Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Union Copper Gets a Shay

The Keystone in its shiny paint a few days after delivery. Let's hope the mining company continues to maintain this finish. Note the construction number of the engine on the sand box.

A long, steep grade leads from the main line down to the Union Copper Company mine in Copperopolis. For some time now, normal locomotives have struggled hauling loaded ore cars up the grade and lowering supply cars down. Now, the mining company has purchased a Shay locomotive fresh from the factory. It will now take over all duties on the mining company spur. Ore destined for the smelter in Stockton will be hauled by the new engine and then Stockton & Copperopolis locomotives will take over and carry the cars down the main line. 

In reality, the new Shay named Keystone for the nearby ravine of that name started out as the pieces to a Model Die Casting Shay kit purchased around 20 years ago. I finally decided to get the thing built. Using a Walker back-dating kit, I installed a new straight boiler with accompanying domes. Northwest Short Line gears were used to upgrade the ones which came with the kit. A Sagami motor completed the drive train. Assembling the Shay mechanism was not particularly difficult but care had to be taken so that the parts will all rotate smoothly. A Soundtraxx Tsunami2 decoder was installed along with a sugar cube speaker.

The painting and lettering scheme was based on builder's photos of various Shays of the 1800's. The number on the sand box is not the engine number but Lima's construction number. Looking at the prototype photos and checking the builder's lists seemed to confirm this supposition. Striping was also based on the prototype photos as was the lettering styles. It was an interesting project and, if you can locate an MDC kit, all the gears and the backdating kit are still available. You'll have to come up with your own motor as the Sagamis are no longer produced.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

A Moving Picture Made on the S&C

From the Oakdale Ledger:

The moving picture crew noted in town last week was identified as being from the Edison Motion Picture Studios. They have produced a several-minute long film made entirely on the railroad in the form of a journey from Oakdale to Copperopolis. The Ledger was able to borrow a copy of the film and it is shown below.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Seen at Milton

Special train found on Milton siding which included a photographer specializing in "moving pictures" along with a special car for his team.
From the Stockton Daily Independent

The photographer with his "camera."
Recently, one of the Independent's correspondents was passing through Milton and noticed a special train sitting on a siding. On the pilot of  the locomotive was strange-looking device mounted on a tripod. The mechanic tending the device said that it made pictures which moved. He declined to answer further questions concerned his plans or his employer's name. While this reporter has heard of experiments in such things being conducted in the East, it is unlikely that this questionable endeavor has spread to California.
     Although no more is known, this emblem was found on a several pieces of paper noted in the possession of this crew. More will follow later.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Farmington is Finally Complete

Finally, the town of Farmington is fairly complete. I say fairly because I still need to add figures and more vehicles but the basic structures and scenery are complete enough that I could clean things up run trains again. I started the scenicking about the middle of April and gradually added dirt, grass and the all the other things which make layouts look realistic. Most of the month of May was lost due to some knee problems but other structures and so on were built do it wasn't a loss.
     Here are some photos of the finished scene.

Entering Farmington from the west, the tracks cross the Stockton and Sonora Road. The bulk of the town as to the east of the tracks while warehouses are on the west. The track at the extreme left serves the depot and the team track.
Looking east on the Sonora Road, the news, tobacco and laundry building is at the left while the town store and hotel and straight over the tracks.
Laundry is done outdoors in California due to a lack of rain. This particular laundry is a franchise run by some of the Chinese citizens. Services include washing, ironing and mending.
The Oakdale Road leads south along more businesses running into the residential area at the far right.
Beyond the Corner Saloon is the small residential area followed by the Long and Owen Agricultural store and a wheat warehouse at the far right.
Long and Owen are at the far left while the Farmers' Co-op Warehouse is in the center. The San Joaquin fruit packing company is at the right with the Farmington Winery behind.

Monday, June 8, 2020

A Photographer for Stockton

The Batchelder building in downtown Stockton.
Benjamin Pierce Batchelder started his photography business in Stockton in 1853. Although he moved his business around the world, he finally settled in Stockton for good in 1872, His business address was less than a block from the main line of the Stockton & Copperopolis. Batchelder died in 1891 but his wife, Nancy, continued to operate the business until at least 1895.
 
The decals were copied from a Kansas City photographer of the 1890s. The building front was painted
to resemble different types of stone used in its construction.
 My model of the Batchelder enterprise is freelanced. The Batchelder script was taken from an ad in the  Lodi Sentinel. The rest of the lettering actually came from a building of the same period in Kansas City. I liked the KC lettering particularly because of the use of the word "Kodak" as a generic term for camera. This was common in this era due to Eastman Kodak bringing easy photography to the masses for a low price.
      The structure itself is a SLM kit. It is a nice kit with good detail and is easy to assemble. I recommend them if you can fine one. The company is out of business and the kits are hard to find.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Oil Tankers on the Road


Tanks full of oil destined for the gold mills in the mountains. The railroad's tank car unloading trestle can be seen in the background.
In the hills above Milton during the 1890s, there was an oil-powered gold processing mill. Obviously, the oil had to get to the mill, so oil-powered Holt steam tractors were used to haul tanks of oil from the rail-served oil storage tank. In my last post, I showed the Rio Grande Models kit of the steam tractor. RGM also made Holt 3-wheel trailers to be used for hauling whatever the owner needed. In this case, the Mountain Traction Company needed to move oil.
   
The prototype tanks being filled at Milton at the turn of the century.
The chassis for the tanks was the RGM kit. The tanks were made using PVC pipe with Precision Scale Models tank car domes. The ends were cut out of acrylic and glued to the ends of the pipe. Thanks to Rio Grande Models, I was able to easily model this aspect of what was happening on the railroad in my time period.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Some Progress Made But Not Too Much

Downtown Farmington with most of the new structures in places. The roll of paper on the right protects the train order signal from errant spray painters.
The road past Farmington leads down to the agricultural implement dealer and the winery. Static grass has been installed in most of the areas but a few trees, a boardwalk and some other details still need to be added.
By now, I thought I would have Farmington's scenery completed. Unfortunately, my left knee developed some sort of problem which left me sitting around putting ice on it for a couple of weeks. By then, the doc had figured out what needed to be done, gave me some pain pills and, at least, I could sit and do some modeling. Now I'm pretty much back in shape and able to move on. The last few weeks were not totally non-productive, though.
   
The George Fowler Son & Co. car is an old MDC car while the flat car is a Rio Grande Models kit of a 24-foot Virginia & Truckee car.
 By May 1, I had scenicked the rearmost portions of Farmington so the town is starting to look a little more like a town. Since then, I found some neat decals for a refrigerator car and built that up using an old MDC reefer kit. Following that, I found an old kit I had forgotten about and was able to assemble two 24-foot flat cars.
   
The prototype Holt Tractor, a complicated bit of machinery run by steam and
powered by oil
One of my goals for this railroad was to show the distinctive steam traction engine which were made in California in the 1890s. Fortunately for me, the Holt Tractor (made in Stockton) was represented in a kit by Rio Grande Models. I built one of these up to haul oil from the Milton oil storage tank to the mines in the mountains. The tractor kit went together fine even though there were quite a few pieces. The prototype used small three-wheeled trailers with tanks mounted on them to move the oil. Rio Grande Models also made the trailer kits which have been assembled but the tanks have yet to be built. More on those when they are finished.
 
My model of a Holt tractor. It still needs to have some trailers finished to haul the oil but this is a start. The kit is composed of all white metal castings.
 Now to think up something else to do while the knee finishes healing.