Tuesday, February 28, 2017

008 The Smart Industry X-Change System (SIXS) - First Look at the Chemical Plant

The chemical plant that I'm going to model has been around for a long time!  Smells like its been around for a long time.  I haven't had a chance to get up to Cartersville, Georgia to take detail shots, but I plan to this month.

Photos courtesy of Google Maps.  Best way to get the top shot!

This chemical plant has been around well over 50 years.  I remember passing by it regularly when I was very young.  The pungent smell of sulphur would burn my nose and cause me to roll up the window.  Currently it is called Chemical Products.

Here is a powdered chemical products loading/unloading facility.  We'll model that on the layout.

The setting around the plant is quite beautiful with trees and the large Etowa River.

This is the best side for photographs, and the place I'll go in a few weeks.  There was a chemical facility across the street and the track and racks are still in tact.  A small creek is under the tree line.

The plant takes a variety of rolling stock, but mostly tank cars and small covered hoppers.  These are on a set out siding next to the street.  I've passed here many times and NEVER to this day have I seen a person walking around.  One day I'll just camp out there all day until the police come.

I'm planning to make the swing gate automatic, controlled by a computer when you ask for permission to enter.

Ochre is present in the area and is blown all over the buildings giving them a brownish yellow appearance.  Actually the plant changes colors as you move back to the older parts.

I've never seen this switched, but there must be plenty of activity.  Their main product is sulfur.

Here you can see the rusted tracks, the old crossbuck and the gate with the yellow derail.  Lance Mindheim would love this!

Thanks Google for getting me the shots I need when I'm 300 miles away!

This is a very hard turn and is a busy road.  Traffic is always moving through here.

An overview gives you a feel for the size, but this isn't all the plant.  It goes all the way back to the river.

The street that goes through the plant was taken over by the facility and the road forced around it.

Power substations, processing, loading areas, raw material receipts.  Lot of fun in a dirty old factory.

 I've compressed it significantly so that I could get in the good parts.  While tanks and things are just put in there for now, I'll eventually lay them out in a proper processing order.  My real dilemma is how to reproduce the smell!

The track is a model unto itself and I will hand lay it to get it down into the dirt.  We'll reproduce the wonderfully weathered ties!

 I'm going to have to make some tank cars like these!

Here is a siding that goes down through the middle of the plant.  Loading and unloading probably, but need to know more.  This is a weathering nightmare!

The little warehouse is much newer.

I kept close to the prototype on the design, and may expand it when I build the big layout.

Stay tuned for more photos!

The Lancaster & Chester Railroad - South Carolina

The Lnacaster & Chester is a railroad that just screams to be modeled!  Originally narrow gauge, this 30 mile railroad is a lot of fun.  Big rivers, lots of bridges, and huge amounts of character.  Its a shortline that is over 100 years old and still making money.  Let's take a ride/

The huge cotton gin barn sits next to the company office, a testament to the by gone days of king cotton.

This stone structure is the company headquarters.  I took a bunch of shots in case I ever way to build it.  The small structure has a lot of charm.  This is on Main street in Lancaster, SC.

The wide open, unfenced yard is full of rail, debris, and old rail cars.

Next to the office is parked one of the locomotives.

I love this concrete loading ramp!

The track is bolt together sections on ancient ties.  Reminds me of the Georgia Northeastern.

There are lots of creeks and rivers, and old wooden trestles are all along the line.  Many look easy to model.

Some of the track is just amazing...

Gerdau Ameristeel makes railroad spikes.  There are about 50 gondola cars lined up the track.

This is not my photo but gives you an idea of what is being loaded in the gondolas.

This railroad is covered in chemical plants.  There are several of them an all are quite large.

Wow!  Look what I found in the sleepy little town of Richburg!  This preserved Porter tank locomotive.  H. K. Porter #5980 was built in 1917 and served the Edgemore and Manetta Railroad in South Carolina.

The interior is still in tact.  Probably because of the barbed wire surrounding the locomotive.

While the paint job is terrible, the town did build a nice steam cover to protect the locomotive.

Old barns and buildings are everywhere, many dating back to cotton production days.

A chemical unloading facility.

Another nearby fuel storage and distribution center.

There were minerals/chemicals on the ground so I'm assuming its lime or something similar.

An old Southern switcher was at work switching tankers at the chemical plant.

Chester is an old town with a lot of charm and character.  In the yard sat six locomotives.  All were in bright blue livery and in great shape.  The sign of a railroad with cash.

The sun was bright, so getting photos was tough.

The paint wasn't too old on the huge locomotive.

Yes, that is a tunnel motor on a railroad with no tunnels.

While I was there an engineer fired up this locomotive, then started the rest of them.  I love the make-shift spark arrestors.  Most of this railroad is on the highway and easy to railfan without breaking rules.  I plan to visit again sometime.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

005 The Smart Industry X-Change System (SIXS) - 01 Walthers Cornerstone Tank Car Oil Loading Platform 933-304

I recently purchased Walthers Cornerstone Tank Car Oil Loading Platform 933-304 to be used on the chemical plant.  I'll probably add another one of these, but may make it from scratch.  This one will be in the back, so detail doesn't matter.

First, I have to clean up the desk.  Here I have very little storage room, so I'm constantly moving things.

Here is the kit.  It is perfect for a chemical loading platform, one of several I'm going to need.  I thought it better to build one of these $15.00 kits first to see if it looks good.  If so, I'll get a couple more and knock them out.

