Monday, September 28, 2009

Building E.L. Moore's Jones Chemical Co.

E.L. Moore’s ‘Jones Chemical Company’ appeared in the March 1974 issue of Model Railroader magazine - that's the first page shown above. Like Bunn’s Feed & Seed, it’s a structure that captured my interest long ago, but when I first tried to build it, it was beyond my abilities. Now is as good a time as any to try again.

As I noted in the Bunn’s project, Mr. Moore used mainly balsa wood and basswood and paper and clear acetate and other rather humble materials to build his structures. I tried to follow his lead in the Bunn’s project, but in the end I used a lot of styrene to build the basic forms of the buildings in the complex. With the Jones project I’m going to completely abandon balsa and basswood except for things that are obviously wooden structures like the truck loading dock and some elevated platforms in the tank area. The core structures will be made from styrene or other plastics, and many of the details – like the window-frames - will be commercial items. However, I still like his paper-based method for making sheet metal panels, so I’ll still use those to help the overall appearance continue to suggest its Moorian origins.

The walls of the building are drawn on 0.040 inch sheet styrene according to the dimensions in the article; with one exception. You’ll note that in the plans the railside platform is 4 feet above ground, and the truck loading dock on the end is 3.5 feet above ground. If you want to have both loading doors open – as I do because I want to make the overall scene a little more animated than shown in the article – you’ll have a problem when installing the floor. Mr. Moore recommends a balsa floor carefully sanded to work out the problem with the door sill heights. Since in an actual building such as this the floor would probably be at a single level, I simply placed both doors 4 feet above ground, and I’ll adjust the truck loading dock dimensions accordingly.

I like working with sheet styrene, but I hate cutting out door and window openings. Previously I’ve done this by simply using a knife and steel straight edge to slice my way through the plastic along the edges of the openings. An internet search popped up a link to some instructions from the Saskatoon Railroad Modellers for making cut-outs. It’s relatively easy and works well. Simply drill out the corners of the opening (I used a small drill in a pin-vise), score along the edge of the opening with your knife and ruler (no need to go all the way through as before), flip the piece over and score an X between the holes, and finally, carefully flex the piece until the scored plastic pieces pop out. You may need to clean-up the opening with a file or sanding stick.

[How to cut out an opening]

[Step 1: Drill out the corners of the opening]
[Step 2: Score the outline of the opening with a sharp knife.]
[Step 3: On the flip-side, score an X between the holes.]
[Step 4: Flex out the piece.]
I’m using Tichy Train Group horizontal slider windows instead of Mr. Moore’s ink-ruled, scratch-built ones. I used those on Bunn’s, and they are alright, but I thought I’d use something more three-dimensional on this project. I test fit the window frames as I cut out the openings, and sanded them as necessary to make sure the frames fit before proceeding to glue the walls together. Unfortunately sometimes my sanding goes a bit astray, but not to worry, some out-of-squareness of the window openings can be tolerated because the window frame trim will hide a bit of unevenness in the opening.
And finally, here are the four walls, ready for assembly.

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