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Need help modeling a huge industry in a tiny space!

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Need help modeling a huge industry in a tiny space!
Posted by mthobbies on Friday, May 21, 2021 9:13 PM

New Jersey Zinc West Plant (zoom for larger image)

I am trying to build the New Jersey Zinc Company West Plant located in Palmerton PA. The plant is so massive that I am overwhelmed with where to start. I'm having a hard time drawing up plans for scratchbuilding for several reasons. 

1: There are so many little buildings that make up the complex plant, there is no way I would be able to model all of them. How can I selectively compress the massive plant while still retaining its essence and character? Has anyone built a model of the New Jersey Zinc West Plant? What have others done? Which buildings are important to include in a model?

2: Does anyone have plans or scale drawings of any of the New Jersey Zinc West Plant? Unfortunately, it was demolished in 1991 so finding plans and even pictures has been difficult.

Thanks, Matt

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Posted by "JaBear" on Friday, May 21, 2021 9:54 PM
Gidday Matt, couldn’t you find a larger industry to model??!!Wink
 
Some questions if I may.
1) What scale are you modelling?
2) What room are you prepared to devote to this industry?
 
For a kick off, I’d consider putting the industry on a peninsular, so even compressed, it can be accessed from both sides. Is this possible?
 
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 mthobbies on Friday, May 21, 2021 10:15 PM

I'm working in HO scale. I don't have much space... only about 3x6 feet on the back side of my 4x8 layout. That's why I am having a hard time picking and choosing which buildings to include and how to compress them so I can maximize the space and make it as interesting as possible. I think it's okay if things are a little crammed, it just makes the model more interesting to look at.

Here is a picture of my track plan and how much space I have to work with.

The white space is the area I have available for the NJZ west plant

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, May 21, 2021 11:30 PM

Matt,

The photo of the plant came through, but your track plan picture has Google wanting me to verify my existence.  I don't exist, so there's a problem there.  Please attend to it.

The plant is about a half mile long.  Your layout is not.  It is so big, the usual selective compression approach is ridiculous.  If you "selectively compress", you will get a toy.

If you want to include this enormous industry on your teeny tiny layout, you'll have to do something more like selective snipping.  Snip off everything that isn't railroad.  Do it again.

Then look at what is happening in those operations.  You will be doing research.  That is your job.

You should, if all goes well, find an area that you can fit on your railroad.  It WON'T be the entire operation.  It MIGHT be shipping.  It MIGHT be receiving.  It MIGHT be lotsa things.

You need to find something that works for you.

 

 

If you really want further advice, you should first explain why you care so much.  YOU need US.  Get us involved.  I, for one, have trains to play with; and I don't need to spend my time doing your research and thinking for you.

 

Ed

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Posted by "JaBear" on Saturday, May 22, 2021 2:00 AM

NJ Zinc001 by Bear, on Flickr

Click on image to enlarge.

"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 gmpullman on Saturday, May 22, 2021 4:31 AM

Sure makes a beautiful scene in the early light:

 Lehigh Valley AM1 at Palmerton by Doug Lilly, on Flickr

Of course, all the vegitation for about a two-mile radius of the plant has been defoliated Whistling

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by ndbprr on Saturday, May 22, 2021 7:21 AM

Having spent a career covering the steel industry I don't understand  why people try to actually model it. A hot strip mill is 3/4 of a mile long.  To model it accurately would require an HO scale building 45.5 feet long.  If I were going to model a massive industry I would copy US Steel Fairless Hills plant near Philadelphia. The receiving and shipping yard is alongside the old PRR mainline.  The plant is at least one mile away.  So it is possible to model 100% of the traffic with none of the buildings.  Just a track leading to the mill that goes off the railroad.  You could do the same thing for your major plant.

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, May 22, 2021 7:31 AM

If you are determined to model a large steel making facility, why not devote the entire 4x8 layout to it and just add some track to service the facility?  At least that way, even with selective compression, you can do the steel making facility justice.

Rich

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Posted by caldreamer on Saturday, May 22, 2021 8:07 AM

I am modeling  a steel mill and have split the mill in two.  The north plant is the hot side, with the blast furnace, BOF, electric furnace sintering plant and ore yard.  The south plant will have four mills and a couple of smaller buildings.  That way I can get the feel of a large mill into limited space.  It will also allow me to move hot steel to the mills from the north plant.

