Wednesday, July 10, 2024

QSSR Mark VII - The Atlas Station

The Atlas station has always been a classic of American railroading since at least the 1960s. While it has become far too ubiquitous at this point, it is still a nice kit with excellent details. When you compare it with the old Revell station and some others cheap kits from the same era, it's holding ground.

It has been said it was based on a NJ prototype, which seems to be true to some extent. But beyond a few similarities, this station should be considered proto-freelanced. Neverthless, the design is kind of cute even if I had serious reservation that the second floor under the roof must be extremely cramped and unpractical. I've yet to understand why you would bother having so many dormers on such a small roof and fit them with minuscule windows!

First pass of coloring

Notwithstanding this critic, I always wanted to repaint mine in a more realistic fashion and see what could be done. Missing a few windows and details, it was also a great opportunity to weather it as an abandoned structure that was left to rot like depots on Tom Johnson's former INRAIL layout or the old CPR station in Richford, VT.

Second pass

My experiments were initially done by painting the station a dark grey, then drybrushing a faded wine red over the entire walls. Using dark brown for trims. The dark grays and browns are there to simulate rotten wood under the paint layers. After that initial coat of paint, I drybrushed several coats of light grey, tan and white, coming back later with red again to modulate the effect. It was not a real technique, but just applying colors following pictures found on Internet.

Third pass with new coats of red and crayon

Sure, I ended up with an exaggerated look, but I was still able to learn to play with paint to create peeling effects without using acrylic mediums or hairspray. Did I succeed, maybe... And after a while, I took color crayons and started to add new layers on the building. Hunther Hughson had done that and I felt it was a great idea to replicate the gritty aspect of failing paint and distressed wood. It certainly improved the appearance.

For additional detailing, I installed a few Tichy oil barrels around the platform as if the area was still used by maintenance of way teams. Wooden ties made from wood matches also added some story to the scene. I must admit I'm generally no oriented toward these cute rendition of railway structures, but it was dumb fun.

Fourth pass with more crayon

If I could critic my work, I would say that the red I used was completely wrong. Using a wine color and fading it with white and tan gave it an unrealistic pinkish look. Also, I should have weathered the concrete platform with more oil washes. Some vegetation and weeds growing along the walls and cracks would also bring everything together.

Results in situ

Will it be the final structure that will grace the layout? I don't know. To be honest, I would rather have a permanent concrete platform on which I could swap scratchbuilt buildings according to my fancy. That said, I'm glad I pushed forward with this idea to exploit the potential of the Atlas station. I still believe it's a fantastic model if you dare to embrace its ubiquities.


  1. Nice! I am starting an Atlas O scale kit of the same structure. I am going to try and use the roof casting but not add the cupolas on the sides. Instead, I am going to patch the holes and install all new shingles over everything. I am hoping a simpler roof profile will make it look a bit more generic (and less recognizable).

  2. I left the dormers off the roof on my HO one. Heavy weather the roof and it is not noticed. One could re-shingle also. Makes a nice rural station.