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This site, if you sit too long with it without adding anything, times out. The text will upload, but the images will not. I did the first two, watched a few hours of streaming television. When I got back to it I added the remainder of the images which did upload. Always aiming to satisfy my loyal readers, here are the two missing images.

The solder applied to the LED locations at the 1mm gap.

NHH Preparing Tape for LEDs

Solder applied at the power lead connection points.

NHH Solder Prep for Power Leads

Had a dentist appointment… look ma, no cavities. A cardiologist appointment… AFib is there, doing fine and keep doing what I'm doing. And a haircut. Needless to say had about five minutes in the shop. I did get the 3rd floor plate cut in half and cemented the added lip to engage the other half, and that was it. Tomorrow will be more productive.


Images (2)
  • NHH Preparing Tape for LEDs
  • NHH Solder Prep for Power Leads

Thank you all for reading this (for over 10 years, I might add). It's amazing how much work you can get done when you have an entire afternoon. I got a lot done today. But first, a word about what makes my working in the shop even more fun. My 15 year-old iPod finally gave up the ghost. I had it sitting on a JBL sound ring that gave decent frequency response. Of course when I was in other parts of the shop, I couldn't hear it very well.

With the iPod dead, I was going to buy a blue-tooth speaker so I could play tunes out of my iPhone. My wife suggested using my AirPod Pros that I have. I had thought she wouldn't want me to be isolated with sound-cancelling pods in my ears if she wanted to call me. But, she could always message or phone me. She said, we have them, you should use them.

Well… the sound is terrific. Since my phone is always with me, I get music throughout the entire shop and layout room which is quite large. I'm telling you all this because a four hour work session runs the AirPods our of battery. That's how long the session was. You can get more time on them by putting them in the charging case for some minutes. The case can charge the AirPods for up to 24 hours.

I got the 3rd Floor supports done, the 2nd floor lighting done. The 3rd floor lighting done, the attic floor supports done. I got the roof done and roofing material installed. And I got the building's mortar applied

I wanted the floor supports to do double duty as visual breaks so you wouldn't look straight through the building. I'm not detailing any upper floor interiors. You can't see them and they take a lot of time and effort. But I am going to selectively light some areas to make it look "lived in". I chose some scrap plywood for the 3rd floor plates support since it will be structural and I didn't have any floor ledges on the perimeter like I did with the 2nd floor plates. I made a cross lap joint that positioned the bearing wall so it cleared all the side windows. The notches are wire clearance spaces so they don't get pinched.

NHH 2nd Floor Partition Lap Joint

The cross-lap fit was so tight I didn't need any glue. Here it is in place on the 2nd floor plates. Nothing glued. I measured these wall heights with the 3rd floor plate in position, marked the wall, and transfered that measurement to the plywood. I scribed the ply with a digital calipers set to that height. I cut them on the scroll saw and trued up the edges on the wide belt sander.

NHH 2nd Floor Partitions

I chose to light one room in the back right side and one in the front left side. I marked these locations on the underside and noted by arrows which direction the leads had to head to get to the proper place to go downstairs. (inside the blue highlights).

NHH 2nd Flr Lighting Plan

These circuits went in nicely. The 3rd floor plates fit in nicely and are level. With the new "Split floor method" there was no need to cut all those relief cuts to clear the window trimming.

NHH 3rd Floor Plate Final Fit

The 3rd floor partitions ARE NOT load bearing since the roof has floor ledges surrounding the perimeter. I was able to use styrene sheet to do this that serve just as light blocks. I used the styrene left over from the laser-cut floors that I'm not using. Again, it's a cross lap, but in this case, I use score-and-snap methods to cut all the pieces and the cross-lap. Since the cross-section was so thin, I added 1/4" sq. stock to aid in glue up and add stability.

NHH 3rd Flr Patitiions

The 3rd floor lighting followed the same method as the other with a different room spacing to add interest.

NHH 3rd Flr Lighting

Notice the yellow electrical tape on the power leads above. I'm identifying each LED circuit with color-coded electrical tape. I can only have three LEDs per circuit with my 12 VDC power supplies and each set needs its own CL2N3 LED driver chip. When all the circuits come down below, I'll need to be able to differentiate them. The colored tape did the trick.

The roof plates are also made from that left over styrene. I measured their width and length directly from the model with the attic plate in place. I then made roof "trusses" to hold its shape separate from the laser-cut trusses I previously epoxied in place. I did this because I'm not sure how I'm going to fasten the roof proper to the truss system. When the plates are on, the trusses are buried and I'm not sure how the adhesive will work. This way, the roof is a separate assembly that may be able to not be glued at all. I sanded the peak edges so they mated better, added 1/4" sq. reinforcements and ultimately (not shown) added thin sytrene sheet stock to reinforce that peak joint.

NHH Roof Supports

Here's the roof fitted in place.

NHH Roof Fitup

Here's the eaves overhang at the rear.

NHH Eave Overhang

For roof covering, I went contemporary using vinyl sheet roofing as I did with the engine house. This is not far fetched. Google Earth photos of the building show a white roof and it very well could be a Duralast vinyl membrane. And believe it or not, I just noticed that this building has four chimneys, not two. It's hard to see them on the right side due to the proximity to that lovely 2nd Empire structure next door.

Screenshot 2023-05-03 at 6.45.51 PM

I used white duct tape to do the roofing. It's already 2" wide so it's a good size to just use straight off the role. I have to cut the holes for the chimney. I can print two more chimneys. Not a problem.

NHH Roofing Matl Applied

The white interior trusses show up through the roudel window in the pediment. I airbrushed all the front facing surfaces of these trusses a flat brown. This is now what you see when looking inside. Again, with the window in place, you won't see much. The attic will not be illuminated.

