Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Wordless Wednesday #455 - Christmas Layout

Here are some pics from my Christmas layout to put you in the holiday mood. Hope you enjoy them and hope, even more, that you and yours are having a wonderful holiday season!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

The Sunset Diner in Cromwell, CT

One of the lessons I'm learning (and RE-learning, over and over again) is that persistent progress in this hobby is the result of doing what you're most in the mood to do - pivoting from one project to another and not allowing yourself to get bogged down. If you always - or at least often - #DoOneThing, you'll be surprised at how much you get done.

I was able to spend a good amount of time in the basement this past weekend working on setting the scene for the Camp Bethel Cottages I've been working on, but weeknights are much better for working at the bench. So I pivoted from working on scenery to finishing up the Sunset Diner in Cromwell. (Be sure to click here for a really cool story about how this diner figures in the history of big band music . . .)

To set the scene, literally, here's a period view looking north on the Middlesex Turnpike into Cromwell. . .

The diner is the white, octagon(!) windowed structure on the left.

BillS built a model of this structure for me a couple years ago and it's been sitting on the layout ever since. But it was high time to finish detailing it with some stacks, vents, and a cool sign.

The stacks & ventilators came from a Walthers rooftop details assortment. I used some scrap styrene to make bases and cleanouts.

The skylight is an old Scale Structures Ltd. kit. The little tracing/template on the right was to help me cut out clear styrene for the windows.

But figuring it would be much easier, I ended up using some Micro Kristal Klear instead.

I made the signpost from 1/16" tube, 3/64" and .015" wire all soldered together. The eyebolts are DA #2206 and the chain is Campbell #256.

The lack of sign in the first/main prototype photo I had ended up holding up this project for a while since I didn't even know the name of the diner for the longest time. Then I found this photo.

Bill used his computer skills to recreate the sign and I printed it out and mounted it to .020" styrene and used .008" wire to create hooks to hang the sign from the chain. 

The sign post and the stacks/vents were all airbrushed with Tamiya paints, thinned 50:50 with 90% alcohol.

I didn't like the vent on the skylight that came with the Scale Structures kit, so I used one from my scrapbox, securing it with some CA gel. You can also see how well the "glass" came out.

And this is the back, which you don't really see from normal viewing, but at least I know what it looks like :^) All these parts were attached to the main structure with CA gel.

And here it is on the layout. Still need to do some weathering, but I think it'll sit here like this for a bit until I can muster up some courage.

So there you have it! I think it came out really well, especially when you compare the photo above to the prototype pic at the beginning of this post. I really enjoy recreating the past in miniature, especially when there's a cool story involved. Thanks for following along and let me know what you think!

Monday, December 18, 2023

Bethel Cottages - Porch Narrowing & Assembly (pt.4)

As we continue building the "Bethel Camp Cottages" (click here for part 1, here for part 2, and here for part 3), it occurred to me . . .

. . . Other than its overall proportions, the other thing I liked about the house I borrowed from Somerset as my temporary stand-in (pictured above) was the little porch. 

FYI, these kits are now available from San Juan Details, who acquired the former Grandt Line kits.

Unfortunately, while the gable trim on the house kits I'm using is great and really evokes the "camp cottage" look I'm going for, they don't have any sort of porch. So I got the bright idea of using the floor and roof parts from the lean-to addition provided in the kits to build some back porches. Having a back porch rather than a front porch may seem a bit odd, but since the cottages face away from the Connecticut River, I figured a rear porch would give my little camp denizens a nice place to have a cup of coffee and enjoy the view.

Unfortunately, the lean-to parts are a bit too wide, so I had to narrow the floor and the roof.

And in a bit of overkill, I reached out to my friend ScottL, who is a professional home builder (among many other talents) and he sent me this handy - and very detailed - diagram on how to build the porch.

In the end, I ended up doing a lot of eyeballing...

You can see in the photo above how I shortened/narrowed the lean-to floor by about 6 boards. The front porches included in the kit are actually just little stoops, so I used the 6 boards I'd removed from the lean-to floor to create a larger front porch, as you see with the house on the right.

