I will start with my first and favorite Scratch Built Layout Building, a $10 Round House built in 1980 using 1940s-1950s building methods like brick paper.
Round House Construction
The first consideration in building a $10 round house is to decide how many stalls the RH will have.
I think the minimum that looks good is three. Many more can be added than three but I find that you cannot see and enjoy your engines as much when they are in the RH as all that one sees is the engine fronts. I decided to make my RH a four stall one and I am very pleased with it. It has a good shape verses a three stalls and fits my area very well.
I like the stepped roof style RH and I like lots of windows so as they are typical of the era as electric lights were not all that common in the early times and windows provided daylight. I have windows on both sides, all along the back wall and on the stepped roof wall facing the front. I did not leave room or have room for a shop or tool room that many RH have.
My round house is made from my typical 1/8 inch thick, one side smooth Masonite tempered sheeting. A sheet costs about $13 for 4ft x 8ft sheet and you will only need one half of a sheet or less (Home Depot may sell you a 1/2 sheet). I cut this with saber saw, or jig saw. I used my old Craftsman 18 inch jig saw with 1/3 hp motor to cut out the windows after drilling a hole to allow get the blade in the window area. You can use a sabre saw for this if that is all you have. The smooth side is put on the outside of the sides and back wall as brick paper will be glued on. Some 1/8” Masonite strips were used to reinforce the bottom and door frame.
Front of Round House
The outside walls will be covered with modeling brick paper, glued on with Elmer’s white glue after the building is assembled with Elmer’s glue.
The roof is made from Masonite too but the rough side is up to be the exposed roof surface, to simulate gravel on a wood and tar paper roof. I have a step in the roof with windows in the bricked section between the two roofs so the roof is made in two parts.
Four Tracks and four Stalls in Round House
You can see how I determined the size of the RH by fitting it in over 4 sections of track. It is about 30 inches wide and 17 deep. I made sure not to include my one section where I can drive on the TT and directly to this one section with a long consist of engine, coal tender, wrecking crane car and wrecking caboose.
The picture below shows how I had to cut out part of the rear of the RH to go over a Marx switch machine housing. It also shows I had make sure the RH did not get too close to the tracks. It is a tight and custom fit.
Both roofs were made in four sections. I assembled the RH with Elmer’s glue and added plywood angles to strength the wall to roof joints. I painted the inside walls brown and the inside roof light gray to better illuminate the inside. The outside of the roof was painted light gray, with a dusting of black paint to be dark dirt. Then I installed the brick paper doing a good job around the windows.
The windows are made from clear plastic sheeting from boxes lids from toys or other heavier clear plastic. The windows had panes made from black 1/16 inch auto pin striping on the inside. The windows were glued on the inside with "Pliobond" rubber cement, but contact cement, E6000 glue or Aleen's Tacky glue will work.
Picture showing double thick front wall and thicker bottom brace. I painted the center of the tracks in the RH black to simulate a pit below the tracks to let workers work on the under side of the steam locomotives (shown in picture below).
I made RH stacks, with covers to keep rain out. The stacks are to help remove smoke for the steam engines. Balsa wood was used to make the stacks. I like the square style stacks better than round ones. Rain covers for the stacks were made. I also installed a ladder or two to get on the roof. Ladders were made from N gauge railroad tie plastic strips with the rails removed and every other tie cut out with a pair of diagonal wire pliers and trimmed with a X-acto knife.
Lights were installed in the ceiling of the RH in two rows and are operated by a slide switch on the control panel. I am big on night train operation with the room lights dark or dimmed and lots of controlled lights in all building, flood lights, street lights, yard lights, cars and engines, etc.
Photo showing the balsa wood TT operator shack (made from balsa wood) on TT bridge and view into RH. The TT operator shake has a small grain of wheat light inside that comes on when power is applied to the TT track and the selected RH stall track.
I chose not to make doors for the front of the RH as I wanted to see the fronts of the locos inside and I would have had the doors open most of the time and they would just get in the view and way.
I love my round house and it is my favorite building on the layout and the most fun and satisfaction to build.