NHH Roof Trusses Painted

It was finally time to attack the mortar lines. Unlike my past brick buildings, instead of using joint compound and scraping off with a single-edges razor blade, I chose to try something new. I'm using Bragdon Enterprises mortar-colored weathering power. This is basically very finely ground chalk. I tried it first on the chimneys and corner thingys, and was very pleased with the results. You liberally apply it with a brush and then I wiped off the excess with a cosmetic sponge.

NHH Bragdon Chalk Mortar

I had no excuses left to proscrastinate any longer so I just dove right in. I did the front face first (probably should have done it last when I had more experience), and found that after brushing it on, rubbing it in with a nitrile-gloved finger set the powder into the more lines better. I did find that the acrylic laser-engraving was deeper and more defined than the styrene  laser-engraved parts in the upper front. The styrene did not hold the powder well at all, and frankly, wouldn't have held joint compound either. Not sure what I can or should do with this area.

This is mortaring in process.

NHH Applying Mortar

And here's the wall wiped and finished. Looks pretty good in my estimation. In areas that had a lot of powder I used my airbrush without paint to remove it.

NHH Rt Side Mortar done

And here are two shots showing all four sides.

NHH Mortar Done 1

The corner seams will be partially obscured by the downspouts.

NHH Mortar Done 2

I don't know what I should do at this point. While it may benefit from a flat fixative spray, that may actually destroy the effect. I really can stay the way it is. Any thoughts?

So there you have it. Four hours of progress...


Images (17)
  • NHH 2nd Floor Partition Lap Joint
  • NHH 2nd Floor Partitions
  • NHH 2nd Flr Lighting Plan
  • NHH 3rd Floor Plate Final Fit
  • NHH 3rd Flr Patitiions
  • NHH 3rd Flr Lighting
  • NHH Roof Supports
  • NHH Roof Fitup
  • NHH Eave Overhang
  • Screenshot 2023-05-03 at 6.45.51 PM
  • NHH Roofing Matl Applied
  • NHH Roof Trusses Painted
  • NHH Bragdon Chalk Mortar
  • NHH Applying Mortar
  • NHH Rt Side Mortar done
  • NHH Mortar Done 1
  • NHH Mortar Done 2

I’ll say you got a lot done!  I had missed that it has a peaked roof.  The work on the floors and room dividers is well worth reading!  
I have seen these white roofs for some time, but never knew what they were.  Duralast vinyl membrane.  When I used chalk for mortar, I didn’t spray any clear coat over it.  Pat has a good suggestion on that topic.

I took your advice (and that or Joel Bragdon at Bragdon Enterprises) and ran a test. I sprayed half of the test article with Dullcoat. The results speak for themselves.

NHH Mortar Seal Test

I'm not going to coat it with anything.

Spent a lot of time today installing the chimneys. While using the Duct Tape was easy to apply. It was the exact opposite when I had to manipulated it when I wanted to install copper flashing around the chimneys. It's not my best work. It was much easier to pull this off when I was using the Rail Scale Victoria Shingles. First I had to cut the holes in the roof. I first tried just wearing my way through the thick styrene, but it wasn't working. I then tried the super-fine razor saw and a regular razor saw and was still not right. Finally I used an Xacto sword saw that can be started in a small hole. This worked pretty well. As usual, the first hole was where I gained all this insight and the second is the one that came out nicely. Yes… there are teeth on the straight side of that blade.

NHH 2nd Chimney Install

After fitting the chimneys I peeled back the roof coating around the holes and worked the copper tape into the areas around the chimney. It was a iterative process. After putting down the copper I had to fold it back along with the roofing material. I then glued the chimney in with med CA and accelerator which trying to keep it plumb. The first one was a little off plumb and again, the second one was perfect.

NHH Chimney Flashing and Corner Post

I also had to open the front corners to the corner thingys could settle down onto their bases.

Here are both

Im posting now so I don't lose the images. I'll be back.

I'm back after watching some shows. You can see a roofing patch that I made after messing up some of the duct tape when manipulating it to add the flashing.

NHH Chimneys Installed

I did another test to see if I could successfully place the store window decals on the back side of the glazing. The test was successful. Here are the results.

NHH Decal Test 1

I then applied, with some difficulty, the window decals on the insides of the windows. The decal over the transom at the apartment entrance is and image of that entire window including a hint of the light in the foyer and a reflection of the street tree in front of the store. I'm annoyed that my windows aren't pristine.

NHH Window Decals Applied

Last thing I did was build the large banner sign frame. I intended on making it entirely out of styrene, but did not have enough of the styrene square stock for the rim, so I substituted 1/16" sq. strip wood. To adhere wood to styrene required thin CA and accelerator. Behind is the large decal of the store with my town's name on it.

NHH The Banner Sign Build

I airbrushed it with Deep Green and let it dry overnight. Tomorrow I will gloss coat it, add the decal and airbrush a flat seal coat.

NHH Banner Sign Paint

I'll mount the sign when it's dry. I am now ready to start installing all the other windows. I've asked the store owner to take some more interior pictures looking down the rows in the main store, which I didn't get in my January photo shoot.


Images (15)
  • NHH Mortar Seal Test
  • NHH 2nd Chimney Install
  • NHH Chimney Flashing and Corner Post
  • NHH Chimneys Installed
  • NHH Chimneys Installed
  • NHH Decal Test 2
  • NHH Decal Test 1
  • NHH Decal Test 1
  • NHH Decal Test 2
  • NHH Window Decals Applied
  • NHH Window Decals Applied
  • NHH The Banner Sign Build
  • NHH The Banner Sign Build
  • NHH Banner Sign Paint
  • NHH Banner Sign Paint
Last edited by Trainman2001

Thanks to all. Another good session and this building is really coming along. All the windows and doors are in!

