Bashing a church

Bill Nelson

Well-Known Member
Dec 14, 2008
Clarksville Tn
SML PLSTVLL Ch#1.jpg SML Plstcvll ch#2.jpg SML Plstvlle ch #3.jpg SML mdf ch #2.jpg SML mdf ch #3.jpg SMLL  mdf ch #1.jpg At our local club (Clarksville Tn. USA, see Bill and Tom's excellent adventure), we have boxes and boxes full of buildings that have been donated. Some of them are worse for the wear, and some of them are missing pieces.

When digging through those boxes I kept comming across an old Plasticville Church, now sold by Bachman and labeled a catherdral.

I really liked the rock work, and the detailing of the windows, but it was missing some pieces, and the building was just wrong. The details are right for an English Gothic stone church ( I know cause I'm a lifelong Episcopalian.) the architecture is wrong though; with the tower, and the gables set up in a non traditional way.

I have hunted through all of the boxes , and the missing pieces are not there. I finally decided to cut up what is there, and rearrange it into into a more theologically correct building ; having elements of a cruciform shape, with those gables moved off that one wall, and opposite each other at the east ( front-alter) side as god intended. I'm moving the Bell tower to the front (really the rear, the east side (with the alter, weather it really faces the east as it should, or is forced into some other direction by lot shape, or some other geographical concern) is really the front. It gets confusing.

I'll have to scrounge some "stone" from another source to fill in the blanks. the top of the steeple will have to go, it is generic Presbyterian , not Anglican at all. This is fun, I wish I had more pieces. Bachman still offers this, I may buy another two, and build something bigger.

I don't know where this is going yet, it could land on my RR or at the club. Enough of my surplus stuff goes to the club, so I don't feel guilty raiding club surplus for at home, but I already have six churches on my home layout, I could use one in Harlow, my big city, but I haven't found room for one there yet.

Bill Nelson
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The title caught my eye...certainly looks like an interesting build/bash! Keep the pics coming!

I could see how this might catch an administrator's eye given some of the bad things said about churches on the Internet.

I am glad to see another modeling project going forward by the very productive Bill Nelson.

I too will be following along. I am impressed that you have 6 churches on the layout already Bill.
Dr Tom:thumb:
SML mdf ch #4.jpg SML MDF ch #5.jpg SML MDF CH #6.jpg SML MDF CH # 7.jpg SML MDF CH #8.jpg more cutting work done

I have done a little more chopping and gluing today before I go to bed (I'm working night shift).

Next I have to hunt through my materials looking for suitable "stone" for the missing tower walls, and figure out something that looks appropriate for the top of the tower.

As you can see this building is shaping up to be a very different building from what I started with.

Bill Nelson
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SMl Mdf ch b #2.jpg SML Msf ch b #1.jpg work on the tower filling in the missing walls

I have been doing some work on the tower filling in the missing walls.

There are now 3 types of stone work on this building. so far it doesn't show much, although that will almost certainly change, as the bell tower goes up.

I have already built one extension of the bell tower, and rejected it. This church would look ok with either a steeple on it or a rectangular tower, if I could get the proper ornament for the latter built.

I have finally been able to get the last of the plastic roof removed. and also I have been able to get the front door off, which is nice, as I like to model churches with an open door, I have an arch in the interior wall of the tower, which will allow me to detail the interior, should I become inclined. The roof will probably get built up board by board and beam by beam from wood, possibly removable, also to allow interior detailing, either at this or another time.

Bill Nelson
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Very impressive Bill. Are you considering stained glass windows with interior lighting???


Yes Tom, I want to to that, although when I have tried that in the past, I haven't been satisfied with the result. I'm totally spoiled in that department, as @ Trinity Episcopal, I have been looking at these extraordinary Tiffany windows for the last 30 years; which , by no minor miracle were only partially damaged buy the tornado that took off the roof. Some our parishioners searched through the rubble, pitting any glass fragments they found in 5 gallon buckets, and the talented folks at a glass company down in Nashville were able to piece the damage sections together. For those of you who aren't familiar with the destructive power of this particular storm, just before the storm the same glass folks did some restoration on our Rose window. They insisted that it get a protective covering of bullet proof glass, which we thought was borderline crazy, but after the storm, the bullet proof glass, was broken in several places, but the Rose window was more than 99% intact behind it. This storm twisted off the top of the limestone bell tower some 20 feet away, and dropped it through the roof.

On a storm related note the good folks at Immaculate Conception, where Tom worships let us meet there until we got a roof of our own back.

One thing I might like to try is to get the sexton to let me in at various hours where I can catch the best of the windows when they are back lit by the sun, and get digital photos, reduce them to a usable size, and print them on decal paper, and apply the decals to glazing material.

