Sunday, April 16, 2017

Progress at Milton

Looking a Milton from the south, the town is arranged along the east side of the town plaza with the warehouses on the west side. The Masonic Lodge looms over the entire scene.
After several months of structure and scenery construction, Milton is starting to look like a town rather than a bare piece of plywood. So far, there are 17 structures which have been built, only one of which was from a kit. That was only because I had no pictures of the building and the kit was the right size.
Looking north up the main street, the Milton Hotel is on the right with the Peterson & Dake store on the left. Stores, barber shop, saloons and a livery stable are all present. Church's Mineral Springs was a hot springs in the area.
 It was a challenge to build a whole town to scale but rewarding for me. The only thing out of scale was the depth of the scene looking from the aisle. I just did not have quite enough depth but it isn't real apparent unless you study old pictures or have visited the actual location. The structures were styrene with Grandt or Tichy windows and doors. Dimensions were taken from Sanborn insurance maps of the town. Building colors were a little trickier. I had to take educated guesses based on the varying shades of gray from the old photos and compare that with other pictures taken with the blue sensitive film of the day. The names of the establishments were taken either from photos or the town directory of the 1890s.
The Tornado Hotel was named for an 1873 tornado which ran through town and turned the under-
construction hotel on the foundation. The owner finished the building and named it accordingly.
   On the prototype, Milton was the end of the line and almost all of the goods traveling to the gold country passed over the rails to end up here. Freight wagons carried the goods to the places like Angel's Camp, San Andreas, Altaville, Sonora, Columbia and Jamestown. The large Masonic hall on the hill was the dominant building in the town and lasted until January 2016 when it burned. It was the last remaining structure in the town which was there when the railroad existed.
An overall view of the town looking from the north. All of the platforms need some "set decoration" and the streets need wagons. The Tornado Hotel is just out of the picture to the left.
 There is still a lot of work to be done to build a turntable, stock pen, livery stable and blacksmith shop as well as stock the loading platforms with goods and the streets with wagons and buggies.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Moving Pictures Come to the S&C

Last week, representatives of the Edison Studios arrived at the offices of the Stockton & Copperopolis with the intention of filming parts of the railroad. Accordingly, a position on the pilot of one our locomotives was arranged and the camera secure thereon. Several hours were spent to produce a film slightly over three minutes in length but it was worth the effort, none of the staff having seen such a presentation.
Camera Car B rolls over the Stanislaus River bridge during the filming of the movie above.
 In reality, the management purchased a Replay Prime X camera with the idea that it could be adapted to model railroad use. I had previously not been impressed with the movies I had seen of other railroads due to two factors. The first was that the camera was aimed so that much of frame was filled with images of the layout lights. The second was that, on a curve, the camera pointed away from the track rather than looking on it. These problems were solved with the camera car that the S&C shops constructed.
   The car is built on the chassis of a Mantua 4-wheel bobber caboose. Some blocking was added to the car to hold the camera with a screw to adjust its height. The result can be seen in the short movie which was made just to test the concept, and to familiarize myself with the video editing program I have. More breathtaking movies will undoubtedly follow.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Beginnings of Stock Car Service

Canda Cattle Car Company stock car 1256 waits at Oakdale along with other CCCC cars.The hatch in the roof is for filling the onboard water tank while the pipes along the roof sides distribute the water to the water trays inside the cars.

The Stockton & Copperopolis had several stock pens along its route, at Oakdale, Burnett's, Peters and Milton, perhaps a couple more. Up until now, I had no cars with which to service this traffic. Taking a break from Milton scenery, I assembled four Silver Crash Car Works resin kits. They are models of the 36-foot Canda Cattle Car Company palace stock cars from the 1890s.
    Palace stock cars were common in this period and contained food and water bins so that cattle could be fed en route without having to stop periodically to let them out of the cars. Several companies developed these cars which were then leased out to the railroads during their stock shipping season. The cars represented here were first displayed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and were used up until about 1910 or so.
Builder's photo of a CCCC stock car. These cars were built by the Ensign Manufacturing Works in Huntington West Virginia. Ensign also built a number of other cars for the Southern Pacific.
The builder's photo that I have of this car shows that it is painted a dark color, most likely red or green. Extensive research did not turn up which color these particular cars were painted so I chose a dark green just so I wouldn't have another four boxcar red cars on the railroad. Assembly was fairly straight-forward. The trucks used are Canda trucks as made by Bitter Creek Models which are a fit for these cars.
     Before 1893, Canda also had an earlier design car which was quite different and was 40 feet long. Also, the Hicks Cattle Car Company and the Streets Western Stable Car Company showed up in this part of the country and models of those will eventually be built as well.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Topside Creeper

