The #1 Kit (N/HO/S/O)
When famed model railroader/author Mike Tylick first learned of the concept of the “1-Kit” he decided it would be useless to him, Mike is a wonderful, allbeit eclectric modeler & individual. Mike was commisioned to construct our “1-Kit” diorama… he’d HAVE to use the kit … like-it-or-not. Do you know what?… now Mike pretty is much dependant upon the thing and has used it is many building projects! Anyhow… as Paul Harvey would say…. “and now you know the rest of the story”… or at least you will if you read on!
When Artie first proposed the 1-Kit, I wasn’t at all sure what he had in mind. My first thought ran to the well-known styrene modular wall system. I couldn’t figure out how small clapboard sections could be ganged together into a larger wall. I also wondered if a good variety of openings would be available. It seems I always wanted modules that weren’t available in the styrene kit. The answer to the first question was simple- you can’t easily form longer walls from the clapboard, but the wall sections are over fifty scale feet in length. Only large industrial buildings might have unbroken walls longer than that, and most of our compressed models come to a jag or a corner before that. Drainpipes and vents can conveniently hide joints in walls longer than that. I’ve built some very long structures without having to resort to this artifice. The window and door sections were designed to be truly open ended- it seems any window or door design I have wanted can be built with a little imagination and planning. I’ve made a number of structures of widely varying designs with the Bar Mills modular system, and I’ve come to paraphrase Henry Ford with the belief that “You can build anything you want with the 1-Kit as long as you want it made of clapboard. “
A problem with this versatility is that no tangible set of plans or precut parts are provided. The purpose of the 1-Kit is that you design your own. For some hobbyists this is a welcome opportunity, for others a most difficult challenge. I didn’t realize it at first, but the “knockouts” on the wall backsides make designing a structure quite simple. Rather than measuring and drawing openings and wall lengths, the laser guides almost do this for you. No need to worry about whether you have the right doors and windows or if they will fit. If you follow the lines you will have the correct door and window components and the parts will fit. Although I prefer to work directly on the wood, many designers will prefer to layout their structures on the provided paper templates. These may be photocopied and even glued to cardstock to make scale mock-ups before cutting expensive wood. In either case, don’t forget you are designing on a mirror image. The parts will come out reversed.
There is no question that working with wood is more time consuming than working with plastic, but only wood siding will provide a true appearance of wood. The difference may be subtle, much like the difference between cedar clapboard and vinyl siding, but the difference is unquestionably there. Hobby time spent building models should be enjoyable unto itself, not merely an exercise in filling as many square feet of layout in as short a time as possible.
Working with wood hasn’t changed much since the advent of milled siding, and some advice is always good. Work with sharp blades to avoid wandering and splintering cuts. Earl Smallshaw taught me to use an X-acto chisel blade most useful for opening doors and windows. I find the chisel is also the best blade for cutting windows frames to length. I outline my cutouts from the back with masking tape to avoid splitting the wood siding. I brace the walls extensively with heavy stripwood that I cut from pine scrap on a band or table saw. Painting both sides of the wood will also help retard warpage. Common white glue is perfectly adequate for joining the parts- I use spring clothespins to hold them together while the glue is drying. If thin coats of glue are applied to both parts and heavy pressure is used, assemblies can dry surprisingly quickly.
I hope I have encouraged you to attempt a project with the Bar Mills 1-Kit. It combines the best qualities of craftsman kits, scratchbuilding, and kitbashing all in one. Your suggestions and photograph are welcome. It’s always possible to make a good thing better…. Mike Tylick
Here is a picture of some structures built using our one-kit.