Monday, September 4, 2017

Pyridine Plant #7

I haven't made a post in over a month.  Life, my job, and racing has occupied my time.  I was modeling some, but I didn't think anything was worthy of making a post.  As it was either detail work, or superstructure work.  But in the past two days, I did a "push" on the plant. It needs to get done, as I've started to lay track on the layout, and I need to build some other parts of the plant to continue on some of the other structures.  And I don't want the Pyridine Plant to languish.  With the superstructure built for the "meat and potatoes" of an actual pyridine plant, I was ready to build all the appliances. Remember, this plant is part tribute to Dean Freytag, and partially my own OCD telling me it needs to be as realistic as possible. Below is a condenser for the Dehydration and Fractional Distillation portions of the plant. I have no idea what a real one looks like. Photos of actual pyridine plants are few and far between.  So I looked around the Internet on Google Images, and I had seen several that look similar.  It's on the second tier of the superstructure, and behind the Stills, so I thought this was good enough.  It's made from parts bin left overs of the oven from the Walthers Refinery.  I scratch built the vent assembly.

Below is the Ammonia Condenser that leads from the Neutralizer tank to the Wet Base Tank.  This one is a mimic of a prototype I found on Google Images.  I couldn't see the top in the photos, so I ad-libbed with the fans. The piping is fairly correct though.

Here is an over all shot of the superstructure as it sits tonight.  You can see the two Stills (lower left), the Wet Base Tank (large tank on the lower tier), Decanters for Dehydration and Fractional Distillation (second tier, right), Ammonia Condenser (upper tier, left), and Neutralizer Tank (upper tier, right). I've started on the railings as well. I should have those done tomorrow night.

Below you can see the assorted tanks and decanters.  The pump (red motor) is for pumping the Ammonia solution from the Neutralizer tank back up to the Ammonia Condenser.  You can also see the Condenser on the second tier at the right for the Dehydration and Fractional Distillation process.

Rear view.  This  side will be up against the plant building (brick structure from previous posts).  So get a good look, as this shot will not be possible once the super structure is glued to the base plate.

South end of the super structure.

Below is the top view of the upper tier.  You'll notice the valve handles aren't in place yet.  The one on the Neutralizer Tank will be a standard wheel.  But on the Ammonia Condenser I'll use a chain fall wheel.  I didn't want to build a platform here, and it's too high for a man to reach.  Not sure if I'll use wire here to simulate wire rope, or actual chain.  When it's on the layout, I think you'll not be able to easily see the chain, so it'd be a waste of money to use it.

Here's the super structure mocked in place.  Hopefully I can glue it down tomorrow night.  There a train show this weekend, and I'm manning the Steel Mill Modelers SIG table.  And I'd like to display it maybe.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Pyridine Plant #6, or, How to add brick mortar detail without going crazy.

This installment deals with something I've struggled with for some time.  Brick sheet.  More importantly, the mortar lines.  Brick is by far the most prevalent of building materials for early steel mills and coke plants.  Or, more to the point, likely THE most prevalent building material for heavy industry prior to WWII.  Corrugated siding was making it's way in.  But for two reasons (1. Brick was cheap and 2. Labor was cheap), brick made the most sense in that time period.  It would stand up to almost anything, wouldn't burn, and would bear a heavier load than wood in almost every instance.  So, modeling brick buildings in a heavy industry setting in the steam or transition era railroading is a must.

I began by doing some photographic research on Google Image for brick wall detail.  Specifically for walls either in a steel mill, or that had been in a mill.  I wanted to get a feel for the way the walls looked, the color of the mortar, stains, weathering, aging, repairs, everything.  And, as I was building quite a few brick buildings in the By Product Coke Works and the 55' of steel mill on our clubs layout, I would need a method of painting and adding mortar that wasn't too laborious or costly. The By Product plant alone is 26" long and 11" wide.  And Building 1 at the rolling mill will be 72" long and 13" wide.  That's a lot of brick mortar to model.

