Monday, August 3, 2015

Modeling an orange grove (Final part)

 This installment completes my orange grove project. Although it is a relatively small spot on my layout, I had to build 50 orange trees. For this grove I only explored two methods of upgrading ready-made trees from Woodland Scenics and Life Like. The cellulose sponge method as described by the Corona Model Railroad Society will be explored on the next grove.

Initially I only had 15 Life Like wire-brush trees, so I needed to add clump foliage to some 35 deciduous trees from Woodland Scenics (# TR1502) These trees are 1 1/4 to 2" tall, but compared to an almost round orange tree, they looked rather bare.

I tried to glue the foliage with carpenters white glue, but quickly found out that it took too long to set and that the foliage clumps did not adhere well, ending in a real mess.
Hob-E-Tac adhesive from Woodland Scenics proved to be the ideal glue for this project. Although it sticks to almost everything, it holds the foliage clumps tight in place.

I already used this adhesive successfully when I covered the San Juan Capistrano depot with vines.

I filled the tree with clump foliage until it had its distinctive round shape

After the adhesive had dried I sprayed the trees with 3M (or similar) spray adhesive and rolled them into a finer grade of foliage.

The final step was an overspray of strong hairspray and then I sprinkled the Woodland Scenics oranges all around.

After the whole batch had dried overnight, they were ready to be planted.

Before finishing the project I continued the orchard on the backdrop, adding one small Woodland Scenics (#TR1501) deciduous tree at the beginning of each painted row

The smaller trees in the left center of the picture above give a bit of distance to the scene. When inspected closer, they could as well be young orange trees.

If I compare the two tree types I would rather use the Life Like trees again, because they already have the round shape needed for mature citrus trees. The filling in of the bare spots on the Woodland Scenics trees takes more time, but therefore gives more variety in the shape of the trees.

Well this resumes my orange grove project. I'll concentrate on finishing my country road and concentrate on another important scenic element for Southern California - palm trees. I have a bunch of ready-made and kit palms, but I'll also try to build some from scratch.

Stay tuned!

Oh, BTW. I thank all my faithfull followers of this blog for their precious help and advice all along this project.  

Friday, July 31, 2015

Modeling an orange grove (Part 4)

The weather forecast announces frost for the night. Time to inspect the orchard heaters and fill them up with oil. The smudge pots were developed after a disastrous freeze in Southern California in January 1913 wiped out a whole crop.

When the air temperature reaches 29°F (-2°C) the pots are ignited. For each additional degree of drop, another hole is opened on the control cap. Below 25°F there's nothing more that can be done to enhance the heating effects.

The citrus growers needed a lot of workers to keep the pots burning.

Photo from a brochure
A smudge pot or orchard heater is an oil-burning device used to prevent frost on fruit trees. Usually it has a large round base with a chimney coming out of the middle of the base. The smudge pot is placed between trees in an orchard. The burning oil creates some heat, but more importantly, a large amount of smoke, particulates, carbon dioxide and water vapor. This artificial smog forms a blanket that blocks infrared light, thereby preventing radiative cooling that would otherwise caus or worsen frost. (Low clouds can have a similar "infrared blanket" effect, which is why cloudy nights tend to be warmer than clear-sky nights. (Source Wikipedia)

Century Foundry Metal Works ( sells HO scale smudge pots. I painted the white metal castings aluminum with some black on the chimney and also added some Rust-All. Then I placed them between the rows of orange trees.

This smudge pot has been recently lit off, as the exhaust on a fully hot pot becomes almost invisible with a mere hint of red/orange flame. Note that the filler/flue cap is in the fully open position (all holes open) (Source: Wikipedia)

In this picture from the Library of Congress we see a view of smudge pots in an orange grove on Victoria Avenue in Arlington Heights, Riverside, California. Following WWII, air pollution captured the public's attention and orchard heaters, like smoking diesel trucks and open burning at garbage dumps, were a signigicant and visible source of smod. In 1950, the Orange County Air Pollution Control District adopted a regulation prohibiting the use of dirty fuels, including old tires and used motor oil in smudge pots.

During the 1950s, growers started using wind machines in place of smudge pots. But orchard heaters only fell out of use completely by the 1970's (!!)

The ground between the rows of citrus trees  was regularly plowed and disked to smooth the earth. Weeds were controlled by chemicals like weedoil and others.

Stay tuned for more on modeling an orange grove

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Modeling an orange grove (Part 3)

The first row of orange trees is planted. In the meantime I learned some new facts about the "old" method of irrigation. Every row of orange trees has two ditches or furrows on each side. One close to the stem and the other along the drip line of the trees. Unfortunately my ditches were already cut and the ground cover in, so I only have one ditch on each side.







