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Sopa New Line
Bausatz Schalthaus Preda 842 600
Price 60 Euros
A few months ago I was alerted to the existence of this company by an article in Continental Modeller. The station depicted looked very good so I had a look at their website. The buildings depicted were all from the Swiss Rhatische Bahn or other Swiss railways and appeared to be of a very high quality. Having already purchased a station by Faller I had no room for another one so I left it there. However, after reading many articles on the Rhatische Bahn I noticed that there were other station buildings which I would need and was not able to find kits for. I then had another look at Sopa Models kits and found just the one I wanted, the Schalthaus. This is a kind of electric substation which provides power for the railway and is to be found at many stations on the Rhatische Bahn and elsewhere. So I ordered the kit and awaited its arrival.
The kit arrived well packed accompanied by a couple of Swiss Rhatische Bahn magazines and a couple of flyers for other items. I also got a pen from the model shop which I'm sure will come in handy. This is what you get in the box.
There is a gyprock cast of the main building and detailing parts made from copper, plastic, metal and wood. Roughly we are talking about a Townstreet style building with additional detail. You also get full instructions (in German), an illustration showing assembly and a sheet with colour photographs of the prototype which is very useful for reference when painting. You will require cyanoacrylate glue as well as PVA to attach the metal parts.
The instruction are only in German so you may want to think about this before buying. The instructions are good but for one of the more complex kits you are going to spend some significant time typing the text into Bablefish or somewhere similar to understand what you need to do. This kit was pretty straight forward and the diagram is pretty clear but there are a few things I would have missed if I had not taken the trouble to translate this.
First step is to paint and stain the main building block. This is the same as Townstreet, stains are better and use pure paint only where necessary. The casting is not bad. The top half is very good and has the correct pebble dash effect but I feel the lines around some if the stones in the building could be a lot finer.
The next stage is to add the electricity isolators. This is done by panting the wooden strip black and gluing it to the inside of the structure. You then drill holes in three of the power outlet windows. The actual isolators are made by threading wire through the plastic part provided and then threading this through the predrilled hole. You can later superdetail this by adding the wires carrying electricity.
The windows were made from scoring â€œplexi-glasâ€ This gives white lines which come up well against the black background. I'm not so sure about these as they look a lot like greaseproof paper. I may remove these later and replace them with something else.
The roof is made from combining a plastic preformed roof sheet with a wooden slatted undersheet and a copper gutter. The roof parts have to be pre-scored and bent to make the characteristic Swiss roof shape. The edges of the roof are made from the wooden strips provided. The wood can be stained or painted.
The top of the roof is finished by adding an adhesive copper strip. This is a good idea and would be ideal for use in replicating lead sheeting on roofs. It is easily applied but you want to get this right first time! There is also a third copper gutter provided for the turret bit. This requires some cutting and shaping but is not too hard.
Having done that we are now ready to do a second round of touch up painting and then some weathering.
The finished item is good and looks excellent on the layout. Although I do not have the space for one of their stations, if I have another layout in future with a Swiss section I will certainly be coming here first.
The entire range can be viewed here. The proprieter is very helpful and I found him very easy to deal with. Although the website is German language only they speak English too. You can also buy these as ready made models however the price is considerably higher.