Author Topic: How big is a big mansion in N?  (Read 1308 times)

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OldEastRR

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How big is a big mansion in N?
« on: December 18, 2020, 06:51:33 PM »
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I'm wanting to add a Victorian-style mansion to my layout built by the the wealthy man who started and owned the town mill (built in 1856) and sits close to both the mill the city center. Now, I know mansions are huge but can they rival large commercial business buildings?

I'm using the Modelpower Victorian House as a basis, but rearranged the walls and plan to make new ones out of wood siding sheet. As built, sitting on it's tall base, it's more like a castle, (Actually I think it's HO size). I thought I'd cut down on the footprint but apparently not much. So I set the construct in place in the town and jeez!



The mill is the long structure in the back, nothing is going to dwarf that but the gray/brown building to the left is a 5-story Sears store!! The mansion is almost as big! I know these houses could be immense but the pictures I find on the 'net are showcase shots with only the house in it and no other structures around to measure it by. Victorians had those really tall 2nd floor ceilings and the gigantic box roof as big as a regular floor so I have to keep those signature features. I also don't want to shrink it down to look like a caricature.

There originally was a lot of open space around the house but it was built close to the mill. As the town grew more and more of the open space became streets and buildings which is why it's on a small lot now. (That's the history, anyway).  It also has a 2nd floor enclosed deck for enjoying the view of the river it's near the banks of. It was also planned and built at an angle to the street grid to make it more distinctive.

Options are to shrink the width and length more, but the height only be lowered a few feet. And I still have to put it on an elevated base (but not as tall as the stock part) to represent a walk-in basement (tho part of it below ground level). But is this thing too overpowering and unrealistic for such a scene?

Maletrain

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Re: How big is a big mansion in N?
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2020, 08:27:05 PM »
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I don't have a direct answer to "how big", because "mansions" really came in all sorts of sizes, as did the well manicured grounds around them.  And "Victorian" is an architecture style that also comes in all sorts of sizes.

What I suggest is that you make sure that your windows and floor spacings don't come out too large to look N scale.  Floor spacings of 10' to 11" might be right for at least the first floor of a mansion, and windows might be from knee height to near ceiling height for the first floor.  But, upper floors would probably not be such high ceilings.  Mansions might very well be 3 floors over a basement.  But, the upper floor might be under the roof slope, with dormers.

The width and depth of the building can vary a lot, depending on how rich the owner was and how much land was initially available.  But, to make it look scale, it is probably important to make the number of rooms seem appropriate for the size occupied, rather than have a few giant rooms.  The mansions tended to have individual rooms for everything, including men sitting & smoking, ladies parlors, study/library, and probably a large dining room and a large entertaining room, plus a kitchen and pantry on the first floor.  Probably at least 2 stairways, one pretty grand near the entrance, plus one near the kitchen for "servants".  There would probably be a glass enclose "solarium" that would catch the sun, and maybe some open porches and balconies in the proper directions for scenic views. 

Upper floors were probably not as high ceiling, but might have some grand doorway to a balcony with or without  roof.  And, a tower or turret that sticks out from the roof with its own peak, is a nice feature.

Formal lawns and gardens with gardener's shacks were also a kind of indicator of wealth.  A matching large detached garage (e.g., 2-3 vehicle doors and a personnel door in the front) with a second story is also a common trait for the periods when cars were around.  There might be a roofed-over "breezeway" from the garage to a side entrance to the house.  Wrought iron fencing (short or high) around the property, with maybe brick pillars with lights on top and maybe overhead wrought iron arches could be part of the look, especially if "in town" when build or last remodeled.

Of course, as time and fortunes changed, much of this probably eroded away with time.  So, you could do away with much of the grounds items, and just make the remaining property look extremely well kept.

But, whatever features you do include, they will need to be finely detailed to make it look realistically "Victorian" and wealthy. 

OldEastRR

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Re: How big is a big mansion in N?
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2020, 03:32:09 AM »
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I'm looking at making the walls narrower, with the windows closer to the corners than the stock walls. I think that might do the trick. Plus shrink down the box roof, it's really too high for the smaller footprint. Cut it down about 10-12 feet. The tower stays as is.

Chris333

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« Last Edit: December 19, 2020, 04:13:22 AM by Chris333 »

learmoia

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Re: How big is a big mansion in N?
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2020, 04:32:27 PM »
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Dear Intermountain.. Please cancel your N scale 4785s.. That ship has already left China..... Twice... 

~Ian

MK

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Re: How big is a big mansion in N?
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2020, 06:09:34 PM »
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$146!?!?

This looks like one of those ceramic houses you buy at Menards for $30...

That's because it's Department 56!   :facepalm:   :trollface:

jugtown modeler

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Re: How big is a big mansion in N?
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2021, 09:57:18 PM »
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Wondering how this worked out for you? Any updates @OldEastRR ?

It does appear oversized. It is not unusual for some of these companies to offer kits in both N and HO scales with the window/door details properly scaled. Possibly this is one of them?
This is one of those kits that has been around for a long time and has been sold under Model Power, Faller and Pola over the years.

I believe the building sits on a raised foundation which would make it 3.5 stories-ish...  The oversized openings hold the elaborate European styled windows that might scale them better to N.

