I did the roof in sections, just as the real motel was built. The roof that shelters the office, rooms 1, 2, & 3, I made this section to be removable. I built it using durable thin plywood and framed it out with wooden beams. Working left to right, the second roof segment I used medium gauge cardboard dropped roughly 2 centimeters. For the rest of the roof I used lighter cardboard. Overlapping the wood and cardboard was a simple way to give the roof its grade. I'm no roofer, due to my acrophobia, but I was happy with the results.
After the roof was in place, I added the porch and overhang. The porch followed the same principle as the roof, having a three level grade. We cut up some matchsticks and toothpicks to serve as our porch posts and pillars. Mostly all of these fabricated parts were painted and weathered before assembly.
Now that the bulk of the construction was complete, my daughter and I started in with the fun details. Tiny beads did the trick for simulating door knobs and porch lights. Darien modified and painted old Plasticville figures that would represent Norman Bates, and his unfortunate guest, Marion Crane. The two figures were then situated in the motel's office with a "reception" desk. We completed the office scene by adding a ledger and a wall key holder. Just under each window of the motel's exterior, we placed built in electromechanical cooling devices (air conditioners), made form cardboard and screen. Darien found a Plasticville person who looked like Hitchcock. She painted him, and placed him on the porch so that he can oversee the operation.
We continued to detail the exterior of the motel by adding lattice (painted metal screens) to seal the openings under the porch. I hand painted all of the room numbers while Darien crafted a straw broom to lean just outside the office door. We found that course sandpaper cut into small rectangles made excellent doormats. My daughter also added trash cans, and a few more of those cute little pumpkins. Being a motel, an ice machine was necessary, so I built one using coffee stirrers and the thin cardboard from a cereal box. Darien made a soda machine for the back patio in the same fashion. For extra detail, we added some embellishments to the roof, like chimney vents and a crawlspace hatch. We made a nice little sign for the place, and then added lights to the motel and house.
With the scene in place on her layout, Darien added more moss around the bottom edge of the hill. Also, she completed a dirt (sawdust) parking lot and foot path leading from the motel to the steps on the hill.
The build was complete, but there was one detail missing; a 1957 Ford Custom to sit in the parking lot. The Ford Custom was the movie car in which Marion Crane rolls up to the Bates Motel. I contacted a friend who deals with slot cars; he told me that he had never come across one. I checked the internet, and to my surprise, didn't find what I was looking for. At this point, I was desperate, so I took a trip with my family to a store that I try to never go, Wal-Mart.
Wouldn't you know it, there was the 57' Ford waiting for me in the toy aisle, only one left, of course. It was however, not the right color. The one in the film is white, and the one I found was 2 toned brown. Fortunately this little car, manufactured by M2 Machines, was designed to be easily disassembled. We brought the car home, took it apart, and sprayed the shell with Krylon white. When it dried, I gave it a bath of black water color to dirty it up a bit. I then painted all of the silver pin-striping and door handles. Darien re-assembled the vehicle and added rhinestone headlights to catch the light. We placed the custom Ford in the parking lot in front of room one and there it was, Marion had arrived.
Smiling ear to ear, my daughter and I could officially say that the Bates project was done. We darkened the train room and hit the switch to illuminate only the Motel and mansion. The place looked magnificent. It just came alive with color, light, and shadows. It was creepy, as it should be, but the pumpkins made it a bit more welcoming.
This build was great fun. Hopefully my daughter enjoyed working with her father as much as I enjoyed working with her. Taking a scene from a movie and making it 3 dimensional on your train layout is pure magic. It is with a great sense of accomplishment that we got the Bates Motel up-and-running and ready for business. Although, I wouldn't recommend staying there, as the rooms are a little small, and the owner is a bit strange.