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Trackside Shanty 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!

   On the layout drawing, a side wall.  Wood blocks used to weight it down and hold the top plate in place.  Laying a clear plastic document protector or piece of glass over the layout drawing will keep parts from sticking to it.

Using a plastic scrap as a glue applicator, and dabbing glue on joints.  We then let that set up, and turn the wall over to apply glue to the other side of the joints.

   Front, Back, 2  Side walls & 4 trusses  ready to assembly together.  When assembling the trusses, make sure that the bottom plate longest dimension equals the top of your end walls.

    All  4 walls assembled together.  Assemble them on a flat surface, and make sure they stay square.  Holding them together at the corners with small clamps or as we used spring clothes pins.

    Rear view of with trusses added to the walls.  Any unevenness of parts can and should be adjusted.  But also keep in mind, that being imperfect, can lead to a structure that looks older and more realistic.  Aging is not only in coloration, but in warping that happens in wood structures with age!

     A  front view of the finished frame work.  Door, and window from this point have to be custom fit to the opening left by the framing process.

     Using wood blocks to hold down the siding, and batten strips while glue sets.  We realized at this point, that it would be best to wait to put on the batten strips (the 1x2's that cover the joints between siding pieces) on the front, as they would interfere with window and door trim.

    Siding attached to the front  using same technique as above.  Leave the batten strips for later, and leave the side wall siding for later, to allow access for roofing, door and window work.

    Rear view showing siding progress at this point.  Now is a good time to trim the end of the rafters to correct any unevenness problems there.  Mark across them using a straight edge and trim.

    Attaching the first roof boards using a wooden clothes pin as a clamp.  Leave the  board hang over the ends evenly front to back, and overhang the rafter ends by about 1/16".

    We applied  a ribbon of glue to the tops of the rafters one side at a time, and put the roof boards in place.  The top board we then lined up with the peak, and adjusted the spacing of all of the rest.  In our case the overlap came out to a little more than a 1/16".  Then weighted them down as shown until the glue set.

    Another view at this point.  Per the instructions apply the 1x4 ridge boards front to back to cap off the peak.  This can be seen in the finished photo at the bottom of this page.

    Now finish the side wall siding.  You can trim around the rafters as we did and let the siding go up to the bottom of the roof boards, or end it at the bottom of the rafters.  Again, clamp or weight them down until the glue sets.

    Using 1x4 install the door jambs making sure they are flush with the siding surface.  I like doing the side first, then the top.  Then the top jamb piece helps to hold the side pieces tight at the tops.  When working with these smaller pieces, I butter the back with glue then apply it to the structure.  You will notice, on long pieces like these the ends will try to lift.  This is because the glue has put moisture back into the wood on that side, causing that side to expand and become longer.  So you will have to watch for that, as it happened to us several times.  We would apply the batten strips, walk away and come back to lifted ends.  So weight, clamp, hold or whatever.

    Here the window jambs in place.  Again, making sure they are flush with the siding surface.  It doesn't matter if the top or sides are done first.

   Good example of  clean off excess glue with a wood scrap while installing the 1x4 door trim.  Again, the backside of the board was buttered with glue and applied to the door, covering the edge of the jamb.

    Window and door trim done.  Notice we left the top trim over the door long.  I have noticed this on a lot of old west buildings.

    Using a scrap of leftover 2x4, I decided to make a threshold for the bottom of the door.  It turned out to be a nice detail.

    Corner board detail.

    Finished corner boards, and batten strips all the way around.

    Door done, installed in closed position.

    Door in open position.  At this point the building is ready for finishing. 

An example of this kit on our layout.

Detail such as a pin head for a door knob, chimney out of 1/4" drinking straw.  Then paint, inside and out with exterior grade finishes.  Paint added details and add glazing.  You can use clear document protectors, or thin Plexiglas.  Some I have heard from use clear packing tape.  Two layers sticky side to sticky side.  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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