Thursday, March 29, 2012


I'm proud to report that Jimmy was approved by a Board of Review for his Eagle Scout Badge earlier this evening.

An email from his Scoutmaster:

Ladies and gentlemen of Troop 31, please join me in congratulating
Jimmy Musser on attaining Scouting's highest honor!  Jimmy has joined
a distinguished group of Troop 31 alumni in our Eagle's Nest.

This is an impressive achievement and a goal that is reached by only
about 5% of Boy Scouts nationwide.  It makes me very proud to count
Jimmy among our Eagle Alumni, new adult leaders and friends.

Great job Jimmy!!!!!

Dan Ingling
Scoutmaster, Troop 31

Monday, March 26, 2012


Paper part done, but more work to go.
The paper modeling part of the container crane is complete and there are scraps of paper and cardboard all over the floor of my workbench area.   The model isn't complete however.  The limitations of paper are few apparently, but railings and ladders are one of them.  They recommend building plastic railings and ladders to fit the three platforms on the model and paint them yellow to match.  One other little detail is to add metal looking styrene rods to the container end to portray the four locking rods.   Then a few signs here and there, clean up the edges a bit, touch up with chalks, and then weather with chalks and seal.

Close up of operators cab - includes a seat and controls.  Glass is done by cutting out two of the paper cab bodies and then gluing one on each side to a piece of acetate.  The clear acetate is trapped between and by scoring the corners the piece can be bent to form the shape - the floor and four walls are all a single piece folded together.
I can't escape paper either - A customer was having a tough time visualizing a bar that they want me to build for them so I turned to my new found skills in glueing and folding paper to make a scale model.

A basement bar model in paper, mat board, and foam core.  Not pretty but will help customer visualize the proportions 
I also have found another interesting paper model of late.  Not a railroading subject but rather, SciFi - a paper model of the USS Sulaco from the Aliens and Alien3 movies.  It's very tempting, but probably would go insane building it.  There look to be somewhere in the range of 300 different sheets of paper for the complete model, with 10-30 parts on each sheet.  You figure the 15 sheets for the crane took me two weeks, so you are talking almost a years work....  

Sunday, March 25, 2012


The work on this plant was actually done a few weeks ago, but with the paper modeling distraction I'm just getting caught up with the posts on this build, and should move right into current modeling on the structure.

Again, work is starting with the construction of the batch plant portion of this mill.  The batch plant has five 26' diameter concrete storage silos and one almost half that.  The silos hold sand, soda, lime and other materials.  Since this is a mostly steel mill modeling page, a good comparison would be the high-line at the steel mill, with a slight difference.   A steel mill high-line has bins for the various materials - coke, limestone, and iron ore - they are loaded into scale cars that run beneath the bins, where they are weighed, moved to the skip hoist and discharged into the skip.  The glass batch plant has a similar scale car running underneath the silos collecting the various materials, however, this car also serves as a mixer, combining the right portions of each material required for the "batch".  In a steel mill the materials aren't combined until they fall into the blast furnace.   At a glass factory, a pre-mixed "batch" has to be used to feed the furnaces.

Foundation with two styrene wraps
The foundation/mixer car run for the prototype is basically concrete cylinders, slightly larger in diameter than the silos.  I tried taking the same pvc pipe that I used for the silos, slitting it, and then adding a piece of styrene to increase the diameter.  This worked somewhat but I wasn't 100% satisfied with the results.  So I ended up wrapping the pvc pipe with two layers of .040 styrene.  A clamp was needed while the glue dried - the seams were staggered slightly and will end up where the silos adjoin so won't be visible.  This was harder than is looks.

I then took the five large foundation pieces and the smaller diameter foundation, also wrapped,  and glued them to a sheet of .060 styrene, roughly cut to the diameter of the cylinders.
Top finished
It took a lot of carefully cutting and sanding to clean up the foundation top. You will notice I also added small flat strips between the cylinders on each side to create the subterranean mixer car run.

With the vacuum formed tops glued on and the silos temporarily set in position.
The results are encouraging.  Note that I did have to adjust the height of the smaller silo a little to get the roof peaks to line up - they all have a 30 degree pitch, but since the diameter is less the rise of the roof is correspondingly less so the silo is taller.  I was close on my initial cut - off by maybe one or two scale feet.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Moving ahead with the glass batch plant, I continued to make the various masters needed to vacuum form the silo roofs and batch bin bottoms and tops.  
Segmented silo roofs and batch bin bottoms and tops ready to go

Masters on the  vacuum former

Formed from .040 styrene
Large silo roof

Thursday, March 22, 2012


All paper and cardboard - not finished yet
This paper stuff is becoming addicting.  Nice way to chill out at the end of the day, although in many respects much more difficult then plastic models.  It is more akin to scratchbuilding.  My latest project is the newest Scale Scenes "kit" - a container crane.  There were 15 pages pieces and the instructions have at least 100 steps.  The engineering of this paper model is incredible and a lot of work went into designing it.  I think the download was 6 pounds, so whatever that works out to in dollars.  But for that I can print out as many as I want.   Model is about 90% complete. I think I started this sunday night and have spent a few hours each night this week working on it.

