Thursday, July 29, 2010


I started casting operations again - making additional parts for my gas producers.   In the one photo you can see the first and second floor decks cut from .060 styrene for my first gas producer house - one of three.  I need to assemble the rest of the producers and then work on the structure itself.  

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Trying to finish up the skip hoist -  Built two skip cars out of primarily scrap styrene - sheet and strip - laying around the bench.  The curved ends were built from 1/2" Evergreen tubing - cut and then split in half.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


More work on skip hoist - finished the diagonal bracing on sides and installed cross beams on top of framework.  Interestingly the cross beams were a mix of I-beams and angles with no real pattern.  I will say Mike Rabbit's plans did show this and I confirmed it with photos I had taken of the prototype.  I also add the top section of the hoist - this was pretty difficult to build as the whole frame is at a slight angle from the rest of the hoist.  All that is really left to do is to add the rails for the skip bucket, the skip buckets themselves, and then some final diagonal bracing on the top.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I started construction on the skip hoist of this blast furnace.  The hoist is build from a .040 styrene  base - this is a little thicker than I would have liked but I felt it needed plenty of  strength.  I formed the structural framing by using .040x.156  and .030x.188 strip.  Plus I added .060 styrene angles between frames.  I used .100 angle, and .125 I-Beam for the cross pieces.

Narrow Gauge - Part 14

I was planing to use the standard Atlas switch machines on the hidden narrow gauge staging yard in the open hearth building, but found out the hard way that the narrow gauge engines I built have parts that get snagged on the machines and derail the loco.  So - the solution that still allows me to use the relatively inexpensive Atlas machines -  I used some brass wire and a plastic guide tube to fabricate a linkage to allow the machine operate smoothly without snagging the engine.  The photo shows the linkage - the machine still needs to have it's wiring connected.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


It turned out to be a busy non-railroad weekend, although, I was able to squeeze in a quick south Jersey railroad exploration/industrial archeology tour in during some rainy weather, saturday afternoon.    My last minute plan was to follow the Central Railroad of New Jersey's Southern Division to the sea, literally.    Most of you are probably familiar with the CNJ's main line, and for that matter, main reason for existence - to move coal from Northeast, PAs Anthracite Coal region to tidewater in New York Harbor.    The railroad also pushed south from New York through to the north Jersey shore with two fold intentions - the larger summertime shore passenger traffic, and to serve the heart of central New Jersey's chemical and heavy industrial area.    From the northern shore area they also built a line almost directly down the center of the state, the Southern Division, bisecting the mostly unpopulated Pine Barrens and agricultural areas south of the barrens, eventually ending at Bayside on the Delaware Bay.   This line was most notably the route of their famous Blue Comet passenger train to Atlantic City (CNJ did not go near AC, but rather used trackage rights over PRSL from Winslow Junction to AC).   At Bayside, and also at Bivalve, via a branch from Bridgeton, the CNJ literally ended on piers on the Delaware Bay.  Fresh oysters were loaded there and shipped directly to the New York market - talk about market fresh.   The Southern Division was also a source of seasonal, but high-value, agricultural traffic, and sand.  
Taking to the highways to cover some quick miles, we took an exit near Elmer, NJ.  In Elmer we picked up the route of an abandoned PRSL branch, following it to Bridgeton, but first photo-documenting a future modeling project - the old feed elevator in Elmer.   From Bridgeton we shot over to Millville, to take some photos of the old Wheaton Glass factory (also another future modeling project), and to keep the driver happy, Wheaton Arts Village for some shopping.   From Millville, we headed south, along the western side of the Maurice River,  picking up the CNJ Bivalve branch at Dividing Creek.    Took some pictures of the sand plant/loading facility at Dividing Creek, again, another future modeling project. - see pic.  The facility's siding is being used to store tank cars and covered hoppers - they look to be loading a little sand on another siding being the main loading facility.   Also, just west of the sand plant is a whole gaggle of abandoned Alco locomotives - some FAs and Bs, one in LIRR livery, and two Alco RS-32s from Erie Mining.  (You may remember an abandoned Erie Mining C-420 I found elsewhere in the woods of South Jersey about a year ago) .   We generally followed this branch back into Bridgeton, where it split from the Southern Division, and there picked up the line down to Bayside.  Nothing is really left from Bridgeton South, other than a faintly detectable road bed.   At Bayside we spent a few moments taking in the desolation of the area - we hadn't passed another car in almost a half an hour - and imagining the sound of trains and oysters being loaded.   Today the fiddler crabs are the only occupants of Bayside.     

