Pearl – Introduction

  • December 8, 2022

I was thinking about the direction of my next project when it was suggested I participate in the Highway 127 Rolling Garage Sale that occurs the first weekend in August … so I understand. Seems many of the people living along US127 between Michigan and Tennessee hold garage sales and others drive up and down the highway checking things out. I was invited to attend the event in Van Wert, Ohio. That’s a fair piece from Idaho but I thought it could be an interesting way to see if people in a different part of the country enjoyed these railroad-themed models.

So I imposed upon myself a goal of 5 dioramas to take to the event.

Whether or not I actually attend the event is a decision that may not be made until late July …

Or early August.

I’ve selected five “topics” to model:

  1. A scene from an old Idaho gold town – Pearl, Idaho … this project.
  2. A “typical” station scene. There is no “typical” station but they have a commonality. I hope.
  3. Stamp mill innards. Not the structure; just the working machinery. Possibly O scale.
  4. A scene inspired by the toll house at Bear Creek Falls outside Ouray, CO
  5. General store at RR crossing

It’s funny. I was working on a mining complex based on one in Utah when I found the following photo of Pearl by accident. One thing led to another – the mine scene may be #6, but not in time for the Festival (probably)

** ** ** ** **

This is the photo that provides the inspiration for the first adventure – I’ll try to replicate the near part of this scene:

Downtown Pearl, Idaho – circa 1897 … or so.

Turns out this town is/was not too far from where I live. I took an opportunity to visit the location not too long ago …

I took the following photo …

Basically the same location 120 years later although I believe the road has shifted a bit; I think today’s road clips the corner of the nearer structure – to be in the same location would require my point of view to be about 5′ to the left and maybe 10′ back (with a different lens for the camera)

It’s all supposition – there’s not much info available. The mines were productive from about 1895-1910 though workings have been sporadic since. There was somewhat major interest in the 1980s. Not much came of it but there are still a few active claims in the area.

Pearl had electricity before Boise city.

That cut on the right is new even in 2022 and leads up to one of the older mines. There’s still gold in them thar hills.

But never a railroad.

Changed a bit over the years, eh?


2 Pearl – Set-Up

  • January 7, 2023

So, let’s get started.

I’ll build the first two structures; there being no kits available, it’s off to scratch-building world.

I visited appropriate historical societies in the area and searched the web; although this town had over 1500 people in its heyday, there are few photographs of the town showing structure details – and I seem to have copies of what’s available. The search continues but so does work on the diorama.

I actually started a few days ago but didn’t take photos at the beginning. The diorama is more or less to scale though the buildings >might< have been further apart. The slopes were this close to the structures and close to just as steep. Some details have been left off – the road that curves off on the right side actually splits. One branch went up the hill; the one modeled heads off to the right.

The road coming down on the right headed to a mine.

The prototype “view” is looking westerly. Boise city would be about 30 miles behind and to the right from this view (east and south).

This view would be northernly.

So how did I come up with this layout?

Unfortunately, the three photos I have of are taken a few years apart in a dynamic mining town – few structures are consistent.

This following photo intrigues me. 1897 or earlier. The town is prosperous and growing. The expressions on these guys’ faces show confidence and optimism. The location is only a few buildings downstream from the diorama shot and shows the stair-stepping of the buildings down canyon. The view looks west.

The building on the left with the stairway is a marker building; I can find it in all three photos I have.

Within feet of the same location. Different lens. Spotted by comparison of diggings up the hills in old photos and present remnants.


The next photo from 1902 doesn’t directly help too much – the buildings I’m modeling are obscured – but it does show the overall terrain. The “marker” building is in the center, left of the road with the light-colored awning and dump pile at the rear. Note the stairway.

Also note the road drifting downhill lower left corner. There are additional workings behind and to the left of the photographer. For that matter, there are diggings off to the right as well. But this image shows the core town looking WSW.

Willow Creek runs between the marker building and dump pile.

Pearl – 1902

The next photo from 1904 – looking roughly NE – helps a bit more but consider the 2 buildings I’m modeling. To the center right is a many-columned structure – apparently the first hotel in town and what I designate “Building 1” in the model. The building to the right of that should be the first building I’m modeling.

Except the building I’m modeling doesn’t have windows upstairs, it does not have that roof line nor is it painted white. Going back to the 1902 photo, that building should be the one center across the marker building with a full side view of the roof. Not the same structure as the one in the same location in 1904.

The marker building is to the left of the slanted roof shed across from the columned building.

