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Scratch Bashing the C&EI Freight House at Dearborn Station

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Scratch Bashing the C&EI Freight House at Dearborn Station
Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, August 24, 2017 2:49 PM
For several years now, I have wanted to model the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Inbound Freight House at Dearborn Station in downtown Chicago. It is now long gone, torn down in the early 70’s but it was probably the most photographed of the ten large freight houses that dominated the landscape between 8th Street and 15th Street from north to south and bordered by Clark Street on the west and State Street on the east. A photo of the actual freight house as it existed in the late 1960s can be seen below.
 
I call it scratch bashing because it is neither a scratch build from raw material nor a combination of structure kits. Initially, I wanted to scratch build it as my second project as a follow up to the Coors Family Mansion that I built back in early 2016. But, my limitation is that I could not find the proper windows and freight doors from suppliers like Grandt Line and Tichy.
 
I thought about using modular kits, but the Woodland Scenics DPM Modulars were too big and the windows and doors were not a proper match. The Walthers Cornerstone Modulars seemed more suited to the task, albeit with some cutting and trimming of the walls, windows and doors to more closely match the prototype, but Walthers had long ago discontinued the modular kits and they are now extremely difficult to find, even on eBay.
 
So, then I decided to try making rubber molds and casting the wall sections, windows and doors in resin. That worked quite nicely, but finding the right adhesives became a challenge.
 
Finally, and with the help of some fellow forum members, I was able to track down enough Walthers Modular kits to construct a reasonably similar HO scale version of the C&EI Inbound Freight House.
 
The actual freight house consisted of four sections. The two main sections were a 1-story freight house with a peaked roof attached to a 2-story freight house with a flat roof. At either end of this two freight house complex was a 1-story freight office. I decided to only model the two large freight houses. The scale dimensions of these two buildings combined were 762 feet long by 60 feet wide. In HO scale, that would measure 8.75 feet by 0.70 feet, or 105 inches long by 8 inches wide. I settled for 40 inches in length and 6 inches in width.
 
I am now well along in building the freight house and in my posts to follow, I will include some progress photos.
 
Rich

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Posted by mobilman44 on Thursday, August 24, 2017 4:52 PM

Rich, I can't wait for you to share your progress pics. 

I spent my first 23 years in Chicagoland and that warehouse (along with Dearborn station and the "Levi" ad) were something special for this Santa Fe fan.

This is a major project, and I'm sure you will do your usual outstanding work!

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, August 24, 2017 10:46 PM

What a great project, Rich.  I will be watching this to see your modeling pics.

Mike.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, August 25, 2017 12:11 AM

I'm looking forward to following your progress, Rich.  John Bertram sends his regards, too. Wink

Wayne

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, August 25, 2017 12:49 AM

Rich:

You have been working on this project for quite some time. I admire your perseverance. Like the rest, I will eagerly await your pictures!

Cheers!!

Dave

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, August 25, 2017 4:12 AM

Thanks, guys, for the support and encouragement. This project has, indeed, been in the planning stages for a long time now, but I finally figured out the best way to do it.

I need to get some photos posted.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, August 25, 2017 4:14 AM

doctorwayne

I'm looking forward to following your progress, Rich.  John Bertram sends his regards, too. Wink

Wayne

 

ahh, your usual low blow, Wayne.  Laugh

A place (space) of honor remains open on my layout for Bertram's when you finally decide to part with it.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, August 25, 2017 4:25 AM

Probably the second biggest challenge, right behind the selection of suitable materials, was the need to find (1) smaller windows on the first floor that matched the larger windows on the second floor and (2) larger freight doors to sit along side the smaller freight doors.

I simply could not find the right combination of windows and doors. So, I decided that the only course of action was to kitbash my own by cutting and gluing the Walthers Modular wall sections in different shapes and sizes and then modifying existing windows and doors.

Here is a photo of the kitbashed material. It is probably far from perfect, but it does bear a resemblance to the actual prototype.

Rich

 

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, August 25, 2017 9:12 PM

Most of the photos of the C&EI inbound freight house were taken from the Roosevelt Road overpass, looking down on the east side of the freight house.