The photo below is the one that I think has the best reference all in one image.  It's from an old mill building that has since become part of some up-scale office complex. You can see they've built a new interior and upper floors from corrugated sheet.  But left the original "patina" in tact.  A popular thing to do with the "sophisticated crowd." I love the brick itself.  Starting at the top, we can see a demarcation line, where there must have been a roof about 2' down from the top.  The brick and mortar above is more clean, and below it's stained and filthy.  Random bricks are used as far as color and hew.  I'm guessing bricks that weren't uniform in finish and color were cheaper at the time, and so this is prevalent in a mill where the owners weren't worried about aesthetics, but functionality.  There is a section of brick and mortar at the left of the doors that leads me to believe there was a repair done.  So the bricks were cleaned in some manner, and new mortar used. And then there is the bricked up window.  Completely different brick used here, and obviously fresh mortar.  This is something I think is important to include in your modeling.  It can show several things.  Additions to equipment inside a building can necessitate a window being eliminated.  New construction can make a window obsolete.  In many industries, windows were used to get more light in during the day, but later after a window was broken too often from vibration or for other reasons, I can see the plant manager saying, "get rid of that window.  Just brick it up. I'm tired of having to have it replaced."  All of these things can tell the observer that the building in the scene has been there for quite a while.  And that progress has been non-stop at this mill.  Then there is the small section about head level to the right of the doors that's got new mortar.  Another repair.  Likely a process called, "tuck pointing."  Where loose or broken mortar is removed, and fresh mortar is "tucked" into the space with the "point" of a trowel.  Another important, and easy to "add" detail. I put that in quotes for a reason that I'll get to later.

All that being said, I think for most modelers, it can be frustrating finding that one method that works for you across the board on most brick models and scratch built projects.  So I started watching videos on YouTube, and decided to try the Humbrol method. It looked almost fool proof.  $65 worth of the necessary products later, I tried this new method out on the JT Products brick sheet I chose for this project.  Meet problem #1.  JT Product brick sheet looks OK, but the mortar lines are a bid wide.  I knew this going in, but thought the Humbrol method may still work.  Well, it didn't.  Most "wash" methods rely on capillary action between the bricks.  With the wide mortar lines on the JT Plastics sheet, that was a failure.  I also tried the Vellejo method.  Also a failure due to the need to capillary action. I'm sure either of these methods would work great on a injection molded wall like most of Walthers kits.  But the majority of brick sheet is vacuum formed.  And lacks the minute detail that a molding die formed wall would have.  I sent up a flare on the Steel Mill Modelers FB page, and Roberts Brick Mortar was recommended.

I started the project by selecting what I thought was the right color for my buildings.  Depending on where you live, or where the building is supposed to be, the bricks will be a different color than somewhere else. I'm from the Allegheny Mountains part of Western NY and Western Penna. As memory serves, the bricks there tend to be a darker red, with a tint of brown. So I began combing the hobby shops for the right color.  I have never been boxed in by the mindset that paint colors have to be for what the manufacturer tells you they are for.  They are all just colors, and you can ignore the "military" or "race car" monikers.  The color I chose was Testors Military WWII German Panzer Root Braun RAL 8012 Semi-Gloss.  I think this is just about the closest my imagination can get to what those bricks looked like back home.  I may even take a jar with me at some point when I go home for a visit and find a building and paint a 1" square portion of a brick and see how well it matches.  That's likely overboard, but I'd like to know.

This portion of the model shows how much I covered it.  I didn't go crazy with an even coat, as I knew I was going to add mortar and weathering.  And I wanted to slightly vary the color of the bricks as well.  And I saved a bit of paint and airbrush time.  Hey, I'm Scottish by descent, so this was a good thing in my mind.

Bob Schwab is, what I'm guessing, one of those modelers who one day had had enough of all the methods for detailing mortar lines, and set out to find an easier and faster way.  And that he did.  Roberts Brick Mortar is by far the easiest and quickest method I have ever used in brick detailing.  I went to his page and decided I'd order the 4 oz. jar for $15.95, as I knew I was going to detail a "ton" of brick walls.  If you're only doing one building, even something remotely large, I'd get the 1 oz, as this stuff goes a long way. Also of note, Bob is a nice guy with a great product, but he's a one man show.  Just like a ton of both the old, and new cottage industry types in model railroading. I completely respect these guys.  And hope to be one very soon with some 3D printed products.  BUT, that also means that if you're one of those instant gratification types that always overnights products, YOU need to put that aside for this company. I'm a day's shipping from Milwaukee, and I waited a week.  And that's just fine.  I had plenty of other things to finish on this model, and the product is COMPLETELY worth the wait.  So, please have patients when ordering.  As I said, it's well worth it.

