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Myles,      When I got into management, starting with Fluor Daniel in 1997, it was in Safety and I, too, did a lot of Safety training on plant operating and working in hazardous environments.  My experience in the craft and hands on years of work were invaluable.  Recently retired from SAIC as Safety Manager after 15 yrs on many various sites all over our great nation, from Georgia to Nevada, Pennsylvania to Oklahoma, and all in between.  One advantage was the capability to find and purchase trains from all over the country as well as knowing the fine individuals everywhere.  This includes helping to establish an O Gauge Model RR Club out of Antioch, Illinois when working the Great Lakes Naval Center.  And, seeing different rail roads and train consists from various regions.

Jesse     TCA

Myles,       I am a little familiar with the Port Arthur plant, I worked many plants along the Texas Gulf coast from Monsanto on Chocolate Bayou to the Port Arthur and Orange areas.  The most time were at Exxon BOP in Baytown, Gulf (now Chevron) North of Baytown on I-10, ARCO/Lyondale in Channelview, Shell on Hwy 225 in Pasadena, DuPont in LaPorte, and Rohm&Haas in Deer Park.  Saw many events take place, such as when Phillips Petroleum on 225 in Pasadena blew up and burned on Oct. 30th, 1989.... 30 lives lost.  I could tell of many  events witnessed that did not have good outcomes.  Being in Safety gave me opportunity to learn many of the facts and chain of events behind events and what lead up to the end results.  The worst thing, besides loss of lives, is the fact all could have been prevented had procedures been followed and short cuts avoided.  Never a good thing when time and money take priority over Safety.  And, as many on the Forum can attest to, the same applies to all the careers we have or have retired from.

Jesse     TCA


Jesse, I'd love to be able to sit down over a couple of drinks and share war stories with you.

My last Petro/chem consulting gig was when I had my company (Marcus-Carr Group). I was employed as a sub-contractor to Pilko Assoc to do a plant capability study of BP's polypropylene plant in Bayport. It used to be an ARCO Chem plant. BP was planning on divesting this plant and wanted to know if they were capable to operate as a stand-alone. I spent two weeks at the site interviewing about 25% of the entire workforce (including shift workers). One of the questions I asked was "Have you ever been asked to do an unsafe act to save time/money?" The interesting answer to that question was that the hourly guys generally didn't since the supervisor would do the unsafe act. That really wasn't the right answer. I recommended lots of changes before they would be viable as a stand-alone.

 With limited time today I did get some more stuff done on the flare system. But first I had to take care of the track. I wanted the trains to be operable when the Heaven Hill folks arrive on Wednesday. I'm having misalignment problems again. The swing gate is changing size with the changing weather conditions (humidity) and I'm seeing a 1/16" misalignment on the tracks at the gate interface. 

New Misalign

It was at the hinge end this time. I had just replaced the track at the latch end a short while ago. It was a positive derailment area and needed to be fixed! What I did is temporary at best. I loosened the screws holding the subroadbed to the cleat under this section, took a soft hammer and gave it some strategic initiative which pushed the subroadbed into alignment. This is temporary since I can imagine in winter the gate will shrink and the alignment will go the other direction. This was on the outer loop.

On the latch end of the inner track was another problem with it's own derailment problems. In this case I also loosened the cleat screws and used a wedge to push the inner (loosened) subroadbed towards the layout's inside and got them back into alignment. I'm leaving that unsightly wedge in place until I figure out a better way.

Misalign Fix

A test run on both tracks proved the adjustments to be okay. There used to be much more play in the gate system before all the landscape and filler work was done. Now, the whole deal is solid as a rock and doesn't budge. When it's closed it closed with no play. I'm reluctant to re-lay the track since I know it will change back.

Onto the chem plant:

I added a man way cover to fit the enlarged opening, and then built the required surge tank that separates liquids from gases that go to the flare. I had two tank ends left over from the kit which I didn't use. Actually I didn't realize they were there and made my own, only to find them later. I also made my own foot pedestals out of some 1/8" ABS Plastruct included in the kit. I first tried cutting out the blanks in the scroll saw, but even at the slowest speed the ABS kept melting together behind the cut and the piece re-welded itself to the stock. So I finished cutting it out with a jewelers saw. The new man way looks much more prototypical. I can actually imagine a person fitting through it.