In order to do this, If I have a full detailed interior, like up in St. Joseph's in the Gizzard, I'll have to do like I did there and have double walls, one exterior, one interior, and sandwich the glazing in between . A Tricky and lengthily process.; but one that builds the best possible detailed interior walls.

I went by Auto Zone on my way home this morning, and picked up more LED lighting. I'm thinking the Crooked Creek engine house will be the next target, although I will need to work on the post and beam frame work a little to help me figure where to hang the lights. if the skylights I have on back order ever get her I can build a roof for it.

Bill Nelson
SML ch int wl wrk #1.jpg SML ch int wl wrk #2.jpg Thickening the walls!

the first step toward making the interior possible is getting the interior wall surface a uniform thickness and smooth. the first thing to do was to cut off the little plastic cylinders that stuck out into the interior space and then to cut and fit pieces of scrap styrene to fill in the spaces around the windows, winch are recessed inward. after I have done this, the inside walls are smooth, and this will allow me to slip a second thinner styrene structure into the walls, which can hold the interior details, and sandwich the glazing between the two walls. I Just make them a tight fit, I don't glue them, as when I have tried to glue the the glue gets caught between the two walls and distorts the thin inside wall.

In these photos you see the inside of the walls which now have a uniform surface, my next step is to paint the walls inside and out with flat black, which will give me a good painting surface, and help prevent any translucency of the walls should I light the building later, and If I detail the interior, you know it will get lights.

after it is all painted black I will trim the interior walls to fit, assemble them in place temporarily with tape, and paint the building from the outside with flat black. this will mark the window locations exactly with black paint, so they can be accurately cut out.

Bill Nelson
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SML ch int w #$.jpg SML ch int w #3.jpg more work on int walls

I have cut thin styrene for the interior walls, now to mark the window locations with spraypaint.

I think I'll do that tonight and let it dry overnight.

Bill Nelson
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SML Ch int wls #7.jpg more int walls

I couldn't resist, pulling the walls off to check the window location markings.

I'm just cutting one big arched opening, I wont try to match the small opening detail

I'm out of flat black, and using gloss, later I'll flatten it out with an overspray of clear flat.
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Looking good

Hi Bill,

That is a neat way to make a pattern for cutting styrene. I will need to remember that little trick. It could also be done using computer generated mockups on paper and window openings cut out for other structure types.

You are well on your way to some beautiful stained glass for your cathedral.
Doc Tom:mrgreen:


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SML ch fl #1.jpg SML Chr pos place.jpg Working on a floor.

I like to put in whole floors. It helps make it a lot easier if you want to add some interior later ; and like a good foundation, it helps the building look solid, even if you can barely see it. Big multistory buildings really need upper floors and some interior walls to keep you from seeing daylight clear through, or looking down, and through a building, looking in a 3rd story window, and out through a second and or first story window.

I save any big thick pieces of plastic I come across for just such jobs, and this one I think was designed to be a scenic base for one of the kits I used to make company houses.

I set the church directly on this sheet of plastic, and drew an outline of the outside walls. I will later add notches, file and carve the visible ends of this plastic sheet to resemble a bottom row of stones on the church proper, or the top row of stones on the foundation.

The foundation will be critical. More and More I'm thinking this church belongs in Harlow. The problem is there is no room in Harlow, so it would have to replace a building that is already there. Other than vitally necessary railroad related buildings, almost all of the buildings in Harlow are partial buildings, up against the back drop. I didn't want to cut this one up, so more and more there is only one location that can be made to work, That location is very uneven, and the building that is there has a foundation that is a story or more tall at the bottom end . changes will need to be made to the foundation because, while the buildings are similarly sized at the base, the buttresses will need something under them to hold them up.

The building in consideration for replacement Is the brick building to the right of the tracks in this photo of downtown Harlow. this building was to be Mack's Railroad Cafe. Sorry Mack, it looks like you are going to be evicted. For naming the Church I think I will follow my Grateful Dead reference tradition, and call it St. Stephan's, in tribte to the very raucous and cryptic anthem to, well it is so cryptic we still are not sure forty years later. possibly an anthem to cryptic rowdiness itself wandering from hard rock into psychedelic interludes.

Next to work on the floor to build ways to index it to the building, so that it will be removable, and yet fit tightly. With intricate interior detailing it is very nice to have the building easily disassembleable to acess it for repairs, and to show it off.

The floor will get some black paint as well, and then it will be time to get out the gray, and start to get the limestone look. I'd love to do it in "Sewannee" Sandstone, which has 100s of colors mixed into the tan/brown stone, but that is very difficult to mimic, and I have not been happy with my attempts to replicate it in HO scale, so I will probably go with the easy, safe choice of limestone.

