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

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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 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 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 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 York1 on Saturday, September 19, 2020 9:58 PM

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

York1 John       

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Saturday, September 19, 2020 6:01 PM

Paul,

 

Sorry, it has been a busy week.  I will try to get to those videos you recommended.

 

The mill lurches forward.  I have all the pieces and parts save stryene to convert into wood siding.  That has to wait until after the lock-down.  Over the last couple weeks, the focus has been converting cans into siding.   We found annealed  cans are much, much easier to work with than their "raw" counterparts.  It finished the flattening, and, after running them through the crimper, it is pretty easy to re-flatten them.  I first tried to cut them to shape using a template, but found it easier to simply scribe the lines using a dental tool or awl, cut them, and crimp them.  I improved upon the process by letting Oldest Son cut them:

You can see the sheets in the foreground.  I've used a grey colored primer to color and dull them up.   As I approach this phase of the project, I am trying to make sure I apply sheets of metal in ways that make sense, minimize waste, and improve drainage.  I don't want, for instance, the "wood" sheet on the loader shed to look like it is nailed to the metal on the mill proper.  

 

    I am tinkering on the drawbridge for the shed that will imply an ability to get sugar from the mill to the loading dock, and I am applying some washes to the "concrete" (stucco) foundation.  I'll add some earth tones later.  I have three doors I put together from styrene ready for dull coat.  It occurred to me I need a way to get workers up to the doors, and I am debating a ramp (easy and practical) vs. a stairwell (less easy).  I think there are logical reasons for both approaches, so I am leaning towards a ramp, using a foam core covered in concrete patch and scribed like stones.  May as well tinker with yet another technique while I am at it!

   

    Finally, and only because it is funny, I include a picture of Kid-zilla modeling my only piece of scrap PVC pipe:

That pipe won't do!  Fortunately, the hardware story had scraps of better diameter and appropriate length.

 

Updates to follow as progress dictates!

 

Eric

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Sunday, September 6, 2020 12:29 PM

Eric, those sugar cane operations sure are fascinating! Since it's supposed to get up to 117 today (!!!), I'm indoors. Been watching you tube videos of cane operations in Indonesia....

Take a look , if you get a chance.

Paul

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Friday, September 4, 2020 5:27 PM

I always like a good train project, and this is! Keep posting the updates!

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Friday, September 4, 2020 3:15 PM

Paul,

 

Thanks!  I am very pleased with the scribed styrene.  I think my next project may explore that technique a bit more in depth.  Back to the project at hand, though...

With the older kids in  virtual school, it has fallen to me to keep Kid-zilla busy during the  latest stay-at-home order.  We have been addressing some MOW issues in the morning then retreating to the shade of the lanai to work on this project.  Over the course of the week,  he helped me apply another coat of stucco for the "concrete" foundation and blacken the window frames:

   

It is really starting to come together, which makes progress easier.  Here is what it looks like:

 

     I am trying to knock out as much stuff as a I can with material on hand.  It is still too hot to anneal the beverage cans, so I have focused on the loader shed.  The entrance and exit are just big enough that some level of detail needs to be implied, even from the likely viewing angles simulated below.  I made a portal to accentate the impression of an open building, and scribed that scrap plastic to look like a deck.  The barndoor contraption seen above will be a simulated drawbridge that would drop to allow workers to transport sugar to the loading dock:

In reality, cane would come in one side and sugar would come out another, but I don't have the luxury of space of 1880-s Oahu!  I need to at least show a plausible work flow, and it will give just a hint of detail for folks that get low and lean in. 

 

   On the opposite side, I am going to have to make / imply the a door to the loading dock:

I considered cutting a hole and framing a door with scrap lumber on hand, but I found from the windows large holes leave the foam structurally compromised.  The door will have to be closed, and I will  have to  make one for the front and one for inside the shed.  Because of the thickness of the foam, I would not use it as a core for a simulated wooden frame building with train-sized pass throughs again!  

    

     I am satisfied I can simulate the wood on the interior by scribing lines with my hot knife.  I'll try to do that today.   If it looks good, I may see if I can transform foam into plausible "wood" on the outside, too, so that  can proceed.  If not, I'll wait until after the lockdown and get the proper styrene to cut, scribe, and fit to the exterior.  I'll get a nice PVC pipe for the stack and the proper adhesive for the metal siding at that time, too.

 

Updates as required!

Eric

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Monday, August 31, 2020 10:46 PM

That is really coming together nicely! I can picture the egg crates as windows. Your scribed styrene looks great !

It's workin'!

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Monday, August 31, 2020 3:34 PM

Paul,

I forgot to acknowledge your tip. I am doing as you said, and I am busy experimenting with scraps of foam and left over aluminum from a previous project. (Don't use contact cement!). I am moving on with a few other things on this project, like the roof and windows. I have to haul the whole complex back out on the tracks to determine how much detail - real or implied - I need to put into the loader shed interior. I really can't make that call looking at it in my work area.

