|Written by Howard Lamey and Paul Race for
Big Indoor TrainsTM and LittleGlitterHouses.comTM
Building Spook HillTM Water TowerThe Spook HillTM Water Tower project complements the unique and charming Spook HillTM Station. Depending on your color choices, it would look good with any holiday village or O scale train, including:
It's also the easiest structure to build so far, so it would be a good project to get the kids involved with.
Some of the construction is very similar to building a glitterhouse, (the traditional pastboard houses that became popular in the early-to-mid 1900s) so we will refer to articles on glitterhouses in general from time to time.
A note about stone versus timber water towers: When I asked Howard to consider designing a water tower for the Spook HillTM station, his first design had timber supports, the kind you usually see on model railroads and old photos. But many small railroads of the 1800s and early 1900s supported their water tanks on brick or stone bases. The door represents the entry to the pumping machinery, which is hidden inside. This makes construction of this project a "breeze" compared to building a "timber" structure to support it. By increasing the size of this project by say 2 1/2 times, you can make a nice Large Scale version that would look good with LGB or AristoCraft trains (if you're running them indoors, that is).
Update for 2009 - Tribute to Tinplate Version! - Since Paul and I designed this structure for his Spook HillTM Halloween village and railroad, we have started a series of cardboard structures that pay Tribute to Tinplate - easy and inexpensive replicas of the great lithographed tinplate railroad structures of the early 1900s. When I mentioned I was thinking about a water tower for our "tin city," Paul sent me new graphics that I used to make a version that looked like it belonged on an early toy train railroad. He has now included those graphics in our web sites so you can follow these instructions and make a tinplate-inspired version for your railroad, too.
What You Will NeedClean cardboard (used is fine). This includes cereal boxes, the backs of writing tablets, corrugated box panels, anything flat, firm and clean, that you can save. For the bases on this project, I used heavy chipboard, that is - thick, but solid cardboard like that on the back of writing tablets. If you don't have that, you could alway build those bases out of fine corrugated cardboard and wrap them, the way we wrap bases in our Building Glitterhouse Bases article, but don't make them as thick as traditional glitterhouse bases.
In addition, for this project you'll need:
Print The PatternsThis project has two structure patterns that you will need to cut out and transfer to cardboard, as well as three texture sheets that you will use to finish your station's appearance.
You may print the structure patterns on any sort of paper, since you're simply using this to help you cut out your cardboard media.
Printing the Plans - We've provided a full-sized PDF version of each plan sheet to help you print the plans at the size you need. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer. Click on each plan drawing above to open the PDF version. Select the print option, tell it to "auto rotate and center." Don't select the "scale to page" or "shrink to fit" option. Print.
Note about Scale - The dimensions given in the plans above are for the S scale verion, assuming you can find a nice tube 2.5" in diameter. If your tube is a bit larger or smaller, all of the horizontal dimensions will have to change as well. If you have other scales, use the plan sheets as a reference, but use the diameter of the tube to determine the size of the supporting cube and other measurements. Also, this is a plan for a very small water tower, like you might find at a "whistle-stop station," so you can go half again as large if you want to.
Suggested guidelines for various scales would be:
If for some reason you can't download the plans, or the math doesn't make sense, contact Paul and ask him for help - that's his department. :-)
Printing the Patterned Paper - The patterns used on this project are from the Big Indoor TrainsTMBuilding Texture pages. If you would like to try a different pattern, please check them out. In the meantime, the following patterns will give you the same graphics used in this project. Print each on acid-free bond paper at the highest quality setting your printer allows.
Note: Most of the graphics printouts on this project were actually printed on an acid-free light card stock. This made the graphic sheets a little harder to fold cleanly but gave a sturdier overall effect.
For a realistic or Halloween finish, consider using the following graphics.
For a tinplate, vintage appearance, consider substituting the following graphics. The S scale versions will work with the plans in this article. If you are building a larger water tank, though, you may wish to download the O scale versions. (If you want graphics that are appropriate for Standard Gauge or Large Scale, please contact us - some of the files are too large to store on the site indefinitely.)
Establishing the Tank SizeThe final size of this project will depend in part on the size of the tube you use for a tank. I used a cardboard "spool" from Christmas ribbon with the "flanges" cut off. If the tube you use to give your tank shape has a wider diameter than mine, you will need to increase the base sizes, the lateral measurements of the walls, and the diameter of the roof piece to match.
If your tube has open ends, you should cut out pieces like the one shown to the right and glue them in place now, so later on you have a surface to use when you glue the tank to other pieces. The exact measurement depends on the size of the tube you use.
Building the BasesUnlike most of our related projects, this project has two bases. I cut six 2 7/8" squares and glued them together in two sets of three pieces, then let them dry overnight with something heavy on top to keep them flat. When they were thoroughly dry, I trimmed the edges smooth.
Alternatively, if you have fine corrugated cardboard (like that the kind that comes from Express Mail boxes), you could use four squares, glued together in sets of two, and wrap them like we do in our Building Glitterhouse Bases article.
Building the Water Tower
ConclusionPaul speaking here: When Howard was done taking photos for this year's Spook Hill projects, he sent me the station and water tower he had built while creating this project. Due to Howard's careful craftsmanship, this fun project has produced what could easily become a family heirloom. Once again, I am glad to be able to help Howard bring his project ideas to our readers.
I also can't help thinking how many different ways these projects could be useful. For example:
Howard has often been "commissioned" to design and or build vintage-style cardboard houses for collectors and fans of this delightful, but usually underrated art form. That's why he started his own web site, LittleGlitterHouses.com. If you would like to ask Howard to bid on a project for you, or if you have any questions for Howard, stop by there and you'll find direct contact information. If you have any questions for Paul, use this link.
Finally, if you have a similar project you'd like to share with your fellow readers and hobbyists, let us know. We'd love to add it to one or both of our sites, and we'll be sure to give you full credit for your contribution.
Other articles about Halloween houses, villages, and trains include our Spook HillTM series, which includes the following free project plans and graphics for a frighteningly fun Halloween.
Other articles about tinplate-inspired houses include our Tribute to TinplateTM series, which includes easy-to make stations, houses, street lamps, and other accessories to bring a vintage, lithograph-inspired feel to your train or town.
Other articles about Seasonal vintage-style cardboard houses include:
To Return to the BIG Indoor TrainsTM Primer Page, click here.
Note: Big Indoor TrainsTM, Big Train StoreTM, Family Garden TrainsTM, Big Christmas TrainsTM, Garden Train StoreTM, and Trains and TownsTM and HallowenTrains.comTM are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com).
Spook HillTM is a trademark of Howard Lamey. All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically
Big Indoor Trains(tm) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
For more information, contact us.