THE REPUBLIC OF 
TRAINWORLD 

An HO scale model railroad layout based on a 1950's to 1980's era steel town

Blog

February 14, 2018: Steel Plant Projects: PART 1; BLAST FURNACES

Posted by [email protected] on February 14, 2018 at 11:35 PM
FROM THE EXACTO KNIFE

FEBRUARY 14th, 2018: STEEL PLANT PROJECTS: PART 1; BLAST FURNACES

DULUTH BLAST FURNACE AT LEFT, JOLIET (WALTHERS) FURNACE AT RIGHT 2016 MODEL PRESENTATION


1960's PHOTO SHOWING THE SAME SETUP AT DULUTH WORKS


During June 2016, I put the model of the Trainworld City Steel Works on public display in Duluth.  I rushed for months to get the model prepared to do this, but still, it wasn't truly ready - at least not to my inner satisfaction.  Before I put the model on public display, I put it out on the layout one more time to get dimmensions right, get perspective, sizes, etc.  May 2016 was the last time the steel mill model saw the layout.   While much was done in a "crash course" to ge the model ready for the display in June,  it still has a long way to go.  This entry will detail most of those challenges that I'm trying to overcome for 2018.

THE DULUTH 1915 BLAST FURNACE
THE UNFINISHED DULUTH FURNACE DURING THE 2016 EXHIBIT

As stated above, although I rushed like mad and spent long exhausting hours in the Escape Pod trying to finish many things for the exhibt, I wasn't able to finish it all before the June 25th deadline.  The models hurt most by the lack of time in my self imposed deadline were definitly the blast furnaces.  

The Duluth blast furnace is one of two on the layout, the other being a modified Walthers BF.  The Duluth BF is unique among worldly BF's.  It was a very odd looking and strange, making it a modelers nightmare for a scratch build, and as such, I've had a lot of headaches with it and learned a lot along the way.  

#1 BLAST FURNACE UNDER CONSTRUCTION AT DULUTH. IT IS THIS FURNACE TRHAT MY MODEL IS BASED ON.

THE TWIN DULUTH BF'S UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN 1914. #1 AT LEFT, #2 AT RIGHT.


I wasn't able to finish the unique hot blast stove offtakes - which were all combined into one giant stack.  I tried a last ditch effort before the presentation to finish this by using rubber hose tubing and bending it to shape. While I got the shape and appearence close, I never did get it connected to the main stack - and it stayed that way - embarrasingly, throughout the display.

THE DULUTH STOVES BACK ON THE WORKBENCH IN THE POD, 2018.  THIS IS HOW THEY WERE LEFT DURING THE EXHIBIT

I've already begun work on the hot blast stoves, following much of Jeff Bornes photos, and those of both Duluth and Gary Works (the BF's and a lot of the mills technology were identical since they were both built around the same time) finally getting the offtakes to look somewhat respectable.  I've got some maintenance platforms and catwalks and gas mains installed as of now, with much more to do.  


THE BF STOVES AFTER SOME MODIFICATIONS - STILL A LONG WAYS OFF

While I'm going to try and get the hot blast stoves pretty close to the prototype, they aren't going to be anywhere near perfect because of my previous attempts at rushing them for display.  I could easily tear them all apart and start anew, but I think I'll just go with what I have right now and come back some day and model another set done right - swapping them out at some future point.  Remember, I'm trying to get these in a manner to be displayed this spring.

Also, because of the complexity of building any blast furnace, it's stoves and gas washers and such,  I won't be able to model with great detail as these stoves and the furnace have to go outside.  While I wish that wasn't the case, it is what it is.  I simply can't run minor gas lines of every detail on a massive outdoor layout when I have to set it up and tear it all down in a day.  So, I have to make some exceptions.

THESE DUST CATCHERS, SHOWN HERE IN 2016, MAY MAKE THEIR WAY AS PART OF THE DULUTH BLAST FURNACE COMPLEX

Also, the slag pits and slag pit cranes were borrowed from my cement plant layout for the 2016 presentation.  For the layout though, I'm thinking of making one - or just buying another Walthers kit and placing it on a base adjacent to the cast house.  This is a fairly simple project, yet one I haven't accomplished yet.

THIS SLAG CRANE IS A STANDARD UNFINISHED WALTHERS OVERHEAD CRANE KIT AND WORKS WELL FOR THIS MODEL.

Trying to finish the casthouse, casthouse base and the furnace stack will be among the final projects for the Duluth BF model.  This model wasn't built perfect.  Let's face it: the stack is a one quart milk jug, and the base is a giant PVC toilet ring.  Other parts were bought at a hardware store junk bin.  It's far from ideal, yet somehow believeable - but NOT accurate.  It's just above passable in my opinion.  When I started this furnace, I had limited photos and diagrams with which to go on.  Even Dean or Mike Rabbitt didn't have the diagrams of the BF at Duluth.  It wasn't until long AFTER I had started, that I found the schematics.  Too far along to stop and change, I decided to keep going.  What you see are the results, and as I said earlier, it's created some challenges and headaches.

THE UNFINISHED CASTHOUSE OF THE DULUTH BLAST FURNACE.

The casthouse has been a bit of a problem as well.  It was initially built on thin Evergreen legs and then supported with cross members.  They have constantly broken and been re-glued, and as you can see in the photo above, they now appear cock-eyed.  Something I'd like to replace with a sturdier base, but it's also something I've had to figure out for space constraints on the shelf in the Pod.  The solution was to build fake walls around the base so that they can be stored and presented seperatly. I'll still have to fix the legs, but at least I have a solution. You can see one of the fake walls at left.  

