Sunday, January 20, 2013


First,  those Tichy rivet plates.  I use a lot of plates when gluing up a truss framework so these should look better instead.  My only concern is that the plastic, with is black ABS, is a little thick - say around .030.  I usually use .020 for these plates.   The ABS should stick ok to styrene if I use the orange Plastruct cement.

Also, I'm so close to finishing up the precipitators, and the scenery is starting to encroach on that area so  I need to wrap them up.  Plus, once I set them, I can start building the clean and dirty gas mains that I want to run across the front of the blast furnace scene.   Two more platforms, a landing, about a half an inch of stairs, light stanchions, and the conical bottoms on the last two intake pipes.  Here is the larger of the two platforms.   This might look complicated, building it from individual styrene pieces, but this is about an hours work.  Tonight I hope to set it in place and connect it with a landing and stairs to one of the stair towers on the structure.  The last platform is a small one for servicing the thermal expansion goggle valve on the dirty gas intake main.   It looks like this valve would only be closed if there was some major malfunction with both the precipitators or associated gas mains simultaneously.   Closing it would divert all the dirty furnace gas from A and B furnace up the bleeder stack.    Valves on the precipitators could be used to bypass either one for servicing or repairs, while keeping the other on-line.

And an addition to the Roads of Home theme from yesterday - We took ourselves and the dogs for a hike in the Pine Barrens this afternoon.  We passed the fire tower on Apple Pie Hill, the highest spot in the pines.   I shot these photos from the tower.  These are two views 90 degrees apart, the other two are the same - the Atlantic Ocean is somewhere just over the horizon, and the rails of the Southern Division of the Central Railroad of New Jersey remain just three miles or so from this structure - overgrown, but still intact.  The wreck of the high-speed Jersey City to Atlantic City, Blue Comet, occurred under the pines, within the near distance of one of these photos.    In the late 1700's, early 1800's, the stack and smoke from a half dozen or so charcoal iron blast furnaces would have been visible, as would have hundreds of acres of clear cut pines to make charcoal to feed the furnaces.


Although I was born in Connecticut, and spent my entire childhood in New York, I've lived in New Jersey since I started college at Rutgers, almost three decades ago.  New Jersey is home, and nothing is more pleasant than a day spent exploring it's by-ways and highways.   Many I've traveled before, some not, but there are always new or missed things to see, and also revisiting places from the past.   The impetus, or rather excuse, usually has to do with food, shopping, or taking photos of trains and/or industries ("train shit" as my wife generalizes it)

A trip this weekend began with mentions of cravings for Thomas Sweet and Fat Cats.   Both located in New Brunswick, the former is a homemade ice cream store and the latter, a "Grease Truck" that hasn't moved from it's parking spot  in the past 15 years or so (not even sure it has wheels anymore).  I'm not even sure the name of the truck - the Fat Cats are a famous sandwich they sell.  There are actually at least thirty or more versions of the Fat Cat, and the selections are constantly growing.   The original Fat Cat is two cheeseburgers in a hoagie roll (sub, grinder, or wedge for other jurisdictions), with lettuce, french fries (in the roll), and ketchup.  It is wrapped in waxed paper and inserted into a tight fitting brown bag - current price $6.   A complete meal that can be eaten while riding your bike, running to class, in class, on a campus bus,....etc.. (I've done all)   Open virtually 24 hours, there will be a long line of partied out folks at three or four in the morning on a Thursday night.  (Thursday night is the party night at Rutgers, since it's a state school and the state is relatively small, and friday classes are avoided at all costs - a large percentage of the students go home for the weekend)     This visit,  Glori had a Chicken Fat Cat - grilled chicken, french fries, mozzarella sticks, and mayo - I had a Fat Elvis - gyro meat, lettuce, mozzarella sticks, french fries, white yogurt sauce, and hot sauce.    Anyway, two places to check out if you are ever in that area (exit 9 on the Turnpike), but probably don't eat twelve hours before or after.

