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.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Primary Cooler #1

About a year ago, while reading James Mussers' blog, STEEL INDUSTRY, RAILROADS, AND MORE - MODEL AND REAL, I happened upon his entries on a Primary Cooler he found.  Much like many others, he was using Thomas By-Product Coke Works as a resource for his coke works.  But, like many, wanted to make it somewhat different.  So he had done some research and was using plants from other works, and mixing them in.  This type of Primary Cooler, according to James' research, was built prior to WWII, but used up into the 1980's.

After reading all the posts, I knew it was a model I'd have to build.  It's completely fascinating, and it has all the elements that any heavy industry scratch builder would want to build. Below is the photo from James' blog showing the prototype cooler.

Since the Works at Prairie Scale has plenty of room, I decide to only compress the one I'm building to 6 cooling towers. I also decided that I'd manufacture a "kit" for building the cooling towers.  It made more sense as I'd need six of everything.

The building is a basic structure.  I laid out the brick front wall first.  The back wall matches, but only has one window and one door.  As it faces the backdrop, I figured the only time anyone will see it is if we do a "layout ride-along" with a GoPro.  Then two end walls have two windows each. Tichy doors and windows were used.  Their products are first rate, and fit very well.  Take care when you're laying out your window openings on brick.  Pay close attention to the mortar lines.

The basic structure is a rectangle, with a similar top, with exception that the top has a longer front to rear dimension. This is because there is a walkway on either end of the coolers for access to the valves, etc.

After drawing up the prototype for the cooler ends, I printed a pair out.  The rear is the discharge, and is at the top of the cooling tower.  The kit ends are designed to use 0.060 styrene sheet for the sides, and 0.010 x 0.030 Evergreen strip to make the plate seams.  The process for each tower takes me three days since I'm only working one to two hours an evening, and I like to let the ACC glue set up overnight.  I know it's "fast acting" and all, but I like to let it completely cure.  Styrene isn't overly affectionate to ACC, so I think waiting lets the bond completely set up. I also rough up the joining surface with some 150 grit sand paper, and then wash the stryene off with hot water and let it completely dry before gluing.  The sanding gives more surface area for the ACC. The following evening, I add Tamaya putty to the resin to styrene seams.  As much as I would like it, the seams never seem to be perfect.  So Then let the putty set up, and sand the next evening.

Evening three is for the plate seam covers. Here's a tower with the 0.010 x 0.030 strip added for the plate seams.  All set to go on the structure roof deck.

Here's a test fit of the prototype ground control gate valve on the #1 cooling tower.  The original used Web Truss in between the towers.  But I thought I'd change it up a bit and use Central Valley open girders between.  I like the rivet detail, and the oval openings add to the character.

Two production valves installed with the ground controls. 0.039 brass wire is used, 3/32 Evergreen tubing, and (from the parts bin) some Athearn brake wheels that I have from a lot purchase of another guys cast offs.  I drilled the 3/32 for the Athearn brake wheel shaft, glued the two together and let them cure.  Then drilled the center of the brake wheel out for the 0.039 brass wire.  Of course, buying brake wheels that are meant to use a brass wire would be easier.  But I had these on hand, and the extra work wasn't much.

Here's what they will look like with the pipe from the down comer installed.  I won't install it yet, until I have the other four cooling towers built.  I like the result so far though. Stay tuned.