The first photo below is a somewhat rare photo of the north side of the 2-story portion of the freight house, opening up onto Roosevelt Road.

The second photo below shows my scratch bash of the north side of the 2-story structure. It took a bit of kitbashing to shape the windows and to get the double door high enough in the wall section to permit direct entry onto Roosevelt Road.

Rich

 

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Posted by "JaBear" on Saturday, August 26, 2017 2:02 AM

Thumbs UpThumbs UpThumbs UpThumbs UpThumbs UpThumbs Up

Have Fun. Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, August 26, 2017 5:08 AM

Thanks, JaBear. As you know, you were my inspiration to undertake this project with that thread a few years back.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, August 26, 2017 1:29 PM

I am making some pretty good progress now. Here is the 2-story portion of the structure, but no roof yet. I need to paint the foundation and hide some joints and some other refinements. The brick color is Pollyscale Dirt.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, August 27, 2017 11:39 AM

ahh, now it is starting to resemble the real thing. Still no roofs or painted foundations or loading docks, but I hope to be there soon.

Some minor flaws to fix, but what, me worry?

Rich

 

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Posted by "JaBear" on Monday, August 28, 2017 5:43 AM
I went back to the original thread, October 2014, (time flies when you’re having fun!!)  to look at more photos, only to find it suffering badly from photobucketitus, but then remembered that I did still have a small file saved.
 
Which is a long winded way of saying that after doing a comparison, I think you appear to be doing a great job of capturing the essence of the structure.
 
For old times’ sake, here’s my original sketch. My mistake, which I was to work out later, was that the figure of “Foreman Fred”, used for perspective, was OO scale.Bang Head
 
on Flickr
 
Keep up the good work,

Cheers, the Bear.Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, August 28, 2017 6:03 AM

Thanks, JaBear. Yeah, that thread was started back in October, 2014, and it predated my scratchbuild of the Coors Family Mansion and my initial attempt at rubber molds and resin casting.

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/239382.aspx?page=1

The windows and doors are HO scale pieces, so I am good there.

Right now, I am trying to establish the proper pitch for that peaked roof on the 1-story structure and whether or not to install canopies over the loading docks. I may consult the experts on the Yahoo Groups C&EI forum as I get closer to the finish.

Rich

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Posted by "JaBear" on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 4:49 AM

richhotrain
...and whether or not to install canopies over the loading docks

C’mon Rich, you don’t honestly think you’re going to get away that easy, do you??? Whistling LaughLaugh

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 5:11 AM

ahh, you've got me figured out, JaBear.  Embarrassed

I contacted the C&EI Historical Society and, indeed, at one time the loading docks and canopies extended the entire length of the freight house, so I have more work ahead of me. 

At the moment, I am about to take corrective action to change the pitch on the 1-story roof. I don't know what I was thinking, but I let the angle of the Walthers Modulars peaked wall section fool me into setting the pitch way too flat, so now I need to re-do the roof. Off to the LHS some time today.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 5:24 AM

Here is my latest progress photo with the loading docks in a temporary setup. No canopies yet. You can see where I went wrong with the peaked roof on the 1-story structure.  I will have to peform some minor surgery today in order to correct the pitch of that peaked roof to a much more severe angle to match the prototype.

Rich

 

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Posted by mobilman44 on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 8:13 AM

Rich, that is really something! 

Looking at the number of floor boards it covers I can get an idea of its size, but it would be a good thing to put a yardstick along side it to get a better perspective.

I'm sure you did some compression, but it looks pretty darn realistic to me.  Have to say, I especially like the "paint job".  It is so typical of the buildings of that era.

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by kingcoal on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 2:03 PM

Nicely done. Freight houses provided a lot of switching back in the day. Positive for any layout of the right era.

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 3:18 PM

mobilman44

Rich, that is really something! 

Looking at the number of floor boards it covers I can get an idea of its size, but it would be a good thing to put a yardstick along side it to get a better perspective.

I'm sure you did some compression, but it looks pretty darn realistic to me.  Have to say, I especially like the "paint job".  It is so typical of the buildings of that era.

