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 My Corner Shops - 10th Anniversary Challenge Build
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Posted - 01/17/2012 :  6:09:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello all,

This current "two month challenge" will see me embarking upon an old idea to model a set of corner shops: a project which has been a desire that has been sitting at the back of my brain since about 1966 - yes, you read it right! Nineteen Sixty Six!

Unfortunately, there is no place for any such structure on my present Slate Tramway layout, but I am hoping that it will be a part of that future "Super Layout" that we all desire to build - someday...

I was born and raised in the inner western suburbs of Sydney, Australia, and was fortunate enough to be able to spend (too-few) years riding in and on the old catenary electric tram network that was even then, being steadily replaced by diesel bus motive power. These days, there is not even the faintest hint of a memory of that wonderful system remaining, more is the pity....

Down the road from where I lived with my family, there was (and still is) a cluster of shop-front buildings that were all built around the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Naturally, they have all changed hands, businesses, and colours many times over the decades, but the actual facades have survived pretty much unaltered.

As I was a regular customer of most of these businesses, I had the opportunity to study them in fairly close detail as the years passed, and I was always intrigued by the odd angles and shapes that the various floor plans had. They were all joined by common side walls, and all faced the main road, naturally. Each had a back door, served by a narrow access lane at the rear. The thing that made them even more interesting was that not only were the shops 'battle axe' in shape, but they also followed the horizontal grade as it rose up the hill.

As I have already noted, the desire to commence this build has lain dormant in my mind since the mid 1960s. I well remember the various facades and overhanging shop awnings, which were - and still are, an integral part of the shop-front scene in suburban cities in Australia.

It was only when I recently (almost accidentally) located an aerial shot of the intersection, courtesy of Google Earth, that I could finally see that which had hitherto been invisible to me - the shape and angles of the various roofs - and therefore, the supporting walls underneath them.

This was just the catalyst that I had been waiting for!

I then set to work with a scale ruler, and enlarged the original Google Earth screenshot until it approximated something like 1:48 scale. It was basic and a bit messy, and all marked out on newspaper, taped together on the kitchen floor: I had to compromise a bit here and there, but I ended up with the paper patterns for a set of cardboard shapes that would become the first steps in my long-desired corner shop scratch-build.

My initial ideas to build the whole block as a single unit have met with dismal failure, mainly due to the unwieldy completed size, combined with so many bizarre angles. I have decided instead to attempt to build each shop as a free-standing model, and then to ultimately join them together into their completed block. This will have the benefit of making each model easier to handle, as well as providing a chance to have more than one structure 'on the go' at any time.

Here is the Google Earth image that gave me the much-needed kick-start...

Here is my first 'ghosted' image, plotting out where the various walls will be located.


This is the actual 'corner' shops that will be the subject of this Challenge build. The remaining structures to the north and to the west, will be for a future build, if all goes well with this one...


Here is the Google Earth image at street view. Note the 'stepped' stance of the buildings, as each rises higher to follow the uphill slope.

Now, with the added impetus of this Challenge, I have decided to finally make a start, and move further on than just the paper and cardboard floor-plans.

I wish to back-date the scene to the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the Sydney trams still rattled continually past, and the motor car was still effectively out of the price range of the average man.

As such, I will only be using the ‘modern’ pictures as a reference tool, rather than trying to make a photo-perfect scale model representation.

I don't intend to post this build as a blow-by-blow, ‘board-on-board’ construction. I imagine that it will be posted in a series of updates, weekly or so, over the next two months. By then, the heat of summer will have passed, and I can venture forth into other, more 'outdoor' pursuits.

