Category: "Watson Mill"

Watson Mill - sails, part 1

by brae  

I cut a front wall from foam core board to determine the setup for the sails.  I don't want to drill a hole, have to move it and be left with patching issues on the wood board.  I mocked up a back wall for now as well and taped the motor in place.  I can make adjustments to this wall as needed.

I'm using a wooden dowel for mockup purposes, taped to the motor.  I might end up using this material in the end, but for now I'm just testing.

It's still a good height for Gustav.

I made a sail hub from a scrap of foam core board and used bamboo skewers as the lead edges of the sails.  These have 10" of exposed length.  I cut foam core sails by eyeballing the first one and then cutting the rest to match -- these are 8.5" long x 2.5" wide.  All of this is probably lighter in weight than my final sails will be, but it will at least give me an idea of scale and proportion.  I think this has a good balance overall.

Turn on the motor....  So far, it looks as though my motor is able to handle the job effortlessly.



Now, I need to create the sails.  :]

Watson Mill - motor, part 1

by brae  

Before I even begin to build, I need to figure out how to power the sails for Watson Mill. The mechanical setup will determine how much I alter the open back to disguise the power source.

As I mentioned, this tutorial from Bruce Hirst used a motor from Micromark.  The main reason I did not go with the Micromark motor is the fact that it has a large cord attached.  This is useful in that you have to do no wiring, but hiding a cord of that size with an on/off switch and plug would have been difficult.  It would have required large holes or notches in the building and landscaping board.  Addressing any possible problems in the future would be difficult as well.

I also wasn't sure I would have the room or the need for the Lego gears shown in the tutorial.  The space needed for these would also mean closing up even more of the back. Therefore, I might be connecting the sail shaft directly to the motor to limit the space needed from top to bottom on the back wall.

So, I chose this motor from amazon.  It runs slightly faster at 5RPM vs the 2.5RPM in the tutorial but it is also 1 5/8" in diameter as opposed to 2" in diameter for the Micromark motor.   It has two wires attached in the back and runs on 12V AC power, much safer to work with and the wires are small enough to feed through reasonably sized drilled holes.  Unfortunately, this motor did not end up being suitable.  It was listed as running both clockwise and counterclockwise, but there is no way to select the direction.  It is completely random.  :\

So, I moved on to this motor (or pair of motors) from Winbell's Store on aliexpress.  It is the same size as the one from amazon but runs in only one direction.  I confirmed with the seller ahead of time and received a prompt response.  :]

Being AC instead of DC (no, don't ask me to explain the difference just accept that there is one), the motor will run on a separate line from the dollhouse 12V DC system.  I bought this transformer to power the motor.  All that will be required is to splice on some length of wire and add forked spade connectors to the ends.  You can spin the wire directly to the transformer, but the connectors just make for a cleaner and more secure assembly.

Here I've added a paper cutout just to show that the motor does spin.

A quick video.  :]



Seeing that this motor turns counterclockwise makes a difference in how the sails will be built.  Even though the wind won't power them, I want the sails to be built to correctly correspond to direction.  Here is clockwise, and here is counterclockwise.  You can see the difference in the lead edges and angles.  Bruce Hirst has the correct configuration for clockwise sails, but I will be building mine opposite to suit the spin of my motor.

I'll need to build the sail structure first to make sure my motor can handle the work before starting the mill itself...a bit of reverse engineering.  :]  I don't want to do all the work just to find out I need a different motor in the end.  Let the engineering begin!

Tribal Foxes Rug - 63 hours

by brae  

Continuing work on the Tribal Foxes Rug.  I've reached the other side of the center square.  :]

I am now at 63 hours of work.  I am stitching full cross stitch with single thread over 32 count Jobelan.

Watson Mill - adding depth and padding walls

by brae  

No, we haven't fast forwarded two months, but I was in the mood to do some prep work on the Mill this weekend.  Prepping the changed walls now means I won't have to wait for glue to dry when I want to get to the actual build.

This post will show you how I made rooms deeper.  I've added depth to a kit before when I built Baxter Pointe Villa, but this build is much simpler to widen in that the sides are just rectangles.  All that is needed are new, larger rectangles.

I cut a duplicate of the front kit wall from 1/4" thick plywood.  This is to stabilize the window and door die-cut areas and add thickness for supporting the windmill sails.

I glued the new wall to exterior of the kit wall and patched the window hole in the kit wall using wood from one of the original floor boards.  I used Elmer's wood glue for a solid bond.

