Sunday, March 30, 2014


I was able to take a much needed break from work this weekend, starting off with a Friday night ops session at Rick Bickmore's HARSCO layout.  Always a fun layout to run trains on and the steel mill theme throughout makes it even better.  Rick has been busy lately finishing and detailing the Capitol Street area of his layout.  You can find photos of his layout and his latest work on the railroad-line forums site - go to the forums, and then layout construction thread - his is HTRR - Chapter 2  

A rainy lazy Saturday called for a run up to New Brunswick for Fat Cats and Thomas Sweets Blend-ins.   We of course had to stop at the Model Railroad Shop in Dunellen.   I picked up some Rix Tank kits for an upcoming gas washer project for B-furnace, along with some resin Buckeye trucks, som Easter Car Works gondola cover kits, and a book - Lehigh Valley Railroad - A Select Look at Locations & Facilities New York Harbor Region, by Benjamin L. Bernhart.    This book had some very interesting black and white photos of the LV RR port facilities in NY Harbor.  Of special interest to me were the Perth Amboy coal docks and piers.  Although Perth Amboy was the original eastern terminus of there railroad, it became sort of a secondary facility after there move into Jersey City at the end of the 1800's.   It's rarely covered in books so the in depth coverage was nice.   The book also explored  their various smaller facilities in Manhattan and the Bronx, with good photos and drawings  of their Bronx freight terminal.    Finally, the Claremont Terminal is featured, and for steel mill folks, one of the few tidewater Huletts in operation.   There was some B.S. going around the steel mill yahoo group about 6 years ago or so to the effect that Huletts couldn't operate in tidewater environs??  Because of the 4 foot tide I guess, like that would have made a whole lot of difference?  Well they did - at least two in New York - one on Lehigh Valley piers and the other used in unloading garbage barges elsewhere in the NYC proper.  (Huletts were also used in the Arizona desert at a copper smelter for cleaning sludge ponds - and I'm sure other places other than the Great Lakes)    I'd seen several photos of this machine before in Jersey City.  Used for unloading Bethlehem Steel South American ore, an interesting tidbit in this book - Bethlehem actually owned the Hulett at Jersey City, but it was operated by the railroad.   There was a second ore unloader, but of the Mead-Morrison type.  The text alluded that the Mead-Morrison unloader was needed for tramp steamers where there were restricted openings that the Hulett couldn't work in.  Actually it looks like the Hulett buckets were narrower than the Mead-Morrison, however, my guess is that it had to do with the overhead rigging and booms on tramp steamers.  The Hulett required more vertical space for their articulating arms.  But who really knows - this is the bottom line with much information out there on-line and in books - it's guesses by "experts" but no one really knows since anyone that was around while these machines were operating in Jersey City are probably dead and gone.  This book is well worth the $30 price tag to any Lehigh Vally or rail marine buffs.

We took the back road home through Princeton, stopping at Labyrinth Books.  They alway have great mark downs.  I picked up a Dover Architecture book of large city buildings with great drawings marked down to $7 from $30    Of more interest was The Roebling Legacy by Clifford W. Zink.  This was a book that I'd been meaning to get for some time but couldn't resist for 50% off - $25   This large hardbound book is a complete history of Roebling - the men and women, the bridges, the mills, and the mill town of Roebling.  Of course I was interested mostly in the mills in Trenton and Roebling New Jersey.  Well written book with plenty of interesting photos and history.  Some real neat shots of railroad loads from the Trenton and Roebling plants.

Finally, not really a weekend book - one that I ordered a week or so ago.  Ghost Rails IX, State Line Legends, by Wayne A. Cole.   You probably read my rave review of Ghost Rails X - wanting more, it seemed that this volume had more steel mill info in it.  It had some of Sharon Steel and Crucible Steel but not as prevalent as in Volume X.  No matter, still well worth the money.  Although I might come off as focused on steel mills, I am interested in all industries.   This book is chock full of a variety of extraction, chemical, and other industries.  Good information, and more importantly drawings, maps, and photos, of their operations, and just like Volume X, from the perspective of railroad operations.   Many of the industries are, in effect, steel related - limestone mining - extraction industries - even explosives that are used in extracting coal and ore for steel production.  Mr Cole has another volume, I forget which one, that covered the large USS centralized sinter plant that I will be ordering later tonight.    He also promises more volumes in the future with steel mill themes.   Well done again.

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