Thursday, September 3, 2015

Slow Down, Take Your Time, Learn Something

Since I'm just jumping back in to my mini world after a three week hiatus, I reasoned that I'd better sit for a bit, and reason everything through before starting. I walked through all of the steps in my head, then did what is always necessary for me in order to remember everything; I made a list!

First, I got the roof trim piece primed and painted. I explained in my Piss Poor Planning post that I'd need to hide the repair wiring behind it in order to tie the working lower level tape run into the non working strip which powers all of the loft lights.

While the roof pieces were drying (I figured why not do the right side too while I had the paint out), I made a pattern for the replacement wallpaper section in the living room. I used printer paper and blue tape to make the pattern. I will eventually need to install it, after the wiring is repaired. I kind of got a little OCD with peeling the old wallpaper off, and made a giant mess of the old paper fiber. Other than a sore finger from rubbing the paper fiber off of the wall, it went very well.

My tape run connections are completely hilarious! I literally fell out of my chair laughing when I looked at this photo! It is obvious that I attempted to connect everything using several different methods, and each one several times. 

The wires that are coming out from the wall were going to be a final Hail Mary before I came up with the roof piece idea. Now I'm just afraid to touch them! Not sure what will become of them, yet!

The funniest part is that when I get it all camouflaged up with paint and wallpaper, you'll never be able to tell. Hopefully. :0) 

The loft repair looks just as hideous! The good news is that the new connections work and that I have power through the entire tape run in the loft.

I was about to celebrate, and then two of the lights flickered off...

Deep breath... Calmly and logically figure out the problems and possible solutions. I refuse to get mad or give up, as this is just another opportunity to learn and become better. Right?

Here is where I digress for a moment. I believe we'll call this a teaching moment...

Dollhouse kits made with MDF are wonderful. They are sturdy, they go together nicely, and the surface for painting and wallpapering is ideal. However, if you are planning to use a tape wire system for lighting, it can be a bear!

MDF is extremely hard. I have broken two piercing bits trying to install brads and eyelets (the brass pieces that are used to attach tape runs together and insert lighting fixtures to). I have used the #55 bit to pre-drill the holes in the tape wire/mdf for plugs and eyelets. I have also used the brad tapping tool, all with little success.

The issue is that by the time you drill deep enough to seat the plugs, the drill bit has stripped away most of the copper, and what's left behind is not enough to get a good connection. Also, getting the plugs to seat flush to the mdf is very difficult. The little brad hammer is not aggressive enough to pound into the wood, and a bigger hammer destroys the fragile plastic and brass plugs. Trust me, I've tried everything.

What I'm finding that does work is to directly connect the fixture wires into the tape run using brads. First, I peel away a little of the plastic that covers the tape wire, wrap the fixture wires around the brads, pound them into the tape wire, then cover with electrical tape to secure.

I had originally installed several plugs and counted on just plugging in the fixtures. Now I am direct wiring in any of the fixtures that the plugs didn't work seamlessly for.

As with all mini projects, and this one in particular, you often have to adjust your plans. Usually, you learn something new, and it forces you to take a moment to reevaluate.

In my case, I get so excited about the next step and getting to the decorating part, that I tend to go too quickly. I may not take enough time to make whatever it is that I'm working on perfect. Later, I regret it and wish I had just slowed down.

I am grateful that I had this "problem" with the wiring because it forced be to replace a piece of wallpaper that was damaged in the installation, and to paint some of the wires coming from lighting fixtures to black. In the long run, I think it will look much better!

Here is a photo of my work area. Notice that the barn is upside down. I'm glad it will sit on the table like this! It makes redoing the wiring so much easier!


  1. Just found your blog yesterday and have been reading through from the beginning. Awesome stuff! I love the little gardening shed you did for your aunt. Beautiful and looked like fun. The barn is coming along great. Can hardly wait to read the rest of your entries. I am just new at this hobby but, wouldn't round wire be better to use than tape wire. At least then you'd know exactly where the problem is when something goes wrong. Anyway - great stuff, love what you're doing. (Didn't see an email where I could mail you directly so hope you see this comment since it on one of your older posts. - Marilyn D. (a.k.a. Hopeful)

    1. Hi Marilyn! Welcome to the miniature addiction! I hope that you are singed up for the Greenleaf Forums. So much to see and learn there, too!
      There are advantages and drawbacks to both round wire and tape wire systems. Hiding the round wire is the greatest challenge. Some folks cut channels into the MDF to solve the problem. What I had in mind was to conceal the tape wiring and have lots of plug receptacles available. What ended up happening was all due to the MDF being so hard that I could not get any connections to seat properly. I may just cut channels and try round wire in the future. It would be an interesting comparison!
      Thanks so much for reading my blog! I am so happy that you enjy it!