Wednesday, January 18, 2017

San Clemente, CA on my layout

Another signature stop on my home layout, besides San Juan Capistrano, is San Clemente. Here's where the Surf Line really hits the surf or in other words the Pacific Ocean. The tracks line the ocean only a couple of feet away and getting off the train you are on the beach right away.

San Clemente gained a new depot in 1931. Built by the ATSF, the one-storey structure was designed in the Spanish Revival style; a low gabled roof of red tile sheltered walls of white stucco. It was a combination depot with a freight room at one end, indicated by a heavy wood door and lack of windows. The passenger waiting room was marked by a small pavilion with a segmented arch entryway. The depot only remained opened nine years before it was closed and then torn down in 1964. (exerpt from

There are not many pictures or information about the tiny stucco depot. I had to start from these few pictures, a drawing and the dimensions of its foot print.

The drawing of the depot is on the first pages of the Coast Line Depots book and at least shows the trackside view of the depot. I enlarged the drawing on a copier until I reached the scale length of the building. Verifying the height of standard door and window sizes, I finally had a pretty good plan to work from. I approximated the depth of the depot and comparing it with the photos I was ready to start my next scratchbuilding project.

I must admid, that the beginning of the construction already started almost six years ago. I completed the freight room and the office building to the stage in the above picture. Other commitments and projects had higher priorities that this depot.

The passenger shelter was the next segment of the depot that I built. By looking at the pictures and the drawing it looks like the depot was built in three steps, like I did. Not only the different building parts are unique, but also the orientation and the shape of the three roofs.
It is certainly easier to build a standard structure under one roof, than this one. But that's what makes if a special challenge.

On the passenger shelter roof there is another smaller roof topped off with an ornate chimney. The slope of the smaller roof is the same than the main roof.

I built the chimney from scrap bits and pieces.

The walls of the chimney are brick sheet and the diamond shaped elements are from a piece of Kibri styrene chain link fencing. The top cover is a piece of angle stock.

The walls were all built using plain styrene sheet. To achieve the stucco finish I used stucco sheets made by Plastruct, laminated to the plain walls.

Then I glued the three building segments together.

All I could guess from my available pictures was one rear window. The freight room had no windows and the passenger shelter an arched opening to the rear also.

Now the depot is basically ready for the paint shop.

This will be the location of the depot on my layout.

This was a somehow challenging build, but again it is aother signature structure that I'm proud to have on my Surf Line.

Stay tuned for another structure built from pictures only, the San Clemente outhouse. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Yet another Tank House

After I had finished my John Krohn Tank House, which consists mainly in one single structure, I wanted to build yet another one, a little bit different.

While browsing the net for pictures of tank houses, I stumbled over the Stanley Ranch Tank House that's actually part of the Garden Grove Historical Society's Stanley Ranch Museum Historical Village.

The tank tower reminded me of a railroad watertank and I figured out that if I would find a suitable model, I would simply plank the timber bents and add a shed to it as a stand-in for a free-lanced close-to-prototype tank house.

The search for a suitable model proved to be not as easy as I'd expected. Most of the recent models were either too big or too expensive. I would only need the timber supports for my project and the rest will go to my parts box, so a cheaper model was needed. Fortunately the Model Power Water Tank did the job.

I assembled the timber bents as per the instructions, using the base of the model as a guide to align the sides until the glue had dried. But before I assembled the supports I sanded the sides smooth to eliminate the bolt heads on the cross braces. I filled in strips of .020 styrene to obtain a equalized surface to glue the siding onto.

As a base for the long shed I used a Walthers office shanty which I had lying around already assembled. I discarded the window and door castings as well as the roof. I cut pieces of novelty siding to size to fit around the tank tower. I made a cutout for a Grandt Line 5-panel door casting.
I also covered the tank platform with scribed siding to simulate planking and lined the sides with strip styrene.

I cut openings for a window and a freight door into the right siding of the shed. On the tank tower I also used the protruding timbers with the small platform. It serves as an access platform to the water tank. This tank house has no interior stairway, so I will lean a ladder against the small platform to get to the tank.

Because the tank tower walls lean inwards, I had to fit the sidewalls of the shed accordingly. This is achieved by a bit of trial and error and a few passes with a sanding stick. Then I glued the two sidewalls to each side of the Walthers shed. As shown in the picture, I used the locations of one side and the rear window as a guide for the openings of the new windows. Because the new side walls are longer than the original Walthers shed, I installed the freight door there. I also fitted the missing floor in between the original shed and the tank using a piece of .060" styrene. 

For the end wall and the window location I used the Walthers shed as a guide and glued the new wall directly to the old shed wall.

Contrary to the John Krohn Tank House, which has an enclosed water tank, this one is open. The tank on the Stanley Ranch Tank House is rather small and the one from the railroad water tank too big. I looked around for something in between. I choose a piece from a mailing tube with 2" diameter. I left the plastic plug in one side and planked the side with 1x6 and 1x4 scale lumber strips cut to size using my NWSL Chopper.

I applied a small bead of carpenters glue to the carton base and spread it with an old paintbrush. Then I applied the wood strips. This goes very straight forward.

I made a new roof for the shed using Plastruct Shingle sheet cut to size.

I stained the water tank with a mix of a few drops of India Ink and Isopropyl Alcohol. I applied the stain with an old paint brush. As this was my vacation project I had forgotten to take the stain mix with me. Otherwise I would have stained the wood before applying it to the mailing tube.

This view shows the ladder leaning to the small platform to access the water tank.
All the subassemblies and roof are only put in place and not glued yet. Now the tank house is ready for the paint shop.

Stay tuned for the finish.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Building a Tank House (Part 4 and finish)

 Just in time for the World Water Day, I finished my Tank House. I placed it in an appropriate surrounding for the photo, although this is not the final emplacement.

But to this step, there were still some other to do first.

Using my jig to hold the stringers, assembling the stairs was fairly easy. I attached the stairs to the second floor landing on the upper end and to a piece of plain styrene, representing a concrete footing, at the other end.

Then I glued the posts in place, taking care to keep everything straight.

I used 4x8 strip styrene for the handrails. I've cut the different pieces to size and then sanded each part until it fit snuggly between the posts. A drop of liquid cement attached them permanently.

I painted the structure white and after the paint had dried over night, I installed the staircase. As you'll see I added another sheet of styrene, to represent a concrete slab under the staircase. I tried it without, but the whole assembly would be too woobly and could only be fixed correctly when placing it on the layout.

While the glue was setting, I turned to the roof. I covered the styrene roof panels with double sided tape. This sticks very well to styrene and gives a more secure hold for the shingles.

I inteded to use the tab shingles from AMB Laser Kit, but found the package almost empty, so I decided to use the diamond shingles instead.

The shingle sheets from AMB come on self sticking backing and they are easily attached strip by strip. I approximately measured the strips I needed for each row and cut them to size. Then I peeled the backing paper off and attached the strip to the sticky roof. When finished with one side I just cut the extending strips off along the roof line with scissors.

For additional information I can only recommend the book "Tankhouse, Californias redwood water towers from a bygone era, by Thomas Cooper. I fortunately found a signed copy by the author on the internet. It shows many different types of tankhouses and what the owners made out of them since municipal water management made most of them obsolete.

Finally putting the different sub-assemblies together was a snap.

Here are the views from all the four sides. Only need some decent weathering and than it's ready for the layout.

Oh yes, I also added the shaft that powered the pump. The final place for the tankhouse is still to be determined. I shot it in an appropriate environment for now.

Well that's it for this project. Stay tuned for more to come.