The On-Line Magazine of Rideable Model Railroading

  NUMBER 140


© November 01, 2009   

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Story and a half Farm House

1/8th Scale trackside structure


Written by Laurence Johnson

This house was built by my wife’s father during the early 1920’s before he married her mother. It is my wife’s birth place and home; it has quite a bit of sentimental value. After I built a scale barn as trackside decoration in the side yard of our home layout she asked me if I was planning on building a farmhouse. Sure, but I didn’t have a clue what to build until she asked me to model her home. The farm is still in the family as her brother and sister-in-law still live in a house next door.
I took several photographs of the house and measured the overall sizes of things and then set down at my CAD drafting board and came up with a set of plans. Late last summer I started cutting out the side walls and roof panels from 3/8 green treat plywood. I also purchased some green treat 1 x 4’s as well. I drew the walls and cut them to shape and then drew in the window and door locations and outlines. I ripped some of the 1 x 4’s into 1/8” x 1/4” strips to make the door and window frames. I also set up my table saw and ripped the siding boards into 1/8” at the top with 3/8” at the bottom by 3/4” tall strips.

The window and door strips were glued, with liquid nails, and wire nailed to the walls and then painted green. This was quite a memory trip for my wife — she tells me of the times, as she was growing up, she would paint the trim green and her father would paint the house white. Her brother who had problems with height only painted what he could reach while standing on the ground. She was up on the ladder or standing on the roof to paint windows and trim.

Then the strips of siding were glued and nailed in place and then painted white. Everything was given two coats of paint. Somewhere during this time I was asked how I was going to make the windows light up! Now I hadn’t planed on that, originally anyway. Now that things were fastened to the plywood and painted, it is a bit complicated and I really did not want to be cutting square and rectangular holes from the back to meld into and fit the window and door framed openings.

So we painted the window space white several times, and then I drilled as large a hole as I had hole saws for in the window and door openings to allow for “lighted glazing”.

I miter cut the wall at each corner using a hand circle saw being careful to cut from the bottom up so as to not break the bottom edges of the siding boards. A 2 x 4 frame of green treat wood was glued and screwed at the bottom of the walls, 2 x 2 braces at the corners were glued and wire nailed in place and 1 x 4 gussets were also glued and screwed into the corners making sure both diagonals were within 1/8” of each other. That turned out to be quite a stiff assembly. This picture on the left shows the house at this stage. The unfinished and unpainted plywood is the front of the house and will have brick applied later. The gap in the front right is for the front pouch.
This picture shows the front porch walls with window and door frames and siding and everything with the first primer coat. We used white water based paint throughout and enamel based paint for the green trim. The inside of the house and both sides of the roofing panels were painted white also. This was to weather seal everything as well as to enhance the light reflectivity for the window and
door holes.

This photo shows extra 2 x 4 and 2 x 2 braces that have been glued and wire nailed into place; not shown is a 2 x 4 with two 4” electrical boxes screwed, front to back, into place and light bulb fixtures wired in and screwed onto the tops of the boxes; what you can see is the electrical wire with a plug wired onto its end.

I ripsawed the window glazing to width and Janet band sawed the strips to length and then we fastened them in place with a dob of white sealant at each corner and mid point on each side. I feel this “gluing” system will be best when it comes to later on replacing the glazing that will be damaged due to lawn mowing accidents.

Janet found some (yes, I know it is 1/4” = 1’ scale) plastic sheets of brick that she fitted around the windows and glued in place. She liked the looks and that is all that is important for me. I’m glad she took on that chore as my thumbs are too large for that detailed work.

The lower sides of the outside walls and the cement portions of the front porch were given several coats of concrete sealing paint we had on hand; it was a good looking color and had a bit of sand in it to give a concrete look.

We laid out a squared portion of side yard and
covered the grass with black plastic and an inch or so of pea gravel and set the house in place; temporarily fastening the roof panels in place and connected in the lights with an extension cord from the house — that evening proved our guesses were correct for using 40 watt florescent twisty light bulbs. I had run electrical service to this portion of the yard before I had laid the track knowing I could use it for something and the something is now a house. I buried it under the house, brought it up and connected the stub wire and taped it all up. There is enough free wire to allow the house to be tipped up to change the bulbs when needed.
These photos were  taken about 8:15 or later in the evening and this time of the year here in northern Illinois it is late dusk. With some photo  editing using Adobe Photoshop software, these photos show the lights in the house very well. You can also get a good perspective of how things fit with the barn in the background.

The trees and shrubs are also a copy of home.

Written by Laurence Johnson



Laurence Johnson is the author of the series "CAD Drawings for the Live Steam Hobby"
This and other scale trackside structure plans in 1/8 scale
are available in the first CD by Laurence Johnson

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