Thursday, July 23, 2015

In-Ground Coal Hoppers

Last week I started mocking up a basis for in-ground coal hoppers. I haven't found too many pictures online, and the ones I'm modeling are no longer there. So I've loosely based it off of a Fine Scale Miniatures design. I just used parts and pieces I had on hand, including bits of masonite (base and side wall), 1x2 for the main side walls, heavy card stock for the slope sheet, and styrene for the border and to scratchbuild the I-beams.

Of course, once I got started I need to fit some track to it, to get the spacing and depth of the I-beams correct. Then I wanted to color it a bit, which led to ballasting a side because I wanted to experiment with the track buried in the ground, which then meant I had to weather it...

The concrete frame isn't complete, and I will install bars that parallel the track for safety. Bill suggested that the I-beams should be deeper, which will be easy enough. I just used what I had on hand. I might bring the concrete frame to rail-head level.

So, the track and I-beams (which are attached) used my now standard coat of Rustoleum camouflage. Ballast is a mix of genuine New Britain dirt, Scenic Express light limestone ballast and fine and medium coal, along with some charcoal grout. The concrete is sprayed with Rustoleum Multicolored Textured spray paint. It doesn't list a color name, but it's a concrete-like off white with multicolored flecks and a sandy texture. It goes on very thick, so it won't work with anything that has detail you need to retain. Weathered with Pan Pastels and charcoal grout.

Overall I'm extremely pleased with the results of the test. I have at least two to build on the layout when I get to those portions.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Shoreline Aerial Photos 1992

Not my era or area, but still an interesting series of photos of the old NH Shoreline in CT.

Ground Cover and Ballast

My goal before the NE Proto Meet next year is to finish everything from the rail down. This will include some items above the rail (like the water column you see, which needs a little modification), but it will basically be all of the infrastructure that's needed. I don't know if I'll get to many buildings by then.

So I continue to slowly move along with the groundcover. I made some more progress last night, and it appears that the sections I did (including fixing the areas that had turned white) are working OK. For this section it would appear that moving slowly is the best approach, and using as little glue as possible (in this case Pledge Floor Care Finish, formerly known as Future). In the past I've done the usual 'flood the ballast' approach without any issues except on my layout.

The AC is keeping the humidity down at home, so I don't think that's the issue. As I glue down the foam in other areas of the layout I'll use wood glue instead of a water soluble glue and maybe that will help.

The basic process is relatively simple. The track was spray painted with Rustoleum camouflage in place. I don't bother protecting the railheads or turnouts. I just use a brightboy to clean it once the paint has dried. I haven't had any issues with the turnouts that a little cleaning with a scalpel, dental pick, or file doesn't fix.

The ballast is a mix of Scenic Express light limestone mixed with a little charcoal grout to make it a little darker. I sprinkle that and some real dirt using my fingers for placement. I follow John Nehrich's recommendation for a well defined ballast line, although instead of masking with tape (which I think leaves a bit too much of a recognizable edge), I just use a piece of cardboard as a mask, held just a little bit off of the layout to give a defined, but slightly 'fuzzy' edge. I also sprinkle on a little Woodland Scenics fine ground foam for a little variation.

Weathering is Pan Pastels and charcoal grout. I use a little of a very light gray on the ties first, for that sort of silvery weathered look, but then use a bit of burnt umber to tone it down a little more, In addition, photos of the era show more of a brownish cast than the old weathered look. Between the rails I'm using charcoal grout. I will also use some black, and maybe some other medium to do oil stains between the rails.

I'm really happy with the results so far, so I'll keep working through the occasional white glue incidents. It's annoying, but hopefully I'll only have to deal with it once.

Well, twice since I've already taken everything out once!

Monday, July 20, 2015


It's still doing it.  I have no idea why, in some places, the scenic glue is drying white. I have used thinned Elmers, Elmer's school glue,  Mod Podge, and this time Future (well, Pledge Floor Care Finish) which is clear to start with.
It doesn't do this anywhere else that I'm trying this except my layout.
It's driving me crazy, because the areas where it doesn't happen look great.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Reworking Benchwork

Chris stopped by to help rework the benchwork on the east side of town to make room for Hardware City Fuel Co. and also to improve the quality of the benchwork itself.

