Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Roof trusses,....    I have found these to be sort of a necessary evil - I have to build them for certain structures, but really don't enjoy it.  Too much repetition I guess.  A testament to this is the A-Furnace cast house which still only stands with one complete truss, although the Bethlehem Steel architects seemed extra sadistic in the design of those small trusses.   I need to build seven complete trusses for the soaking pit building - one down - about an hour construction time, or so.  I might be able to speed construction a bit.  The main external members are all Plastruct 3/32 angle and the inner cords, Evergreen .060 angle.   The plates are from .020 styrene.  

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I'm tucking my soaking pits/blooming mill/ingot stripper,et al, into a small 10"x24" space.  The ingot yard and soaking pits will be pretty much prototypically modeled, but the actually rolling mill will only be represented by a single roll stand.  The photo shows the .125 styrene "foundation" of the soaking pit structure and the start of the steel framework.  The columns are built according to info found in Dean Freytag's  Cyclopedia of Industrial Modeling.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Back to the B-Furnace stoves.  I built the upper stove walkways and the sign that is based on the USS Central Furnaces in Cleveland.  The sign was pretty tedious to make - I used 1/2" stick on letters as templates, cutting the actual letters out of .020 styrene.  The sign supports are .040x.040 strip.   The upper platform is built from .030 styrene, with the usual .030x.030 posts and .020x.040 railings.  One change with this furnace is that the prototype had the bottom half of the railings closed in.  I used .020x.250 strip for this purpose.  

Narrow Gauge - Part 13

This could be either under the narrow gauge or the open hearth topic.  Work is progressing in spurts on the very long trestle/viaduct/bridge,...etc.  that carries the HOn30 narrow gauge line from the ingot yard/stripper building to the open heart plant. The basic reason it is slowly getting built is that I am using the Atlas girder/beam loads for the sides of the bridge and there aren't enough in the local hobby stores - I think I've gone through at least 6 packages so far.  Work will continue on this as will the wiring and track laying for the narrow gauge line.  One kink in the works - I can't use your standard Atlas electric switch machines on the concealed staging yard as the larger HO narrow gauge equipment hits the machine.  I will need to devise some sort of different method.   I did build one trestle bent for the bridge and will continue to make more.  They are made from the Central Valley girder set and Plastruct 1/4" truss sections.  The prototype for this bridge and the trestle piers are shown in the HAER photo of the Open Hearth Plant and USS Homestead.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Just a quick shot of the progress on the converter - a bit more work and I'll be ready to cast it (once I get some more rubber)


As you can see from the photos I've done a little work on the open hearth steelmaking section of my layout.   First, on the left, are the two mainline roadbeds, with some track installed, and then to their immediate right, the working track/passing siding.  This track will enable the open hearth plant to be switched without fouling the main.  There is a switch visible off this for a small siding for the yet-to-be-built dolomite prep plant.  This plant will fit into the small space between the edge of the mirror and the column/wall for the next room.  In addition to the standard gauge siding it will be connected by an elevated track, to the narrow gauge system.    Near the backdrop you can see the HOn30 track (actually just n-scale track as it's hidden) there is a hidden staging yard of three tracks connected to the rest of the system via the incline.  These hidden tracks are for switching ingot loads from the open hearths and are actually located under the charging floor of the open hearth building.  As I said earlier, I am only modeling the charging side of the plant so the pouring side is just represented by staging.  During the typical operating session, two open hearth furnaces would be tapped (out of 12) - two tracks will have full ingot cars and one track will be empty.  The narrow gauge locos would first bring a string of empties to the yard and switch it for a string of full and then repeat the process later in the session.   I will probably have to install some sort of video camera for switching this yard.  Two things I have learned already - HOn30 locos hit Atlas n-scale remote switch machines, so I will have to use another type of remote switch machine; and the Grandt Line 25 tonner is useless on the steep gradients - it will be relegated to switching scrap buckets on the upper level of the open hearths and the converted n-scale locos will switch the ingots.  A final note on the photos - I have also started building the open hearth building and the mixer building.  The open hearth work is on the roof for now - I built it from 3/4" scrap maple plywood and some pine strips.  It will eventually get covered with corrugated siding (about $60 worth just on the roof)  The mixer building is built from 1/2" mdf and will also be covered with corrugated siding and other details - this building will not have an interior as much of it hides the narrow gauge trackage.   Just a reminder - the open hearth building is being built to exact scale based on the prototype and Pittsburgh Wheeling Steel in Monessen, PA. The roof built only represents about 1/3 of the actual open hearth building - I am only modeling the charging side from the face of the furnaces to the wall.  You will also see the stacks temporarily in place and the long rectangular marker lines show the future location of the gas producer buildings.  Because of the inclined staging track, I will only model about half of the interior of the open hearth, but the entire interior of the gas producer buildings will be visible.  

