Friday, December 28, 2012


As it draws to a close, all I can say as this has been one epic month.  A time of changes and confrontations it seems.  Maybe a chance to put all the bad karma to rest before starting a new year and a new business, or maybe everyone is just in a bad mood.  In addition to the drastic work changes for me, we, well primarily my wife, have been dealing with elder care issues. Well to cheer myself up I could always go to the Yahoo Steel Group - oh no, wait, that won't be a pleasant experience either (more on this later)
Hakko fx-888 Soldering iron - sweeeeeet
We did manage to fit Christmas in and I got lots of train goodies from my wife and family.   Usually my wife never listens to my detailed instructions - either because she doesn't like being told what to do, or just as likely she tunes me out while I ramble on with  fifteen minutes of exact instructions.   If I ask her to stop and get flour, she will bring home sugar and insist it's a white powder so it will work just as well.   It's become a running comedy routine during our 29 years together.   So, when she asked what I wanted for Christmas and I said a good electronics soldering iron I figured I get something between a $5 radio shack special and an oxy/acyetelene rig.    To my surprise I opened up my gift to find a Hakko fx-888 soldering iron, which was ideally, exactly what I wanted.   I think maybe don't give instructions from now on,.....     I also received a Panavise, a new airbrush, a New York Central RS-3, and another sound equipped Alco S-4, amongst other things.
How it all started,....  1984 - 18 years old - taped together blown up photocopies to HO scale of a blast furnace drawing I was going to model.
December has also been a month of upheaval in the online steel mill world.  There was a very embarrassing public online feud concerning the future of the Steel Mill Modelers Meet.   Generally I supported the new mid-August meet in Kent, Ohio as that was what was laid out at the the previous meet here in New Jersey.   The feud was caused by the meet's organizer detaching himself and setting everything up on his own.  All kinds of copyright and ownership claims were thrown about and it frankly got ridiculous and some people made fools of themselves.  I tried to logically explain what was happening and how we could work it out, based on my experience as a previous organizer of this event, and without taking sides.  The result was being attacked personally (via private email, not online so much)  and accused of having a hidden agenda.  I just want to go hang out and talk about steel mill models for four days - that is my only hidden agenda.    I've been through this all a few times before, posting my opinions online, so you think I would have learned my lesson.    Not really at all, because a week later when there is online chatter about the "steel fan" event and seminars on basics of steelmaking, railroads around Kent, and who knows what else,  I stupidly go online and post my opinion that this event should be limited to steel mill modeling, and I'm told to bud out, that they can do whatever they want since it isn't the same event, and how dare I tell someone they can't speak that has taken countless modelers through mills and photocopied them plans, blah, blah, blah.    So, I hope, after the fourth time this nonsense has happened to me I will finally learn not to post anything on an online forum, ever.    Anyone is always welcome to email me with a question, their opinion, or to ask me my opinion, or even to tell me to go f___ myself - without judgement.
Young Padawan Learner
Starting up my new business has forced me to finally clean up my home office.  As usual during these clean ups  I come across all sorts of things I forgot about.  One is a blast furnace drawing that I had photocopied and blown up to HO scale when I was 18, with plans to model.  The next photo is of an addition I built when I was 17 to my fathers original basement sized layout.  It was a 2x10' branch line with hand-laid code 70 rail.

Didier March Co - Clay Mining 1918 - Perth Amboy, NJ
 And I'll leave you with a neat photo of a tiny narrow gauge engine from Perth Amboy, NJ - one of many many lines.  I'd unscientifically venture that a 10 mile radius around Perth Amboy, NJ had the highest density of narrow gauge tram lines and industrial railroads in the country.  It's from one of the clay railroads of the Didier-March Company from September of 1918.   You can see the dotted lines representing the different strata.  The clay layer is under the lower dashed line.  In this area that layer would be mostly higher grade fire-clay used in making refractories.  If you look close you can see the marking on the clay bank from a rotary mechanical excavator.  Clay was mined in solid chunks by hand or machine and done so while the clay was mostly dry.  You can see the chunks of clay in the tipple cars.  From here the clay would be taken to a plant and ground, washed, and then dried for in-house use or shipment elsewhere.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