The mine at the top left is the location the road in the new picture heads to. Not much there today though; even the dump pile has been obliterated.

Are the dates wrong? Could be – no way to tell now. Luckily I’m not attempting to build a documentary model.

Roughly the same view from Google Earth …

The main road has been shifted a bit; the branch headed up and off to the right is now private as is most of the land except for a narrow stretch along the road of what was once downtown. The hotel sat between the new road and the curve. Note the curve has been straightened out somewhat and the creek now runs through what were the lower buildings once lined the street.

3 Pearl – Model Mock-Up

  • January 7, 2023

So on to the model … Checking the view for similarity. The road and porches are in place.

Camera lens, angle, and time passing not withstanding …

a bit more work to do but close …


4 Pearl – 3D Printing

  • January 7, 2023s

I see I’ve not updated this build report for a while … I believe I was preparing to discus 3D printing; my goal on this build is to minimize the use of commercial parts.

Setting up and calibrating the print process can be tedious; depending on the complexity and size, a print can take anywhere from several hours to lots of hours – call it something between 4 and 18 hours.

I purchased a high/mid-range “hobbyist” resin printer – an Elegoo Saturn (the red unit on the left) – for just under $400. Could have gone a bit cheaper; could have gone quite a bit more expensive. For now, this seems satisfactory. I don’t feel the more common fibre printers are suitable for the detail resolution required for HO (1:87.1). I ended up using a 25um Z-layer (depth); this printer has the capability of 10um Z-layer but the X-Y plane is limited to 50um. Newer machines have better XY resolution … but I’ll see how this goes before I make a more serious investment. I’d like to develop my skills to the point of offering “oddball” parts for sale.

The printed model is built upside down, bottom up on a “build plate”. The plate moves vertically. During the build, the plate dips into a resin reservoir and an ultraviolet (UV) light exposes the resin contacting a film layer. This takes a few seconds depending on settings. When this layer is exposed, the plate moves up by the Z-axis increment – in my case herein, that’s 25um. As a point of reference, a mechanical pencil lead is usually 0.5 or 0.7mm … same as 500 – 700 um. Lots of 25um layers.

At HO scale, 25um is equivalent to 0.086 inch. Unless I’m building an “exact” dimensional model, I find the difference of 1/2″ and 1″ is difficult to discern; it could be that setting the Z-axis resolution to 50um may prove acceptable … and cuts the print time by roughly half. TBD but right now, I’m OK with using 25um.

This is my present set-up:

A bit cramped but so is my work space

In addition to the printer itself, final curing requires a minute or two exposure to UV light. Bright sunlight will work but I prefer a more controlled application. Another $125 for the curing/wash station (yellow unit on right). My initial resin was Elegoo’s water-washable gray resin – $40/litre (center brown bottle). The process can be messy; paper towels are a must. So are nitrile gloves and a pair of flush-cutters.

Once I’m comfortable with the process, I’ll upgrade to an “engineering” quality resin. I also see a use for a transparent resin but not anytime soon.

Not directly mentioned but vitally important in my work space is ventilation – the uncured resin is not good for either body or soul. I took the cheap way out building a “box” out of cardboard flats and tape for a space 2’ x 1.5’ x 4’.

Ventilation was provided by a 430cfm, 6” in-line, push/pull centrifugal fan for about $150 (most resins are alcohol washed. Alcohol is flammable. A centrifugal fan helps keep flammable fumes away from electrical contacts.). An enhanced carbon based HEPA filter (about $95) is also used which reduces the fan output by about half. I’m not sure I selected an adequate filter.

If I were to do it again, I’d use an 8” fan (about 750cfm). This is my/your health; some places to squeeze the dollar, some places justify the best you can get. Ventilation requires “best you can get”. You should feel a slight breeze inside the box.

Another thing to consider is print environment temperature. The resins “like” about 80-90 degrees. I use a small space heater to boost the temperature in the box volume (keeping in mind the potential for igniting alcohol fumes).

Printing is the easy part, the model design needs to be developed. There are many programs available; I use FreeCAD. Once the part design is complete, I need another bit of software called a “slicer” which converts the model design to the printer language. It’s called a slicer because the model is “sliced” into thin layers for the printer.

This particular machine comes with Chitubox slicing software. This version is adequate but I found it necessary to register with the Chitubox site to get the (still free) upgrade. At least it’s not a subscription service; I wish to “own” my software, not rent it. YMMV.

