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  • The Old Red Barn

    By Laurence T. Gieringer

    This barn from Roadside America can please your onlookers as much as the original pleases the exhibit's viewers.
    Model Builder - December 1946 - Page 22

    THE traveler who has sped over the Pennsylvania Turnpike to reach Harrisburg, and from there turned northeast through Hamburg, Allentown and Easton to New York or New England or heading for Philadelphia, turns south through Lancaster or York-that traveler cannot have missed the neat, productive farms of the hardworking Pennsylvania Dutch.

    The rider of the mainline of the Pennsylvania Railroad who has long since passed Horseshoe curve and come down through the mountains, running a long the Juniata river and the old Allegheny canal-that traveler, too, can look out of his speeding train and be impressed by the lush green fields, the neat fences and the solid, charming houses.

    If you quiz either traveler about those farms, it is most likely that he will first comment about the barns. The barns are big, and they are styled handsomely. They are painted with all the loving care of a honeymoon cottage, although many of them have been standing for generations on the land of the Mennonites, Amish, Quakers or Schwenkfeldel's.

    High on the ends of the barns or a long the sides under the eaves are strange and beautiful designs painted in varying colors. These designs or "hex" symbols were first used by the Pennsylvania Dutch as spiritual symbols to protect themselves, families and property from witchcraft, evil and destruction.

    Not only were these designs painted on their barns, but they also became common motifs in the decoration of the furniture, quilts, dishes and other possessions of the "plain people."

    Now the time is past when these symbols were used as protection against evil spirits but though they have lost their superstitious value, the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers continue today to employ these designs as decorations which as part of their heritage adds color and interest to their farms.

    Perhaps most important in giving charm and flavor to these farms are the Swiss-style barns on which the designs are painted.

    You can make an interesting, accurate model of these unusually styled barns by following these directions.

    The best material you can use is 3/8" thick wood. Cut out your sides and section walls first. After your windows and doors are layed out, cut them out on straight lines and square them. You will need seven small windows which can be made of heavy celluloid. Use brown drawing ink and a fine lettering pen to draw the sashes on the windows. (See "A" in the drawing.) Now place these windows on the inside of the walls.

    Model Builder - December 1946 - Page 23

    "B" is the frame, which you can make from 1/6" x 1/8" strip. Cement this frame around the opening as shown in the plan. Note that the sill "C" at the bottom of the windows and doors should extend a little out from the frame. You are now ready to glue above the doors the dividing strip "D" which is 1/8" thick and the same width as the wall. Next, cement tooth picks "E" across the windows and the openings above the doors. This is a good realistic touch for your model. These bars serve the necessary function of keeping hungry dogs and scavengers from doing harm to the small animals by entering through the open windows.

    Now you can begin work on the doors. First, take a thin wood board and cut your doors from it. Following the grain of the wood, scratch the boards in the door with a sharp awl.

    The strap hinges are made from thin tin. Cut the tin in a 1/8" strip, and bend it over a nail. Be sure to solder it at the bend so that it doesn't come apart when the door swings. Next, punch three holes through the tin with a fine awl, and nail it to the door with pins. (Nails are too thick and heavy.) Allow only 1/16" to extend over.

    After your hinges are on the door, push in the bent end of a #18 nail. Be sure that your door is set straight and that the nails have a firm hold. If you find that a door sticks, trim it off a bit. The bottom doors are called split doors which allow proper ventilation in the barn while the animals are in side. When you have finished all the doors and windows, you will be ready to nail the building together.

    Make certain that your first floor extends about 6' in front. The reason for this is that the cattle are better protected from bad weather.

    Now for the sheathing boards. They are made of 1/16" wood or cardboard and run in random width from 6" to 24" wide. Cement them as shown in the plan.

    "F" is a heavy timber about 8" x 12" which extends out from the main building to support the front second floor wall.

    You are now ready to cement 1/16" x 1/4" strip around the top of the walls (see board "G").

    The roof is made of thin wood or heavy cardboard. For a tin roof effect, cement on 1/16" x 1/16" strips 2' apart. Or if you prefer, make a shingle roof.

    Model Builder - December 1946 - Page 24

    For shingles which leave 12" exposed, cut strips of light cardboard, 1/2" wide and exactly the length of the roof. After marking each strip at l/4" intervals, rule lines across the strips at the marks. Always be sure that the marks are at right angles to the edge of the strip, for these lines represent each shingle.

    By pasting the strips from bottom to top, a shingled effect will be gained, after the roof is colored, to match or contrast with the sides of the barn. The strips may be colored first, but in either case, do not lose the ruled lines.

    ManY shingles are made with eight sides, that is, a small triangle is cut from each corner of the original shingle. This effect can be duplicated before the strips are applied by making equal notches at each dividing line, and while this will mean taking great pains with a fine knife blade, the results should be pleasing.

    The first floor stone effect with its plastered surface can be made from white plastic paint applied roughly over the shellacked wood. When it is dry, take burnt umber made thin with turpentine, and rub it in places, especially along the bottom. This will give the white-wash wall a realistic, dirty effect.

    The sheathing boards should be painted with raw umber made thin and mixed with half as much white so that the resulting finish will be a greenish grey when dry. You can achieve that needed old-wood effect by using the same color that has been made much lighter and by rubbing it in spots either with your fingers or with a rough brush. Do the same to your barn yard wall. The tin roof can be painted venetian red. You may have to paint a few samples to get the right finish, but after a little effort you should get satisfactory results that will make your work well worth while.

    If you are interested in the barn designs, copy them on paper with a pencil, paint them in bright colors, cut them to shape and cement them on the barn. There are hundreds of designs that could be used, but a very usual one is the six or eight pointed star.

    During the months to come, we will give you plans for all the out-buildings for the farm as well as plans for the construction of wagons, cornfields, gardens and orchards.

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1 comment
  • Paul Weber
    Paul Weber good one, Chris! These old Model Builder magazines are awesome!
    May 4, 2011