Monday, June 7, 2010


With the molds that are finished I've managed to cast a half dozen or so of the primary parts for the gas producers.  You can see a test assembly in the photo.  I will probably work on something else while I'm waiting for additional mold rubber, and resin too (almost out).  The break will also give me some more time to think about the problematic mechanical drive for the producers - problematic in modeling it.  

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I took the detail to the level I felt necessary on the major parts for the gas producer.  At that point I built various mold boxes and poured some RTV rubber.  Of course I am practically out of rubber and I still have a few two part molds to finish.  These parts will enable me to build identical producers fairly fast.  The only parts that I haven't worked on yet are the drive train - This is a bit tricky as it consists of a dozen or so gears on multiple shafts.  I can either cast each gear and drive shaft, or to build some sort of housing that would enclose the gears - this is semi-prototypical.   I also will probably build the feed hopper bottom (the angular part) and cast it.  

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I continued to work on the components of  this machine, keeping in mind that I want to be able to cast all the pieces, preferably in one piece molds.  This does lead to simplification of some of the parts for the sake of a good casting.  The pieces shown in the photo are the vessel top plate,  the vessel itself, the ash pan, the ring gear, and the base plate.  There are still another half dozen or so parts needed, some fairly complicated.  The one photo shows the partially assembled producer and the other, the parts.


I turned the mouth (not sure what the technical term is) of the converter as a separate piece.  This was then glued to a flat part on the converter body.  The flat was made by using a miter gauge on a 12" disk sander. Despite the hardness of the maple, the heavy duty machine made quick neat work of things.  

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Starting the month off at a run with two posts in one night.  I'll speak more of the Bessemer Plant in future posts as I am still working on the layout .  I would like to have three converters as that appears to have been the practice in the twilight of Bessemer steel(1940-50s), and while I was working on the gas producer parts I figured I'd give it a shot and turn the converter.   I had thought about buying a few of the converter kits from Chuck Pravic ,which based on the rolling mill kits that I have bought from him, are probably excellent models, however,  I like scratchbuilding so I'm going to make my own and cast duplicates as needed.   


Even though this topic is closely related to the open hearths, I'll be spending a significant amount of time building the actual gas producers so I'll keep things separate for now.   I intend to have the interior details visible in  at least one of the three gas producer buildings, if not all.   To refresh your memories -  the gas producers are in groups of six, with one grouping supplying gas to two open hearth furnaces.  Thus, with my six modeled open hearth furnaces I will have three gas producer houses with six producers in each for a total of 18.   Give these multiples I plan on spending some time building the parts for a single producer, making molds of them, and then casting multiples as needed.   The photo shows the early work to this end -  I have turned the main vessel of the producers and the ash pan from wood blanks.  I have also started fabricating the lower ring gear/drive ring from some thinly sliced PVC pipes, a .030 styrene web with .060 square struts, and a the gearing made from sheet siding material.   I am using plans from an online book I downloaded free from Google - The Open Hearth, Its Relation to the Steel Industry  Its Design and Operation.   It was published by the Wellman-Seaver-Morgan Company in 1920.    The plans are easily printed in HO Scale by manipulating the scale on your print program.   They have a whole chapter on Gas Producers.