Other versions, other software is available but for the learning process, this software is coordinated with the printer.

During the learning process, I printed the doors vertically. This image shows the doors as they came out of the printer; support structures are important … and a pain in the behind to remove, especially on the surfaces to be visible on the structure.

Some folks recommend printing flat surfaces directly on the build plate …. Yeah, well … One needs to apply some force to pop the print off the print plate; I busted quite a few test prints before I wised up and started constructing the builds in the proper manner.

I use what’s called a “raft” and lots of thin supports. I also print the model on an angle to reduce “suction” forces as the printer prints.

Fresh off the printer with raft and supports

I print with the “viewing” face upward. This places the supports on the back side of the model; less likely for the connection points to be seen when the unit is placed in the structure. This is the “screen” door for the annex on Bldg 23.

So … a few of my initial “acceptable” prints:

The resin is not a styrene; the parts require a primer coat of paint and epoxy or “superglue” (CAA). I used rattle cans and medium gray is what I had. Here’s the recessed entry with the gray primer:

The openings are to be glazed with acrylic material I have laying around. Some suggest thin glass such as microscope slides. May be a good idea but I dislike cutting glass.

This discussion is not intended to be a lesson in 3D printing; I’m still in “elementary school” as far as skill level goes but this is a “practice makes perfect” process with at least 6 hours between lessons. Any Oops represents another required sequence … like the time I forgot to add the recessed entry floor and ceiling.

Enough of that, let’s get on with structure building.

5 Pearl – Beginning Considerations

Recall the prototype inspiration:

I’ve designated the structures as Building 1 and Building 23. Building 1 is the hotel; the building further back. I’ve defined Building 23 as a restaurant. I have no information or pictures of this building other than the photo that inspired this build. It looks like Mom and the kids may have just come out; I get a hint of being a restaurant from what appears to be someone sitting at and looking out the window as if they were at a dining table.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Herein, it is.

I call it Building23 because the addition to the right (Bldg3) is too wide for a covered stairway with signs and a transom window. A shed is attached to the right of that and a telegraph/telephone/power line is at the corner.

Another photo seems to justify white as the primary hotel color so Bldg 1 is defined. The color of Bldg23 is somewhat more subjective – the color is light with darker trim but doesn’t appear white. Both buildings appear to have unpainted sides (and presumably backs as well).

The hotel (Bldg1) appears to have a root cellar or basement with an entrance under the entry way by the pole.

For the most part, I use acrylic paints and chalks for coloring although I occasionally use enamels and Miniwax wood stains.

I selected a washed out yellow ochre (FolkArt acrylic 917, Vallejo Model Color 70.831 Tan Glaze acrylic, and Rembrandt 227.5) for the main color – these all match; the chalks give a more “wood” look. The trim is a brownish red – Ceramcoat Red Iron Oxide.

Probably not the prototype colors but they are on the model. Bldg 1 is white with an as-yet undefined darker trim; Bldg 23 does not appear to be the same shade. I have another photo showing the hotel from a different distant viewpoint but Bldg 23 is not present in that photo (and the pole is in a different location). The other photos are dated; the modeled one is not. Only the fronts appear to be painted; the sides look like weathered plain planks.

I estimated the front dimensions by assuming the gentleman leaning against the hotel post as 6′ tall; the woman in the doorway being 5′ tall. The board dimensions were ultimately defined by the scribing available: 1/16″ actual = 5.44″ HO. Vertical dimensions were defined by number of boards in the photo. The sides are assumed 12″ wide.

The lumber was cut for a 20′ wide restaurant with a10′ wide annex. Hindsight suggests a width of 18′ may have been more appropriate.

Well – I’m not building “exact”; exact is unknown and unverifiable with information on hand.

This photo is taken from roughly the same location:

Downtown Pearl 2022

By studying available old maps with modern maps – along with available photos, it appears the modern road eased the curves a bit and now runs through where the corner, shed, and pole were. The embankments have been eased a bit as well. The new drive in the 2022 photo is a mine access road and cuts through what was the hotel.

Speculation to a large degree but some of the mine tailing piles still exist and I tried to imagine the prototype placement from those. Most of land surrounding is now private except for a narrow stretch along what was the core of “downtown” Pearl.

One of my interests is the rise and fall of “industrial” towns of the late 1800s/early 1900s, mostly in Nevada. Most of these have some remnants remaining; Pearl is devoid of almost anything. As such, the rise and fall of Pearl fascinates me. There are people still around that remember when buildings still stood albeit in ruins. Local ranchers discourage visits to the area but the core of Pearl is BLM land and the road is owned by the county. Another visit when the weather clears but the diorama should be done by then.