Monday, March 19, 2012


The giant ball of doom landed on a hot metal transfer waiting at the signal in front of the coke works.  

Special effects thanks to my son Jimmy.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


A while ago I posted one or two blog entries on building a glass factory.  I eventually abandoned this project as the prototype was just too large to properly compress for HO scale.  I hadn't thought of glass until I came upon a HAER drawing/photo set for a glass factory while looking for information on gas producers.  The facility depicted was small enough to model, but at the same time very interesting due to it's complexity.  It even has an elevated narrow gauge railroad .  In fact, a lot of the elements of this facility mirror processes or materials handling systems found in steel mills.

The first step is to build the batch plant, basically the materials unloading, storage, and mixing facility.  The batch plant consists of a number of storage silos and some smaller loading bins.  Starting with the silos - the body was concrete and about 26' in diameter.  I was able to replicate this with 3" schedule 40 PVC pipe.  In the past I've had a few issues, primarily due to the weight of your traditional PVC piping.  For this model I am using a product called Corex - it is PVC on the outside and inside skins of the pipe, but cellular PVC on the inside core.  This makes for a lighter, and probably more dimensionally stable pipe.  This isn't something you will likely find at a Home Depot, but a good plumbing supply house should carry it.

PVC Pipes Cut to Size - Smaller diameter pipes are thin-walled central vacuum pipes available at an electrical supply house
Step two is to create the roofs for the storage silos.  The prototype roofs have a 30 degree pitch and 18 segments.  They appear to be wood or metal framed with flat sections and covered with a tar coating.   To make these, for both the larger and the small silos I made up masters out of scrap lumber with the intention of vacuum forming multiple pieces.

20 degree segments with a 30 degree pitch
Segments glued up

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Latest paper model work - A shipping container

Cutting Out the Pieces

Mostly Finished 

Monday, March 12, 2012


Making a mess on TV
I've been working on multiple fronts lately, from scenery, to the Ensley mixer, to a paper Container Crane, and a dual glass factory build - more on the latter in the next post.  And yes, I do find time to actually work for a living, which brings me to the title of this post.  The company I work for has been collaborating with a New York production company that is filming a new reality TV series for the DIY Network called "I Hate My Contractor".   The premise of the show is to highlight the story of a different homeowner each time that has been shafted by their contractor.  Of course the horrible story has a happy ending when the host of the show comes in and makes things all better, and throws a new kitchen in just for fun.  Now we aren't the scumbag contractor, we are the good guys that come in and make it all better. 

The "Talent" and Host - John DeSilvia

Monday, March 5, 2012


Only really a mini-update.  Added some washers and "bolt" heads to the base plates using plastic punches and sliced hex-stock plastic.  Primed supports and roller assemblies and began painting them grimy black.

Roller Assemblies and Support Frames ready for primer

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hot Iron

I've been working on a lot of different projects at the same time.   A quick experiment that I had been wondering about involved lighting hot iron loads.   I've been producing resin slag car loads since last October on and off.  There are two style - one is an operational load that can be quickly removed with a magnet.  We tested these out in the fall on the Harsco layout and found they worked pretty well and the color looks good, but that once removed the car looses weight, making it a poor runner.  I recently solved this issue with a two part casting and, along with the non-operational slag loads, I will be offering these commercially within the next few months, along with several other steel mill related castings.  I also plan on producing some of these loads for ST&D ladle cars.  

The colorant that I tint the resin with is phosphorescent so, while the loads look good as is, they look super realistic under a black light, or any UV light, including UV LEDs.  I got a few of these and just playing around I poured some of the resin in one of the plastic ladles from Walthers Electric Furnace kit.  I then drilled a hole in the bottom and insert a UV LED.  This is the result.

Lights Off
Lights on

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I-Car Build

There has been a bit of buzz around lately over this model train car.  It's a laser cut kit offered by Minuteman Scale Models and is designed to hold your iPhone or iTouch.  The phone sits on its side at a slight angle and through the use of an adjustable mirror, the camera on the phone is able to shoot forward track level POV movies.    I was skeptical of this car until I saw a movie posted by one of the modular railroaders of the last Capitol Free-mo setup.  

The kit is reasonably priced at $29.95 and includes trucks and couplers.  It was easy to build following the directions.  You need to take some care getting the orientation of a few of the parts right, and you need to seal the wood parts prior to assembly to mitigate warping, but otherwise it's pretty fast and straightforward.  Outside spraying the parts, the build took about an hour or so.  I used plenty of small spring clamps to hold things together.   After leaving overnight to dry I screwed in the couplers, trucks, and mirror assembly.
Spraying the Parts with a clear coat
A test run produced a nice movie, but I needed to clean the tracks a little better.  I'll shoot some more tomorrow and if I have time I'll edit the movie and post on my Youtube page.  One thing with editing - because you are shooting through a mirror you need to invert the image.  I use a Mac and iMovie, which has an easy fix for this, but you probably would want to check your movie editor first to see if you can do this, or just put up with everything being backwards.
Finished Car