SHELBY'S Marine Service (HO/HOn3)

edited January 2022 in HO Scale Builds
Introduction and Historical Account

In keeping with my decision to proceed with building each and every HO/HOn3 kit produced by SierraWest Scale Models in chronological order, beginning with Brett's first kit release BlueSky Company (circa 1995), I now embark on the classic kit; Shelby's Marine Service (herein referred to simply as "Shelby's"). Shelby's was released May 1, 1998 and was met with much anticipation and excitement within the modeling community. Brett posted an ad in the Nov/Dec 1997 issue of Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette featuring his original Shelby's concept model giving his dedicated customers a sneak peak at what was in store (see figure 1. below).


(Figure 1. Ad listed in the Nov/Dec 1997 issue of the GAZETTE.)

Shelby's represents SierraWest Scale Models first true waterfront kit including wharfs, docks, pilings, boats, and all that is marine. Valley Model Trains carried an ad in the January 1998 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman in which they depicted Shelby's being available TBA (to be announced) with their stock number 103, which was also Brett's kit number, along with a few other SWSM kits in their inventory (see figure 2. below)


(Figure 2. Shelby's ad in Railroad Model Craftsman January 1998. Note the image is of Brett's "concept" model. Poor resolution is due to the actual picture in the magazine being about 1.5 inches square!)

Shelby's official release and availability was announced in two beautifully illustrated ads in both the Mar/Apr 1998 issue of the Gazette and the May 1998 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman (see figures 3 and 4 below).


(Figure 3. Mar/Apr 1998 issue of the Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette. First image of the final pilot model)


(Figure 4. May, 1998 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. Just beautiful!)

Shelby's was a Limited Run kit of which only 350 were produced and was kit #103. As with all of SWSM kits, it quickly sold out and has been a coveted piece of nostalgic modeling ever since. I was thrilled to find a specimen on the secondary market and paid...we'll just say way more than sticker price to get my hands on it! Speaking of sticker price, Valley Model Trains ran a follow-up listing for the released kit at a 1998 list price of $230 and was on sale for $207. A bargain even at that time! (See figure 5 below).


(Figure 5. Ad in May, 1998 Railroad Model Craftsman for Shelby's along with a few other featured SWSM kits)

I have discussed my upcoming Shelby's project with Brett and he gave me some interesting perspectives on his concepts and development of this kit. I'm looking forward to the upcoming build, and have some interesting and exciting ideas in store for this great work that is Shelby's Marine Service...Here we go!


  • I'm rolling around the idea in my head of doing an O scale marine railway ramp for my waterfront area (long in the future) so I will be watching for ideas...
  • edited January 2022
    Ken, thanks for sharing this info!
    Would love to have this kit Shelby's Marine.
  • You bet guys and thanks for the notes here.
  • (Rubbing hands together)
  • edited January 2022
    This begins the actual build of Shelby's Marine Service (herein referred to as simply "Shelby's").

    IMG_2103 (1)

    As with all my SierraWest Scale Models builds, I begin by much contemplation, research, and general mental study of the proposed project. This consists of historical research as depicted above, discussions with Brett on his concepts and development, review of all available previous build documentation, and of course a thorough review of the Construction Manual.

    As per the manual, I started with the main structure. In looking at how I was going to tackle the signature structure of this kit, I settled on a well worn and heavily peeled white paint finish. I completed the lower front wall as a "test wall" to see if my results I achieved were consistent with the goals of the build.

    Modeling peeling/weathered paint can be accomplished through a number of techniques, and modelers have their "go to" methods. I decided for my build here I was going for a very heavily peeled and "checked" paint finish. Paint can fade, peel, and check. Check refers, by my definition, as paint that has a multitude of cracks forming irregular geometric patterns and then flakes off to varying degrees. I was also going to do what I refer to as a controlled paint "peel". By this I mean, rather than paint peel each board separately and then construct the wall to get a random peel effect, I base stained all the boards, detailed the weathering of the wood and built the wall prior to the paint "peel". This way I can control the amount of peel exactly where I want it. This would of course be exactly how paint would be applied and then weathered in real life. Wall built...then painted. I also plan to incorporate more than just one type of paint "peel" which also would be realistically encountered. Some of the paint would fade, some flake, some check (usually with heavy coats), etc..

    The front lower wall was done first. This wall will have the second story overhang thus protecting the upper reaches of the wall so less paint peel towards the sheltered top few boards as seen in Figure 1. below. The checked paint can clearly be seen in the images and the extent of the paint that has been weathered. The second wall was then constructed and the paint peel was more uniform as this wall is fully exposed as seen in figure 2. below.


