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Discussion Starter #1
The little "town" in our small HO layout uses the Walther Cornerstone Street System. As the layout is only "up" for a fragment of the year, I need to be able to remove most items for storage. On the areas between the sidewalks where buildings go, I'd like each building (or two) to go on a "plate" that I can lift out. I have some leftover Lexan sheet from a home project of about the right thickness that I plan to use. Once I cut to fit (on the very first measurement I see I have a square opening 1mm out of square, sheesh) and it's time to attach the buildings:

(a) How should I place the buildings? Jammed up front right against the Cornerstone sidewalk is it is, or placed back some? I have leftover sidewalk, I guess I could double-up where there are storefronts.

(b) Treatment of open space between the base of the buildings and the existing sidewalk? More concrete-looking surfaces, grassy areas, a mix?

Data point: the layout is supposed to look late-1930's small town; that's the train, building and automobiles we've been choosing.
 

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To an extent, it will depend on where, exactly, you are modeling. If it's a small New England Village, shops are likely to be individual buildings set back from the sidewalk, with a walkway leading to the door. If it's a larger town or city (as is represented by the "Merchant's Row" series of kits) the buildings would likely but right up against a sidewalk with a width of about 10 scale feet.

Your best bet is to scour the internet until you find a picture that looks like what you want, then copy it. Use objects of known size to judge scale.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Interesting. Hmm, I have a two year old thick Walther catalog and looked at photos of building in Cornerstone environments... and found a variety of treatments. Buildings flush with the Cornerstone sidewalks, set back with "concrete" in between, and some with a "lawn" spacer. I guess I'm on my own.

The first three "plates" turned out nice enough. I am considering marking where I want the building(s) to sit, and paint the rest of the plate first prior to gluing the building(s). And I need to bore holes in case I decide later to install some lighting.


To an extent, it will depend on where, exactly, you are modeling. If it's a small New England Village, shops are likely to be individual buildings set back from the sidewalk, with a walkway leading to the door. If it's a larger town or city (as is represented by the "Merchant's Row" series of kits) the buildings would likely but right up against a sidewalk with a width of about 10 scale feet.

Your best bet is to scour the internet until you find a picture that looks like what you want, then copy it. Use objects of known size to judge scale.
 

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Interesting. Hmm, I have a two year old thick Walther catalog and looked at photos of building in Cornerstone environments... and found a variety of treatments. Buildings flush with the Cornerstone sidewalks, set back with "concrete" in between, and some with a "lawn" spacer. I guess I'm on my own.

The first three "plates" turned out nice enough. I am considering marking where I want the building(s) to sit, and paint the rest of the plate first prior to gluing the building(s). And I need to bore holes in case I decide later to install some lighting.
Well, I didn't mean photos of models so much as photos of real places. It's hard to go wrong when you're copying reality.

That said, there isn't a "right" answer here -- you'll find all different methods. The right method is the one that creates a result that fits what you want it to look like. As you progress in the hobby, you'll find that's often the case: there is no right answer, only one that works for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That said, there isn't a "right" answer here -- you'll find all different methods. The right method is the one that creates a result that fits what you want it to look like.
I settled on spacing the buildings back somewhat less than one "sidewalk width", and like the look. I think a benefit is that I can "cheat" and mount small items like mailboxes, benches, hydrants on the "plate" so they'll lift out for storage with the buildings, instead of remaining with the Street System (which is permanently glued to the layout) to protect them from breakage.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, I made some progress; I don’t add much to the layout each year, it’s going to take a loooong time. I did extend the streets some, now I have room for a few more buildings in the “town”. The paint on the streets and sidewalks looks acceptable, if not perfect. In addition, I painted the “plates" that some of the buildings sit on, and attached the buildings. Before gluing, however, I thought I might want to someday add lighting, so I needed holes under the building to feed wires and attach lights (using long tweezers). I discovered that a Forstner drill bit, 1” diameter, can bore a hole in thin Lexan (on an unrelated topic, is it possible to resharpen a Forstner bit?); now there is a hole under each building.

That’s it for now, but my wife is already eager for the next train show, so she can shop for some more buildings for her layout.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I don't understand the purpose of the lexan.
Fair question. First, it fills the void between the sidewalks instead of a depression where the buildings sit. Second, this is not a permanent display -- this season up almost two months bracketing the holiday season (the blank spot in the middle is where the Christmas tree goes); so I need to remove the buildings for off-season storage. And these "plates" allow adding details like benches and fire hydrants, etc., that will come up along with the buildings for that storage.

I only used Lexan because I happened to have some handy. It is, admittedly, a whisker thicker than the Street System sidewalks, by perhaps 1/32" or so, and I'll have to live with that.
 

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OK. I thought lexan was clear, but the white part under the buildings is the lexan?

I do a holiday only layout too (you can see it in my post history) and every year I pursuade my wife to make it more and more 'sectional' or 'modular', like you're suggesting. My ideal layout would be like a pop-up book, open it up, plug it in, run trains. But, not only is that not practical, but every year needs to be unique to some degree, otherwise it will be boring.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
OK. I thought lexan was clear, but the white part under the buildings is the lexan?
Yes, I painted (I had another topic going in the Painting sub-forum) the Lexan (expensive, but I had some laying around). The plates under the stores are light grey "concrete" to match the adjacent sidewalks, and the gas station is sitting on a plate painted matte black to simulate asphalt, like the streets.

Lift-out sections make it practical to remove everything not effectively flat, so the two layout panels can go into storage... the "plates" will need individual boxes. The back half of the layout is to be more rural, so farmhouses and such need "plates" covered in grass, etc. (bevel the edges?) and can incorporate trees, fencing, whatever my wife desires to buy at the train show. :eek:

Seeing the other topic on race-cars-in-a-barn, I think I'd like to have one house with a garage on the property, for a pre-war race team. Getting another BMW 328 roadster to match the one I have, one can be peeking out of the garage, and one on a period flatbed truck, ready to go to the races.

Well, layout has been up perhaps 60 days, about time to take it down and get space in the living room back. It's a small house and last night my wife had her guitar lesson. Two players, two amps, the usual furniture and this layout all in a 11x24 room. Tight!

I can work on buildings and "plates" this year without the layout being in place.
 
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