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Branchline Trains

The Laser Art line from Branchline Trains is offering a number of smaller homes that fit right in along the trackside and provide credible if not cozy accommodations.

Product Review: Branchline Trains
"Laser Art" Thelma House in O scale

by Chuck Hladik

Inevitably as we design our layouts adding residential structures usually comes as an after thought in our city planning. Most residential model structures invariably take up a lot of our precious real estate that we would prefer to use for more track, service facilities and rolling stock. The Laser Art line from Branchline Trains is offering a number of smaller homes that fit right in along the trackside and provide credible if not cozy accommodations.

Branchline TrainsBranchline Trains "Thelma House."

By the beginning of the twentieth century in addition to published plan books that an aspiring home owner could take to a local builder to have constructed on site from local materials, a number of firms began offering modestly priced complete house kits. These kits for a fixed price provided everything needed from the lumber right down to the nails and paint. These kits would be delivered by rail to the nearest railhead for local pick up. All one had to do was to arrange for a local builder to erect the structure on a plot of land.

The Thelma house was one of the Alladin Company's catalog plans that was available in kit form. If it was paid for in advance the kit could be purchased for less than $500.00. To our modern budgets this seems very inexpensive, however, when one considers that an average worker's wage was between one and two dollars a day pride of home ownership was still a major commitment.

The kit consists of a number of laser cut basswood, thin plywood, paper and clear styrene components that are cleanly executed. The parts are so clean that a minimum of sanding and fitting is necessary. The instruction sheet is one of the best I have seen for a kit in this price range. Each step is clearly illustrated and supported by clear and concise text. The Thelma house is a great first or second laser project for anyone who is new to laser kit construction.

Before beginning construction all of the parts were first primed on both sides where practical with an inexpensive flat spray primer and then painted with satin finish household spray cans purchased at the local home improvement store. Once dry, the parts were removed from their carriers and assembled with carpenters glue. The build up of the model went quickly and without incident. The only issue in construction design is that the ‘brick' foundation walls stand proud of the clapboard sheathing. While this is unusual on the prototype it is not objectionable on the finished model and could be remedied by the modeler should this be considered necessary.

Branchline Trains

The final step once the structure was completed was the addition of the laser cut paper shingles. The instructions recommend using a white glue to attach them to the roof. In the past due to variations in humidity and temperature I have had a problem with this style of shingle buckling when white glue is used. I experimented using a craft glue stick to affix the shingles and had excellent results. It is easy to get an even application of glue to the shingle strip and there is enough working time to line up the shingles.


Branchline Trains
249 Park Avenue
East Hartford, CT 06108
(877) 240-4484

Item #619

MSRP $34.95

A house number was added to the front using some left over numbers from another project. I also added shades to the windows using tape from the first aid kit and made "lace" curtains from surgical gauze. All that is left to do is add some chairs to the front porch and a sleeping dog.

Overall the finished building measures twelve inches on a side by eleven inches high at the gable. It is small enough to fit on most layouts, yet has a presence of scale. Several of the Laser Art residences will populate "Railroad Avenue" on my next project. The Thelma house proved enjoyable and easy to build.


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