Thursday, 12 July 2012

Stairs, roof and bumps a daisy

I finally got the stairs in and done.  Yippee!!  They have been my all-time worry on this project and I don't feel much better about it now they are done.  The only conclusion I can come to, even after the event, is that there is no easy way to make them or put them in place.

This was the first staircase of the four and I can assure you they are far from perfect.  I'm not going through all the grief here in detail but I did try all sorts of ways of going about it.  

Initially I drew a template and tried to glue everything in place by lying the stairs down against that.  Nope, that's not the way.  No glue seemed to do the job properly and I resorted to a hot glue gun.  This wasn't great either but it seemed the least worse choice between itself and wood glue and super-glue.

Trying to figure out what angle to cut the hand rails at was a complete nightmare and I did sort of use the template for that.  I then stuck the rail in place between the newels and threaded the spindles into it trying to space them out evenly. These needed a lot of cajoling and fiddling about with and they seemed miles too short.  I didn't glue these in place.  I then did a lot of wiggling and jiggling over the stair case itself to try and make the seven pieces line up properly.  Very fast blobs of hot glue were added under the newels and spindles, followed by much praying and even more cursing. 

I repeat they leave much to be desired but once in the building in the (unlit!) stair well they look fine.

If you want to see each floor in more detail have a look at the web album.  While you are there take a look at the roof tiles going on.

I was really pleased with these.  My worry here was that they would run out of line and I can honestly say only one tiny bit was a touch off.  I'm not telling you where because I think I've got away with it.  

The problem is that you start at the bottom of the roof - obviously - and work your way upwards overlapping by half a tile as you go.  This is relatively easy to keep straight as long as you keep checking until the work splits at the bottom of the dormers.  Now you are working on four  separate areas and there is no way to keep a single line check on what you are doing so by the time you get to the top of the dormers you want them all to come back together in a nice joined up precisely straight line. 

I kept the line by using a strip of wood about 1 cm wide which I carefully held at the bottom edge of the last row of tiles and then stuck the next row in place by butting them up against the top edge of the wood.  Three hands would have been useful.  I used a long piece (seen here) for the full rows and I cut a piece off for the shorter pieces between and beside the dormers.

You might also notice I had drawn evenly spaced lines on the roof as guide lines.  This is recommended by Richard Stacey on the tile packet but in all honesty it didn't make a lot of difference other than a visual nod now and again to roughly check how it was going.  There was never a moment when the tiles actually lined up with those lines.  You might be able to measure and mark up more accurately than me so don't let me put you off trying.  I had already discovered I couldn't make this work for me when I tried it when I was doing the brickwork.  As I said they are useful as a sort of double check insurance so I would still do it.

Just a reminder here for anyone about to do these roof slates - like the versi-bricks - make sure you have enough of them and tip them all out and mix them up.  I forgot this with these slates and I did have a slightly different colour and finish on my brand new ones on the top two rows. It looks OK but there was a panic moment.  That said I didn't manage to calculate any of the products accurately.  I ended up with too many bricks and too many slates and not enough extra long bricks which delayed me.  I might add I am good at the maths it is just that you don't really know which bricks you will want for which part of the build and I found I needed lots of the longer sort to get round all sorts of corners.  Again having patience would save you money.  Buy the least you think you can get away with and then see what you need if you don't mind waiting for the order in the middle of your build.

Also, do not make the mistake I made a long time back when I accidentally fixed the roof in place. It would have been such an easy task to put the hinges on two flat pieces of wood on the floor rather than on a built shop!  What a fiddle that was.  It also meant I had to stick the dormers in place, do the lead flashing and stick the tiles on when it was built as it would have been even more difficult to handle the roof flap with all that stuff on it when we were man/woman handling it into place, trying to align the hinges properly.  I am sure we would have wrecked something.

All in all I am very pleased with how it is all looking.  I need to touch up various bits of trims - change the white line under the roof to grey for example, add some skirting in the stair wells, and put 'floors' in the windows for displays and it will be ready to 'dress'.  

The only largish task is the flat roof.  As that should strictly speaking be gravelled (!) I am holding off on decision making for now.  Apparently (cheap) Edwardian flat roofs were five layers of bitumen and felt on the rafters topped off with gravel.  This shop certainly wouldn't have warranted a lead roof.

There is a sort of PS here - saying lead reminded me....  my lead flashing isn't really accurate I know but it was what I bought and it isn't cheap so I was determined to use it.  The flat dormer roofs will be leaded when I can spring the cash for the lead.  Could do with an Edwardian dodgy   tradesman here I think. 

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