Jump to content

Beacon Hill Restoration/Completion -Stairs


mom2blu
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello!

Recently I got a Beacon Hill off Craigslist that was never completed. Turns out it's in various stages of completed, unassembled, and falling apart. It'll be an interesting project that's for sure. My main question is the first level stairs. The house was assembled with hot gluer and has many places which have simply fallen apart, on the second level stairs about 4 treads are missing. I know one railing of the first level stairs is loose. Also the room has not been painted for anything, and honestly I just can't see the stairs well enough to know what state they are in.

Could I use a heat gun to soften the glue (if needed) REMOVE the winding stairs, restore, paint, and reassemble as needed, plus go ahead and wall paper that room, and then put the stairs back? Or is that more of an undertaking than it is worth? I have the original instructions, but since I didn't build it myself I can't visualize how big of a problem it will be. I don't want half the house to collapse or come apart in the process. :)

If it is really just to hard to consider doing, then any other ideas of how to clean, repair, and finish that area of the house?

Thanks for any input!

Alicia

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, I would be concerned that the rest of the house will eventually(or sooner) fall apart if a glue gun was used. Need to use a wood glue or many use Aileens Tacky Glue for construction. How much is apart or has come loose?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't had a chance to really just sit down and look, but mostly it seems like only trim and smaller pieces came off. The general frame still seems sturdy, though one of the mansard roofs has a gap where it needs to be reglued. I'm thinking in the end it may be worth it to take the stairs out, which allows me to fix them and any other loose pieces easily. (more room to move my hands around in the house, possibly using those syringes for glue) Also it's compltely undecorated inside, so I could use wood filler and the like while I finish the interior.

I'm willing to do a fair bit to fix it up, but I'd rather not end up collasping it all and having to practically start over! lol

ETA; From what I can tell (by seeing some, squeezing my camera in to take pictures, and feeling around) the winding stairs themselves are only suffering from that one loose part. But they do need that part fixed, and it needs to be dusted, and I'd love an easier way to paint/wallpaper that corner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the forum Alicia! The Beacon Hill is beautiful, you will love it!

Yes, if possible, I would try and get the stairs out. There is a tab that goes in the floor, and one that goes I think against the right wall so that might make it a little tricky. I cut off those tabs so it was easier to slide the stairs in and out during assembly. I papered and decorated everything before I put them in permanently. Taking them in and out made it easy to measure around things. When I was all done I glued them in, but I think KathieB is leaving hers loose.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Leaving them loose seems handy for cleaning and updating down the road. I may wiggle them out and do that!

And thanks for the welcome! I've had my eye on the Beacon Hill since I was 4! My moms was into minis at the time and I would eyeball that house in her catalogs. I've been in and out of minis ever since, always eyeballing that same house. I stumbled upon it on Craigslist for $50 and jumped at it! I new I'd kick myself forever if I didnt get it!

I was toying with three ideas for it, ( a antique/curiosity shop, a house for a modern ffamily with eclectic taste, or a witches house like in Practical Magic) loading it in the car my 5 year old said "It looks like a witches house!" so I'm going with that idea. I think it'll be quite fun. Mostly just a tradfitional house, updated by consecutive generations, and little accents like herbs hanging about. Only people in the know know that they are witches after all. :) of course there are always rumors about the family anyway. :)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alicia, I got a Pierce that was originally built with hot glue. The heat gun is the route I went, took the whole thing down. It destroyed the windows and much of the trim; I got new window inserts in a swap for window upgrades that came with it that didn't fit what it wanted , so I invested in lots of 1/8" basswood and stripwood and I made new trim and windows. I'm using Probond wood glue to reassemble the house, bashing as I go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've used rubbing alcohol to loosen hot glue, it works great! I have a Beacon Hill also, it was very challenging, so I hope you don't have to do too much tearing down to continue the build. I also bought a partially done house off Craigslist, and am working on it now, they didn't use hot glue, but they didn't put together the house or itself very straight, and the porch railings are quite crooked and nothing was sanded, and I'm kind of a perfectionist so I've struggled with not actually taking the whole thing apart. Good luck to you with the house, like others said, it is easier to wallpaper before assembling the entire house, I didn't do that, which made it more difficult, but I made paper templates for every room for wallpaper, flooring and ceilings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello, and :welcome: to the forum! I'm building a Beacon Hill and, as Tracy (bluebear) said, I've made the stairs completely removable, even to cutting the railing that sticks up above the ceiling and attaching it to the 2nd floor floor. I thought I had a picture to share but it appears to be on the computer in New Orleans.

