Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gator's Bait Shack 02

Normally I start with a prototype structure. It is rare that I freelance. In this case I want to make and exception because I want something with a uniquely creepy charm to it. Ok, well, I actually did start with a prototype structure in a way.

This is the Chesser's Cabin on Chesser Island. It has been preserved and this is how it appears today. It has a lot of character and I'll be using a lot from this structure. Notice the cypress wood used in construction. The building is elevated on wood stump sections, instead of rocks which are no where to be found in the swamp. I expect that Gator's shack will not be so well kept and would not be sitting in the middle of the island like this, but closer to the water where his customers would want him to be. Notice the white and sandy soil.

Here is the Chesser compound. Notice the dark greens and bright white colors! This ariel shot is excellent!

Once I've looked at structures similar to what I want, I grab the sketch book. My first quick drawing was of a standard building. This one has absolutely no character or appeal and I kicked it out immediately.

As I often do, I analyze the business first. What do they sell? Who do they sell it too? What products are made on sight? What do they bring in? When you start asking yourself these questions you start to understand what the business does. So instead of working on the structure, I started on what the needs of the business might be. We need docks. We need still. We need bait ponds. All of a sudden the Gator's Bait Shack Compound comes to life!
After sketching out the very rough compound diagram, I start trying to put it into a 3-D image. I'm still on the charcoal pencil and sketch book stage. As you can see the massive cypress trees will overcast much of the shack. Just about the level of creepy I want, but way to much like a business than just a guy trying to get by. Needs more work.

Things I want to include in the shack...

  1. Alligator hydes drying on the side of the building
  2. Outhouse
  3. Moonshine still
  4. Pole boats and oars for rent
  5. Board walk
  6. Plank walk way
  7. Bait pond for raising minnows
  8. Well with counterbalance pole
  9. Washtubs for catches
  10. Cypress wood planking
  11. Screen windows and doors
  12. Chairs on the porch
  13. Night lanterns illuminated
  14. Piling construction around dock
  15. Fishing gear and hunting gear
  16. Old metal signs
  17. Stick chimney
  18. Tin roof
  19. Red light
Interior detail of shack
  1. Sales counter
  2. Guns and ammunition
  3. Fishing gear
  4. Animal heads on the wall and fish mounted
  5. Bedroom for Gator
  6. Wild Mabel's bedroom
  7. Poker table
  8. Wood slat chairs
  9. Vittles cooking
  10. Moonshine jars
Got some other good ideas? Drop them in the comments section!

Gator's Bait Shack 01

"Gator" Joe Saunders lived in the Okefenokee. This is a close of up Gator from the book Okefinokee Album written by Francis Harper and Delma E. Presley. We don't know a lot about Gator Joe, but I love his picture. He appears to be the quintessential swamper/tough guy. He reminds me of Tom Laughlin in the movie Billy Jack. The bowler style hat gives him a unique appearance.

Swampers were hunters, so it only goes that there should be a place to gather for a hunt. There were several hunting lodge shacks in the area, but my guess is that there was a place that was a bit more than just a place to keep the rain off your head.

So, as the story goes, Gator Joe Saunders turns a hunting shack into a more enterprising place as interest in hunting and fishing in the swamp grows. You need a place to get a pole boat, the prefered method of travel in the thick swamp. You need bait and shells. Food, directions and other geat. You also need a Mason jar...just for emergencies, mind you. Thus, Gator's Bait Shack is born.

Gator's Bait Shack will be nestelled on Honey Island. It is build on a sandy soil and most of the operations is on pilings. There are walking boards and place to tie up. There is ample covered areas to keep the rain off the gear and the ever present tin roof. The structure is clapboard cypress with screen wire to keep the critters out.

You can buy what you need at Gator's. Buy some things you don't need when Wild Mabel comes by on Saturday night. Even more evil when the cards are on the table and the still is in operation. Its a hangout for hunters, scoundrels and folks who's morals are a bit in question. You shouldn't go there at night unless you are expected. A fellow with a shotgun is always on the lookout for revenuers, uninvited loggers or other undesireables.

So let's start designing the swamp's first habitat...Gator's Bait Shack

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dried Flower Supplier For Tree Stock

Boone Morrison kindly shared his source for asparagus fern...and possibly my new source for Plumosa Fern that I use for cypress trees.

Another good dried plant to use is Ming Fern. It works great for evergreens.

These vendors are selling FRESH greenery, so you have to preserve it in a glycerin/water solution. Better to buy it dried.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

More Views of the Elkhorn Iron and Timber Company

Steve Austin really makes me want to go to the basement and get busy!

Here's his latest...hit the SLIDESHOW option and enjoy!

This is all On30!

More O Scale Parts

Gator's Bait Shack is going to take a lot of details. My first stop will probably be my buddy Pat Turner at Turner Model Works. He usually has everything I need.

My next stop is Keith Wiseman at Wiseman Model Services:

I love O scale because there are a lot of parts available, but if what you need should not be available, then it is large enough you could produce it yourself. Most likely I will make my own pole boats, alligators and other native Okefenokee parts. Drums, barrells, chairs, and your normal everyday items will come from the parts dealers.

Got a favorite O scale parts house? I love to have the link!

The Backshop - Link and Pin Couplers

I'm excited to find that the Backshop, a model train supply company that focuses on O scale, has really nice link and pin couplers.

They have a horrible website. Hard to navigate and rough on the eyes. Says they have been in business for 50 years.

They do have one very handy service: they take plastic parts and turn them into brass!

My biggest complaint...they don't have a catalog of parts available on the website! In this day and age, to pay $4.00 to snail mail a catalog is crazy. Why not put a PDF on the site. Probably be a long time before I order any parts here.


PO Box 15285,

Sacramento, CA 95851-0285 USA



Saturday, August 8, 2009

New White Pass Layout

Join me as I start on another layout design extravaganza!

The White Pass & Yukon in On30!

More Gator Shots

My good friend Steve Berkheimer sent me some more great photos of alligators and they show him in the reeds and lilly pads. Excellent!

If you have some good swamp photos, would you share them with me?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Okenfenokee Videos

I'm at my mother's house taking care of her while she recovers from surgery. Because of the interruptions its been hard to work so I've been scanning some videos on the Okefenokee. I'm doing this mostly to gather more scenery ideas. Here are the links...

Alligator in the Water The main thing I got out of this one is that the gator swims very low in the water and you don't see much of him. Notice how the branches and brush grow about 3-4 feet out over the water. This is a key scenic element because most people to do not have vegetation past the vertical edge of the water.

Gators and Cypress Stumps Some very nice old stumps in this one.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Slow Going

I've not been able to work on the layout much lately. Just too busy. I'm going to carve some more alligators and start work on the HO scale cypress trees...but just can't get a minute to do so. Plus, I had to put the SUV in the shop so I can't leave the house much.

I need parts to finish the light installation job!