 I wasn't quite prepared for what it would be like, as I guessed it was some sort of putty maybe.  Boy was I wrong.  The packaging said to shake well, and apply with a brush.  Brush?  OK.  *shake shake shake*.  It sounded like I was shaking a jar of chocolate milk.  Not brick mortar.  When I opened the jar, I was presented with a slightly frothy liquid.  Admittedly, a bit skeptical at this point, I selected one of my trusty Humbrol brushes, and dipped it in.  A white, watery (it's water based), milky liquid coated the bristle's.  You can sort of see the consistency in the photo.  As well as see about the size of the brush I chose in relation to the size of one of these 18 pane windows.

You can also observe the coverage that I found works best.  The directions state that a nice even coat will work, and then let it dry to a haze before wiping off with a damp cloth.  After doing the other two sides of this structure, I observed the following: 1. Apply with a slight swirling method of your brush, and spread it out. 2. Once you spread it out, wait a moment before working more and let it wet into the mortar joints. 3. If a large amount is sitting ON TOP of the faces of bricks at this point, swipe it away with your brush and encourage it into a mortar joint.  Leaving a very thin film on top of a brick face is OK, but no pooling. 4.  Apply it with the surface parrallel to the ground.

You can work the entire side of a building. Don't worry about it drying for too long.  It's water based, and once it's dry, your damp cloth will work fine, with little effort, to remove it from the brick faces.  Another thing, as I stated, the product is water based.  It's not going to fully dry in 10 minutes.  Even though it might appear that it's going to.  And LEAVE THE STRUCTURE FLAT while it's drying. The below photograph is right after I made it to the bottom of the wall with Bob's product.  I then set it aside and did something else for about 2-3 hours.  If you're like me, that's easy to do.

This photograph is what it will look like when it's completely cured.  DON'T PANIC.  It's water based, and this is part of the process.  If your model doesn't look like this, leave it alone until it does.

Now, the wiping off step.  I thought a lot about the type of cloth to use.  My OCD compels me to think things through.  What I knew from reading Bob's page was that a light touch and a DAMP cloth would do the trick. But there was a warning about DPM walls.  I have a DPM wall section, so I took a look at it.  Large, shallow mortar lines.  Just like on the JT Plastic sheet.  It was recommended that wiping at a 45 degree angle to the mortar lines method be used.  Also, I got to thinking, I'd be wiping excess mortar off the faces of the bricks, but not want to get down in between them.  And old wash cloth or the ever popular micro fiber would have little "fingers" on them. And are meant to clean things down in the nooks and crannies.  So those were out.  When we had our son, we were gifted gauze diapers.  The moment I opened the packages I thought, "no way is this going to work for pee and poo."  They were like a top bed sheet, but you could see though them.  So, I put them away. But, they are SMOOTH. No little "fingers" of cloth.  And, at $12 for a dozen, you'd have enough for the rest of your modeling career for brick detailing.  When I moisten the cloth, I dip a portion of the cloth in my dish of water, then wring it out, then push that portion into a dry portion.  Again, Bob's product is water based.  So too much water on your cloth and you'll reactivate all of it, and likely wipe it out of the mortar lines.

If you do do that, DON'T PANIC. You can re-apply Roberts Brick Mortar and start that area over again.  You can also vary the amount you remove.  As you can see in the below image, I removed more in some places, and less in others.  I wanted to give the building a look of many years of service and repairs.  Places that normally need repairs are the corners of buildings, around windows and doors, and around vents and foundations.  I wanted this area to appear that the vent may have been added or updated, and perhaps a repair around the window. Once you've wiped off all the excess, and sit back and look at your project, you're likely to think, "crap, that's REALLY white.  It doesn't look right at all."  Like the brick paper kits of old, it looks a bit fake.  But we're not done.