I just went through the longest model railroading hiatus in some time. I've been in the midst of making a career change - leaving my project manager job with Cipriani Builders and going back on my own again.  There was some overlap between the two jobs and until yesterday (saturday) I'd been working every day and evening since mid November.  So, on my first day I can sit around the house and do nothing, what do I do?  - Pick up tools and put down a hardwood floor that had been sitting in boxes for months.  (If you visited at the Steel Mill Modelers Meet in September you probably remember seeing them)  

 So, I finally found myself sitting at my workbench a few nights ago and didn't even know what to start with after so long.  The port crane seemed like a good choice, or at least until I ran out of Tichy railings and walkways.   The framework of the crane is mostly complete so it's detail time.  An important detail is a stairway to access the operators cab, the boom arm, and the crane machinery.  Ladders would have been an easy way out, but not really prototypical - stairs seem to be a norm for a multiple daily access type crane.  You will notice that I used a ladder for the upper machinery platform - an area that would require only periodic access.

These stairs and platforms aren't as simple as they first look.  To look realistic you need to keep the number of risers consistent between stairs and also the stair angles need to match.  I ran out of platforms and railings to this will be continued.

Also, I began work on the upper machinery platform.  Electric relay boxes, motors, hoists,...etc..  The flat corrugated panel in front of the machinery platform is to provide cover for the moving operating section when not in use.

And motors/gearboxes to drive the traversing wheels of the crane.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving to all.   For the past 21 years we have our turkey down at the shore.  A lengthy walk on the beach after the meal is a good way to work off some of those calories.  The beach was eroded but not to the extent I expected.  I'd say a 5 on a scale of 10.  Nor'easters seem to do much more damage to the beach than Hurricanes anyway.  The flooding from the storm surge was definitely worse, but hurricanes move fast and Nor'easters can last for three or four days.   My bro said that Avalon already had a major sand replenishment on the books for December so sans severe winter storms, things should be back in shape for the summer.   The sand is pumped from the inlet which serves the dual purpose of filling back in the beaches and deepening the channel through the inlet.   Technically Townsends Inlet isn't designated an "All Weather Inlet" so the Coast Guard and Army Corp of Engineers isn't required to keep it open.   The Hereford Inlet on the south end of the island filled in years ago and is designated unnavigable, although some brave souls still use it.
Townsends Inlet - Maybe this is what they mean when they talk about the over development of the coastline?  The stone jetty was raised about 8' or so about seven years ago.  If it hadn't been, Sandy would probably have taken out most of those homes.   They probably sell for around $4-5million - people with that kind of bling usually are able to get taxpayers throughout the state and country to fund massive piles of rocks to protect their shit.   They also are the same folks bitching about "entitlements" ....... a bit ironic.    The approach road to the draw bridge in the distance was washed out by Sandy.  The jetty protecting that was not raised as part of that project, but then again, it's only a public road, why bother.   The Reading Railroad had a trestle bridge across the inlet a few hundred yards on the ocean side of that drawbridge. They rebuilt it frequently.  It must have been a bit of a shaky, interesting trip across it. 
 Tying this into iron and steel, Thomas Edison, after his successful development of electric lighting and the accompanying electrical distribution system, began to experiment with a magnetic process to recover iron from very low grade ore.  His first experiments were on an iron rich Long Island beach, where he was soon confounded by the shifting sands.  He stated that it was like "taking a mortgage on a school of herring".   He relocated to the mountains of northwestern New Jersey, and Putnam County, NY,  and tried for several years to perfect this system on an industrial scale, but in the end, couldn't profitably compete with the newer iron ore sources emerging around the Great Lakes.   His massive New Jersey plant was full of state of the art rock crushing and pulverizing machinery - he re tasked this equipment and began, profitably, producing portland cement.   For some time he attempted to develop a market for prefabricated concrete houses.  There are a number of these homes still standing in central and northern New Jersey.
Our neighbor's boat - ended up across the street in a backyard.   Couldn't have fit this thing back there if you tried.  I'm not sure how it ended up here, or how they are going to get it out.

