Friday, December 16, 2016

More bulk oil: modifying the Interstate Oil kit

In a previous series of posts, I discussed several approaches to modeling bulk oil dealers, an important rail-served business in nearly every small town in the transition era. My main project of this kind was a Tidewater Associated Oil dealer, using the Walthers kit called McGraw Oil as a starting point, though with a number of modifications and additions, and the concluding post about that project can be found at the following link: . I also described a smaller model of a Union Oil Company dealership, using an old Chooch kit with additions (see that one at: ).
     Adjoining that Union Oil dealership is still a third oil dealer, minimally modeled, to which I can deliver the same petroleum products, but for Standard Oil of California. I described that modeling in a previous post also (see it at: ). As I continue work on my final town on my branch-line layout, Santa Rosalia, I need yet another bulk oil dealer. I am certainly capable of scratchbuiling any part of such an industry, but might there be a kit which could provide some of the components conveniently?
     Among the most popular kits for a bulk oil dealer is the Walthers “Interstate Fuel & Oil” kit, their kit no. 3006. You see this on lots of layouts, making it perhaps a little too familiar to modelers. Here is a single example, from Lee Nicholas’s Utah Colorado Western layout in Corinne, Utah, a nicely installed example. (Additional photos of the layout can be seen here: .)

The five tanks are at the right, with the truck loading platform in front of them, alongside the road, and the round-roofed warehouse is across the spur, in front of the elevator.
     Now that I’ve studied prototype bulk oil dealers, my first question about any kit is, does it incorporate all the elements I described in my article in Model Railroad Hobbyist, and it does. It has a warehouse, enough storage tanks to be credible (and an interesting and realistic mix of horizontal and vertical tanks), a pump house, and a truck loading platform. (By the way, you can download my MRH article, which was in the March 2014 issue, or any issue, for free at any time from their website, at .) But are all features of the kit desirable?
     Two things strike me immediately about this kit, that I wanted to change if I used it. First, the tanks have really big “weld seams,” excessive relative to any actual welding process. These would be easy if tedious to remove. (The lines are so big that one might even doubt they are supposed to represent weld beads, but the Walthers instruction sheet does call them “weld lines.) Second, the warehouse has a round roof, familiar perhaps with Quonset huts, but otherwise uncommon. That too could be corrected. I decided to buy a kit and see how it would go.
     My first objective was replacing that round roof. I simply cut the warehouse end pieces to removed the rounded parts, scribing with a single-edge razor blade and snapping. Here are the two ends, with the upper one already having its rounded part snapped off.

A wide variety of roofing could be applied to such a building, from shingles and rolled roofing, to corrugated and standing-seam roofing. I am leaning toward a standing-seam roof because there isn’t much of that type on my layout, but a final choice hasn’t happened yet.
      A decision that does have to be made early for structures, at least as I build them, is color scheme, because I prepaint walls and also details such as doors and windows. White or gray are common colors for bulk oil dealer structures, but this particular one for me will be a Richfield Oil Company dealer. Richfield used yellow and blue as corporate colors, and seems to have been determined to use them for all kinds of color decisions. I have seen several photos of Richfield structures which were mostly yellow. Shown below is a reproduction of a poster for the 2015 re-opening of a restored Richfield service station, with a period paint scheme of yellow, dark blue, and a red separating stripe. (There are several web sites with information about this particular gas station, such as: ).

This image conveys a fairly soft yellow, but the corporate yellow was a pretty deep color, and photos of the Cucamonga prototype gas station, shown above, have a deeper color than this poster. I just like the poster for a good view of the entire structure.
     I will go ahead and use yellow as the main structure color, and add dark blue windows and doors. I don’t know that the band of second color around the building bottom would be used for an oil dealer, but will begin with yellow wall painting. I chose Reefer Yellow for the walls, as you see below on one of the sprues.

This sprue has the pump house walls, first four parts at lower left.
     As you can see, work on this kit is underway, and I will continue with my modifications in future posts. The parts of the work that comprise routine assembly, simply following kit instructions, will not be described, just the changes or variations I choose to make. These may give some readers ideas about modifying this particular kit, or more generally, may even just stimulate the willingness to regard a kit as a starting point for something else, not merely as a structure that you have to build in lockstep with the instructions. That’s something I’m still learning.
Tony Thompson


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