Sunday, January 6, 2013

"Tweaking" the White River Junction coaling tower

Many of you know my friend Bernie Kempinski’s Alkem Scale Models made a very nice model of the Central Vermont’s coaling tower that once stood at White River Junction.  Bernie made kits for the model in both N and HO scales. If you missed the first run, he’s done a very, very limited second run of the HO scale kit.  During a big “clear out” of his basement he gave me the display model and diorama to use on my layout.  That was great, but one thing bothered me about Bernie’s sample model.  Somehow, during the drawing process, he managed to get the Central Vermont’s square logo etched on the acrylic tower as a rectangle.  (The production kits do not have this problem).  So he ended up with a very nice model of the tower with an incorrect logo. 
So, before I took delivery of the model he decided to do a little experiment and see if the rectangular logo could be filled smooth and then replaced with the proper square one.  Once the logo was filled with body putty and sanded smooth, we did a test etch by placing masking tape in the approximate position of the herald, and then loading the assembled coaling tower into the laser and lightly etched it to be sure the herald ended up in the correct spot.  Once all looked good we removed the tape and cranked the laser up!  
I made a video of the laser cutter at work.  
This whole process caused some damage to the tower (we had to remove the ladders and platform), but it survived the "procedure" remarkably well, though it needed some repairs and touch up paint (a task Bernie took care of during a work session several months later!). The coaling tower looks pretty good and is now the centerpiece of the under-construction engine servicing area at White River Junction.
While I don't recommend chucking a finished, detailed model into a laser engraver, if you feel you must, well, we know it works!


David Emery said...

Of course, it helps if you have a friend with a laser :-)

Gerard J. Fitzgerald said...


Wow!!! Putting the structure BACK into the laser cutter to make some changes is quite something. I have seen Bernie make many things with the laser but modifying a "finished" structure is quite new. Another first for Alkem Scale Models!

I am sure this will story will soon pass into prototype modeling lore.


Gerard J. Fitzgerald

Bernie said...

Absolutely compelling video!

How about a picture of the finished product?

Pierre Oliver said...

Impressive and cool.
If only all our mistakes were that easy to fix. :-)

CVSNE said...

Ask, and ye shall receive ....see 01/08/13 post