Enjoy your turkey.....

The sharks are biting,.....  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Coast Guard Geeps and Two Foot Gauge to the Sea, Literally, and of course, STEEL

SRNJ GP-9 in CNJ "Coast Guard Scheme" 
Nothing like an old GP-9, painted in the CNJ "Coast Guard" scheme, running through the farmlands of Southern New Jersey to perk up my work day.    The consist was five covered hoppers and was headed from Salem to Swedesboro.  This little used rural line is owned by Salem County I think, and is operated by the Southern Railroad of New Jersey.  There are several customers on the line - a farm co-op in Woodstown; Mannington Mills (the flooring manufacturer) and Anchor Glass, both in Salem.   There is also reportedly some team track activity with treated phone poles and gondolas full of dirt (contaminated I presume) in the Salem area.   The photo was taken just north of Woodstown.   Cars are left at the small yard in Swedesboro for pickup by a Conrail Shared Assets train.
2 foot gauge wheel set - axle was originally twice as thick, pre-rust
A rail artifact from my past surfaced during our clean up from Sandy down at the shore.  At the beach house we used to have a small marine railway for launching, and more importantly, rapidly hauling, the leaky wooden speedboats my dad and grandfather used to collect.   The railway ran from a 20' or so level section to the sea wall where it continued for another 40-50' on an incline, eventually running under the water.  A cradle/carriage made of heavy lumber held the boat and had two axles with railroad wheels.  A large steel hand cranked winch was located on the land side of this contraption. (The winch ratchet slipped loose and broke my dads arm one time)   My brother dismantled the railroad and trestle one summer (guess he was bored).  To be fair it was rotted beyond being safe to use and did take up an entire slip, but with the 20 different permits from 20 different agencies you need to build anything down there, we would never be able to rebuild it.   While checking under the house after the storm, my brother reminded me that one of the railroad wheel sets was still there, rusting away severely in the salt water environment.   I brought it home, where the air is less corrosive.  It's funny how things you remember from childhood that seemed big then, turn out to be much smaller in reality.  I always assumed the railroad axle and wheels came from a standard gauge set.  Not so, they are actually only 2' gauge wheel sets.  The wheels themselves are about 16" diameter.  I assume that my dad or grandfather pulled these out of some junk yard, probably originally were from one of those ubiquitous narrow gauge tipple cars.
Narrow gauge open hearth operations - USS

Now I haven't forgotten you steel gurus.  A little pre-Thanksgiving teaser.  A number of years ago I had the opportunity to explore the closed Universal Atlas Portland Cement Plant in Hudson, NY.   This was I believe the only portland cement plant located east of the Hudson River.   Believe it or not I was actually paid to "explore" this facility.  As a professional historian/archeologist, I was documenting the extensive plant before they tore it down and built a new one.   The new one never got built.  There was fierce opposition to the new plant, despite it's location in a very economically depressed city.  Much of this was centered around the proposed 400' smokestack the plant would have, and how it would affect the historic view from nearby Olana, the home of the 19th century artist, Frederic Edwin Church.  Church was one of the most notable of the "Hudson River School" artists, and since his subject was mostly the sublime views of the Hudson River valley and Catskill Mountains,........, the view was deemed historic.   Also, Magnum PI aka Tom Selleck, had his country house on top of nearby Mount Merino, so his view would be affected too.  I wonder if Higgins lived there with him? - never saw the red Ferrari either.
Operations in Open Hearth  - USS

But I digress.  On the floor of the plant power house I found one "Methods Engineering Manual" by the United States Steel Company, October 1951.   This was not an odd find as Universal Atlas was a subsidiary of USS.   I picked up the manual and a brief scan showed no pictures so I dropped it in a file folder in which it sat until a few months ago.  The lack of drawings and photographs is made up for by extensive operational detail about a variety of steelmaking processes at USS plants.  The theme of the book is improving efficiency, but there are numerous specific examples described throughout the book. I've posted a few samples here.  Hopefully you can zoom in or download the photos and print a readable version.  The scans posted tonight are related to open hearth operations - one of the narrow gauge railroad scrap buggy operation, and the other is the actual detailed operation of the open hearth, down to who does what, when.
Second Part

