Sunday, March 29, 2020


My industry hole-filling continued by turning to Eugene.  Zellerbach Paper Company had a warehouse near downtown Eugene.  Its spur showed up on the 1977 SPINS diagram I have for the area.  With a major corporation name, this facility became a prime candidate for inclusion on my railroad.  Early forms of the facility show up in a couple of steam-era photos with a concrete block structure.  A 1960s-era photo was published in Ed Austin and Tom Dill's The Southern Pacific in Oregon Pictorial, Pacific Fast Mail, 1993.  This shows a large corrugated iron warehouse in addition to the concrete block building.  I based my model on that pair of structures.  

My model location called for thick "flats" up against the backdrop.  The required structures were only two or three inches deep.  The corrugated iron structure was a simple foam-core "block" with texture facing.  I used more Clever Models printed sheet with a corrugated iron image, similar to my National Metallurgical structures in Springfield.  

I cut in roll up doors.  The overall construction was simple.  I added a sign, based on the sign seen in the Jim Paschelke photo in the Austin and Dill book.  A bit of work with PowerPoint produced the desired sign which was printed on 65-lbs cardstock.  Simple styrene strip framing completed the sign which was then mounted on the warehouse.

The older concrete block building was built from sides for a City Classics Carnegie Street Manufacturing Building (195-109).  A quick coat of cream-white paint plus window glazing completed the job.  I will leave to the future whether I add any of the original sign painted on this building.  Only the last part of "Company" would show.

Zellerbach Paper Company ready for business.

Another view of this simple gap-filler.  I will just ignore the thermostat floating in the sky.

Although this was a simple project, it fills quite a length along the backdrop at Eugene.  With appropriate exterior "texture" (the corrugated iron siding from Clever Models) and a sign, this industry is ready for business!

Saturday, March 21, 2020


With terrain base covering almost the entire railroad, it was past time to fill in other scenery holes--industries served on the railroad.  Prompted by a proposed clinic presentation for the now-cancelled NMRA-PNR Convention in Eugene scheduled originally for mid-April, I launched upon developing railroad-served industry in the Eugene and Springfield area.  I began in Springfield with National Metallurgical.

National Metallurgical, later Globe Metallurgical Inc., refined silicon.  Taking advantage of cheap hydro-electric power, the plant began in 1954 with a single furnace.  By 1959, a second furnace was added.  Operating from 1967 as National Metallurgical, a third, more efficient furnace replaced the first two in 1975.  After several corporation changes, the plant was purchased by Globe Metallurgical Inc. in 1993.  The plant is gone today, but it served throughout the years of interest to my modelling.

With the plant gone today, my modelling efforts relied on very sparse information.  I began with the 1977 SPINS diagram for Springfield which identified the spur serving the plant as National Metallurgical.  One of my regular operators, a retired SP railroader, recalled servicing the plant and noted locomotives were not allowed inside the unloading shed.  That tidbit indicated the plant had an unloading shed.  For additional background and possible detail on Springfield industries, I was directed toward a book produced by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce:  Springfield, Between Two Rivers, published in 1999.  This wonderful book on Springfield has many single-page descriptions of Springfield businesses.  The page on Globe Metallurgical Inc. provided the history of the plant and two small photos.  One photo showed operation of one of the furnaces.  The other was 2x3-inch street-side view of the mill complex.  That single photograph combined with my knowledge of industrial processes (admittedly incomplete!) and the report of an unloading shed led to my "imagineering" of the plant for my model.

To model this industry, I chose to go back to an old modelling technique--the use of printed paper surfaces.  I recall building structures as a teen and into my college years using printed brick and cinder block paper glued to cardboard for full structures and scenery "flats" against backdrops.  Today's version of this comes via computer programs and files with photo-realistic "textures."  For this project, I chose the steel buildings collection of .pdf files from Clever Models:  As .pdf files, this package was very useable on my Apple MacBook.  

Clever Models' Steel Industrial Building collection provides a number of "kits" for various corrugated steel structures as well as "texture" sheets for development of one's own model designs.  When I bought the package, I was looking at one mill building, a moderate-sized structure, but found their large steel mill better suited my needs for the core structure of my silicon refining mill.  Indeed, my final industry design uses pieces from four of the "kits" in the collection.

The core of the plant is a tall mill structure.  I built this by printing the "Big Steel Mill" building pieces on 65-pound cardstock which I cut out and laminated to foam-core poster board.  This was a large structure that had the rough proportions and size I could surmise from that one small photograph in the Springfield book.  The interior of the foam-core structure was braced with balsa strips.  I cut in a large roll-up door (featured in the kit) on the track side of the building--unseen in the book photo.  

