Friday, March 4, 2016


With much of the layout completed, I am now focusing more on structure colors and sign designs. As many of you probably know, color is one of the most challenging, and sometimes perplexing, elements to recreate. In addition to cruising model railroad blogs and sites, one source for ideas has been "The Civil War In Color". Here is one taken on PA Avenue during the Grand Army review at the  end of the war.
This one below is a store near Ford's Theater. There are several very cool details to consider. One is adding small signs as on the columns. Another is adding a larger sign such as the one saying "Family Circle". Then there are the drapes and the green balcony railing,  One other consideration is attaching a gas lamp as shown below. Another element is the fogged window panes. Makes it easy to avoid detailing an interior!

Although one could challenge the accuracy of either or any, such is the case in most colorized or even suggested colors in any period photo. However, these provide enough plausibility to copy for my purposes. I also read that most structures of this type had three colors, making for some fun combinations.

My town of Dalton now has my attention as there are several buildings that have been waiting for an identity! Below are two buildings that have made the transition.
For the Cherokee Insurance Banking Co. I decided on these darker colors since this is a formal business structure. To construct the sign, I first  measured the space dimensions on the building. I then perused many font options that I had seen in other photos and came up with Algerian. It took a few tries to get the font size to a correct height. After a few test fits the sign was printed on my computer using typical copy paper. It was then cut to size measured earlier. Next was to cut a piece of Evergreen styrene for the backing. I chose .010. I then framed it with .040x.040 strips which provided a frame for the actual sign. The next to-do's are window treatments, and then the next challenge - what to do for the show windows on the ground floor! One idea is to find a color photo that could give the illusion of an interior that is simply pasted or glued onto the inner side of the window. Another option of course is to add an interior with a light. Hmmm?
Photo below is a paper flat that DC Cebula expanded upon adding a chimney on the right. He then built a slight addition to give it a 3D perspective. One most attractive additions is his detailing of the roof trim. The sign was made in a similar fashion to the Cherokee Insurance Co above. 
Both signs are black lettering on white paper. The frames were painted black with craft paint. I weathered both with Doc O'Brien's powders. For this one I used brown and yellow.

Next in line is this Drug Store and barber Shop. I am considering a third color but not sure which. Of course these windows need their treatments and some semblance of an interior. The building to the right is a residence of one of the town doctors. We will add a small front yard and fence, perhaps a flower bed. 
Another source for signs is the movie 'Horse Soldiers'. In particular are the scenes at Newton Station. There are at least a dozen signs shown. Some are painted directly onto the building. Others are on a framed placard and there's one or two hanging. You'll see a few store windows painted with such titles as BAR. I'd guess that there is also eight or so different fonts. I am currently surfing the web to find font sources. However those that come with Windows have provided a decent variety for now. In addition to the Algerian I also use GungsuhChe, Bell MT, Baskerville Old and High Tower Text. 
You can look for other font types on our civil war railroads yahoo site by John Ott. 
Lastly, I have been having TOO much fun making signs now that I have found a few more ideas for working with decals. This brings me to sharing with you a fabulous HOW TO book by Kalmbach by two of the best and well known model railroaders, Dave Frary and Bob Hayden. I Most enthusiastically post the cover here:


  1. Great work on the signage. The sign for the Dalton Mfg. Company not only looks great, it gives the structure a specific purpose and locates the building and town geographically.

  2. You have blended the signs in beautifully with their respective structures.