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 19, 2012

November blahs

Model railroading has temporarily taken a back seat to work.  I have a number of fairly complicated woodworking projects that I am trying to complete by the end of the month.   Getting involved in a designer show house has become a yearly fall event for me it seems.  Last year I spent most of October and November building cabinetry and architectural millwork for a house in Moorestown, NJ.  This year  I'm working on a similar project in Haddonfield, NJ - and with an entirely different designer.   Most of my colleagues love to bad mouth designers, but I've never had a bad experience working with any, and I find that most of my best work has been a result of such a collaboration.   I envy the AutoCAD prowess of the young women that I am working with this year - very well organized and dead accurate drawings.

I was able to take a brief model railroading break this past saturday and attend the local NMRA division meet in Millville, NJ.   This was only as I was working down in Ocean City on Friday, stayed over in Avalon Friday night and hit the division meet on my way home Saturday.  There were two excellent presentations - one on scratchbuilding and the other on scenery.   I won the raffle and got some sort of pickle car kit.  Haven't looked at it real closely.  With the previously mentioned work issues hanging over my head, the plan was to skip the afternoon layout tours and beeline home and get cracking, but I noticed Ralph DeBlasi's HO scale Lehigh Valley layout was on the list - one that I've wanted to see for some time.  
Through the trees you can see the four track tank car siding 
The tours started at 1pm so I had an hour or so to kill - I made a short run over to a section of the old CNJ Southern Division to look around.  Much of the southern Division is abandoned - many sections with the rail still in place - but this portion, between Vineland and Bridgeton, NJ is operated by the Winchester and Western Railroad.   I went to two locations I'd noticed on Bing Birds Eye Views - an old grain or feed elevator and some sort of facility that gets a lot of tank cars.  Took some bad photos of the grain elevator - will visit again when I have more time.  The tank car place was a National Refrigerants factory.  I'm not sure if it actually gets tank cars regularly, or they just go there to die.  There were a lot that looked to be real old and not really something you'd want to see in a train traveling through your town carrying chemicals.  They had a neat tank farm all of 1950's era pressure tank cars sans trucks.  The facility has a large four track yard full of tank cars.  One theory of mine is that they use the cars as storage tanks basically.
Colorful Winchester and Western Covered Hopper for the major sand traffic on this line
I got to Ralph's house a few minutes after the official start of the tours and had the place to myself.   The layout is quite impressive and has a cohesive theme of a section of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in the vicinity of the Lehigh Gorge.  Joe Huber and Jim Main were running trains on the layout and Joe handed me a throttle and I was able to run a coal drag around the layout.  Ralph has a pretty severe grade on a section of the railroad that runs through the stairs and up to a section over a staging yard - I needed to get a running start at this hill and just made it up.  I don't feel so bad about my extreme grade on the blast furnace branch.   Ralph must buy lots of diamonds for his wife or something else, as he controls the signals and turnouts on the layout from a huge CTC panel upstairs in the dining room.  Ralph has soldered together the many many circuit boards and pulled all the wire for this electronic
Lehigh Valley Railroading


Monday, November 12, 2012

KADE Railroad RIP

The Friday night operations group we are a part of suffered two losses this month - Two Fridays ago saw the last run on Jake Evaul's Camden and South Jersey Railroad, and this Friday was the last run on  Dave Skinner's KADE Railroad.    We unfortunately missed Jake's last op session and his railroad is now mostly cut up and down.  We did make it to the last op session at the Kade Railroad, a sad event.   The owners of both railroads did a big service to the hobby here in South Jersey.  The friday night operation group is an open invitation event.  There are good things and bad things about that sort of set up, but for us, it was a way for us to meet people, run trains, and get more involved as we got back into the hobby about four or five years ago, and I thank both men for their warm hospitality in that regard.  Here are some final photos of the Kade Railroad:

