Coal mine project

Coaltrain Sep 27, 2004

  1. Coaltrain

    Coaltrain TrainBoard Member

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    This is my official new project kick off post. I am going to build the last significant structure on my layout and scenic the area around it. This project will include the building of a coke oven battery of 40 ovens, a coke crusher / loader, the coal tipple, and the truck receiving pit.

    The mine tipple that I am building will be an older variety with a wood frame covered with corrugated metal siding. The tipple will receiver coal from an older Drift mine opening (located out of sight) and a newly build truck receiving pit. As coal was becoming mine out in the area many tipples started to receive coal that was trucked in from other mines that did not serve a tipple.

    Also, on this tipple I will try to simulate the many additions that were added throught the years. Besides the addition of the truck receiving pit there will the addition of a new coal loading boom installed on the last track. To add the boom I had to relocate the outer mine track which required me to pull up the rails (I hand lay track) and remove the ballast and the ties that I had glued down four years ago.

    The coke ovens will also be a new addition. The ovens that I am building are being modeled after the ovens located at Pine Branch on the Interstate railroad. I am building the ovens as close to the prototype as I can. I had to scratch build the oven openings and oven doors from styrene. After building one opening and door, which took about two hours, I started to look for other options to the other 39 openings and doors I would have to build. I decided that I would use the pieces I built as masters and make some RTV molds and cast the rest in resin. I used Walthers brick sheet to make the top of the oven and I cut ten door openings leaving space on both sides of the first and last opening. The plan is to complete this section and make another mold of the whole section, and cast five sections. The three middle sections will have both ends trimmed off and the ends will have either the right side or the left side trimmed off leaven the space of brick for the ends. Below the level of the bottom of the ovens there are two layers of cut stone then cast concrete. For the cut stone I am in the process of hand carving small little stones in strips of styrene. Once I finish the stones and add the concrete I will make the new mold.

    The oven doors were a bit of a challenge because I did not have a very good picture what the doors looked like. I studied the pictures and made a decision to get as close a possible. After I finished the door and made the mold and all of the castings I found pictures of the actual doors as they look today. I compared the current door photos to the photo taken in the late 50’s and they have been changed a little. The current photo shows two larger holes in the top center of each door and the older photo shows more smaller holes, I modeled the older doors with many holes. The other nice thing about the current photos I found is that I now know that the ovens were a red brick color.

    So far I have been working on the master of the coke oven and I started to build some of the frame of the coal tipple. I have got the scenery in the area around the coke oven and I started to add ground cover around the coke tracks. I want to have some of the ground cover around the mine be freshly worked earth with very little weeds, other areas that have not been changed in a while will have more weed growth. For the soil I have been having fun finding soil of different colors of brown, black, and grays. I have mixed and blended them around along with some larger gray stones to represent mine tailings.

    Here are some photos of what things look like so far.

    Here is the resin casting kit that I purchased from my local hobby store to make the molds and the castings for the coke oven openings and doors.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a picture of the ovens that I am trying to model when they were new. (photo from Hagley Museum and Library , Westmoreland collection)
    [​IMG]

    Here is a link to what they look like today
    http://www.hagyfawbush.com/frontporch/Pine_Branch_Coke_Ovens.htm

    and here is what I have built so far. I still have one row of cut stone and then the concrete.
    [​IMG]

    here is the masters I made the mold from
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Coaltrain

    Coaltrain TrainBoard Member

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    I have been staining the wood for the tipple structure so it is ready for when I start building the tipple. To stain the wood I use acrylic artist paint, Burnt Umber and black mixed together and water to thin it like a stain.
    [​IMG]

    here is a shot of the soil that I have been playing with. the gray soil is Arizona Gravel Co. River Bed. The black and brown soil I found around my house.
    [​IMG]

    Hopefully next week I will be be able to show the finished casting of the entire coke ovens and I will start to add the details for the door tracks and supports.
     
  3. racedirector

    racedirector TrainBoard Member

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    Very nice Sir! I love the trick with making your coke oven masters - they are coming along very nicely. I will definately be keeping my beady eyes on this thread to glene as much info as I can for my own mines - especially the truck dump part and the construction of older style mines.

    Cheers
     
  4. JASON

    JASON TrainBoard Supporter

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    You've already done so much from last week,man you dont muck around.
    So you are using actual dirt from around your house?I gather you glue it down the same way as comercial stuff?
    Can I ask also,what is that shed on tracks for?I realise it's to roll between ovens ,but whats it's purpose?For the brickies or just to keep the rain out/off?
     
  5. Coaltrain

    Coaltrain TrainBoard Member

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    The "shed-on-wheels" is used to push the coke out the opening on the other side of the coke battery. As you can see in the picture every other oven has a door mounted on it and the ones in between are open, it is just the opposite on the other side of the battery. So on one side you see a door, the opposite end of that oven won't have a door. The ovens are like a hallway with an opening on one end and a door on the other.

    What happens is the door on one side is shut and the oven is tended from the other side that has no door. The oven is charged with slack coal (very fine coal) and the coal ignited. The bricks that you see on the open end is the way the oven master controls the amount of oxygen the fire gets. The oven opening is almost completely bricked up for a period of 5-7 days, during that time the oven master can add of remove brick to control the burn of the coke. When the oven is ready to be "pulled" the bricks are knocked out and the shed like machine is aligned on the door side of the oven and a large ram will push the coal out onto a cart the takes it to a dump pit where it is dumped onto a conveyor that takes it to the coke crusher

    If the coke was not to be crushed it gets pushed out of the oven onto a traveling conveyor that takes it right up into a hopper car that has been spotted in front of the oven.

    The reason why they say that when the oven is ready to be "pulled", is because in most older ovens they used long rods with hooks on the end to pull the coke out of the oven. Pine Branch was more modern and they used a machine to push the coke out.
     
  6. Coaltrain

    Coaltrain TrainBoard Member

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    here is a shot of an older set of coke ovens that are still pulled by hand. The fourth figure from the front is in the process of pulling coke out with one of the hooked rods. Two of the ovens in the picture have water hoses proped up on legs and are cooling the coke so it can be pulled. One figure is getting ready to knock out some bricks to cool another oven.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Coaltrain

    Coaltrain TrainBoard Member

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    Here is the project update for the week.

    I have been working hard on the coke ovens building the new master for the side mold I want to make. This casting business is kind of fun. I finished the side master by adding two rows of cut stone that I hand carved from two strips of 0.060 styrene and below that I glued on a scale 36" tall piece of 0.060 styrene to simulate the concrete base. I added brick sheets to the oven openings that don't have doors so I can cut open some and leave some bricked up. I needed to find some thing really flat to fasten the master to so the mold would be level; all I could find was a scrap of tile from our kitchen floor.

    I was not very happy with the resin that came in the starter kit I purchased, so I ordered some new stuff from Micro-Mark. The trouble I had with the old stuff was that it would set up so fast that I could not get the air bubbles out. I purchased some slower setting resin that claims it is water thin, it's not water thin but it is better. It might not be water thin but it is water clear and it was easy to see air bubbles that were trapped in the mold. To get rid of the bubbles I used a toothpick to pop the bubble. Although the new resin sets slower, it still kicked plenty fast, I was able to demold the part every 10-15 minutes. After demolding I let the parts sit on a flat surface for a couple hours to harden.

    So far I have all of the oven sides done and I spliced them all together. There are vertical steel beams that support the door hoist rail that will cover the seams in the bricks where my splices are. The splice joint in the concrete will be filled with model putty and sanded smooth.

    After I get the basic oven model build I will have to make more masters for molds of the door hardware, oven filling openings on top, and the concrete blocks that support the tram that rides on top of the oven. Then I will paint and finish mounting the whole model on the layout and do the scenery. The coke-pushing machine will be last.

    The tipple also made some progress. I build most of the wood structure while I was waiting for resin to set. The concrete footings are made from pink foam that I cut to look like footings.


    new master, mold, and resin
    [​IMG]

    Forty ovens waiting to go to work.
    [​IMG]

    close up of oven casting
    [​IMG]

    progress on the tipple. The bent that has the top section of vertical post cut out will have siding covering it. I will also need to repair the back drop, the hill was taller when I painted it.
    [​IMG]


    sorry for the blurry pictures, my batteries must have been going. I'll make sure the next ones are in better focus.

    [ May 12, 2005, 03:14 PM: Message edited by: Coaltrain ]
     
  8. racedirector

    racedirector TrainBoard Member

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    Excellent progress! This whole scene is going to be impressive. Can hardly wait for the next installment! :D
     
  9. Alan

    Alan Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    This is certainly a very ambitious and impressive project! Excellent and interesting progress so far. I would never get something like that finished, so it is great to be able to watch someone else do it :rolleyes:
     
  10. disisme

    disisme TrainBoard Supporter

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    Coaltrain, do you have any photos of a working tipple from the side you photgraphed and from the 'coalface' side? It'd be nice to see those alongside your completed work [​IMG]
     
  11. ak-milw

    ak-milw TrainBoard Member

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    Coal Train, You really jump in with both feet and go!!!! Excellent work so far, I really enjoy watching your scenes come together! [​IMG]
     
  12. Comet

    Comet E-Mail Bounces

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    Absolutely beautiful! Your craftsmanship is awe-inspiring.
    Bill
     
  13. Coaltrain

    Coaltrain TrainBoard Member

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    Disisme;

    I have many pictures of tipples that I model from, all of which are published photos in books. The tipple I am making here is not a specific prototype, I am just using parts of tipples I see in photos and building it to fit the location. As of yet, I'm not exactly sure what the tipple will look like on top of the frame I have build so far. Later this week I will start to play with the walls until I get something that looks like what I see in my head.

    I will look for some pictures that look somewhat like the tipple I am building.

    Thanks everyone for the kind words. The coke ovens are taking a lot out of me. The amount of detail that is left to build is daunting and if it wasn't for the fact that I want to have new progress photos to post every week I would not even be this far along, which is why I like doing these post, they keep me focused.
     
  14. Coaltrain

    Coaltrain TrainBoard Member

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    Not much to show this week. I did assemble the coke ovens and I have started to paint them. The painting is going very slow. I am off to the hobby store to try and get a better brush to do the detail painting. I will post some pictures later, after I get it painted. I also started to gather the supplies to build the door hardware. I will be glad when the coke oven is done, only because the repitition is getting boring (painting 40 door casings by hand is boring me to death).
     
  15. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    All I can say is: WOW!

    Have you ever thought of having this project published in one of the major model RR publications?(the coke ovens, that is) I think you could get this in print with no problems.
     
  16. Coaltrain

    Coaltrain TrainBoard Member

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    I've thought about it, but I did an artical on building a steam locomotive a few years back for MR and it was more work than I ever thought it would be. Also, there are some parts of this coke oven that I am going to have to freelance because I can't find any photos the show some of the things I need to know.

    [ May 12, 2005, 03:17 PM: Message edited by: Coaltrain ]
     
  17. Coaltrain

    Coaltrain TrainBoard Member

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    Not much to show this week either, it is getting to be winter here in Minnesota and I had to close up the house. We already had temps below freezing this weekend.

    I started to build on the tipple so I can take a break from the coke ovens. There was so much repetitive work on the ovens that I was going crazy and I needed a change. I do have the ovens painted and ready for the final detailing. The ovens can be seen in the background of the pictures below.

    I started to add the walls to the bottom of the tipple using 0.30 styrene. I did have to add some floor joist that I had not pre-stained, so I will have to get them painted this week. The styrene walls will be covered with metal siding using the same weathering that I used on my other coal loader project. I will be using Grant line window castings for the windows. I have a temporary piece of styrene in place where the coal-loading boom will be to give me an idea of how big I will have to make it. I should have more time this week and I would like to have all of the upper tipple walls build and the coke ovens weathered and the door hoist rail in place.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Coaltrain

    Coaltrain TrainBoard Member

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    Ok, I know it has only been a few days since the last post, but I am going fishing this weekend with my son and then we are going to put the boat away for the winter and pull in the dock, so I won't be doing anymore work on trains this weekend. I also got a little inspired to go back to work on the coke ovens after the nice break I took building the tipple.

