Thursday, March 16, 2017

Inspiration- Part 1

This past December I started work on the two company houses that will be located at Logan, WV. For a long time, I had debated just what type of structures would look best in this area. Would it be a couple of company houses and a mobile home? Just one company house and a mobile home? Or just a mobile home? I finally arrived at the decision to include the two homes in the photos below.

The more I studied these photos, the more I realized that there were some really neat features of each that would be cool to model. For instance, note the air conditioner in the window of the first house. In the picture of the second house, note the boarded up window above the porch roof and the porch railing that has been made out of 2x4's. It's likely that original railing either rotted out or was broken up at some point and was replaced with a simple design that was easy to install. The first house has gutters and downspouts which are absent from the second one. And note that both structures have siding on the foundations that is intended to represent concrete blocks.

Using the dimensions of Grandt Line windows, I drew up a simple scale plan for the house. Using thin cardboard, I cut out a mock-up to see how it would fit into the area. All seemed good at this point, so I cut out the sides and ends using Evergreen clapboard siding. The windows and doors were installed on the first house as they would be painted the same color as the siding. On the second house, I painted the doors and windows a weathered black color. I also painted a number of pieces of 1x6 to use for the trim.

At this point, the houses appeared as they look in the photo below.

The green color that I used was initially too dark, so I repainted the house with a lighter shade. And even that was too dark, so I lightened everything up with a very diluted coat of Vallejo Aged White. Now it was time to see how they would fit into the scene. As it turned out, there really wasn't enough room in front of the houses to include the porch, a small yard, and the road between the yard and the track. Sigh. I had to come up with another plan. Should I just skip the road and have a path back to each house? Even then, the houses really didn't sit the way I wanted them to in the scene. The foundations would have to be too high due to the contour of the hardshell. Well, this was enough to sap the inspiration altogether. The houses went into a box for later.

Fast forward to an op session in early February. I had placed the houses on the layout as a way to show some progress in the area. While looking at them with Ed Swain, I told him about the issue with the lack of depth. I mentioned that I would have to cut out the hardshell and redo the contour of the scenery in order to get the space I wanted and that seemed like a bit much to do for this scene. He gently prodded me by saying that it wouldn't be that big of a project and that he had done it in several areas on his beautiful Pennsylvania layout. Well, that was just the inspiration I needed to get back at this project. By the end of the next day, I had already cut out the hardshell- see below.

Now I would have the room necessary for everything I wanted to include in the scene. The next step was to start construction on the porches. These would have to be build and painted prior to being mounted to the houses. I originally intended to build the diamond lattice seen on the porch on the white house. It appears to be made of pressure treated lumber similar to what you'd find today at a big box home improvement store. I remembered an article on building a four room C&O style cottage that Bob Hundman had written in Mainline Modeler many years ago. In the article, he described how he made the lattice out of 2x2 strips. I went so far as to buy some more Evergreen scale 2x2's and lay out how the jig would be built before I realized just how much work this would be. Sigh. Now I needed to come up with another railing design for this house. Both houses went back into the box. 

Sometimes it takes a lot of inspiration- at different points in time- in order to get a project completed.


  1. Both Tichy and Grandt make lattice in styrene, and SS Ltd in metal, in HO. Whichever way you go, it looks like it will be an interesting scene. The subtle differences from house to house will really make it realistic.

  2. Thanks, Galen- it didn't even occur to me to look for a commercially available product. It appears both the Tichy and the Grandt Line lattice would work.