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SPJRR Crystal Palace Hotel Kit

(click on photo's for a larger image)

Glue Tips,

         Make sure to use a waterproof glue suitable to your climate. If you can get waxed paper in your area, for frame elements, we dip the ends in glue and put them in place on the wax paper over the drawing. The new waxed paper we get has little wax, and works great as the glue sticks slightly to it making it stay in place. It peals off well after the glue is set, but leaves glue that might have to be trimmed later for fit with other components. As with all glues, excess is best cleaned up before it sets.  If you will be doing a clear finish, we have found that small glue mistakes don't show if clear setting glue is used, and Thompson's clear water seal is used.  Still it is best to clean up, especially areas where a hardened glob interferes with further construction.  (Easier to remove a soft lump than a hard glob)

Cutting Tips,

     For cutting small material (1x2 & 1x4) a sharp knife or even side cutter can be used.  For larger sizes a razor saw or band saw with a fine tooth blade works well.  For fine tuning a piece of sandpaper laid on a flat surface works great, holding the piece vertical and giving it a few strokes with light pressure across the sandpaper.  With all tools, caution and safety is important. Remember this is a real wood product.  There might be some warping.  Material if not being used for a while (overnight) should be wrapped or bundled together.  So when you stop for the day, wrap it up.  If you do get some warped pieces, carefully bend them in the opposite direction and you can temporarily remove some of it.  Once it is glued together as a composite structure it will become stable.  Most material is shipped in 18"-20" lengths, that is equal to 36-40 feet in real dimension.  I don't think you will find many real boards that long without some warp.  Always cut longest elements first and use the leftovers for the smaller items.

Layout Boards,

   Also notice the layout board we have been using. It serves as a nice flat work surface. It is made of a piece of graph paper sandwiched between two pieces of single strength glass.  The edges are taped together with clear packing tape.  The graph paper makes it easy to keep things square.  We recommend you use wax paper to keep glue from sticking laid on the plans and on your layout board if you use one, but it isn't always available here and might not be in your area. So on with the show!

About This Kit !!!

A collaboration of efforts. Over several years we built this from scratch with no intention of making it into a kit. Local club members expressed interest in it. Local club member Kerry D. asked if he could use the overall idea and build one for himself. Turns out he had some drafting experience and created some plans. He took measurements of ours and went from there. We have teamed up to offer this as an outstanding kit. He like us fell in love with the stick built concept realizing it was so real. He supplies the plan drawings and us the rest. Not a kit for the beginner, but an outstanding building. The largest we have offered up to this date. A great cornerstone building for any town.

Thanks Kerry for all your hard work on what we think is a great project.

A blob of glue on a scrap of wood, works good for gluing framing elements. If you lay wax paper over the plan, the extra glue sticks to the waxpaper holding the parts in place better. Just dip the ends of the parts in glue and place them on the covered plan. After the glue is set, peel them off the waxpaper, and clean excess dried glue off with a sharp hobby knife.

To start, we used one 24"x 24" pane of glass to place over prints. **Be very careful using sheets of glass. You may want to tape edges. By placing wax paper over glass, we were able to lay 6x6 scale lumber over print and cut to length. Cut long elements first using the leftovers for the shorter items. Make all pieces needed for each wall and glue together right on the wax paper. You will be able to peal off wax paper when set. Placing wax paper and a second 24"x 24" pane of glass over glued wall, helps keep wall flat.

Using 6x6 material, frame up 2 back walls per drawing #1. One with the stairs will have windows and doors. You will see on the prototype we left the window behind the staircase in by mistake and decided to leave and fill it in with lumber. The other back wall gets no doors or windows. Next frame up 2 front side walls and the corner facing wall per drawing #2. Note the side walls have one lower window that is larger than the rest. We left this window closest to the door, so if you decide to do the same, just flop one wall over as made from the plan.

Siding application. First look at drawing 4 to see how the wall corners fit together. This is important as you have to leave the siding overhang on some corners to cover the end 6x6 of the wall being attached. On most buildings we assemble the framing all together then apply the siding, but this building being so large it is easier to apply the siding to the walls then assemble them.

There are several ways to apply siding.

1. One at a time starting at the bottom of the wall and overlapping them about 1/32" on the 1x6 and 1/16" on the 1x12. Work your way to the top trimming around windows and doors as you go.

2. Using the siding spacer sheets and make sheets of solid siding. Trimming the openings after the sheet has been glued to the framing. Make a siding sheet by starting at the bottom lining the bottom of the first board up with a line on the spacer sheet. Add the next board lining its top up with the next line. Continue until you have a sheet tall enough to fit your wall. An example of the tape method over the sheet with wax paper on top of the sheet can be seen on the Wild Rose Saloon tips page. /wrs/wrstips.html Cutting the openings later can be hard, so I don't recommend this method unless you have a scroll saw so you could drill a starting hole and put the blade of the scroll saw though it and cut the opening.

3. Using the siding spacer sheets seen below as Kerry did trimming as he went. Another thing you could do is trace the openings on the spacer sheet. Instead of the tape method, you could place beads of glue on wax paper over the spacer sheet and lay down the siding.

