Thursday, April 6, 2017

Danbury Turntable

Danbury Turntable

The turntable at Danbury served a nine stall round house in the steam era.  Installed in 1917 the 95' turntable was located at the East end of the Danbury yard along with other steam era servicing facilities of coal, water and sand. The turntable was used into and thru the Diesel era by the New Haven Railroad and continued use after the New Haven was merged into the Penn Central in 1969.

The turntable can be seen in the lower right in the Danbury yard aerial photo below.

The turntable appears still in a serviceable condition in these the two photos I took in the late 1970's during the early Conrail era.

Decline and Restoration

The turntable eventually became unserviceable under Conrail ownership and fell into disrepair, the pit was filled in with trash and debris from the yard. Fortunately the turntable was never removed.

A second life for the turntable began with the incorporation of the Danbury Railway Museum in 1994. By 1998 the once neglected turntable had been restored to a serviceable condition by the efforts of the dedicated hard working volunteer members of the museum. More about the restoration can be read here. Today visitors to the museum can take a 360° ride on the turntable.


During the modeling era of the layout the turntable and roundhouse were still in use. Below are photos of the turntable as it appeared in the 1950's, this is the look modeling efforts will try to achieve.

The Model

A motorized offering from Walthers below will be used as a beginning for the model, next post will show an effort to "Danbury-ize" this turntable.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Modeling Danbury - Signature Structures, Freight House, Finishing Up

Loading Docks

The loading dock models for the freight house were built separately from the freight house then added to the layout scene after finished structure was in place. Thinking was that it would be easiest to integrate ballast, weeds and other assorted items into the scene that would naturally be under the wooden dock and around the freestanding auto dock before they were in place.

The Freight House Dock

The prototype dock is constructed entirely of wood, surrounds the freight house on three sides then continues beyond the easterly end approximately 90 feet. There are two stair cases on the west end and a ramp on the east end.

The model dock was built with sheet styrene and strips. The underside of the dock during construction is shown below. A simple jig was made to construct the 66 support bents and a spacer block was made to equally space and keep the bents square when gluing them to the bottom of the docks decking.

The top side of a section of the dock after the support bents were glued it place.

At 54" in actual length the finished dock is an impressive size model in its own right.

The Auto Unloading Dock

The free standing auto dock that was at the east end of the freight house is the only remnant of the freight house that still exists today, it is on the grounds of the Danbury Railway Museum.

The kindly folks at the museum permitted me to go into the yard to take measurements and the photos shown below for modeling reference.


As seen above the prototype dock and ramp were constructed with a rail tie surround filled with sand/gravel and topped with a concrete pad.

On the model foam board insulation is subsututed for the sand, styrene sheet for the concrete and strips are used for the tie surround.

Completed Freight House Photos

Below are some photos of the freight house installed on the layout.

This was a lengthy build in time and dimension, but was a fun build! The freight house is now the nucleus of the Danbury portion of the layout. Still needed is some freight for the docks, trucks and grease spots left by them in the driveway, all those neat details that will come in time.

Now it is time to run the daily symbol and extra freights that run thru and in and out of Danbury.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Modeling Danbury - Signature Structures, Danbury Freight House Part 3

As mentioned in the last post it took some time to collect enough reference photos to be comfortable in building an accurate model of the yard side of the original single story section of the Danbury freight house.

The three photos found most useful are below. The first is a cropped version of a early 1900's photo shown in part one, this shows the number of freight doors and their spacing.

Click to enlarge photos.
The next photo shows the types of siding used, freight door design, the spacing between the vertical support posts of the long side, the building end with window and the eve support brackets on both sides. The loading dock detail will be useful when modeling that.

This last photo taken of a photo that hangs in the Danbury Rail Museum became very useful because the camera flash unexpectedly went off while taking the photo. The flash fortunately illuminated the photo, and by enlarging this photo showed that there was a freight door, siding and eve support difference only in the segment of the building shown between the two red lines in the photo below.

The freight door, siding and eve support differences highlighted by that photo are represented in that same segment of the completed model below.

Modeling The Sides

The long sides of the single story model are about 30 actual inches in length. There are over 100 individual pieces to be cut and fitted then mated/glued together. Because of the large number of pieces to be joined and the length of the sides, all these joints would need reinforcement from behind for strength and linear stability.

To achieve the reinforcement necessary the sides were built in two layers. The first layer being a plain one piece reinforcement layer cut to the overall height and length dimensions of the side. The second layer being the visible layer with the multiple pieces glued over the first layer, the one piece first layer reinforcing all the joints of the second layer simultaneously. Both layers are .040 styrene.

The below photos show the numerous board and batten, V groove, door jamb and vertical support second layer pieces being test fit over the one piece first layer.

Normally these sides would have been built on a glass work surface but they are to long for the one on hand so a piece of tempered Masonite was subsututed.

The next two photos show that all the lower siding, door jamb and support pieces that will be painted the darker brown color have been permanently glued to the first layer.

Below the darker brown color has been applied and the remaining pieces now painted the lighter cream color are being glued and slid into place.

The completed side.

With all the second layer pieces painted and securely glued in place, the openings in the first layer for the freight doors can now be cut out.

The Freight Doors

Below one of the freight doors is being assembled. The styles, rails and center mullion have already been glued to the V groove door panel, cross bracing is being glued in place to complete the door.

When there are angles needing to be cut that are not of the usual 30° -  45° -  60° -  90° as with the angled cuts for cross bracing above, a temporary fence cut to the angle degree required is made for The Chopper. In the below photo one of those plastic cards received in junk mail works very well for this application.