New Brunswick is about an hour away by the Turnpike, but we usually choose to spend a little more time and take side roads there, the Roads of Home, or previous Homes as was the case today.  We went past our first apartment in Princeton, one of my college apartments in North Brunswick, and an old haunt in Cranbury (yes that is the correct spelling),  the Cranbury Book Worm.   It's neat to walk into a store that you haven't been to in 20 years and nothing has changed.   The same was true with a stop on our return trip, The Model Railroad Shop in Piscataway, NJ. (although it's been far far less than 20 years since my last visit there)   The Model Railroad Shop is the same as it was when I used to walk or ride my bike a good half dozen miles to by a $4 Athearn box car, while at Rutgers.    I guess in both cases, not changing has served them well - The Book Worm has been there since 1974 and the Model Railroad Shop, since 1933 - yes that last one is correct - continuously operated since then.
A Koppers By-Product Coke installation.  A nice size for modeling, but also, something I haven't seen before - two gas collecting mains on top of the battery.  Not sure why exactly.   Also, it looks like they use a bridge crane to tend their coal piles
The goodies - At the Book Worm, amongst several books, I picked up a copy of The Elements of Ferrous Metallurgy (1938) by Rosenholtz and Oesterle .    It had some interesting photos, some of those I'm posting here, and overall it gave some excellent descriptions of iron and steel making processes.   The process information was better organized and stated simpler that what I've found in the Making, Shaping, and Treating of Steel.    It was a day of books and I added another Morning Sun Book to my shelves - years back I swore I would never pay $50 for one of these, but then again I said the same thing about a $30 HO freight car.   I also bough a few Tichy parts, one that I haven't seen before, that I guess maybe is new - rivet plates.  
Some things to note - the steel framework structure alongside the cast houses, and the taller structure adjoining the hoist houses - a counterweight? 
This photo is interesting in that I can't recall a depiction of this action (pouring from a torpedo car to a ladle) anywhere online or in books

A very excellent day all in all.

You wouldn't think you needed to wear a tie working in a steel mill


Thursday, January 10, 2013


Back to B, after some time.  Trying to force myself into the basement when I can.  Some people meditate or do yoga to bring some calm and balance to their lives, I glue styrene together.  If you end up getting stressed over a model or mechanical problem with a locomotive, or whatever, put it down and pick up another project.   Scenery is another relaxing thing, and since getting mine rolling last year, I've tried to make it a practice to always to add something while working in the basement.  Even a sign, or tree, or spot of grass.  

Gauging the progress on my two blast furnaces, I'd say things are pretty close between the two.  If I had to guess, I'd say I was 50% on each.  Since I'm closing in from two sides with scenery, the blast furnace section will be next and I'd like to sort of have some semi-completed structures, and the furnaces are the most prominent.   Not modeling for a bit I've been working on B-Furnace as it's a free-lanced design and there is a more relaxed attitude toward building an exact replica.  Freelanced, with prototype elements of course.   For those that haven't been following, broadly, the cast house and ovens are from D-Furnace at USS Central Furnaces in Cleveland, and the furnace stack, Furnace #3 at USS Duquesne.    HAER has good photos of the USS Central Furnaces, D Furnace, and not so good of #3 Duquesne.  However, there are plans for the latter.   The photo shows how I've blown up the sections of the drawing I need and a scale along with it.  This can be a little tricky to do, but there is a feature on my Mac that allows me to grab consistent portions of drawings and print them out full page.

I think I've posted the rough cast house shell construction for this furnace in an earlier blog.  If not, I constructed a shell from .040 or .060 styrene, that will eventually be covered in corrugated siding and panel roofing.  I'm eager to get started on this, but first I needed to do two things - finish the circular walkways on the furnace stack that would be partially exposed at the casthouse roof, and partially finish the interior of the structure.    The walkways were just a bunch of the usual styrene railing projects, but the interior would be partially seen from the slag pour side so there needs to be a modicum of interior finish, primarily the cast house floor.  I'd cut the foundation and cast house floor from MDF with the intention of adding a layer of plaster or structolite on top, giving the cast house floor that rough look.   One major screw up along these lines, and one I should have know working with wood everyday as my profession - I should have sealed the MDF, before pouring structolite on top of it.  The water swelled the MDF a bit and the whole foundation warped a bit.  Fortunately, as the water content left over several days, the foundation returned to it's original, un-warped state.  Since the photo I've added some textures to the floor.  I still need to make the pouring spouts and more.

Next I moved to the bell lifting arms on top of the furnace.  There are two bells, and the larger, center arm operates on bell and the two outer, smaller arms, the other.  

Besides all this, I wasn't happy with a lot of the elements on this model as it was built five years ago or so.  One, the platform scale sizes, I corrected a bit by adding width to the platforms in some places.