4. Cut strips off the siding spacer sheets to use as a measuring guide or like a tape measure to track you spacing while doing method #1 above.

Last note on siding before starting siding. Understand how the walls assemble together so you leave proper overhang on the end of walls where it is needed to cover the end of the wall it attaches to!!!!!!!! The 1x6 corner boards that go on later, remember are only 1/4" wide so they will only cover up small mistakes. There is enough siding in the kit so you can use full lengths on the long walls. Use short leftovers for the front corner wall.

A completed side wall shown here with siding started. The front facing walls get 1x6 siding and the back walls 1x12. Kerry used the tape method and worked around openings by laying the wall to be sided on top to check as he went. Place masking tape, Sticky side up, to lay 1x12 and 1x6 siding on, works well. Be sure to leave ¼" exposure on both ends to cover end of studs of the adjoining walls. (Back wall, with doors, does not need to overhang). You don't have to use this method, but we think it's faster. **Cutting siding, I used a Fisker hand shears with straight cut as shown in picture below to cut the siding pieces to length.

Or paper cutter like to this to cut the siding to length.

Here the framing with glue applied ready to flip over onto the siding sheet.

Framing glued to the siding sheet. You can now glue the frame in by running a bead of glue down each side of framing. **With scale 1x12 scrap, smear glue along framing. Place pane of glass over to keep flat and let dry.
Make frames for sidewalk and balcony same as before. Use 6x6 for the lower walkways (at ground level) and 2x6 for the uppers. Cut enough 1x6 to make walkway and balcony, allowing for 1/8" overhang of front.

Lay out masking tape and place straight edge to keep even. Place enough 1x6 (keeping square) to cover and overhang sidewalk frame. Do same for balcony frame (these will be longer) ***do not do the framing of the entry walks at this time. Later during assembly, you will be able to make to fit.

Put bead of glue on top of frame and place on walk keeping straight side flush with inside frame. Making sure you have a right side and left side. You can smear glue on bottom of walks for strength and protection from elements. Place sheet of glass over to keep flat.

This same process can be done for back stoops. Make 1x6 into sheet.

Attach frame to bottom of sheet. Always pay attention so you get overhang in correct location.

Smear glue on backside, as before.

Cut 1x6 for jambs to fit window and door openings. You can either make these to fit one at a time (place 1x6 inside of window opening flush with outside peaks of siding) or make the window frames up and fit them into openings. I did both and making up frames found I needed to shim to fit. This did make a difference when making up the windows too.

Use 1x6 as trim on windows and doors. Shown is the Fiskar pruner I also use to cut material.

When doing doors, make the outside Trim even with the bottom frame to allow for a threshold if you decide to add one made from scrap 1x12.

Make 2 outside frames of roof out of 6x6 per drawing #4. One can be used when walls are assembled as a support just below the second floor doors as shown in the photo below.
Assemble the back, side, and two fronts. Glue entry to fronts and adjust for square. Don't worry about small gaps at siding corners. Trim boards should cover corners.

Turn structure onto side so one front is up. Do one front at a time. Glue lower walk to front even with bottom and even with angle of fronts/entry. If the other end is not flush, no sweat. For placement of balcony walkway, measure from bottom of structure, (this should be just below door threshold). Keep as square as possible, glue to siding.

Cut 6x6 support posts and glue to front of lower walkway and inside balcony frame. Square up as needed.

Cut and glue entryway walk to bottom of sidewalk frames. Smear glue on bottom for strength and protection. I added some scrap 1 x 6 for strength also.

Build frame of upper entry inside of balcony walks. Use 2x6 for front and 6x6 for three sides.

Again cut enough 1x6 to cover upper entry, 1/8" long for over hang. Lay out on tape as before. Smear glue on bottom.

After setup cut to fit and glue to frame. ***(I used a paper shear)***
Building upside down and glass sheet on top to hold things down. Notice scrap material added to bottom of entry porch for strength.

Cut corner trim pieces to fit. Glue together and place on building or glue to building separately.

Take balcony roof frame and trim back board to fit around window trim. Measure and glue into place. Notice 1x6 corner boards on angled corners added here. Corner boards can be done at any time, but try to pick when it is easiest to get at the area being done. Understand that they could be in the way of parts added later, so try to think ahead.

Cut 6x6 roof supports to fit and glue into place. Place 2x4 support on building 7/8" from roof frame as seen above the roof support.

Cut enough 1x12 to cover balcony roof and place on tape as before. Smear glue, let set. Add scrap 6x6 to strengthen roof. ***(Be sure not to place these were they will interfere with setting on framing)*** Cut angle to fit.

Glue roof onto framing. Measure between roof supports and mark centers. Cut 4x4 and glue to balcony walkway centered.

Cut, tape and glue enough 1x12 to cover balcony entry roof. Again put in some scrape 6x6 for support. ***(Be sure not to place these were they will interfere with setting on framing)*** Cut and glue in roof frame. Cut angle to fit.