On the actual construction …

The diorama foundation has been constructed; I slapped together some manila folder-based structures to confirm placement and sizing. The sidewalks are already mounted to the base.

First: Do I get the perspective correct?

Close …

The overview is based on other photos. Those photos do not show Bldg 23 but this was an active mining town and the photos I’ve seen spread out between the late 1890s and early 1900s with the prototype photo undated.

Pearl mock-up

Based on other photos, there was a mine drainage tunnel and ditch between the two buildings. There was another mine with walkway above and to the left of the hotel. I chose to not include this feature but there was an additional building to the left of Bldg 1. I have blocked out a building under construction at the left side of the diorama; a final decision on that is TBD.

1904

The shed with the slant roof across the street from the hotel is a marker building – it appears in multiple photos.

6 Pearl – Construction

Starting the actual structure build with Bldg23, I lay out the foundation on a sheet of plate glass using scale 6×6 beams

Bldg23 foundation

The front beam will be visible; the side and back beams will be covered with siding.

I start assembling the walls. Some like to get a wall complete before assembly: sometimes I do so but I find tweaking the fit often causes more problems with repairs than doing a partial assembly then preparing the walls. I pretty much mix and match the techniques …

Making sure the corners are correct – hard to have too many angles and squares; I could use a few more.

The wood is thin enough that warping will occur. I’m using scribed sheets of 1/32 thick lumber (about 2.7″ scaled): I like the individual board look, but in this case, the buildings are … if not new, at least still as structurally sound as they ever were … so tight joints justifying scribed sheets. However, the shed off to the side is rough built; I did use individual boards here.

I started on the shed while waiting for other subassemblies to set and/or dry. To maintain that individual board look, each are treated as separate pieces.

The first step – not shown here because I forgot to take a picture – is to scrape each board with a welding brush. A grill cleaning brush would probably work as well. These boards are thin – 1/32” thick – so care to not dig too deeply with the brushing. This adds “grain” to the surface. Knots can be added as well – embedding the tip of a toothpick can work well … but I didn’t do that. Maybe should have … The initial coloring – boards to the right – start with a sloppy wash of black ink and alcohol. Once dry – I left them overnight – I randomly scrape three or four chalk colors* on the boards and generously dab with alcohol.

I don’t brush – I want the random coloring that dabbing will give. Brushing evens the color too much. The boards on the right have had this treatment.

I picked up the use of this technique from the Sierra West web site. (www dot sierrawestscalemodels dot com)

 *(“Rembrandt Soft Pastels”: 408.3, 408.5 Raw Umber; 243.3 Raw Sienna; plus a bit of 408.9 Raw Umber. “408” is the basic color, the .3, .5, and .9 are the shade with 1 being lightest and 10 being darkest. The range of Raw Umber shades is provided by the Rembrandt pastels page as (

 *(“Rembrandt Soft Pastels”: 408.3, 408.5 Raw Umber; 243.3 Raw Sienna; plus a bit of 408.9 Raw Umber. “408” is the basic color, the .3, .5, and .9 are the shade with 1 being lightest and 10 being darkest. The range of Raw Umber shades is provided by the Rembrandt pastels page as (www dot royaltalens dot com/en/catalog/rembrandt-soft-pastel/soft-pastel-round-full-stick-raw-umber2-408.2/)

Next, I use a finger to gently rub on some light and medium gray chalk (704.7 Gray) to get the look on the left. I left these boards in this state for the time being.

To be continued …

7 Pearl – Building 2 “Restaurant”

… about now.

Putting the walls together. Lots of weights and right-angle bracing. At this point, the walls are fastened only at the base. The front entry needs to be placed before the walls are fully straightened.

The interior floor is higher than the entry, I added a manila folder floor. The windows are large; I want to detail the interior. The walls won’t be clearly visible but some detail is necessary. The interior walls are white – the rear wall is of scribed sheeting, I didn’t bother scribing the side walls.

The cap trim is not fastened just yet. The structure is still flimsy to hold. The back and side walls are still untreated. Some prefer to finish the external walls before assembly. pros and cons … I obviously chose to do the exterior walls after assembly.

The printed front entry and windows needed to be placed before the walls are fastened. here, the entry base is fastened and the walls are being tightened down.

One step at a time …

The annex walls are being fastened. The interior side wall is not placed yet.

