Ztrack teamed up with Archistories to create a nice little series of turn of the century houses in z scale. They have 5 different color homes that can be assembled in a variety of ways so you really could build a nice little neighborhood. I have built a few different N scale structures over the years but never in z scale. I was a little concerned about how they would go together as I looked at the pictures with the incredible detail so I thought I would give it a try.
I decided that I was going to try something somewhat new for me, that is following the directions, building in the sequence called out it the plans. I was also going to set up an area with proper lighting and work at a slow deliberate pace. For tools, I had just the basics. For cutting a single edge razor blade. I know a hobby knife is the tool of choice but I have used razors for years building R/C airplanes and it is just what I am comfortable with. I also used the razor blade as a straight edge, sliding pieces flush in position. For applying glue, a simple tooth pick. I also used the tooth pick to position very small pieces. A small sanding block was used to clean up parts if necessary (only on the thicker stock!) I also have an old balsa block that I have used for years that I could use to pin the assemblies down. I used it as a cutting board at first but found that as it was soft it wasn’t a real good choice for cutting card stock. I did use a tweezers to place the tiny little handrails on the porch but I think using the tooth pick was a good choice for the window frames and trim. For glue, I simply used thinned Elmer’s Wood Glue. With the card stock it worked so well for me! It was loose enough move smaller parts into final position and really set up fast.
The kit is built starting with a substructure. This part of the process is straight forward using a thicker stock that has interlocking tabs. Cut the parts out only as needed, you will lose them! I used my razor and good lighting to cut the tiny little tabs that hold the parts to the stock. Follow the sequence and dry fit everything first. I did pin some of the smaller substructures to my block but the main section didn’t seem to require it. I did make sure everything was aligned properly before glue set.
Once the substructure is built you will place the siding, which is much thinner than the stock on the structure, so use a light touch. Dry fit first to see where each panel should sit in relation to the adjacent panel. If it is positioned correctly, your windows should be centered. Take care when applying glue to stay away from where the clear window will sit.
Now the windows and doors. This was not near as bad as I thought it would be. First you insert the clear window without glue. Make sure the glass is sitting down flat. I did have to trim one piece. I think I had a little glue residue in the spot from adding the siding. If the glass doesn’t sit flat, the frame won’t set in properly. Now you will insert the tiny little window frames. I found if I added just a little glue on an edge or two on the frame, it wouldn’t slide around when I added the frame. I used my toothpick, the little touch of glue held it while I put in place. I added glue with my tooth pick to the outer frame and lowered in place. There are etched outlines where the window trim should line up. The window frames and trim pieces are very thin. This is not a complaint, they look great, just treat them with care. You may want to decide at this point where your entry and addition may go as a window frame may interfere with attachment. This may also free up a window frame in case you damage one.
The roofing is fairly straight forward to apply as is the trim. With some of the tiny trim pieces you will need to refer to the parts diagram to make sure you are grabbing the right piece. Again, do not cut the part until you are ready to install. Same goes with the stair pieces and chimney. I have to comment on the chimney. There are 5 pieces on this part that is maybe 1/8” square. But with the thinned wood glue, patience and proper lighting, very doable.
The final section to build is the porch. Hopefully when you get that far, you have honed your skills a little as you are dealing with some very delicate little frame work. This area gave me a little trouble. While trying to push down on the roof section, I used a little to much pressure and crushed a corner of the porch! Fortunately, I was able to fix and hide as it was up against the structure when done.
Once all the parts are completed, you have options on where you want to position the entry, addition and porch. You can create a variety of looks. My final choice in part was to hide my mistake!
To say my take away from the Archistories Turn Of The Century House kit build is very positive would be an understatement. I in no way consider myself a craftsman but by working slow with the proper tools, lighting and glue plus following the directions in the sequence given, I am very proud of the what I built.