In any event, do take apart as much as seems even a bit shaky or off-kilter. Later on you'll be glad you did.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've made the stairs completely removable, even to cutting the railing that sticks up above the ceiling and attaching it to the 2nd floor floor. I thought I had a picture to share but it appears to be on the computer in New Orleans.

I've been wondering how you handled the railing. Thanks! Would love to see a picture when you make it back down to NOLA.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello, and :welcome: to the forum! I'm building a Beacon Hill and, as Tracy (bluebear) said, I've made the stairs completely removable, even to cutting the railing that sticks up above the ceiling and attaching it to the 2nd floor floor. I thought I had a picture to share but it appears to be on the computer in New Orleans.

In any event, do take apart as much as seems even a bit shaky or off-kilter. Later on you'll be glad you did.

I'd love to see pictures of that!

While we're discussing my redo- anything else I'll be glad I did??? I'm still in that dreamy state of how awesome this will be, and the realism hasn't hit me yet lol, so we might as well pile on to the to-do list while I'm still dreaming!

I've been waiting 25 years for this house! I want it to be PERFECT! And I'm willing to spend 25 more years getting it that way. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe it's just me, but when I do a rehab I prefer to take it completely apart and rebuild it with wood glue from the ground up. The very first rescue house I did rehab was a Storybook Cottage that was NOT built with hot glue and the only way it was coming apart was in splinters, so I just redecorated it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since I have never assembled a house before (my Brimbles Merchantile is still unfinished and I started it about 6-7 years ago) would it be a smart first step to buy and assemble a small kit? Just to figure out what I'm doing and the natural order of things? Or since every house is different anyway is that just unnecessary?

Thanks everyone for the input so far! I"m sure I'll become quite the regular here as I renovate this Beacon Hill. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Every house is different. Many here started out with a complicated house and made out just fine. Others like to take baby steps. Whatever makes you comfortable. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm debating building an Orchid or maybe a Coventry Cottage. Not only do I love them both, they could easily be in the same neighborhood as my Beacon Hill, and some of the building seems similar. Especially that porch cover of the Conventry.

Although my husband and son were arguing about who lives in their dollhouse, apparently they both want log cabins, but one has bearskin rugs and one has lion rugs! lol So I may make them cabins for Christmas. :)

ETA: Although, I also have that halfway finished Brimbles Merchantile that has been waiting patiently in my craft room for years.....

Edited by mom2blu
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alicia,

Welcome to the forum. As you can see, you will find all kinds of ideas here. I picked up a partially built Beacon Hill on a business trip. It was assembled with hot glue. I spent a couple of hours with the iron in my hotel room softening the glue and taking it apart. I actually got it all back in the box. I would use a heat gun like Holly mentioned or use the tip of your glue gun.

My first house was an Arthur (a year ago). I learned from my mistakes and am making some corrections before I post pictures of it. You will find that kicking around in this forum and reading some of the blogs will give you a lot of great ideas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think there are two main reasons why I'm hesitating to just take it apart:

1. It is ALMOST done. The only thing stopping it from being 100% (for the frame anyway, not a decorated interior) is the windows. Everything is done except the windows, and some painting, so I'd be taking apart a house that is ready for the really fun stuff and doing the building. I kinda feel like right now I have it. Right now I HAVE a Beacon Hill!! If I take it apart I have a pile of Beacon Hill pieces. Does that make sense?

and

2. I'm nervous of my own skills. I Haven't done miniatures in years and the little bit I've toyed around recently has not been impressive. I'd hate to take apart that nearly done Beacon Hill (that is very well done) and end up with a house I feel I screwed up on. I'll never get another chance at my Beacon Hill. I know some people do more than one of the same house, but not me, not for the Beacon Hill anyway.

As much as I'd love to dive in, I think I'm going to stand back and take my time. I'm definitely going to fix the stairs, but other than that I'm going to pick wallpapers, pick colors, etc, and build some furniture kits that I'll need anyway and see if they make me feel more secure in my abilities. I can't even decide if I want to keep the clapboard siding it has or if I want to go a different route. I already have it, so I have nothing but time to figure it out. I'm also debating doing the smaller house kit in a way to really go all out and test what I can do. Can I build a staircase with real spindles, evenly and nice, as opposed to the kit pieces? Can I install a separately built snazzy window or door and make it look good? Can I BUILD a door and make it look good?

