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  • lionelski

The Making of "Karen's Trackside Diner"

I like railroad diners and the Citizens of Warrenville were in need of a good place to eat, drink, and just plain hang out. For a while now I've been thinking of creating such an eatery.

Follow along with the process I used to make the Diner shown in the lead photo above.

I started with a common MPC Milwaukee Road passenger car - I bought the one I used for $5. at the Fall 2023 York show. I added and modified bits and pieces from my trusty Plasticville graveyard junk box.

Here it is with the roof separated from the body, the wheel trucks and lights removed, and the steps on each end cut off. I will reinstall the lights towards the end of this project.

I cut out the opaque windows from the front roof insert section as I intend to replace them with clear plastic window "glass" salvaged from some packaging:

Here are the bits and pieces from my Plasticville graveyard junk box that I plan on using in this project:

I decided not to use the stairs shown on the upper left, but I will use the small pieces below it for roof details. The platform piece on the top right will become a kitchen extension. The door frame and door shown in the middle were cut out of a broken Plasticville post office front wall - the remains of which are shown on the bottom right.

Here I'm progressing by molding the door frame into the roof section (note that I sanded off the Plasticville name) and cutting the front of the body to accept the modified door insert. You'll also see the balsawood beginnings of the diner's new front steps. The old Milwaukee Road lettering was also carefully sanded off.

Below you'll see that most of the construction and painting is done. The Diner is now ready to install the other pieces shown: the interior lights, the cardboard light shield and the clear front window "glass" The two metal balls that will adorn both sides of the front door sign, the front doors (from the original Plasticville Post Office entrance) are not shown here but, they too, will need to be reinstalled after some trimming.

Note that part of the entrance is attached to the roof insert, and the stair part is attached to the body. This was done so that the roof insert will remain removable should I need to replace the interior bulbs in the future.

Decals designed, printed and clear coated, ready to go. Once they are applied and allowed to dry, the entire model will be given a spray of Testor's Clearcoat. One of these decals will also be used to complete the sign shown in the bottom left of the above photo.

At the last minute I decided to make window inserts = I'm glad that I did,

Below is a photo of the completed model, ready for installation on Warrenville.

I hope that the citizens of Warrenville are hungry. They already seem to be flocking to Karen's!

If you enjoyed watching this model progress, and also like to create from salvaged bits and pieces, I'm sure that you will also enjoy this earlier post: Unique Plasticville Buildings (

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