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Refurbish or Improve?


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When do you just refurbish an old toy and when do you make it something better than the original? Take old lead toys - the general consensus of opinion says if it has lost more than 60% of its paint then it is ok to repaint it.

Having bought an old cottage which had a loose chimney I simply cleaned it up (using a piece of bread) and fixed the chimney in place but along with the cottage came a pig sty or animal shed. It only had the four walls of the house and the base. Roof and pen sides were missing. In this case I decided that it was a case of more than 60% so I added a corrugate iron roof that instead of just fitting the walls, overlapped by a margin front and back (more realistic) and then built pen walls with a gate at the end

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It is now not the same as it would have been originally as, apart from the roof, the pen walls are set right on the edge of the base. I still have some tweaking to do as I intend to hide the edges of the base by adding

So did I do the right thing or should I have mimicked the original?

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As all the original run fencing had gone, I think what you've done is fine. If one or two sides had remained, I would have preferred a restoration as it was, if I could find reasonably matching materials of course.

I look forward to meeting you at last on Sunday, when you can have another matching (apart from the side door) pig sty to restore, plus a few more projects to keep you busy.

Edited by david_scrivener
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As all the original run fencing had gone, I think what you've done is fine. if one or two sides had remained, I would have preferred a restoration as it was, if i could find reasonably matching materials of course.

I look forward to meeting you at last on Sunday, when you can have another matching (apart from the side door) pig sty to restore, plus a few more projects to keep you busy.

David, you and I are on the same wavelength. If more of the original had remained I would have simply restored to it's original state it without any improvements. I think the 60% rule is as good as any.

As for materials although the original bits are plywood I actually used 3 layers of art-board to make the walls. After all paper is only wood pulp.

The other one I shall probably restore the 3 strand wire fence as the pen and use it for the goat

Edited by Leakeyvale
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I agree Bill - I am happy with the result but It is a vexed question. If I came to sell it I would say it had been restored AND amended (although I am not planning to sell it)

I know what you are saying Sue. Really my main interest is vintage tractors and the Britain's and Border Fine Arts are subsidiary collections since I simply ran out of garage and shed space to increase my tractor collection. Certainly in the conversations with folk I have at the shows I attend the feeling is going towards if its original and fairly straight well keep it that way. My first tractor which was new to my grandfather in 1957 was a bit like that but when I acquired it in 1978 I wanted to have a shiny tractor to take to the rallies...but back then it was frowned upon to take anything to a vintage rally which was less than 25 years old...so hence it was not restored until 1982. Now I look back and think I should have left it as it was...but hey ho you cannot turn the clock back and I made the decision back then what I wanted to do....have a shiny looking restored old tractor ;D ;D

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  • 2 weeks later...

Simple renovation for this little beauty. Cleaned up (amazing the dirt collected on the windows) and the garden wall restored to it original glory. The old paper was perished and impossible to re-glue so I scanned the best section of wall, "Photoshopped" the result and made a sheet of it. I have also laid some grass mat over the painted grass to improve the look but that is not fixed in place so does not detract from the original.

Before

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and After

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I think what you have done would be equivalent to restoring an old property, Sue. It is in keeping with what you had to work from and to and what you have done certainly does not look 'new' alas it has brought and old toy back. Others may have binned it for knowing less.

The cottage, garden and boundary wall again look very nice too. :)

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Excellent job Sue.

Now all it needs are some people, perhaps with a dog, and a tree, garden shed or something.

I think Crescent made a smallish scale lead flower bed with their garage forecourt set which would probably look OK in it.

Not being a railway enthusiast, i don't know if there are any other suitable small scale flower beds in existence which would fit in, but am guessing there are.

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People are Lilliput 1:76. A little poetic licence has to apply as it is a toy after all. The building is somewhere between 1:76 and 1:64 scale. I may "amend" the door so it looks smaller by putting a piece of card with a door image in front of it which is not a problem to do. However I have come across oversized real front doors.

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People are Lilliput 1:76. A little poetic licence has to apply as it is a toy after all. The building is somewhere between 1:76 and 1:64 scale. I may "amend" the door so it looks smaller by putting a piece of card with a door image in front of it which is not a problem to do. However I have come across oversized real front doors.

There are some old lead figures about which are slightly larger, which would probably look better if this cottage was displayed as a set piece on its own. I think some of the Hornby & Dinky railway passengers & similar would be about right. Not sure what scale they're supposed to be 1:64? or nearer 1:50?

Indeed, I'm not sure what scale the cottage is supposed to be, but I thought definitely bigger than 1:76

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It is the same basic size as a railway accessory house which is definitely for 1:64 AND 1:76 but has a smaller door. Hornby scennics are OO scale (1:76) although they also do HO which is 1:64. All Hornby accessories seem to be for both scales at the same time which is true of most of the railway accessory manufacturers.

The cottage will go into a diorama along with all my LIlliput stuff and people will not be anywhere near the door. It really doesn't matter too much as normally nobody ever notices anything that is out of scale.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It was not an onerous task, Mandy, as the cottage itself was in pretty good condition and only required a small amount of glue to fix the paper of the walls where the odd edge had lifted plus a good clean up of the rest. The garden walls were beyond glue!

I have a real project to start - a 1:32 cottage courtesy of Dave that has lost its thatch and is a somewhat derelict . It even has REAL spider webs inside and out! So before the harvest starts I will be in the field across the road gleaning a handful - with the owners permission, of course. Unfortunately I cannot seem to get raffia in Andover although I can get some on the 'net. But perhaps real straw is better for a restoration project.

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Having looked the derelict cottage in greater detail the front edge of the roof is missing. It is pressed cardboard/papier mache so it will not be too much of a problem to repair

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I did say it had real cobwebs and I discovered the spider that built it too (fortunately dead). TWO spiders I see!

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Edited by Leakeyvale
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We'll all be expecting the inside to be decorated in neutral colours, with an open plan kitchen/dining/living area downstairs, and bedrooms with en-suite shower rooms upstairs, in the by now traditional 'Homes Under The Hammer' house restoration style. ;)

In your dreams, Dave ::). It will be getting the roof repaired or replaced, new thatch, a new front door and a minor repaint. I may even put curtains at the windows but ensuites are out of the equation - this house has no mains services so the occupants will have to use a tin bath in the kitchen!

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