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

Ivy Hollow - potbelly stove, part 4

by brae  

Continuing work on the potbelly stove. There's always the kit stovepipe, which has excellent detailing, but I wanted to attempt a straight pipe up through the ceiling, which would be more in line with my inspiration photo. The rub lies in the oval opening at the rear of the stove. I can't just take a round polystyrene tube and use it out of the package. I also don't want to alter the kit parts just in case my alterations fail and I need to fall back on the original stovepipe. As a reminder, here is the stove built for Baslow Ranch.

Debora sent me some defunct Chrysnbon kits for parts some time ago, and one of those was the cook stove. Look here at this part. It's an oval to round adapter.

I cut the top away using the scroll saw and sanded it smooth.

To make the stovepipe that will continue upward, I used 1/2" polystyrene tubing.

In order to make it easier to hold the stovepipe steady while the plastic cement set, I glued three polystyrene rods inside the pipe adapter.

Once the glue set, I glued on the stovepipe, leaving the full length intact. Once I get to the roof, I'll cut the top angle and fashion a chimney pipe for the exterior. I cut a thin band of polystyrene and glued it approximately 3 inches from the top of the adapter to make it look like the stovepipe was assembled in two pieces, which it likely would have been.

I roughed up the surface with sandpaper and spray painted it flat black. It will remain unattached until installation.

While I was painting, I finished the floor pad in the same stippled black finish as the stove.

Horse Harness - part 1

by brae  

Maybe that should read, "Putting Jebediah to work, part 1." As you know, I'm using a Breyer thoroughbred horse for my mail wagon. I found it interesting that at least one pacer (harness racing horse) pulled a mail wagon in real life.

Mail Wagon Horse Mon, Jan 19, 1914 · The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana) ·

After finally getting my hands on the marvelous book Making Model Horse Harness by Anne Funnell, I started reading the material and doing more sleuthing online. Anne's business is no more, so I am doing my best to scout Rio Rondo for the things I need. They seem to be well-stocked, so I am making a shopping list while I work on a mockup.

I bought this bridle from Texas Tiny at the local mini shows this past spring.

I fitted it to Jebediah to see. Yeah, it was a pain. I can see there will be more swearing in my future as I make said harness. :D But, it fits perfectly and is very well made. I'm not sure if I will be able to modify this one (the reins are not long enough, there's no simulated bit and there are no blinders), or if I will have to use this as a guide to make my own with the harness.

I had the idea of doing a test run with ribbon before diving into the leather and custom hardware. This would give me a feel for the parts and lengths/widths of the tack. Michaels is always hit or miss in the supplies department, but it was the closest store while out to lunch. I bought 1/8" wide white ribbon - the two colors missing from the stock of plain 1/8" ribbon were brown and black. Sigh. I colored the white ribbon with a permanent marker and let it dry overnight. I'm not worried about color transfer since Jebediah is still in his primed state. I had 1/4" black ribbon at home. These aren't the precise widths I'll need, but they are a good approximation.

I didn't get very far, since one part really depends on another, but it was worth a shot. I need to just get the materials and start to work - trial and error. But, this attempt did help me study the drawings in better detail and estimate the amount of leather I will need. I also kept a tally of the various hardware components since the book doesn't have a detailed listing of items with sizes. The book appears to be a companion to the kits and hardware sold by Anne Funnell, so that is understandable. If you have the kit, you need only the part number - not the size. And, the kit itself would have likely had a parts list with sizes and lengths noted.

I am reconsidering adding flocking to Jebediah in seeing how much handling needs to be done when attaching and, especially, tightening the buckles. I know I can get a good approximation of hair on the body with paint, and the mane and tail will no longer be plastic to help drive the realism.

Sue Bakker - Birds on a Branch, 14.5 hours

by brae  

Update on the Birds on a Branch rug. After the last update, I lost a bit of motivation after deciding I didn't like the diagonal striped border. The knots were not lining up well, and it was becoming a jumbled mess the more I added. Here is what it looked like last.

I had two choices - remove the knots in the border or start over. At 11 hours of work, it wasn't a terrible thing to restart, but I decided to try removing the knots.

