Monday, April 2, 2018

Coke Battery #5

I've been a bit lacking with a post lately.  Work has been crazy, and family life, etc.  But I've been modeling just the same.  I get quite a few people commenting that I must have a lot of time, because I'm always building something, or designing something for Steel Mill Modelers Supply.  But the truth is, I don't watch much TV, and instead chose to spend my 3-4 evenings a week after my little guy is in bed, modeling.  On average, about an hour and a half each of those nights.  It's not hard to put in 6 hours in a week on a project using this math.  TV is a giant waste of time if you're a modeler in my opinion.  Enough of that though, on to the modeling.

I've started on the North Battery.  The entire structure is a mixture of Thomas By-Product Coke in Alabama, and By-Product Coke Co. here in Chicago.  The major Thomas parts are the ovens themselves.  Thomas at one time had an East and a West battery.  The East was about 36 doors (it's gone, but the foundation is still there, along with what I call the equipment room (for lack of a better definition), so the 36 is a guess.  The West was about 50-54 doors.  It's still there, but I've never taken the time to count them.  It's an estimate.  My South battery is the West at Thomas, with three Walthers kits providing 54 doors in total.  The North battery is the East end at Thomas.  The most important part of this battery to me is the equipment room.  Unfortunately, HAER didn't take any photos of it, so the only image I've been able to get is by downloading a .tif of the areal view, and then zooming in and taking a screen shot.  Even though it's not very clear, you can see the basic details.  The columns are the fabricated type, and there are clearly doors and windows, including a door in the foundation level of the battery's end.  And there is clearly a stairway to the charging platform above.  I like this feature, as it's cut into the platform, rather than aside it.  I think it's an interesting feature.  You can also see one stop left from the tracks for the charging machine.  I've been curious if this wasn't perhaps a maintenance shop for the charging machine.  Who knows?  I'm sure grateful it didn't get demolished as well.  I do know that the East battery didn't last past the 1940's or early 50's.  And that it was the original battery at Thomas Steel.  The West battery came later.  I'd also love to know why they demolished it and didn't rebuild or just overhaul it.

I made the decision to divide these two kits with a brick section.  I still need to cut a door into it.  I've seen a few photos of batteries built like this, where every so many doors there would be a division.  I'm not sure why they did this, but I thought it would add separation to the look of the North and South batteries, and further give the viewer the suggestion that the North battery was much older construction.

I couldn't help but mock up the entire battery to see what it would look like.  It's about 80" long.  Massive.  Which is just what I wanted it to look like.  All of these facilities were massive.  I'd like the people visiting the layout to have an idea on just how big a coke plant really was.

Next came the new platforms and foundations.  I cut the platform from a single piece of 0.060 styrene.   This differs from the South battery, where I used sections from the individual kits.  This was much easier and very clean.  It's also stronger construction.  The foundation sides I did join from the kits, as they were already the right height, and I saw no reason to waste new styrene just to make something I was going to sheath in brick sheet anyway.  I left the beveled edges on the Walthers parts, and joined them with some 0.100 x 0.100 strip stock.  This used the entire surface Walthers meant for gluing on the parts, and allowed them to be grafted together.  A very strong joint.

Next came building the equipment room.  I can only see two sides in the HAER photo, so I had to guess on what was on the third side.  I decided that if it was a repair shop or an equipment room, it would likely need some big doors to get parts in and out. This is a re-purposed Walthers Modular fright door.  I think it worked out well.  The doors and windows are Tichy parts.  And the fabricated columns are Central Valley girders.  I think the look very much like the ones in the photo.

The concrete platform above was made from a Walthers kit part, from under the coal hopper. I filled the sides in with 0.060 stock, and sanded smooth.  Then cut in the stairwell.  Here you can see me experimenting with concrete colors.  This is Gunship Grey Acrylic and Aged Concrete Acrylic from Testors, wet mixed on the part. I think it's a nice result, but I'm not convinced yet.  Concrete at a battery is usually pretty trashed and dark.  With the weathering I did later, I think it came out OK.  I'd like to hear from someone that actually worked on a battery, and hear their opinion of it.

I painted up some detail parts for the side of the equipment room.  Junk like this is a great detail to add to your model.  I hope to release these soon as detail parts in a line of them I hope to create.

