Saturday, December 28, 2013


Happy Holidays to all.   I'd like to report that I spent plenty of cold nights and days down in the basement working on the layout, but alas, I continue to be trying to get through my work backlog.  Christmas Day was the second day off for me this fall (Thanksgiving was the other).  I actually almost worked as I spent the day down at the shore with my family and we have had an ongoing job at a Stone Harbor beach house - The job being only 5 minutes away, I'd planned on slipping out for an hour or two to work on some punch list items, but came to my senses, and relaxed a bit.   Lots of good presents, but on the railroad side - a Stewart AS-616 and a 1/35 scale model of a German WWII Locomotive - pictured above.    The AS-616 is the second that I've gotten in the past month - I plan on converting one into a B-unit 616 (there were a few, and since my railroad is fictional, we have one)    I will paint and decal them in our Amboy Terminal scheme and the two unit lash up will serve as transfer power, especially for drags up the hill from the lower works.     Recently, there was a period of a few weeks,  which was probably the longest time in recent history that I hadn't gone down to the basement to work.   When I did finally get down one night around Christmas, I found myself with modelers block of sorts - feeling overwhelmed and out of touch with trains I guess.  I watched some tv and straightened up a bit, but no productive modeling.   Since then, my second train present, the 1/35 locomotive, has been getting me back on track I think.   It's a straight plastic model, training wheels for hopefully some more productive scratchbuilding in the near future.  This kit is massive - 710 parts.

This is about two long nights progress.  You start with building the frame.    I didn't know much about this steam engine, or any European steam engines at all, prior to this kit.  This locomotive, German Class 52, was manufactured during WWII.  It was a redesign of an earlier locomotive, the Class 50.   It was sort of the Liberty Ship of trains for the Germans.  Designed to be manufactured quickly and with a minimum of raw materials.  The majority of these engines ended up on the eastern front, and ultimately over 7000 were built.    For you military historians you probably will realize the contradiction between Nazi Germany's production of Tanks and Aircraft, which were anything but focused on standardized designs.    The kit itself is by Trumpeter.  Trumpeter and also Dragon Models have issued a good number of 1/35 wartime railroad models in the past 10 years or so.    The railroad subject matter, and the unique modifications necessitated by partisan attacks has interested me enough to pick up a few of these kits, and probably more in the future.   The kits are a pleasure to assemble compared to the crap Walthers and other model railroad suppliers put out.   I will try to keep up with a few updates on this build.

This is what the inside of the box looks like

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I believe this is a new Morning Sun release, but not sure.  Spotted it on the counter of the local train store and it was an impulse purchase.   I had some second thoughts afterwards, especially since my disappointment with the Morning Sun Lehigh and New England release earlier this year.   Not so with this publication - I was quite happy with both the captions and the photos.  Lots of 40's and 50's color photos with plenty of background structures in view.   I would call it an overview of the Lehigh Valley, but it's well balanced and doesn't cover any one subject  in too much depth.  There is plenty of railroading, steel, coal, cement, ...etc.    My only critical comment is that there aren't enough maps included.  I think there is a certain assumption that the reader is familiar with the spiderweb of competing railroads through the Lehigh Valley.   The book is organized into sections or chapters by railroad, and within each section the photos are broken down geographically so there is a natural progression down or up the line.  The first half of the book is devoted to the CNJ and Lehigh Valley, obviously the two railroads that literally followed the Lehigh Valley.   Two more sizable sections follow on the Reading and the Lehigh and New England.   The remainder of the book is devoted to the lesser characters - Lackawanna, Chestnut Ridge Railway (NJ Zinc railroad), the Pennsy (Bel-Del and Green Ridge Branch), Ironton, Lehigh and Hudson River, Northampton and Bath, PB&NE, Dragon Portland Cement, Mack Trucks, and Lehigh Valley Transit (Trolley)        Was fun to look at as many of the photos were from when the railroads were operating full steam ahead.

