Advice on an HO project for work

I've been given the task in my fire department for putting together what we call a tabletop "simulator" for practicing firefighting tactics
and operations on commercial and residential buildings. We've decided to go with HO scale since that's what most departments seem to use when they build these simulators.
I'm looking for advice on a good company(s) that we can get a catalog from so we can peruse the type of structures we need. I've looked online, and I was a bit overwhelmed by all the manufacturers and websites. While we could certainly use the Internet for our purchasing, I'd prefer to find a simple all-in-one catalog a company could mail me so other people can help me find appropriate structures and we can get them all shipped from one company as well. The other problem I've found with the Internet is that I'll search for "HO Scale House" and literally come up with hundreds of pages that would take me forever to surf. I think a catalog would make this hunt easier. Can anyone recommend I few good companies I can contact?
Thanks,
Dom
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Probably the biggest place to go to is Walther's Hobby shop. They do both wholesale and retail mailorder for the hobby. I will note that buildings can be rather expensive in some cases.
Many of us build our own structures from balsa, basswood (a bit better grade of wood), plastic sheet and other things. If you've got the time and don't need a lot of detail on the buildings, the plastic sheet (.020" thick styrene sheet from the plastics store) will probably do you better but you need somebody with model building skills to go this route. You can build up quite a large supply of housed and such for little money this way. In any case, it will be an intereting project!
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snipped-for-privacy@aconcagua.zzn.com spake thus:

One name: Walthers (http://walthers.com ). Kinda the de facto standard for this kind of stuff.
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David Nebenzahl spake thus:

I should have added that their massive print catalog is available at most hobby shops in the U.S. It's well-organized, so you'll have no trouble locating the "structures" section, with several lines of buildings available, most in kit form. Most of these are pretty easy and fast to put together, assuming you don't need tons of detail for your working model.
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snipped-for-privacy@aconcagua.zzn.com wrote:

I would suggest that you go to your local hobby store and ask to see the 'Walthers HO' catalog. For buldings look in the section labeled 'Structures'. The kits are either of plastic, wood or metal. There are two manufactures who make modular kits. With them you can create any building design or type you want.
If you need HO scale fire trucks there is also a section for vehicles.
There is also Walthers website: http://www.walthers.com /
Fred Ellis
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I am sure that most of your co-workers would be happy to help assemble your buildings, but, if you tell us where your fire department is, some one in the group would be happy to help with finding a good hobby shop and or assist you with building and detailing the scenes.
If you are in the Battle Creek/Kalamazoo/Portage area of Michigan, I would be glad to assist.
You might also ask the local High School for student volunteers who need to fill their community service hours.
good luck and keep us posted.
Frank Rosenbaum
farosenbaum.at.charterdot net

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On Mon, 7 Nov 2005 09:56:14 -0500, "Frank Rosenbaum"

Thanks for the advice, Frank. Unfortunately I'm out here in Washington state. We're going to start very small with just maybe a neighborhood block or so, along with a couple commercial buildings. As time goes by, we plan on adding more blocks until we have a sizable city. I got the idea recently when attending a fire tactics class where the instructor had built an entire HO scale city, complete with commercial downtown and outlying neighborhoods. Very impressive and a very good way to learn firefighting tactics because you have a 3-D model to look at. It'd be overly expensive for us, however, to build such a large city all at once. That's why we plan on building it a little at a time. I even ran across some sort of electronic gizmo on a website that would allow you to press a button and have "smoke" come out of a scale structure. That would be very cool for our simulator. I imagine it's not much more than the device in hobby locomotives that allows "smoke" to come out of the stack.
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wrote:

Try the walthers catalog number 222-2002. It is a concor kit and includes a motor, pumps, lights, a firefighters, pumper, smoke generator. on sale at 56.98
Or 770-3785 a Volmer kit with a burning 4 story tax office.... (no trucks or figures) Jim Stewart
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