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1/32 scale 1900's Hardware Store

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  • Member since
    June 2009
1/32 scale 1900's Hardware Store
Posted by mustangman on Friday, April 20, 2012 8:24 PM

(This is a series of photos of the progress of this dio build over the past couple of months, condensed into this thread.)

Here's the start of another building for my 1/32 scale Thomasville dio.  It's intended as a hardware/lumber store and may be extended later to include a sawmill at the rear.  The other buildings for the town have been built to fit the existing street base... but this one will be a "stand alone" structure as a display by itself... or can be connected to the end of the Thomasville street.  The base area is about 12" x 13".  

Generally the era being portrayed is the turn of the century, around 1900 to 1910.  I'm basing it on a picture I found on the web.  It's not a quick simple build so I expect to take some time with it.  

Here's the start... basic walls are Elmer's 3/16" foamcore board.  I've cut 1/4" strips of 1/32" Birch plywood which are spaced 3/16" apart to give a 1/16" overlap to the siding.  Birch ply has killed six of my blades so for the remaing walls I'm resorting to 1/32" balsa (I can't find any 1/32" basswood at my local stores!).  The plastic windows are from Grandt Line 1/48 scale model railway suppliers.  The doors will be built from styrene and/or basswood.  The sidewalk is 1/16" basswood scribed to resemble individual boards.  There will be a sidewalk canopy 4 courses below the second floor window.


Added the side walls and the floors and started to build the exterior stairs to the second floor.  Now I see the grain on the balsa siding, I wish i'd used it instead of the birch ply on the front wall!  Oh well!

(I found a tip that might help others using Foamcore board.  When I glued the siding to the foamcore board, it warped badly after it dried.  By brushing water over the inside face of the wall and  letting it dry out, the wall returned to it's original shape.  When I glued the walls together at the corners, I wetted the inside faces again and they are now completly straight.  The camera angle makes it look like there's a "bow" in the front wall, but there isn't.)

I got the sidewalk and work area in place then tried a "staining" experiment on the work area..... a very watery acrylic black wash brushed liberally over the basswood.... WRONG!

I should have known it would warp!  Even though I had reinforced it underneath with basswood framing, it twisted up like a pretzel.  I managed to get it straightend back out by applying another wash, both on top and underneath, and placing some large cans filled with gravel on it while it dried.  It's now straight but has lifted at the outer edge so I'll just do some graded landscaping to hide that!  We live and learn......!

I took the plunge and mixed up a watery acrylic gray/brown/black stain, then applied it in varying consistencies on each of the individual siding and trim boards.  I experimented by using a hair dryer set at the lowest temperature to speed up the drying as each board was stained..... and nothing warped!

I then applied a similar watery black acrylic wash to the sidewalk using the same technique and everything stayed straight and level.  After the black on the sidewalk was completely dry, I sanded it with a coarse grain sand paper in the direction of the grain until it became lighter and more of a gray, bleached color.  I still have to apply more weathering and staining to the boarded work area.

The rickety stairs are also finished apart from final staining,

I found a 12" x 13" x 5/8" thick door from an old abandoned entertainment center and that has become my base.  After locating the building on it, I've started to apply spackle to the areas that will be the road and the raised side yard.  After a couple more coats and some sanding it should be ready for some landscaping materials.


I've added a fence, the road surface. the grass parking area beside the work area....... and started on the porch.  The interior of the window frames (jamb extensions) have also been installed... but you can't see them!  I'm hoping to get some details of a typical 1900's hardware store interior for some interior detailing.

Now I can get an idea of how the hardware store will fit into the street scene..... at either end.


A little more.......

Even though they will never be seen once the roof is on...... I couldn't resist adding the ridge beam and rafters!!!

Now that the weather is warming up, I'm going to put this aside for a while and get back to some of my unfinished car models... and some new ones!

I'll get back to the dios in the late fall, when the weather turns cold and I can't spray paint outside anymore.   But I'm sure I'll find some time to add a little more during the spring and summer!


  • Member since
    February 2005
  • From: Southeast Pennsylvania
Posted by peanutgallery on Friday, April 20, 2012 8:48 PM

Looking real nice...I've have the same problem with some wood products warping. Thanks for posting all the info on your WIP



  • Member since
    February 2011
Posted by Jaredsvettes on Monday, April 23, 2012 9:27 AM

Lookin' GOOD Tony. Another solution to the warping problem with the basswood is to use a mixture of  India ink & alcohol( very diluted!!) rather than the acrylic /water solution. I picked this technic up from Danny & his build of his "old brick garage" featured on this forum. I've not had a warping problem using this procedure. Might be due to no water or no acrylic , either way it works. Thanks for the tip on the warping problem with the foamcore board. board.


