How To Build a Model or Structure Build a Sinclair gas station with dinosaur

Build a Sinclair gas station with dinosaur

By Bill Barnwell | April 1, 2023

This unique structure adds fun and character to your railway

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I always wanted to build a Sinclair gas station. As a kid, I remembered a Sinclair gas station in Pennsylvania with a large dinosaur statue on the front of the building. You had to walk through its legs to get inside. I wanted a similar style of structure for my garden railroad.

model gas station with green plastic dinosaur on the front
Bill Barnwell scratchbuilt this Sinclair gas station using a PVC drain plug as the body of the structure. He added the dinosaur for fun, but it was modeled on a version he’d seen as a child. Bill Barnwell photo

I started with a 9″ PVC drain plug for the basic structure, but also wanted to add a railing to the top of the building. I drilled holes into the perimeter of the drain plug top, then screwed in cotterpins to form the railing posts. I added 1/8” hollow brass tubing, threaded it through the cotterpin’s eyelets, and soldered it together as necessary. I added some scrap plastic pieces to form a walkway across the roof. I later weathered everything with a combination of paint and chalks.

close up of cotterpin and brass tubing railing on model station
The author used cotterpins and brass tubing to form a railing on top of the structure. Bill Barnwell photo

I added stairs (from Plastruct) but cut away parts of the stair treads so that they would bend around the curved PVC surface. I formed a railing from cotterpins, threaded piano wire through the cotterpin’s eyelets, and soldered it together as necessary.

lose up of model walkway on roof of structure
The walkway and railing were weathered with chalks. Bill Barnwell phot

I liked the Sinclair decals with the slogan “mellowed 80 million years,” so I added a motor oil decal to the side of the structure. I used a plastic toy dinosaur, cutting away about 2/3 of it and positioning the head, two front legs, and part of the torso near the front of the building. You could add a door under the dinosaur’s legs, but I omitted that detail on mine.

Unfortunately, after about three months I noticed that Dino was getting sticky, and I could not find a way to stop the progressing stickiness. Eventually, I had to remove him. I’m not sure if the plastic deteriorated, of if the plastic reacted with the paint that I used. I’m searching for a replacement made from a different material.

green dinosaur statue in front of a gas station
One of Sinclair’s trademark dinosaurs, this one at a station in Midvale, Utah. Credit: An Errant Knight, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

This gas station was a lot of fun to build and the grandkids loved it. Dino will return!

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