Thursday, December 10, 2009

Frontier Logs

Okay, I admit to being in a rut. This is another design from the LINCOLN LOGS Building Manual, by Dylan Dawson. But this time it is using Frontier Logs, and shows some modifications because of that.

Frontier logs are round, without the top & bottom flats of modern Lincoln Logs (I call this "lantern-shape," because the crossection resembles the shape of the glass globe of an old railroad lantern - circular for most of the circumference but spreading outward towards top and bottom to allow flats at top and bottom - some paper lanterns also have this shape). Okay, some of you are saying "modern? that's what they were like way back when!" True: most of the Lincoln Logs called "vintage" are also this shape. Before World War II, and for a while after, Lincoln Logs were round. Maybe somebody will tell me when they changed.

In any case, the design for the book shows full logs in the bottom layer of this design. I wanted to see if it was possible to build that with round logs, and after several efforts that braced the lower logs until the upper cross-members were in place, I decided that it wasn't just too much to ask of children, it was too much to ask of me.

If I seriously wanted to do this, I would make some 3/4" square, 3/8" thick, gray-painted blocks to go in the bottom notches to serve as "foundation stones." I might still do that at some point, but for today, I just used flat-bottomed half-logs, as are used in most linking-logs constructions.

I could have borrowed a plastic roof the right size from my Lincoln Log stuff, but I wanted to show that that isn't necessary. In fact, by doing mix-and-match roofs, you can get a lot more than 37 different constructions out of the book without ever changing the log-building.

Illustrations of Frontier Logs generally show alternating green & yellow roof pieces, but that bothers me, so I split them between the two sides.

Frontier Log parts in general lack the consistent dimensions and quality of finish of current Lincoln Log production, but in a way , that is part of their charm. Sort of like Roy Toy. Some manageable challenge for builders with a little experience.

I would certainly recommend Lincoln Logs for younger kids, but the alternatives can be good for older, more resilient builders.

Good Block Play.

I had this written and almost ready to post when I wandered into the living room and found Webby asleep between the book and my portable backdrop. By the time I got my camera, he had stretched and was sitting up, hence the picture at top replaces my original picture below.

Addendum [12/11/2009] - If you look at the above image closely, you can see that the single-notch-log pillars are a bit bowed. The building is still standing, but it looks precarious, and the roof has required repair. If you like to keep your constructions up for a while, this would not be a good set. Partly, it is because the notches aren't quite deep enough, so the logs beyond the notches aren't doing any of the supporting. Partly, they aren't quite accurate enough. Lincoln Logs hit on a really good plan when they put flat support surfaces top and bottom, their structures are much, much more stable.

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