But first I put on those spiffy lintels. The hand painting really paid off. They're adhesive backed so the only challenge was to set them on aligned correctly. I noted this before when first posting about them that it was gratifying to see how nicely the upper ones aligned to their window openings and then joining one another, and that the translation from SketchUp to Coreldraw to laser cutting maintained that relationship perfectly.

NHH Lintels Installed

Next came the front windows. The way the windows go together, there is only 3M self-adhesive on the upper part of the frame since the glazing is stuck to it on the bottom sash. To make sure the windows stay in place I had to apply a coating of MicroSoft Pressure Sensitive Adhesive (PSA) to the bottom half of the inner rails. I carefully seated the windows and applied pressure so they would adhere well.

This shows the sticky and un-sticky parts of the window assemblies.

NHH Window Gluing Challenge

And this is where the PSA has to go to hold the bottom half of the sash to the inner mounting rails.

NHH Surface Needing PSA

Here's all the front windows installed. It went quick quickly.

NHH Front Windows In

I followed this plan around the entire buildiing. The rear doors also required two different adhesives. I used PSA to stick the glazing to the doors, and med. CA to hold the doors onto the inner rails. I applied a thin film of acccelerator to the exposed gluing edges of the doors so the med CA set quickly.

NHH Rear Door Gluing

Like the windows, the doors went together quickly without trouble. I painted the 3D printed door knobs with Testor's Gold Paint Pen. It's nice and bright that doesn't look like gold model paint.

NHH Rear Doors In

All that was left were the shutters. These had a considerable warp and I used the 3D transfer adhesive which pulled them flat (at least for now). I'll see how they hold up for the long haul and use CA if I need to secure them better.

NHH Shutters on

Here's an oblique view showing all those windows.

NHH All the Windows

I also gloss coated the banner sign, but it wasn't dry enough to apply the decal. That will wait until Monday.

Tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby. The Derby and events all during the two weeks leading up to it, are far more important to us Louisvillians than Christmas. Literally, the entire year is defined by Derby, either pre- or post-Derby. It's quite an experience. We used to babysit for our daughter's boys, but they're in college (one's graduating) so we don't do that any longer. We watch it on TV. Our daughter and son in law operate in a different social strata than we and get to go to a lot of parties.

Y'all have a nice weekend.


Images (8)
  • NHH Lintels Installed
  • NHH Window Gluing Challenge
  • NHH Surface Needing PSA
  • NHH Front Windows In
  • NHH Rear Door Gluing
  • NHH Rear Doors In
  • NHH Shutters on
  • NHH All the Windows

Thanks guys!

Happy Monday! Louisville survived the two-week Derby experience and the weather held off beautifully. It was an interesting race and people are getting worried about the number of thoroughbreds that died or had to be put down. Something's going on… They are very inbred animals and have a fragile skeletal structure especially in the lower limbs. You could put three race horses in one Clysdale.

Did some punch list work on the building's front; got the door knobs in, glazed the main doors, decaled the banner and installed it, and built the power board and its mounting.

I used some small brass nails for the door knobs. I chucked them in the Dremel and polished their heads, drilled the doors with a #55 drill, inserted them and secured them with a drop of thin CA.

I cut the decal (on white decal stock) and applied it. The left end started losing some of it's color due to water leaking under the clear coat. It also got further munged up. So I cut it off and used the second decal to splice in the repair. You can see the match line, but it's not too objectionable. I then clear coated with Dull Coat.

To install the banner I applied contact cement strips along the top and bottom edges in the back and stuck it on the building.

Lastly, I measured, cut and installed the glazing on the main doors and held them there with PSA.

NHH Front Details Complete

I also added mortar lines to the lower part of the front which I had overlooked last week.

I built the power board out of some electronic bread board printed circuit panels. I bought a selection of these from Amazon to build my grandson's Tesla Coil. I used one to wire up the nine lighting circuits on the turret. In this instance I need five circuits, each with its own CL2N3 LED driver chip. I use the copper foil as a positve and negative busses. The CL2N3s go into a circuit with the power input side to the left of the flat on the casing when looking at the flat. The center tap is non-functional and just serves as another soldering point to hold the chip in place. The right side is the 20ma output that goes to the LED circuit. Since I'm using 12VDC as the power source, I can only power three LEDs in series that are dropping 3.3 volts each. They won't light with four since the total is 13.2 volts being dropped in the circuit. The negative sides of all the LEDs end up on the negative bus. After soldering all five chips into the board, I tested each one successfully.

The board will sit in the stairwell space. While the chips don't get very hot, they do get warm and I made some air holes on both sides of the stairwell using a Dremel with a angle drive and carbide bit.

NHH Electrical Compartment Vents

I then cobbled together a spacing piece (I know, I know… overkill) out of scrap styrene to center the board and keep it in place. In this image you can also see the positive bus on the left with one leg of the CL2N3s soldered to it and the output lead sitting tall where the LED positive inputs are soldered. And you can see the negative bus on the right side. Again, another application of that copper foil tape.

NHH Power Board Holder

And here's the board as it will be installed, when I actually install it.

NHH Power Board Place

Now I have some thinking to do...

If I want to be able to remove the floors for whatever reason, I may want to tie the output leads to a terminal strip where they can be detached, rather than soldering them permanently and directly to the power board. I'm thinking specifically about getting into the main floor that detaches (with screws) to the bottom, but the stairwell is glued to it, so the circuit board will come down with it. If I have some barrier strips somewhere, I could therorectly remove the wires from the upper floors without creating a problem. Ideally, I'd like to have terminals that are soldered to the power board. I will look into that.

