Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mr. Buschel’s Barrel & Marble Works

{My beginning to a fictitious article on the Barrel & Marble Works project written in a pseudo E. L. Moore style – set your editorial-way-back-machine to sometime in the 1970s}

One day last summer Debra and I drove down to Prince Edward County to have dinner at Bob’s Truffle Hut. Her friends had been telling her great things about the place, so we went to see for ourselves. What they didn’t tell us was there was this great model railroad-able feed mill right behind the Hut. Debra went in and got us a table and I wandered over to the building to take a look before the sun went down.

Turns out it wasn’t a mill anymore, but a recyclery, barrel maker and marble works that had taken up residence in the old building. Luckily the owner’s grandson was on the loading dock to tell me some history about the place.

Apparently granddad bought the abandoned mill in the early ‘70s to house his barrel making business, He was a big fan of Evel Knievel and thought that Mr. Knievel’s exploits would inspire an upsurge in motorcycle barrel jumping, and that meant there’d be a big demand for barrels. Well, with that and the new wineries springing up in the County, it looked like blue skies ahead for the barrel biz.

The barrels-for-cycle- jumping thing never panned out, but barrels for wine, or repurposed for furniture and other odd things provided some steady income over the years. Granddad rented out the west wing to a marble artisan in the late ‘90s, and a deal with the County saw the recyclery tacked on just a few years ago. The sun was getting low, so I snapped a few pictures and popped into the Hut before the truffles got cold.

The prototype mill is big. Too big for my 6 foot by 5 foot model railroad, so building a model of it was an exercise in selective compression. That is, picking out the parts I liked, and squeezing the dimensions down to something that was just the right size for the railroad, all the while trying to maintain the vibe of the structure that attracted me to it in the first place.

Also, I didn’t want to turn this into an exercise in overly specialized construction methods and micro-detailing, but something that could be built with fairly commonplace model railroading building materials, and only about 2 weeks of concentrated work.

Some styrene sheets, Campbell scale corrugated metal siding, window and door castings from Tichy Train Group, plus a few scraps of styrene tubing and balsa are just about all you’ll need materials wise. For tools, the standard X-acto knife, scale, angle, thick super glue, pen, pencil, and a tube of styrene glue will do it. Also, you’ll need some bottles of acrylic paints, a few brushes, and some water for clean-up, but no sprays or air-brushes.

Costs? Well, if you were actually able to just buy the exact amount of materials used in this project, you could build it for about $20 to $30. Turns out, if you don’t already have a small stash of materials leftover from other projects, you’ll need to buy the materials in the pre-packaged amounts they’re commonly sold in, so it’s going to cost more – around $30 to $40 - but you’re going to have leftovers for other projects. Which is probably a good thing, because once you have a small stash of materials there’s less of a hurdle when you start new projects. I’ll discuss how to save some cash as we go through the building process.

Now, a bit of a disclaimer: I was way off on the concentrated work bit – the elapsed time for the build was roughly 6 months of only working an hour here and ten-minutes there and doing other projects in between and so on. I’m sure you’re not as lazy or disorganized as I am!

…. and on with show.

{resetting the time-machine back to the 21th century……}


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