BASSWOOOD -  That's a 4.5"x8.5"x 10' piece of basswood.   If I cut it into stripwood  I'd have enough to last the rest of my modeling career probably.   I actually bought two of these.   A interior designer I work for had specified "hand hewn"  pieces for a project I was doing for her.   Basswood ended up making the most sense as a choice for the raw materials for a number of reasons - it's light; it machines well; little grain; available in thick pieces; absorbs stain well (needed to look old but not intentionally stained) ;etc.   These two pieces were $360.    How did I make it "hand hewn"?    I have an "undulating" cutter head for my Festool planer.  Just randomly attack the board with it and you quickly get the affect without swinging an adz all day.   Didn't take a photo of finished product.  I still have some nice chunks of basswood to cut up.

Friday, November 29, 2013


The lack of posts is due to my work load as of late.  Even with adding another full time carpenter, we have been swamped with jobs.    Thanksgiving has been the first day I have had off since mid September - 75 or so straight 12-16 hour days have cut into my blogging, and modeling.   But you know the old adage, "make hay while the sun shines".....    We still are overbooked through February, but will probably be able to work at a saner pace to get this work done, and we no longer are working on any projects where the homeowners have temporarily moved out (ie no temptation to work until midnight or weekends) .   I did manage to pick up the new Walther's Glacier Industrial Sands kit last month.    It's described as a "modern" industrial structure, specifically a sand loading facility.   Some of the elements of the kit looked like they would work in my 1950's era layout, and others, well, maybe a future Free-mo module or sometimes it's just fun to build a model, even without a home for it.    Comparing this to the sand loading facilities I've seen down in Cumberland County, NJ, this structure is too small for a sand, rail-loading plant.  Also, the silos are always of greater diameter.    That being said, there are a number of other uses for this sort of structure, including several steel mill uses.   I might incorporate it into the loading facility for my ferro-manganese plant.   This would be a great addition to a BOF model, for the additives.  
Parts in box.   The usual Walther's injection molding - lame.  Anyone that's ever built a Tamiya or Dragon or Trumpeter military kit knows that it could be done much, much better.  Details could be crisper and the the fit of the parts could be engineered better.   One thing you will notice - extra parts.   The instructions, also not done as good as they could be, make note of these extra parts and suggest using them for kitbashing or details elsewhere.   Although they look like random industrial parts, they aren't - they assemble into three additional structures that I will explain in a bit.  
These are the built structures shown on the box photo and in the instructions.    The sand loading silos and elevator - a horizontal oil tank - a boring one story modern office - a purposeless three hopper something with a conveyor underneath (I guess you load the sand into the hoppers and then the conveyor dumps it back on the ground so you can scoop it up again)  - and two small conveyors.  The small conveyors come out pretty nice and could be used many places on a layout, including in a steel mill.    The triple hopper thing could probably be arranged with one of the small conveyors to feed the smallish hopper on the sand loader.  
Another view of smaller structures in kit.  
These are the structures the "extra parts" build.    The guard shack is actually described in the instructions but not shown on box photo or in diagram.  You don't really need instructions to build it.  Again a non-descript modern structure but the curb foundation is a nice shape.   This and the office are shown without the window frames and glass.    The flat thing in the foreground is a retaining wall, shown in the instructions to be used with the triple hopper thing - I guess that structure would have an embankment on the open side for loading.    The beam framework on left is a shorter version of the base for the sand towers.  There is a square box and hopper at the bottom of the elevator.  If you don't use these parts the whole structure could be built on this frame instead.   This would convert the structure from rail loading to truck loading.   It's not mentioned at all in the instructions.   Finally, the real bonus gem - I'm calling it the bag house/pug mill.   I'm not sure what it is really intended to represent and I can't figure out the material flow.  In fact, it seams to be missing some sort of input or output.   Whatever it is, the elements could be used for a number of things.  The one structure could be used as a bag house with a few minor details added.   Another nice part is the pipe between the two pieces - this is an 1/2" exact pipe (ie you can use with Evergreen tubing)  and the elbows are nicely segmented.   In a future blog I will be casting more of this part and show you how to do the same.
Mystery machine - that a wide belt conveyor on the right end of the closest structure element.     There is no reference to this structure in the instructions so you need to cut out the parts and backwards engineer it.  I enjoyed this and only had to flip one or two parts around.   If there is an interest from people building this kit,  I could post some close ups to help.  .

