Milhouse: What are they saying?
    Bart: I'm not sure.
Milhouse: I thought you said you could read lips.
    Bart: I assumed I could.

I am Bart Simpson.

I look at a lot of things and just sort of assume I can do them. In the past I’ve toyed with music recording, video production, carpentry, astronomy, guitar playing, claymation, computer programming, plumbing, home wiring, and any number of other crafts.

In most cases, nobody showed me how to do these things, I just assumed I could do them, and I did them. Very often, badly, but I still did them. If I were spying on someone through binoculars I’d probably assume I could read their lips, just as Bart Simpson did.

If we’re building a train layout, we’re going to need buildings. One thing The Boy and I decided on early is that we wanted our layout to reflect our town and the things we’re familiar with, both currently and, in my case, in the past.

This will include the house I grew up in or, as he knows it, Grandma’s House.

The house I grew up in. Also known as "Grandma's House."

The house I grew up in. Also known as “Grandma’s House.”

I built a lot of model kits as a kid and a few as an adult. Unfortunately, nobody makes a model kit of Grandma’s House. I guess I’ll have to build it from scratch.

I’ve never really built a model from scratch before, but I assume I can do it.

I did some homework and ordered a some sheet styrene, including some HO-scale lumber strips and some clapboard siding that resembled the aluminum siding of my mother’s house.

My mother moved into senior housing about a year ago so, unfortunately, I can’t swing by and measure the house or take pictures. I found the rough dimensions of the footprint on our town’s assessor’s website and I have a few random photographs. Using the dimensions from the town and the photos I estimated the height and angle of the roof and the size of the porches.

I bought an assortment of HO scale windows from Tichy Train Group and found the best matches for the various windows around the house.

With not much more than an X-Acto knife, an HO ruler, and a small square, I got to work.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

Within minutes, I was right in my element. Measuring, cutting. Creating! I was ten years old building a model of the Helicopter from 240-Robert! I’m in The Zone, baby.

Hyperfocusing, is what it’s called.

After an hour or two I had cut out most of the sides of the house. The trouble is, if you look at a house, at least my mom’s house, it’s not just a rectangle. There are porches jutting out of it, doors, windows, a bulkhead leading to the basement. All of this had to be modeled as well. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this right.

It was difficult for me to visualize where all these things would fit in the house so as I cut out the various pieces I taped them loosely with masking tape so I could see it all fit together.

Now I just need to find an HO scale dysfunctional family to put inside.

The house is starting to take shape. Now I just need to find an HO scale dysfunctional family to put inside.

At this point it was getting late so I called it a night. I have a lot more work to do including cutting out the holes for the windows and doors, adding the foundation and structural braces, building doors, adding trim, building the roof, and of course gluing it all together, painting and weathering it.

Then I’ll want to build the garage and maybe a model of the pool we had when I was a kid.

So far my first attempt at scratch building is going well. I assumed correctly.

Stay tuned.


About Jim

Just a guy who likes to make stuff.
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