Only Tell the Truth! Your First SierraWest kit . . .

Arrives in the mail. What did you do? List the first five things you did and give a sense of the moment—where was your life at the time? Cheers!


  • What an interesting thread Eric. Did you by chance just get something in the mail???

    My first kit was the Rigging Shed 7 years ago. I remember talking with Brett about which kit to get first. He suggested the Wood Cutter Shack because he was trying some new detailing techniques that he said I would really enjoy. He had a "shack trio" special running with these 2 kits plus the Tool Shed. I jumped in head first and picked up all 3.

    I remember opening the first box thinking I hadn't seen anything like the castings in there. I also couldn't believe that such a small amount of wood was going to build those kits. I read through the instructions and couldn't believe all of the attention that was given to each step in the book and how much attention was given to each piece (including boards) of the kit. These kits made me tear down my N scale layout and go to On30. I still blame Brett for this.

    Since these kits I have gotten every O scale structure kit along with several of the smaller kits and details. I wish I had gotten every one of them when they were available. Looking forward to the Truck Repair piece of the Railroad Camp, but even more looking forward to the Boiler and Welding Shop at some well as a log loader for the Sawmill (hint).

  • So well said and explained Bryan, I concur with everything, and could relate to it all, I'll share mine shortly.

  • The first kit I got was the sawmill machinery package. My original intent being to build my own sawmill. I had seen a completed HO Twin Mills kit at a Fine Scale modeling Expo in Foxboro, and I was hooked. After chatting with Brett...he hinted at an O scale version, so I stopped planning my scratch-built sawmill. Since that time....I too have purchased a lot of the O scale structure kits, and a lot of the CHB stuff too. I also wish I had purchased all of them. My problem is finding the time to really get things going.....I have the O scale sawmill underway (wooden foundation and a few of the machines) but since mine is going on the layout, I stalled out since that portion of the layout isn't ready for it yet. Then O'Neills came along...I got started on too busy with my job and sidework….and it too sits started...but not too far along (main building and addition together)...and now since I plan to move to Florida in about a year....I started building my layout in a modular fashion so I can still build....but move it once the time comes....and I know in my heart that Brett will have something that I will just need to buy in Minnesota....we shall see.....I have bought some other craftsman style kits...but none come close to the detail and quality of Sierra West....
  • i had just sold off all of my n scale stuff, because i had a conversation with brett about the dueling shacks kit, and after so many years of reading on a different forum how awesome his kits were, i decided to make the jump from n to o. i packed all my n scale stuff into my van and drove it from an hour north of chicago to fort wayne indiana where the buyer lived. i met the guy, unloaded my van into his basement, got back in the van and called brett to order the shacks.
    when i got them, the first thing i did was open the box and take out the magical construction manual. i read it a few times, and then reached for the castings. on first sight i was hooked. the first thing i did was color the wall framing for the tar paper shack, and then i started treating the lumber needed for the walls.
    since buying the dueling shacks, i have purchased the woodcutter's shack, o'neill's, and just the other day i ordered the railroad camp. i've been stalking the mailman ever since........
  • edited August 2018
    My first SierraWest kit..... you asked for 5 things...

    2006 I had started modeling again since my childhood, I love to 'create'.. I found a few forums and bought a couple of laser cut kits... they took me a few evenings to complete, no challenge, no creativity, no enjoyment.... I came across SWSM website and knew it was what I wanted to do....

    First three kits delivered were HO, Mill engine and boiler house, HO Tractor Repair Shed and HO Shelbys.........

    1) Shelbys was the first (and only) one opened... I decided to spend a few mins perusing the manual, (which I soon dubbed, 'the bible'.... and yes, 10 years later, its still on my desk) before looking at anything else.
    What started as a flip through the instructions ended up as a 3 hour cover to cover read, several times, I was amazed.

    2) I opened the box of castings, I spread them out all over my kitchen counter and I picked them up one by one and just was blown away by what was infront of me.

    3) Before even starting it I switched to O scale, I enlarged the Shelby's templates, I followed the manual and did absolutely everything that the manual described, to the letter, (except I used bigger wood). Unfortunately, I didnt have the castings for the build, so, its still not quite 'finished', but, everything else was straight out the manual.

    4) Couple of years later Brett asked me to do a build of the O scale Tool Shed on RRL..... If I was amazed at the HO Shelby's details you can multiply that by 10 when I opened the O Scale castings box.... The manual was incredible, the details amazing and the whole build was just exactly what I was looking for... immaculate.
    The Tool Shed was my first 'real, complete' SWSM kit build, and I still hold it up there as one of my best builds, definitely one I am most proud of.

    5) I have built (started) pretty much all of Bretts O scale kits (even dabbled in a couple of the recent HO ones ;) ) and no matter how amazing the last kit was, each new kit always excites me with new discoveries and developments.

    The thrill of seeing new original castings specific for the kit, the learning of the new techniques from the manual, the knowledge that by just following the instructions I can end up with exactly whats on the picture on the box.

    This never gets old, its always improving, evolving, advancing... the last SWSM kit I got was just as exciting as the first... because it's always something new, another step, progression.....



