February 21, 2011

Burning down the house

Waiting for the glue to dry before the final touch up painting.
Several maps and text references indicate that the RF&P station at Falmouth was burned when the rebs retreated in spring of 1862. I had no other information about the station except that is was in an area away from town and perhaps that there were some slave quarters nearby.  Armed with that little information I decided to build a small, burned down station. I went with a 12 by 28-foot structure with a brick chimney at the north end. Since it was a wood building, all that remains is the chimney, stone foundation and some charred timbers.

Here are some in-progress photos.

The chimney is a plywood core with Plastruct brick sheet superglued to the exterior. The foundation is a basswood core with Slaters stone plastic sheet.

The ashes are bits of coal and Woodland Scenics cinders. The charred wood pieces are pits of scrap scale lumber roughed up and painted with dilute Paynes Grey acrylic. My daughter helped paint all the scrap lumber pieces.

I used a mixture of dilute white glue with heavy shots of burnt umber and black acrylic craft paint to hold down the charred wood pieces and the cinders. Adding the acrylic paint to the glue helps control the final color and makes the dilute white glue mixture permanent so that subsequent coats of dilute glue and wetting agent don't loosen the items already glued.

To the south of the station is the road to Chatham Manor. Amazing, the white fence has not yet been burned by the soldiers! Note how the fence continues on the backdrop.

I added an fence line and some cedar trees that Brian Kammerer sent me.
Note how the road and fence extend onto the backdrop,
The cedars help obscure the interface between the road and the backdrop. The illusion works quite well.


  1. Awesome! You know, you could make a Pelle Søeborg style book about this layout... lots of nice photos... tips and how-to's... I'd buy a copy :-)

  2. I would also gladly buy a "making of" book as well!

  3. I am working on such a book. If you have ideas or suggestions, please let me know.

  4. Nice job on the fence and the house! Talk about your fixer-upper! Maybe they couldn't pay the mortgage and decided to collect from the insurance company. Seriously, it too is well done.

    Bob Harris

  5. How did you make those cedar trees? I'm modeling Virginia and need to make several of those. Wish I could update as much as you. Great job!

  6. The cedars are the tops of sea grass from a marsh in CT. A friend sent them to me.

    1. I too would like to know more about how he made the cedar trees and what type grass he used. I'm building an HO scale layout and the Easter Red Cedar are everywhere. Yours look really nice and are the closest I've seen in scale models.