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December 1999 - Page 47


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forbidden fruits that society deemed unac ceptable . . . c igarettes, beer and "nudie" magazines. Boy, have times changed s i nce then. What was considered risque back then seems q u i te tame when compared to the vices of teenagers today. The idea for creating an N scale tree house evolved from experimenting w i th trunk stems for fall and winter dioramas. I found that when broken apart, S weetwa ter's sagebrush H O g auge trees made ideal "oak" trunks. These were enhanced with grafted gypsophilia (Baby ' s Breath) w i th the buds removed. The gypsophi l i a was cemented with Elmer's Glue-Al l, then sprayed l i ght gray to s i m u l ate t h e fi n e branches o f a n aged, dead tree. I felt this tree was the perfect spot for a treehouse since it was large . . . about 60 '-7 0 ' tall . . . and would b e easy for boys t o climb. Remember, these treehouses were TOP a p a i n te d M i c ro E n g i ne e r i n g cast t i re (#80- 1 40) h u ng w ith a synthetic human hair and secured w i t h CA. This allows a n at u ra l s u s p e n s i o n . To m a k e the h a i r appear more l ike a heavy rope I painted it a l i g h t gray. S c a l e 2 x 2 s , 2 x 4 s a n d s e c t i o n s of scribed b alsa were used to form the basic t re e h o u s e . T h e re i s no p l a n , w h i c h i s appropriate, a s construction of treehouses was almost always improvised depending on the materials available. The cruder the better. I added a window and simple floor aligned between the main division in the trunk. The floor was made of individual 2x4s cemented i n place w i th Elmer' s . A simple step ladder was added up the side o f the tru n k and a G o l d Medal Models brass freight-car ladder was attached from a supporting l i mb to the platform. A crude roof was cut from a piece of roof section from a building found at an N scale swap meet. I gave the fin i shed structure a th i n w a s h of Turpenoid ( a n odorless turpentine substi tute) ti nted with a small amount of black/brown oil pigment. I selected Preiser figures, bending the anns on two of them, and repainting them to represent my teenagers. Dul lcote was brushed over the figures to reduce shine. These tre e h o u s e s can be as large or e l aborate as des ired, but remember that they could only be b u i l d w ith whatever m a teri a l s c o u l d b e h o i s ted by hand to upper branches.

It seemed l ike every ravine across North America had at least one, or the ground dwel ling variety - the c lubhouse or "fort." I sbould know, for as a ninth grader, I, along w i th my most trusted friends, would slip off into the woods to taste tbe

F igure - Detail of Sweetwater sage brush branch with g rafted branches. M icro E n g i neering t i re i s s u s p e n d e d with synthetic hu man hair rope.

SECRET, a n d no g i rl s were a l l o w e d . Invari ab l y, they were c o n structed w i th whatever materials could be dragged from home . . . or the local dump. The tree was placed atop a ridge over a double mai n l i ne remini scent of the Lake Pepin ridges and bluffs along the M i s s i s sippi River near Winona, M innesota, b u t i t could j u st as eas i l y be Mai den R o c k o n t h e Wisconsin s i d e wbere t h e CB&Q had their mainline, w i th the M ilwaukee and CN&W operating on the opposite side. I fel t that a tire swing su spended from a l i mb would add a nice touch so I used

D E CE M B E R 1 99 9

M O D E L RAI LROAD I N G ... 47

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