  • Member since
    June 2009
Posted by mustangman on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 8:15 AM

Thanks Dennis and Jared.


I just purchased some 1/32 scale furniture for the store.  Now I'm looking for some Edwardian civilian figures to populate my town.  I found soldiers, Civil War figures, Romans, 50's/60's people, etc. but no 1900 to 1920's styles.  If anyone knows of any, please let me know.



  • Member since
    August 2005
Posted by ericmac on Thursday, April 26, 2012 6:32 AM

Tony, This is a most excellent looking build. Fantastic workmanship. I will follow this one closely!


Why can't I stand to slap these things together like I did as a teenager? On the bench 1930 Packard 734 Speedster Victoria, 1932 Duesenberg J Judkins Coupe, 1934 Ford Cabriolet, 1926 Ford Model Ts-the complete set of all six bodystyles.

  • Member since
    June 2009
Posted by mustangman on Thursday, April 26, 2012 10:31 AM

Thanks Eric. 

I plan to add some interior lighting.  I figure the lighting in a 1900's store would be pretty dim so I purchased this string of Led's from a Dollar store, in the hope that they may work for me.  There are about twenty Led's on the string and the battery pack has an on/off switch.... takes two AA batteries.

I temporarily placed them through the rear wall at ceiling height and also a couple through the hole at the bottom of the wall.

This is how it looked in daylight, so I think it should be OK with the lights off at night..... the soft glow of oil lamps?

One led in the rear for a stove?:

Three led's at the inside rear wall:

Although they don't show up very well in daylight, when I turned off the lights later that night, It worked out just as I wanted!  I'll post more pictures once I determine the interior furniture layout and decide where the lights will finally go.  I'll probably also try to add a couple of exterior lights at the rear stairs.... and possibly a sreet lamp?




  • Member since
    August 2005
Posted by ericmac on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 3:59 PM

This is looking great. Let's see some more!



Why can't I stand to slap these things together like I did as a teenager? On the bench 1930 Packard 734 Speedster Victoria, 1932 Duesenberg J Judkins Coupe, 1934 Ford Cabriolet, 1926 Ford Model Ts-the complete set of all six bodystyles.

  • Member since
    June 2009
Posted by mustangman on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 4:10 PM

Thanks Eric,

It will be back, but I'm currently getting a few of my 1/32 scale antique cars finished so I have something to populate the town!

I'm also collecting accessories and hopefully some period townsfolk..... but struggling to find some of those!


  • Member since
    February 2011
Posted by Jaredsvettes on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 8:18 PM

Hey Tony; The store is lookin' good!! How many buildings are you planning for your town? Are you going to put it under cover to protect from dust? Jaredsvettes

  • Member since
    June 2009
Posted by mustangman on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 9:02 AM

Thanks Jared. 

So far I have 5 buildings for the town:

The Thomasville General Store (99% finished)

The Thomasville Bank (98% finished)

The Wells Fargo office (98% finished)

The Thomasville Hotel (98% finished)

The Hardware Store (50% finished)

With the exception of the hardware store, which is a full depth building, all the other buildings are only 1 1/2" deep (plus the sidewalk)....... and sit at the back of a 24" x 12" bookshelf base, with the dirt street at the front.  Each building is removable so I can change the scene for different backgrounds. 

If I turn the shelf over, I have a different street with asphalt paving for the later era buildings and vehicles.  I have started a 50'/60's retail store with apartments above that I can use for this era.  But my priority for now is the 1900's dio, representing the transition from the horse to the "auto buggy" and into the twenties. 

I wish I had the space for a full size diarama, but I live in a small, century home without a basement, so space is very limited.

I purchased a couple of large aquariums from a thrift store, complete with covers and lamps, and the dios will fit inside.  One aquarium for the street scene and another for the extra buildings.

I have no idea how many buildings I will eventually build... but I've tried to arrange it so that the town can grow over the years, and change with each era in it's history, but with some of the original buildings still surviving.

(By the way...... for sharp eyed folks, those lights I used inside the building weren't LED's... just regular bulbs...... just shows how little I know about this "new fangled" technology!)

Thanks for the interest.


  • Member since
    August 2005
Posted by ericmac on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 11:45 AM

Hey Tony,

Thanks for the reply,

I am curious about the cars you will be using. What do you have planned?