Which reminds me, I measured my windows and exterior door(s) today (I'm planning to most likely make the top of the porch a balcony and make that second level window into a working door) and then I compared my measurements to purchases windows and doors. Almost none of them seems like they would fit. I had one or two that did but for the most part it seemed purchased components like that won't fit the Beacon Hill as is. Does that seem accurate or are my measurements off? It would be easy enough for my measurements to be off, since I didn't build it I was kinda picturing the openings and the frame could be bigger or smaller than I guessed. I was thinking that since I got the house for such a deal I could splurge for working windows wherever possible, and some fancier doors.

I'll need to actually post some photos soon. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If your Beacon Hill was built with a good carpenter's wood glue, you won't need to take it apart; if whoever built it followed the instructions and built it with hot glue, you can rebuild it when it begins to fall apart; really frustrating after you've begun the decorating! When I have used upgrade components it's a whole lot easier to trace around the upgrade and enlarge the upening when that section of wall is flat on the workbench. So is removing shingles and clapboard. But, hey, this is how you learn!

Making doors and windows from scratch isn't difficult. In my first major rehab, the Laurel, the doors were glued in place and all the windows had been installed (with hot glue) and none of the interior was decorated except for a random cluster of glazed ceramic tiles on the first floor that would have been impossible to remove had the hot glue-built house not already come completely apart during the ride home; I only needed to use the heat gun to soften all that nasty hot glue to scrape it off, and to scrape off those tiles and the shingles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I bought a Harrison that was partially built with hot glue. I was not ready to work on it, and in the 6 months it sat in my workshop, it began to very noticeably come apart. Since we were remodeling and I had to pack it up, I used my hair dryer for the few remaining parts that were still stuck, but most of it came apart (too) easily. It was a pain to take it apart, label everything & hope that I would remember what I did for when I do build the house, but it will be better in the long run. What if I had kept the few parts that were still intact, only to find that they fell apart AFTER I had finished my build? Then I would have flipped out big time.

Just my 3 cents (inflation).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I certialy hear you about not wanting to take it apart! I understand. Like Holly said, if it's not built with hot glue, you should be fine.

The "standard" windows and doors are different sizes than most Greenleaf houses. So to use those, you would have to enlarge your openings. Also, keep in mind that those are made for 3/8" in thick walls, and the Beacon Hill is only 1/8" thick, so you would need to put some extra trim or scrap wood in to skimmy up the extra space. Brae has some good descriptions of this on her blog.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Alicia. Without photos, I assumed your first statement that the house was built with hot glue and is falling apart meant it was structurally unsound, not just having loose bits coming off. I''m building a Beacon Hill and I understand your reluctance to reduce it to parts. It's a complicated build.

If the house is built to the level you describe and is square, I don't believe I'd take it apart. What I would do is to reinforce every seam with either wood glue or white craft glue by running a bead along the junction of every wall/floor/ceiling and forcing it into the joint with my fingertip (from both sides, where accessible). Capillary action is your friend in this case, and those little glue molecules will run into the spaces and hang on for dear life. If you can soften the hot glue with a hair dryer or heat gun and pull it out in some areas to make room for the new glue, so much the better. If you do this one joint or seam at a time, the house should stay intact during this process. It will be tedious but well worth your time and effort at this stage.

The supplemental gluing ought to keep the house in shape longer than if it is left with just hot glue holding it together. Good luck with it!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My thoughts are that if I decide to put in better components then that is something to consider about whether or not to take it apart. BUT if I decide not then I was considering doing exactly what Kathie B describes. I figure that that plus adding in ceiling trims (has a better word but I had a horrible day and my brain won't tell me what it is) and baseboard trim with good wood glue will really sturdy it up. Those will hold wedge several of the joins together as well.

I just know that if I waited 25 years for this house, then screw it up I'll kick myself forever. Plus, in a weird way, I feel like leaving it together is a homage to the original builder, without whom I may never have gotten my dream house to begin with.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would do exactly what Kathie B advised. My only additional thought would be to use the hair dryer instead of the heat gun and because you can get a lower & slower heat focused at the stairs without risking loosening things you want to leave alone or melting out windows like Holly said. It doesn't take a lot of heat to soften up glue sticks :)

Good luck with it, you will be fine and if you get caught up you know where to find help!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...