Friday, August 29, 2014

Chilhowee State Bank, 3d printed in HO scale

Inspired by Terry Lynch and Charlie Post.

Terry Lynch told Charlie who told me about this cool looking bank building in Chilhowee, Missouri. Certainly not a place I would have ever gone without their direction.  There are only two reasons to be in Chilhowee, you were going there, or you are lost, because it is not on the way to anywhere anyone should want to go.

Holly and I took a side trip to beautiful Chilhowee on a recent weekend getaway, just so I could take some pictures of the building.

The lighting wasn't good, but I just need to get some basic sizes down, and a feeling for the details.  It is a great size for a model railroad, obviously a very small building that can fit on any city street.

And yeah, it is still a bank, although it is my understanding that at one time it was a residence.

It sits on a corner, and they have a drive up window on the East side.  

I was not sure what to do with the two small windows that have been filled in, but I went with glass blocks, maybe restrooms?

I started the drawing by importing multiple pictures of the building in to SketchUp, and then sizing them to full scale.  So basically, I just drew a side, while looking at the picture beside it.  I started the drawing while displaying many of my 3d printed items and the Maker Faire at Union Station here in Kansas City.  It was a two day event, but I was able to get this far during those two days.  

I tried to back date the building to what I thought it would have looked like in the 1940's.  I put back in all the windows that have now been filled in, and I put in a period door to match the windows.  If I were to hazard a guess, I would say at this point, I had about 20 hours in the drawing.

Here is a view of just the drawing.  Note the bracing I have drawn in the inside of the building.  This allows me to make the walls fairly thin to speed printing time, yet the bracing adds strength and cuts down on any flexing of the walls.  

To eliminate the need for support material to hold up any overhangs, I broke the building up in to six separate print jobs.  The glass block window are printed out of a different material than the rest of the project, so they are printed by themselves.  

All the 3d printed parts.

Here the main walls are being assembled.  I don't think I have ever used that many clamps at one time before, but it all lined up pretty well.  If I had to do it over again, I would probably use some styrene strips for bracing on the back sides, just to help line the walls up flush with each layer.  

In this primed view, you can see the interior bracing.  I make the thickness of the bracing around the windows the same thickness as the windows, so the thickest part of the window is flush on the inside, making it easy to line them up correctly.

I hand painted this particular building, but one could spray it, and come back and touch up the concrete areas, or, for that matter, paint it anyway you like.

I could not find any commercially available windows that would work for this building, and, if you have seen any of my other buildings, you know that HO scale windows are a really at the edge of what the Afinia will print.  You can see above that I have cleaned out some of the top glass pane areas with a hobby knife to get rid of the rounded corners.  It just takes a few minutes, and it really help the way they look.  For reference purposes, here is a house I did with windows I printed on the Afinia,, and here is one I where I used Tichy windows,

Fully assembled, before I installed a sheet of styrene for the roof.

From the back side, showing the glass block windows.

Completely assemble, only needs glass installed, maybe an interior, since it has those big windows.

As the building stands now, there is a drive up window on the left side in this view.

I used 6x6 styrene downspout, note the the scupper, the funnel at the top is formed in place as part of the 3d printing.  Also, the scupper is hollow, so it look reasonably realistic.

Total print time for all the parts, over 9 hours!

Not a speedy process, but it is hard to beat the detail on the bricks.

If all goes as planned, these will be available as a kit from Show Me Lines in Grandview, MO, or you can contact me direct by leaving a comment on this blog.  Thanks for looking.

Other brick buildings I have 3d printed:

3d printed lap siding structures:

Concrete block structures 3d printed:

I hope to see you next week at one of my clinics at the National Narrow Gauge Convention.


  1. Very nice! All the steps you used to add details make this a building that anyone would want.

  2. This is exactly what the bank looks like. I am completely in awe. This is to scale and everything. You did an amazing job!

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  4. That is amazing! The store in Chilhowee recently burnt and therefor was torn down. My grandmother-in-law owned it for many yrs b4 selling it to retire and was heartbroken when it was torn down. I seen this article and thought how incredible it would be to have something like this done for her. She has hundreds of pictures of it but would be so neat to have the real thing (only smaller). Would it even be possible to do that?

  5. Marissa Mullen, I have been contacted.

  6. Where can I get the print files for this bank building? This is the exact bank that was in our town in 1911, which is the era that I am modeling. Thank you

  7. I believe the kits are still available at Show Me Lines Train store in Grandview, MO