Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Stripped & Bared

I've been a bit lax with this blog (and all the others, frankly), so this is the first part of a big catch up which should bring us as up-to-date as possible, until I next visit my folks...

One important part of this update is the news from my sister that she was hoping to give this to her daughter as a Christmas present. This year. That's a bit of a blow, as the rest of us were hoping for a little longer so the work (and cost) could be spread out more gradually. It also means this blog could end up being substantially shorter unless, once the dolls' house is complete, my sister picks it up and writes about her memories of playing with it 30-odd years ago and/or how her daughter gets on with it. That could go on for another few years but, unless we miss the deadline, the refurb has only a couple more weeks to go.

Still... Plenty to add for the moment, starting with the last of the stripping and making ready and the first bits of painting and decorating.

With the exterior fully stripped, it was time to move onto the interior... where it all gets a bit fiddly. The papered parts of the walls are slightly inset versus the framework so, while the paper was peeling in some places, getting it all off evenly was quite tricky. On the upside, the back walls of the rooms on the front of the house were screwed in place so they could be removed to access wiring, making the stripping of those surfaces far easier. The back walls of the rooms at the rear of the house were glued in place, like the ground floor's ceilings, leaving cavities of a few millimetres through which all the wiring could run. The switches sit in small indentations in the hardboard, allowing them to be pushed through far enough that they can be fixed in place by the nuts they were supplied with.

The rooms aren't perfectly consistent in their construction, though it was still considered wise to label the removable floors and walls, as well as the front and back of the house, to ensure everything goes back in its correct place.

Of course, things don't always work out that way... but more on that in a later post...

Removing the back wall panels from the front rooms allowed us to see the wiring for the first time in about thirty years, giving us a better idea of how it all came together in the first place. Chances are, like the fresh batch of ceiling lights we bought, the originals came with little 2-pin plugs for their power, but they ended up fully wired in, via the individual switches in the back walls of most rooms, and the ceilings of the hall, landing and through lounge.

Like the back walls panels from the front of the house, the upstairs floors were screwed down, and came out easily enough. This revealed how most wires from all over the house were fed through to the loft on one side, via a hole drilled in one of the pieces of framework. The wiring was kept loose and fairly slack, rather than trying to fit it precisely to the walls. Each wire from a ceiling light looped down the back wall to its switch, then back up to the loft where they were connected into a screw terminal block, which then led down to the bottom of the house, out under the base to a transformer and, from there, to the mains.

I asked my father if he had any circuit diagrams for the wiring of the dolls house, or if it was done on-the-fly. After answering very emphatically that it was done on-the-fly, he muttered "diagrams..." in a somewhat incredulous tone. With my father, it seems, proper preparation does not necessitate painstakingly logging every step of the process...

There's one internal wall surface in the third photo, above, which seems to show signs of burning at one of the wire joints. While this has been painted over now, it wasn't noticeable after the original wiring was removed, and the wiring itself shows no sign of having burnt, so I guess it was just a trick of the flash. One light had stopped working, but no-one can quite remember which room it had been in.

After these photos were taken, all the wiring was removed and set aside, and work began on painting the interior...

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