Tomorrow I will add some wall paneling to finish off the inside wall around the windows. I'm will use card stock for this. Unfortunately, I install the glazing already. If the window holes were filled with windows, I could have traced their locations onto the panels. Now I'll have to lay it out old school.


Images (4)
  • NHH Front Details Complete
  • NHH Electrical Compartment Vents
  • NHH Power Board Holder
  • NHH Power Board Place

That's a good thought. In fact. Here's what I'm buying. I will solder these into the power board giving me access to the wiring without soldering them. I also ordered more LED drivers for my inventory. The pin spacing of 5mm spans two holes on my perf board. I will have to run jumpers from each CL2N3 output pin to the connector's pins since this is technically not a printed circuit. I suppose if I wanted to be cute I could apply the copper tape in a pattern that would simulate a printed circuit. I will think on this to see which is easier; cutting and soldering small jumper wires or using the foil tape.

Screenshot 2023-05-09 at 10.13.35 AM


Images (1)
  • Screenshot 2023-05-09 at 10.13.35 AM

G_d bless Amazon. Order connectors yesterday afternoon and have them to install today. And with Prime, no added shipping costs. How can you beat that? The LED drivers come tomorrow, but I don't need them now. Spent some time at the LHS so didn't get much done, but I did get something good done.

I added these connectors to the circuit board.

NHH Circuit Board Terminals

For 8 bucks you can't go wrong. They nest together to make a connector with any number of terminals you want. I chose 7. However, when I reviewed my work at the end of the session I realized I also need one for the negative electrodes, unless I want to solder them to the board. And avoiding that was the whole reason for this exercise. I'll add that next session. I had to trim my board holder (yesterday's work) to clear the newly added terminals.

I did attempt successfully to use the foil to create psuedo printed circuit trails. I had to be careful that the runs did not touch solder pads that would also contact the adjacent trail. A short between these positive trails would not damage anything, but it would cause some of the LEDs to not light. I had to trim one trail to insure that it was not touching. The voltages and currents are so low that any cross-over would have be with direct contact.

I removed the leads I soldered yesterday and changed them to jumpers leading to the terminal's pins.

NHH Circuit Trails

The hardest part was carefully cutting the slices that let the foil slip over the LED driver and terminal's leads. I then soldered everything. Soldering was more challenging than I expected due to the adhesive backing preventing the solder from wetting the cicuit board's solder pads. I had go back and resolder some of them to ensure that contact was secure.

NHH Circuits Soldered

Here's the board from the top showing the terminals. With that big box of terminals I'm going to use them a lot on future installations.

NHH Circuit Terminals

I tested all the circuits successfully which is when I realized I will have to add a negative terminal strip to terminate the field negative leads without soldering.

I also had to come up with a scheme to access the terminal screws when the board is in its space. I opened up a larger hole with the Dremel router so the board could be lifted up beyond the 2nd floor plate exposing all the terminal screws. This should work, but I won't know for sure until I actually start terminating wires. I also routed out another relief cut to keep the wires from being crushed by the 2nd floor.

The power lead wires will go straight down exiting the model through the big bottom access hole that is below the board in this image. This may be overkill as I've noted before, I like to control the wiring when dealing with multiple circuits and electronic components. While it was simpler lighting with grain of wheat/rice bulbs, they were hot and would melt plastic if touching it. They could burn out and they could present a fire hazard. And they weren't that bright. LEDs have none of those limitations, but introduce current management to ensure that they don't go PFFFTTT. If LEDs burn out, it will happen in the instant you turn on the power. I know about grain of wheat melting plastic when I tried to illuminate my Plasticville Signal Bridge with them when I was about 13 years old. It did not end well.

NHH Board Access

Tomorrow work on wall paneling and finishing the upper flooring.


Images (5)
  • NHH Circuit Board Terminals
  • NHH Circuit Trails
  • NHH Circuits Soldered
  • NHH Circuit Terminals
  • NHH Board Access

Got the negative terminal strip soldered to the power board. Just poked it through the copper tape bus and soldered it all. I turned the openings toward the inside so the positive and negative field leads would follow similar paths and be accessible from one direction.

NHH Power Board Neg TerminalsNHH Power Board Neg Term Soldering\

Up next was "hanging sheetrock" on the interior first floor walls. I am not doing this work on the other floors. They're basically out of side and I will have window shades on the upper windows.

I used the center stair well as the height measurement for all the wall paneling. I had to trim around the corner and base blocks. I used a combination of digital calipers, dividers, little combination square and eyeballing to determine where the window and door openings would fall. The material is nice cardboad left over from a couple sets of linens we bought from Bloomingdale's. Never through building materials away. I will paint those blocks to match the wall color.u

After cutting the three sides (four pieces) I brush painted them with that craft paint off-white (two coats). You can notice the difference to the un-painted cardboard below.

NHH Sheet Rock Paint

I wanted to trim the window holes and pre-stained some scale 1 X 3. I found a slick way to cut miters for the corners. I used some thinned Aleen's Tacky Glue so I could easily brush it on the card stock. After putting down one side I overlapped the adjacent piece and then with a new single-edged razor, just sliced through both pieces on a 45 degree angle. The result was perfect fitting miniature mitered corners.

NHH Sheet Rock Miter Technique

It didn't take very long to do this for all the wall pieces.

NHH 1st Flr Walls

I attempted to take a picture through one of the front windows to show the back wall. Still needs some more work, but you get the idea. Still need to add some window sills...