I also added on of my SMMS goose neck lamps over the freight door.  I was careful to make sure it wouldn't interfere with the guide car if it was to be pushed down this far.  There is also a hanging lamp over the end platform.  Eventually I'll add a goose neck over the door on the end, but it would risk damage now, so I'll add it toward the end of the build.  Roberts Brick Mortar is used for mortar, and a blend of inks to age the mortar and weather the bricks and concrete.

I've added Tichy rivet plates and knee braces to the end columns, which can also be seen in the HAER image.

As always, if you enjoyed this installment, feel free to click the "follow" button on the upper right of the screen, and leave a comment below if you like.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Coke Battery #4

I started on the collecting main as the next step.  The door repair shop isn't quite finished,  but I'm at a point where I need to decide whether I'm going to draw the door elevators, or scratch build them.  So I decided to move on to something else until I make that decision, and the collecting main seemed the next logical step.  After receiving a ton of drawings from Youngstown Steel Heritage, I found a print for an Ascension Column from the YS&T Briar Hill facility that fit the era I'm modeling.  They used this Ascension Column up until the early 1960's, when they were replaced.  A short time in CAD, and I had a prototype ready to print from a dimensionally correct print. I was fortunate that the print included a "ghost" of the collecting main that was used, as well as the saddle stands for it.  I drew these more based on the look of the one on the print, and the dimensions I would need to use the Plastruct HP-24 half round tubing, and Evergreen 0.500 x 0.750 strip.  Evergreen 0.080 Angle was used to create the flange.  And Evergreen 5/32 I-Beam was used for the outriggers off of the coke battery.

Once I verified the saddle stands were correct height for the assembly, I cut 14 5/32 I-Beams and glued them to the South Battery every 4th oven divider, and squared them to the side of the oven.  You can see the 1/16" angle I used to act as the edging for the battery top.  This is a detail that Walthers left out, but its an important one.  The edging protects the brick surface of the oven top sides.  I notched the I-Beams to extend over the top of this edging.  From photos I could see this was done on the prototypes, and it adds surface area to the joint as well.

Next came a test fit of the assembly.  Everything fit as planned.  So it was time to glue all the saddle stands in place.  I did this by measuring and gluing the two end stands on first, with the collecting main set into them lose, using it as an alignment jig for the rest of the stands.

Lastly in this step, I added the joints to the collecting main using Evergreen 0.040 x 0.060 strip stock. I had thought about drawing up the joints in cad, so they would have all the bolts, but you won't really see them, and I determined the joints would be too delicate to survive, so I decide to use strip stock to represent these.

Next the main was glued into place, and I started adding the Ascension Columns. This photo is of a test fit of multiple columns to see how the spacing would flow.  You can see the joint in the main is missing.  But you get the idea.

A big mistake I made was not adding the lamps and wiring them BEFORE I glued the top to the bottom of the collecting main. It was a GIANT pain to wire and pull all of them through a 20" long main.  Next time they'll all be wired to a buss made of brass wire.  Note to self.  Once wired up, I couldn't help but take a night time photograph.  You can see the lamp posts aren't glued in place yet.  It looks awesome though.

Next was drawing up the ends for the collecting main. I'm building a main that likely never existed, and is a combination of features that I observed from about four different coke batteries. These are a combination of the shape from Briar Hill, and the ends from Thomas.  I like Thomas, as it has some kind of exhaust stacks at the ends of their mains, with weighted valve arms on the ends.  There are also what I assume is a drain in the bottom of the end plates.  Or perhaps a supply line of some type.

The installed end.

Lastly I added the  South end stairs to the main, hand railings, the exhaust stack, and lamps.  I also added a Tichy Jib Crane to the end of the battery.  Thomas didn't have one, but jib cranes seem to be everywhere at a mill and coke works.  And it added some interest to the end of the charging car platform.

I haven't finished the jib crane. I need 0.010 and 0.020 wire to assemble it, and those I don't have on hand.

