In the heat of a late afternoon.
It's quickly approaching the end of another hot summer day. A dust covered coupe grinds to a stop in front of the aged hotel. As the sun hides behind the pines, the driver's door opens and a lone figure gets out, stretches and steps deliberately onto the worn porch and through an open door. A heavily scarred desk clerk puts down his paper as he eyes the stranger through a haze of thick cigarette smoke. His hand moves slowly but deliberately into position under the desk top. The driver carefully scans the dingy room as if sizing up the furnishings. He hesitates for a moment when his gaze reaches the clerk. The clerk reads this pause as his signal.
"Hey Mack, you ain’t from around here are ya?? Look around all ya like but be careful how hard ya look, some people don’t like being seen, and they want to keep it that way."
"Like the sign here says, rooms rent for three bucks per night or four bucks if ya got a dame with ya. Ya get two towels a day in the room and the shower is at the end of the hall. Get up early if ya want hot water. If yer packen, leave the heat in yer room and just to make sure you and the other guests play nice, don’t be wearin no jackets, or coats in the hotel. There’s locks on the room doors and we suggest ya use em. If ya snore loud put a pillow over yer head or someone else might and they won’t be gentle about it."
"Dinner is served in restaurant Le’cure usually starting at 7p.m. Sometimes they play music on the Victrola after dinner. Breakfast is on whenever the cook gets up. If ya see somethin ya don’t like we suggest ya leave while ya can and forget what ya saw. If ya plan on stayin another night bring me another three bucks before ten in the morning otherwise we figure that one way or another yer gone and we send in the girls to clean up."
"There’s a phone just outside the restaurant and it works sometimes. This is not one of those times. Park yer heap anywhere but don’t be blockin any entrance incase the doctor, or coroner has to come in and fer yer own safety, stay away from the garage unless ya got business there. Now ya got any questions? If not then sign the desk registry under that June 13, 1932 heading and leave me three bucks."
"How many nights ya planning on stayin?? Is it ta, Mr. ah… Chandler?? Oh yea, by the way, if ya came here fer the swimmin, we filled in the swimmin pool two years ago but they ain’t changed the sign yet. We had too much trouble with guests who was bad swimmers."
That was then, this is now.
In the next few pages I will give an overview of how I went about building this interesting structure. This model was not built to win awards. It was built because I liked the looks of the prototype model. The materials and methods of construction I used will hopefully guarantee that the model will remain structurally sound through the years and exist long after I am gone. Some of the techniques delineated here may be new to you while others will be second hand to those of you who have already scratchbuilt models. I take no credit for inventing any of these techniques but thank those such as John Allen, George Sellios and others who have taken the time to teach these techniques if only through example. This WEB page has been put together as an answer to those who ask me how I go about building such models. In the future I hope to photographically document the construction of other models.
The plans I used to build Hotel Hiser were published in the Nov/Dec 2000 issue of the Narrow Gauge Gazette. If you are interested in building this structure contact the Gazette for back issues or copies of the plans.
By the way, for those of you who might be interested in having a copy of this model for your own road, a limited production kit to build this structure was available from Saco River as their Idaho Hotel.
Tools and Other Sundries:
Before getting into how Hotel Hiser was built, let me talk briefly about tools, techniques and skills associated with this project. I am going to assume that you may want to build your own Hotel Hiser or some similar project so allow me to throw out a few comments about tool and materials selections.
You will need a few basic tools to complete this or a similar project. You’ll need one or more X-Acto knives with no. 11 blades. All layout work must be done using metal angles and straight edges. You can never have enough clamping devices. Many modelers use a white or yellow carpenters wood glue, I prefer to use Ambroid glue. I also use a medium viscosity ACC glue for adding small parts. Whatever your preference in glues, a box of round wooden toothpicks and a box of the thinner flat wooden toothpicks are indispensable for applying small quantities of glue exactly where it is needed on the model.
I have been a faithful user of Floquil paints for many years however I have recently started to use some of the water based craft style paints for small applications. While I used Floquil paint for the main walls of this structure, I used a craft paint for all the trim. I use a medium stiffness bristle brush for dry brushing the walls and trim pieces.
I have found that given enough time, any structure built from wood will warp and twist itself so as not to sit level. To offset this tendency, George Sellios of Fine Scale Miniatures believes in firmly mounting any structure on a strong base. In accord with that belief I fabricated a base for the Hotel Hiser complex out of ¾” plywood.
Once complete the model will require periodic cleaning. Dust is not weathering and can only diminish the overall presentation of the model. To clean the model I use a small vacuum which can be purchased from various outlet stores under various names for about ten bucks. I modified one of the nozzles to adapt to my vacuum set which is sold through Micro Mart and other distributors.
Enough of the babble, here’s how I built Hotel Hiser.