How to modify a card kit

01 October 2019
Building a card kit as it comes out of the packet is all very satisfying, but what happens if you fancy making your model a little different?

Some models are more adaptable than others. One of the most flexible is a bus depot from Superquick kits (ref. B34), available from Gaugemaster. Follow the instructions and it's possible to produce a nice building to fill with diecast models. Add to this a plethora of alternative signs and warnings, and it's a versatile kit.


What happens if you don't have room for the full 19cm depth of the model? Can it be converted to a smaller structure to sit at the back of your train set? It's made of card, so a bit of work with a craft knife will make this possible. The version you see here is only 9cm deep, but if you look at it from the front, you'll never notice.


We've taken a look at some of the other criticisms that card kits face. They can look too flat with printed detail, but it's not hard to do something about this. Exposed edges can be visible too, but this can also be sorted. Finally, very few look dirty like real buildings.


All the work has been carried out with the same tools you would use for assembling the kit normally, only this time the instructions weren't followed...

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Superquick models are made from printed paper affixed to heavy cardboard and then die-cut with the parts retained by small tabs to be cut through by the builder. The design is very compact with some parts inside the waste area of others - don't throw anything away until the model is finished.
How to modify a card kit


Building the garage starts with construction of the office that forms the corner of the building. It folds up simply with floors fitted inside to brace the structure.
How to modify a card kit


The die-cutting process forces the printed paper around the edges a little but where card or white paper shows on the edges of pieces on the outside of corners, it needs to be coloured with either a brown pen or pencil crayon.
How to modify a card kit


Printed window sills can be improved with small strips of paper fixed over them to remove the flatness of the walls. Colouring these with slightly thinned paint lets it seep in to the paper to avoid white edges showing.
How to modify a card kit


Drainpipes can be covered with plastic moulded versions, or as we've done here, black painted garden wire. A rain hoper cut from black plasticard at the top of the downpipe completes the work.
How to modify a card kit


Printed doors are another problem area. Again, they can be replaced with commercial offerings. We couldn't find any the right size so built up the door with layers of thin card and used a Peco track pin for a handle.
How to modify a card kit


The garage is quite a big structure so we shortened the side walls before assembly. With the doors shut and the model at the back of a layout, this looks fine and doesn't take up so much valuable space. The roof has been replaced with thick cardboard as it's easier than trying to modify the fanlights on the kit version.
How to modify a card kit


Lightly scribing the planks on the doors adds more relief. Use a blunt blade, the idea isn't to cut through, just provide an indentation on the surface.
How to modify a card kit


For a model bus depot, one of the folding doors has to be removed. Carefully fixing the rest in position slightly open looks natural. The viewer can see inside the building, but not very well.
How to modify a card kit


Signs are fitted around the building, especially over the doors. Colour the edge of the paper and then measure to make sure the words are central on the front.
How to modify a card kit


Around the rooftop, printed lead flashing covers the joins and strengthens the model. Handy stuff lead, it covers all sort of gaps!
How to modify a card kit


The matt varnish kills and sheen on the printed walls and makes it easier to use weathering powders as these will only stick to a slightly rough surface. The doors will be subject to spray and vehicle exhausts whereas brown dirt collects around the drainpipes and in corners.
How to modify a card kit

Want some houses to complete your scene? Our guide on how to build and detail a card kit is worth a read. Or if you’re interested in building some roads and pavements, our handy guide is filled with tips and advice.

For more help and tips for adding grass to your model railway - watch our video on how to create realistic scenery using static grass here. 

And what about trees? Our online guide will help you get to grips with ‘planting’ trees on your model railway. 

Need more advice? Take a look at the BRM Techniques page for all our latest guides and advice articles.