Besides this sad news, I'd like to thank all of you for your concern with the recent storm that hit here in South Jersey.  We were fortunately spared the brunt of the damage, despite being dead center in the storms path.   We lost power for 16 hours and a few tree limbs fell.  A family place at the shore, on a barrier island, not more than 6 feet from the water also survived unscathed except for several things we didn't want anymore floating away into the sea or wherever.   On the island that home is on (Avalon), less than 5% of the houses are occupied year round so the displacement of people isn't as great as the news would make it out to be.  I was recently talking with a fellow in the affluent town of Haddonfield about damage to his shore house just north of Atlantic City (wet carpet).  He had already applied and received money from FEMA as a "displaced person".  He didn't look very displaced standing on the porch of his $880,000 house an hours drive from the shore.
The day after Sandy, Avalon, NJ - our floating dock resting on a piling.  The railing on the dock was completely under water as was the island in the distance.  Floating dock is at least 30 years old so due for a replacement.  Fixed dock in foreground was built in 1962 - Nothing like that now banned creosote wood preservative - fifty years in a harsh saltwater environment.  
 As you get closer to New York City, there are several towns with more year round residents that suffered horrific damage to life and property.  I was down in Ocean City, NJ today working and the boardwalk was packed with people enjoying the beautiful sunny weather and federal holiday.  By the way, the best pizza in the world -

Here and there piles of sand were being pushed back from the streets just off the beach, back into the dunes.  I did see a lot more damage on the mainland in the neighborhoods just off the bays, many of these are poorer areas and these folks are truly displaced.   This is a photo of Peter Lumber in Pleasantville, NJ -
Salt marsh is just beyond lumber yard property, then the bay, and then you can just make out the tall casino buildings in Atlantic City.  
The water was probably up to about the floor of the boxcar during the height of the storm, maybe higher.  They have damage to structures and are busy cutting three or four feet off the ends of all the 16' trim and pine boards stored vertically.  You can see the cut offs in the bin at the lower right of the photo.

A little work in the basement.  Some scenery, slowly, and I have almost finished the Benzol building - a mere shadow of the benchmark Vince Altiere structure.  More work on dock crane - getting close on this structure and the acquisition of the clamshell bucket has inspired me to get back to work on it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I've finished all the brick paper work on my free-lanced backdrop structure and have started messing around with the windows.  I thought things looked pretty good, but viewing the photos I'm going to post here I'm not so sure.
Brick arches applied on top of brick sheet
But, first, before I begin with the windows, the Scale Scene window textures comes with brick arches to match the cut outs.  I printed these on regular paper, cut them out, and then glued them on top of the brick sheet over the windows using a glue stick.
Windows printed out on clear acetate
The Scale Scenes windows are designed to be printed on clear overhead projector plastic.  This stuff isn't cheap so it was an expensive risk to see if it would work.  My wife used a laser printer to print the window mullions.  The problem is that for a background flat something needs to be done to obscure the glass.  Usually I will just paint the backdrop black where the structure is going, but this only looks right for a 3-dimensional window frame.  Using the printed frames it will just look all black.  I tried some printed photos of factory interiors first, but then settled on whitewashing the windows from being.  This was common in factories to prevent workers from looking out and to improve diffused lighting inside.   I dusted the backs of the windows with a flat white spray paint and then put a piece of tannish grey pastel paper over that.  It looked good on the layout, but in the photos the whitewash looks to bright and uniform so I might have to adjust that.
Windows attached and then pastel paper over
Too bright?

