Garage addition...with cars

by brae  

The garage is made from the Foxhall Conservatory kit by Real Good Toys.  I bought some 3/8" Baltic birch plywood to replace the two pre-cut walls that came with the kit.  I also lowered the whole structure by using the spacers included in the kit as the foundation.  A friend with a jig saw helped me cut the walls down from their original height of 12" to a new height of 10 15/16".  This height allowed for most of the original trim from the conservatory kit to still be used on the outside without the garage having too high of a ceiling on the inside.  It also accommodated the height of the doorway into the kitchen.  The stairs originally meant for the front porch of the conservatory will serve as the entry stairs to the kitchen from the garage.

Finding a Timberbrook garage door kit was an adventure.  The few places that had them online were sold out.  I called several local dollhouse shops and happened to find a store with one left in stock.  I heard from one shop owner that Timberbrook is either out of business or selling their business.  It's a shame, too, since it is a good quality kit.

I've tried three cars for this space during the building phase.  The first goes back to my original hobby of building model cars.  Instead of making them showroom new, I would beat them up and make them the type of cars that make you wonder how they are still running.  :D  One of the first ones I built was a Datsun 240Z.  So, when I happened upon a diecast metal 1970 Datsun 240Z in bright orange, I decided to go for it.

It is a beautiful model, but it is too small for the garage space.  Usually 1:18 scale cars can hold their own with a 1:12 scale house, but the Datsun is a small sportscar in real life making this particular car smaller than most 1:18 scale models.  Now the Datsun sits on a display shelf instead.

The second one I tried was a 1:14 scale remote control Audi TT.  I like this one better for size but mostly for the fact that it has working lights (though annoyingly only when in motion).  However, it's a cheap, plastic car lacking in detail when compared to the Datsun.  It is, after all, made to be driven fast and bumped into walls.  :]

Then it was on to the third car: a diecast metal Audi A8.  It is hampered by being 1:18 scale but it's larger than the Datsun and has finer detail than the RC car.

In the end, after I finish the garage and put in some filler (boxes, folding chairs, tools - basic garage stuff), I will decide which of the Audis will take a permanent place in the Newport.  The likely winner will be the RC car for its more accurate size proportion.  But, who knows?  My garage might get so crammed with junk that only the Datsun will fit, thus saving the always.  ;]

Newport two story addition (part 1)

by brae  

I added the two story addition to the Newport but to the right side of the house instead of the left (it is made to fit on the left side).  Real Good Toys sells the nosing needed to fit this kit to the right side, but in my experience it wasn't necessary.  Perhaps this was because I added the addition while the original house was still unassembled.  If anything, I had to cut one of the original nosing pieces from the kit down to fit properly.  Some might need the additional nosing, but I didn't end up needing it after all.

I had a couple of issues fitting the addition.  First, although the first floor of the original house kit and that of the addition are 1/4" thick, one is mdf and one is wood.  This made for a slight difference in height in the materials.

Since there was a bit of the house floor that extended into the addition, I used some 1/16" shims on the addition foundation to make the floor flush.

Second, there wasn't enough room to fit a door adjacent to the front door under the stairs as they were originally intended to be installed.  Instead, I cut the door opening toward the back of the house.

As a result, the stairs needed to be flipped in the opposite direction.  I traced the outline of the new stair opening and used a coping saw to make the cuts.

The excess opening will be filled when I get to the ceiling/flooring finishing.

I actually like this layout better since it makes sense to me that when you enter through the front door, you would either go directly upstairs or into the main part of the house.

The wayback machine

by brae  

Though I had a dollhouse in childhood, my main interest for as long as I can remember has been cars.  I wanted an all-terrain vehicle for my second birthday, and grandpa bought it for me.  :D  I am not sure exactly when I got into building model cars, but I still have three completed 1:25 scale models - one showroom quality and the other two junkers.  These were made sometime in the late 80's - early 90's.

The first is a Jaguar XKE.  It's the most polished of the three.  It has a gold metallic undercoat covered by sheer deep green.  I used an airbrush on all the models.  Other than on the wheels where I was able to use a small brush, the chrome details were painted gold using the tip of a sewing pin.  That same method was used to paint the dashboard details.

The second is a Volkswagen Beetle in a lovely shade of oxidized army green.  :D  Of course, the kit body was originally pink.  Ech!

I cut mini vinyl floor mats to cover the holes in the floorboards.  It has broken windows, dents, rust, a missing rearview mirror, multiple city stickers and a now-missing CB antenna mounted on the back.  That's railroad paint called dirt as accent.

