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!