You Tube Video of one of my other interests - 60cm WWI Trench Railroads

Sunday, October 28, 2012


We are home, and more importantly unloaded and unpacked from our weekend at Timonium with the Capitol Area Free-mo Group.   As usual, we both had a great time,  and it was nice to be back there and part of the modular set-up after a year, non-voluntary,  hiatus.   We had four modules there  (Jimmy's two blast furnace modules), our original Free-mo module - US Pipe, and Rancocas Junction, an odd shaped module with no sidings, but a single #8 turnout and a diverging main/branch on a 42" radius.   Rancocas Junction also features our operating Walther's Bascule Bridge - a model without a home in our basement.   Rancocas was also the module with the least amount of scenery when we pulled them out thursday night.  Unfortunately, lacking space and a real garage, we tend to pull these things out of storage in a shed in the week before Timonium.  This time it was the night before we left.   We quickly cobbled together some basic scenery for part of this module Thursday night - painted track, ballast, some greenery, and a small container terminal to display the paper crane (build described in some earlier posts)
Burning the midnight oil on Rancocas Junction
Early Friday morning was spent doing some patchwork to the scenery on our other modules.  Everything arrived wet to the show and is still probably not 100% dry.   Last minute as usual.  There is a single track for the container terminal that goes nowhere, but maybe, if we can find a larger method to transport our stuff, it would connect to a short module with an approach track.   We did also bring our new staging module.  This 12' long by 10" wide, built from scrap wood the night before module was a nice addition and enabled a brief operating session on saturday.   Track on this was laid with double sided tape as I took it off to reuse on our home layout.  Originally I had intended to have a full four tracks but we ended up with only two and a half due to the complete unavailability of  Code 83 Atlas Flex Track  at the show, thanks to the Chinese manufacturing debacle.
Rancocas Junction the next day - some green and the Container Terminal to the left - also Pizzaland on the curve
Besides running trains, bumping into model railroading and steel modeling friends at large,  stuffing our faces,  watching Predator, Predator II, and Predator vs Aliens, back to back,  with Jimmy at the hotel, while stuffing our faces and reading train books,  we also get to shop for train stuff all weekend.   Besides the fore-mentioned books - A book on Sparrows Point Shipyard, one on LTV Steel, and Narrow Gauge to No Mans Land (a book I've wanted to treat myself to for awhile)  - I picked up some resin detail parts, including another Plymouth Switcher load; 100 metal wheelsets (for the home layout, but Jimmy grabbed a bunch out of the box to upgrade a few cars on the module that were still running on plastic);  a Crow River crane bucket kit; and a TTX container well car and two containers for my new container facility.
Crane Bucket by Crow River - Built it tonight - Pretty straightforward but you will need a pin vise and some small drills to complete.  I will use this on the dock crane.  The kit does come with teeth you can apply but I don't think that was prototypical for unloading ore from ship holds
Usually at these shows, one thing catches my eye.  It's usually something that is hard to find or unique, and also is usually a bit pricy for my blood.  By that I don't mean hundreds of dollars, but rather, a bit more than I can justify spending on that item.   This show it was a GATX Pressure-Slide Hopper aka Whalebelly Cement Hopper resin kit by Q Connection Limited.  I've always liked the look of these cars, but the kit is $67 - more than I would feel good about spending on a resin car kit.  So I looked at it a few more times on Saturday and then sunday I looked again first thing in the morning, and then, near the end of the show, I decided to take one more look - partially hoping they had sold the two of them they had.  They, by the way, is the Atlantic Coastline, Seaboard Airline Railroad Historical Society. They were still there and I looked some more.  The nice fellow from the historical society recognized me from the day before and took pity - the box of one was a little damaged - he could take a bit off for that - upon inspection of the inside, the brass etched sheet was bent - how about $50 - Sold.   It will be a tough build and I will try to post in on here when I am calm enough to tackle this one.

Final Purchase

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Timonium - Saturday

We were in the hall at 7am to continue with the setup. The final module arrived around the same time and was quickly assembled, however, the track power took until almost 10am to sort out.

We had a nice sized setup and had a short ops session using car cards and waybill

Friday, October 26, 2012

Timonium - Friday

Setting up our modules with the Capitol Area Free-mo group. One new addition is a 12' x 10" temporary staging yard we built last night using scraps. We don't have room to store it so it's just for this show. The track will be reused on the home layout. We held it in place with double sided tape

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


A short paper entry,....