Sunday, November 3, 2013


For over a year now the finished final/benzol cooling towers have remained "unconnected" from the rest of the by-products plant.  You can see the vertical intake gas main on the left of the towers.  The lack of planing in arranging my layout left making this connection a more complicated problem than it looks, that is to make it look believable.   The gas main itself is 1/2" styrene tubing.  Evergreen sells long lengths of this tubing making the task a bit easier.   I am using upside down Walther's Conveyor kits as the basis for the framework around the pipe.  I've previously used the trusses from these kits for the triangular framework for the arms in my Dorr Thickener and for some pipe supports on A-Furnace/precipitator complex.    These kits are inexpensive and good for a variety of industrial applications.   Remember they make two conveyor kits - one is the larger type with the arched roofs - this is the smaller version that it squarish.   I am working on the left turn right now.  Eventually the pipe and frame will extend to the stone wall along the rear tracks and then turn right, running behind the Ammonium Sulphate storage building and either into the main buildings or wrap around those buildings to connect with the tar scrubbers.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

BOOK REVIEW - Ghost Rails X Iron Phantoms, by Wayne A. Cole

Someone posted something about this book on the yahoo Steel Group a week or so ago.    There was some sort of link given but you had to order it the old fashioned way - send a check via US Mail to the author.  The price tag, $65 was steep, but when you compare it with a Morning Sun $60 book, and this is twice the size, and the nice cover shot, I decided to take a shot and sent out a check.  Of course a few people posted that they couldn't find the book on Amazon  - so I guess it must not exist then?  I too would prefer to send my hard earned money to a massive corporation instead of directly to the author.  duh.    The book arrived quickly, in about a week from when I mailed the check - not bad at all.    Now the review - this book is clearly the best book about all facets of the operation of an integrated steel mill out there.   My old favorite, Bethlehem Steel, by Bartholomew and Young is now my second favorite, although Bethlehem Steel is still my favorite steel mill.  Ghost Rails .   is 336 pages full of photos and lengthy descriptive captions to go with them.  Mostly black and white, with a section of color photos, some of the photos are a little grainy, but the range of coverage of the Jones and Laughlin Aliquippa Mill is mind boggling.  Solid detailed information throughout and tons of photos of mill exteriors and interiors, rolling stock, locomotives, cranes, equipment, vehicles, boats,....etc...  The author must have a lot of spare time to put together such a complete tome.   The book is self published so the page layout isn't as slick as some books, but who cares, I want content not fluff.      Again, to compare it to the Beth Steel book -   Beth Steel has some incredible photos and great informative captions to go with it, but the subject matter is all over the place to the point of being disorganized and hard to go back and find something.  There are also parts of the Bethlehem mill not even covered.    The author of Ghost Rails X,  Wayne A. Cole, has approached his coverage of the J&L Aliquippa plant as I had hoped a book would have for a long time - he organized it into sections about different mills, yards, and geographic locations within the plant.    He starts usually with an excellent aerial photo and track and building map, and then breaks down into individual buildings, cranes, acid tanks, etc...    I'll be looking through this book for the next month probably.    After working a 14 hour day, this book was a pleasant surprise when I arrived home, sort of that Christmas Day feeling from when you were young.    Get it -    You can go to  for a preview and ordering info, but you will still have to get out the checkbook and a stamp.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A-FURNACE Part 44 - Final Fitting

