Saturday, November 7, 2015

HOJPOJ Reno: Making a start

I hummed-and-hawed for awhile trying to figure out where best to start, couldn't decide, so I just jumped to the most irritating part: getting the dent out of the boiler room roof.
I had to cut through the paper bottom, and then on through a section of internal balsa floor to open up access to the roof. 
A sharp drill bit was used to make some starter holes in the balsa, and then these were opened up with an xacto knife. I then used sticks, tweezers, the handle end of the knife, and my little finger to push the dent in the roof back into place. I learned a lesson in care and patience while doing this. A one point I pushed a little too hard and almost opened up another hole! I eventually realized I’d never get the dent completely restored because the roof’s balsa substrate was both crushed and torn as well as pushed out of place. It could never be uncrushed or untorn. The materials on this thing are about 50 years old, and are quite dry and brittle. Ok, not completely brittle, but they break under less pressure than can be applied to new materials. The paper, paint and glue used to make and attach the simulated metal panels are dry and aged too, and can easily be broken and scraped if handled indelicately. I’ve learned some lessons in handling this building gingerly so not as to further damage its finishes. 
The upshot was I pushed the dent out as much as I dared until it wasn’t so noticeable.
From a distance, what remains of the dent doesn't seem too bad. After that work was finished, I moved on to something dead easy: regluing the little smokestack back in place on the boiler-room side-wall. I should note that all gluing on this project was done with Micro Krystal Klear.

Regluing the green dust collector back in place was easy; however, the one on the far end of the building was tougher. It looked like someone had attempted a repair on that one in the past and had inaccurately reattached the dust collector to its frame so that wouldn’t line up with the pipes that had to be reconnected. I had to carefully free the dust collector from its frame before I could proceed. 
The frame was then glued to its location on the roof –without the dust collector – and after it was dry, it was easy to reglue the collector’s free pipe back into the wall and get the collector to sit properly in the frame. 
All that remains is to make a new elbow to replace the missing one so the vertical pipe can be reattached.
In parallel, I started work on the diorama. The base is a 20 inch by 20 inch birch art panel. These are a good price at $12, and I've found them to be dimensionally stable.
There's plenty of recessed space on the flip-side for wiring.
The panel was painted with some student grade acrylic paint. The top was done in burnt umber and the back was painted with black. That's a length of Peco track off to the side that's going to be used as the HOJPOJ siding.
Natural materials were used as the first texture layer on the panel. First I sieved some sand that I had collected in the summer. This gets all the large, 'non-scale' debris out and leaves the fine sand grains.
When Debra and I were emptying the outside flower pots for winter, I scooped up some dark, dry soil for use on this project. That too had to be sieved.
When the sieving was done and the dust had settled, there were two bags of material ready for gluing to the board. A little bit of darker Woodland Scenics material was also tossed into the mix when the gluing action was happening in order to give a little more variation.
White glue was brushed on the panel and the material was dropped on and patted down. Once dry, the excess was cleared off and another round of covering the bare portions was kicked off. There were a few rounds and eventually the panel was covered in an even layer of ground material.
Most of this will end up covered in grass, weeds, ballast and bushes, but it provides a layer of texture where there's exposed ground.

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