Frequently Asked Questions

Logging On to Our New Website ?

Log on using your e-mail address or previous username. You may find that your previous password works just find. If not, please follow the directions for a ‘Lost Password’.  Once you’ve logged on using your new password, your account and most of your previous order information should have been retained. Please note that some of the most recent order information may not appear on this new website.  Thank you !

Ironton Ore Docks Background & Operation ?

The primary inspiration and prototypical references for this ‘Ironton Ore Dock’ series of kit are the Great Northern Railway Ore Docks at Allouez (Superior), Wisconsin and the Soo Line Ore Docks in Ashland, Wisconsin. These docks were constructed of concrete and steel between the late 1910’s and early 1930’s with the largest reaching over 2,200 feet in length.

These massive docks could simultaneously service multiple ore boats (Lakers) which could reach over 1,000 feet long and carry up to 60,000 tons of ore. Riding on top of these docks were hundreds of ore cars (Jennies) each carrying between 70-100 tons and the locomotives to shove them over the proper ore pocket to dump their loads. These pockets and associated chutes (spouts) were spaced 12 foot on-center to match the hold spacing on the ore boat anchored some 80 feet below.

While working on an ore dock, your day could consist of unhinging the latches to let the iron ore flow into an pocket while ducking moving railcars and locomotives or poking at clumps of frozen ore stuck in a Jenny or, even worst, in a 36 foot spout while tangling from a catwalk or ladder above the open hatch of a Laker. On a good day, all of the intricate mechanical means of transferring the ore to the boat worked as expected. The spouts were lowered from the side of the dock using a system of cables and hoist controllers which were powered by a common motorized drive shaft. The ore from the pocket would start flowing once the pocket gate was raised above the lowered spout.

This loading process required the cooperation of both the dock and boat crews to ensure that the proper balance and level of the boat was maintained. Ore dock crews did enjoy some basis amenities such as steel plate privies for when nature called, a crew cabin for shelter during break time, a water pumping plant to keep the dust down and illumination from huge light towers to avoid the ever present hazards on the deck. All aspects of these ore dock operations are represented in these kits.

What Is the impact of the revised State of California retail labeling requirements?

The State of California has revised its labeling requirements under Proposition 69. As a small business, we are exempt from these new labeling requirements. Unfortunately due to our ‘supply chain’ relationship, this exemption does not apply to products that we sell through distributors. As a result, they will no longer be able ship our products to customers in California. If you live in California and encounter this issue, please feel free to place your order on this website. Retailers, to obtain terms and discounts, please contact us via e-mail:

When do your gift certificates expire?

Unless a specific date is given on the gift certificate, they expire six months after the last day of the associated event or the signature date on the certificate. Please contact us via this website or email ( should you need any further assistance redeeming your gift certificate.

Are your instructions available in an electronic format?

Yes, our instructions are available in a PDF or JPEG format by request. Customers can use the “Contact Us” feature of this website or e-mail us at to request a copy via e-mail. Please note that some of these files are fairly large so they may take some time to download.

Are detail parts included in your kits?

Yes, we include all detail parts that are attached to the stucture and often a sampling of accessory parts that are also available separately. Typically these parts are cast from resin or white metal and require minimal clean-up/preparation prior to painting (if painting is required at all). We don’t ‘bury’ the structure in detail parts because we strive to ceate a model that is interesting to view from most angles on it’s own. This is especially true of our industry based kits which are usually composites of the most interesting elements of several prototypes.

Why don't you provide strip wood for bracing in your kits?

Our kits are typically cut from micro-plywood which is far less prone to warping than the less expensive basswood sheets used by many other manufacturers. This characteristic holds true when the pieces are painted. For our larger structures, we provide internal walls that interlock and support the outer walls so that they remain straight and square. These internal walls also assist in holding pieces in place during the assembly process while making for a sturdier structure overall.

How hard are your kits to build?

Depends. Some of our kits are fairly large and require more time to build but the process is essentially the same as the smaller kits. Just more iterations of the same steps. A good first kit to try is the “Waterville Shanty” available in both N & HO which provides a good introduction to the typical design and contents of our kits.

How do you hold pieces in place and square while they dry?

Bits of basic masking tape works well for holding wall and roof peices together. Of course, the more traditional mini-clamps are nice too if you have them. Our kits are designed to keep themselves square but sometimes during the construction process, a metal machinist square or heavy angle brace comes in handy.

What kinds of paint and glue do you recommend?

For our wooden kits, you can use virtually any kind of paint or permanent marker. Permanent markers are especially good for smaller models and have the advantage of drying almost instantly. Because most of our kits are cut from micro-plywood sheets, there is much less chance of warpage even when using water-based paints. When using water-based paints, you probably should paint both sides of each piece. With oil/lacquer based paints and markers, this is usually not necessary. For glues, Aileene’s Tacky Glue and any other PVA glue works the best. Have found that basic white glues tend to be too thin and take too long to set up.

Most of scenic and detailing parts can be easily painted with basic aerosol paint available in most hardware and home improvement stores. Many of these parts only require one color and some don’t require any painting at all. Also, on the rare occasion that assembly is require with our detailing parts (usually the vehicle kits), a thickened CA or “Super Glue” works the best.

The styrene plastic building sheets that we offer can be colored using any of the methods mentioned earlier. To create mortar lines, white or light gray chalk dust and diluted white or light gray latex paint work well. Some folks add color to individual stones or bricks using a tiny brush or permanent markers. Too much of this activity might affect your sanity so do it in moderation 🙂 !

What forms of payment can we use on your website?

We accept MasterCard and Visa credit cards as well as PayPal, personal checks and money orders. All on-line transactions are handled via a separate secure server. Please allow an additional 7 to 10 business days for personnel check and money order transactions. Thank you!




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