Mar 9, 2021
I hope my errors turn out as nice as yours. Good work!
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The photos hide a lot of flaws. Then again, I used to play in a rock band ... modeling may be similar in that the vast majority of mistakes that you make on stage never get noticed!
The biggest screw up on this model was due to my total inexperience drilling holes into plastic. There were several parts that required me to drill some relatively big holes with little room for error. Why couldn't they have simply molded the parts with the darn holes already in them??? Anyway, the first hole I drilled ended up splitting one of the precipitator pieces nearly in two! GRRRRRR. That's when I learned about modeling putty and the importance of strategic weathering! LOL
There were other trials and tribulations. That was the biggest though. When that piece nearly split in two, I really wasn't a very happy camper!
One thing about a huge industrial building such as this is that any goofs you make can, as you stated, be filled in and sanded until it resembles something that is actually "Prototypical", in that big industries probably perform big fixes that leave similar appearances behind.
Then there's the fact that only someone familiar with this kind of system would even know that a fix has been done.
So unless you spill a bucket of plastic solvent on it and thus dissolve it down to a puddle of goo, you'll be good to go.
Have you procured the necessary types of rolling stock commonly utilized by a steel mill?
And if not, do you have a source for them?
Short answer is "yes", SD90. I bought most of them a few years ago while waiting for one of the kids to free up a train room for me. Here's my current roster of private steel mill rolling stock (owned by Bee Steel):
2 ladle cars (one double-ladle and one single-ladle)
5 bottle cars (four 150-ton and one 160-ton)
2 ingot cars
1 quench car
2 GE 70 ton switchers (custom painted in Bee Steel livery)
I also have a larry car for the coke oven and a pusher too. I think I got them from Shapeway (?). It's been awhile. I have to paint and weather them.
I'll be following with interest! I've always wanted to do a blast furnace module, to the point that I purchased and still have the Walters kit, unopened, for years. But starting to realize I'll never get to construct that module.
Never say never! I had my blast furnace in a closet for a long time too. I thought I'd never get to build it!
So far, this is looking awesome!!
I've spent the last week working on the electric furnace and finishing my scratch-built hoist house for the blast furnace. The electric furnace is 80% finished; I should have it completely done by tomorrow.
Meanwhile, hoist house is FINALLY complete. It was my first attempt at scratch building anything and to tell you the truth, it gave me fits. I just didn't have the skills and everything I tried was coming out like complete garbage. At one point I actually quit on it and decided to just not build it -- but then my inner self goaded me into dusting myself off and getting back up on that ol' proverbial horse.
Anyway, I'm fairly pleased with the results. Is it Dean Freytag quality? LOL! Hell, no. But I'm satisfied with the end result -- especially knowing that it was my very first try at something like this. The lessons I learned on the hoist house will definitely come in handy when I build the blower house, which will also have to be scratch built. I expect to start that next.
I'll post some pictures of the electric furnace when that is done, but for now here are a few pics of the hoist house.
Nice work; you're eating up a lot of detail parts in completing this beast.
I know from experience how time consuming, not to mention money, that can get.
Oy! I never really thought about that, SD, but you're right. It is expensive!
I just did a quick check ... To build that tiny hoist house, this would be the rough cost for somebody starting with a clean slate and no modeling supplies other than paint and glue:
styrene sheets, h-columns and i-beams: $15
styrene column base mounts: $4
brass ladders/ladder cages kit: $17
brass railings/walkways kit: $17
vents/fans kit: $8
If I did my math correctly, that's $61! Yikes. I know, I know ... the cost all of those purchases can be amortized across several models. But still ...
I finished the electric furnace today. It was far fewer parts than the blast furnace but it still took me a few days longer than I expected. Unfortunately, I guess I'm going to have to light this baby internally after I get the power system going; it turns out that because I have it placed in a corner of my layout, it is utterly impossible to see all the inner details without them.
How do you guys usually illuminate your models internally? Do you just insert a few strategically placed LEDs, or is there some other alternative?
Anyway, here are some photos ...
So here's where we're I'm at, project wise: The blast furnace and electric furnace are complete. Here is their approximate location on the layout:
The cold air line extending out from the right of the blast furnace (along with the clean air return) will be attached to the blower house, which I will have to scratch build because I couldn't find a Walthers kit for N scale. That is the next project on the list.
