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What type of floor is on a 1890's engine house?

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What type of floor is on a 1890's engine house?
Posted by SpaceMouse on Thursday, August 6, 2020 12:33 PM

Is it dirt? Ballast? Concrete with a lube well? 

Chip

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Posted by mlehman on Thursday, August 6, 2020 12:35 PM

Likely to be dirt, flagstones, or wood blocks, but if it was "modern" it might be concrete.

Welcome back, Spacemouse!

Mike Lehman

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, August 6, 2020 1:02 PM

Good to see you back, Chip!

I'd have to agree with Mike on the floor being either dirt or wooden blocks, as both would stand-up well to abuse, especially dropped heavy items, such as side rods or wheelsets.  Both types of floor would be relatively easy to repair, too...a shovel for the dirt, and removal of damaged blocks, with new ones installed.

Scroll down to the machine shop part in this LINK, as it confirms my recollections that the blocks were installed with the end-grain up, acting as the floor's surface.

Wayne

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Thursday, August 6, 2020 3:16 PM

Thanks, both of you. I had assumed dirt, but I really didn't know. Good to be back.

Chip

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Posted by mlehman on Thursday, August 6, 2020 3:54 PM

Dirt is a good starting point, easy to model.

A shop that was there longer (being the 1890s, it might be new or only a few years old) might upgrade to the wood blocks. In fact, it would be a neat scene to have a dirt-floored shop with "remodeling" with wood blocks underway starting in one corner of the floor.

Also, if modeling a logging line, the material for a wooden shop floor would be readily at hand and thus make it more likely that its facilities used wood blocks.

Right where the tracks are would likely be wooden planks over the ties, so there's another variant thing to consider.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by Heartland Division CB&Q on Thursday, August 6, 2020 4:38 PM

Chip .... Good seeing you. 

My old engine house is made from a Campbell kit, and it has a wood floor.

 

 

This is part of a 1900 era scene in one corner of my layout. I saved several items from my previous layout, and I decide to make the scene from some of it. The rest of my layout is about 1960. 

GARRY

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Posted by wvg_ca on Thursday, August 6, 2020 4:58 PM

if it's 1890s origional, it -might- be two to three inch with dovetail, interlocking hardwoord floor ..

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, August 6, 2020 8:18 PM

 CUT_wood by Edmund, on Flickr

 

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Thursday, August 6, 2020 9:04 PM

doctorwayne

Scroll down to the machine shop part in this LINK, as it confirms my recollections that the blocks were installed with the end-grain up, acting as the floor's surface.

Wayne 

I've been through a few New England mill buildings, and was impressed with the vertical-grain block floors. They looked very durable and easy to repair.

How might one represent such a floor for modeling purposes? I shiver at the thought of cutting and gluing a million 1/16” long pieces of scale lumber! Confused

Jim

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Posted by davidmurray on Thursday, August 6, 2020 9:14 PM

hardcoalcase
I've been through a few New England mill buildings, and was impressed with the vertical-grain block floors. They looked very durable and easy to repair.

I worked in a Stamp plant, and plastics molding plant from the eary 1980"s to 2004.  The floors were three inch pieces of two by foor wood.  Standing on end.  They were placed on concrete that was a foot thick.  The wood absorbed shock from dropped heavy objects, and  when damaged could be quickly replaced.  As a bonus it also adsobed oil spills, without becoming slippery.

 

David Murray from Oshawa, Ontario Canada
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, August 6, 2020 11:01 PM

I would assume the floor would be wooden, but if it belongs to a very poor railroad, dirt would be possible.

The flagstone floor that was suggested could make an interesting model.

-Kevin

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Posted by dehusman on Friday, August 7, 2020 8:21 AM

Wood block.  The blocks are standing on end, with the end grain up.  You could use cobblestone sheet or "tile" sheet.  Most of the wood floors I saw were 4x4 or 6x6 chunks.

The floor has to beable to absorb impacts and stuff weight several tons over a very small area being set on it.  For example a set of drivers would weigh several tons and rest on a total area less than the size of a hand.

A dirt floor would be really messy, steam engines involve water, grease and oil, mixing that with dirt is a goey mess.   

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by GerryD on Friday, August 7, 2020 1:50 PM
I agree with David, when I was a kid in the 50's there was still a railroad yard in Taylor PA, known as Hampton Yard that we explored. There was a roundhouse along side the yard that was scrapped along with the steam locomotives of the Lackawanna Railroad in the early 50's. The remnants of that roundhouse has floors exactly as Dave described them. In some places the blocks were torn up and were only about four inches thick.Now maybe that was build around that time, maybe a bit later, but it surely seems accepted practice in construction.
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Posted by Colorado Ray on Friday, August 7, 2020 9:07 PM

Wood blocks.  I worked a summer job in a foundry in 1970 and all of our buildings had wood block floors.  

Ray

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Saturday, August 8, 2020 5:46 PM

Thanks guys. I guess Randall "Rock" Ridge is going to want only the best.

Chip

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Posted by BATMAN on Saturday, August 8, 2020 6:03 PM

I have been trying to find a photo I have where the floor was dirt and wood blocks, looked like RR ties cut up. They had pits and the walls of the pits were definitely RR ties as was the floor.

Brent

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Saturday, August 8, 2020 9:06 PM

Garry, great looking layout and engine house. 

Heartland Division CB&Q

Chip .... Good seeing you. 