Flare Man Way 2

The surge tank has three nozzles: Input, gas out, and liquids out on the bottom.

Surge Tank

Lastly, after re-examining the piping diagram, I realized that the heater had two nozzles: inlet cool and outlet hot. I'm out of the large size nozzles so I made my own with a piece of the large piping and a flat disc. The actual hole size for the smaller piping is not 1/8". It's actually a #30 drill (a few thou over 1/8"). You can't insert the piping in a 1/8" inch hole without breaking something. I'm boring out the large piping with this size drill so I can use the smaller pipe as a joining piece to extend the large pipe.

Here's the heater with the new piping.

New Heater Piping

I don't have any vertical ladders left to put one on the flare. Therefore, I'm probably going to leave that off.  The Plastruct ladder sets are expensive and it's a detail that will be lost on most viewers. I also realize that now that the bottom is filled with lead shot, I'm pretty much snookered trying to install a faux candle LED at the top. Again. no one will miss it.

With the photographer coming on Wednesday, I'll be able to do more work tomorrow. I'm going to start building the cooling tower and have to built all the pipe racks. Plus, let's not forget the tank car loading rack. There's still a lot to do on this huge project. AND tons of lighting!



Images (5)
  • New Misalign
  • Misalign Fix
  • Flare Man Way 2
  • Surge Tank
  • New Heater Piping

Myles,     Have you considered making use of line-up pins/sockets on the swing gate ?   With them placed directly beneath the track alignment, and perhaps constructed of metal, perhaps it may be a considered solution.  Your model constructing is amazing, gives me something of a guideline and encouragement at same time to look into what I wish to have on my layout.

Jesse    TCA

Jesse, I'm not sure that the geometry of the gate permits the pins. It slides in at an angle so the pins can't just be straight in. I've looked at this interface for many hours and can't seem to come up with a fool proof system. If it was a vertical drop as I originally conceived it, pins would have been perfect, but the sliding sideways tangent the the door engages the jamb seems to defy making that kind of indexing.

Started work today on the cooling tower while I wait for some more supplies to arrive. I've ordered more LEDs including flashing red and white for the tops of the flare tower or any other tall objects that could interfere with imaginary air traffic. I've also ordered the brass materials to make the chain link fencing. I have to go to a fabric store and get bridal tulle for the fencing and some finer "screening" for the screens in the cooling tower.

I printed the Illustrator images out to use as templates/guides to cut the styrene. I bought some Evergreen "corrugated siding" for the body sides. I use the full suite of Northwest Shoreline styrene cutting tools which greatly simplifies this work and increase accuracy. All the parts were laid out on the surface plate using my Starrett Surface Guage. I had originally bought all these high class layout tools in the mid 90s to build live steam engines. That never happened, but I have used them all with great precision in all the scratch-build work I'm now doing. It's hard to believe that I didn't attempt scratch-building anything until I was in my mid-50s, and not really full-steam ahead until my mid to late 60s. It's never too late to learn new stuff.

The front and rear screen frames are built out of four layers of styrene parts. The two main parts are cut from flat stock and then styrene strip stock builds out the front frames and adds stiffening to the rear. 

Here's the front of the finished frame

Cooling Tower 3

And here's the rear

Cooling Tower Build 2

And finally, I just set it up for the picture. I will put corner reinforcements during the glue up. I also will need to cut a floor and roof. There's piping going to this unit with hot water in and cooled out. There would also be electric hookup like it would for all the pumping stations. I may or may not add that. I think (I hope) I have enough I-beam stock for the foundation framing. If not, I'll have to buy some. I believe I have enough Plastruct railing to build it, but I will have to buy more caged ladders... darn!

Cooling Tower Build 1


Images (3)
  • Cooling Tower 3
  • Cooling Tower Build 2
  • Cooling Tower Build 1

Myles,   Going back a few posts, to the davits on top of your tower......    As it is necessary for the davit to pivot on the vertical axis, the davit arms are set into a corresponding vertical pipe "sleeve".  For instance, a davit made of formed 3 inch pipe may be fitted down into a 4 inch schedule 80 vertical sleeve.   This would reduce the I.D. of the sleeve pipe for a better close tolerance fit with the 3 inch.  A collar ring would be at needed length from bottom of the 3 inch to sit on top of the opening of the 4 inch vertical.  On larger capacity davits a grease cert would allow for maintenance lubrication of the inner gap between the two sized pipes.  Naturally, all was engineered according to the required capacity of the davit, and on occasion an arm was affixed to the davit just above the sleeve pipe to assist with turning of the davit arm.  The size and weight of the top PRV and diameter of the column (center line of davit distance to O.D. of column) would most likely be the determining factor for size and capacity of the entire davit arm.   Just a few notes to assist with just how prototypical you wish to be in detailing.