Thanks for reading.  If you like this post, subscribe to my blog.  And please leave a comment if you have thoughts to share.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Glass Plant #1

I'm not sure this ties in to my Steel Mill at all, but it certainly looks like it would be fun to model. While on a business trip to NJ, I passed this plant on the way to where I was staying.  At first, I thought it was the remains of an old Open Hearth.  But when I got closer, it was obviously some other kind of industry. After getting to the hotel, I jumped on my computer, and started doing some sleuthing as to what this place was.  It was obviously closed when I had first seen it.  What looked like some type of material hoppers that were concrete were crumbling, and the grass was overgrown everywhere.  My investigation revealed that it had been a glass plant, and had shut down after being sold to a German company, who later moved operations to Mexico, which killed the plant for good.  I've proposed that this plant be built somewhere on the Prairie Scale layout.  It's a pretty incredible medium industry, that I believe wouldn't be too much work to scratch build.  I'm thinking perhaps just the track side sections of the plant, or perhaps re-arrange the plant to make it more linear.  Perhaps still as a backdrop type industry, but you could run it along 15 or 20 feet of backdrop and make it out to be a larger facility that what it really was.  Although it did take up an entire city block.  You can see that most of the large buildings would be fairly easy to build, as they are all corrugated sheet.  And the smoke stacks are all steel, so you could build them to prototype height easily.   Same goes for all of the concrete storage hoppers.  All could start life as PVC plumbing pipe.  And there would finally be a use for the awful Testors "Concrete" paint that isn't really the color of any concrete I've seen in the Northern states.  The entire thing is serviced by one siding (likely for setting out cars from a train), and then the plant spur with only three switches inside the plant.  If you were to lay this out in linear fashion, I think it would work nicely.  Also, for operating, the plant seems pretty small for it's own switcher, so that would have to be done by the local. Or you could use a trackmobile if you were modeling the Diesel era.

The monitor on the most Southern of the three tin buildings along the main road had a really interesting monitor. I've really never seen one quite like it, but then, I'm not an authority on industrial architecture. It should be a blast to model. I may incorporate this feature into some of the buildings at the Steel Mill.

I believe this structure to be some kind of drying kiln building. At one time, it had rail service inside, and there are obviously hoppers to hold sand.  A conveyor goes from it to another large building with a smoke stack.  Presumably where the glass furnace(s) were.

I jumped on Google Earth and snapped some screen captures of the whole facility, focusing on the areas I couldn't get from the street:

Kiln building?

Buildings along the road/tracks.  The one with the very different monitor is on the left.  And you can see the backside of the track side, concrete storage hoppers. You can also see the remnants of the inter plant rails. It looks to me like the three tin buildings on the left at one time had rail service that went into the right hand building of the three.  And then a switch brought you back between the two buildings center bottom.

This looks to be an electrostatic precipitator or a bag house of some kind. It's located to the West of the three tin buildings, between them and the concrete hoppers.

Guard shack / plant entrance.  This looks to have been built in the 1950's from the architecture.

Another view of the kiln building and the furnace / casting houses.

An electrical substation nearby, that I'm guessing once served the glass factory.

Unfortunately, this assembly was gone when I went to see the factory in person. It looks like some kind of cooler coil assembly.  This shot is from Google Earth Street View.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Coal Bunker / Coke Service #4

I started adding the walkways as I planned them.  The original kit walkways were pretty thick.  It's an older kit, so I guess I can see where technology has evolved in plastic injection.  I certainly wasn't going to use them.  New platforms were fabricated from JT Plastics tread plate, using Tichy platform supports and stairs from the caged ladder kits.  I've also added more Steel Mill Modelers Supply lamps.  The middle platform actually runs to what will be the conveyor from the coal hopper to the transfer house.  The upper platform runs over the same conveyor.

After getting some details finished up track hoppers, the next step was to cut them into the layout, and then ensure the track was in line and ready to place.  I really thought about this for a while, about what tool would be appropriate.  And in the end, I realized I was over thinking the fit.  If I could get it very close, it was good enough, as I had planned to create an "edging" for the track hoppers themselves once I knew just how well (or poorly) I did on the holes.

Once I started, I was very careful with the saw, and really just paid attention. I think I can use a 1/16 angle shape to create the "edging" and it will cover the holes edge just fine.  Next was to test fit the structure itself.  You can see from the photos it fit quite well.