Being a man of limited funds, I want to keep the cost of the build down, as well. Subsequently, I will not be using anything that I don't already have on hand in my modeller's 'kit', so to speak. As a result, I will be using thin corrugated and flat card, laminated where necessary for strength. Coffee-stirrer sticks, balsa and match sticks will be utilised for bracing and reinforcement, acetate for the windows, and an array of scratch-built and printed paper surfaces as overlays. Some will be from the very good selection contained in Evans’ “Modelbuilder” program, while others will be from my own gallery of pix, twigged and tweaked by me, using my Paint Shop Pro program. All will be printed on my Canon ink-jet printer, on either gloss- or matt-surfaced A4 paper. This will be bonded to the card base by a selection of adhesives, including but not limited to, “Tarzan’s Grip” impact adhesive, Balsa and Wood cement, AC superglue, and my favourite old stand-by, “Solver” Aquatect.

The shops will also contain figures, and these will be chosen from my collection of various O Scale people, and they will be painted appropriately.

Anything that is not scratch-built by me, will be noted as I proceed.

(You have just gotta LOVE O-Scale....)




Green Grocer's


These are my initial floor-plan shapes, just as I worked them out, some weeks back. The various service items and furnishings are shown in their approximate prospective locations. The card I will be using is a combination of laminated, corrugated, and high-impact, and is approx 3mm thick.

Here endeth the first lesson..........

Thank you for your indulgence, gentlemen.


Time is the Gauge of Existence

Country: Australia | Posts: 1356


Posted - 01/17/2012 :  7:04:20 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

That is a very nice project. I too think of building structures that are from my past. Nice start on your plan and you've kept it small enough to begin with so it can be completed.
The front sidewalk angle will be the tough part.

Country: USA | Posts: 6703 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 01/17/2012 :  7:22:19 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello again,

A couple of days have passed since my first planning post on my 1:48 Corner Shops project, and I have elected to commence with the two businesses in the centre. This structure consists of the Chemist Shop, and the Greengrocer's. They will be the most challenging, as they are of two-storey construction, sharing a common front wall with a parapet.


Here you can see that I have printed my chosen brick pattern on matt A4 photo paper (170 gsm). This is from Evans' Designs Modelbuilder program, and has been cut to my measured shape and size.


Here I have added some coffee-stirrers (referred to as Paddle Pop sticks here in Oz) as initial reinforcement to the rear. After the glue sets, I will add more bracing, just to make the whole thing more rigid. I plan to internally illuminate the shops as I go, so the walls will also have to be light-tight.

This is where I am trying to visualise the steep grade angle of the street.


Here I have started with the floor section of the Greengrocer, and have scratch built the fruit and vegetable bins from strip cardboard, match sticks, and balsa bracing, which cannot be seen. The fruit and veges in the bins are small craft beads of various sizes, painted in appropriate colours as required. My intention of having a cold drink dispenser against the rear wall has been superseded by that of a rack of apples. These are not 3D beads like the others, but as they are being viewed only straight on, I have printed them on glossy paper, just as a test, to see how they look.


The green internal walls are as per the original “Ted’s” as I remember them in the 1960s, and the plastic strip ‘curtain’ on the office door at the rear is a section of ‘rainbow cable’ from my electric parts bin.

The cardboard boxes in the lower bins have been printed onto lightweight card, then folded into an 'L' shape. They will only be seen from the front, so it's only the 'effect' of boxes that I am looking for.

The tiled floor was also printed on my Canon printer, using high-gloss paper. In fact, it was a little bit too glossy for this purpose, and had to be toned down a bit with a ‘satin’ spray sealer.

Well, that's all for the moment.

Will re-post when I have something new to show.


Time is the Gauge of Existence

Country: Australia | Posts: 1356 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 01/17/2012 :  8:04:56 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yikes! All that in two months ... wow. Great start on a neat project. Amazing how complex a single block of building can be. Really shaping up nicely already!


Chambers Gas & Oil -- structure build
Quality craftsmanship with a sense of humor!

Country: USA | Posts: 4674 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 01/17/2012 :  8:34:51 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks to Dave and Dallas,

Well, I didn't say that I would get it all 'finished' in two months........