No one get excited, "final fitting" doesn't mean I'm close to being done.   It was basically a final repositioning of all the components of A-Furnace to test their fit with each other, before taking apart again and finishing each piece separately.  The next time they are all together I hope is for the final assembly.   If you haven't been following along, A-Furnace is being built in five different parts, or elements.  This is primarily for practical construction and painting reasons.    The elements are - The casthouse/blast furnace - the stoves - the precipitators - gas washing framework - and the dust catcher.    Unfortunately for the construction process, these elements are interconnected by piping.    The precipitators are connected to the stoves (gas pipe for burners) and the gas washing plant.  (One of the pipes for this latter connection actually rests on an extension of the cast house roof.   The gas washers are connected to the precipitators and the dust catcher (and maybe the blast furnace if I model the bleeder pipe - checking whether this would have been on the furnace in the 1950's)    The stoves connect to the precipitators and the cast house, also, eventually a connection to the blowing engine house for the cold blast.  You get the picture.   Most of these pipes are curved and not straight connections.   I've noticed while building A-Furnace, some minor alignment issues here and there.  I put off addressing them as when you adjust one alignment issue you usually create another.   I took some time and carefully adjusted everything to get all the connections right.   I also had to shim up the stove base about 1.25"  I'll create a raised "hill" or platform for a permanent solution.  This was to align the hot blast main with the bustle pipe and also to allow for good spacing on future stairs between the stoves and furnace - there are three (two from upper stove platform to main deck on furnace, as well as a connecting staircase from the back of the stoves to a door on the bell hoist cylinder building.   You will notice I'm up to four trusses built on the casthouse.

While doing the alignment of the piping, I got sick of the furnace top falling over constantly so I  added the sections of uptake between the main platform and the furnace itself.   This section of piping has two different angles on each end.  I used a 1" belt sander to adjust the angle until I had it right.  

Cast house roof trusses -

Monday, September 16, 2013


This is the bell hoist cylinder house.  Most of the time this equipment is in the hoist house with the skip equipment, however at Bethlehem A-Furnace it is hung on the side of the cast house ventilator housing.    Originally I was going to sheath A-Furnace in corrugated material, but after viewing my photos of the actually blast furnace I noticed that the siding and roofing used throughout A-Furnace is just plate steel, welded together.  I simulated the welds by scribing styrene sheets.  On this structure, the plates scaled out at 42" high.

MODIFICATION - I checked my structure against Mike Rabbitt's plans and was dead on, except I'd missed a clipped corner of this sub-structure.    No big deal, right?  Wrong - The corner was clipped to clear the single rear stove and when I tried to fit the stoves in place next to the casthouse I had spacing and clearance issues.   I added in this cutback using a Dremel and a knife.  It's not elegant, but it works, and it will be almost entirely obscured by the stove.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