NHH Store Interior View

It could also use some baseboards… maybe I'll add those. I'm still not sure about what to do about that interior. Almost every other building in town (the ones that I've created from scratch) has a real 3D interior. And this model is replacing Loopie Louie's Appliance Emporium which has a whole floor full of 3D printed appliances. I will put that somewhere else in town. It's not the shelves that's the problem. It's the thousands of items on those shelves.


Images (7)
  • NHH Power Board Neg Terminals
  • NHH Power Board Neg Term Soldering
  • NHH Hanging Sheet Rock Fitting
  • NHH Sheet Rock Paint
  • NHH Sheet Rock Miter Technique
  • NHH 1st Flr Walls
  • NHH Store Interior View

Back from the trip to University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign where number 1 grandson Alex graduated with thousands of others and the rain held off. The Grainger School of engineering and participated with the entire graduating class in the football stadium and then an hour and half later held another ceremony where they all were called up to receive the diploma. That part was done one third of the graduating engineers at a time. As it was it took hours to call up over 700 graduates. They don't get the actual diploma, just the jacket. They mail the actual document. I'm sure they do this bit at all the big universities.

This is just 1/3 of the engineering grads. Ales already has a nice job at Medline in Chicago and he and his mom just found him a studio apartment at the start of the "Gold Coast" in downtown. Life is good!

UofIL Engr Grads

Also today, we exited Spectrum as our internet provider and switched to AT&T fiber optic service. They laid the fiber lines in our our cul-de-sac several months ago, and Spectrum's been having some connectivity problems in bad weather. Our AT&T neighbors did not lose connectivity during these weather events.  Speed into the house is 382mbs and upload is the same speed.

Today, I got a few things done on the model. Not much due to the AT&T guy, but some.

I got the interior walls attached using the transfer adhesive. I also wired up all the lights to the circuit board and thought… thought that I didn't have enough circuits, so I added on more CL2N3 on the board to drive the extra circuit. But I was mistaken by the fact that the 3rd floor only has two LEDs (one on each circuit) so they could be wired in series to one LED driver. I only split the circuit since each light went onto one of the two floor plates. They only required one circuit, so the extra driver was unnecessary. That's what comes when you interrupt the work flow and forget the decisions you've already made.

I painted the three 3D printed interior pieces, but still am not sure about what to do with the interior. I haven't received the added pictures from the store owner. All the lights are lit in this pictue. On the left are the 3rd floor plates with their single lights.

NHH Testing all the lights

I inserted the porch lights into their sockets and lit them. I have to figure out how to get the floors and wiring all put in. I want to make some more light blocks for the upper floors before buttoning up the interior any further.

NHH Porch Lights Lit

More work tomorrow.


Images (3)
  • UofIL Engr Grads
  • NHH Testing all the lights
  • NHH Porch Lights Lit
Last edited by Trainman2001

Thanks guys! Sure does seem like yesterday… here was a shot from before we moved from Pennsylvania. This was the layout's 2nd iteration after returning from Germany. Alex, the senior one, was at the controls. Jack's expression is about the most explicit evidence of "pure joy" that I can imagine. That MTH Z4000 is 27 years old and still runs perfectly. It's a nicely designed product. Bought it the first year it was produced. Alex might not have been five yet, but I let him run the trains. Jack had to wait a few more years. They always treated all of my hobby stuff with the utmost care and respect. It's a two way street. Respect them and teach them, and they will return the favor.

Didn't work today, but did yesterday and that's what this post describes.

I got all the wiring hooked up, found out how to get the floors in without wrecking any wiring, and did a lighting test. Making the floors removable was essential, since after the first assembly, one light panel on the first and one on the 3rd floors did not work. Turned out that the screw terminal connections on the circuit board terminal blocks weren't so hot and I had to redo them. That took much longer to do than I thought it would. Using that fine 32 gauge wire might have been a mistake since the terminals are designed for wires with a little more girth. Notice that I like lighting random spaces and not the entire building. Also I used black construction paper on the partitions in the non-lit spaces.

NHH Lighting Test 6

Looks pretty good with the room lights on.

But, as feared, with the lights off, the plexiglass walls and the Rust-oleum red printer were not opaque enough and had a lot of light bleed.

NHH Lighting Test 2NHH Lighting Test 3

To counteract this I brush painted some thick acrylic craft paint on the exeterior walls of the illuminated rooms. Two coats helped a lot. The colonial blue is denser than the green and there was still some leakage. I may go back and do another quick coat on Monday. This image shows the wiring bundle that had to be control while assebling all the walls. I still have to the window treatments, which is another reason for not gluing down the floor panels. I didn't want to go the carboard "sheet rock" route since I didn't have the clearances on the floor panels to accept the added wall thickness.

NHH Black Out Painting

I'm still waiting for Bill Newell to send me more interior images for the first floor. Right now this is what I've done, and it's way too sparse to work, in my opinion.

NHH Interior Progress

Had my semi-annual physical on Wednesday and everything is within targets. I have a tooth getting a crown Monday. When at the dentist last week, I told him about a rear molar that was acting funny when I bit down on something hard. He found it was cracked. We agreed it needed to be crowned at my convenience. My "convenience" was determined while eating my cereal this Monday and having a chunk of that molar decide it was time to separate. Amazingly, while as a kid, I had amalgm in every tooth in my mouth (some of those fillings are probably still there), I never had an adult tooth pulled. And since the advent of the Sonicare tooth brush, haven't had a new cavity in years. It's all about maintaining all the old fillings and occasionally replacing them with crowns. Our dentist says my wife and I are the only people of our age in his practice that have all of our natural roots. Probably stopping smoking in 1975 didn't hurt either.