    There has been progress, though! I had to cut off the roof peak, as it was lopsided and, of course, mounted backwards relative to the other end-piece:

Kid-zilla and I also caulked up teh seams:

I also tried to turn scrap plastic, source and type unknown, into a deck:

I had never tried to scribe plastic to look like wood before.  I'm impressed; so was my daughter!  Once the stay-at-home order lifts, I'll get some proper styrene to line the outer walls of the loader shed, scribing it and stressing it to look like wood as well.

 

  Bill Barnwell had a great idea to use egg crate for large windows.  The pieces are cut and painted.  They will run just under the roof line on three sides and should look very similar in style to some of the older buildings in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.

   I still have to anneal the cans in the oven.  It's just been too hot for that!

 

Updates to follow as merited!

Eric

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 3:09 PM

Test #2.

I applied a line of glue at the top of test piece of siding under assumption it would channelize slightly and run down the piece sufficiently to make a firm bond. Since I intend to let the siding overlap, I can always put a drop of CA glue on the bottom to hold it fast to the panel beneath it.

 

I am still mulling over windows. The mills ran 24 hours, so they should have lighting. I doubt, though, the mills had glass over the real things. Still, I am thinking of using plastic "glass," rough it up with sandpaper, and running a micro-LED or two behind it just for the effect. Of course, that means I still have to figure out how to make the roof removeable...

 

Eric

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, August 18, 2020 3:45 PM
Thanks, Vic. I used TiteBond III yestearday, smearing it on a piece of foam and mounting it vertically. Then I applied a scrap of aluminum and let it sit. Success! The next test used and actually crimped piece of aluminum. I smeared the glue over the foam as before and walked away. The crimping, of course, meant that there was less surface contact. It actually formed channels that set excess glue running down onto the aluminum at the bottom. More tinkering ahead...
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Posted by vsmith on Monday, August 17, 2020 6:11 PM

PVT Kanaka
Thanks! I am still trying to decide how I am going to affix my siding to the foam. If I paint the foam first to seal it, that'll impact the hold of the glue to the core when I affix the siding. Got to have a think on that one...
 

Dont spray paint it, had some bad experiences there, latex exterior house paint is best.

   Have fun with your trains

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Monday, August 17, 2020 3:10 PM
Set a piece of scrap foam upright and tried using TiteBond III to glue on a piece of scrap aluminum. We'll see how it holds up tonight, then look into scaling this up.
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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Monday, August 17, 2020 12:39 AM
One hundred 12 oz. cans lost their tops and bottoms and got slit down the middle. Tedious, but necessary. The plan is to cover this in stages, annealing one batch of siding at a go. Blech...
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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Saturday, August 15, 2020 4:22 PM

Paul,

 

Thanks for your thoughts.  Some car repairs ate into my budget, so I'll be converting cans to siding rather than buying commercial stuff.  This'll give me time to experiment.   If it wasn't for COVID, I'd fire up the grill, make some calls, and I bet I'd have more than enough cans!  Big Smile  Stupid virus... 

 

I may have an answer ready-to-hand in my files. 

 

In the meantime, have a great weeekend!

Eric

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Saturday, August 15, 2020 9:29 AM

Eric,

 1979. I was living in an apartment, and playing with N scale trains. Anyhoo... I built a warehouse kit from Campbell models,it consisted of a cardboard sub structure,with a roll of corrugated tin that could be cut and glued to the sub structure. I think I used epoxy, or gel super glue, but this was for indoor use.

I would recommend taking a couple of scrap pieces, and experiment with adhesives. My first try would probably be epoxy.

I did something somewhat similar  with the train room indoors last year: I made scenery with styrofoam sheets covered with a skin of crumpled tin foil, which was primed and painted. I used Dap lightweight spackle to attach the tin foil to the styrofoam. It holds surprisingly well!

what I discovered: the sparkle sets quickly along the edges of the foil. The areas underneath the foil, not being exposed to air, took a month or more to cure. But, it did eventually set up completely...

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Saturday, August 15, 2020 1:35 AM
Thanks! I am still trying to decide how I am going to affix my siding to the foam. If I paint the foam first to seal it, that'll impact the hold of the glue to the core when I affix the siding. Got to have a think on that one...
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Posted by vsmith on Thursday, August 13, 2020 5:20 PM

Dang thats going to be a hoot when done Big Smile

   Have fun with your trains

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 6:23 PM

Lookin' great ! Clearance checks are important, and necessary. On my system, I use an Accucraft boxcar or stock car to verify nothing will scrape. 

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 5:13 PM

Progress lurches along!  