I had always envisioned this structure as more of a schoolhouse, if I simplified the these "fancy" window frames.

OldEastRR

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Re: How big is a big mansion in N?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2021, 05:17:11 PM »
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Nice of you to ask. I went ahead with making the new walls out of Evergreen wood siding styrene sheet as planned, but got distracted by other projects before I finished the last two. I'm intent on doing an update on the entire layout in the Layout Engineering forum as soon as I get the time to take and upload the pix, so I might as well get those two walls done and include the mansion's current state as well.

As for this being a school, it'd need a lot more windows, almost solid walls of them to provide enough light in all the classrooms. Unless it actually had been a mansion now converted to some exclusive school or academy for a small group of students, I suppose.  On my layout, the place has been sold many times, gotten rundown, and is a boarding house for mill workers and travelling salesmen. So I'll have have fun making it look shabby and ill-kept.

OldEastRR

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Re: How big is a big mansion in N?
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2021, 11:17:06 PM »
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OK, I measured and cut the clapboard walls (to replace the brick ones of the kit) after chopping up the brick walls into templates to make a smaller building with less footprint. Still wound up with a monster house. Here's what it looks like with tape holding it together.

The front. Main entrance in the section with the peaked wall. This thing looks much better with wood siding. After painting it should be great.



Here's a higher view. The mansard roof will need a few tricky constructions but should work out fine. The long peaked roofs that run over the wing will be scratchbuilt.



THe rear wall as seen from above. The ground slopes from the front of the building to the back so there'll be a exposed basement  under the first floor here. With a patio and large double sided stairway coming off the rear wall I'll probably have to build a new set of stairs long enough to reach the ground.



I cut down the tower to 2/3s width and depth but kept the height. But looking at it I think I'll cut the windows down from 6 to 4 panes. I still say this is an HO model being pawned off as N. I may put a different tower roof on, something still coming to a point. That seems to be more of the American Victorian style.

REar wall low angle view. The kit has a balcony on the second floor here, along with the enclosed patio on the first. I'm going to use them on this version, as an interesting detail effect, since this part of the house will be the one most visible to a visitor. (the front faces the backdrop).



Wing to the left of the entrance. One thing about using clapbpoard siding, you have to cut the pieces so the bottom of the boards are down When I was assembling this I found I'd cut some walls upside down. For the rectangular ones no big deal -- just invert them. But with this peaked roof wall I had to rework it.



Somehow forgot to take a picture of the tower wall side. Also one of the house on its grounds, with the etched-brass wrought-iron fence around it.

This is an enjoyable, slightly challenging kitbash/conversion. I still need to place the kit window frames, gingerbread, doors, patio, etc and cut matching openings for them in the clapboard walls. I'll also have the option of adding even more gingerbread and doodads these houses had by using various structural plastic shapes. Also occurs to me I can reposition the windows to make different floor heights, or even condense them into 4 floors. Tichy makes Victorian windows with curved tops, plastic so easily attached to the clapboard walls. It might be possible to find some long-gone Micron Art brass windows somewhere, which would also be appropriate. Whether this idea leads to me dumping all the stock kit windows etc and use replacements is something to explore.  It'd be funny that I bought this kit only to use it as a mock-up for a version built completely with non-kit parts.  :)
« Last Edit: March 08, 2021, 02:51:49 AM by OldEastRR »

jugtown modeler

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Re: How big is a big mansion in N?
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2021, 07:24:30 PM »
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Interesting concept. Curious to see how this goes.

Have you considered reducing the height?
The original kit was raised a half floor, correct?
With this redo, you certainly can adjust floor heights to suit your vision.

(I can't "like/respect" yet, so consider this respect...)

jugtown modeler

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Re: How big is a big mansion in N?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2021, 07:26:39 PM »
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OldEastRR

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Re: How big is a big mansion in N?
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2021, 07:40:30 PM »
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The mansion size is set. It really has to be the biggest non-commercial structure in town, since it was built by the guy who practically owned the town. Here's a pic of it with other private structures. From L to R: modifed Blair Line church kit, stock Walters Cape Cod house kit, heavily modified American Model Builders Company House, and a very narrow shop/apts Building made out of leftover parts from other DPM kitbashes.



I put in the small 3-story building to show the mansion actually is N scale to height 3 stories, with the tower another floor higher. Cutting down the tower windows from 6 to 4 panes helped to make the place look more like N. The mansard roof because of its design adds another floor, but there's no windows so it is just a huge attic. And the east wing (opposite the tower side) will have four stories of windows. (servant's quarters)

Since this is a New England town, the church has a spire which is even higher than the mansion. I have no idea why NE churches wanted such towering spires but if you look at period pictures that thing soared above everything else in town. It's even taller (by a little) the 5-and-a-half story, two block long textile mill (a building flat against the backdrop).

peteski

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Re: How big is a big mansion in N?
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2021, 09:46:35 PM »
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Since this is a New England town, the church has a spire which is even higher than the mansion. I have no idea why NE churches wanted such towering spires but if you look at period pictures that thing soared above everything else in town.

Probably to be closer to God.  ;)
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