Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tinkering with Tiny bits of Plastic

Lately, my model railroading efforts seem to have taken on a distinct agricultural theme, with projects including a fertilizer plant and the first step at a grain elevator. I got to thinking...

One of the signature items I often see around grain elevators are augers. Seems every elevator worth their salt has at least one or two for various duty. A grain auger would be a great scratchbuilding project, wouldn't it? One way to find out-bust out the tools, the plastic cement, and a box of scrap plastic shapes waiting for a home. After a couple of evening's work, I had progressed this far:

Then last night, I managed to add a drive line to the top of the auger, along with a pair of tire and wheel assemblies (which aren't overly realistic, but clever, I tell myself). The drive line is Plastruct rod, and the brackets are tiny bits of for sale signs. The wheels are sections of 1/4" diameter dowel with the last of my big black shrink wrap shrunk on them. The grain hopper at the bottom is a bigger chunk of sign, bent around the auger with a flat end glued on. A few minutes with some craft paint yielded this:

Here's one more view of the itsy bitsy model, just over 7" long. The auger tube scales out to 8" diameter, which is realistic. But I forgot to include some type of motor to druve the auger! Something else to figure out.

This kind of small project is rewarding. It hardly costs anything, actually, I didn't have to go out and buy anything not already on hand to do it. Progress is quick enough to not get frustrated. And it's obviously not overly difficult or I couldn't do it.

Personally, it brought back memories of days gone by, almost 30 years gone by now, when I spent two plus years working in Bismarck, ND. Mrs. L4T and I were newlyweds, and one of my tasks was to assemble augers just like this one. I've learned a couple of things in the interim-HO scale augers are a lot less work to build, and being married is just as rewarding as it was way back then.

1 comment:

Jayce Deangelo said...

Plastics like PVC, ABS, or HDPE will be just as expensive. You could try your local scrap yard for Aluminum. What about using MDF? Coat the inside with CA glue.
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