    I would like to add....Don't get me wrong, the techniques in the older kits are just as amazing, and will easily yield award winning results, as has been proven many, many times.... and if you go back to an older kit from a newer one then..... it's always new and its all different.... that's the beauty.
  • @bryan: i blame brett for the same thing. i literally sold over 100 n scale built structures (kits and scrathbuilt), 20-25 turnouts, 100 ft or so of flex track and lots and lots of other items because brett convinced me over the phone how much more fun on30 would be. yeah....he was right but still................
  • As I wanted to create a layout around a sawmill, I started to search the internet and came across SW. My french layout is in O metric scale 1/43 and the mill in 1/48, so a little smaller. Yet not compatible. But SW amazed me so much that I decided to start a second layout in On30. So I called Brett and we had a pleasant conversation. I knew / felt this company, Brett, was genuine and reliable. So I ordered the sawmill.

    Man what a surprise when it was delivered. I was astonished by what I saw. Never saw castings like that, a manual like that and the fact it was a wooden construction made me feel right 'at home' .
    I unpacked, put it back in the boxes, unpacked, put it back several times. I wanted to enjoy this kit as it was before beginning the build. Then I realized this wasn't gonna be your average build

    So , I browsed through his catalogue and said to myself, let's begin with something simple. The Dueling Shacks. I also realized that all of the kits are limited editions, so It was now or not at all. I ordered me everything Brett got . All of the O scale kits. Including the Machine Shop Machinery, all the buildings.

    Glad I did because several aren't available anymore. I even started hunting on the internet for older kits. that's how I got the Tractor and Logging Repair Shop which I am building now. (That went not so good since it wasn't complete, supposed to be, but the most important , the castings were there.)

    So far I've build the Dueling Shacks, The Woodcutters Shack and doing the Tractor & Logging Repair Shop now. ( all these builds are on the forum)
    So I hope The foundry and other HO kits will be out in O scale one fine day. Signed in for the future kits. Will be busy for a while.....
    I also figured out that I would build the kits first and then start the On30 layout. Thought it would be safer this way.

    Everyone on this forum already knows that SW kits are the finest on today's market, but I just wanted to point this out so there can be no doubt about this !!!

    Hear ya....

  • What I find so interesting from the above stories is that the moment of truth, the moment of leaping in, all happened with our phone call with Brett. His voice and attitude allowed us to spend the money with no real concerns. Unusual in this day and age, at least for me, having been stung so many times. But as an aside, when I received my first kit, I could NOT imagine creating such a kit, and frankly, offer it at such a bargain price.
  • edited August 2018
    The story of my first SWSM kit is a little different than what I've read so son told me about SWSM in an email back and forth when I was lamenting about the retirement of George Sellios. Brian told me about Brett and his kits and suggested I take a look.

    I immediately 'took a shine' to the Railroad Camp kit and placed the order. Unlike most of you, when the it arrived I didn't even open the box but rather put it on the shelf with many other kits waiting to be built as I was already well into a build of a FSM kit and wanted to finish it before starting another.

    5 or 6 weeks passed before I was ready to begin a new kit and I jumped the RRC to the front of the Que...many of the other kits on the shelf began screaming "Hey, no cutting the line" but since it's my workshop and my rules, I opened the box to the RRC for the first time. Like many of you, I also was impressed with the quality and quantity of castings but there were other things which impressed me as well....the organization of the strip wood for one. Another which caught my eye was the laser cut windows and mere plastic slip-in windows with plastic trim attached and figure out what to do about 'glass', no siriee, I could hardly wait until I could start installing those rascals....and of course the instructions...this was no mere sheet of guidelines...this was a book...holy crap, I thought...I have a technical brain rather than a designer brain so the manual was exactly what the 'architect' in me was looking for. A set on CDs (construction documents) that would guide me through from 'ground breaking' to 'open house'.

    Still haven't completed RRC but have since ordered all remaining available HO kits from Brett, including two which have been since taken off the market. At my age (70 going on 50) I doubt I'll ever be able to complete the 25-30 craftsman kits on my shelf but you'll never see them on Ebay as both of my boys are also modelers who once their work lives slow down will be back 'in the game'...and I have 4 grandsons whom I hope 'catch the bug'

    That's my story.....the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

  • Thank you so much for the kind words. I truly appreciate your support and encouragement! I am really enjoying reading about your experiences. I feel very fortunate that I get to know you all so well and consider you friends and colleagues.

    Model railroading is such an incredible hobby with so many different ways to enjoy and express our individual talents. We are quite lucky to have such an enthusiastic and welcoming community here on the forum!
  • You are the Man Brett !!!
  • i second that!
  • First structure kit was the O scale O'neills Fabrication which I am still working on. First SW kit was the shop machinery.
    When I got the shop machinery, I was amazed at the castings and was nervous about starting them. I put them together after a long time and they all turned out great (for me). I now need to make a structure to put them in but that will be a long way down the road.

    When I opened the O'neills Fabrication kit, first I did was leaf through the manual and open the box of castings. I don't know why, but the smell of those castings drew me in. I'm now starting to get a collection of kits and look forward to them all. I'm considering retiring soon and I fear I won't be able to afford any more kits when that happens so I'm in the process of stocking up now. I'll soon have enough to last me many years. A great way to spend my time while retired I think. Keeps your mind sharp and helps maintain dexterity. It also keeps you limber while getting up and down off the floor when you lose one of those little sucker castings :smile: .
  • well said
  • Keven, your an addict
  • Muddy the mill in Fox Borough was the one that I built glad that you got hooked.
  • sdrees said:

    Keven, your an addict

    i've been called worse....
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