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, May 22, 2021 8:24 AM

I HOPE AND EXPECT to model a steel industry.

It will be based on the former Judson Steel plant in Emerville CA.  

I do admit that it will not be a full model.  That's because I only have a "depth" for it of about 18".  However.  It will be about 9 feet long.  That will be divided into three segments, each roughly three feet long.  In the center is the electric arc furnace building.  On one side is the scrap metal yard.  On the other side is a shipping building for loading product onto rail and truck.  

I don't think Judson had a shipping building.  It certainly didn't have one where I am placing mine, as that was occupied by a "rebar fabricator" (don't know what it was really called, but it was fun to watch).

The scrap yard went a LONG ways beyond 18", so I'm just showing the part near the tracks.  In fact, everything went a long ways beyond 18".

The furnace building will be done pretty much full size, based on two of the Walthers kits.  I expect to do it as a continuous pour operation, with the output going off-stage.

Rail input will be scrap and some chemicals.  Output will be formed steel.  When I studied it, I think they only made rebar.  My operation just might ship plate and bar too.

 

I just checked a map of the area where the operation was.  The full "depth" was about 500' (between I-580 and the SP tracks).  The plant was replaced by an Ikea and a parking garage (Ptui!), so it's tough to figure the other dimension.  IF it was 500' square, that would have made it, in HO, about 6' on a side.  So my 9' length is pretty close to a scale length.

 

Ed

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Posted by mthobbies on Saturday, May 22, 2021 12:21 PM

7j43k

The plant is about a half mile long.  Your layout is not.  It is so big, the usual selective compression approach is ridiculous.  If you "selectively compress", you will get a toy.

If you want to include this enormous industry on your teeny tiny layout, you'll have to do something more like selective snipping.  Snip off everything that isn't railroad.  Do it again.

I like what Ed said, about including only a small portion of rail-served industry. I'll have to start scouring photos and recources to find more detailed views of this place.

The reason I am so intrigued by the New Jersey Zinc Co. is because I have always been fascinated by heavy industry. And the Chestnut Ridge Railway was built entirely to serve the zinc company which adds so much character. Short lines have so much modeling potential for interesting and unique scenes.

Here are a couple more photos if anyone is interested:

https://flic.kr/ps/3WAYBy

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Posted by "JaBear" on Monday, May 24, 2021 2:11 AM

Gidday Matt, when you wrote “about 3 x 6 feet”, my initial thought was “Oh Boy!!  Having taken the liberty of drawing a 1 square foot grid on your layout plan, my thoughts are now “OH BOY!!! (I like to think that I’m an optimist but there are limits!)

Having thought about it, and reading your latest replies, and seeing that you have been doing some research by collecting photos, there is hope!

Of course, Ed is dead right, there is going to have to be some very serious cropping, even just sticking to the rail operation portion of the plant.

However, your plan shows that there is a scene divider, which to my mind, can be used to great advantage. Now, I’m not an artist nor up to the play with “photoshop”, and it would require reorientation of some of the buildings, but by combining a “painted” backdrop and layered low relief buildings, an illusion of LARGE could be created. (It may seem obvious with the layering of low relief buildings, but just remember to only model what can be seen!)

Now to the practical stuff. With my crash course in zinc manufacture I see that, as far as rail operations go, that ore and coal in, are the “biggies”, so they are a must.

You have a great photo of the elevated ore unloading ramp, but having looked at your track plan and even putting a curved switch in just over the bridge and then going for a 4% climb, the trestle would have to be lowered by perhaps 2/3rds. I haven’t done the maths, and while train length is limited by the layout size, the pulling power of the locomotives would have to be the considering factor. The Alco “S” switcher could handle it but I see that there was at one time, an 0-4-0T and that would struggle, IMO. That said depending on how much of the benchwork is built, taking into consideration access to the bottom “hidden” track, I’d be lowering that top level as much as practically possible to allow for as much height for the ore trestle as possible.

