Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Traffic in (and out) of a plywood plant

Most of the industries along the Central Vermont, at least in Vermont, can be summed up in one word - lumber. 
Furniture makers, door and window manufacturers, and even ski and baseball bat manufacturers all had one thing in common - their raw material was primarily hardwoods harvested from the verdent Green Mountains. One could even say another famed Vermont product - maple syrup - was directly related to the lumber industry.  
So it was no surprise to me when I learned one of the larger industries (click on photo above to enlarge) along the CV yard in Richford was a plywood manufacturing facility. Specifically, this  particular plant specialized in making plywood shipping crates for shipping a variety of items, including "special talking machines." 
So the outbound shipments are fairly obvious. Plywood crates, shipped flat in "shooks" (kind of like the Ikea of its day, I guess!) that can go almost anywhere other products are made. 

But I'm wondering what, if anything, would be shipped in to the plant?
To make plywood you start with a log, strip the bark, and slice it into thin strips, called "plys."Glue is applied to the plys and they are stacked with the grain running alternate directions from one layer to the next and then they are subject to high temperature steam before the stacked plys are placed into a hydraulic press (below) that laminates the layers together forming, you guessed it, "plywood." 
The raw sheets are then heated and stacked to dry, and will eventually be cut to size and/or sanded before being shipped to the customer (the illustrations with this post came from a 1921 Atlas Co. brochure - you can find the entire brochure HERE). 
I'm fairly certain the plant in Richford generated enough wood scrap that the boilers - visible at the location of the stacks in the photo above - were likely wood fired, but who knows - it's possible they were coal fired or the coal provided supplemental power to the plant. 
"Adhesive" of some sort may also have been delivered to the plant - at least that seems fairly logical. I don't believe the plant received wood by rail, although it may have in earlier times or in the event a unique species of wood was needed. 
Turning up the brochure has given me enough knowledge to press forward with planning how to model the industry on the layout. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Model Railroad Hobbyist and Podcasts

Couple of quick updates - 

Although I haven't written anything for a couple of years for Model Railroad Hobbyist, Joe Fugate asked me to participate in the 100th issue version of the "Getting Real" column. You can find that here: 
The fantastic images in that issue of Mike Confalone's latest visit to Allagash country are well worth your time. 

The column produced some interesting comments - some of which went down a rabbit hole and led to some interesting, and widely divergent, commentary dealing with spouses, money, and the hobby. 
And somewhat out of the blue Lionel Strang asked me to appear on his "A Modelers Life" podcast to update him on what I'm doing. We spent almost as much time talking about the Navy as we did model railroading. You can find it here:
A few weeks ago I got a short spot for an update on Tom Barbalet's Model Rail Radio (Show #141) podcast - you can find it here: 

Friday, May 25, 2018

IKEA Ivar Benchwork - User Report

I first saw the IKEA Ivar system used for model railroad benchwork at Bernie Kempinski's. (See his blog post HERE). 
Pricing dimensional lumber can be a bit of shock. And picking through the stacks of torqued/twisted and warped lumber at the home improvement center searching for straight lumber can drive you downright nuts. 
The IKEA Ivar turns out to be less expensive than clear pine - and it's precut and ready to assemble into a stable, good looking layout base. 
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I'm going to try the IKEA Ivar system for the basic structure of the layout. Greg Stubbings saw that and offered the following experiences he has had with the same system: 

We have a number a mutual friends and have met a few times over the years.  Last time was at Dick Elwell"s place, I was running trains and you were buying Dick's CV 2-8-0 ! Stic and Bernie were also there.  I model CNR in the Lindsay Ontario are in fall 1957.
Anyway, I follow your blog with interest and noticed that you were considering using IKEA IVAR bookshelves as a basis for your benchwork.  I did this 2 years ago and found they worked very well.  They go together fast, are temperature and humidity  stable, sturdy, readily available, cost effective and you can put them up with only one person.  Best of all, you have a lot of organized shelving that can be covered with drop curtains etc when guests are coming.
I used the 20 " wide shelves 48" high for most areas and 12 " wide shelves in a penninsula. On top of the L girders is 3/4 plywood and 2 X1" foam insulation board. Track ends up at about 51"
The only modification that I made was to use levelling bolts and tee nuts on all 4 corner posts.  I used 1X3 and 1X2 pine for the L girders - good quality plywood that you have already ripped will also work.  I set each shelf unit up with at least 2 shelves (you can add more later as storage need and budget permits).  I levelled each unit.  When I had a section / phase done with a number of units, I installed the L girder on the front edge and back edge with a level and clamps.  Depending on how level your floor is, the position of the L girder does not always match the top of the shelving unit.  I also used smaller L girders on a horizontal plane so that I could attach the plywood  top from below.  It is amazing how sturdy these are once the L girders are in place and the front fascia is attached.
I have attached a couple of photos.  I do not have a blog but a friend of mine, Chris Lyon has done a number of You Tube videos of my layout on his CNLVN channel. 

Take care

Greg Stubbings

Here's some photos of Greg's IVAR benchwork:

Thanks for writing Greg, and for allowing me to share your experience with readers of this blog.

I plan to follow the same basic approach as Bernie and Greg - with one exception. I'm going to use a couple of the Ivar cabinets on the "front" section of the layout. It will not only make that portion of the layout appear more finished, the points where the two sections of the layout are spanned by a removable section needs to be stable. I'm counting on the Ivar cabinets - which are plenty heavy - combined with books and magazines (or bricks!) on the shelves inside the cabinet to keep the end of the layout in place. 
Modelers lacking the tools, skills, or desire to build their benchwork from scratch might want to check out the Ivar system, perhaps combined with components from a company such as Sievers, to get their benchwork completed. I'm sure you could fill a spare room with such "screw together" benchwork in an weekend morning. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

100% Started?

The June 10 "Benchwork Started By" date is looming closer. 
But that begs the question - exactly when does construction start? 
I've gotten a good start at the Phase 1 benchwork/framing plan - basically the Richford peninsula and it's approach tracks. In fact, I'm at the point where I could start assembling open grid "boxes."
Of course, benchwork building will require some wood - as I mentioned previously Bernie was getting some 3/4" "plywood ripped into 3" boards (essentially creating strong and straight 1x3s at less cost than dimensional lumber). So he was kind enough to tack on some to his order. A whole bunch of it in fact. 
The final photo I took of the previous layout showed the scrap in the back of a truck on its way to the recycling center, it seems fitting that the first photo of the new layout mimics that - in this case the wood in Bernie's wife's car.
Having seen some local modelers use the IKEA Ivar shelving system as a base for their layouts I decided to adopt the same approach for the Richford peninsula and the "front" section of layout running the length of the room. So yesterday I drove to IKEA and managed to completely fill a Mazda6 with a bunch of Ivar components. I also picked up some stain. Next step will be staining those legs and shelves. 

Philosophical query of the day: 
Can you ever be less than 100% started on benchwork?
Does obtaining the wood count as "starting construction?"
And, if not, does staining the legs and shelves count as "starting?"
Or, does sawdust actually have to be produced to be considered 100% started?