Sunday, January 3, 2010


Spent the spare time I had on this three day weekend trying to stick to my schedule of equal part modeling and equal part get the layout functional and semi-presentable.   I worked on some more wiring and the control panel for the Coke Works Branch.  I'll talk about the control panel once I get all the switches and LEDs mounted.   The other thing I started to do, which is usually dangerous, is to brainstorm some ideas about the layout.  Unfortunately, I usually end up thinking up a better way of doing something.   
There were two spots on the present layout that have been bothering me - There is an open area reached by a duck-under  behind the blast furnaces that has always seemed to be wasted space.   At most, the area would hold a single operator, but there is a bumped out section that was framed as part of the original layout as a small storage area for the kids games and art supplies.  This was from a time when the layout just hugged the walls and the basement was wide open for a play area.  Now it just seems to be wasted space.  I figured by opening this up I can expose more of the concealed part of the main and lead for the Coke Works Branch, while at the same time creating some real estate - about 2x4' or so.   So once I open this up - what do I place here.  It is next to the ore yard and the electric furnace so some thoughts were a sintering plant, or maybe some sort of machine shop or foundry complex - then, I realized that the bessemer plant that I am planing on building would fit in that space (not perfectly - some sacrifices would have to be made)  This would alleviate some of my space issues with the to-be-built steel complex, allowing that area to be solely dedicated to open-hearth steel making.  
The other area I started to think about changing was a duck-under removable section of the mainline.  The bridge separated two rooms in the basement and for the most part was left down other than when we were running trains.   In  the future we would like to be able to operate the railroad.  With an estimated 8 operators needed,   this duck-under would become a real obstacle and probably be bumped more than once.  Then the light bulb went off - realign the entire two track main to actually curve on both sides into the rear room of the basement and loop around that room.   Doing this immediately solved not only the duck-under issue but also a half dozen operating issues concerning unrealistic train movements due to wacky track arrangements.   Additionally I will be adding another 40-50 feet of main line running track.   It also solves  a problem in the port area - the trackage could only be switched by continually fouling the main.  I will also be able to add a spur for the R&H Chemical works, which was to be modeled but only with a dummy spur, and add two more tracks to the wharf.   This new plan has me pretty excited now about the overall flow of the layout.
Now to the subject of the post.  The one photo I have of the primary coolers show a set of three on top of a single story building.  To recreate this I have fabricated a platform and structure from .060 styrene and sided it with Plastruct brick sheet.  I still need to add the windows and door.  I'm running out of plastic and Tichy parts so I might have to put this project on hold until I pick up these parts.  I'm also out of casting materials - RTV and resin so I need to order some of these as I intend to make masters and cast a fair amount of the plumbing tees, segmented elbows, and gate valves needed for this complex.   

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