You can't just rip stitches when every stitch is a knot, because it will destroy the fabric. Instead, I took a fresh X-Acto blade, wiped it completely clean and slid the edge under the heads of the knots on the front side. This is as scary as it sounds. Nothing to lose if it didn't work, though, since I wasn't going to continue with what I had.

It did work, though. I used packing tape to lift the threads and fuzz left from cutting away the knots. There were three places in the fabric where there was some minor damage - not true holes but very thin remaining fabric.

I ironed on some fusible interfacing to patch those holes. It's very thin material, so it wouldn't build up any bulk while still providing more substance for the stitches to grab onto.

I opted for a solid border, which I already like better. I might make it wider later on. The diagonal striped border would have been nice, but it was too hard to manage with freehand knots in such a small area. A vertical striped border would have been too geometric with the organic bird and branch patterns of the interior.

I didn't count the time of the knot removal and redo, but I was able to stitch more after that was done. So, this is now at 14.5 hours of work.

Mail Wagon - part 9

by brae  

Continuing work on the mail wagon. I'm planning a basic box cabin with trimmed details, a hinged front window, and sliding side doors. I'm using 3/64" thick basswood sheets (3" x 24") for the majority of the parts. It's thinner than 1/16" and therefore lighter in weight but still durable when trimmed.

I started by drawing a quick sketch using the Rondel kit sides as a starting point, then refining from there based on measurements for average seat height, the seated height of my artist model and general proportions from the various mail wagon examples I've reviewed.

The two doors are where I will begin, then I can build the walls to enclose around them. If these don't work, then my basic construction will change since I'll make hinged doors instead. I'm using door frames from Northeastern Scale Lumber, cutting them down width-wise. I am sure there must be a place to get the window channel that Houseworks uses to make their windows, but I have yet to discover it.

The door frame material holds the 3/64" thick basswood perfectly as an insert, and 3/64" thick trim finishes the frame. The top will have acrylic sheet for the window. As I was working, I decided to make my door a little wider than my drawing for practicality. This will add a modest amount to the length of the wagon, but it seemed necessary for better proportion. Here is one door with the original width of door frame material on the side and the other with the width cut down.

I built the side front and side back walls using the door frame material for the lead edge of the door openings as well as the tops and bottoms, cut down to size width-wise. I used 1/4" corner trim for the front and back edges to make it easier to join the front and back of the cabin when I get to that stage.

Most of the examples I saw had no side windows, sometimes small slits to peer through, so I've left the side walls solid to have more room for the lettering. The cross trim on the side front and side back panels isn't glued in place yet, since I want it to line up with the door in the end. Leaving it unattached allows for adjustment later.

Each door will slide to the back just short of its door handle.

I think this will work well, so next I will make the front, back and floor.

Mail Wagon - part 8

by brae  

With the front and rear axle assemblies and wheels made, I can start to build the cabin. I've pretty much been researching mail wagons since I started down this path, and there was no standard type of wagon over the years. RFD was such a novel thing, though horse wagons were not, it really was each man for himself. So, I get a lot of room to play.

There were sliding doors and front windows that could be lowered into the front wall.

image from The Smithsonian

There were hinged doors.

There were hinged windows and mail slots.

If you look at the original wagons from the postcard, there was no room in front - just the window wall.

Postcard from 1917 showing RFD horse wagons - image used with permission

There were built in heaters and portable heaters.

image from The Henry Ford

One great source is Horse Drawn Mail Vehicles by James H. Bruns.

Look at this tiny thing that's barely a box built around a chair and a heater! Where did the mail fit? I'm also pretty sure only one horse was needed. :]

from Horse Drawn Mail Vehicles by James H. Bruns

I set up my wheels and axles with Jebediah and one of my artist models. I can probably back Jebediah to the wagon a bit more, but this total span is 17 inches from his nose to the back of the wheels.

The span from the axle centers is 5.5 inches. Having a very narrow space between the wheels for the mail carrier to enter the wagon was not uncommon.

I won't be using the Rondel kit, but here is that cabin in dry fit for size comparison (obviously not this tall).

This should be a good gauge for overall size, though.

I'll need to make the cabin as light as possible since the axles are fairly delicate, but I can layer thin wood to get good detailing without adding a lot of weight.

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