Category: "Ivy Hollow, RFD Post Office - HBS Creatin' Contest 2019"

Ivy Hollow - first draft

by brae  

After the initial dry fit, I bought some foam core board to make a more complete mockup.  Using the original side walls as a guide, I traced the new pitch and depth.

I cut new side walls, roof panels and front wall.  I taped the windows in place for now.  Suddenly, my post office was no longer bijou.  :\

This is larger than I wanted to work with, though it works in proportion for the horse and looks nice overall.  Yes, Sheila, I hear you laughing as I call this too large.  :D

I went back to the new side walls and cut them using the original floor board as a guide.  Instead of adding to the front to accommodate the angled door, I will cut the corner from the original floor board and make the right side wall narrower.  This will reduce the interior space, but there is still plenty for my needs.

Back to bijou.  :D  I'm thinking I will make the front door and roof removable to access the interior.  Removing the roof will allow me to set up, and the removable front door will allow for more complete interior photos.

This is the new mockup without the raised foundation.

And, with the cat food cans....  I think the higher option is still better.  In the end, the building will be raised a little less than cat-food-can height, closer to 1" in added foundation height and any landscaping height I build in.

The windows were something I wasn't sold on in my initial dry fit.  I taped an attic window in place to see how it looked in relation to the door size and the building overall.

I taped a traditional working window in place to gauge that one as well.

Here are the plain windows side by side.  Both of these seem better without the heavy pediment, but I am having a hard time choosing between the two.  The attic windows seem more proportional to the size of the building.  I have only one of each, so I will need to buy two to three more of whichever I choose.

I don't think the small gable window is going to work, either.  I'll save it for another build.  Instead, since I won't have room above the door for the town name, I might put a sign in the gable for better visibility.

Ivy Hollow

by brae  

That's the name I've chosen for the town where my little post office stands.  :]  I usually pull names from pet companions, past or present, or other sentimental connections.  My current dwarf hamster friend is Ivy, hence the town name.  I didn't choose a state and likely won't.  Yes, I will see if I can get her to sit in the mail wagon and/or the post office.  :D

It's nice to have a small kit to work with this time around since I usually end up cutting down the kit by a lot.  Here's the portion I plan to keep right out of the box.  The exterior will likely be siding, which I think I have in my stash (time to dig).  The interior will either be rustic siding or vintage wallpaper.  Considering I have some nice papers, I'll take a look at those first to see if I can find one suitable. The floor will be rustic wood.

I won't be using the front wall since it's built for the included French doors and not something easily altered.

I can use the roof piece, but I want to change the pitch a bit and add a new partial front roof.  I'll need to add some depth to the left side wall in the front to support that partial roof.  Then, I would need to cut a new floor or at least add to the existing board.  I like the angled door in my example, so, my new front wall will be short.  I plan to cut that from plywood and add two windows there.  This will be a rural post office, so I plan to keep it rather bijou.  :D

I want a screen door in addition to the usual wood door, so I'm using a Houseworks door and Greenleaf screen door as mockups.  Unfortunately, the doors are different dimensions, so I will likely need to build my own frame for the Houseworks door and create a screen door to get a seamless fit.

The kit windows are more modern, so those will be replaced.  I tried out some new old stock Hofco Colonial windows.  They are in relatively good shape for their age.

These are interesting windows.  They come with an exterior portion with working panes, a spacer portion and an interior trim portion.

The interior portion slides around the exterior to accommodate walls of various thicknesses.  You use the spacer if you have a narrow wall.  It will be interesting to see how these work in actuality.  They might be a little fancier than what I want, so I might use different windows in the end.  I'll wait to decide once I get a true mockup made.

The horse and wagon seem too big in relation to the building.  Now, I know that some Breyer horses are rather large for scale, but this is what I have, and the wagon needs to be built to fit the horse.

I added some height (cat food cans), and that seemed to help.  So, I'll need to raise the foundation and have more steps into my post office than the inspiration pic.  I'll work on the roof pitch, which will add some visual height.  A modest lift in landscaping around the building will also push a better proportion.

Once I get a different roof pitch, I want to try using the tiny gable window from last year's Three Gables kit for some pizazz.  Does anyone have an extra they didn't use?  I have only one.  I might be able to replicate it, but it would be simplest to just have another.

Next up, getting some foam core board to make new walls and roof pieces to try before making any alterations to the original parts.

Mail Wagon - part 2

by brae  

Continuing work on the Mail Wagon.  After my visit to the Wesley W. Jung Carriage Museum, I was even more inspired to make the mail wagon as realistic as possible.  If you do a google search for RFD mail wagons, you will find a wide array of vehicles.  Some are tiny and some are posh, and even the suspensions vary.  This is because the carriers were to buy, store and maintain their own vehicles (and horses).  I'm choosing to make what appeals to me aesthetically as well as what I think will be a reasonable build to attempt.  Since most cabins were basic boxes, the more challenging part is emulating the suspension.


Tobacco wagon at the Wesley W. Jung Carriage Museum with similar suspension

The Rondell kit is completely lacking these suspension details, and after seeing the real life examples, I'm thinking the wheels from that kit would be too bulky as well.  The farm wagons and other utility vehicles had substantial wheels, but the mail wagon wheels were rather slight and dainty.  During my research this week, I happened upon a 1:12 scale Doctor's Buggy by Model Trailways.  This can be pricey depending on the retailer, but I found a great deal on amazon for $50 plus free shipping.

It has the exact suspension I need and daintier wheels than the Rondell kit.

Considering the time and effort I would expend to recreate these parts, the kit is worth it for those parts alone.

