DPM Coal River Station Gold Kit (HO) Review

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Well-Known Member
I spent a fair amount of time looking for a station that I felt would fit my railroad, without being lost in the background (like some of the small depots available) nor dominating the scene (like the soon to be released LA Station), that afforded a fair amount of detail and could result in a nice piece without having to resort to scratchbuilding (I'd really like to do Denver's Union Station, but it would require scratchbuilding and would dominate the layout). When I found the Design Preservations Gold kit of Coal River Station, I felt this would be a good fit for my criteria. This kit was a challenge - a step up from the Walthers Cornerstone kits I have been building - which I welcomed. It afforded me quite a few "opportunities" to try things that I had been wanting to, but more on that below. I still have a number of detail parts to finish up, but I feel like I'm close enough that I can call this project "done."

  • There are a lot of details with with this kit, molded both in plastic and cast white metal. This provides ample opportunity to customize the model to suit your needs. White metal casting allows one to do somethings that would otherwise break plastic molded pieces of the same type. For example, it's very easy to bend the cross-supports of a dolly to make it look well used with a white metal cast piece, while with a plastic piece it would be much more challenging to accomplish.
  • The buildings are molded in a greyish plastic, making it easy to add the color of your choice. Molded in details like bricks and door/window frames are decent, for the most part.
  • Instructions are easy enough to follow, with detail pictures to help guide the way. Additional instructions on the construction and placement of the detail parts is a nice touch, even though I chose not to follow most of the recommendations on placement.

The final product, if time and care are taken, can be quite nice. I am very pleased with the results, and am very proud to display this on my layout.

There were some manufacturing choices, that while I do not necessarily understand them, provided an opportunity for some experimentation with products I may not have otherwise tried.
  • Freight Station Roof - Unlike the passenger roof which was molded with the shingles, the roof for the freight station was sheet styrene. Not wanting just a flat roof, I used Builders in Scale's slate shingles, something I hadn't used before. It took more than I expected, but the end result is very good.
  • Hydrocal Dock and Platform - Using these as part of the kit made it easy to drill for lamp and clock sockets. Something that I think would have been more difficult with plastic platforms. The mass of the platforms allows the sockets for the lamps to be firmly secured, unlike what would happen with thin plastic (although easy enough to work around). Super glue also sticks really well to Hydrocal, and it accepts paint very well.
  • Lamps and Clock - I was not happy with the kit choices, but products from Walthers (lamps) and Miniatronics (clock) make for easy upgrades and personalization.

There were a number of frustrations in building this kit, enough that I'd think twice about doing another DPM kit. Again, while I was pleased with the results, sometimes I wondered if it was inspite of the kit, rather than because of it.

  • White metal castings - there was a ton of cleanup on the 40 detail parts included with the kit. After looking at some other company's white metal detail parts available at my LHS my disappointment with the amount of cleanup grew. I feel that a company who has a primary product line of white metal castings would do better here (Woodland Scenics). Here is a picture to help illustrate my point. The pallet on the right hasn't been touched, the one on the left cleaned completely, and the one in the middle in process. The one on the right wasn't event the worst of the lot (the one in process didn't have any gaps between the slats). The lamps are included to show flash on those:

  • Wall and other plastic moldings - the details on these were horribly inconsistent. Some window frames were deep inset in the walls, others flush with the walls. Brick detail on the freight station was inconsistent. The chimneys for the passenger station, while molded in two pieces each, were solid through the center. I used an exacto knife to carve out the center of the chimney to give it some appearance of depth, but still an irritant. The chimney on the freight station is white metal, so I didn't do anything with that.
  • Hydrocal - is extremely fragile ... enough on that.
  • Design - the ramp from the freight station to the passenger station is molded such that they can only be oriented one way. I would have prefered to have the freight station on the other side, but was not able to with the design of the ramp.

If you are considering building this kit, I have a few recommendations:
  • Do all the work on squaring the walls before painting. I spent a lot of time with my Northwest Short Line Tru-Sander to get the walls to butt flush and square with their mate.
  • Spend time cleaning up the white metal detail parts, but be careful that the cleanup doesn't remove details. There were a number of items where the injection point covered details like buckles on the luggage.
  • Be careful with the Hydrocal bases!!

Rating: 7/10
Again, I am pleased with the results of the kit, but potential builders need to be aware of what they are getting into with this kit. It does not come in pre-molded colors, so painting is required. There is a lot of cleanup work and structural work to get parts to look good and fit right. But if you take your time you can achieve excellent results with this kit.

Additional Products Used:



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Active Member
Very well done, it looks nice. I really like the shingles details on the roofs. Also a good review.

Thumbs up.

Don't you have track to lay? Still no progress on the layout? Come on slacker. ;)


Well-Known Member
Nicely done! I have structure kits sitting in boxes, all unbuilt. Maybe this winter? I hope they look as good as yours.

- Jeff
Well, the freight station is available as a single kit. It appears to be the very same kit as their original kit they produced many years ago, just with the white metal details and a new base.

Reminds me of the old Pola/Tyco/Model Power/AHM kits back in the 60s and 70s and 80s. An AHM kit would be low priced, the Tyco kit even lower, the Model Power mid-range price and the Pola kits in their boxes...through the roof! But yet they were the exact same kit. Looks like a repackage deal, at least partly.

Your work is top-notch. The buildings look great!

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