As for the coal cars, boxcars and tank cars, seen in the photos, I’d have to do some serious research as to how they were dealt with, though I’m thinking of the possibility of having two central tracks disappearing into a building placed at the right-hand end and extending one foot into the allocated space. There also enough over head “plumbing” to allow for the use of a mirror between that building and the low relief buildings.

Whatever you do and how you handle it, Have Fun.

My 2 CentsMy 2 CentsCheers, 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 gmpullman on Monday, May 24, 2021 4:40 AM

 

An 0-4-0, already selectively compressed Whistling

 

https://www.shorpy.com/node/21065?size=_original#caption

 

Regards, Ed

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Posted by ndbprr on Monday, May 24, 2021 7:40 AM

The BOF I started my career at had a model on the conference room.  The building was 180' tall which scaled out to a little over 2' in  HO.  The exhaust stack was 237' high.  The building filled a conference room.  So don't even try to tell me how you are going to make accurate steel or any metal facilities in selective compression.  USS Gary is seven miles long.  Armco Middletown was 4 miles by 5 miles.  There is no way to do it. Walthers blast furnace is about 1/4 size for a world war two furnace.  It is your rr and you can do what you want but you just can't put up a two story building and call it the Sears tower with any credibility

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Posted by "JaBear" on Monday, May 24, 2021 3:55 PM

ndbprr
...but you just can't put up a two story building and call it the Sears tower with any credibility

Would 3 stories do???Smile, Wink & Grin
 
With due respect, I’d suggest that modelling in any scale requires a suspension of creditability, the degree of which varying, depending on circumstance and available space.
Imagination and illusion help pad out the “picture”.
 
My 2 Cents 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 NVSRR on Monday, May 24, 2021 8:01 PM

What car types that go to that plant are you really interested in?   That plant got a lot of cars in and out.   What train length do you want to run to the plant?  How big is your interchange.    Answering those questions. Should help you figure out what part of the plant to keep and what else to chop off.    Most of the plant will have to be a backdrop

 

Shane

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

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Posted by 7j43k on Monday, May 24, 2021 8:31 PM

ndbprr

So don't even try to tell me how you are going to make accurate steel or any metal facilities in selective compression. 

 

I have to agree with you there.  As I mentioned earlier, I am foregoing any selective compression in my plan to build Judson Steel.  I WILL be slicing off a lot of the plant that's "too far" from the tracks, as I don't have the width.

But what I do plan to build will pretty much be full size.  About 6' long.

The Walthers arc furnace building does look too small, so I'll be combining two of them.

 

Ed

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Posted by maxman on Monday, May 24, 2021 8:34 PM

gmpullman
An 0-4-0, already selectively compressed 

Not as much as a 2-2-0 (or is it 0-2-2?):

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Posted by mthobbies on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 5:31 PM

"JaBear"
With my crash course in zinc manufacture I see that, as far as rail operations go, that ore and coal in, are the “biggies”, so they are a must. You have a great photo of the elevated ore unloading ramp, but having looked at your track plan and even putting a curved switch in just over the bridge and then going for a 4% climb, the trestle would have to be lowered by perhaps 2/3rds. I haven’t done the maths, and while train length is limited by the layout size, the pulling power of the locomotives would have to be the considering factor. The Alco “S” switcher could handle it but I see that there was at one time, an 0-4-0T and that would struggle, IMO.

Thanks for the detailed reply. I'm taking your suggestions to heart.

The track plan shows a river flowing under the outer most curve at the bottom of the layout, but I am using that outer curve as a slag/waste dump which would be elevated. So I won't have a river but instead I have my elevated trestle going there, with a big zinc waste dump. Essentially the track that's leading to the proposed zinc plant site will be my ore tresstle. That was a compromize I had to make, but since I'm not too concerned with operations on a layout this small, I can live with running every train that has to go to the zinc plant over the trestle. I've changed the scenery a lot from what you see on the track plan. Feel free to ask more questions if there's anything I can clarify.

"JaBear"
That said depending on how much of the benchwork is built, taking into consideration access to the bottom “hidden” track, I’d be lowering that top level as much as practically possible to allow for as much height for the ore trestle as possible.

I've been trying think how I can still retain access to those hidden tracks for cleaning and maintence while having tracks and buildings on top. I feel like making the whole top part removable is impractical, but that's just another thing I have to think about and plan.

