Saturday, October 27, 2012

A little walk down R.

Yesterday I had the great opportunity to walk down the R Street Corridor with Dr. Michael Schmandt as he prepares for one of his semi-regular walking tours he gives to geography students. I had a really good time and there was a lot of knowledge sharing between the two of us. I was able to provide additional bits of historical context here and there (just little things, he knows the history of the street very well indeed) and he filled me in a lot on the current state of redevelopment of the corridor as well as some of the urban geography concepts that R Street exemplifies.

I had a number of historic photos from different eras of different locations on R Street and my copy of the 1946 Southern Pacific R Street "station plan" with me. "Station" in this context comes from the railroad specific definition: "a place that is designated in the timetable by name". So it's essentially  a map of the industry sidings and the building footprints in the 1 inch = 100 foot scale. Even though it's a S.P. plan. it helpfully shows the layout of both the Western Pacific as well as the Southern Pacific tracks. Time and again we were able to compare the current state of R Street with the historic pictures and the station plan.

Along the way, Michael pointed out a number of things I didn't realize were there on R. For instance, the parking lot for Otto construction at 2nd and R features rail borders that almost assuredly came from R Street - possibly, I would speculate, from the sidings of the Western Pacific freight house that used to occupy that space.

Also I didn't know there is a pedestrian tunnel that links the older and newer CalPERS buildings, and in that tunnel is a small display of historic pictures and artifacts. The display is part of the result of the archaeological and historical research that was done before construction of the new building.

The other, and perhaps most glaring thing I've missed are the new historical plaques that were installed with the new streetscape in the 10th and R region. There are three or four of them embedded in the sidewalk at various places.
 Things you learn from plaques....I didn't know the Fuller building wasn't built by the W.P. Fuller Co
(pretty sure it was at least added onto by them though) 
It was good walk, a great conversation and I even burned a few calories while I was at it! Not bad for a Fall Friday in Sacramento.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Conductor Heads and Downspouts

As the in window air conditioners were obviously not original with the building it is not surprising that there is quite a bit of external electrical conduit on the freight office walls.  But before I can do any modeling of the electrical conduit I need to tackle the noodle at the bottom of the spaghetti: the downspout.

It still amazes me the things I learn on this project. I had to look up what the thingie was that is at the top of the downspout.  It's called a conductor head, or sometimes a leader head and it collects the rainwater, in this case from whatever drainage sloping on the otherwise flat roof, before going down the downspout.

My conductor head is just a shaped chunk of plastic square rod.  I say "just" but it took me several hours before was happy with what you see- or happy enough to stop. I'm not a sculptor, Jim! 

I even hollowed as much out of the top as I dare ---  Hopefully the top of conductor heads were open... I'm not sure if I've ever seen one from the top.  My conductor head is a little bit shorter and squater than the original but I still think it looks good. 

On the original downspout on the offices north wall it empties into a pipe with disappears in the elevated concrete walkway. I managed to find a piece of suitable pipe from my spares that, after a bit of sanding seemed to fit the bill. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

WP Freight House Details: in window air conditioners

OK, so I'm jumping the gun a little. I'm still cutting plastic for walls and dealing with windows and here I am talking details.

Sorry. Can't help it. Like many of my fellow railroad modelers, I like detail parts.

From Bob Clark's pictures of the freight office in the 1970s in the previous post, we can see quite a few of those in window air conditioners - and evidence that there were more sometime in the past. Sacramento has always had a habit of being really hot in the summer and this was one way to beat it. I've seen earlier pictures of this freight office that showed they used a combination of 1st floor awnings and these little air conditioning units.

So I picked up  this set of BLMA photo-etched (I'm assuming) stainless steel air conditioners from one of the local train shops. They fold up quickly and easily and I think they look really sharp. In one of these pictures you'll see a cast metal air conditioner from my detail part collection of doo-dads that I thought looked good enough at one time... ah progress.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Freight House on the Drop In Module

The modular club I belong to (Sacramento Modular Railroaders) is developing a new module type. We're calling these new modules 'drop-ins'.  The club owns two turn loops that have had open centers since they were built several years ago. The idea of the drop-ins is to fill those holes and also to provide the opportunity to construct mini modules that provide additional switching possibilities for our ops sessions.

They will be smallish at 18" wide by 32" long - with a single track centered on line 7" from one edge.

I'm a big fan of this new module type. Their small size means it can fit in the trunk of my car and I can quickly jump to the thing I like most about model railroading - building buildings.  I'm  scratch-building a freight house for my drop-in and it is based closely on the WP freight house that used to be at 3rd and R streets. I've written about this freight house and it's sister at 2nd and R quite a while ago here.

Since that early blog post I've asked and been given permission from Bob Clark to display some of his great pictures he took back in the 1970s of the building. You should be able to double click on the pictures to enlargeify them.

3rd street - West elevation 

freight office north elevation - the truck side
freight office south elevation

further down the south elevation - 

4th street - east elevation. That's the logo of a freight forwarder.

If I did the building in it's entirety, it would measure out to something like 42".  I was not a math major, but I believe that is more inches than I have drop in module length.  So I'm condensing the building - and I'm doing that by only modeling three railroad loading doors instead of the prototype's five. It should still look like a worthy freight house though, and I should be able to just fit it in at just under 32".

So I began cutting plastic and modifying window castings. Here are the first two walls I've been working on.  Wish me luck and the strength to persevere!   
west elevation office wall

north elevation office wall