Full Version: CPR 40 Ton Coaling Tower Scratchbuilding
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Good Evening Everyone,

It's been quite sometime since I last posted on the board. I've been doing other... stuff. Quite frankly, modelling was getting me down. I found I was spending more time on the internet looking a MRR'ing stuff instead of actually doing any modelling! So I took a break from it all and focused on other more personal things as I recharged.

That said, I've been quite active the last couple of months and gave myself a reality check and a swift kick in the backside. I still play with trains and dream of the day when I'll finally have some scenery to brag about on my Kootenay Branch Line... getting there. But I am trying to get some of the track side structures out of the way before I start to focus on that stuff. I've had the drawings for the 40 Ton Coaling Plant for sometime and always wondered if I could use one on my layout. I've recently developed a real affinity for steam and figured out a way to work one into the operating scheme of the layout.

So that said, without further ado, lets get started. I apologize for the first few photos as they were taken with my phone and the resolution is not that great.


The build was started simply enough I guess. I laid out measurements for the four "trestles" that make up the lower timbers for the Coaling Plant. I made one mistake with the two middle trestles in that the front timbers were supposed to be 8x12's. I used 8x8's for all of the them. Unfortunately I did not catch this mistake until much later in the build. What can you do?


The cross timbers and wailing timbers added. The challenge here was to get it all square and true without things getting askew. I used a combination of squares and even the Fast Tracks tools to get everything lined up and held in place while the glue dried sufficiently. (I use carpenters glue, its more forgiving then CA if you make a mistake and need to take something apart and re-glue).


Here I've added the floor timbers for the bin.


In this photo I've added some cross bracing and completed just about all the work on the lower portion of the structure... except I was feeling a bit gutsy and decided to scratch build a ladder...


...and attach it to the back of the tower.

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Here I am building the three uprights for the Bin Tower as I likened to call it during the build. Same methods as before. I drew out the dimensions on a piece of paper, laid wax paper over top to keep the glue from sticking, squared them up and tacked everything in place.

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Then I cut a bunch of "3x12's" out of some cereal box.

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...and started to plank the bottom of the bin as well as the front as well.

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Shortly after came the walls for the bin. You may notice different pieces come and go in different pictures. I cannot tell you how many times I test fitted and refined the fit of certain pieces until I was happy with their appearance.

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Once I was happy with the fit of the bin walls, I glued the three uprights for the Coaling Plant Tower in place.

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Time to start thinking about the roof framing...

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Here I've added the back wall for the 2x6 that is the roof line for the back.

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Now adding the rest of the roof timbers. I didn't worry about making an exact 2x6 frame. i just needed something to glue the card stock roof to, that's all.

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Motoring right along, I made some "1x6" wall pieces for the roof and back walls to cover the framing. Eventually a square hole will be cut to allow a pair of timbers to exit the side for the counterweight mechanism. The top timbers for the Bin Uprights will support these timbers on the inside as well as another pulley for the coal bin.

[Image: 40TonCoalingPlant35_zpsb4b5a79f.jpg]

Oh and I added the wall for the other side as well as a window. I should add that the large roof section is not glued on yet. I won't be gluing it on until the final stages of the build.

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The structure also calls for some 4x4 blocking to fit under certain timbers. So I chopped up a bunch of little pieces and glued them to the tower.

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I was getting to a point in the build where I was feeling pretty good about how much I'd been able to do. I kept telling myself, "You are building this entire thing from scratch! Don't rush it!" So I took sometime to carefully scan the drawing again and noticed I almost missed adding another ladder and platform at the front. So I got busy and built the needed parts.

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And added them to the front of the structure.

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It was about this time I started to think about the Motor House for the Plant. A small simple structure, but not without it's details and worth taking the time to build properly. I also fabricated the covered thing... I honestly don't know what it's called... for the pipes and cable for the bin counter weight and mechanisms.

[Image: 40TonCoalingPlant54_zps8b5d4935.jpg]

It was also high time I prepped a base for this all to sit on eventually. So I drew a '"site plan" on a piece of paper, cut out a piece of 1/4 ply and used some 3M Spray adhesive to glue it together.

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Hey, look we have footings!!!

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I also made the back wall with two windows for the Bin Tower. This will not be glued in place until I get some of the bin details built and mounted inside.

