Tuesday, June 30, 2020


The Marcola (Wendling) Branch leaves the mainline towards the geo-east end of Springfield and initially follows 28th Street north, serving several industries before arriving at the interchange with the Weyerhaueser Corporation.  Weyerhaueser's forest products mill in Springfield remains one of the larger shippers on the Cascade Line, but is simply rendered on my model railroad as the interchange tracks.  Several other industries along the line contribute significant traffic as well.  One of those is Neste Resins, formerly Chembond and originally Central Processing Company, beginning in 1960.

I chose Neste Resins as one of the industries on my Marcola Branch both for its interesting chemical processing equipment and the fact that it remains in business.  The company was identified as Neste Resins in the 1977 SPINS (Southern Pacific Industry Numbering System) diagram, so that is what I have been using on my freight car forwarding waybills.  The Springfield Chamber of Commerce book I often refer to pegs the shift from Chembond to Neste Resins later than that SPINS diagram, so I may revise what I call this industry in both operating practice and the car movement documents.

The wood chemicals business represented by Borden Chemicals and Neste Resins (Chembond) on both ends of my Springfield area extracts resins from wood for use as adhesives and bonding agents.  Think plywood glue and bonding agents for hardboard, chip board and oriented strand board.  The wood chemicals business is an important part of the forest products business served by the Cascade Line.

My Chembond/Neste Resins plant occupies significant space within the turn-back loop at the end of my Springfield peninsula.  With the long break from operating experienced this Spring, I have been filling blank industry spots such as this.  Indeed, this one is the last major space needing something more than a folded index card sign.

Chemical plants such as Chembond are both visually interesting and challenging modeling subjects.  For the similar Borden Chemical plant at the other end of Springfield, I was able to adapt refinery structures and cracking towers from Walthers and Vollmer.  I needed something different for Chembond/Neste Resins.  Once again, I looked to petrochemical refinery models.  This time I selected kits from Walthers (United Petroleum Refining, 933-3705), Pikestuff (various structures), and Plastruct (various tanks and a refinery kit).  

The size and complexity of this wood chemicals facility dictates my model efforts will stretch over considerable time.  This initial report covers the core of the processing facility and a start at the rail interface.  A major modeling resource was found in Google Earth.  I used both the satellite view for overall layout of the plant and the street view to get a better sense of the shape and size of various components.

Chemical Engineers will need to suspend their technical knowledge of plant processes and understand that my model effort is directed at being "representative and impressionistic."  For this first effort, I used the Walthers refinery kit mostly for the refining towers, piping, and intercooler.  I cut down the central refining tower of the kit to better match what I was seeing in the street-view pictures.  I eliminated the tall stack of the kit and will use Plastruct parts to fill that spot at a later date.  My cut-down refining tower led to changes in the use of the kit tower platforms, ladders, and piping.  

Overview of the initial core of my Chembond/Neste Resins plant.  Sample photos from Google Earth for the satellite view and street view are in the foreground.  The green structures on the right appear to be for covered hopper loading. The initial central tank farm is in front of the modified refinery model.

Refinery elements are on the left.  The central refining tower was cut down and the platform and piping arrangement modified to fit the reduced structure.  The intercooler is between the refining towers and the tank farm.

The Walthers refinery kit includes etched brass handrails for the refining tower platforms.  This is a nice touch as it provides for fine detail that is not easily destroyed by an inadvertent sleeve or elbow impact.  Following the kit instructions, I found it easy to establish the desired curve for the handrails to fit the curved platforms.  I attached the brass handrails to the plastic platforms using canopy glue which has become my favorite way to join such dissimilar materials.  

Handrails being applied to the refining tower work platforms.

Ladder cages were attached to the ladders before the parts were painted and then removed from the casting sprue.

The central tank farm for my facility was built using Plastruct "oil" tanks.  Plastruct kits are a bit of a throw-back to an earlier era of model railroading.  They are mostly a bag of raw parts and shapes.  Think of these kits as a collection of scratch-building materials one can use to fabricate the desired structure.  The tanks are nothing more than PVC (or ABS) pipe to which various parts are attached.  The first step in building the tank models was to scribe the weld lines.  I found my old X-Acto miter box quite handy for the scribing process.

Scribing a Plastruct tank tube.  I could insert a knife blade into the saw kerf of my miter box to make the horizontal scribes.  The wall of the miter box was used as a guide for the vertical scribes.

Plastruct appears to be in the process of moving from their long-time location in California to an address in Illinois, perhaps signaling a company ownership switch.  Unfortunately, this shift has interrupted the supply of Plastruct kits such that I could not obtain a third kit for the larger tanks I used.  Fortunately, I had that same diameter PVC tube in a different Plastruct tank kit that I could claim for this project.  I was able to scratch-build all the other parts I needed while claiming a pair of valve castings from the Plastruct refinery kit I will use for parts for one more refining tower and associated tanks and parts.

The central tank farm for my wood chemical facility.  

The final element of my initial construction for Chembond/Neste Resins was the covered hopper loading shed.  My references for this were the Google Earth satellite view and what I could see of other structures for the facility that were closer to the street.  I used a pair of Pikestuff structures--their small engine house (541-5000) and the pre-fab warehouse (541-4).  These kits are intended to be modified by the user although I generally followed helpful wall opening outlines cut into the inside of the walls.  

Covered hopper loading shed and attached warehouse.

Overview of the initial core of my Chembond/Neste Resins wood chemical plant.

I finally have made a start on modeling the Chembond/Neste Resins facility on the Marcola Branch.  There are lots of tanks, a bit more refinery gear and several structures that are needed, but the core already shows this area of previously blank plywood is now the home of a chemical plant.

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