Monday, March 31, 2014

Packing House in the paint shop

On Saturday morning I took the packing house to my spray booth outside :)

I gave it 2 light coats of Tamyia haze gray paint.
For structures of this size I like to use spray cans instead of an airbrush.

After drying I had planned to weather the packing house, but as you can see, the sun was shining from a clear blue sky and with spring temps around 73°F I fired up my BBQ instead and spent the rest of the day outside and not in the basement.

Friday, March 28, 2014

AFG Packing House Part 2

 Above is an enlarged view of the packing house with the annex added to the left. At right (2 o'clock) is the depot.

This view shows the excavating works and the new supports before moving the packing house sideways.

Another old view of the packing house that dates from 1911. The picture was shot from the Mission grounds.

Frontal shot of the packing house. The street in front is Verdugo Street. (All b/w pictures from the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society)

After some trial and error measuring, cutting and fitting, I glued the slanted roof  to the supports

A distinctive addition are the three vents on the roof. I've built them using .040 clapboard siding on the sides and the corrugated siding for the roof.

This view shows the slanted side that will be placed against the backdrop

This completes the old packing house. Now its ready for the paintshop. Before placing it definitively on the layout I will board the platform. A final touch will be the roof sign. I'll describe this in the next post.
The annex building is also in the works. It will not be built from scratch, but cut on my friends laser. More on this also in a next post.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

American Fruit Growers Packing House

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are a great help in locating industries alongside track, mostly with the name of the company occupying it at the time of the drawing.

In my case it just said "Vacant Warehouse" and wood posts which means that the warehouse sits on some kind of platform, also mentioned on the map (Freight platform)

I ordered a couple of pictures from the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society, showing the different sides of the warehouse which was actually the AFG Packing House. With the footprint dimensions and the pictures on hand I was able to start my scratchbuilding project.

On the map the packinghouse was standing next to a spur track, but on recent photographs it was at amore recessed location and an annex with a sawtooth roof was added.
Some of the photos showed excavating work and new supports so my guess was that the original warehouse was moved sideways and a new annex was added as well as a second spur track.

On the right picture we see workers standing in the excavation prior to the moving of the warehouse

The warehouse had corrugated walls and roof. I used Evergreen .040" plain styrene sheet for the sub wall and laminated Plastruct corrugated sheet on to the subwalls.

I scribed the corrugated wall to represent single sheets as per the prototype.

The structure measures some 52 scale feet wide and 176 feet long. The actual length was around 200 feet.
I used triangular pieces of styrene to brace the corners and square styrene strips to reinforce the walls. A structure this long wobbles without braces.

I also included some intermediate supports to lay the roof on. Due to the shape of my track layout, the warehouse does not fit straight against the backdrop making several test fittings necessary.

Although the loading doors will not be visible after the annex is added, I nevertheless modeled them. I'm a strong defender of the idea not to model things you cannot see later, but here I did not like a long bare wall. The doors and guides are only glued on the corrugated siding, so it did not take that much skill to add.

For the elevated platform on posts I used Midwest wood sheets glued on 12x12 wood strips.
I will conceal the strips with individual boards. The surrounding platform will also be covered with 1x8 boards.

One half of the roof was glued and fixed with small clamps until the glue had set.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

San Juan Capistrano (The Model)

We model railroaders often tend to design phantasy layouts and cramp the available space with too many tracks and industries. OK, real estate is expensive and we don't want to waste it uselessly. Sometimes also we realize that what we designed and finally built doesn't work or in modelrailroad terms, cannot be operated realistically.

The "real" railroads spent millions to design their trackwork so that it may be operated and worked effectively. Not every industry along the tracks needed its own spur. Sometimes two or three shared one track. Turnouts are expensive and a hazardous spot on the mainline that could cause accidents or derailments. So their useage was well planned.

That's also my approach, and because I followed a real prototype there was no question about not using the original track layouts as far as possible.

Unfortunately most of the track is gone nowadays so I had to rely on published plans from the era I am modeling. Another great help are the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. These show all the buildings of a given date with the dimensions and designations for that particular town. Also the different streets are shown and of course the railroad tracks. For many buildings only a few more or less useable photos are available. But with the measurements of the footprints, they give us the two other dimensions we need to model these structures. The height is also easy to find out using know references like door and window heights or simply people. We don't argue about some scale inches here.

My map was dated 1928/29 and to my astonishment it did not totally correspond with later track layouts I have seen in related publications. This concerned the packing house in particular. My photos showed a much wider structure and it also had two loading spurs. The mainline was also double track because of the siding that was later added.

That's the point when I started the research part of it. Contacting the Historical Society of San Juan Capistrano made many more photos available than those already published. Slowly but steadily I collected the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Using the dimensions on the map and with a little modelers licence I've cut out the foundation for the depot and the platform.

I already had built the depot a couple of years before almost like it appeared in the early days. Unfortunately in the era I'm modeling, the depot bell tower and parts of the arches and roof were almost totally overgrown with ivy and weeds. So I decided to build another depot to fit my modeled era. I designed the foundation with a recess so that I may swap the depots if I want to move forward in time. The weed overgrown depot will be easier to build because the most difficult part - the bell tower - will only be a chunk of balsa wood.

Above is the track layout. I had to shorten the siding because of the curve around the peninsula. The loading tracks at the packing house are also a bit shorter than on the prototype.

Friday, March 7, 2014

San Juan Capistrano (The Prototype)

Before I start with my rendition of Capistrano on my home layout I want to show you some pictures of the prototype to set the scene

The city of San Juan Capistrano is the home of the 7th Mission out of 21 Missions built by Franciscan Missionaries in California. It was founded by Padre Junipero Serra on November 1st, 1776. It is also called the Jewel of the Missions.

The mission style Santa Fe depot replaced a nordic style wood frame depot in 1894. It was partly built with bricks and tiles from the ruined nearby mission. With the decline of passenger travel in the 1950's, the depot was boarded up from 1966 to 1974. Then came the restaurant period. Many came and went, and it wasn't until the present operators moved their restaurant Sarducci's to the Depot that a restaurant at this location became successful. I've already had a number of excellent meals there. (Historical data from the SJC Historical Society and the City of SJC homepage) and

The view above is from the 1940's. The bell tower was totally overgrown with weed

This view shows the depot in shining white paint in the year I was born. (Chuck Clope photo)

Looking south towards San Diego

The freight house as it looked in 1962. (Chuck Clope photo)

Today the freight house is part of the restaurant and connected to the depot building using vintage freight cars

North of the depot there is still the old maintenance of way building, although opposite of the original location

I've built the depot as it looked in the 1960's with brilliant white paint, but with the original lettering from 1895. OK I still need to weather it a bit.

I used the Classic Miniature kit instructions to make a new design of the parts and got them laser-cut.

The freight house is built using drawings from an article published by the Santa Fe Modelers Society.

I've scratchbuilt the freight house using Northeastern or Midwest wood sheets and covered the walls with putty to represent a stucco finish.

The stone foundation is from Faller embossed cardboard

The first test San Diegan comes to a stop in Capistrano on its way to Los Angeles

And again on its way back to San Diego.

I will describe the construction of the different buildings more in detail in my next posts about the building of my Capistrano in HO.