The benchwork in this location has been added onto the side of the helix, although with the clearance within the helix it's difficult to attach the helix deck to the new benchwork. In addition, the benchwork began as an idea that I could fit a bookcase in this location, with new benchwork on top. The 'new' benchwork ended up being a heavily cut-down chunk of what used to be the Whiting Street Yard/Berlin Line. When I decided we could extend the track to allow more industries, we tacked on another piece of benchwork. But it seemed a bit much to add an additional section in this manner.

So I started disassembling the benchwork and then found out Chris would be able to make it over to help.

This is a little earlier look at the patchwork sections of the benchwork here.

And here's what it looks like tonight.

The bookcase moved last year, it took up a bit more aisle space then I wanted. That was an interesting project because it was supporting the benchwork directly. Today was easier since we just disassembled practically everything and rebuilt for the new sheet of plywood. It still required a bit of creative engineering, but it has improved the whole area and gives me a reasonable amount of space for the industries.

The brown foam is now my roadbed. When I started the layout I used N-scale cork in the helix to allow just a bit more clearance. So when I just continued that on the entire layout. Pictures show that the track was basically right at ground level through the city. So I liked the N-scale for that as well. Except that when I started ballasting I found that it was really too high as well. So I've been using the foam as a scenery base, filling in the areas around the track.

In areas where I'm adding track, like here, I'm just using the foam as the roadbed. It's a smidge lower than the cork, but that's just fine here for industrial sidings. It's also cheaper than sheets of cork.

I have a bit more work to get everything in place, but it's really coming together.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

And there's less!

And yet still more!

So I made it over to the New Britain Library today to go through the City Directories some more. I'll be able to do that on a regular basis and still not glean everything from them. Honing in on more accurate primary sources (than the 1940 Alignment Map) show fewer oil dealers, but it also helped me identify other commodities likely shipped to the city by rail, and more importantly some additional commodities at existing industries on the layout.

Gasoline and Oil
Of particular interest was to learn more about the oil dealers. In poring over some additional maps, looking at later aerial photos, and going through the directories, it would appear that on the Highland Line, where the 1940 Alignment Map indicates there is Atlantic Refining Co, and Texaco it is now the Hardware City Fuel Co, who advertises Gulf petroleum products. They have a service station at their bulk facility at that siding, and another one elsewhere in town.

Berson Brothers, not modeled on the layout, sells Esso brand, and there is another Esso station in town.

Stanley Svea receives fuel oil but doesn't mention a brand. It would appear that there are no oil dealers receiving rail shipments on the Berlin Line.

At least two other service stations sell Tide Water 'Tydol' gasoline and 'Veedol' motor oil, and another sells Amoco, and one sells Franklin (never heard of them).

All of which raises a few questions:

Does a company like Hardware Fuel Co. also receive other brands of gas and/or oil to sell to other service stations?

If there are no companies receiving Tide Water or Amoco gas/oil in town is it trucked from other towns?

How far of a radius would a dealer like Hardware City Fuel Co have in selling Gulf oil to other dealers?

Would gas or oil be received at the bulk tracks to be unloaded directly from tank cars to trucks?

There will be fewer oil dealers than I thought, but I have another location (Stanley Svea) that will receive tank cars. In addition, I've learned that in addition to tank cars of gasoline, there will also be fuel oil (for heating presumably) and range oil (for cooking - not sure what's different yet). Rackliffe Oil Co. (not served by rail) advertises 'furnace and fuel oil' so I don't know if those are different types as well.

Of course I hadn't really thought about motor oil and greases, although those probably come to a city like New Britain in everything from cases of retail packaged cans to 55-gallon drums for service stations. Which leads me to...

Bulk Tracks
I also made a point of going through the directories to identify auto dealers, furniture stores, service stations, auto parts and tire dealers, along with a sand & stone company. None of these are on the railroad but most likely received shipments by rail at either the freight house (LCL) or more likely the bulk tracks (car loads). I want to build an interesting list of industries for waybills.

In some cases this also helps in determining where shipments originate. Within New Britain there are dealers for Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth, Ford, Chevrolet, Lincoln, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Cadillac, Hudson, Studebaker, and Kaiser-Frazer (which also mentions Frazer tractors, rototillers and farm equipment). Each auto manufacturer made each model in a specific factory, and this can be used to help create waybills and select appropriate cars.

Interesting side-note - automobile tires usually had inner tubes until 1954. So I'd guess inner tubes to be another commodity to ship by rail.

