[The log church described in E. L. Moore's unpublished article, The Little Church on the Hill. Photo published with permission of Model Railroader magazine / Model Railroader.com]
E. L. Moore submitted The Little Church on the Hill to Model Railroader on 22 March 1964. He got a reply back from Associate Editor Bill Rau on 8 April '64 that they'd be glad to buy it for $40. And that was the last that was seen of that article - until now.
The article describes how to build two versions of one plan: one with log siding, and the other with clapboard. I saw the clapboard version back at the 2015 meet-up, but the log-sided version may be lost. You'll notice that the clapboard church and the schoolhouse are almost identical. Like the church, the schoolhouse article wasn't published either.
A wintery scene showing the log church as seen from the portal of a covered bridge. The snow is baking soda.
by E. L. MOORE
Published with permission of Model Railroader magazine / Model Railroader.com
Published with permission of Model Railroader magazine / Model Railroader.com
While we generally associate log churches with pioneer times, there are quite a few contemporary churches built of logs. Rockwood, Maine has one and a photograph of it recently appeared in a Saturday Evening Post article. I've incorporated some of its features in my church.
So it seems a little church of this type might be adapted to almost any village of the twentieth century. As with many structures, I've built two such churches which accounts for the slight differences shown in the photographs accompanying this article. The unassembled parts and the interior photograph was taken of one which I made and gave away. Later, I built one for myself and made two or three slight changes such as in the shape of the window openings, the vertical logs in the front and a lighter exterior finish which is more befitting a contemporary church and which is portrayed in the exterior photographs.
Same plan... one a log church, the other a conventional church, either one fitting in a space of 2 1/2 inches by 5 inches in HO.
And if you prefer a church with conventional siding, you can -- with the few exceptions as will be noted -- use the same plans and construction procedures. Below is listed the materials for either type church.
6" 1/8" sheet balsa for foundation or base
6" 3/32" sheet balsa for floor overlay, steps, etc.
10" 1/16" sheet balsa for roof
10" 1/32" sheet balsa for shingle overlay
14"* 1/8" sheet balsa for sides, ends, chimney (if building log church)
10"** 1/16" commercial siding (for conventional church)
Acetate for 7 windows
Construction procedures will be based,initially on the log church, but immediately following each step there will be a notation calling attention to any differences in either dimensions or manner of construction. The floor plan below is the size the foundation is to be cut from your 1/8" balsa, or 17' x 31', including the 6" projections at each corner. (In the conventional church, the foundation is 16' x 29', but the floor overlay is the same for both and all the interior detailing is applicable to both.) The floor overlay, which is 15' x 28', is cut from 3/32" balsa, centered and cemented to the foundation. Scribe this, stain lightly and shellac or varnish.
Now to such detailing as goes with the floor. At the front, two thicknesses of 3/32" balsa are cemented together to form the pulpit and steps leading up to the door in front. The pulpit railing is of narrow spaced sheathing, 3 1/2' high and is cemented to the floor and edges of the pulpit. The lectern, which holds the Bible, is a bit of the same material, 3 1/2' high, cemented to the railing and has a flat top 18" x 21". The open Bible is 15" x 18" and has a black paper cover and leaves cut from a stamp book. The communion railing is 2 1/2' high and 10' long.
Showing the interior detailing of the church with fireplace built into one end.
I think, too, I've solved a couple of problems for the incoming pastor. First, having to pass right under his nose, the members are more than likely to be on time and, once in, not likely to get up and walk out early. Secondly, with a good hot fire in the rear, the sinners will have to sit up front to be reasonably comfortable, and there he can have a good go at them.
Now the sides in the log version are 13' x 31' are to be cut from 1/8" balsa. Scribing the inside walls into 12" board widths will add to the looks. Scribe the outside into 15" divisions, beginning at the bottom. With a razor blade, make a V cut down each scribed line, 3" or so in depth and round the surfaces to represent individual peeled logs. The location of the windows is shown in the floor plan. The window openings, beginning 2 1/4" up from the bottom are 3' wide to a height of 7', then come to a peak at 9'. Frame each window with 3" x 12" balsa (1/32" x 1/8" for HO) which will then leave an opening 2 1/2" wide. Inside this go other 3' x 6' balsa strips, flush with the inner side of the wall and against these the windows are cemented. The front view drawing above shows the end window as an example of size and shape.
