A little information about this build:

In the December 1956 issue Model Railroader magazine published a set of plans for a 2 story ATSF station that had been built in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1896. The article was titled Division-Point Depot. To me, that structure was the quintessential passenger station and I had to build a copy of my own. Others must have thought the same because Fine Scale Miniatures Kit #110 titled Depot is a very close copy of that original design and the limited production Granite Station by Timberline also embraced the flavor of that original design but in a much less obvious manner. Of course in today’s current market, both of these kits now sell for much more than their original prices. In 2012 Fine Scale Miniatures issued a new depot kit, The Brownsville Depot, kit #15 in their Jewel Series which again features many of the same design concepts as that original ATSF station.

Over the years I had started building the depot per the MR plans at least twice. The first time, in the mid 1980’s the parts got damaged in a basement flood and the second time I had laminated a backing onto the scribed material and the walls warped beyond use before I could begin assembly. That brings me to the current project which was started on October 20th 2011. This time I realized that the space I had available was too small for the structure as originally designed. To verify the amount of space available for the structure and to assure what I designed fit into those parameters, I measured the area between my existing tracks and created CAD drawings for the available space. I printed out the drawings cut them out and laid them out on my railroad to make sure they would fit within the designated area. These are noted as the General Arrangement drawings. Once I was assured I had restricted myself to the available area, I continued with the redesign. If you decide to build this structure you can print out these General Arrangement drawings, tape the two match lines together and cut them to fit the area you have available.

Working within the available space resulted in my structure being a bit shorter in length and about 9 feet narrower than the drawings published in Model Railroader. Some of the windows have been removed and the bay window as well as the entire structure has been modified to accommodate the plastic cast windows and doors I had purchased for this project. In addition the roof slope of my version was modified so I could use roof brackets similar to prototypical ATSF roof brackets which I purchased from an Ebay seller. (These are the same brackets I used in the Station/Freighthouse build.)

Sometime in 2008 or 2009 I was looking around on Ebay and I saw a set of window and door castings being advertised for a reasonable amount. They looked familiar. I grabbed my December 1956 Model Railroader and started counting up windows and doors etc and realized that this set of castings seemed to include all that was needed to build this station. In addition the set included all the roof brackets and other flourishes. I hit the buy it now and acquired two sets of the castings. When they arrived I verified they would work for the station and they went into inventory. If you are at all interested in building this structure you can contact me for more information about the brackets, window and door castings I used.

Willits Depot is designed to represent a structure that has evolved over the years instead of one that was built all at one time. For that reason the baggage storage area sits on a loading platform that is slightly higher than the passenger platform. It also features exposed structural supporting components whereas the framework for the passenger platform is sheathed over. It is also narrower than the main building but that is due to space issues more than design considerations.

Besides being located at the interchange between my railroad and the outside world, this depot also doubles as the corporate offices for my railroad, which are housed on the second floor. Hence the justification for having a structure of this size on my cost conscious logging based railroad.

While I tried to initiate this build by first cutting and pasting together a representation from the plans in Model Railroader, I realized that would not work for many reasons. In the original article the bay windows were entirely scratchbuilt but in my version I would be using window castings. I was indecisive on how to modify the design to accommodate the castings and this is where the build stalled for about 8 months. This issue led me to redraw the plans per the parameters set by the space I had available as well as the raw materials and castings I would be using. You can download PDF copies of my version.

These files are formatted to print out HO Scale plan sets on Legal size 8.5" x 14" paper.

Willits Depot Sheet 1 Sheet 1 Elevations & Details

Willits Depot Sheet 2 Sheet 2 Elevations & Details

Willits Depot Sheet 3 Sheet 3 General Arrangement

Willits Depot Sheet 4 Sheet 4 General Arrangement

Willits Depot Sheet 5 Sheet 5 Elevations & Details (NOT YET AVAILABLE)

Willits Depot Sheet 6 Sheet 6 Frontal Elevation of Entire Structure. (Note: This sheet is not to scale.)

To build the station as originally designed I suggest you find a copy of the December 1956 issue of Model Railroader.

Unlike many of my builds, this one will not be broken down into days as I started this build in 2011 and did not keep daily records of my activities. Instead of a daily diary, I will present this build in progressive steps. In addition I will not repeat some of the basic techniques used to lay out and cut out the walls of this building as those techniques are adequately explained in my previous builds. (For info check out, The Station/Freighthouse, Jolies Bakery, or the Tool Shed.)


Tools and Other Sundries:

Before getting into the building of the Willits Depot, let me talk briefly about tools, techniques and skills associated with this project. I am going to assume that you may want to build your own depot or some similar project so allow me to throw out a few comments about tool and materials selections.

You will need a few basic tools to complete this or a similar project. You’ll need one or more X-Acto knives with no. 11 blades and a single edged razor blade will come in useful for a few trimming some items. Many modelers use a white or yellow carpenters wood glue, I prefer to use Ambroid glue because I like the way it shrinks when it dries. I have models over 35 years old that were assemblied with Ambroid glue and have never had a joint failure.

I also use a medium viscosity ACC glue for adding small parts. Whatever your preference in glues, a box of round wooden toothpicks and a box of the thinner flat wooden toothpicks are indispensable for applying small quantities of glue exactly where it is needed on the model. Some modelers use way too much glue as they must feel it is necessary to achieve a good joint or maybe to compensate for a bad fit between parts. The trick to achieving a tight bond between components is not how much glue is used but rather keeping pressure on the joint while the glue dries. To achieve tight joints, I first select what I believe is the proper glue for the job and then I make use of numerous clamping devices as well as heavy objects from around my shop to compress assemblies while the glued joint is drying.

I have been a faithful user of Floquil paints for many years. For thinning paint, and cleanup I use a solvent called Xylene/Xylol which I buy at my local ACE Hardware store in quart cans. On this build I will be sealing some of the wood components.

Once complete the model will require periodic cleaning. Dust is not weathering and can only diminish the overall presentation of the model. To clean the model I use a small vacuum which can be purchased from various outlet stores under various names for about ten bucks. I modified one of the nozzles to adapt to my vacuum set which is sold through Micro Mart and other distributors.

Let's head over to the shops where our build is already in progress.


Building the Willits Depot

(On to the Shops)