(Mind you, I do have a bit of spare time over the next few weeks, so I will go as far as I can.)

Thanks again, blokes,


Time is the Gauge of Existence

Country: Australia | Posts: 1356 Go to Top of Page

Mike Hamer

Posted - 01/17/2012 :  9:02:22 PM  Show Profile  Visit Mike Hamer's Homepage  Reply with Quote
ohn, you're really moving along at speed! I'd do my grocery shopping on this street corner any time!

Mike Hamer
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Country: | Posts: 11492 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 01/17/2012 :  9:10:43 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
John, I've heard of fast food but not from a green grocers before.
I want you on my team for Beat the Clock!
If this is any indacation of how this corner block is going to look, then we are in for a healthy treat!
Nice work so far.

Greg Shinnie

Country: Canada | Posts: 8922 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 01/17/2012 :  9:11:08 PM  Show Profile  Send mark_dalrymple an AOL message  Reply with Quote
Nice start John!

A very interesting project with lots of interesting and complex problems to solve! The fruit stand looks outstanding.

Cheers, Mark.

Country: New Zealand | Posts: 1256 Go to Top of Page

George D

Premium Member

Posted - 01/17/2012 :  9:28:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You're off to a good start, John. Those fruit and vegetable bins look great.


Fly Army

Country: USA | Posts: 16559 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 01/17/2012 :  11:24:31 PM  Show Profile  Visit elwoodblues's Homepage  Send elwoodblues a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote

That's quite an impressive project you have going on there. It's going to be interesting following this with all the angles involved.

Great start.

Ron Newby
General Manager
Clearwater Valley Railway Co.

Country: Canada | Posts: 6453 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 01/17/2012 :  11:31:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yes I agree. Quite an immense challenge! Looking forward to seeing what comes next.


Country: USA | Posts: 5866 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 01/18/2012 :  12:58:39 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi again,

Many thanks to all for your kind and supportive comments.

I too, am a little over-awed at the various angles in this build, but that's what makes it part of a "Challenge", eh?

You must also remember that we here in Oz had a good head start on you - (after all, it's already 18JAN12 @ 1700hrs here) and I must admit, I did get stuck into it with gusto!

I am currently working on laminating the side walls of Ted's.

I will commence on the Chemist shop later in the week.

Now, the sun is over the yardarm: it's time for a drink, and some dinner.

Maybe have another play around later this evening.

Bye for now,


Time is the Gauge of Existence

Country: Australia | Posts: 1356 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 01/18/2012 :  09:02:42 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

You are off to an auspicious start!

I love the 'back story', too. It is really neat to model something that has a personal connection.

I have enjoyed seeing pictures of your interiors before, and these new stores will give you plenty of space to 'do your thing'.


Country: USA | Posts: 33004 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 01/18/2012 :  11:39:43 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
John, everything is looking good. What all did you use for the produce in your bins?



Country: USA | Posts: 6444 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 01/18/2012 :  2:59:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Good morning all,

Thank you for your comments, Bruce and Mark.

Mark, as I partially noted earlier, the 'fruit' in my bins are small (glass?) craft beads, (from the local two-dollar shop) variously painted. The left hand bin has other scraps of stuff, including granules of fine ballast, sawdust, and some fine, crushed stone.

The 'string beans' at the very front are short lengths of coir fibre, from my old back doormat that died last year. The coir didn't take the green paint very well, so the 'beans' aren't as fresh-looking as I had intended...

I am going to make a start on my spring scales this morning, but I'm not sure how to hang them from the ceiling, as at this stage, I don't have a ceiling!!

Oh well....

More later.


Time is the Gauge of Existence

Country: Australia | Posts: 1356 Go to Top of Page

Frederic Testard

Premium Member

Posted - 01/18/2012 :  6:10:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Very nice work, John. I love your fruit displays.

Country: France | Posts: 17652 Go to Top of Page
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