Monday, March 16, 2009


I've been making more progress with B-Furnace, primarily in the top works department.  

I added reducers to the uptakes to go from the 3/4" Plastruct tubing to 5/8".  I also added the two
 upper platforms and some of the structural steel framework.   This furnace, based on US Steel's Dusquesne Works #3 had a single skip car.  I've decided to keep this configuration to make things interesting.  The sheave is a Grandt Line O-Scale mine sheave that I had lying around for an 0n30 project.  It scales in HO to almost a perfect match for the prototype.  I also started the bell assembly - the bell was turned from a block of mahogany I had lying around and the receiving hopper was built from .040 and 0.30 styrene.   I also started to build the downcomers.  

You will notice that I am using both Plastruct tubing and wooden dowels to represent the piping.   There was some discussion at the last Steel Mill Modelers Meet about using wood in models and problems with styrene.  Styrene can be frustrating sometimes, especially when using the smaller structural shapes.  
While the Plastruct tubing isn't styrene and seems to be a little more stable than styrene, there are two problems - it is relatively expensive, especially given all the piping I will eventually have, and more importantly the elbows they sell don't represent prototype practices.  Remember, we are talking about 8' diameter pipes in some cases - not something you can pick up an elbow for at the plumbing supply house.  The turns of these large pipes were done in segments, welded together.  I'm using 15 degree angles for my segments, which look about right.   

Some other benefits to using wood are that you can use wood glue to stick the pieces together - this glue is super strong once dry and the joints are unlikely to fail; and wood is easy to fill and sand to ease any sharp edges.    For a $2 wood dowel you can fabricate about $30 of Plastruct parts.    Of course there are cons too - namely the weight of the material; the bond between the plastic and wood; more prep for painting (ie sealing and filling); and you can't really use it to represent any type of stack that you can see the top of.  You will see me mixing and matching materials.  The second photo shows glued up, but not sanded piping segments.    A word of caution - it's not as easy as it might appear to make these wood parts, but there are a few simple jigs and techniques that will make it simpler.  I'll cover these in a future blog - TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES

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