Wednesday, February 15, 2017

House hunting

[Soon after construction in late summer 1957]

Last year I read Michael Paul Smith's books Elgin Park: An Ideal American Town and Elgin Park: Visual Memories of Midcentury America at 1/24 Scale (he also has a great Flicker site). One of his projects was a 1/24 scale model of his childhood home. I started to toy with the idea of building a model of the house I grew up in and set about drawing up some 1/24 scale plans. It turned out to be tougher than I thought as I only had a collection of photos and my memories. 
I started with the garage plan since the doors are standardized and I clearly recall how small it was because we had to make sure not to bang the car doors against the walls - especially with a big Chevy my father once owned. I had built a 1/24 plastic model of a 1970 Chevy Impala many years ago and it helped me figure out the plan. From there I worked on the garage elevation. I then used the garage as a reference to figure out the sizes of the rest of the house's components. After several weeks of a few minutes here and a few minutes there, I finally had a plan and elevations in 1/24 scale.
[Believe it or not, there is a floor plan and set of elevations on that taped together piece of tracing paper. There were a lot of iterations and I traced new ones from old ones. I need to ink the pencil lines.]

For an average-sized house, it was going to be a big 1/24 scale model. Too big really. I'd have no place to display or store it. And it would likely take at least a year of spare time to build. I didn't do anything, but now I think I might give it a try in HO. 
[The external walls are up and the roof's on. On to the interior.]

I find modelling brick and stone intimidating, and try to avoid it. On the movie store model I stuck on a photo of the facade's stone work, but that didn't look too convincing. 
[E. L. Moore carved stonework in balsa as with this chimney, but I think his technique looks better on rustic buildings. Photo by E. L. Moore.]

On this model the cut stone work on the front wall will be a major feature, so I'm going to have a go at carving the stones in card or styrene or foam. I'm doing a lot of reading on this, and need to practice a few to see what I can do that'll seem credible and not drive me insane. 
[With the walls nearing completion, and the roof still not started, you can get a sense of how these bungalows were built in late '50s Toronto.]

The model won't have a finished interior, but I plan to include the internal partitions and have a removable roof. I suspect the hip roof will give me gas pains too, but I figure once I've learned how to build one, it'll be easier when I tackle other suburban homes because a streetcar layout needs houses. There weren't and aren't any streetcars running in this end of Toronto, but the TTC did and does run buses there - that was one of the selling points in those days because at the time this part of Scarborough was Toronto's hinterland.

10 comments:

  1. My N scale model of my boyhood home gave me the most satisfaction of all my scratchbuilds. I gave it to my parents and they love showing it off. Photos of it are in my Facebook page.

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    1. I'll go take a look. I'm hoping to learn a few new things from this project as well as taking a walk down memory lane.

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  2. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=439474471488&set=a.439473746488.197394.781161488&type=3&theater

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  3. When I painted the interior black (as I often do), it was actually DISTURBING. It looked as if my parents' house had had a bad fire! That all got shut up when I sealed on the roof, but you may want to go that further step and detail the interior with a removable roof. If I ever remake that model, I'll use a few computer-helped glue-ons and make a full interior. Just some suggestions.

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    1. That's a good idea. On this house the roof will fit on like a lid on a box, so it'll likely be easy to make it removable. This house had a hatch in the ceiling to gain access to the inside of the roof, but I hesitate to call it an attic as other than storing a few odds-and-ends that could withstand extremes of heat an cold, it wasn't useable space.

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  4. I also had some similar rooflines as yours. I found it easiest to rough in the roof pieces, cut and fit, then make templates for the asphalt roof shingle paper. I got the shingle paper close and used pre-folded (then cut and lined) shingle strips on all the roof seams. Make the roof solid on the bottom if you can; most houses have covered eave bottoms-- and that will help you align it better so the roof doesn't tip to one side or have gaps underneath.

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  5. The ridge strips (paper) really covered up any ill-fitting seams on my model. It took away the fear of bad-fitting pieces. For gutters, I angle-cut some balsa, then cut that into thin strips, painted the top black, sides and bottoms white. N scale, mind you. There might be better ways but I like it solid.

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    1. Thanks for the tips. Right now I'm scrounging through my scrap box looking for material to build the foundation and main floor.

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