Hale Ipukukui o Haluku'ilio (Lighthouse of Dogwallow)

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  • Member since
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Hale Ipukukui o Haluku'ilio (Lighthouse of Dogwallow)
Posted by PVT Kanaka on Wednesday, February 17, 2021 3:19 PM

Aloha All!


As promised, here is a condensed version of our lighthouse build for the port town of Haluku'ilio (Dogwallow).  The genenis of the build was the annual "Mik Build Challenge" on Large Scale Central. The contest involves a mystery item, a limited budget, and a 30 day build period.  This year's mystery item was a "can."


We have a few house rules.   Per CINCHOUSE, "This cannot be just your (my) hobby!"  I take that to mean that all may participate, but none must participate.  Our goal is to let everyone have a hand so that they can take skills to their own projects.  I try to embed some railroad specific skill acquisition for my own purposes, too!


The build began with a brainstorming session. 

From here, the crew submitted their design concepts on the rules-mandated napkins:



My goal was to incorporate as many of these design elements into the final product as possible, to include the proposed flying buttresses.  Also, it had to conform to the exacting standards of 1:24-ish PLAYMOBIL scale.


With the concept in mind, we gathered our resources:

Not shown is the commercial, solar powered lighthouse beacon.  Eric Schade tipped us to that product, and it proved essential to finishing this.  


That got us to the actual building phase.  Oldest Son (O.S.) had hoped for a tiered structure to emulate the Great Lighthouse of Alexandria.  We could not find the right cans, so he selected the core cans.  Oldest Daughter (O.D.), cut foam into the hexagonal base she chose for the keeper's house and foundation, and we all took turns helping to turn foam meat trays into "stones" (shown: O.S. and Younger Daughter (Y.D.):


This provided the basic core of the project:


I realized that we probably needed to do better than glue cans on top of the foam if this tower were to last, so Kid-zilla helped me bore a hole for a can to serve as a base and, if necessary, shear plane:



At that point, we glued all the cans using "Shoe Goo" and commenced gluing on our stones using left over gutter flashing adhesive from the sugar mill project.  Y.D. insisted I be in at least on picture.  There you go.  O.D., meanwhile started to coat the keeper's house in concrete patch.  


This cleared the path for a coat of exterior latex once all the stones were in place.

The boys helped me in my first-ever attempt at framed windows with mullions...


...and the results, while not uniform, were pretty good:


I spray painted a second piece of clear plastic black, and the girls painted scenes on them to represent the interior of the keeper's house:



I should note these photos are from further along in the project.  Along the way, the keeper's house got a coat of paint and I free-handed a blue strip up the light tower.  But I am getting ahead of myself a bit. 


The next big structural part was the roof of the keeper's house and those flying buttresses.  I took the lead here and converted our secret ingredient - craft sticks - into "boards."  To make sure it all set evenly, we made roof beams from Grandpa's Bottomless Pile of Wood Scraps...

....and filled the lot with foam. O.S. learned what happens when you spill plastic cement on foam!



We cut small mounting holes for the flying buttresses:

I glued on the deck, made little hatch for rooftop access, gave it a wash of diluted India ink, then sealed the lot in TiteBondIII, which adds a bit of warmth back to the wood after the wash:

The stanchions are cotter pins.  Jewelry eventually served as the safeety railings.  I ended up setting these too deeply, but the 1:24 crew is pretty careful!  Y.D. would later take a small Sharpie and add nails to the boards.


At this point, we had to figure out how to mount the light and hide the top ends of the flying buttresses.  In a fit of inspiration, I took a cookie tin, glued the cover on upside down, spray painted it black, and fit a wedge of foam into it:


The lighthouse topper has a rounded base, presumably to allow drainage, so I couldn't mount it flat.  It also needed to be removeable to change the battery.  The foam provides a nice friction grip.


Now it was all hands on deck to finish the lighthouse. Neighbor Girl Who Thinks She Lives Here even joined in.   We mounted the door and windows and gave the tower and house some touch up paint.  


I masked and painted the roof of the lighthouse, and O.D. painted on the bricks before using a Sharpie to highlight the mortar seams:

At least, we called in the 1:24 crew to place the light:

...and pau (finished)!


Of course, it looks lots better in place, where it adds a wonderful vertical element over the town, helps establish Haluku'ilio as a port town, and adds a view block that enhances the sense that trains go somewhere:


Oh, and of course the video: Hale Ipukukui o Haluku'ilio at Night.


I think the hale ipukukui (literally house that holds the bowl with kukui nut oil, the oil Hawaiians used in their own navigational aids) struck right in the center of that zone between toy (dare I say folk art?) and model where the Triple O will reside for the foreseeable future.  


Thanks for reading!






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Posted by Postwar Paul on Thursday, February 18, 2021 10:10 AM


  what a fun project! I enjoyed seeing the evolution from concept to finished project. Engineering on the fly( which is normal operation for me) and the results look great! And really cool to involve the family and neighbors.

It looks great! I am taking a side step at the moment, and working on my train room. Adding more tracks ( because I have more track)....

I usually alternate between projects anyway. I'll be adding more rocks and stone on the Swiss-Colorado.Just need to not obstruct access for track cleaning. We need to touch up the murals , also....


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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Friday, February 19, 2021 11:58 PM


Mahalo (thanks) for your kind words. I try to balance what I want to do with what the kids want to do, so my projects tend to swing back and forth as well. Luckily, we've no train room!  


Next up for us is a "campaign" I call the "Rehabilittion of the Missile Sponges."  This is the toy-to-model conversion of lower cost items we or the the extended family bough to give the crew ready-to-hand motive power.  On the upper end is a PIKO "Clean Machine" that needs new hand rails.  The lower end is an EZ-TEC 2-4-2 that will be "upscaled" to 1:24-ish PLAYMOBIL scale.  In between is a recently deceased LGB m2075 (battery).  I also scored a windfall of LGB U.S. profile rolling stock locally that is solid enough to say "Fix me!" but battered enough to say "Experiment with me!"  With all projects, I let the crew influence the direction, but I look for an opportunity to incorporate or experiment with new modeling techniques.


Updates will follow as progress merits!



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Posted by York1 on Sunday, February 21, 2021 7:36 AM

Eric, thanks for the pictures and account of building the lighthouse.  It's great your family enjoys working on this with you.  Excellent!

York1 John       

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Monday, February 22, 2021 1:33 AM
Thanks, John. It's getting harder to keep everyone interested as they grow older and develop their own interests, of course. Every January, though, they all rally around this contest! The skills manifest in their other projects throughout the year. - Eric
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Posted by vsmith on Friday, February 26, 2021 5:36 PM
Winner winner chicken dinner In case nobody heard, Eric and crew WON this years challenge. Big congrats to every on Team Mueller.

   Have fun with your trains

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Saturday, February 27, 2021 1:49 AM
Thanks! I rue the day I don't have the creative assist of my crew!
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Posted by Postwar Paul on Saturday, February 27, 2021 8:34 AM


congratulations! That's fantastic! And it looks like it was a fun family project. Awesome!


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