Archive for September, 2013

After a hiatus to put our house on the market (didn’t sell, staying where we are), I started on my chemical complex last night.

It is going to be a Dupont plastics processing plant, making plastic raw materials for other manufacturing firms. I’ve chosen to name the complex after that Dupont Washington Works that is located near my hometown of Parkersburg, WV. I won’t model the prototype directly, but a generic chemical plant that generates rail traffic.

The complex will consist of 6 structure groups – a large manufacturing building, a smaller materials processing plant, a shipping warehouse, a set of plastic pellet bin towers, a set of liquid chemical storage tanks, and an off-line office building closer to the urban district. See the diagram.

The complex will be fed by 3 tracks. The variety of in and out materials will provide the opportunity for different types of rail traffic. Loads will come in on covered hoppers (plastic pellets), tank cars (liquid chemicals), and box cars (various machinery, manufacturing and packing materials). A few hoppers of coal will be unloaded each week to generate heat and electricity for the manufacturing process. Loads out include chemical waste (tankers) and finished product (box car). Products will also be shipped by truck, which will be modelled by the warehouse.

Though the complex is active, I still want the look and feel of a space that has seen better days. There will be plenty of aged and derelict buildings. I’ve taken some inspiration (and backdrop scenes) from the Detroit Packard building, though it is a bit extreme. Lots of piping, tubes, and clutter will add interest to the scene. Most of the buildings will be scratchbuilt or kitbashed. The materials processing plant is an old Swift meat packing plant from Apline models that I build about 30 years ago. I’ve repainted it gray to simulate a concrete building. The main manufacturing will be scratchbuilt cardstock and the warehouse will be a Pikestuff warehouse modified to fit the space. Various pieces yet to be determined will represent tanks and the office building will be a Smalltown Vicky’s Fashions. Some sort of fencing and guard gate will finish off the complex.

I’ve started the paved area the under the materials processing by putting down drywall joint compound. I added black acrylic paint and spread out with a spatula. It is a little thick and hard to get smooth. I’ll try sanding once it is totally dry. Also, it shrinks a bit upon setting, causing cracks which is actually a nice effect. The tough part is controlling the amount of shrinkage, especially around the rail ties. I may have to add another layer or retouch before I’m happy.

The rest of the paved areas will be a combination of cardstock and styrene, which work successfully on the paving of Third Street. I’ll start that after I finish with the joint compound. I’ll also add ground cover, a dirt access road and details.