If I don't get the images soon, I may have to put this aside and work on something else. I just picked up another scale model: the Takom 1:35th scale AH 64D Apache helicopter. I'm getting into building these larger scale helis that are being kitted now.

Have a nice weekend.


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  • NHH Lighting Test 6
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  • NHH Interior Progress
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Happy Monday!

The 3rd coat of craft paint on the light green did the trick and effectively blocks the light leaking through the walls.

These views show this to be the case.

There a little leakage right at the roof line. I will fix that too. I paved the non-lit room partitions with black construction paper. I only had on piece left, so I finished the job with flat black airbrushed paint. There's light leakage in one of the front rooms from the large hole cut in the partition to pass the wiring harness.

NHH Light Leackage Fix 1NHH Light Lead Fix 3

I need to do a better job of hiding the upstairs wiring...

NHH Light Leak Fix 2

With that out of the way I did the window shades. First attempt was to use Tamiya wide tape, but didn't like that it was sticking to the glazing and the window inner trim, causing it to lay funny. Next attempt was to use post-it notes. However, all I had were lined that showed through. Attempt three was using same Post-it Notes covered with said Tamiya tape. Didn't work. Attempt #4 was to paint some plain white paper, cut into strips wide enough to bridge the inner trim, and then adhere to the trim. I used PSA brushed on the trim to hold the shades in place. This worked!

Attempts #2 & 3.

NHH Window Shade Trial

Attempt #4.

NHH Window Shade Paint

Insides showing shades in place and location of the PSA applications. Light will show through the shades which can be prototypical especially if any of the old folks reading this remember the song from the later 50s, "Sihouettes" by the Rays.

NHH Window Shade Method

Here's what it looks like from the outside with the shades. The shades prevent even more things being seen on the inside.

NHH Window Shade In 2NHH Window Shades In 1

While I'm still waiting for the interior shots, I may place the model on the layout so it can be display for the duration. The floors are not glued place and I'm thinking of using magnets to hold on the roof. The exterior is really almost fully complete. All that's left is installing the corner thingys, building and installing the downspouts and adding the electrical service hookups. Since this building has apartments, it should really have multiple electric meters.

As an aside. We switched from Spectrum cable fed internet to AT&T fiber optic internet. While both Spectrum and AT&T claimed to be 300 mbs download, Spectrum's upload speed was about 15 mbs, while AT&T's is also above 300 mbs. And believe me it is! The upload speed of the pictures for this post almost appear to be instantaneous. We're actually getting about 350 mbs into and out of the house. There are some losses in my router system, but it's still much better. And all this for $5 less per month.


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  • NHH Light Leackage Fix 1
  • NHH Light Lead Fix 3
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  • NHH Window Shade Trial
  • NHH Window Shade Paint
  • NHH Window Shade Method
  • NHH Window Shade In 2
  • NHH Window Shades In 1

Yesterday's and today's posts are combined...

Since I'm going to put the model on the layout without the interior completed, I still needed to get all the exterior pieces secured. Instead of a permanent assembly, I used Blue Tack temporary adhesive to hold on the roof to the rafters and the corner thingys. This will let me take it apart if I need to.

Also shown in this image is the broken piece of gutter that fractured during drilling of the 5/32" tubing. I filled that today with Milliputt epoxy putty and will final finish it next work session.

NHH Downspout Hole Fracture

I also had to build the downspouts. As by my usual method I choose brass tubing, in this case 5/32" and then treat it too look like aged copper. This consist of steel wooling the pieces to remove any surface imperfections, soak them in JAX Brown/Black chemical treatment and following with JAX Patina. These are chemical reactions, not coatings per ce. However, I couldn't find the patina solution. I also didn't have much left of the blackening solution. After soaking in blackening, and washing, I chose to use Rub-n-Buff patina coating. It's a wax-based product. This picture shows the coating.

NHH Downspout Patina 1st Attempt

However; when I rubbed off the patina coating, the brass was re-exposed and it didn't work. Meanwhile, I was sure I had purchased new bottles of metal chemicals. Sure enough, not only did I buy the new material, but in much larger bottles. When the blackening chemicals are fresh, they do much better job. I steel wooled all the Rub-n-Buff of and put the pipes in the darkening bath. After a wash, I dipped them in the fresh patina solution. This has to dry. You don't wash it off.

The results were good.

I made downspouts retainers out of 0.032" phos-bronze wire, looped with wire looping pliers, clamped and soldered with the RSU.

NHH Downspout Retainers

I also darkened these in the solution. The hole to pass the tails is somewhere between a 50 and 51 drill. I used the smaller (51), but it turned out to be too tight so I opened them up one size.

I marked the walls where the retainers should go and used the drill in the Dremel.

NHH Downspouts install

A closer look at the retainer install. It's held into the plexiglass with thin CA.

NHH Downspout retainer

The last exterior work is the relatively complex two-story exterior stair. This is a similar build to many other timber projects I've built.

I tape the drawings onto my Homosote workbench top. This stuff is great since it holds T-pins very well. I place a piece of polyethylene film over top. All of the is taped so the drawings are taut. I used angle blocks and the T-pins. I started work with the landings. There are three and all different sizes. I have a lot of Northeastern Stripwood left over from the Rick House and planking the floor to complete the entire stairs (I hope). I have laser cut stair sets that will be pressed into service on this project. I will probably put a "concrete" base under this assembly to help hold it together and keep the symetry. Before starting I double-checked to make sure that this drawing accurately matches the actual building. It did!

NHH Building the Stairs

Above was the upper platforms framing (scale 2 X 12s).

