M&K Sugar Mill -- An Industry for the Triple O

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Sunday, September 20, 2020 8:31 AM

Eric, 

 it is really taking shape! Re using the cans is really cool, too!

 Also, just wanted to say that your photo in GR really looks fantastic!

Congrats on that as well! 
Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Monday, September 21, 2020 7:03 PM

Paul,

 

Thanks on both accounts, the photo and the progress.  As I said elsewhere, the former was suprise and an honor!

 

The latter continues at the pace of my patience with the process of makig siding... Anneal, scribe, cut, crimp, paint, repeat... For sanity's sake - and because I can only spray about 12 cans worth of panels in the lee of our coconut tree at at time, I twidgeted away on one of the loading sheds nominal details, the drawbridge that runs from the mill, crossed the track, and allows the sacks of refined sugar and workers to cross over to the loading dock. 

 

     I made a frame of scraps from some project (mine or my father-in-law's, no idea) and bored some holes into it to serve as rotation point.  I had a piece of metal rod left over from my failed attempt to use a robotics motor to power a locomotive, and Kid-zilla and I tapped it into place.  Hey, at least it is still being used as an axle!  Affixing the door to the axle was a problem.  My original plan to use cotter pins and jewelry links proved twidgety, fragile, and visually obtrusive, so I just used thin wire to wrap around the axel, through a small hole in the brinde, and back under the door, taking advantage of low light and distance from the wire to "hide" it in plain sight.

 

     On the top of the frame, we tapped two holes and put 3mm grommets in them.  Then we ran lengths of jewelry chain through the grommets, wiring them to the bridge as we did the axle on the lower portion.  We stuck picture hanging nails through the chains on the backside to hold them in place, the glued the whole assembly to the mill.

 

   The faux draw bridge is below:

This is taken from about 5' closer than any viewers will ever get. There are a few more details to go in this area.  The first is the approach to the "pit" where the conveyor would be.  If I had a longer run of track, I'd make a small  rise.  Episodic bouts of poor MOW practices have led to the conclusion that tight turns, tight spaces, and short runs do not favor grades!  I think I'll make the approach to the "conveyor" concrete, probably using stucco to be consistent with the rest of the mill, and place timbers across the conveyor area's lip along with a few stringers underneath them and possibly alongside.  This should still meet the goal of implying some sort of depression under the tracks.  The other detail is a simulated door to the loading dock, which, as mentioned, will be made from scribed styrene and match one on the other side.  Hopefully, the hobby shop survived the latest shutdown.  

 

     Meanwhile, I located a 4' length of PVC, shown below alongside a ruler and the mill:

It needs to be tall,  but there is a point where realistic looks ridiculous, too.  At 6" above the mill roof's peak, I think it will look tall enough to be impressive without becoming a PVC Sears Towe looming over the "mountains" behind it.  Still weighing that, though...

 

 

   Before closing this update, a few thoughts on the annealed beverage can process:

 

  1. Not all cans are  equal.  Some companies make thinner cans, apparently, and they are much, much easier to work with, requiring only one run through the crimper.  
  2. It stinks.  The whole house smells like hot metal for about 3 hours.   Anneal at your own risk!

 

Updates to follow as required (anneal, scribe, cut, crimp, paint, repeat...)!

 

Eric

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Monday, September 21, 2020 7:04 PM

York1

Eric, nice work.  I've been following your progress.  Thanks for posting the photos.

 

York1,

 

Thank you, and you're welcome!

 

Eric

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Monday, September 21, 2020 9:58 PM

Eric, 

  This is very educational, for me at least! I'm learning a lot about the interior workings of the mills. I'm glad you included the shot of the ramp, I was having difficulty visualizing it, but now I see it very clearly!

I have seen mills from the outside, and at some distance. That's a great model in that it shows what is going on inside! This is the purpose of many great museum models, to teach. 

 Great progress!

Paul

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Monday, September 21, 2020 10:04 PM

Eric,

also, I wanted to ask about " annealing" the cans. Let me clarify: is this similar to how tank car shells are rolled, and then heated to remove all stresses? To keep them from springing back to their original form? You would be doing this to keep the panels flat?

Just curious....

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 4:51 PM

Paul,

 

Thanks again.  I've learened a lot about local history through this project.  Sugar was to the Kingdom / Territory / State of Hawaii what steel was to Pittsburgh in or cars to Detroit in every sense - political, social, economic, political.  It also cast a long shadow as the mills went silent.

 

From a modeling perspective, beyond techniques, this has been a learning process in selective compression, selective detailing, and selective adaptation.  That drawbridge, for instance, has no prototype of which I am aware.  It is necessary to complete the work flow, however in the chosen location.  The location, of course, would be an unlikley spot for a mill, but constraints fo the garden forced the choice.  The footprint of the mill is too small for the style that dominated the industry for the heyday of high cane and high iron, but the smaller mills were only served by estate railways and, because no one alive today remembers them and they exist only as ruins, would not be evocative of Hawaii's sugar history.

 

As for annealing, yes, this is to make it more pliable by heating.  In an earlier project, we accomplished the same things by wailing on the material with mallets.  This workd for the project in question, but we are noticing some of the material starting to curl.  It also proved less malleable during the crimping phase.  