Bob recommends diluted India Ink in the form of a wash to tone down the mortar.  Having never worked with ink at all, I returned to YouTube and watched some videos. There are two types, water based and alcohol based.  Each comes in water proof, and non-water proof.  Water based ink that becomes water proof when dry?  Wrap your noodle around that for a moment.

A trip to our local art supply store, Carlsons Art Supply in Lombard IL, yielded more information. They were quite helpful, and recommended Higgins #44201 Black India Ink.  It's water based, so you can dilute it with water, and will dry water proof, to it's sealed. Again, I was skeptical about making the mortar too dark, and also purchased Bright White ink to mix into gray.  I also dreaded having to essentially paint the wash into all the mortar lines.  Well, you don't have to dread anything.  And save the money and step of mixing grey.  I also experimented with applying the wash, and then wiping the excess off.  Another step you can skip.  Mix the ink 1:1 with water, use the same size or similar brush to apply, and spread it out.  Equal coverage is the goal here.  Keep the face of the building your working on flat, cover the entire surface THINLY, and allow to dry. You'll be able to watch the solution wet onto the mortar, and just a thin film will stay on the brick. Now, about that part I mentioned about "adding" tuck pointing or repairs.  Here's the easy part.  Keep the ink wash away from wherever you want to look new or repaired.  Like I did in the photograph below, just above the vent.  And to the right of the window, and then above it.  A note, this ink is waterproof when dry.  So,  if you don't like an area, or want an area to be more dirty, you'll need to add more solution BEFORE the first coat is completely dry.

Below is the "South" wall of this structure.  I used my wiping method here for the excess ink.  You can see it leaves broad areas that look wiped.  I have no intention of redoing this side.  As in a photograph you can see this (it's taken with my iPhone6), but in sunlight and naked eyes, you can't.  I'm OK with this.  Also, with the naked eye it looks quite natural.  I plan to go back in with a fine brush and make some of the bricks black, and others brown.  A random pattern.  On my next building, I'll do this before I start the mortar process.  It's all learning.  I hope this article helps you with modeling brick structures more realistically.  And if you like this article or found it helpful, please leave a comment and share the article with your friends.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pyridine Plant #5

With the completion of the heat exchanger section from the Walthers North Island Refinery, I can move on to the platforms and the lower support structure. When I started construction of the lowest platform, which is also part of the support structure, I studied Dean's version for construction suggestions.  

I noticed that he had three main I-Beams under the lowest platform, and they were equidistant.  If you look at the refinery piping, it has four pipes that end at what is now the bottom.  On Dean's version, these not only don't go anywhere, they end into one of those I-Beams.  I decided I didn't want that in this one (my second build of this structure inspired by Dean).  I want to make pipe connections, and as I'll be adding a rectifying column (which is meant to connect to the piping seen here) and some other columns,  Why not offset one of the beams, and allow the pipes to pass through the floor?  So I cut a pass through in the platform decking, and offset the center beam.  I also wondered if there wasn't some reference as to how I-Beams and H-Columns are joined, on the Internet.  A quick search through Google Images yielded this link:

It's awesome.  the lecture shows many diagrams of various ways beams and columns are connected in the real world.  And it's not much more work to make the model connections the same as in prototype practice. I've also added a .060 x .080 bar stock above the H-Beams at the edge of the decking material. This will be used for the base rail for the stanchions for the hand rails.  You may or may not notice that I've left this feature off of the East side of the platforms for now, as I'll more than likely add a stair tower with walkways meeting both the platforms seen here, and the platforms on the rectifying tower. It's totally unnecessary, but will add a ton of interest to the model.
Not pictured, or not easily visible I should say, is that I painted the brick.  And then tried about three techniques for adding motar.  Brick work just doesn't look right without motar in my opinion.  And it was frustrating trying to get the wash to wet into the motar joints on the JT Plastics brick sheet.  It just wasn't happening.  So I put out a plea for help on the Steel Mill Modeling page on FB, and quickly got an answer.  I was recommended to give Roberts Brick Motar a try.  So I've ordered some, and we'll give it a go this week.  I can't do anything with the rectifying columns without getting the motar detail in on the East wall.  So, hopefully it works like everyone says it will.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pyridine Plant #4