With the first two structures now on the layout, it appears that the track plan I made in RailModelerPro is pretty accurate, so I won't need to make any major changes to it. Yet!
From there, I will build the rolling mill that goes on the opposite end of the mill property. Then the real fun will begin ... dipping my track-laying toe in the water by putting the initial track down that connects the rolling mill, blast furnace and electric furnace. And then getting some power up so I can at least run the Bee Steel switchers and a few mill cars between those structures!!!
That is when I am really going to be leaning on the gang here for their knowledge and tips and tricks. Making mistakes building models is one thing, but getting the track down correctly is paramount to me. That's still at least a month or two away though. I think ...
Some LED's and especially a flashing orange one for the blast furnace! I've seen campfire units available, probably would have the same "flicker" look of a blast furnace. Someone on here did something similar with a nuclear plant, I think it was.
Great work, by the way!! Keep the updates coming!
There are flashing lights available out there.
Is a possible source.
Super work! The interior of a real facility is probably really sooty/dusty or just plain grungy. I think you can't overweather a steel mill facility. With some heavy filth, some lights and maybe a flickering light to simulate the ladles, etc, you're well on your way to a realistic facility.
This is a fantastic resource, Shortround! Thank you.
Thanks, Hemi ... and you're right, I am going to have to lay down more grime on the electric mill innards. So far, I've leaned on my trusty can cans of flat black spray paint. I toyed with some weathering powders and chalks on these first two models, but I haven't enjoyed the process. I need more patience!
Thank you, Kurt. A flickering orange LED for both the blast furnace and the electric furnace WOULD look really cool.
As I mentioned earlier, I wasn't too happy that because the Electric Furnace was in the far corner of the layout, it was extremely tough all but impossible to see the many inner details of that cool structure -- which is a shame because there is a lot going on in that building! In fact, it was really eating at me all week so, after mulling it over for a few days I decided to swap the position of the Electric Furnace with the Rolling Mill.
After doing that I also took the time to fine tune the track plan to more-accurately reflect the actual track locations in relation to the blast furnace, electric furnace, and rolling mill with the RailModelerPro software. Here is the updated plan ...
Anyway, swapping the location of the two buildings helped because the electric furnace is now only against a wall on one side. Even so, it's still pretty dark inside there, so I'll still have to illuminate the inside of the furnace with some LEDs. Here is a pic to illustrate what I mean, plus an updated layout view ...
If you look into the far distance of the last shot, you can see part of the rolling mill going in (I know I said I was going to start on the blower house first, but the layout change forced me to do some initial work on the rolling mill to verify the feasibility of making the change in the first place. That tall structure out there is the rolling mill stand. Of course, Walthers only offered their elaborate mill stand kit in HO -- which I bought several years ago with plans to alter it for N scale. Then I found an N Scale mill stand from CMP Shops -- so I bought that too.
Well, guess what ... it turns out the Walthers HO mill stand is actually the same size as the N scale stand -- which begs the question: Is the N Scale stand sold by CMP too big, or is the HO stand provided in the Walthers kit too small? So I did some research this morning, looking at some mill stand manufacturer data, and I discovered that the Walther's HO kit mill stand is actually too small!!! See for yourself ... this is the Walthers "HO" mill stand (already painted by yours truly), with an unassembled section of the N scale stand (unpainted in white) sold by CMP right next to it. Sorry I didn't stand the two next to each other, but trust me -- they are the same size.
With that in mind, it really means that the Walther's "HO" reversing mill stand is actually an N scale stand being incorrectly marketed for HO. Well .. almost. The stair railings, stairways, structure support girders, furnace pit doors and a few other odds and ends that come with their kit are HO scale ... but pretty much everything else is more attuned to N. To make it fit, I am still going to have to kit bash a bit and take some liberties with the motors (mainly by removing the motor drive extensions), which stretch far beyond the entire width of the N Scale rolling mill floor plan.
I'm still playing around with the final configuration of the mill stand location, rolling tables, and pit furnace doors. I will be using Walther's HO pit furnace doors and turning them upside down and then building smaller doors to sit on top of them. I will still use the HO pit door handles that come with the Walthers kit. The Walthers HO kit comes with eight doors, but I will only use four of them because of size constraints.
I also ordered some rolling tables and a crane stand from KenRay models. Ken has some really excellent N scale steel mill accessories that are hard to find anywhere else. When those come in I will finalize the rolling mill floor plan and then get to building the rolling mill.