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Los Alamos Junction Army Warehouse


Building a 1:20.3 F scale warehouse out of 3/4” MDF probably wasn’t the best idea as it will be stored indoors and moved outdoors during train operations. It’s big and heavy. On the plus side, it is sturdy. I could probably leave it outdoors for extended periods. Also, 3/4" MDF scales out to 15". Typically concrete warehouse walls are 7 1/2" to 12". I justify the thicker walls as my warehouse is a secured military facility that stores small quantities of explosives. The things we do and say to justify how we build scale models.


The shell for the building was cut to size at Bruce’s. The openings for the doors and windows were also cut out at Bruce’s. He has a great wood working shop and it’s easier to do it at his place. Well, maybe it isn’t easier as I have all off the required tools to do it myself. Doing it at Bruce’s gives Bruce, Chipper, and me the opportunity to get together and work on a model railroad project together. 


The only draw back to doing it at Bruce’s is that I must make sure that he doesn’t try to do it all by himself. We made the openings for the freight doors a little too small. I had pre-made the doors without the frames. We made the cutouts slightly bigger than the doors. Unfortunately, when I built the framing for the doors they did not fit in the openings. I think that I spent more time filing the openings to the required size than the three of us spent doing the initial cut.


I made the freight doors out of sheet and strip styrene. The rivets (carriage bolts) were individually punched using a modified NWSL Riveter punch. The personnel door and window are from AZ Garden Trains. As you can see from the photos, I made the freight doors and frames to look extremely rusty. The doors are repurposed doors from Roswell New Mexico. As my warehouse is supposed to represent a rapidly constructed building during WWII and as it was constructed by the Army Corp of Engineers using local labor and questionable construction material, it is experiencing premature deterioration. As the laboratory was only intended to exist through the development of the bomb the facilities at the Lab and at the Los Alamos Junction were not constructed for the long term. Once again I justify why I choose to make a highly weathered building.

Photos below: Bruce cutting the MDF to size. Bruce laying out the doors and window. Bruce cutting out the doors. Bruce filing the doors. (At least I was able to cut out the backside doors) Building assembled. Does the window look cattywampus? Yes it does. A little more filing and all better!

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Figuring out how to do the roof drains was a bit of a challenge. I decided agains individual round roof drains. Concrete roofs of that period often had screened channel drains. So, that's what I built. You will note in the photo below of the back wall that I added three roof drain pipes. The roof has a gravel and tar membrane that goes up the sides of the parapet and covers the top of the parapet as well. I used medium grit wet/dry sandpaper for the membrane. I scratch built ten roof vents but only used five.

The next step, after completing the roof, was to surface coat the walls with a "special" mixture of joint compound to give them a concrete appearance. I mixed wall board joint compound with very fine sand (63 microns, .0025 inches), concrete adhesive and gray paint. I applied two coats of the mixture to the walls. I sanded the walls to make a relatively smooth surface. When dry the walls were very light gray. They really didn't look like concrete, so, I stained the walls with a light gray alcohol wash using an airbrush. I may have to add additional coats to get the color I want. The two pictures directly below show progress as of 2/11/22. Photo was taken before adding the gray wash. I must say that to this point the building must be the most boring looking building that I have ever made. The photo below the two photos was taken on 3/27/22. It shows the front and backside of the warehouse. 

On 3/27 I finished the dock, stairs and sign. On 4/2 I finished the ramp. I decided to go with a wooded ramp rather than concrete. I figured that it would be less boring. Besides, it did not have to support heavy loads. As you can see, I added more photos.

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Somewhat reluctantly I added these post war propaganda posters. At least the one on the left says that only a strong America prevents Atomic War!

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Reverse image used to "paint" WWII Manhattan Project poster on wall.

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