Why can't I stand to slap these things together like I did as a teenager? On the bench 1930 Packard 734 Speedster Victoria, 1932 Duesenberg J Judkins Coupe, 1934 Ford Cabriolet, 1926 Ford Model Ts-the complete set of all six bodystyles.

  • Member since
    June 2009
Posted by mustangman on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 4:32 PM


I have a lot of the 1/32 scale Pyro brass cars already built plus a couple I'm working on right now.  These range from the 1900's to the 1930's.  I've also built a few of the Gowland/Highway Pioneer/Revell/etc. models from the fifties of the early cars...... like the 1895 Duryea, the 1903 Model A Ford, 1902 Cadillac, etc.  (I hate to admit it in public... but I also have a whole bunch of the 1/32 scale Signature and Arko series diecasts of the same era.)  In all, I probably have around 2-300 1/32 scale vehicles from various sources and covering all eras up to around the eighties.

Right now I'm working on a 1/32 scale scratchbuilt replica of the Marmon Wasp that won the first 1911 Indianapolis 500..... as well as a 1/32 scale scratchbuilt 1906 Locomobile "Old 16" that won a couple of early Vanderbilt Cup races and now resides in the Henry Ford Museum.  I doubt these will appear on the Thomasville streets though!    If you (or any member of the forum) want to PM me I can give you a link to these projects and more.

In case you're wondering.... I also build in 1/25, 1/24 and larger but my collection of these has grown too large for my small home, so that's why I'm now into the 1/32 scale stuff.

I also write long winded answers to questions...... gotta get that under control!  Haha! 


  • Member since
    August 2010
  • From: Guadalajara, Mexico
Posted by Aleks Padilla on Thursday, June 14, 2012 2:43 PM

Excellent job!


On the bench MPC Maverick Gasser Street Machine Warhorse and Revell 'cuda 1971


  • Member since
    June 2009
Posted by mustangman on Thursday, June 14, 2012 5:04 PM

Thanks Aleks.

  • Member since
    January 2005
  • From: Canberra, Australia
Posted by aussiemuscle308 on Monday, June 18, 2012 12:25 AM

Nice. im sure it'll really pop with some weathering, population and details. The electrics gives it a new dimension.



reminds me of the cabin from Evil Dead for some reason?


My Flickr:

  • Member since
    December 2011
  • From: Havant, hampshire, UK
Posted by popeyesurf on Monday, June 25, 2012 2:53 AM

Looks just great, love your work, well done,

too young to die and too old to give a stuffBig Smile

  • Member since
    January 2009
  • From: Euless, Tx.
Posted by DEUCE1932 on Monday, June 25, 2012 8:21 AM

Very nice work!!! I can't wait to see more from you!!

Current Projects: 1991 Ford Dually

  • Member since
    June 2009
Posted by mustangman on Tuesday, June 26, 2012 9:11 AM

Thanks Guys.

With all this nice weather outside, I'm having trouble getting back into it... but the fall will be here soon...........!


  • Member since
    January 2005
  • From: Cape Coral Florida
Posted by BigTallDad on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 5:36 PM

Stellar job so far!!!

Are you going to do anything on the interior detail-wise?

The reason I ask is I had the opportunity to live near a very old hardware store (they still had the round leather replacement cord for treadle-operated sewing machines) in Schenectady NY. There was a central cashier, meaning the money and invoice were placed in a steel box, then via pullies etc. ended up at the central cashier. Your change was then placed in that box and the box went thru the pulley system again to your clerk.

I was in total awe of this approach, and made it a point of going there at least once a week to buy a pittance of product just to see the whole operation work!

That might be worth a diorama in and of itself, and your skills in this one suggest you could do it.

"In order to teach a dog, you must first be smarter than the dog" P.R. Ferguson

  • Member since
    June 2009
Posted by mustangman on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 8:23 AM

The Hardware Store is one of several buildings making up the total "Thomasville" street scene.

I had intended to do a full period interior and have already added a desk, filing cabinet, safe and a couple of chairs to the second floor office.  When I added the Store to the street scene, I realised that, even with the interior lights on, I couldn't see anything inside!  That's mainly because the store sits sideways at the end of the "street" with the exterior stairs facing the viewer.  So I abandoned the idea of a full interior.

I'm fascinated by old buildings like this.  Is there any chance of taking some pictures of the Schenectady store.... both inside and out......?  It would be great record for ourselves and future generations.



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