Bill Nelson

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SML ch fl #1.jpg SML Ch flr & bt bsplt #1.jpg SML Ch flr & bt bsplt 32.jpg floor and base for the rest of the bell tower

I have been working on the floor and base for the rest of the bell tower. I have piled little pieces of plastic in between the butresses at the corners of the floor, and glued them in place, these larger buttresses will be continued down through the foundation. The pieces of plastic center the walls on the floor, and the fit so tight that if I pick up the building, the floor comes along for the ride, although it can be pried off.

I have also made a cap, for on top of the tower. It also fits tightly, so I can I can build any extension to the tower on to that piece of plastic, and it wil fit the church perfectly.

Note the floor piece adds another step to the front door steps.

Next I have to carve stones into the edges of both the floor and the tower base, get them painted black, and then I can start playing with gray spray paint.

Bill Nelson
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Bill: is there enough room at the back there to tack a modern parish hall on a basement level?

That would be interesting, But it is always 1928 in Harlow TN, the county seat of Gorre County TN.; home of the main offices of the Dead Grass, Crooked Creek, and Western Railroad.

Eastern Tn logging on the DG CC & W RR 1928

Nothing modern in sight. I am conflicted. part of we wants to completely remove the existing foundation of the brick building, and start over from scratch building a foundation speifically for St. Stephan's. Or doing the quick and dirty reworking of the existing foundation. In any case some small windows and a door for an under croft might well be appropriate, and more interesting than just a pile of stone

Bill Nelson
SML Ch gtg tr #1.jpg SML Ch gtg tr #2.jpg SML Ch gtg tr #3.jpg SML Ch gtg tr #4.jpg Up all night

I have been up all night, getting my schedule flipped over to my work schedule. putting the time to good use, cleaning the kitchen, washing my clothes (I won't touch my wife's) and working on St. Stephan's.

one thought I had, is that if I put this in Harlow in place of Mack's Railroad Cafe, I can add a graveyard in front of the right of way, across from the Harlow passenger Terminal.

It is shaping up nicely. The next step is to work on the inside walls, cutting out the window openings. Then I will need to make an interior floor. If I raise up the interior floor above the level of this sub floor, I won't have any light leak between the wall and the foundation, and that is very important in maintaining the illusion that this is a solid stone building, and not some pieces of plastic. The exterior will get a light wash of black, either India ink in rubbing alcohol, or a acrylic wash, I will have to paint up some scraps and do a careful test, as it is going very well so far and I don't want to ***** it up too bad.

I'm thinking when I'm getting close to done this building will need to get some ivy growing on it in places (perhaps the most obvious splices). again careful testing will be needed; Don't experiment on a project that is above average so far.

Bill Nelson
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SML ch int wl #1.jpg SML ch int wl #2.jpg SML ch int wl #3.jpg SML ch int wl #1.jpg SML ch int wl #2.jpg SML ch int wl #3.jpg progress on interior walls

I have made some progress on the interior walls, which will be assembled into a separate shell that slides into the exterior walls. the styrene on the interior walls is very thin, adding a floor, wainscoting, and the timbers for the roof will hopefully give the interior shell some strength.

That first photo got kind of washed out bu the flash that I later turned off. In the second photo you can see the cut out. the window opening is clearly marked by the spray paint.

I have had a lot of unfortunate experiences trying to do interiors with styrene. This is only my second use of this twin shell technique, with the first being St. Joseph's in the Gizzard.

Bill Nelson
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SML ch int wls #6.jpg SML ch int wls #8.jpg I have the interior walls rough cut , ant test fitted to my satisfaction. the next thing I did was made a tracing on the floor, with the interior walls in place. this gave me a separate interior floor base , which fits inside the interior wall sections, and holds them flush at the bottom. Once I add glazing between the interior wall and exterior wall I may need to sand the interior sub floor down a little so it will still fit.

I will not be able to build the interior I had imagined in this building. the stone mason was so intent on making the cobbled together walls on long ends of the building the same length, he failed to notice that the windows on the tower side are nor exactly opposite the windows on the other side. this would have been fixable with about eight more cuts, and shortening the structure some. as it is I will have to simplify the interior arches, and take some inspired shortcuts. These will hurt , bur no one will be able to tell from the outside, and with the roof off, probably only Episcopalians, Greek Orthodox s , and Roman Catholics will be able to spot the needed bad compromises.

Next I need to cut an interior floor from some V-grove styrene. once I have that cut and in place, I can mark the floor height on the interior walls and begin interior wall detal.
Bill Nelson
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