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Abandoned Warehouse, Oakland, CA

I lived in Oakland, CA from 2002-2012, and found it to be a pretty good place to railfan. There is an industrial spur just west of I-880, and south of Jack London Square, with a few rail served industries, including a large Con-Agra plant. One year, while hosting my daughter's birthday party at a Pump-It-Up bouncy-house center, I spied an abandoned warehouse next door across the tracks. I thought it would make a nice background building, which either did or didn't get service on my layout (but could, at least).

Abandoned Warehouse 1

This seemed like a simple application of Lance Mindheim's photo wallpaper approach to building construction. Read more about his work at

Abandoned Warehouse 1
Abandoned Warehouse 2
Abandoned Warehouse 3

The building itself is pretty simple- styrene sheet from local plastic supplier (1/16” thickness). I created and printed the size I wanted on the computer first (use black & white settings for printing drafts, to save on expensive color ink). I use simple picture manager software for cropping, stretching and adjusting photos; I will use paint to touch up the wall segments (straightening vertical pillars, for example). I then import those individual images into PowerPoint to assemble a longer seamless stretch of wall. I can usually fit a couple of stretches onto a single page (landscape view).

I print a few test shots in B&W, adjusting the images in PowerPoint (the resize tool is key). Then I print in color, cut to size with good scissors, and use photo adhesive spray to glue to styrene sheet. I cut the sheet to size, including cutting out doorways and other recessed areas (which will get their own photo treatment in a styrene layer behind the main wall layer). Voila- a wall! Repeat for side walls too.

I add a few detail parts (gutters and downspouts; electrical boxes and the like) per prototype photos. Those are usually brush painted on 3 sides before gluing with CA.

After 3 sides of the wall are done, I glue some strip styrene scraps to create roof supports on the inside of the wall. More sheet styrene makes a roof, which is painted and set in place.

Very simple, and fun, and very effective (I think). I will have to set in place with some ground cover around the base, so that there is no seam showing.

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