 

It dawned on me that the loader shed is my limiting parameter.  If the M&K's locos cannot pull the full cane cars through, then this isn't going to work!  

A bit too close for comfort, so I widened the portals 1/4" all around.

 

   The next most limiting factor was the swing of the box cars that will take the bags of sugar to the docks for shipment:

The loading dock will necessarily be a bit short!  

 

    More recently, I moved the whole assembly out the railroad to really make sure this will work:

  

It is starting to take shape, which was pretty motivating!

  Back to more practical matters, I reached into the box-o-tracks and aligned them with the rails beneath to test and retest loco fit and box car swing:

This let me shuffle and shift stuff to my hearts content. 

When I was satsified, I marked the location of the tracks and the eventual loading deck with pencil.   The latter will align with the 12" sectional track fronting the structure.

 

    I am confident enough now in the design to order the simulated corrugated siding.  Drinking sufficient beverages seemed worthy challenge, but... Also, that looked to be a tedious amount of snipping and crimping!  I am also debating how much of the loader system I should imply and whether or not I should make the roof removable.  Of course, I have to source the roofing material, too, and somethign for the stack.

 

Updates as progress warrants.

 

Eric

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 5:54 PM
Making a supply run this week. I am still debating whether I will use the pink foam core or corrugated plastic sideboard. The former is free. If I were making a stucco building, it would be a no brainer. The latter may be easier to work with as I glue "corrugated metal" to the sides and detail the structure. Either way, I have resolved to use 2x4s anchored to the concrete sheet to serve as a frame. More to follow!
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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 11:08 PM

Paul,

 

That is a brand name for cement backer board.  GR ran an article a couple years ago about making buildings from the stuff.  I found it too hard to work with for that purpose, at least with the tools I had on hand, but it makes marvelous bases for structures, since you can score and snap it to size!  I may use it as the sub-roof, too, to add heft to the end structure.

 

In the meantime, here are the can cars awaiting their hold-down chains behind the LGB m207 / Stainz hybrid we rebuilt as our plantation loco:

I'll consolidate their construction process later.  I thought about making one of those "one page projects," but I've had somuch help getting them this far, their build long belongs in the public domain.

 

Aloha,


Eric

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 7:05 PM

Eric, can't wait to see it ! I am not familiar with Hardie Backer, though. 

Keep us posted! 
Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 5:10 PM

Update. HardieBacker had not yet returned to our store shelves, but the last bits for my cane cars are on hand. I am making a push to finish the cane cars, and then I will turn-to on this project. FYI, I plan to use HardieBacker as the base. I MAY screw 2x4s into it to serve as internal frame for the pink foam core / walls.

 

Eric

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Saturday, May 16, 2020 12:35 AM

Thanks, guys!  I receieved a few other suggestions to help give it that sense of size I need, to included breaking up the roofline a bit and exploring what I could put on the mountain behind the mill.  Of course, the mock-up fell apart overnight, so it is back to square one to a degree!

 

Enjoy your weekend!

 

Eric

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Posted by chocho willy on Friday, May 15, 2020 10:56 AM

Think you have captured the look, not to big and not too small

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Thursday, May 14, 2020 11:03 PM

Eric, 

the cardboard mock ups are a great idea to help visualize, and adjust proportions,and with that ,anyone familiar with the sugar mills will recognize what this represents. It DOES dominate to a certain degree, which is the correct feeling. I think you're on the right track !

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Thursday, May 14, 2020 9:27 PM

All,

 

     After knocking out a bunch of other small projects, I finally turned to on this one.  My thought is that to say "Hawaiian mill" it needs to be big, roughly barn shaped, and have an enourmous stack.  These things dominated the landscape, but, as Paul mentioned, I, fortunately, only need to suggest that!

    

     Having learned to start with cardboard mock-ups, Youngest Daugher and I started cutting carboard to size yesterday and got as far as a frame for the mill adn the unloading shed:

  

 

Today, I cut and taped my way to a reasonable mock-up.  As ever, my 1:24 construction crew was on hand to provide a sense of scale:

I might add a little ventilation "shed" on top like some of the photos.  If hothing else, it'll break up the profile a bit and add visual interest.  At this time, I am not worrying about out-buildings.  As I see, the mill will be a focal point for years' worth of projects designed to show the industrial side of an agricultural business.

  

     This gave me a general size of the structure.  My first thought was, "That's a lot of surface area to cover with crimped aluminum from salvaged beverage cans!" I am going to have to weigh going commercial on the siding.  I am thinking that a plastic siding will facilitate the addition of plastic pipes, vents, rails, etc. as the mill and complex evolve.  My second thought was more aesthetic.  Is this too big?  Does it "over dominate?"  Need to think on that!

 

    Updates to follow as I continue to tweak!

 

Eric

 

 

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