Cut 2x4 railings and 2x2 uprights to make railings per drawing #5. Lay on print and glue one railing at a time. **( I used testors wood glue for quick setting of uprights)**

These can be made and cut to fit.

Make entry railing full width. Cut angles to fit.
Railing section being held in place to mark for trimming to fit between the post and rail.
Finished railings and center roof section in.

Cut enough 1x6 to cap ends of roof. Place scrape 6x6 under roof to support gluing these to ends. Note end railing.

2x2 added at the backside of the porch roof boards to act as a rain seal at the point where they meet the wall.

2x2 added as the batten over the joint between the side and front porch roof sections.

1x2 roof battens placed over the joints of the 1x12 porch roof boards to further make the porch weather tight.

The second roof frame that was made earlier is shown here with bottom side up with the 1 1/2" x 1/8" roof boards attached.

Seen here from the top. On our version that Kerry took these plans from we used acrylic latex caulk to seal between the roof boards and then painted the entire roof flat black.

6x6 supports added as shown to the bottom side of the roof panel on drawing #4

Installed inside the walls temporarily to check fit 1/2" down from the top of the wall. If you plan on leaving your building outside permanently, you might want to add a little pitch toward the back corner where the scuppers are for drainage. Kerry and I after this much work on ours decided we would bring ours in after runs to protect it. Notice where the glue spots are the 6x6 scraps that were added to support the roof panel later.

Here drilling starter holes for the scuppers then carving with an exacto to fit. Make sure to put them in at a slight angle to make for good draining and that the bottom of the inside opening is at roof level.

Window frames made of 2x4. Measure to fit your window openings as construction results can vary. There is 2x2 added to the kit to do simple dividers for a 4 pane look if desired. Kerry chose to use flat tooth picks has a horizontal divider in the middle of some windows to add the appearance of them being sash windows.

Door frames made of 2x6 with 1x6 filler on the bottoms. Hole drilled for the knob which was made from a brass brad cut off flush with the back of the door and glued.

A piece of Plexiglas holding things down while the glue sets.

A view of the front entry doors temporarily in place.

At this point, Kerry decided to seal the finished walls with exterior grade polyurethane inside and out to further tighten things up. The roof was removed.

Another shot of the sealed wall structure.

From the inside.

Windows frames added. Installed with the backside of the frame flush with the wall framing so it is easier to add glazing if you desire.

Front doors added. Liberal amounts of glue used. Open or closed your choice.

Back door stoops added. Part of a tri-square used to hold the bottom stoop square.

Blocks used to hold the top stoop in place and support the 6x6 posts.

The first stair stringer sawn per the pattern from 2x12, attached to the wall and the bottom stoop added. Notice the mistake window. Blocked it does add a certain character. Just like the second floor access was an afterthought and not planned for in the beginning. You can certainly leave it out of yours if you like.

At this point, Kerry had a beer break with some of his beach friends.

Outer stinger added. All 3 were held together with clamps and sawn at the same time per drawing #5..

1x12 stair treads added with about 1/8" overhang on the outside end.

Building upside down to show the middle stringer added last. Notice treads overhang the outside stringer. A nice touch.

4x4 posts being added per with 2x4 top rail per drawing #1.

Top railings added using same spacing and building technique as the other railings. Stair railing uses all 4x4 posts, no 2x2 spindles. Space as necessary to fit your construction results.

A Close-up of the stairs at the point where they meet the upper porch also shows closer the 4x4 post spacing. .

Roof panel seal before installing just like the walls were with exterior polyurethane. Place 6x6 scrap on the under side to add support in a few spots. Scuppers installed. Built per drawing #4

1x12 installed on the inside to hide the backside of the wall framing. Remember if you made changes to add pitch to your roof that these will have to be trimmed to end up flush with the top of the wall. If you raised the front of the roof 1/8" for pitch that should be more than enough.

More of the same.

2x12 added to the top of the wall. Flush on the backside leaving a little overhang on the outside of the walls all the way around.

More of the same.

The last piece of 2x12 in place weighed down with a piece of glass until the glue sets.

Top view of the roof with a last bead of glue around the perimeter to seal it.

Building shown upside down, notice drops of glue on the bottoms of the posts to seal the end grain.

A bowl used to curve the pair of 1x12's used to form the top of a round top sign to put on the front per drawing #4.

Shown here after the glue cured.

Clamps used to hold 2x12 bottom piece in place.

1x12 used to make panel for the sign.

Panel cut to fit inside the frame.

Scraps of 2x4 used to form the letters. I think Kerry had a great idea there!

Shots of our version as the cornerstone building of our town. We added real single strength glass for glazing and lace for curtains. A chimney that goes down inside the build to a large coffee can that we put mosquito coils in for smoke and skeeter control. A few lemax figures added.

Now the building is ready for your finishing touches. Glazing, signs, lighting, all up to your imagination. Finish with exterior grade products and seal everything inside and out.


Good Luck and Happy Railroading!

Let us know if you have any suggestions or inputs for this tips page!


Mark & Sue Smith
Smith Pond Junctions Railroad Products

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