Saturday, October 10, 2009

Getting ready for the big show

First of all, I'm sorry to have taken so much time off from doing these blogs but getting ready for winter has been a real time suck this year.
One event that I look forward to each year with great enthusiasm is the train show in Springfield, Mass. at "the big E". The Amherst Railway club takes over the Eastern States Exposition annually to present what I've heard is the largest train show in the east. Last year several officials from the event offered to work something out with the 1/87 Vehicle Club in order to introduce the train crowd to what vehicle modelers in HO scale are up to. They have been gracious enough to give us several spaces in order to do so. A core group in the club have organized to make a presentation and one of the ideas is to make a system of modules that can be coupled together much like the way Free-Mo rail modelers do. The difference being that instead of coupling track, we will be using a roadway surface continuity between the modules. The details and specification have yet to be ironed out.
I have chosen to do a New England farm scene that will enable me to display a lot of agricultural vehicles. This will mean I have to get to work on several pieces that have been sitting in boxes for some time now as well as scratch building most of the module itself. In my exuberance to get started, I've built a small farmhouse out of styrene that resembles some of the old center chimney capes I am familiar with. My own house is just that built in 1830 and my model structure is a slightly scaled down version of it. OK so here's where I'm going with it and I will be doing a lot of step by step progress in this entry.
I began with Evergreen styrene clapboard with a .040" spacing. After drawing the building on the computer and printing out templates on Manila card stock, I cut out the walls of the building with window and door openings. Some time ago, I purchased a collection of Tichy injected molded plastic doors and windows so I have a large selection to chose from. To the gable end walls, I glued .060" square rod to make up the corners and added a rake board of the same rod.

Many of the old farms here in Maine across New Hampshire and over into Vermont are connected affairs that enabled the farm occupants to go from house to barn without having to venture outside. For my little farm, I constructed a connecting el, also of styrene. This time I use a .060 spaced clapboard and scored the courses vertically to replicate cedar shakes. I have not found a suitable commercially available shake pattern in the scale and decided to give this technique a try. And while it is time consuming and a bit mind numbing, I like the results so far. The shed el will have a standing seam roof that I fabricated from thin brass foil scored on the back for the seams. The small window will have an open sash that I have omitted for the present since I'm sure I would break it off in the build process.

The chimney is a large square affair made from Evergreen brick pattern mitred at the corners. a few bricks have been added at the top to support a large flat stone for the chimney cap. The mortar which will remain a bright white similar to the white cement, lime and white sand mix used years ago was done with artists chalks and alcohol and when dry I simply wiped excess away with a finger. This still needs to be flashed to the shingles. I will be trying to do this with scotch tape painted. The roof shingles are asphalt imitators from GC Laser that are a black felt paper and a ridge cap will also be added and then all will be painted.

The next photo shows the shake pattern stop part of the way across the wall. This will be where the barn wall will start and make up the connection. So far I have drawn a fairly large barn that will be constructed of wood but have not begun construction yet. I want to finish the glass in the windows and some kind of window treatment like drapes so I can fasten the house roof. This will complete the house until it gets "planted" on the module.

I've really got the itch to get going on the barn so I'm trying to get the farmhouse to the point where there's nothing more to do until I plant the structure on it's base. So I glassed in the windows with clear acrylic and added some curtains. They are 1 ply tissue dipped in 50/50 white glue and water. Using the tissue gave me an idea to use it also for the chimney flashing that I would like to have look like lead. So I cut out the pieces I would need and brushed some of the water/glue in the appropriate spots on the chimney and set the pieces. Painted when dry. The capstone on the chimney is a piece of Vermont slate. This material has a grain to it much like wood and can be split very thin. I still have to finish capping 1/2 of the ridge but the individual ridge shingles are a pain and I needed a break.

This may be all I do for a while on this project and anything further I may post as a part 2 (these posts get too long and adding photos get's a bit time consuming) So that's it for now but keep looking back for more soon.

Well I couldn't leave well enough alone and decided to add some color to the clapboards of the structure. I used a powdered paint product called buttermilk paint that I use in my business for reproduction furniture that is mixed with water. I made a wash of this paint substituting alcohol for the water. The roof cap has been completed and there is now a brick foundation making the farmhouse ready to be planted on the module and waiting for the construction of the barn. I'm also anxious to get started on some vehicles for this project. After all they are what the focus of this whole project is in the first place.