Sunday, February 20, 2022


Moving to the RR-eastward most industrial spur off the new industry service siding, brought me to the site for a steel fabricator.  When I first started designating industries for the half dozen new spurs, this one was a bit of a blank slate.  I had no immediate idea of what industry to place there.  As noted in the first post of this series on RR-East Eugene Development, I consulted with several fellow model railroaders in my operating crew who would understand my balancing act between operating interest and prototype modeling focus.  One of them made an excellent suggestion to look at my freight car fleet to determine if any car type appeared under-used with my modeled industries.  That quickly highlighted mill gondolas as that under-used car type.  Consulting the Eugene SPINS diagrams (Southern Pacific Industrial Numbering System), I identified a couple of steel fabricators.  American Steel seemed a good choice.


American Steel, now absorbed into American Metals, was a steel fabricator on the north side of Eugene.  It was located in the north Eugene industrial district along the Coos Bay Branch and near the Bailey Street Yard.  That yard served local Eugene industries and functioned similarly to my classification yard—serving nearby industry.  I do not have photos of the facility, but it was easy to “imagineer” a plausible set of structures with corrugated metal siding.  I added an overhead travelling crane as another plausible element which provides visual interest.


I began the industry model by preparing a plot plan, just as I did for the Nabisco bakery at the other end of the industrial siding.  This gave me a good idea of the narrow space I was dealing with between the wall and the industry spur and other tracks.  I realized quickly that I would need to modify the travelling crane model kit to fit the narrow space, while leaving a little bit of depth for an adjoining building flat.  The crane was the pacing item which would determine all of the other space allocations.


I used the Walthers Overhead Traveling Crane (933-3102) as the base for my crane.  My narrow space required me to shorten the span (depth/width) of the crane .  Similarly, my plot plan pointed to shortening the main beams.  The allocated space called for little more than a “deep flat.”  Fitting the crane to the space required removing the middle third of the travelling cross-beam.  Cutting down the four beams making up this part of the crane was an exercise using a miter box and saw and my Northwest Shortlines (NWSL) “TruSander™.”  

Shortening the traveling crane cross-beams.  The top two beams are the original kit beams.  The lower beam sets have the middle third removed.

I removed one panel from each of the long main beams, removing a post and girder panel from each.  One of those beams was to be mounted directly against the wall of a building flat, so the external diagonal braces were removed.

With the cross-beams shortened, I did not want to mount the control cab to the cross-beams, as designed for the kit. Instead, I chose a fixed location at one end of the crane assembly, with the cab mounted high and attached to the main beam.  I used one of the discarded diagonal braces from the other beam to provide a bit of underneath support for the cab.

Overhead Traveling Crane in position with the structure building flats and concrete base platform.  The control cab is mounted to the outside main beam rather than being mounted to the cross-beam assembly.

With the overhead traveling crane geometry fixed, I could move on to the building flats.  The first (right) section ended up 100 scale-feet long.  The second section bumped out toward the track.  Using my plot plan, I found it could be 18 scale-feet deep and 80 scale-feet long while still providing proper clearance alongside the track.  Both the first section and middle section have roll-up doors.  The center section door fits between its front wall and the first section wall, facing the open space that includes the traveling crane.  I had to trim a 12-feet wide door to 10-feet to fit the tight space.  Once I had the first two building sections roughly built and sitting in the industry space against the wall, I felt I needed a third section on the left.  I suspected this might be the case so I already had some of the pieces prepared.

I chose once again to use siding, roofing and doors from the Clever Models Steel Collection.  I have found the printed visual texture of these files to be quite compelling, even at fairly close-range viewing.  This certainly fit what I needed for building flats.  I used siding and roofing from the “large steel mill” kit and doors from the texture collection.  My investment in this Clever Models collection continues to pay huge dividends of completed structure models on my railroad.  Most of the pieces I used were printed on 65-lb cardstock and glued to foam-core board.  I use UHU glue sticks for the adhesive between cardstock and foam-core board.  UHU glue is similar to Elmer’s Glue, but I find it better and longer lasting in this application.  Fortunately, my local art supply store stocks it.  I cut-in the two roll-up doors for a bit of added depth.  The smaller access doors were paper prints mounted within cut-outs of the siding cardstock with cardstock framing on the outside.  Though subtle, the bit of added depth helps.  

The American Steel sign on the middle structure was done by creating the sign in PowerPoint and then printing it on a previously printed siding card.  I used this sign technique previously at Rosboro Lumber in my Springfield scene.  For the American Steel sign, experimentation led me to setting the text transparency at 30%.  This provided some of the corrugated panel representation showing through the sign letters.

I cut a base for this industry from 0.040-inch thick styrene.  I scribed concrete joint lines in the exposed platform area in front of the right building section.  I added 0.125-inch thick footings for the travelling crane support posts.  All of this concrete area was painted with a Rustoleum “Chalked” gray paint “rattle can.”  I attempted to weather the platform area with AIM Products weathering powders, just as I have done on other concrete work on my layout.  This application was not successful, as I got the weathering too dark and too rusty.  I returned with a light overspray of the gray paint.  The platform remains a bit darker than the straight paint.  I may return to weathering with a different medium, such as Pan Pastels.  

I attached the building sections to the base, forming a three-foot long building flat.  I trimmed the roof overhang of the right section in notches for the overhead traveling crane support posts and then attached that main beam section with the posts attached to both the building flat walls and the footings.  The outside main crane beam and support structure will need to be glued to the layout covering for its permanent installation.

American Steel ready for business.

Another view of American Steel.

As I worked with the plot plan and designed the building flats, I noted my industry spur track slanted slightly toward the wall.  I did not want to build structure flats with roofs having diagonal cuts such as the Nabisco Bakery at the other end of this industry sector.  Instead, I pulled up the track and carefully re-laid it to parallel the wall.  I used a pair of NMRA clearance gauges to ensure both the spur and industry siding had proper clearance while also keeping the traveling crane support structure out of harm’s way.  This effort was successful and led to a similar effort a couple of spurs down at Eugene Freeze where a similar track alignment and spacing issue revealed itself once I built the structure.  Both industry spurs now provide what limited space they can for their industries while maintaining track clearance.  

Structure models for the industries in this new industrial district are nearly done.  In contrast to most earlier industry efforts where the initial rail service was to empty spots with folded index card signs, these industries have developed into two- or three-dimensional models in advance of that service.  The next operating session should be interesting!