 I haven't blogged in several days.  Vacation for my Mom's 80th, a family reunion, and a race in Colorado took me away from modeling for almost two weeks.  "oh, the humanity." But, here we are.  I have two days in, back on the Pyridine Plant.  The South wall is completed, and this evening I spent an inordinate amount of time gluing all the end caps for the heat enchangers on the side panels of the former oil refinery kit. I keep thinking I should paint the base, now North wall, of the plant to be a concrete color.  But it's already gray, and there is a ton of stuff that glues to it.  Painting it after all the gluing will be a pain with the myriad of pipes to work around.  So I'm still not sure. I think the gray is too bright though on the plastic.  I'll figure something out.

I decided to add a loading dock / door on the South wall as well.  I could see it being handy for supplies and maybe replacing the imaginary equipment that's in the plant.  And I can have a truck backed up to it, and maybe some barrels on the dock.  Certainly, it will add interest to an otherwise boring wall. Tomorrow night is our clubs business meeting, so, no modeling tomorrow night.  I'll likely finish the heat exhanger assembly on Thursday and Friday nights.  Then on to the walkways.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Pyridine Plant #3

The West wall of the plant is done. A filter and a vent adorn this wall.  Primarily as a cover to some windows I screwed up.  I was using this side to experiment with how I'd use the spare Walthers windows, and in the end, gluing them from the back (as intended in the kits they came in) and adding a window sill was the way to go.  A square for making sure the windows are square before gluing is a must.  At least one of these isn't the greatest.  But I'm probably the only person that would ever see that.  OCD sucks at times, but it's a necessity of any fabricator, scale or life size.  The vent is the typical corrugated material with a frame, and the filter is a left over Walthers Modulars modern roll up vehicle door, with the frame completed.  
I'm going on vacation, so I'm trying to ensure I have the four walls done before I leave, as I'd like to come back and dive in on the "fun" part (all the piping and columns). I have to complete the East wall yet. But it's just adding the windows, a stoop with door, and I think I'll add another door to the third floor on that side, and run a walkway from the stair tower to it. The main building should be ready for paint by the end of the week.  And I can paint it, and then wash in the mortar before doing all the pipes, tanks, and columns.  I don't anticipate this plant taking 5 months like the Benzol Plant did.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pyridine Plant #2

I spent the evening figuring out the building walls.  The wall where all the pipes and tanks will go is finished, with exception of minor sanding.  And I have the wall facing the rectifying columns and other pipes fabricated.  Also, I used this wall to layout the wall opposite, before gluing it together.  As seen in the photo below, the walls are just standing there.  Nothing is glued yet.  The windows will end up equidistant, vertically, between the pipe supports.  And I'll likely use these as reference for where the external walkways are for the pipe structure.

I'm not sure if I will, but I plan on building a stair tower just to the right of the little gauge house.  I've not built one before, but I have a good video on their construction.  I just need to watch it a few times and get it down in my head before I start making it.  Also, I'll be adding a stoop and door just below the window on the right.  I also found a great roof in my scrap box that I plan on using.  Is a tin panel type roof, with some great gutters that are molded in. I plan on getting the building built first, sans roof, and then build the pipe/tank assembly.  I think this is the best way to do this, as then the building can just lay on it's side while I'm building the pipe/tank section. Rather than try to assemble the building while having to handle the bulky pipe/tank section. I should be able to work on this a bit more tomorrow night, and hopefully get all the wall sections done and glued in place.

Pyridine Plant #1

I'm starting on the Pyridine Plant.  What's a Pyridine Plant? It's part of the By-Product Coke Works, and Pyridine is used as a precursor to agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals and is also an important solvent and reagent. Pyridine is added to ethanol to make it unsuitable for drinking (see denatured alcohol). It is used in the in vitro synthesis of DNA,[9] in the synthesis of sulfapyridine (a drug against bacterial and viral infections), antihistaminic drugs tripelennamine and mepyramine, as well as water repellents, bactericides, and herbicides. Some chemical compounds, although not synthesized from pyridine, contain its ring structure. They include B vitamins niacin and pyridoxal, the anti-tuberculosis drug isoniazidnicotine and other nitrogen-containing plant products.[10] Historically, pyridine was produced from coal tar and as a byproduct of coal gasification. However, increased demand for pyridine resulted in the development of more economical methods of synthesis from acetaldehyde and ammonia, and more than 20,000 tonnes per year are manufactured worldwide.

