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Joined: May 14, 2008
Topics: 81   Replies: 516
posted on Feb 6, 2010 07:07 PM:
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After the brutal beating my thumb and forefinger took while cutting out the 650 windows of West Park Tower with an X-acto knife, I knew I had to find a better way to achieve the window cut-outs. While doing some touch-up work one day, I glanced down at some 35mm slides my father was organizing, and I realized that the slide frame was the perfect size of an O-scale office window. Or close enough anyway.

What followed is what you see here - a downtown hotel building, the windows of which are made entirely of 35mm slide sleeves. These slide sleeves used to be easily found on the Internet for very little cost. I think I paid about $30 for a box of 1000 of them.

Then, using plastic smoke-colored folders I found at Office Depot ($0.69 each), I cut little windows and inserted them into the blank slide sleeves that I had pre-painted. Then it was just a matter of gluing the assembled slide sleeve windows together to make a single floor of the building, and then replicating this for the 10 stories of the center building. The side wings of the building are only 9 stories. With the vaulted roofs, they are 10 stories, and the center unit is likewise 11 stories tall.

The interior lights up in much the same way as my first building - with two center-mounted vertical dowels mounted into the wooden base. Attached to each dowel is a 4-watt 12-volt outdoor lighting bulb from Home Depot. This is enough to adequately light not only the center building but the two wings as well.

The vaulted roofs were a little tricky. The easiest way to see how they were constructed is to look at the underside of them (see photo). It's basically just a lot of custom cut square dowels and cardboard. The "ridges" on the exterior are again just custom-cut little wooden twigs. These needed to be glued by brushing small amounts of slightly watered-down glue with a tiny paint brush.

The "roof detail," as I call it, is actually comprised of slices of a standard 2 x 4 stud. The center building has two of these, cut different heights and mounted perpendicular to each other. I then mounted more little sticks around the perimeter of the "front" piece, and painted the resulting units flat black. Then I drilled holes into them and inserted various black and silver skinny round dowels (antennae) into them, and then mounted the units onto the roof. For the side wing buildings, I again cut slices of 2 x 4, painted them black, then mounted the silver-painted fan covers on them. The fan covers are the little tabs you get when you open a carton of orange juice.

I ran out of the RailKing lamp posts on the first building (who can afford more than four of those things anyway?). For the second building, I have eight old Lionel plastic street lamps that, amazingly, still work.


Joined: May 14, 2008
Topics: 81   Replies: 516
posted on Feb 6, 2010 07:08 PM:
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I get a lot of questions about the pented roofs. Indeed, these were the most challenging part of this building. Looking at the photo of the underside of the central pented roof, you can see how it was done. The framing is made with the same 3/8" x 3/8" wooden square dowels (available at Home Depot for about 75 cents for each 3-foot dowel) that were used to frame the structure of the building itself. Basically, I started off by making a rectangle of the right dimensions to fit nicely on the top of the building. Then I made a second rectangle that was about 2 inches smaller than the first one in both dimensions. Then I cut and glued in 4 diagonal braces in the corners of the larger (bottom) rectangle. I then cut 4 posts, each about 2" tall, and used these posts to attach the smaller rectangle to the larger one, using the corner diagonal braces as a base to mount the posts. This is a lot easier to see in the photo than to describe with words. You must take care to ensure that the smaller, top rectangle is reasonably centered over the larger, bottom rectangle.

Once this contraption dried thoroughly, I then cut 14 pieces of square dowel, each one with opposite 45-degree angle cuts at each end. The lengths of these must all be equal, and they must all be almost exactly the distance from the top edge of the upper square to the top edge of the lower square. This is probably the most difficult part to accomplish. Once these were cut, I glued them along the sides of the pented roof structure and this formed a solid frame to which I could mount flat matteboard pieces. These matteboard pieces must be measured and cut pretty well, or the pented roof will have unsightly gaps at the corners where the sides join. The first few pieces I cut were quite off. Always dry-fit the pieces before attempting to glue them into place.



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