Ok, $14.98 plus tax.  Plus hauling it back on Delta to Fort Mill, SC.  Heck, no wonder everyone is mail ordering.

Before I bought the kit I checked the dimensions of the footing.  Walthers adds this wonderful footprint square to the kit.  Five stars!

The kit comes in a HEAVY DUTY box, not the flimsy ones we are used to.  This will make a great storage box and the front label artwork comes off easy!  Finally a kit builder is designing kits.  This kit actually dates back to 1998.

While it is an oil loading platform, it is based on a 1940's prototype.  Most older loading platforms look the same.  The chemical plant that I'm modeling was there when I was born and I've watched it for years, so this will work great.

The parts are in a bag which is helpful if they fall of the sprue.  It comes with instructions and decals, and even a sheet to help you get lost or defective parts replaced.

The parts are cast in a heavy duty plastic, much stronger than most models I've built.  It is hard to cut the parts of the sprue.

The directions cover the back and front of one sheet.  I quickly read them from front to back.  As are most kits the text is a bit lacking.  They are making the parts numbers very large, which helps.

Before I begin modeling I scan the instructions into the computer.  This is an important step for several reasons.  I have destroyed instruction sheets before by spilling paint or glue all over them, so I at least have a back up.  It also serves as a later reference for the model in case you need to repair it.  It also (and most important for me) gives me scratch building plans for making a duplicate model.  That is very likely as the model is simple, and a few higher quality details like an etched gangway come make for a much better foreground model.

I keeped them filed and carefully name the file so I can search for it.  One thing I have been thinking about lately is all the files that model railroaders like me are now keeping.  They can be worth a fortune to someone!  I've got literally MILLIONS of photos, notes, track plans, drawings and research just for me.

Next, I use my computer.  The computer really has become my #1 modeling tool.  What I do is look up photos of other's models of the tank loading facility and see what they have done.  I'll leave these up on my computer for reference.

I put the instructions between two panes of glass.  I'll work on the top pane of glass as it is perfectly level and nothing sticks to it.

Per the instructions (yes, I actually read and go by the instructions...sometimes!) I use a sprue cutter to remove the bases.  There is a lot of flash on these so I scrape it off and sand the bottoms flat.

The uprights are next.  I made a mistake here and cut one of the tiny mounting pins before I realized it wasn't just a long sprue.  Making mistakes is part of making a model.  Correcting them is the real art!

To clean the parts and make them totally flat I sand them with a very fine sanding pad.  3M assortment at Walmart, on sale for about $2.00.

Tenax 7R is my favorite plastic cement, but no one nearby has it and I can't take it on the plane.  So I'm using Plastruct, which is ok.  Usually I make my own blend, but I have no where safe to store a gallon.

I also don't have any of my clamps or braces, so I'm making due by using the fancy box Walthers sold me to hold the parts.  Improvise!  We're going to do a lot of that in the near future until I get moved.

The two problems I've noticed with the kit (and all kits have problems) is that there is no part #14 on any sprue, but there are two #15's.  The instructions are a bit unclear about using parts #14 and #15, so I referred to another modeler's work to figure out what it should look like,  The Walther's kit picture on the front was all black and hard to see the detail.

Next I worked on the piping.  The difficulty of modeling a chemical plant is piping.  Piping must be level, parallel to its neighbor, and not have any mold marks. A close up shot with a digital camera will MAKE YOUR WORK LOOK LIKE CRAP!  The pipes I'm working with here have really bad mold seams, so I spent a lot more time working to try to smooth them out than I would care too.  Here is where I'm starting to think scratchbuilding is better because I can use tubes and rods which are extruded and smooth for pipe.

From the main feed lines (pipes) comes the break out pipes that carry chemical to the uprights.  These are each different and have to be put on by the order of the instructions.  BEFORE you cut these off the sprue, read the directions and only cut the parts you need one at a time. Hey, does this sound like experience?  Shut up and do what I tell you to do!

Once the pipes were assembled with Plastruct, I put them aside to dry overnight.  The solvent will no longer be wet but the attack on the plastic will continue for some time.  A light hand with the cement is best!

Next we'll build the gangway.  This model has great guardrail detail, thus the reason the plastic is so tough.  These parts are still delicate and require an easy hand while remove the sprue tags and flash.  Take a VERY sharp, new hobby knife blade and take your time.  I'm watching a model railroading video while I'm doing this to pass the time.

Spend a few minutes test fitting the parts and figuring out how to make the assembly.  Normally I've got a huge selection of jigs and fixtures to make the parts straight and easy to glue.  No such luck tonight.  So, the "I'm at a hobby show with limited tools and need to fix it" trick is to use ACC, or superglue.  But, I only use enough to tag the parts into place.  Once they "lock" with each other, then I'll go back with the plastic cement and bond the parts.  I wanted the ramps to remain loose (mainly for photos later) so I made sure the ramps moved easily but with enough friction they would stay upright.  See?  I'm thinking about what this model is going to do YEARS down the road, and not just when I'm done with it.

DVD stopped and I'm out of Bourbon.  Time for bed.  I clean up my work area (lots of plastic scrap and fuzz, along with sanding dust) and a check the lids on the adhesives to make sure they are sealed.  I hate waking up to a half empty bottle of Plastic Weld!

Night all!