A modern Pyridine Plant in India:

Dean Freytag, I think maybe unknowingly, built one (although very simplified) and it is included in his book from Walthers on Steel Making and Modeling: 

I built a similar one for the Military Society Of Model Railroad Engineers in Alaska as well:

And here's an example of one built by my friend Donald Dunn:
Photo Donald Dunn

Photo Donald Dunn

So, for my next one, I'm looking to back date it to 1951.  I could use a corrugated siding again, but I thought it would be fun to do it in brick, like many of the other structures in the Coke Works on our layout. In the East, you see many structures in a coke works or a steel mill that are brick.  Brick was cheap, and so was labor before and after WWII.  And I thought it would lend more of an early feel to the project if it was brick.  I'm using Walthers Cornerstone kit 933-3705 United Petroleum Refinery for this project of course.  As photos of Pyridine Plants are seemingly few and far between, it's a guess what is to be modeled, and where all the pipes go.  Also, I want to pay homage to Dean, who was a "telephone" friend for years, and inspired not only myself, but 1000's of other steel mill modelers.  So I want this new Pyridine Plant to have a look and feel of the original one Dean built.

I'm also using a spare base from a Walthers 933-3045 Vulcan Manufacturing kit. The new plant I'm building will include some of the rectifying towers, etc, that you can see in the photo of the one in India.  It'll also give the plant some more "depth" for interesting things to look at.  I know this is a bit of a departure from the Benzol Plant's prototype modeling. But again, it's an homage to Dean and an imagined prototype, not an exact copy.  I wanted to include it in my industry, partly because it adds something most people either don't add, or don't know about, and for Dean.  So it'll be a discussion starter too.  And it generates another load out for operating sessions.  Both my 1951 edition, and the 1964 edition of The Making, Shaping and Treating of Steel show the Pyridine plant in the diagram of a By-Product Coke Works.  Below are photos of the modified base using parts of the base plate from the Refinery.

Just need to sand down the filler, add more if needed, and finish sand.  And I'll add some "cracks" in the concrete and light sand again before moving on.  I like sanding "concrete" base plates before doing anything else, as the smooth styrene bases never look like concrete once painted.  Concrete for this type of application is usually rough.  And this should look like that too.  Where the chimney was for the Vulcan Manufacturing, I'm going to add a small pump house that's actually the collecting main valve house from the Coke Oven kit.  And the one I have just happens to fit the registers for the chimney pretty much exactly.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Making, Shaping & Treating of Steel, Part Deux

A few weeks ago I wrote about how great the 1964 edition of this book was.  I was curious if a previous edition would be much different. So I located a 1951 edition, and purchased it.  The layout at the club is set in the Transition Era, so I figured 1951 would be great.  I ended up having to order two copies (which I was lucky to find), as the first copy was "lost" by the postman.  They almost lost my second copy, but through a bit of complaining, and several telephone calls, it arrived today.  I was surprised to see that it's physically smaller in size.  About the size of a school dictionary, or a family Bible.  The thing I found that was vastly different, is that it has fold out illustrations of plants or operations, rather than simple flow chart diagrams.  It's wonderful to see these.  The one for the By-Product Coke Plant is so detailed, you'd need a comparator to see where all the piping goes.  Just a fabulous resource.  I got mine on Amazon for $25 with shipping.  I intend to order a 1940 edition, and there is a 1920 edition I want as well.  The 1951 edition is for sure a must have resource for anyone modeling the Steel Mill industry.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Benzol Plant #4

Without looking at previous photos, it would appear that I haven't done anything to the casual observer.  But I've done a good bit, considering it's Summer, and there are tons of other activities that take me away from the modeling tabel at night.  The Rectifing building is now glued to the base plate, and stoops have been added to both door locations, along with foundations, railings, and all the windows. I've also weathered the building and windows.  I started the walkway from that building to the Agitator Tower this evening.  And lastly, I added the piping from the Agitator to the Pure Oil Still Tank (tank below the Agitator tower). All that's left in that circuit is the pipe from the Still into the Rectifyer building, and then out from there to the storage tanks and loading platform.  Which can be built later.