The platforms are planked with the left over flooring material (scale 1X3), I sanded the ends to square them up.

NHH Upper Platform Planked

This is the mid-platform which is the largest since it connects to stair cases.

NHH Planking Mid Platform

We're heading out tomorrow for a family affair in Ann Arbor, MI. Work will pick up next week.

Have a nice Spring weekend.


Images (8)
  • NHH Downspout Hole Fracture
  • NHH Downspout Patina 1st Attempt
  • NHH Downspout Retainers
  • NHH Downspouts install
  • NHH Downspout retainer
  • NHH Building the Stairs
  • NHH Upper Platform Planked
  • NHH Planking Mid Platform

We had a splendid trip. Seeing family was great (actually extended family since it was the niece of my brother in law's kid that was Bar Mitzvah). Today I first made a full-scale print of the right profile of the building including the stair assembly. I then tested this on site to make sure that the stair had clearance. I'm happy to report that it does have clearance to spare. I then got back to building the stair case. I finished the last landing and then, using the Rusty Stumps (now Rail Scale) wooden stair assembly jig and laser cut stair parts, started building the three flights. The assembly jig does not retain the stair stringers securely enough and they can go out of alignment while building. I first tried using masking tape, but for some reason it was not sticking to the case resin jig. I then drilled a 0.032" hole at the very ends of the stringers and added T-pins. Now it was secure. I had already added a top-stop for the other end.

NHH Stair Case Jig

The stair treads are also laser cut and part of the entire package. They're a little thick, but I'm using them.

I pinned the top and mid-landings to the plans and measured one stringer length, which I cut.

NHH Stair Case Erect 1

I then assembled the stair with the two outer stringers. I added the middle stringer after the treads were in place.

NHH Upper Case Built

I continued this process for the mid to lower landing and then lower to ground. I'm using a piece of ply for the base so the lower stringer was cut to NOT rest on the ground without the base. This is the three flights glued together. I used Aleen's first and followed up with thin CA.

NHH Completed Stair Flights

Where the stairs met the landings I used the deck planking wood and continued the landing onto the stairs.

NHH Top Stair Joint

I tried the stairs in position on the model. Taking this picture took several tries since I was using the phone's camera in the "selfie" mode. Note that the middle landing is not lying square, but that's caused by not having the platform in place to support everything. Don't worry, I will be straight when fully supported.

NHH Stair Fitting

I needed a way to hold all this in reasonable alignment so I could start building all the support and railing assemblies. I cut a piece of 2" X 2" to use. Unfortunately, the piece is not square as it could be, but I made it work. I put a level on top to hold the top square and then measure the long supports. My original design had angle brackets under the upper landings, but I'm going with long poles and trusses to do it.

NHH Stair Fixture

NHH Stair Level

I started to attempt to glue the poles to the flatforms in this position, but quickly found out that it was an exercise in futility. I then went back to "model-plane-method" and pinned the pieces to the building board. This is the first support set. More to follow tomorrow.

NHH Stair Support Assembly 1

Remember how I wrote about keeping your eyes open (and phone camera ready) whenever you find interesting structures to think about building? Well here's a beauty on a street in Ann Arbor, Michigan that we passed on the way to brunch at famous Zingerman's Deli. I probably don't have enough imagery to build it as it, but it could be found on Google Earth to fill in some blanks.

Ann Arbor Gem 1Ann Arbor Gem 2

This house has all the Victorian trappings: fish scale siding on the upper floor, gingerbread trim on the porch, beautiful turned porch supports, neat railing, open balcony, turret room, perfect Victorian color scheme. It's a classic. I have those two books I bought on Victorian architectural details and color schemes. One of these days, I'm going to put them to good use.\

Here's what you can get on Google Earth,

And here's the floor (roof) plan. It measures 31' across the main roof peak (side to side).


Left side is still a bit iffy since it's obscured by a big tree. One shot was done in the winter without leaves, but all the rest are with leaves.


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  • NHH Stair Case Jig
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  • NHH Upper Case Built
  • NHH Completed Stair Flights
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  • NHH Stair Fitting
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  • NHH Stair Level
  • NHH Stair Support Assembly 1
  • NHH Stair Support Assembly 1
  • Ann Arbor Gem 1
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Yes, and they are lovely things. Takes a lot of cash to own one. L'ville has an enormous amount of period housing and the largest collection of late 1800 early 1900 mansions in the USA. Literally square miles of them. Until the US Army Corps of Engineers put in the locks on the Ohio River, all ship traffic from the South and North couldn't pass Louisville due to the Falls of the Ohio. Therefore, my fair city was the fastest growing city in the USA until that event. Lots of manufacturing took place here with the southern raw materials and northern metal parts. When the locks went in, the ships just passed us by and the growth stopped. Now, the city is actually having a rebirth and doing quite well.

Worked more on the staircase today. It was a battle royal and it ain't over yet. I decided to go back to using the wall brackets to support the upper landing and a combination of small brackets and vertical support columns for the mid and lower platforms. Getting the height of these columns was especially troublesome and more work needs to be done to get it right. Here's the first mistake.

NHH Upper Brackets - Wrong

I put the brackets are on the wrong edge of the platform. I didn't realize it (forest and trees syndrome) until I was fitting the long columns I was planning to use and wondered why the brackets were interfering with them. I was able to pry them off and refit them to the correct back wall (which is facing the viewer in this image).

I then scraped the long set of columns. I tried to re-purpose them, but the spacing was all wrong and they needed to be made anew. I handled this too soon after building and, of course, the whole deal fell apart. And I rebuilt it again.

