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Prairie Station 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.

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.

Using 2x4's make back, front, and 2 side walls. This is a good time to think about changes you might want to make. The back door (non trackside) could be moved down so it is at ground level, or reposition doors or windows, etc. Just keep in mind the overall structure and where other components might have to connect so you don't put a door or window in an bad spot!.

More progress on the walls. This pair can be slid off the plan onto a flat surface to dry so you can start on the next ones.

All 4 walls put together. Clothes pins make good clamps. They are sitting on our glass layout board with graph paper under it. The graph paper makes a handy square reference to keep the walls square. A block of wood on top to weight it down so it sits flat. The walls should end up approximately 5" x 5".

Here a top view from the front, showing wall relationship. Side walls inside front and back walls.

Here an example of trusses made with 2x4, we laid out the outer framing on one at a time, then slid the waxpaper to a fresh spot and did another.

Then we went back after the outer frame was dry, and added the center 2x4. This was easier than trying to glue all components at the same. The secret with trusses, is to keep them as uniform as possible. This will result in easier placement later, and a structure that looks straighter. All the effort you put in now to make sure everything is as straight and square as possible will pay off in the end. 5 5" trusses and 4 7" trusses are needed.

Structure on its side, weighed down then second outside truss applied on the flat layout board. This is a great way to keep the outside trusses flush with the outside of the side wall, and straight. If you made changes on door or window location, make sure you place the trusses with the overhang so you changes end up on the side you wanted them on.

The center trusses installed. Ours ended up about 1 9/16" apart. 2x4 added between them at the peak for strength. Get the trusses lined up as straight as possible so your roof line looks straight. The peak is the best to use, for line up, as truss rafter ends, can be easily trimmed before you apply the roofing.

We started at the outside side wall of the ticket booth with the 1x12 siding. Several at a time trimming around openings as you go. Note clamping method using lumber and clothes pins to hold down multiple pieces.

Pieces on the layout board cut and ready to apply. Notice liberal amounts of glue on framing.

Once all are in place and the ends clamped down, a block placed in the center to hold it down there.

Back wall (non trackside) showing clamping as well as trimming around rafter ends. Siding should extend up to where the bottom of the roof boards will be.

Front wall (trackside). Notice, siding has to extend up beyond the top of the wall framing to reach the bottom of the future roof boards.

Once we got to the next truss, we notched this piece that goes over the window and cut a small scrap to fit in the gap between the truss rafter, and base plate.

The notched piece in place, and the filler was held in place and a little glue spread on the backside to hold it in place.

2x4 placed behind the extended siding for strength and as an attachment point for the top edge of the siding.

Once the siding was done on the main walls then we filled in the extended truss ends on both outer walls. Leave the ends a little uneven, this adds to the realism.

1x6 for window jambs installed. Doesn't matter if you do the top bottom or sides first, just make sure it ends up flush with the front of the siding.

1x4 trim installed. We like leaving the top piece on windows and doors a little long so it overhangs the side pieces. This was a common old west feature. Notice, the 1x12 scrap under the door trimmed to fit between the side trim, on the non track side of the ticket booth.

Here, 2x2 was laid on the plan for a square reference. Measure to fit your openings, as material thickness and construction results can vary. We actually mark the longest piece by holding the material behind the opening.

From the front side the dividers in place. You might choose to leave them out.

From the backside, note they are flush with the jambs. This makes it easier to add glazing later. You can cut your window material larger than the opening and attach it. With the dividers at the back, they will be tighter to the glazing, and you don't have to cut it exactly to the opening.

An adjustment tip, using a scrap of lumber to move or position a divider. The lumber isn't as likely to stick to the wood as a finger might. Also, it can be used to smooth, and remove excess glue.

The platform base made of 2x6 material weighed down until the glue sets.

Platform framing and ticket booth joined. Make sure to place weight on top of both, so the whole unit sits flat. It might not make a difference later, as the earth it will be set on isn't all the flat, but during the next few steps, the alignment of the two roof sections, is easier if you keep things square and flat now.

Start with the wide end of the platform, with a piece of 2x12. Make sure its overhang on the outside end and both of its ends is approx. 1/8". Add alternating widths of 2x12, 2x6, & 2x4 until you get to the ticket booth. Trim the last piece if necessary to get a tight fit against the wall. On this wide side of the decking, we used (8) 2x12, (9) 2x6, & (5) 2x4 all 5 1/4" long.

Some glue has squeezed up between some of the boards. The brush cleans it up nicely, forcing some back into the cracks, as well as absorbing some of it. After the glue dries on the tips of the bristles, rolling them between your fingers breaks it off.

