More About The Layout

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This Plasticville building (front, left) is a classic split level home.  Aside from the paper houses with the colored cellophane windows that were dime store standards, this was our only realistic house for many years.  This house was a gift from my father while recovering from a childhood illness.  The opening for a missing lantern near the front door has been filled with household latex caulking, then painted to match the stone-look plastic.

The ranch (front, center) is another beautiful home, but the roof needed to be glued on from the start.  Other Plasticville buildings usually snap fit together.  Unlike most 1950's modern ranch designs, the steeper sloped roof gives this house its classic New England look.  The fence adds a lot of charm to this area, too.

The 2 story house with garage (front, right) is another classic design that completes this neighborhood.  Although the Plasticville buildings are easily disassembled for storage, these are all glued together.  The walls were made opaque, so no light would show through the plastic or the joints, by either painting the interiors with metallic paint or masking with electrical tape.  The metallic paint will help reflect the interior lighting.  Notice the classic cape cods in the middle of the photo, also.

The fragile edges of the Plasticville church made this building one of the few casualties over the years.  Before crazy glue and certain model cements, the breaks were not easily mended.  Fortunately, almost all of these buildings are readily available today, new, or as pricey collectibles.  Unfortunately, our original churches weren't saved because they were considered irreparable.  Lesson learned:  Save everything, and one day you will have the means to repair it!

Our original farm, and most of the original animals, survived the many years of use.  A few broken pieces were replaced and repaired with sheet styrene.  One of the roof ornaments is also a homemade replacement of styrene.  A 7 watt bulb melted part of the rear wall years ago, so always be sure to keep the lights away from all surfaces.

The train station has a replacement rear awning of sheet styrene.  The original trackside platforms were discarded because of breakage, but the new one is wood, and the ramp is of sheet styrene.  The flag is circled with real dried flowers and small artificial florets from regular discount store stock.  The missing hand railings were replaced with coat hanger wire shaped and glued into place, then painted a metallic brass, unlike the white originals.  The door handles and some trim is also highlighted with the brass tone paint.  The skylight windows are painted with a metallic silver to add a little interest to the roof.

These buildings are examples of how you can integrate your sentimental family items into a layout.  One is of the ceramic type, and some of the figures are store bought O scale figures from discount store Christmas stock.   Keeping similar buildings together keeps the layout from looking pieced together.  But the choice is yours, whether to incorporate things that aren't realistic or in scale, or to keep strictly to realism.  One solution:  A little of both doesn't hurt!

Here an HO scale fence is used to define a playground of S scale figures.  The sliding board is homemade.  Although part of the charm of a Christmas Garden is the variation in scale, keeping the S scale figures together helps to minimize the size differences.

This is an S scale building, but because of its larger size, it fits in with other layout items which aren't always true to scale.  The shrubbery and trees give this house that old country look.  Craft shop lichen, as well as garden materials that were dried and sprayed with flat green paint or a clear flat varnish, made this landscape project very affordable.

The switch tower lost both doors and the stair railing, so replacements were made from sheet styrene.  The back of the building was completely destroyed when a bottle of solvent accidentally spilled on it, so once again the sheet styrene came to the rescue.  The nearby outhouse is another homemade styrene item.  A group of motorcyclists is enjoying a brief stay at the motel.  The 3 motorcycles were a dollar store find; the set of 3 on a card for a buck.

(Insert your own outhouse joke here.)

This watchman's shanty, also of sheet styrene, houses a door bell which has been modified for use as a railroad crossing warning bell.

A small piece of lace, behind clear plastic, makes a window look better.  The light wasn't on when the photo was taken.  A sheet of yellow paper or yellow poster board behind the clear plastic can give the appearance of an illuminated interior if you don't want to use lights.

The colonial mansion, another Plasticville classic, sits by itself awaiting some more landscaping and a few details, like the die cast limo and a figure to add a little life to the scene.  This building looks equally good from the front or back.  The chimney stacks were altered since they originally had protruding flue liners that detracted from building.  This building is a little on the small side for O scale, but looks great in the background and allows for the use of somewhat undersized items nearby.

This Plasticville factory also needed a few repairs, but survived almost 4 decades.  I remember when this building showed up on the layout.  Santa always brought something special, even during the lean years!  The yellow heavy construction equipment and worker figures are from an inexpensive play set, and chicken grit (crushed granite) makes for an easily achieved industrial scene.  Unlike the track ballast, this chicken grit is not glued in place.

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