Friday, April 3, 2009


You can make yourself crazy trying to refine a plan to every last detail before starting to build.  This is something I deal with frequently in my work and in my model railroading.  For a number of years I owned a woodworking/cabinet shop.  I'd find myself in situations where I could spend 20 hours making working drawings of something we were going to build, or I could make some quick sketches and start building, keeping things organized more in my head than on paper.  In most cases I did the later - just start cutting wood and get building, which, after all was the reason I chose that profession.   Does that work for everyone? - no.  Did I make mistakes and have to rebuild things? - yes, but in the long run I probably never spent as much time correcting mistakes as it would have taken to prepare detailed plans.   And again, I didn't aspire to be a draftsman, but rather, a woodworker.  Now a smart guy, which I am far from, would have hired a draftsman/cad person, but I'm stubborn too, which is a story for another time.  
The same behavior applies to my model railroading.  I've become an expert at pulling up track and relocating it.    Thankfully, I don't hand-lay track anymore.  When it comes to the steel mill, well, you can probably see if you have been following this blog, how I change my plans a bit.  I'm a night person, always have been.  My best work and thoughts usually occur after midnight.  I frequently find myself standing down in the basement in my pjs staring at the trackwork, the layout of buildings,...etc., and then the brain finally kicks in after being on standby most of the day, and I spend the next two hours or more running between my office computer/walthers catalog, and the layou
t with a HO ruler in my hand.   Well I've had a few of those moments lately, usually after finding some new HAER drawings or photos.  There were a few hours spent last night trying to figure out a way to fit a third blast furnace along the high line - can't be done without looking like it was jammed in there.  There is room for the furnace, just not room for the requisite trackwork for the casthouse and dustcatcher.   
So, after this long-winded intro, what's up?    First - my B-Furnace as morphed from a loose representation of USS Duquesne B-Furnace to an amalgamation of that furnace and, my new favorite of the moment, USS Central Furnaces (Cleveland) D-Furnace.   They both have similar top-works, and I will keep the single skip car and hoist house arrangement from Duquesne and use the stove layout, casthouse, and dust catcher (which is very unique) from Central Furnaces. The photo is of the real D-Furnace - notice the stove arrangement - three, then a really interesting stack, then the skip hoist, and then a shorter fourth stove.  Also, the interesting dust catcher and piping arrangement.  
I had a preliminary styrofoam base I was using for the casthouse.  This was ditched in favor of an MDF foundation.  MDF is a wood product - basically a very dense particle board.  It is incredibly stable.  I used it in the cabinet shop for raised pane
ls that were to be painted.  It is also cheap and best of all, the cut edges can be sanded and finished just like the other surfaces, so, for foundations, which is where I am using them here - I can seal the mdf and then paint it aged concrete without putting a styrene veneer on the edges.    Now at this point, some of you are going, here he goes with the wood again - well with all the problems I have been having with styrene lately, I almost feel that wood is the only thing I can trust to stay flat for larger surfaces.  I am getting some very minor deflection on the foundation for A-Furnace, which is sheet styrene and styrofoam.  The sheets were either .080 or .125, and there is a slight curve to the overhang for the storeroom, not enough to cause problems yet, but just enough to bother me.   I did use MDF for the base of the A-Furnace gas cleaner framework foundation and its still dead flat.  
The casthouse footprint is 60'x whatever 17" works out to be (the length of the sheet of paper I drew the base out on)   I used three pieces of 3/4" MDF to form the solid foundation under the furnaces and then a single piece of 1/4" MDF to represent the elevated casthouse floor.   The stove foundation is 3/4" MDF.

No comments: