Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Never-Ending Scratchbuild

Way back when (over a month ago, actually) the project of building some kind of rail-served fertilizer plant began. With a number of fits and starts, it continues to this very day.

That first building, while acceptable, left a lot to be desired after it was done. I didn't like the way it was layed out, the style of the building (it looked old to me), and the roof had an ugly seam. There was a lot of good that came from it as well, though, including the learning process of building with styrene. I decided a fresh start was in order, so that's what I did, start over. After a few weeks of spare time, I had come up with this:


While still far from perfect, I was much happier with this effort. It seemed to have the feel of a more modern structure, and allowed me to visualize how the product moved through the building. This evolved into the next problem, where will all this fertilizer go so I can haul some more in by rail? I needed a credible way to empty the building as well. And that's where this post came into play. What I needed was a fertilizer blending tower, and a way to get product into it. This called for a second bucket elevator, or leg.

A second Pikestuff leg was waiting to be assembled and installed at the tower, but for some reason I decided to scratch up a leg instead. Newer bucket elevators sometimes have two separate columns attached by braces every few feet. This seemed like an easy project, given the proper sizes of styrene and some plastic cement.

It is relatively easy (for the most part) and one thing I really enjoy about building this is how it caused me to study these facilities closely while driving around the state. The variations are endless. Nearly anything one can dream up likely has a prototype somewhere. That put my mind at ease while freelancing the equipment.

Now that the project may be recognizable, I decided to share a couple of photos. There's still a great deal of work to be done. One of the things I'm trying to accomplish with this project is to use as few factory parts as possible. In the photos below, all you see is Plastruct or Evergreen styrene and for-sale signs, with the single exception of the platform and rail on the elevator leg. The railing around the top of the blender tower is scratchbuilt. I expect to use another of these platforms (they are leftovers from the other elevator leg, the one feeding the warehouse) at the top of the leg, and the ladders will be either Pikestuff or Central Valley. I have the CV ladders but building the cages around them from scratch is driving me nuts so I may use the part from the Pikestuff kit in the end.


I've reached a point where a decision is called for-if the head of the elevator leg is to be painted a contrasing color (thinking about blue), it needs to happen before any more parts are installed. Not sure yet where I'm going with that, but something will happen today.


This project encompasses a bunch of "mosts" for me-most difficult, most fun, most time consuming, and hopefully in the end most rewarding. My goal is to end up with a model I can be proud of, and know that for the most part it is the product of my head and hands. It's certainly made me think about how to build things and given me new respect for the folks who design kits and write the instructions.

1 comment:

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