The third, and my personal favorite, is the Datsun 240Z.  It has a cockeyed suspension, which - if you have ever seen one of these on the road - should seem familiar to you.

Occasionally, I will see one that is showroom new and I just have to smile.  This model has the same issues as the Beetle - the dents, rust etc., but I did a few extra things here.

The spider web crack in the front windshield is done by poking a heated straight pin through the plastic then using a hobby knife to etch the pattern.

I upholstered the hatchback just to put a greasy tire mark there.

There are cigarette burns in the seats, a missing headlight and only part of the nameplate remains on the back.  I painted most of the car in a mix of gloss and flat black, but the hood and rear piece have a bit more gloss to represent replacement parts.  It, too, got a splash of dirt to finish it off.  Interestingly enough, the dustier these models get over time the more realistic they look.

Egg carton stone foundation

by brae  

I followed the tutorial at The China Doll with a few modifications.  Since the Newport is already brick, I opted for a stone foundation.  I cut my stones using different measurements from the ones used in the tutorial - 5/16" x 13/16".  I originally tried mimicking concrete blocks by doing a direct 1:12 scale conversion of the real thing, but the blocks looked too big in proportion.

The overall foundation with the two-story addition and the extended porch was a lot of surface to cover, but I lucked out with a chance sighting on freecycle of 20 cardboard egg cartons only 15 minutes from my house!  Again, the price was right, and there's a sense of accomplishment recycling something in a creative way.  I like a lot of the pre-made items available to finish dollhouse foundations, but I prefer making things myself.  It adds a more creative touch and is much less expensive.  Besides, most of the foundation will be obscured by the eventual landscaping.

I painted the foundation medium grey before gluing on the stone pieces.  Instead of breaking the pieces at the corners, I bent the pieces to follow the contour of the foundation.

I did use a spacer, but since the stones varied slightly in size there was no way to eliminate all irregular gaps.  The grout should make this less obvious.

I also cut the stones in half to finish the top edge for consistency, but the nosing along the first floor pretty much covers them up.

Once the glue dried, I used a stencil brush to dot on some white and medium grey paint mixed with glaze, blotting to keep the color application subtle.  I then sprayed the stones with two thin coats of matte sealer and let the foundation dry completely.

I applied the grout (Andi Mini Brick and Stone Mortar Mix) in its existing grey form with my fingers, wiping away the excess as I went along.  Doing small sections at a time, I pulled a round toothpick gently along the grout lines to enhance the realism of mortar between the stones.

I lost some of the darker tones with the application of the mortar, so I repeated the painting process I had done before the grout but with a much finer application of paint (more glaze than paint) and then applied one more thin coat of matte sealer spray.

I am glad I was able to do this process before the house was glued to the foundation; it made it much easier having the ability to flip the foundation in any direction I needed.

Garage mockup

by brae  

My surprise addition revealed: a garage!

Okay, maybe nothing special, but I haven't seen too many dollhouses out there with modern garages and having one goes back to my original hobby of building model cars.  I've tried a couple of car model scales during the planning phase - 1:18 and 1:14 - both have their issues.  But, I am sure I'll find something I like for it eventually.

I am building the garage out of the Foxhall Conservatory kit and a Timberbrook working garage door kit.  Perhaps not a very green thing to do - turn a lovely conservatory into a garage - but not to worry...there will still be a conservatory, on top of the garage.  :D

I had a bit of difficulty finding replacement 3/8" plywood for the front and side of the kit.  At Lowes and Home Depot, the plywood they had was rough and had a lot of cracks I would have to fill.  With the reduced, close-up scale of dollhouse building, I decided it just wasn't a good enough material.  The hobby shops near me didn't have plywood in a large enough size, and the basswood sheets in the right size were really expensive.  I ended up finding some nice quality Baltic Birch plywood at a local Woodcraft store, but you can also buy online.  I took the piece of plywood I bought at Woodcraft to Home Depot and they cut the length down for me free of charge.  Their cuts were pretty accurate, and the price was right!  ;)

I used the spacer boards included with the conservatory kit to make a lower floor base/foundation.  Having a foundation as high as the house presented problems for the driveway leading into the garage.  I am still mulling over some ideas for that, but I definitely needed a lower foundation.

Since I upgraded the main front door, I will use the front door that came with the Newport kit for the garage entry door.  I also plan to use the stairs, doors and windows that came with the conservatory kit elsewhere in the build.  Very little of the kits I bought will go unused.

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