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Winters' Mansion

Updated October 2017

This post is done in memory of our youngest Daughter, she died in a robbery February 8, 1991 two months before her 21st birthday.  She always said that she would take care of us, Mom & Dad, in our Golden Years.

I'm dedicating the construction and existence of this little house to her.  Her name is Susan Kathleen Perry and this kit will become Susie's House on my HO Model Railroad.

The small mountain town and railroad station are named after her, Susanville.  She has a business across the road from the station, Susie's Café.  Her house will go on the mountain side overlooking town and her Café.  She wanted to be an Attorney so two rooms on the first floor of her house will also be her Office, Susan K. Perry, Attorney at Law.

The Classic Miniatures Winters' Mansion Kit will become Susie's Mansion on my layout and because my wife and I have reached our Golden Years (more like Rusting Years) I'm presuming that we are residing with Susie in her house upon the mountain.

The first few pictures are of the Kit as I opened the box and spread out the material.    


I spent the first evening cutting out all of the card stock pieces of the kit.  The next morning I decided to start with the roof first.

Over the years I have used Aleene's Wood glue for assembling my Craftsman Kits, they have really improved it.  Now it is sandable and stainable making it the best ever for model railroad wooden kits.

The text instructions included in this kit are very poor, the drawings are excellent as is all of the material.  As you can see the roof went together very well on the second time around. The instructions failed to tell me how to correctly cut the main roof sections.  I recouped and was able to get it right anyway with the help of Aleene's glue.  The finished roof assembly is very sturdy and it's ready to be shingled later.

Next I assembled the base of the house.  The floor is made up of two identical sections glued together.
I added the ⅛" x ⅛" strips to the floor so that I wouldn't have to glue the walls to the floor.  The floor is elevated ¾" (scale 5½ feet) on basswood strips.  I found out later why it sits so high.

I spent a couple of hours with my X-acto knife cutting out the basswood walls using the provided templates.  The windows on the second floor are huge.

The next step was to glue the walls together, using Aleene's Wood glue made it a very simple task.  The glue sets up very fast and holds exceptionally good in just a few minutes.

Here you see the walls glued together, the stringer around the inside supports the second floor cardstock.  The second story floor and the first floor strips were extremely helpful in squaring up the walls during the gluing process.

Next as I'm a lighting freak I needed to add interior room walls to allow individual room lighting.

I decided to make the interior walls from 1/16" basswood, I have several sheets of basswood in stock as well as card stock.  I find that basswood is easier to cut and glue than card stock.
I decided on 5 rooms with lights on the first floor, I will control each lamp with a separate switch from my control panel.
The second floor room partitions were easy, I used the wall ends as a template.
The basswood partitions will fit snugly and prevent light leakage between rooms.
The second floor partitions makes 4 rooms.
It's coming along very nicely.  Everything fit so 
good that at this point I don't think it will require glue to hold it together.

Staining the basswood second floor walls and installing lights is the next step.

The next few pictures show my daughters house stained and lights glued in place.
The basswood accepts the Acrylic Walnut Stain very well.  There is a light in every room and they will be controlled from my control panel.
The lights will be on individual switches so that I can vary the lighting effects.

At this point I need to make some decisions on the wiring and an error that I discovered in the kit.  I like to keep everything as close to realism as possible and I have to solve the problem with the chimneys.  By design of the kit the chimneys are directly above windows and that's not realistic. I need to either move the chimneys or remake the walls leaving out the center windows.  Finding a matching basswood siding for the walls could be tough, the kit is at least 15 years old.  

I couldn't match the siding so I modified the chimneys from one on each end of the peak to a single in the center and slightly down from the peak. 

In the next few pictures I have added some interior details, Susie loved Unicorns

I decided to add a bathroom with a young lady headed to the shower.  I normally don't make open doorways but because of the very large windows and my individual room lighting I went for it this time.

