The Laundromat and the Barber Shop

a.k.a. "The World's Most Animated N Scale Building"

This is what it looks like when I totally lose control. Crammed into this 2" x 2" building are no less than ten motors. It all started when I created a new home for the laundromat dryers from the decommissioned Mountain Vista Railroad, and things snowballed from there. I jokingly call it "the world's most animated building" because it features:

Plus nearly 40 LEDs for lighting effects:

  • animated neon OPEN sign (1 motor and 8 LEDs)
  • drop ceiling fluorescent lights in the laundromat, two of which are faulty (9 LEDs)
  • four wall-mount fluorescent fixtures in the barber shop (8 LEDs)
  • washer and dryer pilot lights (12 LEDs)
  • fire exit sign and exterior door light (2 LEDs)

Construction took place over the course of about nine months. Because the animations were not all planned from the outset, the mechanism acquired the appearance of a Frankensteinian Rube Goldbergish nightmare: as I added each new effect, I'd think of two more, and I just kept piling them on top of one another. For instance, the barber's chair started out as a joke where the seat would rise up in steps as the barber pumped the foot pedal. After installing it in the new building, I thought, why not make it recline, too? And once I added that, I realized I could also make it rotate. The result was an object not much bigger than an N Scale figure that had nearly as many animation options as my excavator.

Here's a peek at the guts. Clockwise from top left: left side, front, right and back.

The whole thing is so complex that I had to create a separate control box for it, because the main panel connectors didn't have enough circuits to accommodate it plus everything else on the diorama.

I Can Dream, Can't I?

If I had the time left, one of the things I'd build would be the "Ultimate Strip Mall," a way to showcase a ton of animation in one tiny space. I'd start with the Laundromat/Barber Shop and add on the following:

...as well as some others I haven't thought of yet, most likely. But, considering how much time I've already invested in the Laundromat/Barber Shop so far, this could take a year or more to finish. And, considering that the strip mall would be part of a larger scene, it might take several years. But I can dream, can't I?

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