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BIS Tidewater Build Thread

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  • BIS Tidewater Build Thread

    I am starting my first build thread for the forums on the Builders In Scale Tidewater Wharf HO scale kit. This will be my fourth water scene diorama in a row (see my final pics of Foss Landing and Ships Chandlers here:

    This kit was released around 1992- I found it on Ebay, after several sold for less and less money, I finally got one. I didn’t really like the overall design that much, but I had built the lighthouse (which was available separately) back in the 90’s and the wife liked it. It came with a separate rock casting to sit on.

    BIS also offered optional stone seawalls, lighthouse”rockwork”, sidewalks, and assorted pilings, but these were not part of my deal.

    I opened the box to inspect/check the contents and all bags were sealed. However, the back wall of the sailmaker building (board & batten barn shape) was broken in several places. It looked like someone else also did an inspection, but when replacing it back in the box; they put heavier items on top of this bag of walls. Oh well, just another cautionary tale of buyer beware!

    The 32 page construction manual is booklet style 8 1/2 x 5 3/8

    It is clear and to the point, but the photographs of the completed model are small black and whites on the last 2 pages. The only color photos are on the box.


    There are also (5) 11 x 17 scale plan sheets.

    Also included: basswood clapboard siding, a few .031” cardstock walls, Campbell shingles, corrugated and ribbed roofing, about 200 metal and plaster castings, mostly pre-cut stripwood, acetate , tarpaper , window shade paper, wire, etc.

    The manual recommends a 15” X 16”base, but I will include a track siding and add about 2 inches.

    I now paint my castings before I start building, because for me, all that tedium at the end was a major downer. That way I get this stuff out of the way (not rushed!) and can just set them in place as the icing on the cake. Some colors may change if I don’t like how they fit in with the overall scene. So I first separated them out and de-flashed…

    Test fit them in their final destinations…

    A bath in the blackener (diluted ferric chloride here)…

    Gotta shake up all the paint that’s been sitting around with Carl Bs’ all purpose shaker…

    And start painting on the lazy Suzan...

    And painting…

    And painting..

    And painting…

    Almost finished…

    Masonry finished…

    The still neat shop during the marathon detail painting sessions...

    Till the next progress update...

  • #2
    Another great looking structure, and a fine start Carl!

    Louis L&R Western Railroad
    Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast


    • #3
      Nice painting Carl, but I think I would have cheated and used an airbrush on a lot of those parts to speed things up.

      Dave Mason


      • #4
        Hi Carl...I built both the Waterfront and Tidewater Wharf back in 1993 and have them both integrated into my layout.

        Will be most interested in how you tackle this beautiful kit especially after seeing your Foss Landing and Ships Chandler.

        I must say I am intimidated with your work. I love building maritime scenes (currently building SWSM Shipyard) and

        really look forward to following your work on this.

        BTW - For anyone interested, I have the lighthouse for this kit as I never built it. Also have the plaster rock casting

        that goes along with it. Gratis to anyone, just pay for shipping.

        John Elwood

        Olympic & Puget Sound Rwy.


        • #5
          Carl, I'll be following along on your Tidewater wharf build. This is a kit I wish I had've purchased, but it was already sold out after I got into building craftsman structures. Looks like you've got a great head start with the kit's contents already!
          Mike Hamer

          Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


          • #6
            The Tidewater Wharf lighthouse kit has been spoken for.

            John Elwood

            Olympic & Puget Sound Rwy.


            • #7
              Thanks Louis, guess I can't get enough of water!

              Thanks Dave, I dumped my airbrush years ago. So I use spray cans now!

              Thanks John, please don't feel that way. I saw your layout photos and I think they're great.

              I tried a layout years ago- I never got past laying track! Everyones' got their own special skills!

              Thanks Mike, didn't know we'd both be building/posting at the same time! Fantastic...


              • #8
                Classic Kit. Best wishes with your project.

                regards "M"

                " Stay Motivated in Life "



                • #9
                  Hi Carl,you seem well on your way already with this beautiful kit.

                  This is a classic kit,I've always liked BIS kits.

                  Are you going change anything from the original design, or build it as is?

                  Either way,I will definitely climb aboard this thread, and follow along with your build.

                  Greg Shinnie


                  • #10
                    Great bottleshaker you've got there kit !


                    • #11
                      Never had a BIS kit before, but it looks like a very nice kit with lots of details.

                      I'd be interested on your opinions on the instructions, fit, and ease of construction.

                      Have fun and thanks for sharing with us.
                      Follow along as my dog and I travel the country in our van.
                      FaceBook link:


                      • #12
                        I'm watching too Carl.

                        You are off to a great start! I too would be interested in your thoughts on this kit. I've often thought of bidding on other BIS kits.

                        Cheers, Mark.


                        • #13
                          Talk about crazy timing! Carl, would you believe I got back from vacation today and this kit as well as the BIS Waterfront were waiting at the post office for me! I got both on ebay for my Christmas present. I will be anxiously following your progress and work. Great start so far!!!
                          Cliff Powers

                          The Mississippi Alabama & Gulf

                          Please visit my layout website at



                          • #14

                            looking forward to following this thread. I am trying to get back to my Tidewater kit. I am in the process of moving to a new work bench and everything is extremely disorganized.

                            If I understand your comment correctly, you the lighthouse base did not come with your kit. CC Crow picked up the BIS line, and offer the base for $12.95. I had to rereplace mine after it fell and broke.

                            This is the website:



                            • #15

                              I am first changing the overwhelming amount of Campbell shingles. BIS provided them for the main repair dock building roof-the entire lighthouse-and the diner walls.

                              Their color selection choices are very traditional in the manual and are all Pactra and Badger - with "1 part this and 2 parts that" recipes...Nope- I'm scratching my bald head to cook up something different.


                              My opinions on the instructions-Just OK...all single spaced crowded typeface, small photos, vague guidelines about the diorama base. Jumps around a lot, don't think they used test-builders back then!

                              Certainly not in the FSM-SWM or SRMW league.

                              So far, the fit on the pre-cut stripwood(not a fan) are measuring out correctly, but cardstock is included for somethings that I'm trashing. There is an issue about cutting OUTSIDE the perimeter lines and then filing to fit.

                              I'm starting the buildings themselves now, and since it's been sitting for 20 years in somebodys closet or basement,

                              am not expecting perfect walls/parts/roofs.

                              Paul-thanks but I don't need the BIS lighthouse base. I've got some new rock molds and plaster standing by...

                              Will get a lot done soon and the pics will come too.

                              Appreciate your comments guys...

                              Please fell free to ask me about anything!