and roof together. It would also be helpful to drill some holes near the roof to let the heat out on a hot day. Also placing the buildings on a foundation such as backer board or patio stones will help prevent condensation from building up inside.
These buildings will fade in the Florida sun over time, so like the real thing they will have to be repainted. I know many people who do not leave their buildings outside due to the extreme heat and the sand blasting effect of our summer monsoons, but if your buildings are in a shady protected area, this effect will be minimized.
These buildings are a great starting point. With some paint and styrene along with your imagination, they can be turned into structures that are unique to your layout.
With paint and some new signs, the old News Building and Steakhouse