Approach Slow (Rule 284) at the west end of Big Chimney, WV

Approach Slow (Rule 284) at the west end of Big Chimney, WV

Friday, November 8, 2019


I got distracted in my recent efforts to finish up a number of projects that have been in the works for far too long. A recent post on the History of the Peavine Railroad Facebook page showed a picture of the N&W's sanding tower at Clare Yard in Cincinnati. It brought back memories of the drawings I made of the tower on the Southern in Ludlow, KY back in the early 1980's. And the photo at Clare showed some of the features that I wanted to include in the sanding tower that I've been working on for the last, ah... 35 years. So maybe this project should be included in the "finishing things up" category.

Back in 1984, I was living in an apartment in Cleveland. I decided to build a small diorama of engine service facility. It would be three tracks, a sanding tower, concrete platforms, and details that would be scratch-built based upon an article in Model Railroader. I got the tracks laid, the platforms poured, some of the details built, and had made a start on the sanding tower before other priorities got in the way. And then our cat chewed on the top of the sanding tower. Sigh. Everything went into a box to be fixed later.

Sometime later, I got inspired and opened the box. One of the biggest challenges with the project was the piping- how could I get an accurate representation of the fittings where the pipes joined one another? Remember- this was the mid-1980's and there wasn't a lot available in terms of commercial products. My solution was to use links of small chain. Individual links were removed and stretched into an oval and then slipped onto brass wire. The photo below shows the result.

While the technique worked, it was incredibly challenging. And I was still left with trying to connect the separate pieces of piping. How would they be held in place while the 2-part epoxy dried? Was epoxy even the right glue? What about soldering? After making a bit of progress, the whole mess went back in the box.

Fast forward to the recent past. I was visiting my good friend Jim Rollwage's Denver Pacific and he had just installed a sanding tower in the diesel service facility at 36th Street Yard. It had the delivery piping that I had been looking for all these years! And it certainly seemed I could bash the piping onto my tower. Jim informed me that the sanding tower was the recent Walthers kit so I promptly purchased one.

Back to the original project. For whatever reason, I decided to build two sanding towers at the time. The first progressed to the point where the ladder was installed and it was painted. The picture below shows how it looks today. Some of the piping has been removed for use on the new tower and you can see where I tried to sand off the teeth marks from the cat.

The second tower only got as far as the Plastruct frame. As it turns out, the sanding bin in the Walthers kit just happened to fit perfectly between the two I-beam uprights. And I could making the piping work. And I could add some Tichy grating and ladders. And this will take a lot of planning. And so on. And back in the box it all went. That is, until I saw the photo at Clare.

The picture below shows the progress on the new tower. Everything is coming together fairly well, and while it has taken a bit of imagineering and planning, I'm excited to get it finished.

With any luck, the railroad will actually be able to add sand to diesels in for service at Hollister Yard in the not-too-distant future. Unless, of course, I get distracted again.

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