As I’ve written about recently, I have been working on the small portion of 219 Dufferin Street, the former Canadian General Electric tungsten light factory that makes it onto my layout. There are times I wish I was getting more of all my structures onto the layout because they all look so great, but then I remember that I am scratch-building everything, and only having small parts of buildings makes doing so achievable (its also all that fits on my 14″ wide benchwork!!).
This building is a real standout, lots of different windows and brickwork patterns. In order to create some of the trim on the ends of the boiler house, I decided to make a bunch of masters using 0.020×0.080 styrene strips, and some brick sheet to create the stepped/smooth details. Once I’d made up a dozen, I cast a couple of molds, and cast them in resin. I made two molds as my first one didn’t set great, so I made a second. This was a good call, between the two molds of the 12 master parts, I was probably getting about 15 good parts, considering I needed around 40, that meant three runs of casting. I made an alignment jig from some styrene to aid in installing them, and getting the spacing right.
I wanted to come back to my wall cores that I am cutting with my Cricut. I am, intentionally leaving window openings a bit small when I am drawing them, this means, when the walls are cut, the windows don’t fit. The reason for this, is that the Cricut cuts are not 100% perfect, its much better and easier to make a window opening bigger, than to create material and make it smaller. Once I have the cores together, I take the windows and a fine sharpie, and trace out where I need to carefully trim away material to get the opening. As always, smart work dictates that the openings should always be too small when working with a knife, so that they can be filed to finished size and not made too big. This is of course, a slow process as you near the end, as you want to only just take enough material away. That said, for me at least, its inevitable that some openings or parts of them are not perfect. This inevitably means at the end of a walls construction, there is some filling with putty from the back to close in gaps and make sure there are not tiny dots of light escaping around the windows.
Casting brick details for the tops of the short walls, and showing how I trim out the undersized openings cut by the Cricut in the wall cores.
Once all the many steps of building the walls were done in adding layers of brickwork and detail, I got them assembled and mounted to the base. I built the building in two parts, the main factory end and side walls, and the boiler house wals that are closest to the tracks. Once the two sub assemblies were done, I installed the boiler house at the front edge of the base styrene, and then worked to butt the factory up against it. Filling gaps at the rear against the backdrop is easier than filling a gap at the front which is more visible.
With the walls assembled, the past big part to build is the stone base of the chimney. The chimney is octagonal, and after much searching a couple of years ago, I found a Cibolo Crossing hydrocal chimney. It is a solid part, and rather than trying to cut it to size as its too tall, I designed the square base of the chimney to act as a drop in hide so I could get the height I wanted. This meant though, that I couldn’t just fasten the chimney to a flat base. To make the stone surround, I layered 3 squares of 0.040″ styrene sheet off cuts from building structures, and traced out the octagonal base. I then took my calipers and measured the diameter of the chimney at the height of the base. With that, I then traced a second octagon using the smaller dimension. This would be my cutout to create a slide down frame. To cut this out, I first drilled holes at the corners of the octagon, and a centre point. With the centre point, I drilled out a 1″ hole using a spade bit on slow speed. Once that big chunk was out, using a flat blade in an xacto handle, I started to trim away to my inner cut lines. Leaving the hole small, I started test fitting. As it got it close to size and sliding down to where it needed to be, I switched from cutting to sanding, and using files and sanding sticks, got the opening to size, and flared the underside so the opening was slightly larger at the bottom to make a tight fit on chimney. With it sliding into place, it is now good to go for painting. For now, the base and chimney are being left separate, as they will be painted differently from the rest of the building, and frankly, the weight of the solid cast chimney actually makes the building unwieldy to manoeuvre on the bench.
The Cibolo Crossing cast hydroal chimney is too tall, so I need to make a piece to cover the square part of the chimney as a “base”. Marking, cutting and fitting a layered bock of 0.040″ styrene. Need to spend some time sanding and cleaning up the layers around the edges!
I like going back and forth from the bench to the layout as I scratch-build structures. It helps me see if I am staying in the size of the space, and if I am happy with the look and feel of the building as it comes together. After weeks of work, actually putting all the parts together for the first time and seeing how it looks, is a really rewarding feeling. It makes the hours and the mistakes and the swearing at the mistakes worth it to see something that you have spent all this time on actually sitting on the layout, and looking like you had planner when you started.
All together in position, nothing helping to hold it up. The roof and skylights are separate pieces to allow for painting, and access to install windows after painting.
The building is not quite ready for the paint booth, but that’s ok, as this is another building along with Hinde and Dauch that is too big for my indoor spray booth. I can’t actually get a go on with painting this until the spring, and given March is coming in like a Lion in 2023 with all the snow after a light start to winter, it could be a while before I’m painting it, but getting this large structure off my workbench frees up room for some other projects and work, and raises questions about how on earth I am going to build the biggest structure on my layout in the Gillett Castle of 135 Fraser Avenue. Its 3 feet long, I may have to figure out somewhere else in the house to do the assembly, but since that is likely the last structure to be built, that’s definitely not a today problem!