Thursday, 14 March 2013

Having another bash

Wrapping tape around the waist of Bon Marché hints at some serious work ahead, and it is. For a start, it takes two people to assemble the main panels enclosing the ground floor. They are pretty heavy and about a metre in height - we have the makings of a Laurel and Hardy episode until everything is secured. A tolerant family member or friend is absolutely essential at such times!

Already sanded and primed, the largest sections are checked against one another. The rear wall of Bon Marché is MDF and the sides and front (which I've already covered) are of plywood. Because of their different manufacture, MDF and ply are not guaranteed to remain dimensionally stable in relation to each other, something I discovered as we got on to the next stage.

After laying the back and right-hand wall panels horizontally, at right-angles to each other, we began to prepare the floor sections for final fitting and gluing (but not actually gluing because the decorating is still to be done). 

Like the rear wall, the floors are cut from MDF and their tabs fitted the slots on the back without any difficulty. However, the slots in the plywood side were too narrow - only by something less than 0.5 mm - yet just enough to resist the necessary snug fit. The plywood had shrunk while the MDF had not, but it could be remedied by shaving the ply down one side of each slot with a sharp Stanley knife (an ordinary craft knife or scalpel blade would not be strong enough).

In the end, all the floors were pressed firmly in place and squared up.

Keeping the carcase on its back, I experimented again with swapping interior walls between Floors 2 and 3 (SeeThink electric, 19 October 2012). Fortunately the height of the rooms is the same on both floors.The result of the swap is a full-depth living room on Floor 2, visible through the side opening in the left-hand wall (see first photo). And each bedroom on Floor 3 gets its own door. Win-win! 

First, I took the walls from Floor 3 to Floor 2 where I plan to have a kitchen next to the living room. The smaller room was too narrow and I have moved the party wall a little over to the left so that the kitchen is now big enough for Charlie and Frankie to eat in, as well as cook. It will also be separated from the stairs and landing by a half-glazed partition,  a very common solution in those days to making extra room space in old houses.

And this is the living room viewed from the side. I'll block up the old connecting doorway with a chimney breast and fireplace. The new door onto the landing gives access round from the kitchen and also up the next flight of stairs to the bedrooms. 

Up on Floor 3 I had the same problem with the smaller room being too narrow (beds take up a surprisingly  large area, I find). So here too, I've moved the party wall and made enough space for a wardrobe.

This shot shows I've kept the dividing walls in a vertical line. By the way I hope you'll excuse the rather crooked, fuzzy photos, they were taken sans tripod from the top of a small step ladder. The house was lying on its back and the interior walls were propped up on Lego bricks. It was an all-round balancing trick!

Here's some 'new' vintage caboodle to finish with:

I'm so pleased with the F.G.T & Sons  gas fire, I've been chasing one for ages and to get the pale blue version is a real bonus. This is ideal for the lodger's room, now I'll have to make a coin-in-the-slot meter to go with it. The bread bin and slop pail aren't vintage, they're just awaiting 'the treatment'. 



  1. ooohhh... I love the blue gas fire, it's fantastic! And I'm very enthousiastic about the way you make this kit very much your own, thinking it through really well, making sense all the way. I very much like your story and the history and 'current' (1948) time of the store and house too, very original and fun! Not to mention the way you describe it. Can't wait to see all of it, and won't forget to since I've now put you on my sidebar (coincidently I thought of you past week thinking who was it again that had the great blog with the smart ideas (cobweb on old toy box, watertank etc) and interesting project and was annoyed I couldn't remember, but luckily you commented and I knew again as soon as I saw your name!)

    1. Hi Monique, thanks for your kind comment it's really cheered me on to greater efforts. There are times when I get rather bogged down trying to juggle the decoration, the wiring and the build itself and I'm not a quick worker at the best of times! I might have found it easier to go for something smaller but I'm quite obsessed with the late 1940s era and how fate could throw various people and objects together under one big old roof (oh, not forgetting the back yard as well, which just kind of attached itself in my imagination, not part of the kit at all).