Model Railroads Page 26

The RBRBB – A Really Big Red Brick Building

After coming up with the genius notion of putting the Frankfort Terminal RailRoad control panel in the ceiling of a future engine house, it quickly became apparent that all the accompanying wiring and gizmo boxes wouldn’t fit, particularly if I actually intended to put engines in the engine house, too. Therefore, I devised the following:

The RBRBB Plan – 

  • It will be totally scratch built, not a kit, no plans (but lots of sketches)
  • The basic structure will be clear acrylic sheet (e.g. Plexiglas)
  • It will be then covered with Houseworks “1/2 scale” (1/24) brick sheets and corner pieces
  • and much more……..

The first rough shape was a white foam core box tested on site –
– It was later decided that the engine house will move to the west (far) end of the layout.

2010-12-29 – Above – Some snow was shoveled and the tracks and engine house laid in place.

2010-12-29 – Above – Then the mockup was test fitted. It is a bit big for the allotted space. The overall footprint required does include the add-on feet, of course.

2010-12-29 – Above – It does solve the problem of getting the underground wiring from the layout to the patio.

2010-12-29 – Above – Here are some of the gizmo boxes that need to be housed.

Although there is no set of plans, this excellent S Scale building is the primary inspiration for the RBRBB:

Plastic Whacking Begins 

Below – March 6, 2011




Above – The first big, actually huge, mistake – NEVER cut window openings before you have the windows you are going to use identified! NEVER!!


The Actual RBRBB – Finally!


Above – 2014-05-06 – Three and a half years later, the scratch-built shell is finished. As noted previously, it is a Plexiglas basic structure with Houseworks 1:24 scale plastic H8206 brick sheet siding and H8207 corners.

Hard Lesson: Don’t cut the window and door openings until you have the windows and doors in hand. Because of the almost complete dearth of available commercial windows and doors, I get to scratch build 44 windows and 2 doors. I like creative modeling, but repetitious modeling, not so much….


Above – 2014-05-30 – The wiring enters the RBRBB through a 2″ overhang off the patio.


Above – 2014-06-25 – On-site wiring access test. The RBRBB basement is sealed so a wiring access box is built inside the building against the back wall. I would like to figure out a bug-resistant lid for the wiring box to reduce the varmint count. I didn’t say bug-proof because outside, anything that is humanly accessible is always bug accessible.

Note the fortuitous proximity of a GFI protected 120VAC power source on-site above and, for testing inside, below.


Above – 2014-07-14 – Back inside to install the final connector blocks and – Below Two Pictures – install the two 12VDC fans. They will be controlled by the DuoStat Temperature and Humidity Unit shown. A third fan is built into the Meanwell 24VDC power supply housing.



Locomotive speed and direction will be  controlled by a very old, used and cheap wireless Aristocraft ‘Train Engineer’ throttle sending information to two equally old Aristocraft ART-5471 receivers – Below:


Update – I cleverly roasted one of my receivers while testing and couldn’t find an exact replacement (wonder how many are lying around in junk piles?) I did find a later model that is compatible.


Above – July 16, 2015 – Testing the electronics with the temporary indoor layout. (And some play time, too – for the grandkids, of course…..)


Above – July 16, 2015 – I am a modeler, right? With some empty space in the RBRBB and all those windows, I can’t just have empty rooms. So, I have been making manufacturing equipment to add entertainment. That requires interior walls, a reception area, lights and a lot of time. However, so that I can get this building in place to run trains, I delayed the interior detail indefinitely.

October 17, 2015 – With the Indiana winter rapidly approaching (temps in the low 30’s tonight) the RBRBB project has stalled again. The pieces that I precut for the 44 windows don’t fit well because the openings that I hand cut for the windows are irregular and uneven. They would have worked if I had made the window pieces a bit oversize. But noooo…..

I even tried to buy some 3d printed windows on Shapeways but the designer had troubles with the design and they can’t be printed.

Below – July 18, 2016 – Steve Berneberg, a railroad modeler and writer for Garden Railways magazine, had an article in the magazine about 3D printed windows that he does at home. We made a very good deal and he did the windows I needed done to my drawings:


Below – August 5, 2016 – The windows are cleaned up and going in!


Below – September 2, 2016 – The roof is the final major structure to be built and I found an amazing paint to represent the gravel roof – Testors Createfx Gravel Gray. Tamiya primer was put down first, then Testors Flat Light Aircraft Gray for the cornice and the Gravel for the roof then all protected with Krylon UV-Resistant Matte Clear. Hope it works……


Below – September 14, 2016 – Finally! The RBRBB was installed. And to my great delight, Steve Berneberg, the window guy himself, was in the Indianapolis area all the way from California and stopped by to see the windows in place and trains running, powered by the electronical miracles housed in the RBRBB.




Note – October 17, 2016 – The first thunder storm revealed some leaks, since fixed and, strangely, the Testors Createfx super cool ‘gravel’ appearance paint shown previously turned to mush when it got wet. That convinced me to do an overhaul on the roof

Below – November 5, 2016 – The roof repair was only partially successful but putting things back together gave me a chance to see how it would look in full operational regalia.




Update – About March, 2017 a liberal application of silicone around the control panel access hatch stopped the leaks. I had also made some modifications to the interior control panel to avoid standing water. So far, so good.

June 26, 2018 – The good news – the railroad electronics and the building air handling systems worked flawlessly, however, the weather took a heavy toll on the roof:

The Plexi Roof

A roof made entirely of  clear acrylic sheet (Plexiglas) finally solved the warping problem – at least it survived the final 3 years of the outdoor FTRR.

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