Monday, July 5, 2010


As promised, an update on A-Furnace.  A few pictures will show my progress on the upper works of A-Furnace.  I am still not done filling and sanding the transitions in the uptakes and the grey primer was done to make imperfections more visible.  Things weren't as bad as I thought so I went ahead with the structural framing an started working on the top and the bell housing.    Some items to note:

  • The two crane tracks - the lower is the heavier and was presumably used to remove the bell assemblies from the top works.  The upper single rail crane was probably used to work on the bell arms and linkage.  
  • The top housing - this was turned out of a block of mahogany and supplemented with a few styrene details.
  • The charge hopper - directs the charges from the skip hoist into the top of the furnace.
There is still about three times as many pieces still to add to the top works before it is finished.   It was easy leaving it separate from the rest of the blast furnace to make assembly on the bench easier.


With the holiday weekend temperatures looking pretty severe we canceled our sailing plans and choose instead to hit the road for a day trip.  My wife being her usual good sport agreed to drive so I could navigate.  I always find it amazing how little I know of the state I live in, despite residing here for 25 years.  People always seem to need to find exotic places to go.  I could take off a month and spend it exploring the backroads of New Jersey.  Of course this exploration usually involves trains in some ways.  As much as I like railfaning, I also like following the actual or former track of a railroad, imagining what it was, the industries along the way, the infrastructure,...etc.   One thing that is necessary for this type of excursion is a state Atlas and Gazetteer - this is not a road map per se, but rather a compilation of USGS Quads with additional information added.  I have just started to highlight the different roads on the map (circa 1950s) with different colors so I can keep track of the sometimes twisted routes.    With no real plan, we left, heading north on 295 toward Trenton.   By the time we had reached Trenton I had decided to explore parts of north western New Jersey.  I was familiar with the area along the Delaware River, specifically the old Pennsy Bel-Del line, so this time I stuck a little further inland, following the general path of the CNJ and LV north of Flemington  and then onward to Phillipsburg.   Approaching Phillipsburg I went through Alpha, NJ, and recalling its past as a portland cement manufacturing center we drove around looking for any remains of this industry.   Sticking close to the old CNJ line we stumbled upon a concrete monument on the side of the road - I recognized this as a safety award similar to one that I had seen at the Universal Atlas Cement Plant in Hudson, NY when I documented that site in the 1980s.   A few hundred yards up an industrial looking street were four concrete silos, obviously once part of a larger complex, but now all that remains.  The silos are still used for some sort of agricultural purpose and the remained of the plant looks to have been bulldozed and a modern industrial park build in its place.   There were some neat looking steel dinosaurs at a fabrication company - see picture.   From Alpha it was a short hop to Phillipsburg, a former busy railroad town.  Five railroads had terminals in this town and three actually crossed the river here into, Pennsylvania - the CNJ, LV, and L&HR all had their own bridges.  The Lackawanna had an interchange yard here as did the Pennsy. (Where didn't the Pennsy)    The former station for I guess the LV and CNJ is now being restored and has a fledging museum inside.  All the excitement that day in town was on another famous train - Thomas the Tank Engine.  Thomas was in town and part of a big merchandising fair.   Thomas, pulling a few NYS&W coaches was running excursions on the old Bel-Del line.   At Phillipsburg we crossed the Delaware into Easton and headed north along the river.  Jim Harr of Stella Scale Models had given a presentation at the Valley Forge prototype meet this year on Alpha Cement in Martins Creek (yes, another Alpha Cement), and being so close I thought I'd take a few pictures.  From there I followed the railroad north into Bangor - I believe the railroad I was following was formerly the Lackawanna.  From Bangor we went back toward the river, crossing into New Jersey at Portland.   By now it was getting late and we needed to start heading toward home.  Passing through Buttzville, NJ (yes that's a real name) we made the obligatory stop at the famous Hot Dog Johnny's  (they deep fry their dogs in peanut oil and serve them with a large pickle slice, mustard, and onions, plus have Birch Beer on tap).   Still working our way home we stopped at a train store for supplies in Sommerville and then Thomas Sweets in New Brunswick for Ice Cream.  (You might be seeing a trend that I am motivated by food or trains)  A quick run down the uber convenient New Jersey Turnpike and we were home.  

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Building roof trusses from angle and sheet styrene webbing is boring and time consuming, but I try to press on.   Equally boring was fabricating the support beam for the crane.  This is probably something I could have kitbashed, however, once again it boils down to a cost thing.  I would probably have to use two $20 bridge kits to do the same thing.  To me that seems like a waste.   The beam is built from .060 styrene sheet and then .030 x .125 edging.  I used .030x.060 strips to form the segments.  A .030x.060 makes for a good runner for the crane.