Adding the front entry and windows. Trim strips have not yet been added. The marks on the annex wall show up in a photo more than “live” but need to be eliminated.

8 Pearl – Restaurant Build

… about now.

Putting the walls together. Lots of weights and right-angle bracing. At this point, the walls are fastened only at the base. The front entry needs to be placed before the walls are fully straightened.

The interior floor is higher than the entry, I added a manila folder floor. The windows are large; I want to detail the interior. The walls won’t be clearly visible but some detail is necessary. The interior walls are white – the rear wall is of scribed sheeting, I didn’t bother scribing the side walls.

The cap trim is not fastened just yet. The structure is still flimsy to hold. The back and side walls are still untreated. Some prefer to finish the external walls before assembly. pros and cons … I obviously chose to do the exterior walls after assembly.

The printed front entry and windows needed to be placed before the walls are fastened. here, the entry base is fastened and the walls are being tightened down.

One step at a time …

The annex walls are being fastened. The interior side wall is not placed yet.

Adding the front entry and windows. Trim strips have not yet been added. The marks on the annex wall show up in a photo more than “live” but need to be eliminated.

9 Pearl – Restaurant Hold

… and now “progress” has shifted a bit.

The primary structure is now complete and ready for detailing: adding trim boards, furnishing the interior, adding roofing, etc

The main visible difference here is the porch light has been added – the wires can be faintly seen coming out of the interior.

Some parts can’t be scratch-built; lit lights is one of those items. I could have purchased LEDs fairly cheaper but Evan Designs sells them already wired.

I’ve worked in the field and I don’t wish to deal with wiring SMT LEDs with #30 wire. I think it worked out to about $2/assembly – I’m not so worried about saving time but I’ll certainly pay this price to avoid the frustration … and likely final poor yield.

The other major change is the addition of the small shed off the annex. Part of the shed design is arbitrary – not much is visible on the prototype photo.

The roof trim pieces are not mounted, nor is the annex door. Glazing hasn’t been added yet, and not visible here, the rear door and window are not mounted yet.

The building is not mounted to the base – this is only a rough completion, detail work commences.

One last comparison: the base structure vs. the cardboard mockup:

A bit more work on this structure but this is a good stopping point for now. I need to finish the interior before I add the roof and other such details – I need to obtain some details; mostly people and dogs. A counter, some pictures for the walls. A clock perhaps?

So – off to Bldg1

And away I go … 🙂

10 Pearl – Building 1 “Hotel”

I’ll start constructing the hotel by laying out the base frame. As with the restaurant (Bldg 23), I use 6×6 beams. This building has a base footprint of 36′ wide by 40′ deep.

Trying to assure right angles. Plate glass base, right angle blocks, and weights.

Just a minimal hint of glue – just enough to hold the pieces together until the braces are added.

The completed base foundation. The interior beam marks the small office to the side. Small squares of manila folder add suffiecent strength to allow minimal holding.

I need to prep the walls. The most difficult task is cutting out the windows and entry ways.

The walls have been cut out and the base color applied. Final coloring and weathering have not been applied. The side and back walls are 12″ scribed boards; the front wall is 5 ¼” scribed boards. I chose not to use individual boards here.

This is the left side wall. One of the prototype images showed 3 windows on this side. The windows were 3D printed earlier. They are in place but not fastened

The back wall is speculation. I assumed thre would be a rear entrance to both the main hotel and office. I may add a window as well – if this is a hotel/saloon, this would be the kitchen/storage area – a window would be nice …

I’m using another custom 3D print for the main entry. Here are the two I printed – a 13-hour print; one as they came from the printer, the other after trimming. A good thing I printed two as I inadvertently cut off the vertical trim of the arched window on the first.

The right side wall is laying outside down here.

I was more successful with the second. This is the unfinished second entry – I didn’t cut the trim off this time. The placement against the front wall is close to the final position

Measurements are good – my profession was building measurement instruments – but there’s nothing like the physical specimen to make sure the fit is proper. This print will define the entry way; I now need to define and pint the front windows.

Another day, another task.

11 Pearl – Hotel Pieces

And the print jobs are finished.

I may be getting better at this 3D printing; haven’t had any gross failures in several prints. Now I need to work on placement and types of support structures.

But that’s not my purpose for today.

I did some figurin’ and finagling and came up with these prints for the front of the hotel

These prints are roughly in the final location: the two side windows with transoms – the transoms will be open as in the photo

The building front appears to be all white – or white for modeling purposes – with minimal trim color if any. The other photo of this structure seems to confirm a solid white front with the possible exception 0f the side door and perhaps a bit of offset color on the trim below the main windows.