Great work and anticipating the final completion, and what end product you plan to be shipping by rail.

Jesse   TCA   12-68275 

The photographer and Heaven Hills' communications people came today. The photographer represented a Louisville magazine Traditions Transitions, it's a quarterly publication for the over 50 age group. We spent a good half hour going through all the machinations that I go through to create this stuff. The article will appear (if it does) in the Fall.

While waiting for this to occur I continued working on the cooling tower. I got the box built and the "structural steel" support frame. The last thing I did was to create the faux concrete base and pedestals.

I use those corner clamps that are advertised in all the magazines to hold the mating pieces square. I then went back and added corner bracing both as mitered square pieces and some styrene bar stock. 

Cooling tower casing

I added the floor using thin styrene sheeting. To give it more support I installed some angle x bracing.

Cooling Tower Floor Bracing

The way these towers work is the hot water is cascaded down through the air flow and collected at the bottom where it is pumped back into the system. So the bottom would be the tank for this "water".

I then built the structural support frame. I didn't have a lot of Evergreen I beam stock so I built the minimum believable frame. The cross pieces have to be coped to nestle into the joint with another I- beam at 90 degrees. I use the digital calipers as a measurement transfer device (I've told you all this before many times) to measure the flange width, mark if off on the piece and then use the super-fine razor saw to cut away the flange on the the mating piece. 

Structural Steel Coping

Here is the array. I didn't have I-beam for the not-visible internal beams and used a piece of styrene H-beam.

Cooling Tower Structural Steel

The concrete base is a piece of European ply that I had laying around. It has a slight warp, but I'm hoping that it won't matter.

Cooling Tower Concrete Base

The pedestals are pieces of the same material cut on the scroll saw. In looking at the original photo they look pretty tall since the outgoing cold water comes off the bottom from an underneath feed. I'll need enough height to get the pipe out of there. Doesn't look like much now, but that's where I ended up today. Tomorrow I have a car repair appointment and a haircut so I may or may not get some work time. There's always Friday. I will probably have to make more of these since I think it's not enough height.

Cooling Tower Feet Gluing



Images (6)
  • Cooling tower casing
  • Cooling Tower Floor Bracing
  • Structural Steel Coping
  • Cooling Tower Structural Steel
  • Cooling Tower Concrete Base
  • Cooling Tower Feet Gluing
Last edited by Trainman2001

Good! I'll keep writing.

Max, used that web site you suggested and quickly made the template for the venturi. It doesn't have a setting for less that 1" in height so I made it a bit taller. I transferred the template to PDF, but it positioned the image beyond the printer's margins, so i did a screen print and printed it out as a .png and it came out exactly the right size. Again, thanks for the link.

Max, it's too bad you're so faaaaarrrrrrrrr away, but at least we have the forum.

Today was a car repair/haircut day so I had only minutes in the shop, but I got the concrete base put together.

Cooling Tower Pedestal 3

I cleaned up the stacks before CAing them to the Masonite. As you can see, I exchanged the warped ply for some flat Masonite. 

I just dropped the housing on the base for this picture. The height will work. It will look so much better when painted.

Cooling Tower Pedestal 2

During my errands I stopped at Jo-Ann Fabrics to look for Bridal tulle for the chain link fencing AND the screening in front of the cooling tower. This was the single, least expensive purchase I have ever made for my railroad. $0.70. Yes! That right! 70 cents! I'm going to layer the black tulle to make the cooling tower screening a bit more opaque. I was able to find the same size gauze as Brennen used in the original chain link fence kit. The lady could sell me as small a strip as 1" as long as it was the width of the fabric roll (54")

Chain Link and Screen

Tomorrow work will continue on this project and I'll have to order some vertical ladders or... perhaps I can build them as I did for the substation. It's not that hard. A bit painstaking, but it's a straight forward construction job. I will have to scale it carefully so it will fit the Plastruct ladder cage.