I have to comment, there is a crazy amount of piping on this model for the overall size of it. It's taken hours and hours to make and add it all.  And I'm sure I'm missing some.  I did discover where the Wash Oil Cooling Coils were supposed to go in the flow chart of a plant like this, in the U.S.S. book that I posted about earlier.  The physical location is a mystery, but I belive it went on the roof of the tin building, based on the fact this space if empty in the photographs of the actual Thomas plant.  And it makes no sense to put the Light Oil Condensors on a "third floor" platform, if the second floor was free of anything.  So I plan on making the cooler, and putting it on that second floor, and then piping it in. I'll likely add this later, after I've gotten my Formlabs Form2.  As I can draw up the cooler, and then copy it 5 times, as the cooler is shown in the diagrams having 6 sets of coils. And then simply print it out and put it in place. I can't wait to get that printer.....

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Making, Shaping & Treating of Steel, and other matters.

I haven't made a blog entry in about two weeks.  Much like anyone reading this I'm sure, family, Summer and work are occupying more of my time lately.  Work for certain.  I travel a bit in the Summer for my work, and that puts a dent in modeling.  I have gotten more done on the Benzol Plant.  It's almost finished, I think.  I say, "I think" because every time I think I'm about done, I notice another detail, or something else that needs painted, etc.  I was experimenting with using Humbrol Acrylic paint for the concrete pad that everything is glued to.  Fail.  I either couldn't get the mixture right, or the paint was old.  I don't see the store I bought it from selling a huge amount of Humbrol anything.  A 30 year old jar of Testors Grey mixed right back up with some BB's added, and was a bit closer to the color I was after.  I also got all the windows in the Rectifier building, as well as the foundation on.  I could probably post a photo of that, but it would seem boring I think.  Windows and a foundation aren't much to look at.

I also picked up a copy of the book below.  It's the 1964 edition.  And it's awesome.  I originally heard of this book when I asked a question on the FB Steel Mill Modeling page, and someone answered and referenced it.  I wondered how much it would be, and so looked around the Internet.  $25. I figured, what could go wrong?  Well, I'm here to tell you, if your modeling Steel Mills, this book is a must have.  I would suggest getting an edition that is closest to the era you're modeling.  They seem to have random issue dates.  But it looks like about twice a decade.  The books earlier than say, 1950, go up steeply in price.  But all are less than $100.  And anything after 1950 seems to be about $25 average.  Packed with flow diagrams for just about everything that goes on in an Integrated Mill.  The Blast Furnace Diagram and the By Product Coke Works diagram were most illuminating.  Also, a diagram for a Portland Cement works.  I had no idea slag was used in making Portland Cement.  Also, how a Sinter Plant works.  The second half of the book is about rolling mills.  A ton of formula's you'll never use, but tons of definitions, diagrams and photographs that will answer just about any question you could have on how to model a mill.

Monday, May 29, 2017

By Product Plant #1

Well, it's been almost two weeks since I made a post. Work and life and a holiday got in the way.  But that's how things go I guess.  I've started in on the By Product Plant building.  This will be a large undertaking, both literally and figuratively.  The model building is 26" long and 10" wide.  I have the shell finally done.  I chose Walthers Modulars for this building, as they were the closest pre-fab kit I could find to the original design.  As I'm not modeling the prototype exactly, I didn't mind the windows being slightly different. I at least go the roof pitch close, and the overall layout of the walls close. I did add one overhead door, thinking it would allow viewing of the exhauster engines.  But, the overheads are on the backdrop side of the building, so that doesn't matter I guess.  The basic building is now built, and I can get it on a base plate.  Several of the large tanks will go on this base plate as well, and attach to this building.  So the base plate will be quite large. 26 x 16 I think.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Benzol Plant #3

More work done tonight on the Benzol plant.  I cut the baseplate out of 0.060 sheet, and secured the tin building and the agitator tower.  This allowed me to finish the railings on the top deck.  I also started adding the windows to the rectifier building in preparation to secure it as well.  Just about done with the fabrication, and can move on to final painting and weathering.  This was fun to build, but man was it a ton of hours.