A few passes with a file smooth all the pieces glued onto the door panel to the same plain.

Just before painting and in lieu of getting out the bondo, rubbing a soft eraser of  a #2 pencil over the joints of the glued on door detail pieces fills in the gaps (fitting mistakes) between these pieces quite well.

To give the freight doors the ability to slide open and closed, door guides were made for the top and bottom of the doors. Below the top guides are being glued to the top inside of the of the buildings exterior side pieces.

After the building sides were glued to the foundation and floor, the bottom door guides were glued the building floor. To give the doors the ability to slide freely a small clearance gap between the all the guides and the back of the doors is necessary. In need of something to create these clearance gaps and would not be effected by the Tenax solvent glue used to attach the guides, a slick .012" business card from Pierre Oliver that came with the purchase of some detail parts at a RPM meet served that purpose well. Thank you Pierre.

Supporting The Roof

With the opening freight doors exposing the interior freight handling area, this area of the model was made to be completely open from obstructions from side to side and end to end. A ceiling was put in place over this long open span to affix the bulkheads necessary to adequately support the roof.

While browsing a hobby shop several years ago I came across these eve support brackets below made by Alexander Scale Models. Still at their original $1 for 12 pieces price they were a real find. These brackets are very close in detail to those of the prototype.

Note in the background of the photo below that a stone fa├žade has been applied to the foundation simulating the prototype , looking at the photo above one can see what a waste of time this was after the loading dock will be permanently in place!

Some of the eve brackets on the end of the building.

This post is way to long, so next post will finish up with the the freight dock, the free standing concrete topped auto unloading dock, and some photos of the finished freight house at home on the layout.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Modeling Danbury - Signature Structures, Danbury Freight House Part 2

References For Modeling

The Danbury freight house was demolished by Conrail sometime during the late 1980's or early 90's, ending any possibilities of measuring or photographing the structure. Most photos taken in Danbury are focused on the rolling stock at that location, photos that include the freight house in the background usually only show the western end of the two story portion like the photo I took in the 80's below.

Click to enlarge photos

This photo and others are useful if dated for determining era specific condition and changes made to the structure and are helpful in sizing this end of the building. The 1930-40 era photos in the last post were very helpful in sizing the long side of the two story portion partly shown above.

On the layout, the yard side and two ends are viewed from the operators isle. Precious few photos of the long yard side of the freight house have surfaced but enough that I was fairly confidant an accurate model could be built.

I went to the Danbury yard frequently in the 70's and 80's, I rarely took photos and if I did it was usually of ex- New Haven equipment. I never took any photos just of the freight house, in retrospect what a mistake! Fortunately I did take two photos of the turntable which will be handy later, wish I had taken more.

Sizing The Structure

The 1930 - 40 era photos in the last post were helpful in sizing the width and length of the two story portion. The two east end photos of the longer original single story portion were helpful in sizing that end.

What was the overall length of the freight house? On the New Haven valuation map the length scales out to about 345 feet. The 1970's photo below shows that 6 box cars approximately equal the same length of the structure. In that era most box cars were 50', it looks like 5 are 50' and one a shorter 40' car. Using this photo as a reference I figured the length to be approximately 310' which would fit the room available on the layout so this length was initially chosen for the model.

The Modeled Two Story Office/Freight Portion

The freight house model is built with Clapboard, V-Grove, Board & Batten and plain sheet styrene plus various sizes and shapes of strip styrene. Tichy windows and small doors were used, larger freight doors are scratch built.

The below photo shows that the building ends and three bulkheads have been affixed to the two story structure base. The bulkheads will help support the sides and make the building seem not so hollow when looking thru the windows. The foundation for the single story longer portion of the freight house is also present but not attached to the two story portion at this time.

The usual method of securing structures in place on the layout over dowel pins inserted into the layout base will not be used with the freight house. Because of the length of the building and slight undulations in the layout surface I thought that bolting the structure down would offer the best finished result. The below photo shows the building foundations being temporarily held in place with 1/8" clecos so that the larger holes for the permanent bolts can be drilled simultaneously thru the foundations and layout base. Nuts will be permanently affixed to the inside of the foundations and bolts will come up thru the bottom of the layout base securing the structure in place and flat to the base surface.

The prototype building sides have clapboard siding on the top and v-grove on the bottom and a color change where they meet. The upper and lower sides were built individually, painted in their respective colors and then permanently joined after painting for a crisp color separation line. The two separate side pieces can be seen below.

Sometime before the modeling era of the layout, two of the freight doors and part of the loading dock on the lower side of the building were removed and replaced with three smaller windows and an office door. In the photo below taken close to the modeled era, two of the replacement windows and the door can be seen. Note that although the paint on the clapboards surrounding the new windows is the same color it is not as weathered as the remainder of the building indicating that only the replacement clapboards were painted after the remodel.

This photo shows the finished side has now been attached to the building. A light base coat of gray weathering has be sprayed on the building except the area of the remodel described above, more weathering to follow.

An exterior brick chimney was added sometime after the prototype buildings original construction. The chimney was built thru the eve of the existing roof, I thought it would be easier to fit the chimney to the roof and building if the roof was made in two layers.

The chimney is tapered so it had to be attached to the structure before the second layer of the roof was permanently in place. The chimney is also made with styrene, it is covered with peal and stick brick paper.

A unique fire escape ladder was attached to this side the building at a second story window, one was modeled with phosphor bronze wire.

The photo below shows the gutters and down spouts being added, the fire escape is now in place. The peal and stick roofing shingles have been fitted to the roof. Some additional weathering has been done to the building sides with pan pastels.

Next post will have a look at the construction of the longer single story portion.