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!


  1. Chris,
    I used the same building to kitbash a rural store:
    Black fine-point Sharpie to highlight seams in the rolled roofing, oil paint and turpenoid wash on the attic louvers, and PanPastels for the rest. It's easy!

    1. Hey Mike and thanks much for weighing in. I checked out your version and LOVE it! The weathering looks amazing - and the added rafter tails, store windows, and addition make it a really neat representation of the prototype. The jury's still out on whether "it's easy!" - at least as far as I'm concerned. You may make it *look* easy, I'll grant you that. And I'll try what you recommend - I can only hope to get as good a result. Thanks again for stopping by and leaving a comment - hope you're enjoying the blog.

  2. Nice electrical service box, meter & conduit! Will have to try/use this tip on the next structure I build that needs one.

    1. Thanks very much Joe! But you may want to wait until the next post before you get started . . . :^)