Front view of freight house with extended deck, ramp ad stairs. I used 100 grit sandpaper for the roof. The "tar roofing" material that came with the kit would not have been used on a RR freight house. It was typically used on slightly sloped surfaces that were not intended to last a long time. The 100 grit sandpaper represents asphalt roofing that came in rolls. The surface was covered with granules.
Banta Modelworks Warehouse
First, I’m not sure why I continue do Banta Kit reviews on my website. It’s not like large scale modelers have many options when it comes to purchasing large scale, non-plastic, structures. Secondly, its not as if Banta’s F/G scale kits need much in the way of construction tips. Besides, I seldom follow the instructions. I often take the core structure and build it into something that better meets my needs.
At the last NNGC (2023) I purchased the Banta F/G scale warehouse. I purchased it because it had an elevated loading dock. It’s hard to find large scale structures that have elevated loading docks. Most of Banta kits are best suited for “downtown” scenes. Unlike many large-scale layouts, mine is intended to be operated and not run. Meaning that trains are consisted in a yard, cars are delivered to and picked up at various locations. There are not a whole lot of available structures that lend themselves to operating a large scale railroad.
I should point out that I model in F scale. A large percentage of the motive power and rolling stock that use to be available were either D&RGW or D&RGS. The big exceptions were/are Shays, Climaxes, Heislers and Moguls. There were other pre 1900 vintage locomotives. Yes, there are other exceptions. Oh, one more thing, I’m not referring to live steam. I should also point out that I’m aware that there are a few other companies that provide a limited number of large-scale structure kits or prefabricated structures. For example, Ten-Wheeler Hobbies provide premanufacture G scale structures. They are very well done but tend to be rather expensive.
Of the Banta kits that lend themselves to operating a railroad are his depots, the warehouse, and the hardware and miner’s supply. For the most part, the depots are just “stops” on the RR.
I’m using this structure as a railroad freight house rather than a commercial warehouse. A freight house, is a building that is typically owned and operated by a railroad for receiving, loading, unloading, and temporary storage of less- than-car load (LCL) freight. Having a protected area for temporary freight storage improves efficiency by allowing railroads to accommodate customers' delivery and pickup schedules without leaving freight cars idle at loading points and destinations. Freight houses typically have at least one track side freight door with one or more doors for trucks or wagons to load and unload on the opposite side of the building. This kit makes a perfect freight house. Freight houses typically did not have much in the way of signage. Warehouses usually had company signs. This is one of the few Banta kits that did not come with signage.
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on how I built this structure other than to say that like every other Banta kit that I’ve built it took me significantly longer to build then the instructions implied. I will let the photos with captions provide the process I took to build the warehouse. I should point out that I worked in the construction industry for many years. I also helped to restore the oldest Depot west of The Mississippi. It was built in 1863. It is composed of a station with waiting room, a baggage room, a large freight house, and elevated loading docks on both sides of the freight house. The loading dock has a ramp. Doing a little research, I noted that it was very common for loading docks to have ramps. It was not uncommon to have loading docks on both sides of the freight house.
Unfortunately, freight houses do not solve the problem of having industrial or commercial facilities that rely on the delivery and pickup of products. I find that to be the case in most scales. If you checked out my Ophir Depot (Los Alamos Junction) review, you would note that I added an elevated dock with ramp. Of course, I could purchase another Banta warehouse, significantly modify it, and add some signage and make it into a commercial facility. On the other hand, I can jus scratch build a warehouse.
The Freight House:
The obvious changes to the warehouse are the extended deck, the ramp, and extended stairs. I also decided to make the upper wall end siding horizontal rather than vertical. I did not include the smokestack. Freight houses of this type and size were typically not heated as they were seldom staffed.
You will note that part of the back freight door has not been recently re-stained. And the doors, windows and trim has not been repainted. That’s intentional and represents a local cultural norm referred to as “mañana”. Mañana means tomorrow. Where I live in Northern New Mexico, and in my version of the town of Chamita, it means not today. It really means we’ll get back to you at some point or maybe never. In the case of the warehouse, it’s been many months since the work was started. Why wasn’t the freight door finished? The door was partially open when the workday ended.
If you are modeling in F scale and using code 250 rail, you will need to mount the warehouse on a 1/2” thick board. I placed an F scale box car adjacent to the deck. Without track the bottom of the box car freight door is the same height as the top of the deck. The loading dock deck should be approximately even with the floor of the box car. Of course, you could just raise the building base and platform by ½”. The base you use will be contingent on the code of the track you use and the thickness of the ties. I am sure that many modelers do not care if the freight/warehouse deck elevation lines up with the car floor.
One other totally off the subject note; This kit could be increased in length by at least 50%. A ~4’ x 8' sheet of 1/8” MDF is about $20. Adding another freight door in the front would be no problem. Extending the dock would also be very simple. Of course, you would need extra siding and decking. As I have a large supply of scale lumber it would not be a problem for me. Besides I use a lot of craft sticks and coffee stir sticks. I like the fact that they are not perfectly uniform and that they distress well.
Backside of structure with partially unpainted back freight door. Building base has thicker foundation support beams.
Side view with extended deck and stairs. Craft sticks were used for the dock deck. Compare them to to coffee stir sticks I used on the Ophir Depot I built. I could add a handrail on the dock just to the right of the door. Railroads didn't bother with safety features such as handrails on freight house docks.
At some point I will likely extend the platform/dock on this side of the building.
Ramp side of freight house.
I decided to make more substantial overhang roof supports. During the spring in New Mexico, it gets very windy. The roof supports that came with the kit would not have lasted long in Northern NM. One problem I chose not to deal with is the elevation of the dock roof or how the roof supports were so low that they would likely get in the way of moving freight on the dock. That’s a problem when kits are designed to meet the needs of multiple scales. Frankly, I don’t consider it to be an issue. I could have solved the problem by not adding the dock roof or I could have increased the height of the building. As I have a considerable amount of 1/8” MDF I could have easily made the walls taller. If I did that, I would not have been able to use the siding that came with the kit unless I made all the boards horizontal. That would have been unusual for a freight house.