Sunday, 26 February 2012

Forging ahead - 2

Even at this stage, I am impresses by the sense of space there is in this show-box sized model.

There are several windows on the forge, each with a minimum of 6 separately glazed sections.
Working on the windows for the shop, I fabricated them externally from the model, so I could paint them before inserting into the wall apertures. This was a very neat method, but sometimes took 3 or 4 attempts to glue the assembly - due to the tiny cross section area of the glazing bars.

When it came to the forge, I decided to build the window frames up in-situ to help make the assembly somewhat easier. The secret seems to be to get the glazing bars exactly the right dimension to stay in place without adhesive. It then all holds together to allow Cyanoacrylate to be introduced on, a needle.

I used birch play and obeche to produce an RSJ for the forge entrance door.

When the "I" section was assembled, the beam was cut to length and spray-painted with red oxide to match the original.

Just like the on the barn model, I used 1.5mm thick obeche to produce planking for the two double doors of the forge.

The hinge fixing bolts were replicated using the tiniest pins available and filed down to amore realistic dimension and inserted into 0.5mm diameter prepared holes.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Light relief

How to illuminate the model? That is the question.
I have spent many a sleepless night pondering on the relative merits of solar and nuclear power, mains electricity vs. batteries, surgically altered optic fibre Christmas trees, captive glow worms or tea lights.

Finally, it became very clear. The solution seems to be LED lighting. It appears that in just a few years virtually all sizes of incandescent lamps will be dispatched to room 101. LED lighting technology is advancing all the time. Almost every type of standard lamp (bulb) package is now available in the form of LED with even very large sports stadiums being lit with this technology.

Some of the advantages of this technology include: up to 80% energy saving, much reduced heat output and extremely long service life - up to 50,000 hours is not unusual.

During 2011 I employed an small lamp in the form of little G4 Halogen type lamp in a display model the I made for the Cambridge University Department of Classical Archeology. This used just 2 Watts of power, but gave out a light level more like that of a regular 20 Watt Halogen lamp. But still, this was somewhat larger than I really wanted to fit in the current model.

The answer appear to be LED strip. This is essentially a strip of self-adhesive tape with lots of tiny LEDs wired along its length. You can used a minimum of 5cms (containing 3 LEDs) up to 5 metres. They can be powered by 12 volts DC, so they are perfect for my chosen power source of lead-acid batteries.

Whilst knowing that I could buy them online at and similar places, I really wanted to experiment with them on the day I thought about it. After much faffing around, I discovered that my local Maplin store had them in stock, so I actually set foot outside of the studio and bought some. Within the hour, I was heating up the soldering iron to commence my tests.

The photograph shows the level of light coming from a 25cm strip of this material. The rest of the room was in complete darkness, so for such a tiny amount of input I got an impressive pool of light (certainly enough to install in various corners of the model.

The test was placed in a metal grille container (throwing very nice shadows) and left running overnight. It is still going now with no sign of generated heat. I will just let this run now to determine the expected battery life before recharging.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Forging ahead - 1

This week, I started assembling the last of the 3 buildings - the forge.
This particular building was somewhat difficult to survey as it is sort of sandwiched between other buildings that are not of direct interest to this particular project.

After drawing up plans within the available survey evidence, very recently further information came to light which completely altered the end elevation. Suddenly, we were faced with a much richer, complex glazed section - not a simple matter to reproduce at 1:24, but very interesting in appearance.

The originally only visible portion of the forge end elevation

This view of the hidden part of the end elevation has only just come
to light.

The floor and wall components were pre-textured externally and internally prior to the basic assembly process.

Once the four walls of the forge were assembled, the wooden-framed extension began, based upon the complex glazed end elevation structure.

The exposed parts of the end elevation have been painted with white `
acrylic primer, the remainder will be clad in timber and corrugated iron.

Once the end wall was securely fixed in place, the roof timbers could be started. These were made from Limewood, cut to shape with the coarse bandsaw blade. This leaves a rough texture to the surface which when coloured with wood stain creates a great "rough-hewn"look rather than being too slick and rather over-refined. For maximum flexibility and access in the further development of the model, I am organising the roof sections of the shop, barn and forge to be removable. This will be very important when it comes to internal decoration, set-dressing and for the installation of the lighting system.

Partially clad roof section. On top of the timber planks
will be a layer of very rusty corrugated iron.
Also visible is the furnace/chimney stack.

A ground-level view of the brick furnace/chimney stack, cut on the
bandsaw from a single, solid block of foam. Still has still to be
embossed to render a brickwork pattern.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Shopping around

At last, I am in a position to start building up the shop walls to form a space. After so long preparing endless separate components, it is reassuring to see something of the volume of the model taking shape.

Starting with floor section I offered up the rear wall for accuracy prior to making the first joint.

Weights were used to keep the light material of the floor nice and flat, whilst  try squares ensured the wall was perpendicular.

Devron two-part resin adhesive was used to achieve a strong bond which would set in 5 minutes.

The wall panels were prepared with mitered edged to avoid an unsightly joint revealing the material thickness which is difficult to mask. Such fragile material is easily damaged when it has a sharp, mitred edge exposed during extended storage,another reason I wanted to proceed to this stage of assembly as soon as possible.