I'm thinking about using my paper Scale Scenes container crane on one of my Free-mo modules - a partial container yard of sorts.   Plastic HO containers are available, but for the quantity needed to make a container facility look real, it would get costly.  It can be done using paper for much less.   Scale Scenes have files available for 20-40 containers in a dozen or so company names.  Assuming the paper is pre glued to the right mat board backers, the actual cut out and assembly takes about 15 min.  I am out of UHU glue sticks so I used white glue instead - the result was ok, but the roof warped a little from the water content of the glue no doubt.  What's involved,....
All the components for one 40' container.  The thicker mat board has been laminated with  several of the printed parts - shown on white (white pieces)  These pieces will form the core of the container.  The three long parts in the center of the photo are the two sides, wrapped around a medium sized piece of cardboard - on is the sub roof and the others are the sides.  
End wall and roof wraps have been done - ready for assembly
FInal product - definitely convincing from a few feet away

Monday, October 22, 2012


After a year long hiatus from our Free-mo modular setups, we will be headed to Timonium, Maryland this coming weekend to join our comrades from Capitol Area Free-mo and New Jersey Free-mo for a weekend long set-up at the Great Scale Train Show.  Once a regular at the Capitol Area Free-mo set-ups, we have missed the last four events due to work or hospital stays.  We still have yet to pull or modules out of  the shed so hopefully they haven't been eaten or used as a home by rodents.    If you are there, please stop by and say hello.
building the shaker things (sorry, don't know the official term) - 
Unfortunately, due to a small house, the only time we get to work on the modules is just before, or during these shows.  Not much has changed, although we intend to try to touch up some of the scenery in the next few days and maybe some wiring work.  Jimmy will be no doubt running his new 16 and 20 wheel bottle cars from Park Lane Hobbies, but he still doesn't have his BOF built.   I'm trying to add a few details and things like railings, to my pipe foundry.  One of my usual rituals is to pull out the large bag house and work a little on it, only to fall short for the show.  Along those lines, I've been adding some details to the upper walkway, however, with 27 sections, it's a lot of repetitive work
adding motors and actuating arms 
On a different note, for health and fun Glori and I usually try to take long walks when we can.  The two dogs always like these, and our town has progressed from a typical, drive everywhere NJ town, to having a very decent interconnected system of municipal, county, and state park land, with nice paths.   We have so many choices in paths that we can usually make every walk different from the one before, well at least that we can remember (which isn't as much as it used to be)  This past sunday we tried a different route - we walked a few blocks east to the Conrail Shared Assets Mount Holly Branch, and followed it a mile or so north/east, before cutting back across a church yard and street to rejoin the county park trails and then the town paths to home.  Today this railroad line extends from Camden and ends a few miles north of my house at Mount Holly.  The team track operation in Mt Holly ended about a year or so ago, so technically the end of the line now is the Atlantic Wood Industries Plant in my hometown.
I think this is a load in.
This plant receives cut and milled utility poles and treats them with some sort of creosote like preservative.  I believe they also can treat the poles with some sort of cca type preservative too.  The raw poles are received on a  siding - there were three cars in it on sunday - one loaded and two empty.  I know for sure the poles arrive via rail and the finished products are shipped by truck, but I also believe seeing some outbound loads too.  I'm not sure what the ratio is, but I think most of the product leaves by truck.   A few things to note for the modeler -

  • The siding is a good distance from the treating operation itself.  There is a large storage yard for poles between the siding and the plant.  The siding itself looks to extend well through the yard, but it appears that most unloading is now done near the turnout, I guess so not to have to push the cars through the yard.  The track also looks to be mostly buried and maybe from all the heavy equipment, isn't in the best shape
  • Bulkhead flats are used with steel cradles for the logs.  I'm not sure if these are available with the cradles, but they could probably be easily fabricated from styrene strip.
  • As you can see, there are no buildings around the siding and the area is pretty rural in appearance.  The siding could be modeled in a very small space without actually depicting the plant itself.   The rolling stock and loads would add some interest to a modern layout

