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American Model Builders HO scale dairy transfer stand

Read this review from the August 2020 issue of Model Railroader
American Model Builders HO scale dairy transfer stand
American Model Builders HO scale dairy transfer stand

A dairy transfer stand is now part of the HO scale LaserKit line from American Model Builders. The laser-cut wood kit features tab-and-slot construction; peel-and-stick doors, windows, and trim; cast-resin details; and color signs.

Dairy transfer stands date back to the days before electricity was common in the rural United States. Time was of the essence with fresh milk to prevent it from spoiling, meaning daily pickup was required. Individual dairy farmers would build small docks to set milk cans on. Then a driver from the cooperative would gather cans from multiple farms and bring them to a central collection point, similar to the kit’s building and large dock. All the milk cans were then taken to the local railroad station.

This practice continued into the 1950s, when rural electrification made it possible for farmers to have refrigerated bulk tanks in their milk house. In addition, many farmers turned to milk haulers who operated large-capacity trucks to get their product to market more efficiently.

I worked my way through the kit following the step-by-step instructions. The building was first. Tab-and-slot construction made the structure easy to assemble. Since the walls are laser-cut wood, I added bracing to the interior to prevent them from warping over time. I used scrap pieces of carrier sheet for most of the bracing, supplementing it with ⅛" square stripwood.

The doors, windows, and trim have peel-and-stick backing. The laser-cut glazing is sized to fit the window openings. Some pieces have etched cracks to give the structure character.

The building sits on top of a wood dock. The dock has five frames (combined posts and joists) with tabs on top. The tabs fit into slots in the subdeck. The main deck is a single, adhesive-backed piece with laser-etched board detail.

I stained the dock pieces with an India ink wash prior to assembly. To prevent the parts from warping, I set them under plate glass with books on top for two days. Though the peel-and-stick parts were still tacky, I used glue when attaching them in case the alcohol-based wash weakened the adhesive.

The small dock, replicating those found on individual farms, consists of two frames, each with seven notches along the top for installing laser-cut joists. Patience is key here, as the notches aren’t very deep. I found it best to install one joist at a time, set the board at a 90-degree angle, and let the glue dry. The deck is one piece, with the boards’ ends cut unevenly, giving it a homemade feel.

At first glance, the three ladders may look intimidating, as the side rails and rungs are all separate pieces. However, cleverly designed jigs made ladder assembly a breeze. I just put a dot of glue in each notch on the side rail and carefully set it in the jig. Once the glue dried, I cut the rungs from the carrier sheet. Just like that, I had three ladders.

I finished up the model by working on the detail parts. The refrigerator, milk cans, sacks, hand truck, and letter box are resin castings. All of these parts required some minor sanding and filing. Do this in a well-ventilated area and wear proper personal protective equipment. Once the clean-up work was done, I washed the parts in warm water with dish soap added to remove any impurities that may affect paint adhesion. I used spray-paint to prime the parts and apply the final colors.

Probably the trickiest part of the kit was attaching the paper signs to the laser-cut cow that stands atop the building. I used Aleene’s Tacky Glue to attach the signs. Don’t use white glue, as it will wrinkle the paper. I let the glue dry thoroughly before using a sharp no. 11 blade to trim the excess paper. Then I repeated this process on the other side. I used white and black hobby paint to touch up the sign’s edges.

If you’ve never built a laser-cut wood kit before, American Model Builders’ HO scale dairy transfer stand would be a great entry point. Tab-and-slot construction and peel-and-stick parts take a lot of the guesswork out of the kit. After you get a few kits like this under your belt, you can try assembling larger, more involved laser-cut wood structures.

Facts and features
Price: $39.95
American Model Builders Inc.
8229 Brentwood Industrial Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63144
Era: 1900s to 1950s
• Cast-resin details
• Color signs
• Laser-cut wood parts
• Measures 13⁄8" x .5" x 25⁄8"
• Peel-and-stick trim and windows
• Rooftop sign
• Tab-and-slot construction

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