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Trouble with vintage Dura-Craft Victorian build-First time doll house builder


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Hi all, first post here.

So for some years after we had our daughters, my wife had mentioned getting a dollhouse kit when she was a little, but it was never built, and lost to time. Well, since both her parents had passed, the other weekend we were working on cleaning out the estate, and low and behold, found a NIB Dura-Craft Victorian (VH-600) under a bunch of old mattresses and junk in the attic! Our daughters were so excited to find it, so we got to work right away. 

The first thing I noticed is the instructions are horrific. Not just that they've been eaten by silverfish, but they're not very easy to follow. However, I am very confident I built the walls exactly per the verbiage and the diagram. Things were humming along great until two days ago- the floors don't fit! For whatever reason, the 2nd floor, the attic floor, and the wing 2nd floor all have about a 1/4 gap around the sides and front, and that's with the edge pieces installed. The roof pieces fit fine, so I can't figure out what's up with the flooring. The only way I can see to get the long ways dimension to go snug would be to either 1- buy new flooring, or 2- trim the long wall down 1/2 inch, but that will throw everything else off. 

Has anyone else run into this issue? What did you do? Any help would be greatly appreciated. 

Note: I have several pictures so uploading was not an option. However, I have included a Google Drive link directly to my folder of pictures for ease of use and to help illustrate what I described. (Let me know if you cannot access/see the pictures.)  https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1KXOvRaVumkBQGH8JYbzzsPkkfslB5s2Q?usp=sharing

 

Edited by PRND21
added model number
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Welcome Brad:wave:

I have a soft spot for any parent building a dollhouse for their kids....YOU ROCK! :bruce:

I have never built the VM600 but her is a copy of the instructions that might be in better shape  https://www.dollhouseworkshop.net/instructions/duracraft/VH600.pdf

I cannot see your pictures.

 

Edited by Mid-life madness
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Wow, what a parent! I have this kit -  also built this kit many many moons ago ... the first thing Id check if you havent already is that you actually have the correct pieces going where they are supposed to.  (I hope you're dry fitting)  if you do have the correct pieces then I would ensure that the walls are snug in there fittings....sometimes with these houses when you're sliding in the pieces, they are not completely inside the slot....if you have more than one piece doing this it'll throw off the whole house.  

Hope this helps and theres always someone around to answer questions.  keep us posted on how it's coming

 

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Welcome, Brad! I feel for you trying to assemble a house with inadequate instructions and pieces that don't fit. Been there, done that!

First, I am wondering if there is a base that the walls attach to so that they will stay square and not splay out as they appear to in your photos! If not, I think I would create one to hold it all together. 

Though I am by no means an expert, here is a suggestion for fitting the existing floors. It appears that there are supposed to be some sort of long narrow pieces with a square cross-section that are meant to be glued to the inner walls to support the floors. If you were to replace them with wider, rectangular pieces, then you would end up with a ceiling that has a little stepped edge or border like a tray ceiling.

Or if you use a half-inch or so cove molding instead of the provided supports, it will look like a crown molding. You can buy fancy patterned ones at a home improvement store.

Then you can center your floors on the wider supports and fill in the gaps with pieces cut to fit. Once you add floor treatments no one will know the difference. 

I am sure you will find a way to make it work.

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4 hours ago, Qubanqtee said:

Wow, what a parent! I have this kit -  also built this kit many many moons ago ... the first thing Id check if you havent already is that you actually have the correct pieces going where they are supposed to.  (I hope you're dry fitting)  if you do have the correct pieces then I would ensure that the walls are snug in there fittings....sometimes with these houses when you're sliding in the pieces, they are not completely inside the slot....if you have more than one piece doing this it'll throw off the whole house.  

Hope this helps and theres always someone around to answer questions.  keep us posted on how it's coming

 

Thank you. Yes, I've double, triple checked everything before using a drop of glue. I'm new to dollhouses, but not building, as I used to build balsa R/C airplane kits, and know the drill with ensuring correct parts fit. Everything is snug as can be, and was taped to ensure it stayed that way during construction. 

 

7 hours ago, Mid-life madness said:

Welcome Brad:wave:

I have a soft spot for any parent building a dollhouse for their kids....YOU ROCK! :bruce:

I have never built the VM600 but her is a copy of the instructions that might be in better shape  https://www.dollhouseworkshop.net/instructions/duracraft/VH600.pdf

I cannot see your pictures.

 

Thank you! This is very interesting- the instructions you posted were revised in 1987- mine are from 1979. The first thing I noticed is they are much improved, and actually have more pictures. The second thing I noticed, is the floors have increased in size. Mine are 31"X13.5. In the manual you posted, they are listed as 33.25X14. So, it appears they were in fact wrong on the version I have.

What do most of you recommend for flooring material, and do you know if there's a source of supply for grooved white pine stock? I'd do the floors in Midwest plywood, but that would run like $50/floor, so I'm hoping there's a cheaper alternative.

