Progress on all fronts

It’s been a rainy, stormy weekend, the kind of weekend where I can stay indoors without feeling guilty. The Boy had a spontaneous sleepover on Halloween night that lasted into Saturday afternoon so I had most of the morning to work on the house model.

I started this project partially to learn a bit about myself and I’m happy to report I learned something very important this morning:

Cutting windows out of styrene is a giant pain in the ass.

The windows I bought come in various sizes and I’ve found the best fit for the windows around my mom’s house. I’d first measure the width and height of the windows, figure out where on the side of the house they would go, then spend a good twenty minutes laying it out with a square and various rulers. Then I’d use a straight edge and an X-Acto knife to cut out the rough openings.

One of about forty seven windows I had to painstakingly measure and cut out an opening for.

One of about forty seven windows I had to painstakingly measure and cut out an opening for.

Then I’d realize I’d made a mistake, such as mixing up my left and right (I cut from the back side, so I have to do everything in reverse), cutting a hole too large, mixing up my top and bottom (the clapboard siding I’m using has to be oriented properly) or screwing up any number of other things that can be screwed up.

So then I’d have to start over, tossing that side of the house into my scrap styrene container and cutting a fresh side.

IMG_1640

Cutting windows for the back porch. I have vague memories of sitting in this porch, watching Game Six of the 1975 World Series when Carlton Fisk hit his home run and all the fans stormed the field.

Eventually I’d get it right and test fit the windows. Most of the time the fit was ok but occasionally I’d have to widen it with the knife or sand it down a bit. The windows aren’t exactly the same as the one’s on my mom’s house but they’re close enough.

And empty shell of my childhood home, loosely assembled with masking tape. I think this is some sort of metaphor or something.

An empty shell of my childhood home, loosely assembled with masking tape. I think this is some sort of metaphor or something.

So far I’m happy with how the house is coming along though I have a long way to go and I’m not sure what the end result will look like. I’ve been experimenting with paint colors, trying to get one that matches the gold/yellow aluminum siding we had. I’ve also begun work on the chimney, using some brick textured styrene. The roof will probably be the very last thing I do. I look forward to learning how I can manage to screw it up.

Sunday afternoon my wife, Amy, and The Boy came home from church and after doing his homework and getting some computer time in he came down to the basement and we started screwing down the subroadbed. Getting the grade laid out properly was a bit of a chore. I had to make a little grade gauge to attach to a level and make sure it was a consistent 2.5% throughout. This is a bit steep by model railroad standards but this is a small layout and I’ll have to condense things a bit.

2.5%, just like my annual raises.

2.5%, just like my annual raises.

The Boy and I settled into a routine where I would measure the height the track needed to be, cut a riser out of a 1×3, glue it to the joist and drill some holes. Then he’d drive in the screws where they were needed. After a bit he took over some of the drilling duties as well. I’m not quite ready to have him use the chop saw. Small steps.

 

The Boy, screwing down the subroadbed.

The Boy, screwing down the subroadbed.

By 4:00 it was time for me to start making dinner so we called it a day. We have the grade on one side of the layout done but there’s a lot more to do. There’s a grade on the other side and various levels plywood to lay down. It will probably be a couple of weeks before we can start laying track.

Going up.

Going up.

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About Jim

Just a guy who likes to make stuff.
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