My new creeper ready to access the far reaches of Milton.
Santa (my wife, Becky) was good to me this year in several ways. One of the more interesting ways was this Topside Creeper from Micro-Mark. Most of the benchwork on the Stockton & Copperopolis is two feet wide or less, easily accessible for operation and for work. There are a few places, though, at CP Junction, Farmington and Milton which are deeper and less accessible. This handy tool allows me to lay over the layout and do whatever work need to be done without the risk of falling through the railroad.
     I tried using it at Milton yesterday to get to some of the scenery and backdrop. It works great! There's even a tool pouch at the end so you don't have to lay your stuff on wet scenery or on the roofs of your structures. When you are done with it, the Creeper folds up into a much smaller package for storage. It is a little pricey but, since Santa bought it, the cost doesn't matter. . . . There's a fallacy with that argument but I'm still working it out.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Last Structure Before Scenery

My model of the Mason's hall will sit prominently on the highest part of town strategically placed so that arriving train passengers will see the inviting signs of the Plaza Saloon.
What was to become home to the Masons in Milton was built shortly after the railroad arrived in 1871. There is an 1871 photo which was obviously taken from the building's balcony showing the railroad depot. In 1881, the Free and Accepted Masons Keystone Lodge No. 161 of Copperopolis voted to move to Milton and did so. They were not the only tenants of the building, however. The Plaza Saloon occupied the southern portion of the first floor while a dance-cum-meeting hall had the rest. The Masons were on the second floor. Here they continued to meet until January 2016 when a fire broke out and burned the structure to the ground.
     Being the single largest and most prominent building in town, it had to be modeled. I had to the good fortune to visit Milton a few times and, during one of these visits, was invited to tour the interior of the building. I was also allowed to copy some of the old photos on the walls of the structure, some of which have been shown in this blog.
This photo, taken in November 2014, shows the southeast corner of the building. The entrance to the Masonic Lodge is through the door on the side of the building instead of the front as is portrayed on the model. 
My model of the hall was built of styrene, the only real tricky part being the fabrication of the decorations around the soffits of the building front. I only shingled one side of the roof and left the off side of the building blank since it cannot be seen from the viewing angles. Finding the right size ball to use on top of the flag pole was tricky but my wife's daughter produced a tray of beads which yielded one of the proper size.
      Milton was built on the side of a slightly rolling hill with the railroad being at the lowest part. Now I need to flesh out that hillside. I plan to use foam to build up and shape the hill which I have never done before. It should be interesting. After Christmas, I think.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Spotted While Traveling

The wagon of the well-known balloonist and alleged charlatan, Professor Marvel, was noted on the road adjacent to the S&C tracks. The professor appears to be waiting for his horse to return.
While roaming around the tracks of the Stockton & Copperopolis the other day, the wagon of Professor Marvel was sighted. A well-known charlatan and balloonist, the last known location of the professor was reportedly somewhere in Kansas.
A frame from the movie, Wizard of Oz showing the good professor's wagon.
    For those of you into old movies, you might recognize the wagon from the Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland. Recently, our daughter's high school put on the play with her daughter appearing as one of the flying monkeys. I was inspired to dig out this picture along with some original MGM Studio plans of the prop wagon and build up the model.
MGM Studios plans for the prop department.
The model was built from styrene with Jordan wheels. It looks a bit out of proportion but it follows the dimensions given on the studio drawings. I imagine that MGM just put together whatever they wanted to meet the story's requirements without regard for functionality. It was a nice diversion from working on the structures for Milton.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Milton Business Block is Growing

With the Milton Hotel at the far right, the business area of Milton stretches north (to the left) with stores, saloons, livery and a barber shop.
The business area of Milton has been growing a bit. Several structures have been constructed which make up the string of semi-flats which line the backdrop behind the town. All of the structures were based on photos of Milton, some of which have been seen in this blog. Dimensions were obtained from Sanborn Insurance maps of the town. Construction has been all of styrene using Tichy and Grandt windows and doors. The only kit used is the blue dwelling at the end of the block. It represents a boarding house which was there. A Grandt Line kit was about the right size so I used it.
The ground level slopes from the depot (left) uphill along the businesses. Foam will fill in the slope and form the road in front of the structures.
The railroad is at the lowest level of the town and the town is located on rising ground behind the depot. To get this effect, I laid out the buildings on a strip of wood, adding risers based on the elevations noted on the Sanborn maps and onsite visits. Eventually, foam will be added to form the rest of the rising ground with Sculptamold filling in the gaps.
This more elevated view shows the relationship between the businesses and the depot and warehouses along the tracks. The Mason Lodge will fit about inthe middle of where the pink foam is now located.
 The colors of the businesses are all speculation based on the shades of gray shown in the photos. Even these changed over time but I think I have a reasonable set of colors which could have existed in 1895.
      There are a couple more major structures to be built: the Tornado Hotel at the end of the block away from the Milton Hotel and the Masonic Lodge which will be between the railroad and the business block.