You can tell by the Unicorn this is Susie's bedroom.
This is a rear view of the Mansion.
The Kit didn't have any rear steps, the railing was closed all the way across the back of the house.
I used leftover wood from several other kits to build a matching stair case for the back porch.
To be different I made the stairs drop to the left and I will make the scenery conform to the staircase.

I found the window curtains below and used them in the first floor windows and they are perfect.
I couldn't use the curtains in the second floor windows because they're to small.  This being the case I did a high res scan of the curtains and sized one JPG for the large cathedral window and a second JPG for the small cathedral windows.  I printed both of the JPGs on transparency film on my Alps printer using +25% contrast and a second pass with the white cartridge and they came out perfect.

The following four pictures are the finished Mansion before I discovered the brick foundation is really a basement.
The window curtains came out very nice thanks to my Alps printer.  With the room lights turned on the pictures on the walls can be seen easily through the large windows.  

I added three seated and one standing figure in the living room, two in the kitchen and one in the upstairs bathroom getting into the shower.  The young guy on the porch is drinking a 7up, the guy on the back porch is about to go down the stairs.  There's a fellow leaning back against a porch post smoking a pipe and a young lady waving on the front stairs.
There are 9 room lights, a front porch and a back porch light, all 11 lights are controlled from an individual 12 position DIP switch on my control panel. The 12th position controls the flickering fire in the living room fireplace.
I went to The National Register Site and read the description of the Winter's Ranch Manson, the house is three stories and a total of 18 rooms.  This is a link to The National Register Winter's Ranch PDF
I gave up on mortaring the brick foundation.  I tried about 5 different ways to color the mortar between the bricks unsuccessfully.  I might try to darken the shingles a bit but other than that it's finished.

These are pictures of the real Winter's Mansion located north of Carson City, Nevada as it today. 

The Mansion was originally built by Theodore Winters in 1864 and has been on The National Register since July 1974.

The two pictures above came from The National Register Site.  Looking closely you can see the top of a basement window.

The picture below was taken before the Mansion was restored.  The picture came from the Nevada Historical site. 

After I found out the house had a basement I added windows in the brick walls as in this artist rendering.

I started to move the side walls of the basement in to match the picture above but then it wouldn't fit the site on my layout. I still wonder about several things that don't look right between the various pictures available.

The windows went in easily but I'm out of switch positions on my control panel.

I could add 12 volt lights to the basement easy enough but adding another DIP switch on my control panel won't be easy.

After staining the shingles with my home brew weathering mix I'm going to call it finished again.  I have decided to do a modification to my control panel and add a second DIP switch.  Everything plugs in so it won't be a problem to add lights later.  I partitioned the basement for 6 additional room lights leaving the center open for the flickering fireplace module and wiring connectors.  I ended up with three 7 pin miniature connectors for the individual room lights and flickering fireplace. 

This is the finished house siting in place on my mountain.  The scenery will be a real undertaking.

UPDATE: October 2017

I recently upgraded the lighting in several of my scratch built homes.  I went for an Arduino Random Lighting Controller.  The Arduino UNO can be configured to control 20 LEDs to randomly go on and off making my houses look lived in.

By adding a custom high current driver expansion board or "Shield" as the Arduino World calls them the UNO has the ability to switch up to 500ma per port.

The Manson has 18 rooms and a front and rear porch lights using 12 volt 50ma to 70ma bulbs.  I operate the bulbs at 8.6 volts or about 70% for realism and longer life.  The Mansion draws 980ma with all lights on, thus the need for a high current driver.

I removed the DIP switches from my control panel and installed the Arduino micro processors.

I built two Arduino card shelves from Aluminum stock, a 5 slot and a 8 slot shelf.  The card guides are nylon and the Arduinos fit snug.  As you can see the shelf above will accept one more UNO.

I use Toshiba TD62304AP seven channel driver chips with 500ma switching capacity per channel.  I mount three chips on a Arduino expansion board for the 20 port controller and two chips for a 14 port.

 Angle connectors make it possible to easily connect the UNOs to the houses.  I use ribbon cable between the controller and the houses to simplify the wiring and not create a wiring nightmare under my layout.