 

Eric

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 6:48 PM

O.k., thanks!

Great technique, it could come in handy in the future.

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 10:21 PM

Pual,

 

Happy to share!  Wish I could take credit for inventing it! Still, it is tedious, and if I ever take on a large commercial structure like this again, I think I'll splurge on commercial, pre-ribbed styrene!  By the way, here , is what 100 beverage cans look like after being rendered to 4"x2.5" simulated corrugated metal siding:

Sadly, even by using the annealed, uncrimped scraps to the left, this probably not enough material  It is, however, enough material to move forward.  Spraying the siding in the lee of the coconut tree proved wasteful.  I think (pray?) I can spray the cans after they have been affixed to the foam core, but I am not sure I am willing to take the risk.  Anyway, there is enough material on hand now to continue the process of turning foam into 1:24 scale mill.  I should be able to turn-to on that tomorrow.

 

    I did spread stucco up to the dark strip that simulates the conveyor's pit.  This will let me build a shorter "bridge" over the pit itself with material on hand,  Maybe it will also enhance the impression there is a "pit" in there.  I'll size it to fit between the ties of the 12" straight tracks to hold it in place while giving it enough room to wiggle a bit laterally.  I can add some walkways on either side, too.  I am also reconsidering how best to cover the outside of the shed in the event styrene may not be available locally.  I may go back  to craftsticks, but, regardless of glue, I have found these tend to pull away from core material over time.

 

Progres...slow....but progress!

 

Eric

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Thursday, September 24, 2020 6:46 PM

Update:

I started off lightly with the future smoke stack.  Based on a suggestion from a cane railroad enthusiast in Australia, I cut my PVC "stack" to about 6" above the mill's peak.  Local  prototypes came in dark, light, and dark-and-light.  I think I am going to go with "spray can primer black" to make it stand out from the mill!  All had some sort of lip near the top I will have to emulate, too.

 

I then proceeded applying siding to the mill .  The same gentleman tipped me off to "DAP 3.0" as an adhesive.  It is foam safe, tacky enough to adhere on contact, and slow drying enough to allow for adjustments.  I needed a lot of those!

 

I decided to start with the mill's backside to allow for experimentation and mistakes.  I first marked up some basic dimensions to begin estimating the number of panels, each of which is about 4"x2.5":  

I then began experimenting with placement.  I knew there were variances in width and length of my panels, so I figured I had to leave room for overlap and screen for "too skinny" pieces, saving them for other areas near the edge.  I found that the crimping crunched the width about 1/8", so I made marks every 2 1/8".  This proved to allow for overlap and the occasional "skinny" panel.  I also dressed the edges to their tops  using a straight edge.  I found it was easier to layer glue on the foam and press panels in place than to put glue on the panels and then press them to the core.  The results are below:

Residual curl in the panels meant some did not adhere.  I am not sure if I should let this be and call it "character" or try to fix it with CA glue later.  The bond would be panel-to-panel, so there would be minimal threat to the foam underneath.  These gaps, though, are enough cause for concern to disabuse me of spray painting panels on the foam!  I have lots of annealed scrap waiting to be trimmed, crimped, and painted to cover that remaining strip of foam along the top.

 

There was only minimal overhang, and, by shear dumb luck, the placement of the panels corresponds to the sill of the windows!  See below:

Incidentally, the PLAYMOBIL crew was doing MOW work.  TONKA-Dude stepped in.

 

I'll let all this dry overnight before proceeding with the paneling.  Have I mentioned this paneling is tedius?   I'll use the technique again, but probably not on a project of this size!

 

 

Updates and progress dictates!

 

Eric

 

 

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Thursday, September 24, 2020 10:02 PM

Eric, 

coming along nicely!

Reminds me of 2 scratchbuilt projects years back...my 1:20 caboose, and a freight shed/ brachline station. On both of these, I had a sub structure of 1/8 inch , and 1/4 inch plywood, covered with a skin of coffee stirrers from Smart and Final. I had to do small sections at a time, maybe 2x2 or 3x3, and would glue the stirrers, and clamp a flat piece of scrap material to hold the stirrers flat until the glue dried.It was time consuming, but worked out O.K. 
Carry on, great job!

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Sunday, September 27, 2020 10:40 PM

Paul,

Thanks.  The problem I am having is twofold.  First, the mill is just BIG, and I scrambling to find things to hold the metal in place.  Second, I mounted the mill on an oversized piece of backerboard.  I am not sure I can stand the mill "on end" to lay a flat, heavy object on the panels.  I experimented near the apex of the roof today by robber banding a piece of scrap wood over the panels, and that seemed to work.  I also tried taping panels down, but that failed.  This week, I'll see if I've the rigth combination of bungee chords.

 

Have a great week!

 

Eric

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 2:58 AM

Progress limps along...

I puttered about last week trying different ways to get panels to lie flat.  Taking another's suggestion\, I used bungee cords (no clamps big enough!) over large flat bits of foam to hold everything in place while the glue dried. At least it stuck, but now with even more glue appearing on the visible side of panels. Super Angry Over the weekend, on a whim, I drove flat head pins into recalcitrant corners and edges.  For grins, I dipped the pins in TiteBond III in hopes it would help bind them to the foam.