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And here is where I am at with the model right now. It will sit right on the edge of the layout. I plan to extend the bench work out a little more to accommodate a siding for a loco to spot hoppers with coal and sand as the Sand Tower I built will share this particular location. I will most likely extend the track past the Coaling Tower and also install a small diesel re-fueling station where a tank car can be spotted.

Stay tuned there is lots more to come in the days ahead.

Thanks for looking.

Welcome Nice to see you back, Shane, and quite the auspicious return it is, too. Thumbsup Thumbsup

Wow! Fantastic return!

And being a steam era modeller, I love all the associated trackside structures. This coal tower is impressive - and doubly so for being scratched.

That is a wonderful wood project. Do you work with original prototype plans? I see something that looks so on the table.
THAT, is mighty fine! My hat is off to you for your patience and careful craftsmanship. So nicely done!!!! Your self-motivating kick in the pants yielded GREAT results!!!!! Worship Worship Worship
Thank you gentlemen.

faraway Wrote:That is a wonderful wood project. Do you work with original prototype plans? I see something that looks so on the table.

I like to work with original drawings when I can.

That said, my brother is getting married this weekend and I'll be catching a plane on Thursday to fly out to see him and his awesome soon to be wife. When I come back I'll get back to work on the tower.

As a side note, I also started building a Howe Truss bridge for the club. I'll be starting a progress thread on that one in the near future as well.

Until then. Thanks again for the kind words. Cheers
That, is some serious "lumber cutting", and assembly !! Eek Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin Worship

The "covered stuff" between the tower and the hoist house, is probably the bucket hoist cables, etc.
I like the CPR sand house. I built one of those based on a 1958 Jack Work Article. more recently, built a modified version of it, with a gabled roof, and the tower, in front of the drying room, instead of above it. Shown here with an Alexander Scale models kit of a 100 ton Coal Tower.

The "Kit" didn't have quite the amount of framing, as your scratchbuild.

Looks good.. What are you going to do for Paint/stain on it???
Hey Sump, if you recall you sent me a scan of that 1958 article. I was a really big help to me and helped me finish my own sand tower. Kudos to you for your help with that one.

e-paw, I plan on using an air brush with some thinned grey paint to paint the structure. I will do several thin coats to get it covered and to hopefully eliminate any running or that too much paint look on the structure. I was thinking about staining it, but the structure would have been painted as per the drawings. The bottom two feet of the 8x8 posts though were painted with creosote so I'll try and replicate that. Once I'm happy with the paint, I'll weather it with some powders to finish it off. The mechanical bits I'll paint separately an oily or engine black to help draw the eye to them instead of making them the same uniform colour of the tower.

Well, the wedding is tomorrow! Off to rehearsal now. Take care gentlemen and have a great weekend.

Wow , you use "sour cream " to hold it all together ??? ........guess I'll switch from using it in my baked potato ... Eek .......very nice work . Thumbsup Thumbsup

All I can say is WOW.

I see you used some of my favorite scratch building material (Cereal boxes). The tower fits in well with your sand house. Do you have an ash pit for the steam loco facilities? With an ash pit you can add a hoist and spot a car at that location.
Thanks guys.

Hmmm... Ashpit. I hadn't thought of that. Space is limited. How much scale feet would be required for a small one? I only use medium to light steam as that is all the RR could accommodate i.e. 0-8-0, 2-8-0 units.
Ash pits are under the track so that part would be easy to fit in, a small conveyor/hoist thingy (think coaling bin only much much smaller in both footprint and height) can fill a hopper on a siding.

One day when I can make a hirail layout(current layout is toy / tinplate style) I will have a detailed loco facilities for both steam and diesel locomotives.
I suspect that it might be twice the length of the ashpan/firebox on a steam loco.
I would probably get a Peco inspection pit and chop it down a bit, then fill it in. These come with a long hole in the middle and mountings for rails along the sides.

I just found a picture in Engine Houses and Turntables on Canadian Railways 1850-1950. CPR at MacTier which looks like about 3 cars long (1905 hoppers - shorties).
The hoppers are parked on the next track which may be depressed. The pit is open on the one side -- rails supported on posts -- and there is a big hole going over to the hoppers. The solid side of the ashpit looks to have a sloped wall.
A couple of diagrams (CPR John Street -twice) show the "cinder plant" extending under 4 tracks and up to a fifth - presumably for loading. Ottawa CNR shows two pits with a siding between them.