Since it’s not time to add that trim, I’ll stick with white all around with both the main entry and side doors being a “varnished” wood color – implemented with a Minwax stain. This stain has a semi-gloss finish – perfect for the effect I intend.

Not sure which color I’ll use yet. It’ll be one I have on hand, this is too minuscule an application to purchase a new color.

I’ve put the first coat of white on the new pieces but being a gray base, I’ll need 2 or 3 coats to cover.

That’s all for now.

12 Pearl – Oops

Uh-oh, now I did it.

Fragile pieces, fumble fingers.

Broke some items and difficult to repair (you won’t see it when I’m done – or that’s the plan)

Have to repair piece by piece, one at a time and it takes time for the glue and other items to set.

Progress – regress – is slow and board by board, one at a time. Usually no more than one or two pieces per day.

A note on 3D printing.

I’m finding that using proper measurements – in the proper location – works better for getting good results.

A “quick” print takes about 5 – 6 hours.

13 Pearl – Progress … Or Not

Well now – I’ve been busy and didn’t take photos.

That’s OK – I was busy digging myself into a hole and now need to dig my way back out.

But let’s follow myself into the rabbit hole.

It came time to start assembling the walls of the hotel. I used blocks and squares to make sure the walls were at right angles. The big chunks of scrap wood are for bracing the thin walls during construction.

The walls are sitting on a piece of plate glass – in the photos, it appears they’re floating.

I set the assembly of the 3 walls aside and started working on the front wall.

The more I worked the wall, the more oopsies I created. The problems actually don’t look as bad in this photo as in person.

I cut out the front face from a piece of scribed board. Time to select a color before adding doors and windows. I started with white but it was too stark; I ended up using an off-white. The difference can be seen in the photo – the main entry is painted white, the wall is off-white.

The scribed board is thin yet I had problems cutting straight openings. In the process, I broke pieces and tried to repair them. To a certain point, I thought such errors could be “hidden” or repaired – as I progressed, I found I was wrong.

The section to the right of the right large window broke off. >Maybe< it would be covered by trim – but see the mismatch in width; very small, very noticeable, and broken in two places.

Diddley!

I ended up cutting off the upper section at the upper porch line. This cut can be seen along the front under the upper door opening. I didn’t worry about visibility – the porch would attach along here and not be seen.

I’m not sure what happened, but the upper and lower sections are of slightly different widths. As I recall the lower section was trimmed to fit the side wall and I figured I could trim the upper width to match

That operation was successful butut the lower right corner broke and did not go back together “invisibly” nor was it in a location that could be covered.

I also ended up breaking pieces while cutting the annex door and window. I cut the annex section off just to the left of the big window; this line would be covered by a piece of trim anyway.

Then the board broke along the other two windows to the left.

Double diddley!

Cutting the upper windows also broke sections. The walls are thin … and the holes weren’t straight either even though I marked them with a square.

I obviously stopped thinking when I placed 2″ thick trim around the entry rather than 1″ – it looks clunky and is fastened right proper. “The glue holds best on the section that needs to be repaired

Too much “fix this, repair that” which turned into even more “now fix this, now repair that” for which I didn’t waste time on photos – y’all weren’t supposed to see any of this but it got too obvious.

So … if at first you don’t succeed … take some time off and re-think the situation.

Re-do the wall from scratch.

A laser-cutter is in my future. A different topic for later discussion.

Start with a cardboard mockup. Add pertinent measurements and tentative roof line. It wasn’t worth salvaging the 3D parts – this was a failed print of the entry way – note the missing vertical trim piece above the door. But it works for “fitting”.

I used the WordPress compression app here. It didn’t do anything I don’t do before I upload the image. Just a not-to-be bothered-with-again experiment.

Here’s the issue with the roof line from the prototype photo.

There is a distinct change in angle between the main structure and the annex but the break doesn’t appear to be at the junction of the false-front heights.

The edge of the roof appears to be at a level just above the side window tops and the front annex window appears to be of the same size as the side windows but a bit higher. The upper porch was estimated to be about 11′ off the lower porch; it could be estimated that the roof edge is 8′ or 9′ above the lower porch. My mock-up looks to be off. Maybe the window is higher than the annex door – too bad there’s a building blocking the view.

A bit more tweaking is due – that justifies a mock-up.

