Railway Design Associates HO 'Matthews Engine Works'

By Michael Benolkin


I first learned of Railway Design Associates from, of all places, eBay. They routinely sell their kits on eBay and I have been amazed at the photos of the finished products posted with the auctions. It wasn't long before I broke down and ordered one of their kits. Then another, and another. Their building kits are, in a word, awesome.

One of their latest offerings in HO is the Matthews Engine Works. This kit is a two-building structure that can build into a great industry on your layout, or even split up into two different entities if you desire.

The Kit

The Matthews Engine Works kit is comprised of ten trees of light gray injection-molded plastic, three trees of brick red injection-molded plastic, a sheet of white styrene cardstock, and numerous details cast from polyurethane resin. (The duplicate trees are not shown here.) This set even includes an Athearn flat car to be spotted in front of the loading dock.

.... ....

Details in the plastic are very well executed. There are a few ejector pin marks on some of the visible surfaces, but they were placed in areas that are easy to remove them. There is also a hint of flash on some of the part edges, so a quick pass with a sanding stick on each part edge will ensure a snug fit.

While there is no internal detail in either building (true of most HO building kits), you'll want to pick up a sheet of clear acetate to install windows and perhaps tissue paper or some other similar medium to simulate window shades from the inside.

Detailing on the outside of the kit is a completely different matter! Building A is a stone-faced structure, and the rocks scream for detail painting and weathering. The roof features a complete complement of ventilator fans and vent pipes.


Building B is a brick-faced structure. As most brick buildings are molded in brick red plastic (as this one is), simply spray on a coat of light gray paint over all of the brick surfaces and set aside to dry. Later, take some fine-grit wet/dry sandpaper (or a fine sanding stick) and lightly sand the gray paint off the surface of the bricks. I prefer to do this under some running water to keep the sandpaper and kit part clean. What you'll have is a matte red brick surface with the gray cement grout left in the cracks. The technique is simple and renders a beautiful result. Building B also features a power house on top of the building, with a water tank and condenser perched atop of the power house. A resin chimney is also provided for your use.

For you more advanced builders out there, these kits are begging for a little more work. By installing a floor to divide the first and second stories of each building, and adding a few walls to isolate different sections of the building, you can wire the place for lighting and achieve a great effect. While simply putting a light inside a building and letting it shine through all of the windows, you don't normally see many buildings will all of the lights on. Blocking out portions of each building and installing lights in those areas will provide a more realistic appearance. I'm also inclined to try one of those lighting kits that simulates spot welding in one section - now there is a nice animated effect in your building!


The Matthews Engine Works kit is another outstanding release from RDA. While the architecture of their building line is typical for New England and into the mid-West, I've seen structures like these all across the US, and with a few modifications, would be very similar to many European industrial buildings of that era as well.

I highly recommend these kits to any HO builder that has some experience with more complex building kits and can work with resin parts and cyano-based adhesives.

You can visit Railway Design Associates at their website at http://www.railwaydesign.com or see the kits on auction at eBay - their seller ID (and email address) is painters@mediaone.net

pragolog-sm.jpg (5410 bytes)

Now online! The Smithsonian Catalogue

Alibris -- library

Craftopia.com- 60,000+ craft supplies

Half.com: buy/sell used books, movies, music,games

Low prices on books

Stealth Press

Visit the World's Largest Photo Bookstore!

< DCC 101

Railroad Index >