Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Fun? Goff Brook Garage

Now that it's all done but the weathering, the Goff Brook Farmhouse needs a neat little one car garage. Fortunately, there's a kit for that . . .
Much thanks to PeteL for the kit!
 According to the instructions, "this kit was designed to be quick and easy to assemble" and the "unboxing" (well, "unbagging") photo shows all the parts that are included. . .

Unfortunately, that may not be all the parts that are needed. My first clue to this came when I dry-fit the door . . .

Uh oh
I wasn't sure whether the wall was too short (though the mismatch between the top of the back wall next to the side wall should have been a clue), or if the door opening had to be extended up.

So, I took out my handy caliper and started comparing parts . . .

Height of the "door side wall"

Compared to the other/"window" side wall
Note that they're not the same height (off by a couple of clapboards). So I started to check the other parts. . .
Front end wall

Back end wall
 Another mismatch :^(

Corner where front and "door" side wall must meet

Compared to "door" side wall
 And finally (inevitably and most clearly) . . .

I'm pretty sure the corner of the side wall and the corner of the end wall must match - and of course the end walls and side walls must match each other. I'm not being sarcastic - this will/would have been my first laser-cut wood kit. BEST has a great reputation and I've seen their displays at Springfield and such and always wanted to try one of their kits, but this one - the one that was supposed to be an easy introduction - has me flummoxed.

Am I missing something here? Have any of you built one of these kits before? Maybe I just got a mistake-in-production dud?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Few Words About Wordless Wednesday #183 - A Conduit Tale

As I was wrapping up the final construction post for the Goff Brook Farmhouse and posting the "finish pic" above, I mentioned that I could just "visit the prototype and see what it looks like" to get a guide on how to weather it.

Well, I clicked over to review the prototype shot I'd taken - and got a bit of a shock. See what I did there? A hint is in the title to this post - as well as in the pun.

Yup, I'd inexplicably poked the electrical service conduit through the roof(!) Now, in my defense, I had consulted a very thorough clinic on how to model electrical service, and coulda swore that's how it was supposed to be done. But when I went back to check, it looks like the conduit only goes through the roof when it's necessary to get the weather head at least 10' above ground (low sheds roofs, etc). Otherwise, it's safest to have it under the eave - and less chance of someone on the roof coming into direct contact with the weather head & wires.

I should have reviewed my prototype photo earlier.

Now, I was going to see if anybody would notice - but the problem with me is that now I had noticed. And I've been down this road often enough to know that the hemming/hawing/vacillating about whether or not to fix it often takes longer than actually just fixing it. 

So I decided right away to go ahead and fix it. Here are the steps I took (in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation which - hopefully now that you have the benefit of my experience here - you won't):
  • Carefully pry the conduit out of the side of the wall. Cushioned tweezers will prevent chipping the paint.
  • Clip off the old bent end of the wire (the "weather head"), pull the conduit through the hole and set it aside.
  • Fill hole with Squadron Green Putty (I really need to get myself some stryrene rod, which would have worked better here).
  • Sand lightly when dry (I use a variety of sanding sticks, from "coarse" down to "extra fine"
  • Apply another coat of putty and sand when dry.
  • Decant the same color spray paint used for the roof into an old bottle cap and use a microbrush to replace the paint in this area and cover everything up.
  • Cut the conduit to a shorter length (based on the prototype photo!) and bend a new weather head.
  • Add a styrene 2x4x12 to the wall for mounting the weather head end of the conduit.
  • Replace conduit, gluing in place with CA
  • Realize that the repaint you did looks a little rough and takes the light differently.
  • Decide to respray the roof . . .

I think it looks MUCH better - and it's hard almost impossible to tell where the hole in the roof was. Unfortunately, I had a bit of stray masking tape around the chimney which caused a little flare of spray on the roof. And yes, that bugs me. Not enough to RE-respray the roof - but enough to encourage me to get to weathering, which covers a multitude of sins.

I've certainly learned a lot through this build and have built up my confidence that I can recover from most mistakes. But if I'm doing it right, I'm only making new mistakes - so the learning continues . . .

Hopefully my sharing all the fun and folly along the way has been at least a little entertaining, if not super educational!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Goff Brook Farmhouse - Final Details, Final(?) Fails

Well, after almost a week, I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel on this project - unfortunately, while the light wasn't an on-coming train, there was a pretty annoying motor hand car on the track in the form of a couple more fails. But first, a few tips . . .

The next step was to install the porch and main roofs. The porch roof went on the same way as the roof on the addition - add glue to the top of the porch roof frame, and the beveled edge of the roof, center carefully, and press to fit.

Speaking of glue, a quick sidebar on the glues I used on this project:

For any styrene joints I could clamp tightly ahead of time, I used Tenax applied with a superfine microbrush. It welds the joint together and cures almost instantly.

