Thursday, May 23, 2013

Finished renovations at the Post Office

I haven’t tried to restore a broken down kit before, so this was an interesting project for me. I wasn’t able to do as much repair as I had originally intended because some pieces had so much glue blobbed on them by the original builder they couldn’t be disassembled without breaking. So, I had to live with some wonky, unrestored sections. In the end, the restoration won’t win any prizes, but it didn’t turn out too bad, and fits in well in the city section of the LOL.
[Front facade before renovations - looks like the police kicked in the door :-) ]
I didn’t want to change the overall look of the building because that’s what attracted me to it in the first place. So, the intent of this project was just to clean it up and fix problems.
The first task was to carefully pry apart what I could, and wash all the pieces in some warm water with mild dish soap. Afterward drying, all the pieces were sanded and filed and smoothed to remove any rough edges, molding marks, or flash. The large front window, main entry doors, and about half the window glazing were beyond repair and had to be scrapped. 
[The back wall before renovations.]
Once all the pieces were cleaned up, it then became a matter of doing a little touch-up painting where possible, gluing them back together in a squarer configuration, and rebuilding some missing or broken pieces. The finished building is still a bit out of kilter and the roof doesn’t sit quite right because not all the pieces could be disassembled.
[Here's the 'burned-out' back staircase]
Rebuilding the back staircase and its window wall was the biggest reconstruction job. In its model life this building must have been a crack-house where the owners engaged in a fierce firefight with local police :-) although in its real life the reasons for its burned out back stairwell were probably less dramatic: I suspect kids tried to blow it up with firecrackers. The stairwell itself was unrepairable, so I simply painted it flat black. One of the stairwell sidewalls was missing so I built a new one from styrene pieces using the remaining one as a template. The stairwell’s exterior facing wall was cut from some clear plastic that had an embossed block pattern. I tried to paint a few blocks free-hand to add to the sixties feel of the place, but I thought too highly of my skills, and the result is rather shaky :-(
[This is the new staircase wall before painting.]
The front wall needed new main doors and an overhead window. The doors are cut from 0.010 inch styrene and bonded to a piece of clear plastic that forms both the door glass and the overhead window. The door handles are thin slivers of 0.010 inch styrene bent to shape. The finished door unit isn’t too bad, but doesn’t have a lot of relief. One day I’ll get the hang of making these types of doors. I suspect one of those 3-D printers might be rather good at making these things.
[Here's the new wall installed.]
The base was more or less completely cut away so that only the foundation was left. On the front wall I then added a large lower step to the exterior entry staircase. It’s cut from 0.060 inch styrene. On the back wall I built some planters up against the facade and added a few steps up to the office door.
The building was finished up by painting the roof, replacing some missing window glazing, and then gluing on the roof. 
[The old front door and the new one before sanding and painting.]
Bingo: a somewhat worn, sixties-esque building that’s still providing work-a-day service of the streets of the LOL. It won’t be a post office in its new incarnation; maybe an acupuncturist’s clinic.  That reminds me,

An acupuncturist and a porcupine walk into a bar. They sit down together, and after a couple of drinks the acupuncturist leans over to the porcupine and says, “Buddy, you know the needles are supposed to go into the patient?”

Ok. Well, as Debra has often told me, I shouldn’t give up my day job for the comedy club circuit anytime soon!


  1. This one has a great sixties vibe, JD! I like the idea of a "Breaking Bad" firefight on the stair too, and I love your last "mood" shot...great post.

    1. Thanks Iain! I still see a few of these 'coloured panelled' buildings around Ontario that were built in the '60s. So when I stumbled across this one on a re-sale table I knew I had to buy it even though it was in pretty bad shape - worse than I originally thought once I started taking is apart. A few of the real-life examples have 'W' roofs and I'm hoping I can try my hand at one of those.