I purchased an HO Atlas Water Tower kit quite a while back, even though I originally had no intention of using it on my layout. This was mostly because my layout wasn’t going to be set in the steam-era, and lack of space on my layout. However, now that most of my structures are situated on my layout, I decided that that maybe I could make room for it after all. And as for it being from the steam era, well that hardly mattered as there are still many original water towers standing today, some still even currently being used. The water tower will stand in front of the turntable, directly to the left of the signal tower, and will service directly on the main line track.
The first step was to paint the components that made up the main structure. The Atlas Water Tower kit shows the completed model painted with a light green tank, however I opted for a more generic look by painting the entire structure brown. I started by spraying each piece with Camouflage Brown Krylon paint, then letting them dry for 48 hours. The brown base coat was quite dark, so I mixed several washes of brown enamel at different shades, and randomly painted different pieces of the superstructure with the different shades of brown. These slight colour variations add a more realistic, natural look to the overall wood structure. The same process was also used on the vertical planks that make up the main water tank.
Assembling the pieces was quite straight forward, and all the pieces fit snugly together. I needed to scrape off paint on every joint of the tank’s support structure to ensure the pieces slid completely into each other. For the roof, I first painted it flat black, then dry brushed it with satin aluminum enamel paint. I finished it with orange powdered pastels to represent the presence of rust. Once the entire structure was together, I weathered it with various powdered pastels and sealed everything with 2 coats of Testor’s dull-coat.
A final detail that isn’t included in the kit, but is highly recommended, is the chains and counter-weights that support and raise/lower the water spout. You can represent these with black thread; however chain link has the most prototypical look. I found some small chain link in the jewelry clearance section at Walmart, which I then cut to length and painted black before installing it onto the model. Even though the chain is a bit larger than a prototypical sized chain, the look is quite convincing. Now that the model is complete and installed on the layout, I’m definitely happy that I decided to use it.