Monday, July 3, 2017

Livery and Blacksmith Open Shop at Milton

Stages are lined up at the passenger platform to take travelers to Sonora, Angels Camp, Chinese Camp and Jackson. The stages were part of the 12-15 vehicles built for Milton.
Since my last post in April, I have been doing quite a few things on the railroad but none that really show up. In my campaign to get Milton finished, I've built around 12-15 wagons and buggies with which to populate the town, painted around 30 figures and numerous bits of boxes, baggage and other junk to pile on the platforms. Two new structures have been added, however, which should be the last ones needed on this area of the railroad.
Martin's Livery sits next to the road leading to the town of Jenny Lind and close to the railroad tracks. A corral will be erected at the rear of the building to contain the horses.
The first new structure is Martin's Livery based on an actual livery stable in Milton in the 1890s. I knew the footprint of the building but that's about all. I could see the top of the roof in one of my overall photos but that's it so freelancing was the only way to really model it. A few months ago, I helped a friend of mine, Doug Taylor, make some decals. He wanted to repay me and asked me if I needed a structure. I gave him some drawings and Martin's Livery emerged. While Doug built the building, I painted it and added the signage but it's mostly Doug's work. I think it fits pretty well with the rest of the town.
Wagon and tool repair are a product of the Milton blacksmith, Diedrich Helm. Since he has a forge, he also gets to act as the local farrier and show horses.
The other structure was the Blacksmith shop which was adjacent to the livery stable. Since blacksmiths did a lot more than just shoeing horses, I added some welding and metal forming equipment and even included a drop hammer.
     I intended to start work on the Milton turntable this week but did not have the right size beams. These are now on order and then work will begin.
     Thanks, Doug, for your contribution to the Stockton & Copperopolis.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mining Equipment on the Move

Here are cars carrying a feeder, stamps for a stamp mills, the camshaft for the mill, a retort, crusher and Wilfley table base.
The well car with 20-foot gear. The bottom of the gear extends below the car deck, almost to the rails to provide enough clearance for the tunnels. The second car carries a steam engine frame while the third car carried the rest of the engine parts plus its flywheels.

I like loads on flat cars. With the railroad bringing goods to the gold rush country, it seems logical that some of this heavy equipment would show up on flat cars on the S&C. I had an old kit made by Western Scale Models which represented such a load of various types of mining equipment. I finally decided to put the thing together and place them on a couple of flat cars. The original plan of the kit maker was that everything would fit on two 40-foot flats. When you're using 30-foot flats, the load takes up three cars. Adding in the steam engine load from American Model Builders increases the train to 5 cars. When I had gotten this far, I realized that I had to build one of my favorite loads, a 20-foot diameter gear on a well car. This particular load was copied from 1875 newspaper articles and an photo of the car. So now we have a six-car train which, due to the gear (which barely clears the tunnel portals), will have to operate very slowly, not exceeding, say, 10 mph. We'll see how that weaves in with the other traffic on the line.
This overview of Milton shows the Tornado Hotel at the left along with a barn which is a stand-in for a livery stable and blacksmith shop to be built. The Masonic Lodge is in the center with the town stretching behind it. Alongside the tracks are the various warehouses and freight forwarders. A corral will be on this side of the tracks along with a turntable to be at the right just out of the picture.
Here is another photo of Milton which I wanted to include in the last post. I think it shows the town in a better view. As I mentioned, I still need a few structures and a turntable to round things out.

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.