6 porch posts on bottom; 4 on top

In the meantime, I need to print another entry and large windows (the other pieces hadn’t been mounted yet)

14 Pearl – Baby Steps

While the new hotel pieces were being printed (about a 13 hour job), work progressed on the restaurant.

The present stage is in position for check-out. The under roofs are being fitted and the photo shows me that some touch-ups are necessary. The false front trims are not fastened; the color seems too bright … in the photo. I’ll need to look closer under different lighting to see if it was simply the photo processing or if the color is actually over-bright.

Means going outside. It’s winter here.

The interior is not done yet although the dining table in the near front window is in place as is the counter in the far front window. The dining table is visible in the prototype photo (as is a diner not yet placed in the model). The counter is speculation. Also speculated are other tables.

The color itself is speculation. I have one B&W photo of the structure. For all I know or can tell, the front wall may be bare wood with colored trim.

Well – it’s not a documentary.

15 Pearl – If At First

I believe I mentioned that there were so many flaws in the hotel front that I decided to re-do the wall. This time, I decided to use board-by-board construction using scale 1x8s.

First I cut out a manila folder backing to the dimensions desired, then scribbled various dimensions for windows and doors as well as porch and roof lines.

Since I changed the color from white to off-white, I printed a new entry rather than ad yet another layer of paint on the one I had. This also gave me a chance to tweak some of the dimensions and printing structures for a cleaner part.

Once I had the raw part prepared, I cut the entry opening to match the part. I also reconfigured the anne front to more closely match what I could make out from the prototype photo.

Still a lot of speculation and guess-timation involved.

I laid the 1st strip down across the entry with a square for support and alignment and started adding boards bottom up. The following photo shows the first few boards placed. I resorted to putting wood glue on my finger then wiping the board with it for a thin layer of adhesive. Maybe there are better ways – but wiping the board with glue was what I used.

I was mostly careful to not get glue on the front surface but these boards aren’t intended to be stained but painted so as long as I wiped off any excess, I should be good to go.

I was not in a hurry – the process was spread over several days; a few boards down, weighted a day or so for the glue to set. Repeat as necessary.

Here I’ve tentatively placed the doors and windows.

I didn’t care for a plain stark white front but the (B&W) photos didn’t show much differentiation between the main color – which may not have been white – and the trim. One photo showed slight differences, the other I have seemed to show all white.

Oh, well. The trim color on the main section will be a pale green; I’ve not decided on the annex trim. The dark window on the annex is used for fit purpose; the door hasn’t been primed yet.

Slow and steady. A couple of “I-wish-I-had-done-that-different” places but nothing serious enough to re-work.

The boards are in place but not yet trimmed. The gap above the front entry is to fit the upper porch; there’s a gap I can’t explain next to the left upper window. The trim piece broke free on the lower left window. Not a problem; it will be glued in place when I mount the windows for real. The upper door trim has not been added; the door will be mounted slightly open as in the photo.

I like the look of chalk so I put a light base coat of white chalk – toned down with a scrape or two of light gray – as a test. The color is off because of the lighting but I’m not sure I care for it. I’ll sit on it overnight and see – but I think I’ll put a coat of paint down then a layer of chalk on top.

This is the “fancy” building in town and is relatively new; the paint job should look fairly fresh, not “weathered” so much.

And this is where the model stands at this next break point.

The saga continues … another day.

16 Pearl – 2 Steps Back, 3 Steps Forward

It’s been a bit since I updated my progress. I finished the board-by-board front of the hotel … and was even less happy with the results than I was with the first version.

Wasted a bunch of lumber it seems. Printed another now-unused entry way and windows as well.

Getting the door/window cut-outs was my bugaboo. I had this idea that by cutting individual boards to length, that problem would go away.

It did to a certain extent but the boards themselves ended up looking … sloppy. OK for a shed but the scribed pieces have a better look.

Here are the two more or less completed front walls.

So I reverted back to the first one I did – on the left. Cleaned up a few mistakes, re-tweaked a few things.

Also changed the coloring from light green on white to white on off-white. Not sure what color I’ll use for the roof trim/corbels.

When all was said and done, the dimensions changed slightly – enough to notice if one knows where to look.

Seems I should get a laser cutter for cutting holes at proper dimensions and angles – my fingers and eyes just aren’t up to it. I could say “anymore” but I’m not so certain they ever have been.

Now that the decision is made, I can construct the rear 2nd floor wall. Here it is almost ready to mount – I want to “age” the coloring just a bit.