Again, we started at the outer end with a piece of 2x12 with 1/8" overhang on front and side. Then filled in the rest. We used (6) 2x12, (6) 2x6 & (4) 2x4's all 2 1/8" long on the narrow side of the deck.

6x6 material shown forming the long post assembly. Lay the short one out in the same manner. Measure from the deck surface to bottom of the trusses of the ticket booth, and adjust your post assembly accordingly.

Here the short post assembly held up against the ticket booth wall to mark where the bottom of the 5" truss will go.

A 5" truss attached to the side of the ticket booth.

The long truss assembly has been glued in place. The secret, was to make its bottom posts all the same spacing from the front edge of the decking, while keeping it plumb. Then the short post assembly was attached. Then booth end of course glued to the siding, and the post bottom spacing set the same as the long post assembly. If you end up having to leave the trusses overhang a little more on the back side to maintain the post positioning at the base, that's okay. That is what will show later, if the posts setback from the edge of the decking is a lot different than the other side, that is more noticeable. Ours, luckily came out to almost 5".

Another view to show relationship to the ticket booth.

Clamping detail for the end truss.

The other trusses in place, ours were about 1 9/16" apart. 2x4 added between the trusses at the peak.

2x6 gussets added to the end.

The first 1x12 roof board added and held in place with clothes pins. 1/2" overhang on the ends, and 1/8" on the rafter ends. This is a good time to trim rafter ends if you like. We left ours a little off, and made sure this first roof board was parallel to the base edge by sighting down from the top.

The other bottom boards applied. Same rules, 1/2" on both ends, except for the inside of the platform that butts up against the siding of the ticket booth. And 1/8" on the rafter ends.

The common long roof boards on the trackside of the structure. We used 8 pieces 13" long here up to the peak of the 5" trusses including the first bottom piece with no trimming necessary at the peak. Even out the overlap keeping it as equal as possible.

Then we did the backside of the platform roof, using 8 pieces 7 1/4" long . Once the bottom piece was solid, we apply liberal amounts of glue to the trusses and apply the roof boards one at a time adjusting lap as we go. Then blocking the building at an angle so we can place weights on the roof to hold the boards down until the glue sets.

On the ticket booth continuing to the peak, we used 3 pieces 6 1/8" long. We had to trim the top board to keep spacing like we had on the lower boards. Also, these boards overhang both sides of the ticket booth by 1/2". Notice a couple shims placed under the clamped on board to add a little extra pressure to a stubborn board.

A good view of how to block the building at an angle. The backside of the ticket booth roof in place. 11 pieces total 6 1/8" long including the first bottom board. The last board at the peak trimmed so things look same as the front.

1x4 applied as ridge board. On the platform side, we stopped at the point where the front one butts up against the 1x2 roofing of the ticket booth. The backside one could be trimmed to fit up under the roof and extend to the wall of the booth, but we didn't.

1x6 as corner boards installed. The one on the trackside outside wall we left extend all the way to the bottom of the roof boards.

Not a great photo, but meant to show the front side boards cover the edge of the side corner boards.

How I apply glue to backside of a corner board. You can always use the brush technique to smooth and remove excess.

1x6 used as fill on the end truss on the other end.

Don't be too picky, leave the edge a little jagged as it adds to realism.

2x4 laid out for door, 2 required. Remember to measure your trimmed openings and adjust accordingly.

1x6 applied as filler from the backside to the lower part of one door. We did ours vertical.

Finished with dividers installed.

2x4 used to make a bench frame. 6 required, keep them as uniform as possible. It will make it easier to keep them straight when adding the slats later.

Once the glue is set, clean them up, by sanding them flat on a flat surface. Here we used 100 grit garnet paper. About 10 strokes per side with light pressure.

I like using the drawing as a guide for squareness and spacing. The first 1x4 in place. Tip here is dab a little glue on both areas to be joined, and then let it set up a little bit. Then put it in place. This is probably the hardest board to attach on this whole project. Once you get it stuck on and things kind of straight, let it set a few minutes. Then adjust it as the glue is setting up so it is better.

The rest of the slats added to the back. Note, no center bench frame installed. The reason for this is wood has a tendency to warp, or get longer on the side that glue is added too. If that happens in this case, it makes it almost impossible to get the finished bench to sit straight.

Seat slats in place.

Last, the center frame clamped in place with clothes pins.

Finish photos. Doors have been glued in place.

Start thinking of detail options to add.

Stick pin heads as door knobs.

Glazing installed, and maybe some lettering on it.

A sign made of scrap on the roof with a station name.

Maybe a chimney made of drinking straw on the ticket booth.

Added figures and accessories, make it start to look like a real building.

A few finished photos. 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.

In the lower right corner as used on our layout.


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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