I also narrowed the porch roofs by about 1/4" to match the width of the porch (which, in turn, matches the width of the cottage).

Using Scott's blueprint as a guide, I realized that the depth of the porch roof would need to be reduced as well, or else the roof would have WAY too much overhang. Coincidentally, I removed about 6 courses/rows of shingles to get a depth that looked right. Thankfully, these seams - which actually aren't too prominent - will be totally hidden by the roofing material I'll add later.

To give the porch roof a bit more strength & stability, I added a ledger board to the back wall of each cottage using "2x4" strip styrene, glued right on the highest clapboard before the clapboards start to narrow. The rear edge of the roof will rest on this, just like the prototype.

While I could have just used 4x4 strip styrene for the porch posts, I dug through my Tichy assortment box and came up with exactly the number of posts I needed for the three cottages (6). These are Tichy #8092, shortened about 1/8" in order to allow the roof to pitch down.

Here are all the parts, ready for assembly (including a porch roof section that still has to be narrowed).

And here it is added to the cottage.

Once I showed this photo around, some folks pointed out that the roof looked a bit thin - like it needed a bit more structure.

So, instead of actually doing individual rafters, I decided to simulate them by just adding fascia board around the perimeter of the roof. I think you'll agree it looks much more realistic this way.

The last step on the roof was to paint the fascia boards to match the trim color. Believe it or not, especially considering my historic fear of airbrushing, I masked off the fascia boards and airbrushed them to match the rest of the trim.

With that done, all that's left to do is the roofing material itself and final painting and these cottages are within striking distance of being finished! Check in next time as we wrap up this build . . .

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Bethel Cottages - Painting and Wall & Roof Assembly (pt.3)

Getting back to building the "Bethel Camp Cottages" (click here for part 1, and here for part 2), it's a matter of preference when you do your painting. Some folks paint everything and then assemble. I've always thought that a bit more difficult since it requires you to plan WAY ahead in choosing your colors - and you may mess things up a bit with glue while you're assembling. But if you assemble everything first and then paint, it's tougher to paint windows/trim/etc.

So it's usually best to consider the order project-by-project and do what will be easiest and most effective for that particular project. In this case, I thought it best to paint early in the process.

Of course, that meant I had to figure out what colors I wanted to use . . .

I started by noting (on the post-it) what colors I wanted generally, then I went looking for those colors - or at least close to them - in my stash of craft paints. You can see in the pic above what I chose.

I brush painted the walls, trim, and porch floors, and that worked fine with multiple coats (thankfully, the paint dries quickly - especially when helped with a hair dryer :^) but I kept getting lousy coverage on the windows, doors, and porch posts.

So I decided to airbrush those. While I could have made my craft paints "airbrushable" (per an old RMC article discussed here), I decided instead to find some "close enough" colors in my stash of Tamiya paints.

Once all the parts are painted, the real fun starts - putting the parts together so they start looking less like parts and more like a building!

At many points throughout the process of building these former Grandt Line kits, I realized how much more advanced they are than the "typical" plastic structure kit. Case in point: I couldn't get away with just one piece of clear styrene on the windows. As you can see in the pic above, the window castings are actually offset - just like the prototype. So of course I needed two separate "window panes", using calipers for precise measurement so the panes would fit inside the recesses. For what it's worth, I used my go-to adhesive for windows: Aleene's Clear Gel Tacky Glue - dries just like it says - clear.

Once the details (windows, doors) were added to the walls, I used 1-2-3 blocks to help me assemble the walls and keep them square.

Once the main structures were done, I next needed to build the roofs.

Thankfully, a 90-degree block made that pretty easy.

And lastly - the coup de grace - I added the beautiful gable trim included in the kits that really makes these little cottages stand out!

Most folks would probably consider these structures just about done - and I almost did. Then it occurred to me that it'd be nice to provide a nice place to look out over the river . . . So be sure to check in next time to see how that turned out...