    Unfortunately I discovered an error in my ovens that I decided it was too late to change, so I will have to live with it. I discovered that my ovens are about 16 scale inches too tall. My ovens were never meant to be an exact copy because when I get to building the end where the coke is dumped into a conveyor for transfer to the coke crusher I will have to freelance it because there are no pictures of that area.

    Anyways, what I did this first part of the week was to build the 21 brackets that hold the door rail up. I was putting this off because I did not know how I was going to build 21 identical brackets per side. My first thought was to build one and make a RTV mold and cast them, but I figured that they would be too delicate and I was also having trouble casting very thin parts without getting air bubbles trapped in the mold. I knew that making them from brass would be best but the thought of soldering together 21 brackets had me looking for short cuts. One trouble that I was having is that the front of the ovens slopes back yet the rail support is level.

    After much thought I decided to suck it up and make them from brass. I made a soldering jig and a cutting / bending jig and had at it. I did all of the work over a four-day period, taking breaks so I would not go crazy and start rushing. I used DA brass strips 0.015 x 0.060 to make the brackets.

    After I had the brackets made I started to think what would be the best way to mount them on the ovens. I decided that I would drill two 0.20 holes in each bracket, one in the center of the "L" that hooks over the top of the oven wall and one in the bottom of the vertical part of the bracket. I soldered two short pins (one in each hole) to each bracket and I drilled two holes in the coke oven to mount the brackets to the side of the ovens. I wanted to pin the brackets to the ovens so I could solder the door rail to the brackets and then remove the entire assemble for painting.

    The photos below show where I am at so far. The ovens are basically painted except for the black that has to be painted around each oven door. I would have finished painting the doors except my paintbrush was not in very good shape and I have to go buy a new one. There is still some detail painting to do on the ovens and some touch up painting. I also will weather them before I add the railing back on. I also started to add the concrete supports for the tram rail on top of the ovens.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [ 21. October 2004, 13:13: Message edited by: Coaltrain ]
     
  19. racedirector

    racedirector TrainBoard Member

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    Wow Jeff!! Your patience is WAY better than mine will ever be.

    Even with the extra 16" in height, your ovens look awesome - a damn fine job Sir! They are going to be a real showpiece of the Derby area.

    BTW, enjoy your fishing while you can. Have a great weekend.

    Cheers
     
  20. Coaltrain

    Coaltrain TrainBoard Member

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    I have decided to stick with the coke oven part of this project until it is finished. The repetition is driving me crazy. I knew that everything on the coke ovens would have to be scratch built, but I had no idea what that really meant. I ran out of RTV from my molding kit and to keep cost down I tried using bath tub caulking to make the mold for the oven filling openings on top of the battery. The caulk is working ok but after only 20 parts I have already gone through 3 molds before they would get a tear. I have about 18 more to go.

    I have been taking breaks from working on one part of the ovens to work on a different part. When I get tired of casting oven top openings I cut and glue some ties for the coke pushing machine. When I get tired of cutting and gluing ties I build tram over head wire supports, and so on.

    I did weather the ovens and the door hoist rail. I also added the tram rail footings made from styrene. The top of the ovens are covered in what looks like sand or gravel, which I am guessing is for insulation reasons. I will add about an 1/8" of sand to the top of the oven battery when all of the top detail is in place.

    I had a hard time trying to get the foam level where the ovens was going to be, so I cut out the foam and I am using a thin piece of plywood for the base. This has worked out well because I can do all of the detail work at the work bench. I also noticed in the picture of the prototype that the oven pushing machine rails were at a lower elevation than the train rails, so I cut down the scenery and made the plywood oven base mount a little below the top of my roadbed. I will have to do a little scenery repair.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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