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A 1/4” to the foot scale model built 

from plans drawn by Phil Shapter



Click on the lighthouse photograph or plan for a larger views


Wanting a large project to occupy the Christmas holidays, and with the 5th Narrow Gauge Convention coming up in Melbourne with its top class modelling competition, the publishing of Phil Shapter’s plan of a lighthouse in the Winter/Spring 2000 issue of NARROW GAUGE DOWNUNDER magazine gave the perfect solution. The model, to be built in 1/4” to the foot scale (1/48th), could be entered in the ‘Diorama’ section, as well as the special section “Structure from a Phil Shapter Plan” . It was also a very challenging structure to build with its five sided tapered lighthouse column and many different types of construction materials used. It also lent itself to the addition of sound effects and animation, such as a flashing light. A section of the published plan in 1/160 scale is shown. I used 1/4” scale plans obtained from Phil.

Because this was such a large project, I decided to break it down into several smaller sections, and build each one to a completed stage. The sections were:

 1. The pier and diorama base,

2. The gatehouse, shed and lighthouse,

3. All the details including the animation.


Some of these overlapped but each was fairly complete before going onto the next. An early decision was also made to build the model at low tide, so all sixty plus pier legs would show the barnacles and attached sea weed that is attracted between the low water mark and about half way up to the high water mark.


Another early decision that had to be made was how was this model to be transported. When complete it would stand almost 30 inches high, and be sited on a 2 foot square base. To keep the model at a minimum transporting height, the combined shed and light house tower would be detachable, and travel lying beside the pier in a foam cradle. This kept the transporting height to 14 inches.

Also at this stage the lighting and animation had to be considered, because the power had to be feed to the light, as well as audio lines to the speaker that was to be housed in the base of the shed. See the bottom photograph at left, which shows the animation and speaker installed. With the pier being totally in the water, the only way was to hollow out one of the pier legs under the shed and run the wires through it.

 A large project like this one cannot just be started, but must be planned well in advance to ensure that you have all the various materials, including the various dowel sizes required, the large (and I mean LARGE!!!) quantities of the various sizes and sheets of lumber needed, corrugated iron for the roofs, heavy card stock to build the shed and column sub-walls. Right down to all the details like nut/bolt/washer castings, human figures, birds, including seagulls, and the other 100 and 1 items that go into a large structure of this type. Pre-planning included a trip to the super market to find the right size and shape bottle cap for the copper clad roof of the lighthouse.