"JaBear"
I’m thinking of the possibility of having two central tracks disappearing into a building placed at the right-hand end and extending one foot into the allocated space. There also enough over head “plumbing” to allow for the use of a mirror between that building and the low relief buildings.

Now we're talking! I love that idea! Those two central parallel tracks don't have to be there, maybe I'll just use one of them but with a siding at the end before they enter the building. That way I'll have more room for stuctures and tracks going elsewhere. What I have drawn so far is really just throwing ideas onto paper, nothing is set in stone.

I like the idea of putting a structure in the corner at an angle. It makes it look a lot bigger than the space it occupies.

Yeah awesome idea with the piping and the mirrior! That will really make the scene look bigger.

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Posted by mthobbies on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 5:45 PM

NVSRR

What car types that go to that plant are you really interested in?   That plant got a lot of cars in and out.   What train length do you want to run to the plant?  How big is your interchange.    Answering those questions. Should help you figure out what part of the plant to keep and what else to chop off.    Most of the plant will have to be a backdrop

 

Shane

 

 

Yes, as you and others have pointed out, I will be relying on a backdrop and low-relief structures to sell the illusion of depth.

I realistically expect to have train lengths of 2-5 cars with all my rolling stock being in the 40' range.

The NJZ plant saw a lot of gondola service for various materials, as well as box cars. Covered hoppers transported zinc sulfide and other raw exports. And of course difco dump cars served the waste dump trestle. So if I could get gondolas/boxcars, covered hoppers, and dump cars I would be happy. Again I'm not too concerned with operations. I'm more interested in the model building.

 

Thanks guys

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Posted by mthobbies on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 6:04 PM

Here is the New Jersey Zinc Co. equipment roster for 1954 and 1968 I had in my collection.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmVRQEZH

 

Looks like I forgot to mention tank cars, however they could serve "off layout" or "in the backdrop" destinations within the zinc plant.

Hopefully knowing the type of rolling stock will help me decide which structures to include. Still trying to cram as much as I can in this space.

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Posted by mthobbies on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 2:42 PM

bump

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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 7:25 PM

You have a few different challenges, some of which come from trying to adapt a published plan to a different concept. The clearance will probably not be adequate below your planned Zinc plant scene for hand access to the inside climbing track.

As far as the plant itself, I think your best bet would be to make a low-relief plant along the backdrop and then model just the interchange yard to an imagined in-plant switcher. 

Finally, an issue that many folks ignore until it is too late is the grade climbing up to your Zinc-plant scene. You need room to transition from the climb to level before the first zinc-plant turnout, and you’ll still be pushing cars uphill to switch. Not impossible, but needs to be planned-for.

It feels a bit like ten pounds of sugar in a five-pound sack. Is the 4X8 train table already built? How much space do you actually have in the room? A different layout arrangement might let you accomplish more of what you would like to see.

Good luck with your layout.

Byron

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 9:41 PM

mthobbies

bump 

I made a suggestion back on May22nd that apparently was not liked or, perhaps, not read. So, I will repeat it.

If you are determined to model a large steel making facility, why not devote the entire 4x8 layout to it and just add some track to service the facility?  At least that way, even with selective compression, you can do the steel making facility justice.

Rich

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Posted by xdford on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 3:44 AM

The steel mills I am familiar with here in Australia are quite a distance from the rail point assembling the trains etc SO why not allocate a spur or pair of spurs that lead into your planned steel mill behind a chain fence. The ore cars can go in and the empties of those can come out... the flats and gons that carry the finished product can go in empty and come out as loads. 

Your "mill" on the 4x8 could be just a painted scene on a backdrop to suggest that industry pending the time you take to make a mill. You can then make another section as Rich suggests to have the whole mill  when you have room for it, and you can enjoy running your railroad while you are building the addon!

Just my thoughts

Cheers

Trevor

 

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Posted by mthobbies on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 9:14 AM

cuyama

You have a few different challenges, some of which come from trying to adapt a published plan to a different concept. The clearance will probably not be adequate below your planned Zinc plant scene for hand access to the inside climbing track.

As far as the plant itself, I think your best bet would be to make a low-relief plant along the backdrop and then model just the interchange yard to an imagined in-plant switcher. 