When this joint was set firmly, I prepared an end wall for fixing.

Although it is a good time now to build up the right hand end (shop front) I need to plan very carefully, when to put the second long wall in place because there is some optic fibre lighting to be plumbed in and that has yet to be designed - I will need a lot of access. Just seeing the shop actually occupying a volume is very reassuring for the moment.

The foam material is great stuff to build with, but is rather easily damaged on the edges, so I plan to make a thick foam temporary base to use for handling the model during the construction.

One thing I did not take account of is the relatively translucent nature of thin sections of foam. So in areas that have not been clad with timber, light can be seen through the fabric of the building.

My novel design for see-through bricks

Even though the wall cladding eliminated most of that translucent property, the tiny gaps between each plank shows light through. It became necessary to take the unusual step of grouting my timbers.

The excess filler was removed before becoming fully set.

When the excess filler was cleaned up, it was just a matter of applying a further coat of wood stain to restore the appearance.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Doors & windows

There are number of doors and window frames required on this project and the windows particularly are proving a challenge. At this scale (1:24), the frames and glazing bars are sometimes as small as 1.5 x 2mm in cross section. The result is a very difficult joinery process. Some of the window frames have been assembled up to 5 or 6 time due to their being very fragile until fixed in position in the wall apertures.

It would be much easier to construct in-situ, but the subsequent painting operations would be rather difficult without getting frame paint spreading onto the brickwork.

Limewood strips held in position for glueing with Cyanoacrylate to 
form a complete window frame

The process is repeated for a complete set of windows to make the subsequent  process of spray-painting more efficient.

The doors were constructed in a similar manner, but due to the increased surface areas, they were much simpler to assemble.

After much thought, I have decided not to employ any glazing material. There will be a number of points-of-view where it will be possible to peer through 3 or 4 sets of window/doors and I want to avoid anything that will diminish the clarity of the observation. Further thin plastic is very easily difficult to keep in a pristine condition throughout the period of construction and handling.

The window apertures were lined with timber to match the interior wall cladding, then a Limewood architrave was added to complete the wall in readiness for insertion of the window frames.

The door was then tried in position to ensure a good fit. After the painting was completed, the fix was made permanent.

The shop side door, just waiting for a stone doorstep to be made.

This window frame has been painted, so I fixed it permanently in place to ensure it would not get damaged. The window sill is also in place, just needs painting, along with the brick. I want to leave all of that until all the walls have been assembled to ensure they all get consistent treatment.

Friday, 10 February 2012

The Cromwellian Barn - part 2

Now it's time to start the roof. I want it to be removable throughout the fabrication process, to allow maximum access during the later content placement.

By pinning thin, Obeche strips to the top of the walls, and building the superstructure directly onto it, the bulging, non-level wall structure can be perfectly followed to allow a snug-fitting repositionable seam.

The roofing superstructure was gradually built up using fine strips of Lime wood. Part of the roof has been left open to give good visibility to the interior space in the final presentation.

When completed, the roof structure was rigid enough to remove the temporary securing pins to allow the roof to be taken off and replaced as and when required.

Antique Pine wood stain was then applied to match the rest of the internal timber work.

Friday, 3 February 2012

The Cromwellian Barn - part 1

The approach I am taking on this project is to fabricate a huge kit of parts, then stain, colour or decorate them as soon as they are formed. This is easier (and neater)  to do now, rather than attempting to paint components after they are assembled. At the end of all this, there will be a big assembly process where it all comes together.

It is very easy to get bogged down with fine detail on just one aspect of the model. With half of the project period over, I need to get a wider view of how the whole scheme is going, so last week I started on the office. I require further archival input on that, so having put that away, on Monday I started on the Cromwellian  Barn.

Modelling of the barn began with the brick floor, by engraving the impression of the brick pattern into a very thin layer of foam mounted on a 1.5mm thick obeche panel.

Around the perimeter I built 2 courses of brick foundation. For this I cut individual bricks from strips of 3 x 4.5mm Limewood.

Before progressing further, the textured floor was treated to a wash of black woodstain to give depth to the joints and crevices.

Once dried, a coat of white acrylic primer was dry-brushed over the raised surfaces. Then the main timber support members could be fixed in place with Cyanoacrylate adhesive.

One end of the barn in built on a 9" solid wall. This, as all other brick walls on the model, was replicated in 9mm thick lightweight foam with an embossed brickwork pattern.

When all the superstructure was fabricated and assembled, it was all treated to a coat of Antique Pine, wood stain. Once dry the elaborate arrangement of aged and sagging wood wall cladding was added.

The cladding was cut from 0.8mm  Birch ply that had previously been treated to a coat of Antique pine wood stain. The sheet of ply was then cut into planks of varying width and fixed to the superstructure in an overlapping pattern. When this was complete, the whole of the exterior was coated with Indian Rosewood wood stain to resemble the Creosote/Tarmac finish of the original.

Where the exterior stain bled into the the interior surface a rather authentic variegated pattern started to emerge. The sections a wall that appear unfinished are intentionally left to allow views of the interior of the working space.

From beginning to this stage has taken five fairly full days. In the next episode the roof timbers will emerge. In the meantime I need to research how to replicate the rather rare "herringbone" thatch pattern that exists on the roof of this wonderful old barn.