 

Thanks mobilman. the overall dimensions are 40" x 6". The 1-story is 24" long and the 2-story is 16" long. I bought some additional styrene sheet today, so now I need to install a roof on the 1-story with the correct pitch. Then, I need to get it on the layout for some better photos.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 3:19 PM

kingcoal

Nicely done. Freight houses provided a lot of switching back in the day. Positive for any layout of the right era.

 

Thanks, kingcoal. Now that I have the bug, I want to build some additional freight houses.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 5:22 AM

I have begun installing roof supports at the proper pitch angle. I mocked up a short length of unpainted styrene roof to show the proper angle. I hope to cut, paint and install the 1-story pitched roof today but, first, golf is calling me. 

Rich

P1000875.jpg

P1000876.jpg

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Posted by "JaBear" on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 5:35 AM

 “Golf has too much walking to be a good game, and just enough game to spoil a good walk.” Harry Leon Wilson. Whistling

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, August 31, 2017 5:20 AM

 “Golf has too much walking to be a good game, and just enough game to spoil a good walk.” Harry Leon Wilson. Whistling

 

By the way, JaBear, this so-called sport was given the name "golf" because all of the other four letter words had already been taken.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, August 31, 2017 10:59 PM

Got the pitched roof installed on the 1-story portion of the freight house. I will post a photo in the morning once I remove the weights holding the poof panels in place.

Rich

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Posted by zstripe on Friday, September 01, 2017 2:44 AM

Rich,

I believe You were doing great until......IMHO the new roof that You are putting on is Too peaked, also too high. I believe it would look much better and more like the Proto, if it were half the vertical height You have now. That roof reminds Me of a Church roof or ski-lodge. Aside from that...it costs a lot more money in material and time to make it as large as You have.

I believe it would look much better if done like the roof in the photo:

Take Care! Big Smile

Frank

EDIT: Some food for thought......think of where it is at and the climate. You start work in the morning and before You can begin.....You and crew have to shovel all the snow off the dock before anyone can begin to even start unloading any boxcars or trailers because all the snow that was on the roof from the night before has slid off the roof and is now covering the dock and vehicles and in rainy weather......forget about it...LOL.

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, September 01, 2017 5:01 AM

Dunno, Frank, but I hope you're wrong. I just got up and I am working on my first cup of coffee. So, I haven't had a chance yet to remove the weights and line up the two structures. I can say this. The ridge on the 1-story building matches the point that it meets the 2-story structure in terms of height, but it all depends upon the pitch which is determined by the width of the building. I think that I got it right. But we shall see.

As the previously posted photos of my scratch build show, the first roof attempt was way too flat. So, I left in on and built the new roof over the old. If the pitch of the new roof is too sharp, so be it because if I flatten it on a third attempt, it will be too low where it joins the 2-story structure. 

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, September 01, 2017 5:15 AM

Here is a rare photo of the west side of the C&EI Freight House which shows the pitch of the 1-story peaked roof.

One thing that I forgot about is that in the earlier photo of my scratch build, that mock up was too pitched and I did lower it when I installed the new roof over the old. As I already mentioned, the only way to match the pitch of the prototype roof would be to match the width of the prototype. 

Rich

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Posted by "JaBear" on Friday, September 01, 2017 5:19 AM
Bearing in mind the old saying “Fools and children should never see half done work”, and as I was a child half a century ago, and so therefore can’t claim that category, I am wondering Frank, if Rich has been caught out by scale compression.
The height of the gable may well be close to correct, but by losing two inches or about 14 ½ HO feet of width, the pitch now does look too steep. The glaring expanse of white styrene doesn’t help matters either!!
 
Possibly by lowering the height of the gable, the lesser pitch of the roof may have captured the “essence” of the building better?
 
That said, while I know the theory of scale compression, I have yet to put it into practise.

Cheers, the Bear.Smile

 

EDIT: While I was gabbling on, I see Rich has replied and from that photo, your single story gable height was right, Rich. Prehaps a compromise between gable height and pitch might be in order?? Bang Head

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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