Finally, an issue that many folks ignore until it is too late is the grade climbing up to your Zinc-plant scene. You need room to transition from the climb to level before the first zinc-plant turnout, and you’ll still be pushing cars uphill to switch. Not impossible, but needs to be planned-for.

It feels a bit like ten pounds of sugar in a five-pound sack. Is the 4X8 train table already built? How much space do you actually have in the room? A different layout arrangement might let you accomplish more of what you would like to see.

Good luck with your layout.

Byron

 

 

Byron,

Thanks for the wisdom. Yes the table is already built. I'm realizing that my delusion of including EVERYTHING in this little space is impossible. I'm thinking of selecting just a single operation of the zinc plant to model rather than the whole thing.

Yes, I could make this side of the layout the slag waste dump exclusively, and save the main complex for another layout.

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Posted by mthobbies on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 9:18 AM

richhotrain

 

 
mthobbies

bump 

 

 

I made a suggestion back on May22nd that apparently was not liked or, perhaps, not read. So, I will repeat it.

 

If you are determined to model a large steel making facility, why not devote the entire 4x8 layout to it and just add some track to service the facility?  At least that way, even with selective compression, you can do the steel making facility justice.

Rich

 

 

Yeah the issue is that I've already completed the other side of the layout. I'm not going to rip up all my hard work lol.

Sorry I never acknowleged your post. I was just seeing if we could throw some ideas around. 

I'm leaning towards making this side of the layout just the slag waste dump, and saving the rest of the facility for my next home when I have more space. At least I can run dump cars and gondolas. Plus the other industries on the opposite side of the layout should keep me busy.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 9:31 AM

Jabear
I’d suggest that modelling in any scale requires a suspension of creditability, the degree of which varying, depending on circumstance and available space. Imagination and illusion help pad out the “picture”.

Always true.

This plant, along with 90% of the other buildngs on our layouts need to be compressed.

On a 4 by 8, I would model a fence, gate, guard house, employee entrance, and an office building. The rest would be on the backdrop or in very shallow relief.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 10:00 AM

mthobbies
 
richhotrain 
mthobbies

bump  

I made a suggestion back on May22nd that apparently was not liked or, perhaps, not read. So, I will repeat it. 

If you are determined to model a large steel making facility, why not devote the entire 4x8 layout to it and just add some track to service the facility?  At least that way, even with selective compression, you can do the steel making facility justice.

Rich 

Yeah the issue is that I've already completed the other side of the layout. I'm not going to rip up all my hard work lol.

Sorry I never acknowleged your post. I was just seeing if we could throw some ideas around. 

I'm leaning towards making this side of the layout just the slag waste dump, and saving the rest of the facility for my next home when I have more space. At least I can run dump cars and gondolas. Plus the other industries on the opposite side of the layout should keep me busy.

 

ahh, I understand. Just wanted to be helpful. Good luck with the design. Let us know what you settle on.
 
Rich

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Posted by jjdamnit on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 7:47 PM

Hello All,

I'm going to give my observations on the division of the OPs post...

(DEEP breath!!!)

OK, here I go...

Many great suggestions have been based on the scenery aspect of this project.

Other, equally educated and appreciated suggestions have focused on the operational side.

We- -as modelers- -have always accepted selective compression in all our endeavors.

The answer to the OP, in my opinion, is to choose between scenic realism or operational feasibility.

cuyama
It feels a bit like ten pounds of sugar in a five-pound sack.

So eloquently phrased, I'm stealing it!

If I were able to post a track plan of my 4'X8' pike it would clarify my signature.

For a coal branch loop set in the 1970s to 1980s, I have adapted my pike to the motive power and rolling stock of that period.

It doesn't help that the entire pike is based on the loading and unloading of HO scale Tyco 34-foot Operating Hopper Cars.

My focus was on operation and not replication of place through scenery.

I actually choose to freelance the Bowie mine because it was denuded of scenery.

The suggestions and opinions of both perspectives are valid.

Unfortunately- -like all of us that partake in this great hobby- -compromise is ever-present.

In the OPs situation, we can only advise.

Ultimately the final track plan can only come from the balance between the two so, the OP can have the pike they desire.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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