For the 2013 NASG Convention, the convention organizer, Jamie Bothwell, offered a challenge for convention attendees to purchase and build the "Greeley's Place" kit made by B.T.S. The only restrictions are our imagination and a diorama space no bigger than 36 square inches (e.g. 6"x6"). I am not a big kit builder (I enjoy scratch-building much more), but this is a nice small structure that I am sure to be able to find a spot for on my layout (after taking it to the convention in Pennsylvania). The photo below is of the kit's box as it arrived in the mail (B.T.S. offers quick shipping for only $5 per order).
These are all the parts in the kit, which include a multi-page instruction sheet, several lasercut sprues, metal detailing parts (and a lasercut chair), and black "tar paper".
I pretty much followed the instructions of the kit. These were clear and easy to follow (just a couple of places where I had to read a paragraph a few times to understand what was intended). The three support joists are installed into the floor in the photo below.
I painted the joists, but used several heavy applications of india-ink-and-alcohol mixture to age the floor of the building.
The wall sections and the door are complete in this next photo. I installed the window and door frames, as well as the window sashes. Some filing was required to get them to fit.
I used the floor as the guide for attaching the four walls to each other, making sure to not have any glue drip down onto the floor (the floor is meant to remain removable, if so desired, to allow for detailing the interior later on. I decided to not yet install the door, because I want to detail the interior.
I decided to go for the board-n-batten look, so I glued all the battens to the wall sections. The roof line board comes with the kit (which has to be filed to match the profile of the side walls), but the long-wall separator board is one that I installed, to make sure the walls don't warp.
Next, I took the structure to the garage and used Krylon Primer to seal the wood of the structure. I then hand-painted the outside of the building with several brown and yellow colors (all Floquil paints), to give the building an aged, almost moldy look (like it has been in the woods too long).
As I was building the kit (which took me about two weeks - not much time available), I pondered how I was going to use it on my layout. B.T.S. promotes the building as a small ramshackle shack in the woods. I decided to make it a small-business store. I came up with the name "Smitty's Rod-n-Reel", because it is going to sit near the Chartiers creek on my layout. The idea is that fishermen can come by and get all their materials needed to spend a morning fishing right in back of Smitty's place. Smitty doesn't live here, so I decided that burglar bars are needed to keep his place safe from unsavory characters at night. I made mine out of scale half-inch brass wire, glued in place with superglue.
The next photo shows all three windows with that same treatment. I painted the burglar bars, and then installed clear styrene for glass.
Next up is the front porch. I put the building on the floor assembly, so that the front porch board could be glued in place at the correct location, while still allowing the main structure to be removable. The vertical posts at the end of the porch are very fragile, so be careful when removing and installing the floor assembly.
I wanted to indicate heavy foot traffic, so the porch boards were nicely abused with an Xacto knife. Many scratches near the door. Even the door step is worn-looking.
The roof sheets are fairly easy to install.
I then followed the kit's instructions to install the tar paper roofing.
On the back I added a special patch to show that a hole in the roof was fixed a while back.
I used the india-ink-and-alcohol method to age the entire front porch. I wanted it to look different from the rest of the building to indicate that it was added some time later after the building itself was built. The weathering really shows the worn-out porch floor.
This completes the building of the basic kit. As mentioned above, this structure is to be entered into the contest, so I need to decorate it quite a bit more.
I wanted to install LED lights into the structure, just to show some "life" in it. I used the small, but bright SMD (surface-mount) LEDs that I use for locomotive headlights. After soldering magnet wire to them, I glued one to the rafter in the building, and one above the front door (as a porch light). I routed the magnet wires through a piece of styrene tubing, and then glued it (after painting it) to the interior of the structure, as can be seen in this photo.
I then notched out a section of the corresponding corner of the structure's floor sub-assembly to allow the styrene to pass through.
And here is a quick test of the LEDs. The one above the front door shines through the gap between the porch roof and the wall. I applied some black paint between those two parts and above the LED, so as to camouflage it a bit (see subsequent photos below).
Since this was to be a stand-alone diorama at the convention's contest room, I needed a portable way to power the LEDs. Since these LEDs don't use much electricity, I opted for three AA batteries (total of 4.5 volts). These were installed in a battery holder that has a convenient on/off switch mounted in it (Jameco part #216144). An appropriate resistor was soldered to each positive lead of the LEDs (hidden below the structure). Of course, now the issue was, how do I hide this ugly battery box? I came up with the idea putting the building up on a small hill (since I model western Pennsylvania, it seemed appropriate). I cut one smaller sheet of styrene to act as the "ground" base for the structure, and a larger sheet of styrene to act as the diorama base. The battery box was mounted in between with some vertical pieces of styrene acting as the separator and to hold the battery box in position. I cut out a section of the diorama base styrene so that I had access to the on/off switch of the battery box. I put fresh new batteries in the battery box, and only turned it on to test it briefly. Over a period of three days I added small layers of Sculptamold to the diorama to hide the battery box and the styrene infrastructure. By the porch I embedded several flat "stones" to act as natural steps leading up to the building. Note, by the way, that the building's super-structure is loose and can be removed from the floor sub-assembly. The floor sub-assembly was only held to the styrene base with the glue with which I painted that base. This makes the whole removable for when I install it on my layout. Only the wires make for a "permanent" connection to the base. The styrene tube that protects the wires is visible on the left side of the building in the back, but that can be justified as being the water supply line into the building. However, it was pretty much hidden later on, as you'll see in subsequent photos.
This is the final model. I painted and added two figures, and included the chair that comes in the kit. Smitty is the gentleman on the right, and one of his regulars is sitting on the porch floor leaning up against a barrel. I printed a small sign (using simple white paper) and glued that to a piece of 0.010" styrene, with some support bracing behind it, so that the sign would sit up on the front edge of the porch roof. I painted and weathered the rock base, and then applied green foam and small bushes to complete the diorama base. The kit comes with two small doves, so I glued those to the top of the sign (which was not easy to do). Surprisingly, they survived the entire trip from Texas to Pennsylvania, and back!
I wanted to add more details to the interior but ran out of time for the convention. I was able to use one of the Model Tech Studios' shelving units (the one in the lower-right in the photo below). These come pre-painted and weathered, so it was just a matter of carefully gluing it to the structure's floor sub-assembly (such that it didn't interfere with sliding the building on top of the floor).
Here is my model on the table in the contest room. I left the LEDs on for three+ days, and they are still working now that I am back home. In the room, there were a total of nine entries. All looked very nice, and one was a shadow box diorama. When I saw that one, I was convinced it was going to win. This was a popular-vote contest (separate from the official NASG convention contests). As you can imagine, I was shocked when Jamie announced at the Saturday night banquet that my entry had won the popular vote contest! Thank you to all who voted for my structure!
Here's a scan of the award I received. Cool! I have integrated the structure into my layout.