Monday, December 14, 2020

The Port Costa Roundhouse Mockup

I usually build mockups of structures I am going to build. In this case I purchased the HO Banta Models Port Costa 2 stall Round House kit last year. I have not started the kit but have used all the components, plans etc. to construct a mockup of the building so I will know what it will look like in place before I commit to the long process of building the actual kit. 

This is the 1956 color slide from the CCCHS collection which shows the roundhouse in the final year of steam.

This building and the availability of the kit is what sealed my choice of prototype last year. It is the central focus of the layout. I have yet to finalize the turntable, build the final station building, get serious about the landscape and finalize the trackage so this mockup starts the ball rolling for all those pieces of the project.  I can now have a good sense or what the layout will look like and the operational dimensions for moving engines in and out of the service bays and storage sidings.

This is the mockup with paper windows from scans of the kit parts as neither Tichy or other windows makers had the matching twelve pane windows on the south side and east side of the building. Normally the building is viewed looking directly north or north east so the north side and east wall have not had paper windows added. Fortunately I had plastic tubing for the boiler smokestack which matched the size of the tubing supplied in the kit. It was sprayed matte black.  

The mockup is constructed from illustration board and craft paper.  I used Cracker Barrel Barn Red for the smoked red paint the building displayed in it's final years. This is the overall context view.
The area behind the round house needs a couple more buildings for the lubricant oil shed and the pumphouse for the fuel oil bunker sump. I also need to work out the piping coming from the sump. 

Now I have to get on with decisions about the turntable which brings up a conundrum. Ron Plies sent me copies of Herman Darr's drawings of the PC roundhouse when I started this project. Those drawings indicate the building was 75 feet in length. The Banta kit building scales to an 80' length. I know the people who pushed for the kit wanted to use it with the Diamond 75 foot turntable which was then available in the late 1990's. However, most authorities indicate Port Costa had a 70 foot turntable not a 75 foot.  The Banta site plot in the instructions shows the 75 foot table and a 61 foot distance between the end of the turntable and the roundhouse doors and an 8.164 degree angle between the round house tracks.  Darr's drawing notes an angle of 10 degrees and only a 42 foot distance between the turntable and roundhouse door.  Prototype photos of the area do not answer the question as they from across the turntable and foreshorten the distances. To top off the conundrum Darr's turntable is 75 feet.  I am still at a point where I can lengthen the turntable. But I doubt I could modify the Banta kit to Darr's dimensions and angle of the tracks.

September 22, 2020
I have played around with the idea of the 75 foot turntable and have decided that it is the way I will have to go. As I said above it would be difficult to modify the Banta kit to match the shorter turntable. I tried several ideas but finally gave in an decided to mock in a 75 foot turntable. There needed to be a lot of track adjustments particularly to the west turntable approach track. After several hours of cutting and adjusting locations, this is the result.

December 14, 2020

I thought I had written this blog post but it turns out I never posted it.

The past few days I decided the roundhouse mock up needed a few features added. 

There were large vent stacks located where an engines smokestack would be on the roundhouse tracks below on the rear section of the roof. . Strangely they were painted white I first tried modeling these with scraps of illustration board, but the result was not satisfactory so I switched to scraps of sheet plastic.  Photos taken from the hillside east of the roundhouse show black colored mounting pieces that matched the slope of the roof so the rectangular vents. I finally put together the vent stacks and mounts. They were too unnatural in pure white plastic so I used a Tamiya "smoke" wash to give them a little weathering.

There were louvered vent panels on the cupola on the shown on the picture at the start of this post. I grew tired of the unadorned look of the plain front of the cupola and decided to try and improve this view. I first tried an old trick of taking a photo of the front of the roundhouse and cropping the photo to just the vents and creating an image that would print in the size of the vent area. I use the Irfanview freeware to modify the photo as has settings to allow metric print dimensions.  I pasted the result on the front of the cupola structure but was not really happy with it. 

I rummaged through my stash of plastic sheet material and found an unused sheet of N scale clapboard siding. The clapboard siding spacing was an acceptable mockup of the louvered vent panels. Using several different strip sizes I created the framing and glued the full panel together on a piece of .15 sheet.  Note that the louvers on the panels on the left were 5 feet long and the ones on the right were 6 feet long.  

I primed and then brush painted the whole piece in Tamiya XF-84 Dark Iron. After the paint dried, it came out glossy and it took several coats of dull coat to matte it down. It was still to glossy for me so I used dark coal dust weathering powder rubbed into the louvers to get even less sheen. 

I am still working on the mockup as I have no real energy and commitment to tackle the real Banta kit. I expect it may be a year of so and after I build the turntable before I feel the urge to build the kit.

I am turning my attention now to the west side of the turntable and building the water crane and poles that supported the sanding pipes to the engine service area to the north of the station.  

All this while waiting for USPS to unclog itself and deliver decals for a C&NW gondola I am working on.