The rear upper wall has been mounted; time to finish up the major parts of the construction.

The porches are next.

The biggest shift I notice is the spacing of the porch posts. I’d take out the 2nd from left if I weren’t trying to match a prototype; I lost about 18″ in the “fix-it” mode.

Sh-h-h – don’t tell anyone; no one will notice..

So it goes.

Now that I’ve decided on which front to use, I’ve fastened it to the main structure.

Somewhere along the line, I missed a dimension or two – the structure sits high and will require a bit of fill.

No real problem – the last stage of landscaping needs to wait a bit longer.

Forgetting to put the rear doors in place was not the smart thing to do though …

Checking the arrangement. The upper porch has been placed but I didn’t like the look of the upper porch posts – I re-designed a set and made a new print. However, I can work on the interior at this point.

Neither building will have deeply detailed interiors but the front windows are large and something should be looking realistic about the interiors.

The restaurant does have a figure sitting in the window as it appears to be in the photo. I’m not sure about fixtures but there will be lighting – exterior doorway lighting on both; perhaps two lights in the main interiors, maybe an additional light in the interior of the hotel annex. The power supply has already been built and is ready to go but it’s not time yet.

A bit more progress is underway at this point – as I write this, the upper porch roof has been mounted and I’m waiting for the glue to dry. Need to get the main roofs in place – but need to finish up the interiors first – such as they may end up.

Way behind schedule … but …

17 … Pearl

It has been a while, eh?

To kind of catch up …

The Rolling Garage Sale event didn’t happen – family events took priority at near last minute.

I took a detour from the Pearl diorama – I was having trouble getting parts – mostly of “people” – so I decided to 3D print my own. That’s a side topic. So is the difficulty of finding people sets wherein 1 or 2 of 6 or 12 may be of use. Not cheap, not readily available (“Out Of Stock” for the most part)


Trying to meet my goal of 5 dioramas ready for the early August Rolling Garage Sale, I multi-tasked*; the next diorama is titled “Toll House”. As this also required some custom pieces. This one came close to completion but waits my 3D printing results.


While straightening up the work area, I came across a garage sale kit (This whole box $10). What there was of it was in a plastic bag. Came to me this would be a quick but unplanned addition to the 5 scenes needed.

That “quick” kit turned out taking up all the workspace so that the other two ladies-in-waiting sat on shelves. That one is called “Roundhouse”.

Roundhouse got to the “take photos” stage opening up space for “Pearl”.


But I’d done a lot of “piece here, piece there” work not documented. Pearl isn’t done yet (see “3D People” – when I get it up), but here are some photos as she sits now. The people and dogs are the first pass 3D figures.

I’m more or less trying to duplicate this 1902 photo …

Need to work on the camera angle but getting there

The road has shifted a bit in 120 years – smoothed out the 90 degree turns.
I took this image standing roughly where the near telephone pole was located.
I was able to triangulate based on a few natural features

The white bldg (hotel? fraternal lodge? I’ve not found out) sat about where the new road cut to the right is.

There was a mine off to the left; a row of stores down both sides of the road and up the road to the right and behind the photo viewpoint.

Some speculation on the overall diorama but it’s close based on 3 pictures of the town: 1893, 1902, 1904

18 Pearl – Wrap It Up

I got tied up in multi-tasking … and old English phrase describing the condition whereby you fail to complete multiple tasks all at once rather than just one at a time …

But I finally call it complete.


Here’s my prototype location now

Here’s the prototype photo

Here’s the result. Point-of-view’s off a bit; so is the sun angle.

In color … could use a deeper depth-of-field.


This 1902 view looks down canyon. The prototype photo would have been taken from just about dead-center where the roads begins to turn to the right. Nothing remains now – even most of the holes are filled in – but the open spot in the center provides a parking spot to explore the narrow strip along the road that remains “public”; this is almost all private land.

Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again. SSSU country.


I believe the date on this is 1904. The white building I call a hotel on the diorama (boarding house, saloon, fraternal club, ???) is center right with columns – the corner building next to it in my prototype photo is very different in this image (roof angles).

More or less the same view now by means of Google Earth. The main road now heads off center right; what looks to be the main road up canyon is private property now. I suspect the curve in the road is now more a swerve than corner – that would put my prototype buildings somewhat in today’s road and to the right of the new mine access road headed up hill center


This is actually my favorite image of the diorama


But regardless of the image, the diorama is deemed complete and awaiting its own space in the dioramas room.

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