For styrene joints that don't fit quite so tightly and/or if I need a little more working time, I really like the Testors/Model Masters liquid cement - it has a higher viscosity (it's thicker) so has some gap-filling properties and a slower (though still quick) cure rate. The needlepoint applicator is also handy.

For joints between styrene and something else (metal or wood, as you'll see later), I used Zap CAs - the viscosity depending on the application. Since the joints on this project were relatively tight, I used the thin CA to get in and bond.

So for the main roof - like with the other roofs - I used the Testors with the needlepoint applicator, applying the glue on tops of the side and end walls. But the angle of the roof was slightly off, not matching the gable peaks exactly. Instead of pressing it down and holding it in place by hand while waiting for the glue to dry, I came up with another tip: 

I used a bag of ballast, formed to conform to the roof, to weigh it down while the glue cured.

With that, the house itself was "finished" according to the instructions (except for the chimney), but I thought adding some additional stacks/vents and and electrical service would add some additional interest and look more authentic.

Typically, you could make a stack/vent (for a bathroom, for example) from styrene rod. But I didn't have any on-hand, so I improvised using a toothpick (which is approx. 4"diameter scale) "painted" with my black Sharpie.

The electrical service was a bit more involved. I started to search the google on the internet machine to see if anybody had scratchbuilt one of these before. There are commercial parts available (and a bunch on Shapeways) and I may use those for future projects, but I didn't want to wait.

My search teetered on the brink of another rabbit hole and I found this really cool clinic on modeling electrical and phone service, but no details or instructions for scratchbuilding what I needed.

Then it occurred to me - I could just go outside and measure MY electrical service. The meter box is 8.5" wide, 14" tall, and 4.5" deep. The dial is about 5.5" in diameter. Here's what I came up with:

  • Service Box: a piece of .060x.188" styrene strip, cut to 4.5" wide
  • Dial: .060" dia styrene rod (didn't have this on-hand, so used a bit out of my scrap box)
  • Conduit: 20 gauge solid wire with the insulation stripped off

I applied a drop of the Testor's to the box and added the dial . . .

. . . then routed out the back with an .060" drill bit in my Dremel, being careful not to break through the front (a foot/speed pedal really helps here). I bent the wire and clipped it so that most of the curve was gone (that way it'd fit into the wall more easily). Then I used my thin CA to glue the box to the wire.

Unfortunately, as I was moving the house around trying to figure out where to locate the conduit, I accidentally hit the back stairs and part of them broke off. ARGH!!!!

Fortunately, they broke off at the glue joints. A smarter man may have just glued the part back on. But no - I took this opportunity to level the stairs. So - yup - I decided to take them all the way off and redo them.

As if I'd forgotten what pain these were the first time I built them -  and they still didn't want to behave. You can see above what I contrived to keep the right side down and level while the glue dried overnight.

And the positioning that had caused the accident in the first place ended up being wrong. When I placed the conduit on the side of the house, it wasn't perfectly vertical. And anybody that knows me personally knows that would really really bother me. So, out came the Squadron Green Putty, applied with the smallest of screwdrivers for a "palette knife," and every so gently sanded later. Then I drilled another hole.

Fortunately, a little white paint hides the mistake. And while I was down in the paint room, I sprayed the conduit/meter assembly with gray primer.

While that was all drying, I located and drilled holes for the bathroom stacks/vents and where the electric conduit goes through the main roof. Then it was just a matter of gluing on the chimney with the Testor's and press-fitting the toothpick stacks in the holes, secured with thin CA.

Once the electrical conduit was dry, I threaded it through the roof, marked how tall it should go, and bent/snipped the wire that that point for a weather head. Then I pressed the bottom of the conduit in the hole in the wall, secured with thin CA.

And just like that - I dub the Goff Brook Farmhouse DONE! Though not "finished" - I still have to gin myself up to add the weathering which will really cause it to pop. ANY AND ALL advice you might have on how best to do this would be MUCH appreciated. My left-brain is pretty comfortable with building, but my right-brain is pretty weak. I need all the artistic help I can get!

It's only been a little over a week, but this build seems to have taken much longer - maybe since I've been reliving it along the way by posting about it here. Thankfully, based on the comments (as well as direct emails), many of you are enjoying the journey. As I've mentioned before, I really appreciate the camaraderie and the feedback is especially appreciated.

I think I'll put this aside now for a bit in order to do some weathering research. But that may be as easy as just visiting the prototype and seeing what it looks like!

Monday, August 14, 2017

More Modeling Monday: Goff Brook Farmhouse - main structure, addition, steps & porch

After all the prep and all the painting, glazing the windows & adding the curtains, removing the parts from the sprues and starting assembly, it's finally time to start assembly in earnest. Yes, I'm finally on steps #4 & 5 of the instructions(!) - assemble walls and roof.

As you can see, I'm really getting a lot of use out of this magnetic gluing jig. Not only does it have nice right angles in all 3 planes and a nice flat surface, but it's a "tray" that allows you to move your secured parts safely off your bench for drying.