    (Figure 1. Front lower level wall)


    (Figure 2. Side wall lower level)

    The big issue with getting an accurate checked paint peel is keeping the checked paint in scale. This was accomplished with crackle paint applied sparingly and any out of scale areas removed. I am covering the inside of all the lower level walls with old "tar paper" for interest and to hide light shining distractingly through cracks and separation in the siding when viewed from the outside (see figure 3. below).


    (Figure 3. Interior walls of lower level covered with old tar paper)

    The remaining walls will be constructed and detailed...more later...Ken
  • edited January 2022
    Ken, can't wait to see you progress on this build.
    I sure it will be fantastic as usual.
    bty, love the chipped wood planks :smile:
  • Looking forward to following your build. I don't have a place for a water side scene on my layout. However I will look forward to reading about modeling techniques. Did you use the mineral spirits and tape on the lower front wall? Thanks
  • Thanks Chris.

    Randy, the paint peel was entirely done with crackle paint, no mineral sprits or tape.
  • Nice effect with the crackle paint. Checked mine recently and it has dried out. Guess that’s an opportunity to go shopping.
  • Ken, will check out the crackle paint effect for sure. Any specific brand for this?
  • I own one of those 350 kits as well. Paid a small fortune to acquire it! Sitting safe and sound in my house.

    I am waiting to build mine until I have plenty more time and skills (I need both!!)

    So I will enjoy watching this build thread from one of the greats.
  • So far so good Bryan.

    I am using Ranger Pappy but sure other brands would work as well.

    Thanks much Brian and you get what you pay for with SierraWest that's for sure!

  • Love watching you model age and grunge, Ken. Looks to be a fun and challenging build for you.

    I remember when it came out in the Gazette way back when.

    Best of luck as you move forward on the project and educate us along the way.

  • edited January 2022
    What a fantastic intro, trip down memory lane for sure. Cannot wait to see where you take Shelby's. Your added extras and fantastic modeling will certainly make for one awesome build and finished diorama. Thank you for taking the time to bring us along and post this on the forum!
  • As much as I love the exterior of the walls so far, I gotta say the inside is just unreal. The texture of the paper as well as the exterior board reveal is wonderful. Give us the skinny on how you achieved the board reveal/texture! What material is the "tarpaper"?
  • Glad to hear you'll be following along George.

    This has been a much anticipated build for me Brett, as Shelby's combines everything a fine scale modeler could ask for. I appreciate all your input and encouragement and will give this project the attention it deserves.
    Oh and nobody called me out yet...the blurred sign was on purpose and will have to wait quite a few kits down the road in my quest to build all of them to find out what it actually says!
  • I’ll maybe give the crackle finish another test…a year or so ago I gave it a try and the results were good but the “crackle “ pattern seemed too large for HO…at the time it seemed probably okay for O scale. The product I used was from Lowes and intended for furniture refinishing to get Ann old antique effect
  • I'd look for it more on the artist supply line. Something from Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Your exactly right Terry, the checked paint has to be in scale to work particularly in 1:87. I had to experiment around to get the amount of paint that would produce the right scale and if you work it too much it doesn't check properly. Here is a close up and you can see that the effect is well in scale particularly with standard viewing with out the close up...

  • Really close...

    IMG_2118 (1)
  • Outstanding as usual! The paint effect really turned out GREAT! Looking forward to what you do with this kit.
  • Appreciate that Tom.
  • When I did crackle paint experiments some time ago I found that the Ranger gave the smallest cracks. Unfortunately this product was discontinued when I last checked which on my ONeills build. I went with Deco art brand and got good results. The product was stark whit out of the container so I found I needed to weather it to get a dirty color. Make sure it is plenty dry and don’t use alcohol. 1 pass is all you will get with water. Enamels worked best but once again, 1 or 2 passes before you start Messi g up the crackles.
  • My question is how do you get the peeling effect with this stuff if you don't use tape to peel. Sorry, not understanding how this crackle stuff works and how to apply and see both crackle and peeling at the same time.
    Thanks for any info.
  • The "peel" is created by scrapping away the paint with a #11 blade. I like it as it is completely controllable. Leave it where you want it, scrape it away where you don't.
  • Ken, that peeling paint looks great. Looking forward to seeing what you create with this kit.
  • Ken, just a beautiful aged paint effect achieved, extremely realistic. AND in HO less ...
    Looking forward to following along with your next masterpiece and learning along the way.
  • That closeup is remarkable and being HO makes it even more so.

    I forgot to mention in the previous post that I enjoy the background you give on the kits.


  • Ken, been looking forward to this one for a long while. One of my all time favourite kits and you are off to a fantastic start. Love the crackle paint effect. I guess it works in the hands of a master.
  • Ken looking forward to this build. Looking wonderful as usual!

    I like the history of the kit in the beginning, I bet Brett didn't even know those facts!!

  • The crackle paint effect is superb and totally to scale. Love it!
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