Sides for the conventional church are cut 12 3/4' x 28' from your siding. I used 1/16" Northeastern clapboard 3/64" spacing. The 12 3/4' width instead of 13' enables you to get two sides from one width of siding which comes 25 1/2'. Onto each end of each wall, cement 1/16" square strips of 12 3/4' long stripwood for corners. And of course you'll need to use narrower strips in framing your windows.
Making the windows is quite easy. I used clear sheet film, first drawing in detail with black in on white paper, then fastening film over this, giving it a slight rub with a touch of scouring powder to give the surface tooth, then using white ink, pen and ruler. Paint window opening and trim white, then cement in windows.
One other thing and we shall be finished with the sides for the time being. We'll need to add the log ends, the butts that look as though they are an extension of the logs used across the ends of the structure. For this, cut from 1/16" balsa, two strips for each side, 12' wide and 13' long and cement vertically 6" in from each end. The with a razor blade, carve these to look like individual log ends.
The ends are cut from 1/8" balsa, 15' wide, 13' high at the eaves and 20 1/2' at the peak. In scribing the logs for the ends, make the first line just 7 1/2" from the bottom edge and go on from there with your 15" divisions as end logs and side logs do not lie at the same level. Taking the rear wall first, shape the logs all the way to the top and then fit chimney to it. The chimney is built by cementing 3 pieces cut from 1/8" balsa, 7' x 25', then shaping it to size and dimensions as shown in the drawing. With a sharp pencil, work in irregularly shaped stone, follow with a gray wash, then color random rocks in pastel shades. Note particularly that chimney, when cemented to end, drops 12' below bottom edge; it will rest even with bottom of foundation when assembled.
On the inside we'll need a fireplace, 5' high, 10' wide, with a depth of 24' and with a 4' x 7' opening. I extended this opening, although smaller, right on through the wall and into the chimney so that I could replace a burned out bulb from up through the bottom. I used orange paper across the opening, cut to simulate flames, with dashes of red paint added. Above the mantel, I cemented a 5' x 10' cross of stripwood, mortised together and painted white. A similar one is place on the front wall.
The front end gets a slightly different log treatment. Logs go in the usual manner up to about twelve feet, or just above the window peak. Above that, narrower logs of 12" are worked in vertically. The door opening is cut 3 1/2' x 8', is set up 2" from the bottom edge of wall and is framed with 3" x 12" balsa. I made two doors, two thicknesses anyway, of scribed sheathing and installed them back to back, the inside surface a deep cherry red and the outside a white. A small pin head does for a knob. Complete the one end window and you can assemble and cement sides and ends around the floor.
Ends for the conventional church are of the same dimensions as specified above, but of course you can eliminate the fireplace and chimney.
The front stoop which becomes a sort of portico, requires 3/32" balsa, the bottom piece ("C" in the floor plan) is 6 1/2' x 9 1/2' with the next three pieces above it successively 9" narrower, cemented together until you have a stoop 4 1/4' x 9 1/2' with three steps leading up. Cement this against the front as shown. On each side a row of four 12' logs support the roof. Cut these 4' x 9 1/2' from 1/8" balsa, shape to simulate individual logs, then cement to stoop. Add a stringer of balsa, 6" x 12" x 4 1/2" at top of each, then a similar one 9' long across the front, after which we're ready to add the roof. One side of this roof will be 8' x 5', the other 8 1/2' x 5', cut from 1/16" balsa, the narrower butted against the wider at the peak. Place at angle shown in drawing, which will necessitate shaving outside edges of timbers we have just place, then cement in position. Add a shingle overlay of 1/32" balsa leaving a slight overhang at eaves and front. We'll describe the method of working in shingles later. Into the open gable end, fit a triangle of 1/8" balsa and work in narrow vertical logs.
The same measurements apply for stoop of conventional church, but with siding replacing logs on each side of the door and at gable above.