By Product Plant #1

Started in on the By Product plant tonight. And I've discovered, much like everyone else on the internet, that I have plenty of wall panels, and not enough Columns and Caps. If anyone has 2 extra of Walthers P#933-3725, and also 1 of Walthers P# 933-3724, I could sure use them. I kept researching what to use to build this building. The Walthers Modulars won out over City Classics, but I hate how the parts fit together. As you stack the walls, it seems a bit random on how they fill fit. And I'm pretty careful about cutting them from the sprues and removing waste. And yet, they still fit poorly. I think I'm going to glue styrene strip at the joint where one floor meets the one above, and paint that concrete. I'm sure I've seen a building with this type of detail, but I don't remember where. I was hoping to have the shell done for Wednesday nights track planning meeting, but alas, no bueno. I've got to figure out how to make the tops of the end walls as well, as the Walthers peaked roof ends only span two virtical wall sections. And the end walls will be five wide. Never a dull moment for the scratch builder. I probably should have gone with DPM. You can still get all that stuff, and they give you pillasters and corners with each kit.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Coke Battery #1

So, I speant three hours yesterday laying up the rest of the basic coke battery.  The bunker at the end is from the Walthers kit, and just sitting there for effect.  I have no plans on using it.  It's too short, and everyone uses it.  I'd rather do something unique.  It wasn't bad grafting the kits together.  I took the battery door sectons to work and machined the ends on my Bridgeport so the dividers would all be the same width where the kits were joined.  I plan on extending the footprint on the bunker end, and building all the stuff that would to under the bunker. As well as a larry car.

I scored an IHC Cheyenne 650 Ton Coal Bunker off of ebay.  My plan is to use it as the coke loader, as well as the coal service.  I got the superstructure together so I could see where everything would go.  I've got a seperate entry going for the bunker. I think it'll work well.  I also know I'm going to have to build a transfer house. Which is fine.  That can all be overhead above one of the tracks. As will the coke screening building.

Coke bunker / coal service #1

I deviated from my plan to finish the Benzol Plant this weekend, and started in on the coke bunker / coal service facility. I didn't want to do it.  Really.  But it was nice to take a break from the tedious railings and piping on the Benzol plant.  I constructed a new bunker at the end that used to be for ash/cinder loading.  I used one of the four bunkers left over from the other two coke batteries. I'm going to superdetail this, just like the rest of the works.  So getting to this stage allows me to start planning. Next I'm going to install exterior bracing on the verticle conveyor for the coal, and cut in the opening for the conveyor that will run to the transfer house.  I've already got most of the walkways and railings and stairs planned out.  I'm not going to use any of them from the IHC kit. They are all pretty bulky, and aren't very well planned out for the area I have to put this in.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Benzol Plant 2

The Benzol Plant is finally nearing completion.  I've got over 70 hours in this facility.  And it's 12" x 14" in size.  Crazy.  I think this it probably the most complicated stratchbuilding project I have done to date. But it's been fun.  I've learned a ton about the process of how these chemicals are made though. And even made some friends along the way.  And any project that results in fellowship and learning is worth doing.

I have the Coke Ovens partially started. But I'm on the fence about doing it next, or perhaps the By-Product Plant building.  Or maybe the Final Cooler and Benzol Washers.  Who knows. I'll probably flip a coin.  This next Wednesday, we'll be having a track planning meeting at the club, and hopefully it will involve the track plan for the Coke Works.  I need to take an evening off from modeling and get the card stock footprints for each of the major buildings made for the planning meeting. Nothing like having full size footprints to play with for "packaging" the industry in the space provided.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


 Not an overly glamours post this evening, but progress is progress.  Got the decking laid for where the By Product Coke Works will go.  Trimmed and screwed down, it's ready for the next phase, track planning a "packaging" of all the buildings.  Time to make some posterboard footprints of each part of the plant.