SCORE! - Book Review

New York Harbor Railroads in Color, Volume 1 by Tom Flagg was printed in 2000.   Despite a longtime fascination with New York Harbor railroad operations, I never bought this book when it was released.  I was temporarily disengaged from Model Railroading and Trains due to raising two young children at the time, and also, not being able to bring myself to pay those Morning Sun book prices.   I swore, at the time, I'd never pay $50 for a 1/2" thick train picture book, or for that matter, a $100 HO locomotive or $30 freight car.  Well you know how it goes - never say never.    By the time I wanted to buy the book, there were none available at a price I could afford.  The mistake became even more evident after I was able to pick up a New York Harbor Railroads in Color Volume 2 a year or so ago.   Amazon and eBay prices ranged between $200 and $350 - depressing.     Finally I found a copy friday, at an antique store on a back road southern New Jersey town - for $40!    I've been having good luck lately at antique stores with train books and model railroad items.   I think this must be for a few reasons - one, the aging of this hobby means lots of collections picked up by dealers.  Some of these dealers know what they have, others don't take the time to research and the result is usually a bargain.  A trend I notice is that dealers, unfamiliar with railroad books, tend to price them by age.  The problem with this is that a lot of the stuff published in the 50's - early 80's is sort of blah and very general, with grainy photos - generally, no meat to the text.  More recent (last 30 years) small publishing runs of books with very specific themes and subject matter are more appealing to me, and many times are more sought after books.   There were several titles alongside this book that were priced higher or the same - they were much older, but can usually be found for less than $10 on many used book store shelves.     As far as a review,  this book is first rate and if you're the least bit interested in rail marine operations, and can find it, buy it.    Tom was an old SIA comrade and I figured that anything he put out wouldn't disappoint.  His knowledge of industry and transport in New York Harbor is incredible.     The date ranges on many Morning Sun books, are deceptive - there are a handful of photos from the 1950's and the rest are late 60's through the 80's.    This book is full of photos from the 1950's and early 60's.    This is important to me as I model the 1950's.  From what I've seen, there was a color shift of sorts in the late 60's.   Freight car colors - building colors - materials used in buildings - and ballast colors.    The 50's seem to have more muted colors - ballast was mostly black, finer, dirtier,...etc.    Buildings are mostly grays, reds, and browns, with industrial structures almost invariably, black.    This book really displays those tones and colors in many, many period shots.  An added bonus are the interior shots of engine rooms, steering gear, wheel houses,..etc..  

Saturday, September 7, 2013


The roof truss thing was getting a bit boring - three done,  one full one and a few partials left to go , so I started constructing the louvered structure that enclosed the upper portion of the blast furnace.    The verticals are 3/16" square tubes for the corners, and 3/16"x1/8" solid strip for the intermediates.  The bottom horizontal is a 3/16" H-Column and the louvers are 1/4" Zee 
For the most part the louvers are equal, in three sections on each side, except for the right side in this picture.  This side has the bell lifting cylinders and cables in a small structure cantilevered off the louvered assembly.  The center section is left open for this.  

Trip to the hobby store on friday - that pile is $100 worth of Plastruct and Evergreen styrene shapes - should have kitbashed
Side view of louvered structure.  You can see the opening for the bell lifting machinery housing in the center open section.  This will be built shortly.   

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A-FURNACE - Part 41

In a recent email I was asked about the progress on A-Furnace - the first blast furnace I started building in 2008.  Not much, I was unfortunately able to report.   The furnace is really the centerpiece of my steel mill - it's 100% scratch built (so is B-Furnace) and a fairly exact scale replica of Bethlehem A furnace.  The precipitators are virtually complete,  the stoves very close too, but the furnace itself still needs quite a bit of attention.   I dusted off my roof truss jig for this furnace - the product was a single truss and it's been collecting dust since.  I'm not much further on the soaking pit trusses, with only 1 1/2 complete, and that is a much simpler truss than A-Furnace.  The jig is crude, but works.  The truss is a sandwich of two styrene angles with gusset plates at angle intersections.   The first step is to place the gussets, cut from .020 styrene in place in the jig - there are four different sizes.   Then I glue in the long outer angles - .080 styrene angle, and then fill in the rest using .060 angle.  Once set, I carefully work truss out of jig.  This only gives me a half built truss, and I have to still glue the angles for the opposite sides in place, although this can be done without the jig.