Because of the window spacing on the lower level and the new size of the landing, I couldn't use the long brackets so I built some short ones. I am augmenting these with the columns. In the background you can see the corrected brackets on the upper landing.

I then needed put it up against the building to catch the column height. Holding it still to get the measure was annoying. And I didn't nail it. I was concerned to not torque the angles and put some of the landings out of square. I thought I had the lengths right, but after re-fitting to the building, they seemed be too short.  I figured these two spacers would give me the correct height. While I had those nice drawings, there were enough real-world differences in the material sizes I used to make them good guides, but not accurate enough to cut the columns.

I also found that my v-block on end was just about the exact height of the lower landing from ground level and I used it to help space the lower level columns. Notice the column extend up to the scale 36' railing height.

After fabricating a column footing that will be simulated concrete, I tried it on the building again, and now find that the lower landing columns are too short also, by about the same amount meaning… the long columns were probably correct the first time before adding the footings. This view is not a good representation since it's twisted a bit. I have persistance and will get it right before nailing it all down.

Notice too the phos-bronze pins reinforcing the joints. I did the same thing on the longer columns.

I had to notch everything for the remainder of all the railing stanchions. The upper rear stair will only have railing on the outside since it contacts the wall. The rest of them have railings on both sides. They will be delicate. If I wasn't for the convenient stair kits I had, I was tempted to build it entirely out of styrene; especially now that I'm painting the whole thing.

I still have some work time tomorrow and could finish this up. Due to all the CA holding everything together, staining is out of the question. I made one critical error. I didn't pre-stain all the lumber. If I had done that I would have a natural wood finish. Instead I will paint it. That's prototypical too before the age of pressure-treated lumber.

On Thursday we're on our last of the three marathon road trips. This time to the graduation of our oldest granddaughter in State College, PA. She's matriculating to Penn State's Theater School next fall so she's staying close to home… very close. It's nice when you have a world-class university a couple miles from your house. We'll be back on Tuesday. Over a five week time span we will have been to Champaign/Urbana, Ann Arbor and State College.


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  • NHH Upper Brackets - Wrong
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The stairs are complete ready for finishing. The battle raged on all afternoon, but I emerged victorious. Some of it disassembled while handling, but turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It enabled me to get better control of assembling the handrails. Strangely, during the re-assembly process, the lower landing and lower stair flight got turned around so the flight tucked under the 3rd floor flight. This was another blessing since the stair now takes up less real estate. I orginally built the stair with the lower flight outboard of the rest since it was the way the prototype's was. That said, the prototype lower stair was a pull-down, metal fire escape stair so it needed clearance to raise and lower. Since I'm now modeling a fixed stair, having it turn on itself makes design sense.t

I attempted to hold the whole assembly in the Panavise. It worked for a little bit, but didn't really do the job. I ended up hand holding it or resting it on the bench. Keeping it still while attaching delicate parts was an on-going challenge. I had to be very careful with the tightening since it could easily crush the model.

The spindles needed a 45° angle on top. I make a custom fixture on my Chopper to give accurate and clean cuts. Their metal angle guide can't go right up to the blade so it's hard to clip the ends of parts. By pushing it to the left a bit and then adding a cuttable fence, I can cut right to a point.

Here's the upper flight that disconnected with the first railing assembly. I decided to use styrene for all the rails except the corner post. This enabled me to use solvent cement to hold the rail to the spndles. I still had use CA to hold the styrene to the wood. I used 0.030" X 0.080" for the spindles and 0.030" X 0.100" for the railing. Then I ran out of the railing stock and had to substitute 0.020" X 0.100" for one flight. You can see it, but it's not offensive. Actually, the 0.020" stock is more prototypical since it's about 1 scale inch thick. I was very liberal with the CA on this build and it's not a clean build… another reason to paint it.

To re-attach this stair to the rest I pinned it. When in doubt, pin it! Broke a couple of 0.032" carbide bits in the process. This last order of drills I got a 50 drill pack since I really go through them much too quickly.

After installing all the rails, I did a final test on the model before permanently mounting the assembly to the ply base.

Here you can see the mysterious stair reversal which, as I said, I like better. The stair couldn't directly drop from the 2nd floor landing since it would block the door.

I put pins under all the foot pads, drilled the base and installed it. With the pads down tight, the platforms are all parallel to each other and with the gound. I then glued down the bottom flight to the base, thereby securing the entire deal. It is able to free stand.

NHH Stair Complete 1NHH Stair Complete 2NHH Stair Complete 3

When I'm back in the shop on Tuesday, I'll start the painting process. With the stairs complete I can place the model on the layout, while still waiting for the interior stuff to final finish it.

Have a nice weekend. We're on the road again tomorrow.


Images (8)
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  • NHH Stair Complete 1
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Sure is. Don't know how many more years we're going to want to make these extended drives. Sure would like a self-driving Tesla. My daughter drove her Tesla Y to Ann Arbor. While it relieves some driving issues, it's not autonomous. A number of makers are including lane holding self drive so it's not unique any longer. On Friday's north drive traffic was very heavy and self-drive didn't provide much benefit, but on the return trip home on Sunday, self-drive was wonderful with long stretches where just an occasional touch on the wheel was all that was needed. According to my kids, I'm too old for a car with all the displays. I will get confused. I'm not confused! And I'm a bit annoyed.

I never wanted my dad to think I thought he couldn’t do something anymore.  Occasionally I would ask if he needed help with some work, but usually I would just observe to see if it was getting done.  He did ask me to help him figure out a few things on the last car he bought.  It was newer than what we had, so I was scratching my head trying to figure out what the manual meant on at least one feature.  😄

Last edited by Mark Boyce

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