Now for the main roof, one side of which is 14' x 33 1/2' and the other 14 1/2' x 33 1/2', the narrower to be butted against the wider one. First thing you'll need to do before fitting together is to shave down the outside upper edges of the side walls to conform with the slope of the ends. Cut out roof halves to fit around chimney, then cement along ridge line and hold in place until the glue sets. Turn over and cement in three triangular pieces cut from 1/8" balsa, two sides of which are approximately 10' and the other 14', but taking the end as a pattern for accuracy. Next comes the shingle overlay of 1/32" balsa, letting it overhang slightly at ends and eaves. This must be used with the grain running from peak to eaves. When cemented to the roof base mark into 12" horizontal divisions, beginning at peak, then with straight edge and razor blade, make light cuts across just deep enough to cut the top fibers of the wood and pave the way for a follow-up with a sharp pencil. Pencil lines deeply, then along all except the peak row which is the ridgeboard, make vertical divisions from 3" to 12" wide to represent individual shingles. This makes a neat shingle roof, second only to the job done with an electric burning pen which depresses the upper edge of each row of shingles and gives a bit more realism. You can, of course, if you like it, use printed shingle paper.
For the conventional church, due to thinner walls, the roof sides, cut from 1/16" balsa, are 13 1/2' x 32' and 14' x 32'.
Next comes the steeple. It is square, each side being 5' x 7 1/2', cut from 3/32" balsa, front and rear cut out to fit roof peak, then the corners mitered and sides added. Carve small vertical simulated logs and cut out 3' x 3' opening in each side. For the bell, use a round piece of soft wood about 2 1/2' in diameter and shape it as shown in the drawing. You can carve and sand it easier if you leave it attached so you'll have a handle until you get it shaped, then cut it loose. Insert a pinhead to show as slapper, paint dark gray or black and burnish with powdered graphite to give a metallic luster. Cement top to center of 1/8" piece of balsa, 3 1/2; x 3 1/2' and fit into top of belfry.
I would suggest, due to brittleness of siding, to first drill small holes along the lines of your intended cut or opening and perhaps making the opening no more than 2 1/2' square, then sand to shape. This, of course, is applicable only to the conventional church where you must use commercial siding. While balsa splits easily, it can usually be cemented back together for even greater strength.
The steeple roof isn't as difficult as it may look, but it is largely a cut, fit and try preposition, so the dimensions given may require some slight altering. The smaller triangle in the drawings, with a base of 5' and 5' height, is cut from 1/16" balsa, four such sides will be needed. Miter and join and you will have a small pyramid. The larger triangle with 6' base and 6' height is cut from 1/32" balsa, four sides required, which are mitered and cemented over your small pyramid as a shingle overlay. The finished roof should then fit down over the belfry like a hat with a downturned brim.
Showing the log church before assembling. This particular church was mounted on a larger green base, being intended for a mantel-piece gift.
For the conventional church, there is just one more little item, a chimney. I made this of balsa 2 1/2' x 2 1/2' by 9' high. When fitted to the slope of the side roof, the upper side is only about 6' high. With a razor blade and pencil, work in the bricks, cement to side of roof about midway the length. Paint chimney and foundation boxcar red. Naturally the church is white, but I gave mine a bright red front door. I can give you the exact time it took me to build the conventional church, without the interior detailing. I've never been able to time myself before but this took me ten hours, split up over four days.
You could also build and install a simple altar which the pulpit needs. You can experiment with food colors that can be bought at any market and have stained windows in your church. And that about concludes the sermon for today.
I've been going through some old family bibles and came across this newspaper clipping glued to the inside back cover of a bible that an ancestor of mine acquired in 1887.
It's a drawing of the workings of a primeval steam engine. It seemed odd that such a clipping would be glued into a bible. I tried to see if the interest was in some other part of the clipping, but no, the steam engine seemed to be the centre of interest. Maybe my interest in trains is genetic. I wonder if 23-and-me has a test for that :-)
The typewritten note on the other side discusses a Mr. John Critchley Prince and his writing of 2 hymns to commemorate the laying of the foundation of the Blackburn Infirmary. Although I'm not related to Mr. Prince, my ancestors did live for a long time in Blackburn, England. I'm curious as to why this event and Mr. Prince are noted in such a formal way in this family bible.