Completed roof truss, note the overhang truss assembly on the left for covering the slag track
Truss number two installed - only two more to go.
Walkway on top of stoves for A-furnace.  Stoves were arranged in an L-pattern.   The hot blast main passes between the row of three stoves on left and the single stove on right, necessitating and more substantial walkway truss support between them.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Visiting my local train store (Sattlers - Wesmont, NJ) to pick up the latest Steel Mill Morning Sun Book - Steel Mill Railroads Five, I was happy to see the arrival of the new H30 covered hoppers from Bowser.   These are available in several PRR schemes in grey and red, along with yellow PRR MOW,  Penn Central Green, and a Norfolk and Western version.  The local NMRA Division is releasing a PRSL version lettered for the sand mining operations of South Jersey.   It's a very nicely done car, and good addition to the early covered hopper selections available in HO scale.  Previously you needed to build an F&C resin version or shell out some $$$ for a brass version.     A word on the new SMRR #5 - well done as usual with a nice mix of engine, rolling stock, and mill subjects.  Most of this volume concerns the Ohio and Western PA mills, with a few photos from further afield.    It will probably be my last purchase of a book in this series, despite another several forthcoming - the simple reason is - I'm bored with them, or maybe the mills to the west are just more boring.  Most of them didn't use narrow gauge systems, and also, had plenty of real estate to expand.   The cramped old eastern mills are easier to replicate in HO scale I guess.    Most of the photos are on the modern side of what I model.    
We decided to take the train into NYC on Saturday for some shopping and walking around.  (Actually two trains - NJT Riverline Light Rail into Trenton and then NJT Northeast Corridor into NY Penn Station.    One of those things I've been meaning to do for some time is walk the Highline - New York Centrals old elevated freight line from 34th street into lower Manhattan.  If you don't know the interesting history of this branch, look it up online.   Ron Parisi has also written some excellent, very long articles about the outstanding model he built of part of this branch in the New York Central Modeling Magazine - it's a free online journal, part of the New York Central Historical Society.  
The southern end of the Highline.  It was multi-tracked but they have managed for the most part to leave one track in place for most of it's length.  Historical interpretation of the railroad function of the structure is almost non-existant, however, there is plenty about every foo-foo artist that added some idiotic sculpture here and there, including the super-idot that put a tape recorder repeating single unrelated words under the water fountain and called it art.    The history of the preservation of the structure is similar, with years of preservation calls from SIA folks like Tom Flagg and Gerry Weinstein and others,  but only after Actors and Gallery Owners got involved, was anything done.    Now it is a major attraction in the city and construction of mega expensive apartment buildings lines the route, formerly lined with factories and meat packing plants.

HQ of the New York Central Railroad

Another bucket list thing of sorts - revisit the Red Caboose Hobby Store.  This is the last survivor of what was once three model train stores on 45th street between 5th and 6th avenue.  I used to hit all three back to back while a teenager and in college, but haven't been back much since.  The Red Caboose is the last survivor and has actually moved from its original location, across the street to it's former competitors store.    This is one of those dirty, disorganized train stores that I love.  The owner is unique for sure.  My usual rule when afield is to only buy items that are unavailable through my local store - usually older kits.  I picked up a Westerfield PSC ore car kit - these have been recently re-released, but this is an older version.  It was without instructions, so if anyone has any I would appreciate a scan.  The other kit is a Gloorcraft wood and metal covered hopper kit.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

C-FURNACE - Part 1

With the demise of our Free-Mo modules, I found a spot out our basement layout for Jimmy's Walther Blast Furnace - Now, Raritan Steel C-Furnace.    There was no room left for it at the lower works, but I was able to find room for it in the  State Street Works, along with the Electric Melt Shop/Steel Foundry and a rolling mill.   The smallish nature of the newer (than a and b) blast furnace was a mystery to mill workers until it became known that it was to be used for the production of Ferromanganese.  The ferro made here will be used within Raritan Steel's Perth Amboy Facility, along with their other mills in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.    Work will start soon on the associated Ferro gas washing plant and the ferro processing and loading facility.   The company shops have also began designing the special "hot metal" cars for Ferro - refractory lined gondolas.    The blast furnace Jimmy built for the Free-mo module used a conveyor type materials delivery system.  Since we are back dating the furnace to the 1950's I've built the skip hoist and high-line that came with the original kit, with a few modifications.     I've added some styrene angle to the skip hoist and I've bricked in the visible side of the high-line.  Simple ore bins were added to the high-line so you weren't looking down on the benchwork.