I've found the two photos above on the Library of Congress site. The left picture shows a weir at the head of a row of orange trees, with the irrigation furrows on both sides. The right view also shows two standpipes that distribute the water to the weirs via underground pipeline. Both pictures were shot in an orchard in Arlington Heights, Riverside, California

I tried Woodland Scenics Realistic Water to fill the ditches with water, but found the next morning that everything had dried up an the water was gone. I wanted that a "wet" look remains along the ditches so I thought that some kind of varnish could possibly do the trick.

A bottle of Testors Glosscote came in handy (I rarely use the glossy). With a pipette or eye dropper I filled the ditches again and the gloss seeped into the ground around the ditch leaving a wet appearance

My first batch of trees was ready to plant. In Part 2 I described how I upbraded the uniform Life Like orange trees with added foliage and Woodland Scenics oranges. To plant the trees I cut the simulated roots platform off and pushed the trunk as far into the hole in the ground until the trunk was completely inserted. On mature trees, the trunks are not visible.

 Now I only need to upgrade some 35 Woodland Scenics trees to fill the rest of the orchard

 The Life Like "wire bottle brush" trees look very realistic after additional foliage is added and they are a cheap alternative versus other brands ready made trees and less messy than the self made sponge trees. In fact no manufacturer produces realistic citrus trees at the moment, leaving us modelers to our own ingenuity.

 In the meantime I also started to scenic the surroundings of the orchard. First was the country road that I made from 3mm thick cork and painted it asphalt grey. Weeds and grass along the road will finish off this scene.

Please stand by for more on modeling an orange grove!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Modeling an orange grove (Part 2)

Over last weekend I found some time to work on my orchard on the layout.

A first mock-up with Orange tree, windmill, smudge oil tank, standpipe and weirs is shown above.

 After I routed the furrows, I painted the base a brown color and sifted fine earth (from the backyard) into the wet paint.

The available orange trees don't look like the real thing, so some upgrading was necessary. I used ready made trees from Woodland Scenics and the Orange Trees from Life Like, although these have oranges added, they look like a wire brush, so I sprayed the trees with spray adhesive (3M or similar), waited until the glue was tacky and then rolled them into a mix of medium and dark ground cover.

In the back are the ready made trees from Woodland Scenics and in the foreground the upgraded Life Like trees with foliage and oranges added.

 A first batch of some 20+ trees before I ran out of adhesive and foliage.

To attach the oranges I used a strong hairspray (the cheapest I could find, not my wife's, though) and sprinkled the Woodland Scenics oranges all around.

I sat the finished trees aside to dry. 

Next weekend I will make the rest of the orange trees (about 50+ needed) and plant them. Some ballasting of the tracks and weeds along the orchard will be added also.

So as always, stay tuned for updates.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Modeling an orange grove (Part 1)

 My packing house is ready for the fruit. Time to plant some orange seedlings and get the fruit growing.

In the photo above we see the American Fruit Growers Packing House in San Juan Capistrano on my Surf Line layout.

On a bare spot just outside of Capistrano I laid out a grid pattern spaced 22' x 22'. At the intersections of the grid I will plant the orange trees.

I mocked up a first row of trees to see if there's enough space in between for the trucks that pick-up the Field boxes. I will rework these trees to look more like orange trees. The stumps will be inserted into the baseboard so that they are not visible.

The pipes in front of every row are stand-pipes for the irrigation system. The two tanks in the background will hold oil for the smudge pots. There will also be a small fruit stand on  the country road.

The photo above shows a concrete standpipe standing in a citrus grove next to Interstate 5 near Capistrano that Bob Chaparro and Robert Simpson visited and documented during their visit.

I've cut the irrigation ditches freehand, with a router bit inserted into my Dremel motor tool, on both sides of the tree lines.

The ditches look like this with the concrete standpipes at the beginning of the rows.

The prototype standpipes are constructed from three 32" long concrete rings which are grouted together for a total of 8'8" tall. The diameter is 58". I found that the Tichy Train Group pipe loads have approximately the same size. I just needed to represent the grout lines. I applied two beads of CA all around the pipes and poured a filler powder over the CA. This powder may be used to fill crevices and bonds with CA.

When the CA had dried over night I glued some water pipes, trimmed from a kit sprue.

I used a round file to make the half round openings for the water to flow into the irrigation ditches.

The standpipes were normally covered with a wooden lid. I've cut the lids from a scrap piece of scribed siding using a compass cutter.

I painted the standpipes with concrete colour (Woodland Scenics Street color) and covered them with the wooden lids. Some are broken like on the prototype.

Stay tuned for the next step in modeling an orange grove.