Iowa Business Supply

Out of the 19 planned structures on The Hills Line, a grand total of two are served by the railroad. That ratio is all together appropriate for the modern era, but means a majority of the industries on the layout are pure filler. The goal then becomes how to replicate these offline buildings so that they compliment and not compete with those that directly support the operating goals of the layout.

The Iowa Business Supply building is a multi-structure commercial complex that sits opposite City Carton Recycling on South Capitol Street in Iowa City. In a previous life IBS was a business-forms printer and supplier (hence the name) and was served by rail (hence the abandoned spur along the east side). In my modeled era it’s home to several business, including the Table to Table non profit, which serves hungry, homeless, and at-risk populations in the area.

For the core of the building I repeated the same methods I used to build City Carton, namely finished trim boards cut to size and covered with styrene sheet. Since the two buildings in the complex are physically separated by one of the narrowest alleyways possible, I built them as separate structures to simplify construction.

I was able to dig into my ever growing styrene scrap pile to construct most of the walls and roofs for the buildings. Construction adhesive was used to attach the sheets to the core, reinforced with drops of CA. The seams were sanded flush and filled with modelers putty.

The roofs appear to be either tar paper or rubber membrane. Either way, I wanted to differentiate the two structures from each other. The north received a sandpaper base while the south was left as plain styrene. Both were painted, detailed, and lightly weathered.

Lance Mindheim’s methods for photo wallpaper were used for the exteriors. I ended up using images from Google Streetview as my source, and was able to make them work with some touchups in Adobe Photoshop. The images were printed on normal paper, and attached to the core using 3M Super 77 spray adhesive.

The roofs were capped with styrene strip, both to add detail but also to hide some sins in construction. Additional details, including gutters, electrical lines, and other standoffs were attached to flesh out the structures.

Blue painters tape masked off the spots for the small parking lot in front of Table to Table. The lines were painted with cheap acrylic paint using the same methods I developed for road striping.

Overall the buildings will never win any awards for excellence in modeling. However, they play the perfect role of supporting structures in establishing my modeled era and location, which is all I need them to do.

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