My old engine house is made from a Campbell kit, and it has a wood floor.

 

 

This is part of a 1900 era scene in one corner of my layout. I saved several items from my previous layout, and I decide to make the scene from some of it. The rest of my layout is about 1960. 

 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Saturday, August 8, 2020 9:20 PM

Okay then. Any one of you modelers have an idea of how to create a block floor. I too dread a million 1/16 inch pieces.

The best I can come up with so far is using popsickle stick end cut, Then sand them smooth and spray with dullcote. Then score the ends to create square blocks and use a dark wash to highlight them. Add some grime and Voilà!.

Still, I"ll need to take out the detail work on my benches and redo that.

 

Chip

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, August 8, 2020 9:25 PM

I would cheat.  Just like those airplanes that you'd 'dope' with a pre-printed tissue paper covering.    Make up a scale image of an end-grain floor, glue it in place, tool the surface a bit with a burnisher to give it texture.  It's not like it has to take proportional load or shocks...

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, August 8, 2020 9:29 PM

N scale brick sheet?

 

https://www.rail-scale-models.com/N-Scale-Common-Brick-Wall-Sheet

FWIW,

The East Broad Top roundhouse floor is Gravel on Earth:

https://www.loc.gov/resource/hhh.pa3371.sheet/?sp=1

Here's a photo of end block oak that you can use in a photo editing program to copy>duplicate>paste and print: 

Are you familiar with vector-based editing software? (CorelDraw or Affinity Designer?)

 Wood-block by Edmund, on Flickr

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Saturday, August 8, 2020 9:39 PM

gmpullman
N scale brick sheet?

That looks good, Ed.

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, August 8, 2020 9:45 PM

Just one example, Mr. Mouse Smile

It's all about tricking the eye. I'll bet if you paint the brick a tan color (maybe RR tie brown?) and use a wadded paper towel dipped in darker brown or black stain and dabbed it on you might get good results?

Options and choices... Whistling

Glad to have you back Yes  Ed

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Saturday, August 8, 2020 9:54 PM

gmpullman
Are you familiar with vector-based editing software? (CorelDraw or Affinity Designer?)

I used CorelDraw back in the 90"s. I might have a copy of a new version around. What I don't have is a good color printer. May be a Christmas item.

 

Chip

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 9:41 AM

Keep in mind concrete is very old - the Romans had it. After the fall of Rome it was lost for many centuries, but began to be used in construction again in the 17th-18th centuries. Portland cement was patented in 1824. So there's no reason a roundhouse built in the late 19th century couldn't have a concrete floor.

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Posted by Backshop on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 9:49 AM

I worked in an ex-post office that had the wood block floor.  It worked well until management didn't want to pay the boiler room staff to work over the long Christmas weekend.  The building got cold, the water pipes froze and when things started to thaw the first morning back, pipes started springing leaks everywhere.  By the next day, the wooden blocks had expanded enough from absorbed water that the floor had 2-3ft "waves" of blocks.

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Posted by fwright on Thursday, August 13, 2020 3:42 PM

In the 1990s, the Sikorski Helicopter plant still had a lot of the vertical wood block floor.

Also of note, major plants built before 1940s were full of windows.  Working around the clock with electric illumination really didn't start until World War II.

Fred W

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Thursday, August 13, 2020 5:23 PM

fwright
Also of note, major plants built before 1940s were full of windows.  Working around the clock with electric illumination really didn't start until World War II.

So you're saying, I probably shouldn't put lights in the engine house. 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Thursday, August 13, 2020 5:27 PM

Just as an aside, in high school I played basketball. Santa Barbara, laid their floor with an end grain. They said the basket balls bounced higher and were more lively. First time I dribbled I was shocked at how fast the ball came back. 

This is what I've been thinking of back in the cobwebbed areas this whole conversation.

Chip

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Posted by fwright on Monday, August 17, 2020 3:06 PM

SpaceMouse
So you're saying, I probably shouldn't put lights in the engine house.

Railroads and ships were the huge exception to daylight hours only prior to WW II.  Both had real needs for round the clock operations - ships for centuries, and railroads almost since their inception.  Railroad infrastructure - track, engines, cars, buildings - was just too valuable and hard to come by to allow to sit idle during the day.

So even a laid back, daylight-only railroad had to begin operating at dawn.  And busy railroads never had enough infrastructure to get by with daylight-only operations.  Given that a steam engine takes a minimum of 2 hours to make it ready to pull from a cold firebox, guaranteed the fireman and his assistant would be in the engine house early AM.  And likely the conductor and his assistant would be in early, too. 

Now, artificial lighting was abysmal before WWII.  A lot of carrying kerosene lanterns and squinting while work was done in the semi-darkness.  So a few lights, but not brightly lit, would be appropriate for a facility with electricity.  If before electricity arrived in that area, kerosene/parrafin lanterns would be the norm.  Most would be hand carried, and set down or hung where the men are working.

Fred W

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 17, 2020 3:44 PM

Droege's book on 'passenger terminals and trains' (1916) has a section where he mentions the upright end-grain block floors -- he notes in shops they could be creosoted.

I have to suspect there could be plenty of artificial light in any shop that required the hours -- probably with something like Argand lamps and reflectors in the era before good mantled gas.  While a modern shop in the early electric-power days would be built with maximal glazing for 'cheap light' it would also be reasonably lit for any night shift work.  What is the RRRR policy on work being done other than clean in daylight?

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