So,while the main walls and roof were drying off to the side, I started assembling the lean-to addition. First step - like with the mating edges of the other walls - was to use a tip from my friend Dean and make a very slight angle so that the ends of the clapboards will mate tightly against the other wall.

I glued the two sides of the addition to the addition's back wall, let that dry, then attached the addition assembly to the back of the main house, using one of the magnets to press the house and the addition together. I also added the roof on the addition, making sure that the angled edge pressed tight against the back wall of the main house. Note: you could just as easily add the addition to the (other) side of the house if you'd rather.

At this point, I glued the porch support legs to the porch deck. Two things to note here: 1) you will likely need to file/sand the left & right ends of the leg assembly a bit to get it to wedge into the porch deck frame; and 2) make sure that the legs attach to the front of the porch deck - the side that has the flooring overhanging slightly. And don't forget - whenever you can - to scrape/remove any paint from any surfaces that will be glued. That'll make for a much stronger joint.

While all that was drying, I remembered to make sure that the inside of the chimney was black. I find that often the easiest way to "paint" small black areas - right at the bench - is to use a black Sharpie.

The chimney parts are so small, no bracing is needed and the edges are milled at 45 degree angles for assembly. Just be sure that the sides are glued at true right angles. Again, the gluing jig makes this easy.

While waiting for other things to dry, I assembled the outhouse. By 1948, the main house would have indoor plumbing and electricity (I would hope - at least my version of it will), so the outhouse will be heavily weathered and probably placed a little off-kilter somewhere out in the backyard. The photo above shows an easy way to ensure that the roof is centered properly - just glue it upside down.

I next turned my attention to the two stair assemblies. The stairs in this kit are the weak spot, literally and figuratively. They're a real pain-in-the-butt to put together and they're always vulnerable to damage (as I found out later).

The stringers are supposed to be 1/2" apart and the instructions mention gluing a 1/2" long piece of the leftover 1/16" strip to the house and then adding the steps to it. I thought I'd be clever and glue the 1/2" piece to the stringers first as a spacer and then glue the whole assembly to the house at once.

To hold everything in place for gluing, I used a piece of masking tape - sticky side up, as shown above.

If you assemble your steps this way, be certain the spacer is flush along the backs of the stringers as well as along the tops of the stringers. You can see above that the left stringer is slightly higher. This plagued me later.

But ignorance is bliss, so I pressed on with assembly, figuring I'd just make sure the top step was level and let the spacer (which would be hidden) be at an angle. I used self-clamping tweezers to hold things while I used regular tweezers to apply the stair treads.

And here are the back steps, attached to the addition. My plan was easier in theory than execution. You can see that the top step is slightly angled, but as much of a pain as these steps were to put together, I decided I could live with that rather than redo them.

The porch roof frame was next. In my opinion, this kit relies too much on very small gluing surfaces. In the pic above, you can see what I mean. Next time, I may add little bits of square strip in the inside corners to strengthen these joints.

You can see I rely pretty heavily on this magnetic gluing jig. No less than four magnets holding everything square in the corner for gluing. Like the main walls of the house, I first glued two pieces together, making two 2-piece assemblies (2 "L"s), then I glued the 2 "L"s together.

Again, don't forget to remove any paint from gluing surfaces - especially critical here, where the mating surfaces are so tiny. Also be certain that the four pieces are flush on the bottom, otherwise your porch roof will be slightly off. Ask me how I know.

Continuing with the front porch, next step was to add the roof supports to the roof support frame. The photo above shows paint removal prior to gluing - just scrape with an x-acto.

Be sure not to force the supports at all when you insert them between the roof frame sides. File/sand to fit as needed, or else risk forcing the frame apart. It's also important that the supports be at a right angle to the frame, as shown above.

Once that all dries, it's time to add the porch itself to the house, as well as the porch roof support assembly. As you can see above, I used a scrap piece of balsa to support the back edge of the porch for gluing, and I used a magnet to press the porch against the house.

Adding the roof support was a bit tricky - you want to be certain the sides are level/parallel to the porch and that the frame is level from side to side. Lining up with the clapboards helps - and those same clapboards will make it obvious if your porch roof isn't perfectly level.

Turns out, despite my best efforts, my porch frame was just a wee bit torqued. You can just make out above that I'm using the end of my dial caliper to ever so slightly press down on the right side of the frame to keep it level while the glue dries.
* * *
This assembly session turned out to be pretty long since you can put some things together while you're waiting for other things to dry. So it goes fairly quickly, but it's still a lot to do.

But as you can see, it's starting to look like an Actual House! Not much left to do on the instruction sheet - just add main & porch roofs and chimney - but I want also to add that indoor plumbing (i.e. vent pipes) and some electricity (virtual/modeled only - I'm not planning at this point to actually light the building), all of which will require a little scratchbuilding. Stay tuned!