The original interior depth of the kit was 8 inches.  I've decided to make the new depth 12 inches.  This will give me plenty of room to decorate on both floors without moving to a larger landscaping board.

I cut a new first floor board from 1/8" thick plywood.  I'm eliminating the kit constructed foundation as well, so this will drop the floor 1/4" below the original tabs.  I cut two 1/4" thick plywood boards 12" long by 7 3/4" high.  I masked off the area to glue based on these measurements.

The new side walls are glued to the interior of the original side kit walls.  These will serve to hold the upper floor in place instead of the tab and slot construction from the original.  I cut a new second floor board from 1/4" thick plywood for stability.  On the door side, the added thickness will help in making a realistic functional door.

I pieced the remainder of the outer walls using the original floor boards cut into sections to fit.

For now, I've left the upper room unpadded.  I will address these wall sections later.

The boards are being pressed flat until I'm ready to build.  :]

Watson Mill

by brae  

Greenleaf Dollhouses held their Spring Fling contest for a number of years, including some years before miniatures became an everyday thing for me.  The 2009 kit had an arch roof and an interesting shape.  The kit is still available today, but I bought one some time ago for a someday project just in case they went out of production.

Jen Barrick's Loganberry Mill was one of the first miniature houses that drew me into the hobby.  She dropped the scale down to half scale and made the most amazing sail set.  It's truly an inspirational build from the inner mechanisms to the realistic landscaping.

So, this is where I start...with an idea for my own take on the kit...Watson Mill.  The kit is simple yet elegant in design, a cozy place.  I punched out the upper window even though I will be adding sails here, because the kit had trim pieces die-cut there that were falling out.  I'll just have to patch it.  I won't be using the cardboard roof pieces, but they complete the dry fit.

I will definitely need to move the door to one of the side walls so I've left it and the lower window intact for now.  We don't want to send anyone ass over tea kettle.  :O

I will keep the full scale aspect and make this more of a fantasy build in the vein of Roland's Retreat.  That saves the hassle of adding a full kitchen and bathroom. :D  This will also be a mill rehab with most of the inner workings of a proper mill long gone and replaced with the cozy decor of its current resident, Gustav.  He's independently wealthy, so he dines out all the time anyway.  There might be room for snacks and a tea kettle.

Gustav is an otter with a thirst for knowledge and culture.  He loves the written word, so I foresee a good deal of books to be made.  I can't go stealing them from grandma at the Heritage, after all.

With his simple tastes, we'll need a place to sleep and a place to read....maybe a stove to keep warm, too.  Since the upper room is small, I can make a daybed for the space.  This will leave room for a short dresser and a bedside table.  I prefer the realism of stairs in my builds, even in the realm of fantasy, so he will also need a ladder between the floors.  While I do love this rug from dalesdreams...I think a fox rug might look nice here in the bedroom.  ;D

I think this Bespaq chair might stay.  I have two of them, so we will see if there ends up being enough room for Gustav to be the social type.

For the exterior finishes, I am drawn to both wood shake and brick, so I might end up with a mix of the two if I can't decide.  I will likely build up the ground as Jen did to make the landscape more interesting.  I'd also like to add an arched door to keep with the storybook feel.

As for the sails, they are going to have to actually spin, right?  :D  Bruce Hirst has some great instruction on how he made his working mill, so that will be a great starting point.  I have the challenge of an open back structure so I will need to be creative in disguising and setting any mechanical details.  I will have to close up at least the arch near the upper back.  The mechanism will have to be addressed fairly early since that will determine if I have to adjust the height of the second floor space.

First, though, I will determine if I want more depth to the kit to make the rooms larger.  That's very straightforward since I'll just need wider side walls.  I will likely have to cut an additional front wall as well to have a good thickness for a working window and to brace the sails.  I'm 99% sure I want more depth since there are a couple of things I'd like to add that will require a larger lower room.  The kit is relatively small to start, so there's plenty of room to add while staying with my current landscaping board (the original Aero Squadron Lounge board before it outgrew it).

So, I've put the kit in dry fit so I can stare, think, plan and play.  I even have some furniture kits out to ponder and perhaps assemble when I need a side project.

I will get to this build in a couple of months.  I plan to work on Milo Valley Farm right now, but there will come a point when all that is left is the Datsun, and I will need spray painting weather for that.  :]

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