Coal Dealers

There were a lot of coal dealers in New Britain in the post-war era. Several won't fit on the layout, including D&K Coal, Universal Coal & Wood (who advertises Lehigh 'Blue' Coal), United Coal & Wood (Old Company's Lehigh Coal), and Berson Brothers, among others. East of the station I am modeling: City Coal & Wood, Stanley Svea Grain & Coal, Hardware City Fuel, and Household Fuel.

(Former) trackside view of Household Fuel Company coal silo. I never figured out how to get over to this before the busway (under construction in this photo), and they have removed the conveyor that was still there until construction of the busway began. There's still a pile of coal to the left, and the silos are still full. The street side (below) has a covered loading dock, presumably for consumers to pick up their own coal.

The trackside chutes look like they were for loading trucks directly and were individually labeled by size: stove, nut, buck, pea and rice.

I have yet to find an ad for Household Fuel, but other dealers, like Stanley & Svea and Hardware City Fuel still advertise the sale of coke in addition to coal.

I'm particularly looking forward to building the Household Fuel silos.

Monday, July 6, 2015

But wait! There's more!

So part of what I've been doing over the last few weeks is reorganizing much of my research. Part of the purpose of my site was originally to provide a location for me to store information that I've researched so I could find it again. Over time I've been a bit lax, plus there are a lot of things that I'm not quite ready to post for public consumption.

Anyway, last year I had made some modifications to the layout initially out of necessity, but found that it would also allow me to include a few things I thought I couldn't. Originally  there was a mix of industries from this area, the Berlin Line, and one New Britain industry (Cremo Brewery) from the Springfield Line. They were located in a freelanced industrial area on top of the helix. In the end it felt very 'model railroady' to me, and so when I had to adjust the helix to bring a few grades on the layout down, they were not rebuilt. Instead I found I was able to add several of those industries, in their prototypical location, on the layout proper.

This was what I had originally built:

There were a few additional sidings added later. The three farthest sidings were Stanley & Svea Grain & Coal (on the grade); Cohen William, grocery wholesaler; RM Hall General Store warehouse; and Carlson & Torrell Building Supplies. The tank cars are sitting on sidings for Texaco and Atlantic Refining (they did share a double siding), and the curved track to the right was Cremo Brewery.

After reworking the helix, I moved the proper industries to the outside of the mainline, and they are now in the prototypical location:
Starting from the first siding closest to us: Cohen & William and RM Hall. On the longer siding is a mock up of the Household Fuel Company, just beyond that is Carlson & Torrell, and then the Stanley Svea trestle. Barely visible across from the coal silos is a turnout that is a small siding for North & Judd, something that was missing from the old arrangement. Originally I thought Carlson & Torrell wouldn't fit, but as it turns out it should work in the space.

There is the possibility that there is one more industry on the RM Hall/Cohen William siding. I need to make a trip to the library to verify what was there at this time, but Wellin's Auto Parts may have been there as well, or might have replaced one of the other ones. There is enough room to add it if needed, although the two industries fit a bit better and will allow me to expand the footprint of Household Fuel.

Anyway, as I revisit the research, I was reminded of a couple of things.
1) I had added the oil dealers to the top of the helix because I wanted to have someplace to delivery plain black gasoline and/or oil tank cars.

2) The Atlantic Refining/Texaco siding was a trailing point siding on the east-bound main.

Mocking up benchwork for that location I find that not only can I fit it, but it's in the correct location and has enough real estate to model it. Switching the siding might be a little tight with the Stanley Works crew in the area, but then I remembered that the crew did use that portion of the helix during the last operating session anyway.

So by adding the corner back in I'll have room for two additional consignees, and they'll be receiving a class of cars that is otherwise unrepresented on the layout (other than through trains). Even better, it's prototypically located, other than missing a half-mile of connecting track.

So I'm excited that I will be able to fit in three additional industries without excessive crowding, and in a prototypical manner. Even better, it adds another class of freight car that will regularly visit the layout. Atlantic Refining as a former Standard Oil Company will receive primarily black UTLX tank cars, and Texaco also usually receives black tank cars, either TCX or GATX, with an occasional (and very dirty) aluminum tank car with billboard lettering. So a nice contrast there.

On the Berlin Line I'll be able to add the two dealers there as well - Gulf and Socony-Vacuum. Gulf also receives black tank cars, occasionally with a Gulf herald on them. But Socony-Vacuum has their highly visible fleet of red Mobilgas tank cars that will add quite a bit of interest.