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Clearly some changes on the kit! Pictures are good tho! As for replacing the floors I’d use the least coast lay plywood I could find - just enough to be sturdy but nothing fantastic as you’re going to cover them with flooring and ceiling  materials I’m assuming 

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1 hour ago, PRND21 said:

What do most of you recommend for flooring material, and do you know if there's a source of supply for grooved white pine stock?

For interior floors?

I usually scribe groves into a thin sheet of wood so it looks like individual planks, then slide it in place. Some people use craft sticks....You could scribe the floors of the house before assembly, and finish them. It all depends on what look you are going for.

Have you checked dollhouse sites,  and eBay yet? Also hobby supply stores.

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For floor boards I buy rolls of iron-on wood veneer edging, cut them into 6" lengths and split them into 1/2" widths and stick them down with a couple of spots of glue until I have a nice size section, and iron them down with my iron set on "high"/ "cotton"; floors are about the only thing I iron.  You might try running a thin bead of glue along the sides of the floors and bar clamps on the outer walls to see if that will solve the gap problem (if you still have it after following Lee's suggestion).  I just love my bar clamps!

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On 9/21/2020 at 6:57 PM, LeeB said:

Welcome, Brad! I feel for you trying to assemble a house with inadequate instructions and pieces that don't fit. Been there, done that!

First, I am wondering if there is a base that the walls attach to so that they will stay square and not splay out as they appear to in your photos! If not, I think I would create one to hold it all together. 

Though I am by no means an expert, here is a suggestion for fitting the existing floors. It appears that there are supposed to be some sort of long narrow pieces with a square cross-section that are meant to be glued to the inner walls to support the floors. If you were to replace them with wider, rectangular pieces, then you would end up with a ceiling that has a little stepped edge or border like a tray ceiling.

Or if you use a half-inch or so cove molding instead of the provided supports, it will look like a crown molding. You can buy fancy patterned ones at a home improvement store.

Then you can center your floors on the wider supports and fill in the gaps with pieces cut to fit. Once you add floor treatments no one will know the difference. 

I am sure you will find a way to make it work.

That's a really good idea. I'll start looking for some appropriately sized molding. 

There's one more wrinkle here- I bought the Cir-Kit wiring set because we're going to do lighting. I'm guessing with a tray ceiling like this you'd just ensure some gaps are built in to run the wiring ribbon? They say you're supposed to fully prime the house first before running wiring tape. 

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On 9/22/2020 at 10:28 PM, havanaholly said:

For floor boards I buy rolls of iron-on wood veneer edging, cut them into 6" lengths and split them into 1/2" widths and stick them down with a couple of spots of glue until I have a nice size section, and iron them down with my iron set on "high"/ "cotton"; floors are about the only thing I iron.  You might try running a thin bead of glue along the sides of the floors and bar clamps on the outer walls to see if that will solve the gap problem (if you still have it after following Lee's suggestion).  I just love my bar clamps!

Also a great idea, you guys rock! The dollhouse specific flooring material I'm seeing on Amazon is super expensive, so it's good to see some reasonable alternatives. How thick is the flooring you use, and do you have any pictures of the process and/or finished product?

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6 hours ago, PRND21 said:

...How thick is the flooring you use, and do you have any pictures of the process and/or finished product?

Here's how it looks in 1:12:

parlor 2.JPG

The first time I used the veneer as flooring was in 1:24.  Here is the roll and some of the lengths before I split them lengthwise:

bedroom flooring

and I used them on the bedroom floor:

finished stairrail & more kits

Edited by havanaholly
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On 9/25/2020 at 4:39 PM, havanaholly said:

Here's how it looks in 1:12:

parlor 2.JPG

The first time I used the veneer as flooring was in 1:24.  Here is the roll and some of the lengths before I split them lengthwise:

bedroom flooring

and I used them on the bedroom floor:

finished stairrail & more kits

That looks really good! This is laminate from the box store? I'll have to put my oldest daughter on that task...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, finally getting somewhere on it now, I had to completely redo the floor material, pictures coming if I can figure out how to resize them, says max is 180KB

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Also ended up having to cut new rear floor supports, was almost done with the second one then my table saw died. Off to Home Depot I guess...But you can see, look how much bigger the new floor is compared to what came with the kit. The other advantage is I was able to make complete floors out of one piece, vs multiple pieces of the tempered MDF plate material, which the only reason they were in several pieces was to cut down on the box size.

Resized 12OCT 2.jpg

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I'm trying to figure out how to add planking for the upper and lower outside decks, I don't want to leave it as bare MDF from the base. So, I tried cutting some strips from 1/32 birch sheeting, not sure if this will work because once I prime, it will probably fill in all the grooves. I'm after a white, painted deck look for this area. 

Resized 12OCT 3.jpg

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Here's a rough idea of what it's going to look like- fit, trimmed, dry assembled. The roof for the tower was an absolute bear to assemble. This thing is positively huge!

Preassemble 500p.jpg

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