The primitive ore and coke bins were just made from some .060 styrene sheet
Wish I was in Cleveland,....    For those of you tuning in to see photos of the Steel Mill Modelers Convention in Cleveland, well, I never made it.   Work has been hectic and I waited until the last minute to register at the hotel and by the time I got to it, there were no rooms left.  I started to work on find an alternative hotel to stay at, but then a nice potential job came up that I had to meet an architect at on friday, so,....     As I'd promised my wife a weekend get away, we did an short overnight trip to an inn at St Michaels, Maryland.   Show here is the marine railway and boat shops at the maritime museum.

Driveway  to the  Maritime Museum.  Nice way to display a historic draw bridge

Friday, August 2, 2013


Despite selling some shaky tools, you can occasionally find a good deal for an acceptable tool.    Drilling the #76 hand hold holes in resin gets tedious with pin vises and are a primary reason that I put these kits down for long periods of time  before returning to them.   I've had mixed results with Dremel tools, their drawback being their weight and power.   Ideally I have been looking for a lightweight rotary tool, that doesn't have to be super powerful - in fact - the weaker the better so not to break these fragile bits.    Enter Harbor Freight - this dremel type tool, called the "Drillmaster" had what I was looking for, and at $6.99 (with a coupon - $9.99 current "sale" price)  I took the chance.  The tool is very light and uses a 12v motor, powered by an included wall wart 500ma 12v transformer.   The cord is light wire and even has a male/female connector so the cord attached to the tool can be unplugged from the cord attached to the transformer.  Combined the length of these cords is very generous.   It also came with a shitload of rotary tooling - pretty much everything that comes with a Dremel, abet a little junkier, but also a lot of other things that don't, like a tube of a dozen or more end mills, 5 or 6 collets, drills, a whole tube of cutoff wheels,....etc..   The end mills are a bonus as I use these a lot to cut plastic and usually pay $6-8 each.   The machine runs smooth and with less noise than a Dremel.  Seems to have the power to do what I want.

Part two to this rotary tool equation were the micro end mills that Harbor Freight also sells.   Both boxes come as a set for $7    These are mostly metric, some match common drill sizes with a mixture from #54 through #88   There are multiples in the set and a few larger one, but there are a half dozen at least in the 70s.  These aren't drills, but rather end mills, which, when thinking about it are probably better for drilling holes in resin castings.   Also, the heavy shank is easier to chuck into a collet in the tool, and I hope will make them less susceptible to breaking as only a third of the shaft is the delicate smaller diameter.    I tried the #77 first and smooth as silk drilling with, however, the #76 that came with the set was a little wobbly.   I haven't tried the others yet.  

My hand for scale, although I have large hands.   I like the switch and the chuck is easy to change without tools.  Notice the end mill set that came with the tool.    The green round thing is a tube of cutoff wheels - again - that alone is a $7 dremel item.    I'm going back this weekend and pick up another two or three tools.  Probably will keep a #77 in one, a 1/16" in the other (for wheels and couplers) and an end mill cutter in the other.  Actually, maybe I need four.   Since the cord has the plug on it, I can just use one transformer and plug and unplug the drills - use the other transformers to power switch machines.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bessemer Building and More

I started building the truss and column assemblies for my bessemer plant.   Originally I was going to need 9 of these, but I scaled back to 7.  Some prototype photos of Bessemer plants with the converters on the exterior of the building piqued my interest, so I changed my design a little.   I will still need to build some sort of framework, just not with the roof trusses.   The almost assembled truss (missing the corner braces) is sitting in the assembly jig - a simple affair - scrap 1/4" MDF with some balsa blocking glued to it (white glue)

The trusses started off from the Walter's Electric Furnace Kits.   The purist in me is fading as the years move on and I only have two scratch-built trusses on my soaking pit building and only one on the blast furnace.  Despite the modifications, this was far easier to do.   I believe I spoke of the components in an earlier post, but if not - I cut the truss down, for length and to give the roof an interesting look.   It was extended with a piece of .030 sheet to match my footing spacing.  I used .030 x .250 strips to wrap the pieces, creating the wide flanges.   The posts are a 1/4" column with Central Valley box lattice columns.  