Captive cars that poles are loaded on and then are pushed into the creosoting pressure vessels.  This concrete pad is the end of this short track and where the poles are loaded.  There is a parallel track for each of the two pressure vessels and just to the left of this picture is a double crossover so either track can be pushed into either vessel.  I'm not sure if these cars are narrow gauge, standard, or wider
When I first moved to town 21 years ago, this line was served by a local about two times a week, sometimes less.  Around the holidays  it would go to three times a week as there is a Gallo Wine distributor in my town that would receive more wine from California then.  The local was usually powered by a single GP15-1.  There were passing sidings at the end of track in Mount Holly and in the industrial park in my town, Hainesport.   If there were cars destined for the Atlantic Wood Industries plant, the train would run past the plant to Mt Holly where the engine would run around the train, sometime leaving a boxcar of lumber on the team track, and then continue back to Atlantic Wood and work the siding.
Another view of the pole loading cars
Operationally, things have changed a bit.  The line is operated every weekday now and the traffic is probably triple or more than 21 years ago.  A large paper processing plant in Mt Laurel receives up to 16 boxcars of mill paper, and a trash to rail transfer facility in the Hainesport industrial park ships 4-10 cars of trash in containers on skeleton flats or loose in very large high side gondolas (maybe woodchip cars?)  Plus the Gallo Wine boxcars,  steel in coil cars, rebar on flats, and lumber in center frame flats - not too shabby for a few miles of railroad on a line that Conrail wanted to abandon in 1978.     Given the larger trains, Conrail Joint Assets almost always uses two GP38-2 to switch the line.  Occasionally you will see a SD40-2 in place of one of the Geeps, and there must be some sort of arrangement on who provides power as it is never mixed, always both Norfolk Southern, or both CSX. With two engines,  passing sidings aren't needed and the train can be run around using just a siding by splitting the engines.  It takes a few moves and would also add some operational interest on a model pike.  Unfortunately this has led to the portion of rail between Atlantic Wood and Mount Holly becoming overgrown - always a sad sight for us railfans.
Aerial View of the plant - I would guess the buildings on the upper left are for maintenance/storage .  You can see the double tracks leading to the long creosoting vessels.  Then an interesting mix of tanks, piping, cooling towers, and no doubt some mechanical and control equipment in the buildings
The elements of this industry cry to be modeled.  There are several different elements, but the overall scale is very compact, and there are commercially available structure for most of the buildings and tanks.  Some of the piping and the creosoting vessels themselves would have to be scratchbuilt.
It won't take you a few years to model this facility.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Window templates - Mat board wall layer shown under
Continuing with the paper backdrop building....

I'm using windows from Scale Scenes.  This is basically a PDF file with an assortment of industrial windows. The windows are designed to be printed onto transparency clear sheets.  This stuff is pretty pricy, maybe since no one uses overhead projectors anymore - if is $50 for 50 sheets for a laser printer or copy machine, and $70 for an ink jet printer.  In addition to the windows, there are brick headers to match the windows, templates for marking out the openings, and a variety of other details, such as bricked up windows, plywood,...etc..   The file itself was very reasonable at 1.99 British Pounds.
Windows cut out and brick sheet glued to the wall - note that I needed to use two separate pieces of brick as the 8.5x11" paper is just shy of what is needed
I used the pilaster piece from the previous post to trace onto a second piece of mat board.  I outlined the spaces between pilasters and the perimeter of the structure.  I then cut out the outsides of the building and marked the window locations, using the prototype drawing as a rough guide.  Scale Scenes had two windows that would match pretty closely the prototype. The tedious work was cutting out the window openings.  Once done, I used Scale Scenes printed brick sheets (again, a 1.99 pound file)  These were printed on just regular copy/printer paper.   There is a free site that you can create and down load your own brick files, however, I think the Scale Scenes brick is superior to all other paper modeling products out there in terms of appearance.    But you be the judge....
The back of the wall, just incase you are interested in how I wrap the brick.  I do glue the paper and not the mat board so there is adhesive on the pieces I fold over.  I also use the handle of an Exacto knife to smooth the paper in the curve of the arch
I laminated the paper brick to the cut out mat board sections, cutting out the windows and wrapping the paper inside, all using a UHU glue stick.  I then applied white glue to the back of the pilaster layer and glued it to the wall layer.  Pins help hold everything in position and flat while the glue sets.
Pinned to a board so the glue up of the two layers can dry.   

To be continued....