The core mill building under construction.  The siding was laminated to foam-core board, braced with balsa wood strips.

The mill building core was flanked by side sheds.  These sheds were larger than the side sheds in the Clever Models kit, so I designed my own using more sheets of the central mill structure sides and ends.  Since these were imagineered, I chose not to build them as heavily as the core building.  I wanted to leave myself freedom to discard one of these structures if I got better information on them or found I needed to modify them as I created the complete industry scene.  This led me to build them without a foam-core interior, but still with significant balsa strip reinforcement.  Following construction advice from Clever Models, I used a lot of gap-filling CA glue for the joints.   I added doors and windows to the side structures with details printed on paper.  This contrasted to the use of cardstock printed and cut-in details on the mill core building.  

The side sheds for the mill building shown under construction.  The printed cardstock walls were built up using balsa wood strip interior framing.

The unloading shed used a Clever Models Car Barn from the Steel Industrial Building collection.  This structure kit was the right size for what I thought would be used.  It is an open structure for which Clever Models provides an interior sheet.  I laminated the interior and exterior walls.  I then added styrene strip framing to overlay the framing of the interior images.  I built both the car barn core and its side shed, cutting holes in the side for the conveyor belt assembly leading to the mill core building.  

Siding pieces for the "Car Barn" used as an unloading shed.

Framing the unloading shed interior.  Styrene strip was attached to the building interior, overlaying the printed framing.

Building the unloading shed.  The shed sides have been formed into the complete structure.  The side-shed is built up as siding laminated onto foam-core board.  Holes have been cut into the siding for the conveyor system.

With the core structures completed, I turned to details.  The Springfield book street-side photo shows an external stair set zig-zagging to a high location on the end of the core building.  Alongside that was a high-mounted bin that received sand from the conveyor belt from the unloading shed.  I used Tichy staircase platform and railing sets (#8208) for the zig-zag stair case.

I must make a brief shout-out to Tichy on this.  I needed a half-dozen of these staircase sets--more than commonly available at my local hobby shop.  Further, I wanted them "now."  I placed an order with Tichy over a weekend.  I had them in my mailbox by Wednesday.  Tichy packed and shipped and the USPS delivered in a half week, crossing the country!  I will continue to obtain parts through my hobby shop when I can, but for a case like this, I will not hesitate to order direct.  Kudos to Tichy Train Group!

I built the staircase up as three sub-assemblies.  Each consisted of two platforms and two staircases with their associated railings.  I was able to handle these subassemblies as I glued them to the end wall of the mill building.  I doubt I could have handled an assembly of all six staircases and platforms as one installation step.  The subassemblies were painted before attaching to the mill building end.  

The exterior staircase for the central mill building was built up over a simple drawing.  I looked at a four-staircase installation (left), but quickly went to the prototype's six-staircase design.  This fit the Tichy parts better.  The end railings for the platforms was the limiting part on the sprue.  Tichy supplies only one per sprue set.

The sand bin was a simple box, mounted to the wall with diagonal braces underneath.  This was simple styrene sheet construction.  The book photo appears to show a small platform with railing on the side of the bin, so I built the bin platform a bit larger and added railings left over from the staircase project.  A quick coat of paint and CA glue for mounting completed the job.  The conveyor was a Walthers 933-3149 conveyor set. 

Street-side view of the completed mill complex.  Unfortunately, all that great detail--the stairs, and conveyor system--appears on what appears to be the back side (away from the aisle) on my railroad.

Final details for this round of construction were a rooftop vent on the core mill building and an exhaust stack.  The rooftop vent was scavenged from the Clever Models small streel mill kit.  I joined two of the vent sides for a longer vent, something easily done with paper construction.  I built the vent around a pair of pieces of balsa strip wood.  The exhaust vent was formed from 5/8-inch dowel.  I needed miter cuts to form a 90-degree bend.  I started with my compound miter saw, but found its saw blade was too rough for the job.  Instead, the protractor guide on my band-saw gave me great control with smooth cuts.  I formed a cap from cardstock and attached it with wire legs.

National Metallurgical seen from the track side and aisle on my railroad.

Another view of the National Metallurgical complex from the track side.  I added a sign high on the building core.  Such a sign would be unlikely for the prototype plant but is useful for my operating crew.  This does away with the folded index card sign that has occupied this space for the past eight years.

Arranging the structure pieces on the layout filled a major hole in my Springfield scene.  It was fun to return to an old-school modeling technique using paper texture on a cardboard interior, albeit with the modern twist of desktop publishing and printing with a computer file.  The folded index card industry name can be retired and a full three-dimensional structure complex has taken its place.  Over time, I will add more detail, but the important gap-filling has been done!