Thursday, March 1, 2012

Stella’s Used Record Store & Starlight Yoga Studio: Demolition and Renovation

[I temporarily tilted up the ‘glass’ walls for this shot to see how things looked. One wall was a little too tall and had to be cut down to size.]

I started assembling the Design Preservation corner building kit several years ago, but lost interest midway during construction and went on to other projects. It’s sat in a forlorn, semi-finished state in various locations in the workshop ever since. I eventually realized the problem I had was with the second story. I didn’t like it. It seemed too old, but the ground floor was quite interesting. I’ve been thinking for a long time about cutting the second floor off, and adding a more modern glass-and-steel upper level as a replacement to create a hybrid old and slightly newer building. I finally decided to give it a try. These days I’ve got a lot of ideas for various projects kicking around in my mind – good thing they’re not wearing cowboy boots! – and I figured that if I took my usual plodding approach to building one project after another in serial fashion, I’d barely see any of them realized. So, I thought I’d just make a start on any project that was interesting whenever the mood struck me, and I’d work on any project on the bench that seemed fun to do. This might be wasteful because something(s) is (are) likely never to get finished, but maybe that’s better than never starting them at all and wondering how they might have turned out. Anyway, I thought I’d collect up some pictures of progress I’ve made on this one over the last few weeks.

[After: The second story was cut off using both a disk cutter in my dremel and a razor saw. After it was free, I leveled the top of the first floor walls with the dremel drum sander and sanding sticks.]

[The upper story walls cut from 1/16 inch clear acrylic sheet. This is tough stuff to cut. Basically, you need to score it with a special knife made for the job, and then snap it along the score. Easy to write, harder to do well and safely. I usually break or mangle the piece I’m trying to cut, but I vowed not to do that this time. The mistake I made in the past was to try and hold the piece steady with one hand and use the other to score it. Bad idea on both the accuracy and safety fronts. This time I clamped the piece onto my WorkMate with an aluminum straight edge running along the line to be scored. This makes scoring a deep, uniform line easy, and you can keep your other hand free and clear without running the risk of getting a nasty gash in the process.]

[Once the piece is scored, you can snap it by laying the scored section over a piece of ABS pipe and then smartly pushing down on either side of the line. Presto! A clean break! After I got the hang of the whole process, I was able to easily separate the pieces and get a clean edge at the break simply by snapping the piece with my hands.]

I think one great thing about a streetcar layout is that it allows for many sorts of buildings and locales since the route should service all kinds of places people might go to: homes, libraries, businesses, restaurants, factories, schools, stores, hotels, clubs, parks, ski hills, beaches and so on and so on. For the model builder I think it offers lots of opportunity to try building all sorts of stuff; both replicas and new things. With Stella’s, the first floor will be the used record store, and there will be 2 glass and steel floors above that one: one for the yoga studio, the other’s use is still to be determined.

[The inside surface of the first floor walls have many small indentations – I guess they are from the molding process. I filled them in so I’d get a clean surface to work with.]

[This is where Stella's might finally reside.]

That’s it for now. Here’s a little of the Bill Evans’ Trio to finish off the evening:


  1. An imperfect job completed (or begun) today is always superior to the perfect job delayed indefinately. I like the way you think, and I'm looking forward to your progress...on whatever you decide to tackle!

    1. Thanks Galen. I try to watch out for my day-job thinking spilling into my hobby projects - it can often spoil the fun!

  2. This is going to be really interesting! I totally agree with you that the bottom floor of this building is great and the top is just a bit too boring. Looking forward to your updates on this!

    1. Thanks Jerry. I've been looking at the remains of the top floor for awhile now, and maybe there's some hope for it as the bottom / basement of a semi-underground place - but I'll have to give that a lot more thought :-)