Pretty? No.  Secure?  Yes.  At the limit of acceptability?  Barely... That really uneven row along the top will be out of sight, luckily.  I am finding the edges of the foam are just rounded enough to prevent a tight bond. 

Were I to do this again:

  1. I would glue the metal panels onto a plastic backing and stick that to the foam.  That way, I could've gluied anels to each side, put something over it, and weighted it down, fixing the backing to the foam core instead of individual panels
  2. Also, the panel manufacturing is just irregular enough I would have scribed the backng surface with lines 1/4" narrower and 1/4" shorter than the pieces I cut to accommodate for errors. I was able to stretch a few panels accordion style to keep a nominal vertical alignment, but the extra slop would've ensured I could overlap and/or trim to account for error.

I am hoping washes of dark earth colors and rust will got a long way to making these imperfections look like repairs with material on hand in the 1:24 world rather than crummy construction processes in the 1:1 world!  Distance from viewer can only hide so much.

Speaking of paint, my 1:24 helpers below show what primer will do to foam:

Two things to note:

  1. That would've made impressive simulated concrete!
  2. The panels would probably provide sufficient protection for the foam core had I affixed them before painting, especially if I had ensured they all overlapped.

Other items:

  1. I drove past the stack of an old mill in Waipahu last weekend (the mill is gone).  Straight.  No lip.  No platform.  Nothing!  Guess what I modeling our stack after?  Ours will be solid black, however.
  2. I may revert to popsicle sticks for the loader area rather than scribed styrene.  Sort of reverting to my comfort zone with that, but, given no one who is not PLAYMOBIL comes to help me anymore when I work on the mill, I am thinking it may be time to emphasize progress over experimentation.  Hemming and hawing to follow.

 

The program lurches forward!

 

Hope everyone's week is off to a good start!

 

Eric

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 6:03 PM

Eric,

looking fantastic! It's always a learning experience with new materials, but seems to be working out! 

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Sunday, October 18, 2020 7:23 PM

Paul,

A belated "thanks!"  

 

      Progress continued in fits and starts over the last two weeks.   I realized since my last update I had to get that loader shed done before I could finish paneling the mill.  Metal panels overlapping the wooden shed...OK.  Planks overlapping the metal panels?  Not so sure...  There were also issues of how everything needs to come together as I start to seal up the loader shed, such as the interior door to the loading dock and lighting.  Since the last update, I've been cutting popsicle sticks into scale(ish) 8' board lengths and sticking them to the foam with TiteBond III:

There have been some issues on the peaks of the shed where things are "creatively vertical" (a.k.a. skewed), so the occasional shim piece has come out of the box-o-scraps.

   

    The sheet of wood peaking out over the top will be the base of the door.  I'll glue it right to the wooden planking, again taking advantage of the distance from viewer to hide the detail of the fact the door is applied to and not cut through the wall.  A simplified version will go on the inside.  After that, I need to apply some LEDs to the underside of the loader roof, affix the roof, and return to the desultory task of applying the metal sheets to the remaining exposed faces of the mill.

 

     As an aside, I know the original plan of simulated wood siding using styrene would have looked better, given that's how I made the loading dock.  Switching to popsicle sticks brought much needed momentum to the project.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming, and the mill has to be off the lanai before then, even if some details like outbuildings are note done.  Also, I am starting to get the itch to move on to some new projects, which I cannot do with the mill sitting on the lanai!

 

     Somewhere in that time period, I also made the small "bridge" over the simulated conveyor pit:

Workers would push / rake cane onto the conveyor from walkways.  This "bridge" is overkill, but it does help to define the "pit."  There is a degree of slop to all me to jostle everything into position out on the Triple O.  Washes and weathering followed with an eye towards making a light-dark contrast to further the illusion of a "pit."  It actually works to sufficient degree as is.  Trust me!

      

Back to cutting and gluing those popsicle sticks!  I hope to have that done by the end of this week.

 

Aloha,

Eric

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Monday, October 19, 2020 10:36 PM

Eric, 

it's coming along great! The popsicle sticks bring back memories of a somewhat similar project, which was tedious, but produced a respectable result( at least to me, that is). I can not post photos at the moment, but go back to my thread " Paul's Scrapbook" from March.

Frame three is a scratchbuilt caboose that was:

1.  1:20.3

2. Based on Nevada County Narrow Gauge's only caboose, the homemade #2.

3. Artistic license was inspired by articles in GR in 2003 of the "Martin Lines". If you are not familiar, it was an early garden railroader who scratchbuilt trains and track largely from junk and scrap. I loved the rough look. It was very liberating, and decidedly un scale. This inspired me for years!

 My coffee stirrers were applied to a 1/8 " plywood substructure, which I laid a sheet of wax paper over and clamped until the glue dried. Not perfect, but I'm happy with it!
You're doing great!

You've got the Hawaiian theme, and it looks fantastic! The sugar mill will anchor the scene!

Paul

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