Trains.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Modeling the golden age

3397 views
6 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Modeling the golden age
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 13, 2003 1:40 AM
I plan to model the Birmingham Mineral Railroad built in the 1880s-1912 by the L & N. The first 50 mile stretch heading north out of Birmingham was completed in 1890 and included these features. Bradford or Dixiana Mines a booming mining opperation 9 miles off the main line it follows Self Creek through draws in Red and Sand Mountains and includes a shaft, red brick coke ovens, spur track with a turnaround Y and tipple. Compton 5 miles off the main line through a draw in Red Mountain. It is an open quarry opperaion for limestone. It has a spur . It closed sometime around 1920 and does not exist today. Ive been all through the woods where it once was. The features are spectacular, the double trestle ,Gurly Creek , the stone wall on the creekside next to the old bed.The Compton spur followed Gurly Greek though Red mountain. Chepultepec Depot later relocated 5 miles north to the boomtown of Oneonto, local lore says the move was because no one could spell or say Chepultepec. Oneonto or modern day Oneonta, named by an L & N engineer did not exist in 1888 but was made the county seat of Blount County Alabama in 1891. Oneonto has the relocated depot and a turnaround Y. Champion Mines an open iron ore mine just outside of Oneonto where the line ends in 1891. By 1912 the line went through the new town of Atoona, tunneled through Straight Mountain east to Gasden then south and west back into the L & N mainline 30 mile south of Birmingham. What type of equipment was used in open mines in 1891? The coke oven mouths were elevated above the spur track all in row for about 300 yards , Were the cars and ovens loaded by hand? I have a 2-6-0 on the way would a late 4-4-0 also be correct for the times ? What type of rolling stock will I need? I know pickings are slim for the 1890 time period.
  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
  • 9,977 posts
Posted by dehusman on Monday, October 13, 2003 7:24 AM
Coal was hauled in wooden hoppers and gondolas. Neither of which are offered in a plastic car kit and just a few resin kits. MDC has 36 ft boxcars, reefers and tank cars.
I have been kitbashing turn of the century (TOC) gons by using the cast metal MDC underframes and scratchbuilding a gondola body on top of it out of styrene and Grandt Line gondola side stakes. Later I will go back and make a new underfame for the MDC boxcar shells. In the 1890's a lot of the cars were 30 and 34 ft long, MDC's were 36'. AHM/IHC and Bachmann make some 1860-1880 era cars that can be upgraded with details for the 1890 era. You might want to subscribe to the "Early Rails" Yahoo group.

The "heavy" engine of the day was a 2-8-0 MDC Old Timer engines (2-8-0, 2-6-0, 4-4-0) are all appropriate. Power sells a 2-8-0. The new Bachman 4-6-0 is usable. Mantua, Bachmann, AHM/IHC all sell 4-4-0's. You can also pick up Mantua 4-6-0's, although they are oversized, they look "better" with a smaller cab (like off an MDC engine) and a smaller tender (MDC or off a Bachmann low driver 4-6-0). There are also early brass engines available for $150-500.
The engines will most likely have slide valves and will not have electric headlamps.

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

  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 10,904 posts
Posted by dknelson on Monday, October 13, 2003 8:15 AM
You might also find the old time cars that Mantua made at one time -- maybe a little early for your era but remember that railroad equipment tends to be used until it wears out. 4-4-0s were used in some kind of service until the 1920s (and beyond on some roads). Actually pre 1900 stuff tended to be all wood which means that scratchbuilding a car or two should be quite possible.
Dave Nelson
  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: WV
  • 1,249 posts
Posted by coalminer3 on Tuesday, October 14, 2003 8:34 AM
Whether coke ovens were beehive or rectangular, it was brutal, backbreaking labor. Ovens were charged and unloaded by hand (especially in the early days), although some larger operations later had mechanical coke extractors which took the coke out of the ovens, screened it, and loaded it into cars for shipment. In addition, coke ovens had to be tended constantly because coke making was as much an art as it was a science. There were more than a few coke ovens still working in this part of WV when I moved here. They were truly nasty, dangerous places. As a friend of mine said, "If this is what hell is like, I don't want to go."

Ethel Armes's book on Alabama coal mining is a good source for additional information. IIRC, the title is something like Coal and Iron in Alabama. As for cars, you need lots of L&N coal cars and gons. The L&N Historical Society and appropriate Train Shed Cyslopedias would be good places to look.

I have a fair amount of info on the coke industry and would be happy to share on this forum - post your questions and I'll see what I can do.

work safe





  • Member since
    January 2002
  • 1,132 posts
Posted by jrbarney on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 9:59 AM
L un N,
For cars of that era, I suggest you might want to check on two lines, Tichy and Red Ball. Tichy <http://www.tichytraingroup.com> has 22 Foot Ore Cars of 1906 vintage, but older appearing, item # 4012, cast in styrene. If you can accept a fish-belly underframe they also have a 1916 era low side gondola, item 4040, cast in styrene. Red Ball <http://www.mrrwarehouse.com> has Mann's Creek Side Discharge 15 ton Hoppers, circa 1883 in a two pack, cast in styrene. I find the Red Ball Web site a bit confusing and the kit instructions are a bit cluttered, but persevere.
Also, if you were lucky enough to find some Ayre's wooden car kits at a swap meet, or through E-bay at a reasonable price, they would be of the right era, although you might want to upgrade the stake pockets. Mention of Ayre's sort of reveals my age.
In any case, good luck, the "golden age" is my era too.
Bob
"Time flies like an arrow - fruit flies like a banana." "In wine there is wisdom. In beer there is strength. In water there is bacteria." --German proverb
  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
  • 9,977 posts
Posted by dehusman on Thursday, October 16, 2003 9:14 PM
Also look at www.great decals.com on the internet, there are several period decal manufacturers. there.

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

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 27, 2003 9:36 PM
Thank you all for the helpfull answers to my questions. Travis

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

There are no community member online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!