Day trip - Princeton - shopping, bookstore, Thomas Sweet Ice Cream/  Dunellen - The Model Railroad Shop - Central Valley stuff for Bessemer plant, magazines, a F&C Resin heavy duty well flat, six axles,  and DVD - Big Little Railroad  (1948 film by CNJ promoting their railroad - steam/early diesel - I had this on video tape but think I lent it out a long time ago, but regardless, was happy to buy a DVD copy, plus there was extra footage of the famous Ashley Planes and the Newark Bay four-track Drawbridge.   Interestingly, there was some real good film of the Huber Breaker in full operation, which I had visited two weekends prior.  

The Model Railroad Club - Union New Jersey - Haven't been here since the 1980s  I think they added on, but couldn't remember.  This is a photo of the smaller n-scale layout on the second level.  They have a decent sized steel mill - Mostly Walthers structures.   The larger HO layout will have a steel mill too but that area, along with about 2/3rds of the layout are unfinished.  They had a very well done cement plant and a few other nice industrial complexes.  It's a very large club in terms of building size, but only one person was working on the unfinished section that day.   I managed to drag Glori into the club (she liked a HO vegetable garden and clothes line)  on the condition that we visit the animal shelter next store.   So that basically ended the day on a depressingly sad note.  


Sunday, July 14, 2013


Ok, so not much has changed - to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary - I took my wife down into a coal mine.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


No modeling photos as they would just be of more railings and platforms on A-Furnace stoves - seems endless.   I was going through my box of photos/slides/and negatives sitting on my office floor and I pulled out some old (1986-89) black and white negatives.   For most of my college years - 1984-88 - and into the very early 90's, I shot everything in either black and white or color slides.   I didn't have a lot of money so black and white was an cheap way to shoot everything, without breaking the bank.  I processed all the film myself  in a darkroom at the student center at school, and then after, in a darkroom I set up in my apartment.   I even bought the black and white film in bulk rolls and loaded film canisters myself - almost as cheap as digital photography.   I would process the negatives and make a proof sheet of the entire roll.   Select photos would be printed, but paper was expensive, especially after college, so I limited myself.  The result was that I never actually saw full size prints of most of my shots, and over time forgot a lot of the subject matter.   Scanners make it easy now to see what's on these negatives full size.   Since a lot of what I took photos of has since been demolished, it's kind of exciting scanning this film.    One embarrassing discovery, on the heels of my 25th wedding anniversary in a few days, was the quantity of railroad and industrial photos I took on my honeymoon.  My beautiful young wife lost out to locomotives and factories on a 20:1 ratio.     This shot is Bethlehem Steel in 1987 -  the mill was in full operation, but clouds were on the horizon.   In the center of the photo is the approach to the high-line.  The track on the right is the standard gauge coke track, while the left track is the dual gauge (7'11") ore and stone track.   The overhead catenary is only for the wide gauge ore/stone electric transfer cars.    Diesels moved the coke hoppers.
Bethlehem Steel 1987 - BOF.  In foreground is the additives conveyor

Bethlehem Steel 1987 - Underneath where I was standing to take this photo was the plant railroad shops - Narrow (3' gauge), dual, and standard gauge tracks fanning out to shops.   The highline is on the right, and in the distance you can see the five blast furnaces.  #2 Machine Shop is on the left.

Narrow Gauge Locomotive - Bethlehem Steel 1987

Honeymoon 1988 - Morehead City, NC -  They were still running Whitcomb's - A guy get's a romantic exemption for that - Right?