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Prairie Outhouse 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!

Marking stock to length by laying it on the drawing. Cut long elements first using the leftovers for the shorter items.  Keeping your pencil sharp makes for more accurate cuts.

Using 2x4's layout the front, back and side walls. Unlike the real world the rafters are standing on edge just like the rest of the front and back wall 2x4's. Since this is just a outhouse, we thought we could get away with breaking some basic construction rules. Reason is simple, it gives a larger glue contact area both on the framing elements and the shake roof panels. All the effort you put in now to make sure everything is as straight and square as possible will pay off in the end.

Side wall, notice 2x4 top and bottom plates look a little long, you can easily trim them later before assembling all the walls together. It is important to watch overall size, as it will throw off the siding install later.

All the walls assembled, make sure to keep things square and doing this on a flat surface is also important Ridge board installed as well as the center rafters.

This where prototyping a kit is important, as we realized we should have started with the front and back walls, as the framing is supposed to end up 3" wide. This is perfect for the 1x12 siding comes out even. So start with the front and back wall, attach the siding starting at one corner. Trim around the door when you get there.

Notice on this side wall, brimming around the rafters so the siding meets the bottom of the future roof panels. The siding on the sidewalls can overlap the edge of the front and back siding boards. Trim as needed.

The walls attached together. Make sure to keep everything as square a possible. Door jambs and trim installed per the instructions.

This shake photo section is from the prairie farm house tips page. Measure your frame and add 1/4" for overhang front, back and 1/8" over rafter ends. Using the spacing guide sheet, start by just lining up a row of shakes face up. Don't get to perfect, just make sure overall line is straight. Small differences from shake to shake will give it character, and it will look more like a real roof. The guide has a vertical line on the right to help you keep your sheet square. Marking a line proper width for your panel on the left, will keep you straight on that side. As a few photo's below, shakes can be snapped to trim them for width, or cut with sharp scissors or a knife. Choosing ones with the straightest grain to cut is best.

Glue applied to the top while holding the row down with a wood block. Keep the glue to the top 1/4" as it will get covered by the next row.

Spread the glue smooth to hold the row together. Don't leave any bumps or lumps that will interfere with the next row, and keep the glue strip narrow so it will be covered by the next row.

Next row started, you can put a small dab of glue on the bottom of the backside and add like here, or as in the next photo a bead of glue across the entire sheet. Line up the beginning row with a line. The next row line up its top with the next line, and this will give you a 10" scale exposure. This is the proper exposure for a premium roof shake installation.

As you add shakes, alternate widths and color. Let some stray a little from straight. Make sure starting with the second row, that the covering row also covers the gap between the lower shakes.

The completed sheet for one half of the roof. Remember these shake photos are from the larger kit, so your panel will be smaller. Remember, that the last row gets trimmed, so the shakes end up being about 9/16"-5/8" long. Then once the ridge cap is added, correct exposure of 10" happens at the peak. Look at the ridge cap photo below, and it will become clearer. 6 rows of shakes in each of our panels for the Deluxe outhouse.

First panel in place. Notice top row trimmed, in out case to the top of the 5th row.

Roof finished. One thing we would do different is to cut the length of all the ridge cap shakes down by about 1/3, as on a smaller roof it might seem more to scale.

Door was made by laying 4 1x6 boards face down, and spreading a thin layer of glue on the face up (backside). Then the z brace attached. We left the door a little larger than needed, trimming it to fit the opening before attaching it. Glued to the jamb, your choice of right, left opening or even closed. A small scrap glued on as a door knob.

At this point the building is ready for finishing.  Paint, inside and out with exterior grade finishes.  Since we have low voltage lighting in our yard, we plan to use their 4 watt bulbs and power source so every night when they come on our buildings will light up.

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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