The springs and axles are actually metal in this kit.  The wheels will spin and turn, which is just fabulous!  I think it should be fairly straightforward for me to extend the suspension front to back to accommodate a mail cabin that will likely be longer than the kit's buggy compartment.   Those compartment parts are equally fabulous - laser cut and precise.

Now, the reviews say these are challenging kits, but I'm up for it.  :D  Plus, I've made many model cars, so I'm used to confusing, vague and outright erroneous instructions.  I'll start by making the front and back assemblies independently, including the wheels, then build my mail cabin to fit before I make adjustments to the length of the suspension.  I'll need to be mindful of adding too much weight in case the metal parts are more delicate than they seem.  I'll weigh the doctor's buggy parts as a guide.

Realife Country Store fixtures - part 1

by brae  

Realife kits are no longer produced, but they are fairly easy to find at mini shows and on eBay.  Some cost more than others, but you can usually find a deal eventually with some patience.  My post office will need a post office teller/sorter, and I love the one shown on the cover.

While not overly complicated, Realife kits are easier to work with once you've made a few other types of kits, like The House of Miniatures kits.  Realife kits require more patience and prep work.  The kits are usually die cut basswood with some other materials included depending on the kit.

This one includes a letter slot cover, brass wire and a guide for the window bars.

Love the printed detail, but it's a little sloppy.  I'll print a new sign.

The kit includes "strip wood" which are widths pre-cut from a single sheet.  For the trim, you cut the lengths you need from these various sheets.

The die cuts are rarely all the way through, as you can see here.  The wood will require lots of sanding.  The wood is raw at best, and the age can change the quality over time as well.  I don't usually bother sanding until I am assembling in case a part doesn't work and I need to replace it.  No sense in working to smooth a piece you'll discard.

You need to use an X-Acto blade to carefully release the parts and any openings.  Sometimes, the wood is fine, but the pieces are cracked, like this front piece.  Depending on trim placement and load that will be on that piece, sometimes you can just repair the broken piece.  In this case, I will repair the piece since it won't show in the end.  (The instructions even indicate this piece is prone to breakage and suggest repair.)

The parts are sometimes marked incorrectly, though it's rare.  In this case, I have four Part-3 pieces and zero Part-2 pieces when I should have a pair of each.  Showing them side by side, you can see they are not the same length.  So, one set must be Part-2.  I mark all pieces with their number in pencil as I cut them from the sheets.  Otherwise, you end up with a bunch of rectangles in a jumbled mess.

Dry fittings are a must.  As you can see, there are gaps that will need to be addressed during assembly with sanding to fit, clamping as glue is applied and/or replacing parts.

The old wood can sometimes be warped, so you might need to cut replacements from new materials using the pieces as a guide.  This is the front of the counter the post box teller will sit on, so I'm going to cut it from new wood instead of trying to fight the warp.  The same with the countertop which is warped and has a rather large wood grain that will be out of scale.

I will make the letter box that catches the mail larger to better fill the space.  It seems to me, you would insert the mail in lengthwise through the slot, but the box is oriented the opposite.  Don't need customers overshooting the box.

As for the pigeon holes, I think the kit pieces are a loss.  Die cutting doesn't work well for tiny details.

Then, cutting away the excess in the notches tends to cause a lot of breakage.

The pieces just don't fit, and sanding will likely cause more breakage.  I will need to re-cut these from scratch.  Time-consuming, but a better result in the end.

You might ask why bother with these old kits, but some are better than others.  The companion country store accessories kit has a lot of great parts in various materials.  The Realife Country Living Room kit has a fantastic daybed, printed fabrics, turned pieces, etc.  So, it really depends on the kit, the price, the condition it's in and the extras included.  Here, I have the patterns for the post teller and counter units, the metal letter slot and some usable parts.  For me, it's worth the effort.

Creatin' Contest 2019: Yay or neigh

by brae  

Or, should that be yay AND neigh?  :D  This year, I'm going to openly blog about the Creatin' Contest.  I enjoy blogging about my builds as I go, figuring out the yays and neighs along the way, and I suppose it really has been a self-imposed limit to keep it all under wraps.  We might love a good reveal, but the journey itself is also pretty great.  What's my idea, you ask?

First, the horse....

Then the cart....

Then the RFD.  :D  This is a postcard from 1917 showing a post office with the RFD horse wagons picking up the mail.  I love the awnings and the angled doorway especially.  I have a great NOS screen door that I think will be perfect.


image used with permission

Rural Free Delivery was started because rural folk would have to go to town to get their mail, which was often far and not easy in poor weather. While free mail delivery existed in the cities by 1863, rural free delivery didn't truly begin until 1896 with five riders in West Virginia. This video from SmithsonianNPM gives great overview.  Those five rural routes spawned better roads all over the country.  Fascinating!

Check out this awesome video showing the delivery in action in 1903.  :D  I know how excited I get when the mail arrives now, and you can't give sugar cubes to the mail truck!


image from wiki

I think the Serendipity Shed will be a great starting point for my RFD post office stop. I have yet to buy the kit, but soon! A name for my town has already been chosen as well, but I will keep that until later in case I want to change things up as I get going.

I also have these two Realife kits, which will offer a lot of great already-in-the-stash filler for the interior.

I'll need to build the shelving first to determine any alterations to the basic structure.  I'll also look through my stash of windows since the kit ones are more modern.  If anyone needs more of the kit windows or door, just let me know.  :]

So, back to the horse, the wagon and the tack required to make it all work.  :D  I'm busily getting materials from the library and online.  More to come soon....

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Additional sources: Encyclopaedia Britannica; RFDTV; Wikipedia

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