Thursday, December 12, 2013

Saint-Sacrement Station – Good Enough! – Part 1

Sometimes, you just need to call it good enough to move forward. It’s more about knowing where your efforts pay the most.

Saint-Sacrement station is a now abandoned modern station located in St. Malo industrial park in Quebec City. It was built by CPR in the wake of Quebec City downtown urban renewal when historic and iconic Palace Station – built to fit Château Frontenac architecture – was closed down and slated for demolition. Don’t ask me what those people where thinking, but feel safe, Palace Station survived in this ocean of destruction and reopened later under VIA Rail.

The new station was/is a spartan building design in a dirt cheap brutalist architectural style. Forget fancy brick and wood work from old times; forget modern free layout plan and flowing style. It had none; just a cheap stand-in for a dying transportation mode.

As bad as it was, it still had some charm from a modeller perspective, including a piggyback terminal, a gritty industrial setting and a signal bridge! Why the signal bridge? Because they are seldom found in Eastern Quebec were single-track mainline is the rule. When you think about signal bridge in the area, you automatically think about CPR mainline East to Allenby in Quebec City.

Anyway, when came the time to model the station, I automatically thought about a half-finished kitbash of DPM generic structures (Cutting Co. and Taxi Cab). Originally, it would have been a factory on an ill-fated switching layout but I felt it was fine material to depict a modern freight-oriented station. In fact, it reminded me ex-CRP Farnham station located in Southern Quebec (home of now infamous MMA’s Quebec operations).

Farnham Station was built in the early 50s, replacing a grandiose burn down structure from Victorian era. Not a masterpiece, it’s not an ugly duckling either. Honestly, it has charm with its pure brick and stone lines; a perfect prototype for a dying CPR line in downtown Quebec City.

The DPM bash, with its two-storey office and station and a one-storey warehouse was perfect to fit the bill. But to get a modern flavour, it definitely needed large and gracious steel over hanged roof so typical of the era. Using laminated styrene sheets and Evergreen roof cladding, I easily made one similar to Farnham. It totally changed the look of the building, helping to hide its DPM origin.

Another crucial detail was windows. Often, in the 1950, it was popular to had horizontal mullions on sash windows to express better a sense of horizontality and speed so dear at that time. It was done by gluing thin strips of paper on the back of the structure with solvent cement. Yes, solvent cement is an excellent bonding agent between porous material like paper and styrene when used with care.

Downspouts and electrical wiring were added to the structure to hide non aesthetical seams and give some depth and realism to the station. With most bashing done, only painting and adding small details such as railing and light fixtures are left. Stay tuned!

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