The cast house still has details to be added - such as a mudgun, tap drill and other interior details, pour spouts, etc,  but for the most part it's done.  Another "half" part of the cast house has yet to be built. It's essentially a shed that covers the open cast house.  Not too terribly hard to build.

Once those are ALL complete, I can detail away as I see fit....much later.  Right now, I just want it to look decent.  But hey, its come a Looooooooong way since 2012!


THE BEGINNING:  2012.  THE 1 QUART MILK JUG, A SHEET OF STYRENE, TWO STRIPS OF PLASTRUCT AND TOILET PVC BASE


TEST OF THE BLAST FURNACE MODEL AND OTHER BUILDINGS IN OUR OLD BASEMENT 2012 (THIS BASEMENT WAS WHERE I WAS GOING TO BUILD THE LAYOUT ON A PROPER WOODEN BASE - ENCOMPASING THIS ENTIRE OPEN BASEMENT)


THE BLAST FURNACE JUST PRIOR TO THE EXHIBIT IN 2016. I'M NOT HAPPY WITH THE TOP FENCING AND IT WILL BE REMOVED AND REPLACED EVENTUALLY.

THE WALTHERS or "JOLIET" BLAST FURNACE

CONSTRUCTING, OR RATHER, FABRICATING THE WALTHERS STOCK BLAST FURNACE INTO THE JOLIET FURNACE


While building the Duluth original blast furnace and stoves are a complete pain the keister, you'd figure building a stock Walthers kit furnace would be a cake walk.  It's anything but.

I bought the blast furnace kit in 2015 or so, but never put it together.  It wasn't until I had the opportunity to do the model presentation that I got cracking on it.  This isn't a model airplance or a rocket.  This thing is complex and being out of production means finding a part if you screw something up won't be either cheap or easy.

THE JOLIET BLAST FURNACE AT DULUTH, 1950's.

The Joliet blast furnace (it was informally called that around the plant since it came from the former works at Joliet)  more resembles a Walthers blast furnace, and so rather than having to scratch build another BF, I decided to buy and build a Walthers kit.  It isn't without a glitch though. 

The Joliet BF at Duluth has it's cast house going LENGTHWISE (as seen in the photo above), whereas the the Walthers kit cast house extends directly straight out from the blast furnace stack.  So, I'll have to extend the casthouse and fabricate one.  As with the other BF, I'll also have to add a slag pit and crane, but I don't see this as too much of a problem.

THE UNFINISHED WALTHERS (JOLIET) BF DURING THE 2016 MODEL EXHIBIT.   



Both furnaces used an underground highline that was enclosed.  Originally, Duluth was built with two twin 500 ton blast furnaces and an enclosed highline building made of concrete block.  In 1935, the original #2 BF was torn down and dismantled.  In 1942, an even OLDER BF from Joliet was brought up and assembled in it's place for WW2 production.  When this happened, both BF's used the same highline and it was modified to fit the "new" Joliet BF.  

For me, I've been using some old Tyco single bay engine sheds to simulate this highline shed.  At Duluth, it was two tracks, yet on my layout it's only one.  While these engine sheds are only stand in's,  I will eventually have to build a highline building that works on the layout and fits in the Escape Pod on the model storage shelf.  Something I'll have to work on.

THIS PHOTO IN 2016 SHOWS THE TWO TYCO SHEDS UN USE AS PLACE HOLDERS FOR THE BF HIGHLINE STRUCTURE, SHOWN HERE ON THE DULUTH FURNACE.  A SIMILAR ARRANGEMENT WILL BE DONE FOR THE WALTHERS/JOLIET BF - EVENTUALLY HAVING A SCRATCHBUILT STRUCTURE BUILT THAT WILL WORK FOR BOTH.

The stoves of the Walthers/Joliet BF are pretty much stock and dead on.  They still need to be completed though. Also, I removed the stock elevator that came with the Walthers BF since the Joliet BF had none.   Theres still a lot of modifications that will have to be made on the Walthers BF to get it to look close to the Duluth prototype.

In addition, as stated earlier, because these models all have to go outside to be displayed (at least for the foreseable future) I can't detail the crap out of them like I want to.  So minor gas lines, power lines, etc - things that I'd be ALL OVER doing on an indoor and stable layout, I have to leave out, just because it's not feasible to do for my current one.

I do plan on making a model BF gas main trestle in several sections, then attaching them piece by piece (or section by section) between the two BF's and the boiler houses and powerhouse/blower engine house.

COKE PLANT AND BLAST FURNACE GAS LINES AT THE DULUTH WORKS. 1982 JEFF BORNE PHOTO.  I PLAN TO BUILD SOMETHING SIMILAR TO THIS THAT'S MOBILE SO THAT I CAN PLACE IT WITH THE BF MODELS AND LINE THEM UP - IN SECTIONS.  MY VERSION OF THIS PARTICULAR SCENE WONT BE AS EXTENSIVELY DETAILED AS THIS.



THIS 1969 RARE AERIAL COLOR PHOTO (BASGEN STUDIOS) SHOWS BOTH THE ORIGINAL DULUTH BF (LEFT) AND THE JOLIET FURNACE (RIGHT).  ONE CAN SEE THE EXTENDED CAST HOUSE OF THE JOLIET FURNACE, A PROJECT I'LL HAVE TO TACKLE.  ONE CAN ALSO SEE THE TWIN TRACKED ENCLOSED HIGHLINE STRUCTURE.


Categories: From the Exacto Knife: Modelers Journal

Post a Comment

Oops!

Oops, you forgot something.

Oops!

The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

Already a member? Sign In

0 Comments

Oops! This site has expired.

If you are the site owner, please renew your premium subscription or contact support.