Images (3)
  • Cooling Tower Pedestal 3
  • Cooling Tower Pedestal 2
  • Chain Link and Screen

Got a lot done today and really got into the heart of the beast. I added the bottom cold outlet since I wanted to be sure it would go in with the footing heights that I chose. It works. I then built the roof, the fan opening, the support ring, the venturi and got most of the fan drive built. It's really coming together and is a nice, not-so-long project which is refreshing.

To install the outlet, I doubled the floor thickness so there'd be some more stock to hold onto the pipe fitting.

Cooling Tower Bottom Outlet

I used 0.020" styrene for the roof. It's quite thin and overly flexible so it needed some structural support and doublings to firm it up. I use ABA to do the doubling.

To cut the hole (which BTW: is not centered, since I made a mental math error when I divided the length in half) using my special dividers that have a point on one leg and the other sharpened to a chisel edge so it can scribe the styrene. After scribing the diameter, I open up the center with the skinny razor saw and scribed radial lines to facilitate breaking out the inside piece. You have to pay attention when using these modified dividers. The chisel edge can wander inwards. I find it best to hold the dividers still and rotate the workpiece under it.

CT Cutting the Fan Opening

I cut a similar hole in the ABS that I was using underneath. I then added some Evergreen I-Beam stock for further stiffening.

On top, goes a thicker ring which supports the venturi and adds rigidity to the fan housing. I scribed this onto the 1/8" ABS included in the kit and roughed it out with a coping saw and then worked closer to the line with a jewelers saw.

CT Venturi Ring

After sawing I final shaped it with the Dremel and sanding drum for the i.d. and the belt sander for the o.d. I made a little sawing booboo and got over the i.d. line in one spot. I thought about redoing it, but decided it would really not be noticed and it was a lot of work to get it this far.

CT Venturi Support

I used spray glue to adhere the venturi template to some 0.020" styrene and cut it out with a scissors. I left a bunch of stock off the end since I wanted to final fit it on the model. I used a piece of the same stock to form the joint reinforcement, and glued it similarly as I did with the transition piece of the Flare. I got it to fit perfectly and it exceeded my expectations since I was worried about this particular step.

While the venturi was setting up, I built the fan support structure out of two pieces of 1/8" X 1/4" styrene stock that I did a cross-lap joint. It's a lot easier to make a cross-lap in wood than styrene. First it's laid out, then using the thin razor saw to start the cuts, finished up in the miter box to half the depth. Then make a bunch of in-between cuts to make it easier to chisel out the waste.

CT Fan Support Cross-Lap 1

CT Fan Support Cross-Lap 2

After gluing them in position, I added brass pins since this is a pretty critical part and if it were to break loose, it would be really hard to fix. You can also see all the extra reinforcement added to strengthen the roof.

CT Fan Support Pinning

I used the hermaphrodite calipers to re-locate the center of the opening onto the fan frame since I didn't measure their location accurately when gluing. I then drilled a pilot and a #31 drilled hole to pass the 1/8" Plastruct #4 tubing which I'm going to use as the fan axle.

With this stuff all glued in, I test fit the now-dry venturi. 

CT Venturi Test Fit

I have some Plastruct motors, but no fan pulleys, so I had to machine some. The piece of aluminum stock I used for the large fan pulley was a bit long to just hold in the chuck and it kept trying to pull out and do some major injury to me. So I hack sawed the part I was machining off the larger chunk and re-chucked it so I was cutting closer to the chuck and created a very passable 3-belt pulley. 

CT Fan Pulley

I used some smaller stock for the motor pulley and it was much easier to machine without as much drama.

CT Pulley Set

I made a little block mount to hold the motor to the support structure and again, used brass to pin it in place. This was a test fitting. I'm going to paint everything before adding the pulleys and the E-Z Line belting.

CT Motor Test Fit

The roof doubling will also serve as a secure base for the hot water inlet which comes in from above through the roof. Next up will be to create the fan. I'm noodling whether to build it from styrene, brass, or a combination. With brass I could solder it together so it would be very secure and I would be easier to bend an airfoil shape for the blades, but it's much more difficult to work. It's not going to rotate and no-one can touch it, so styrene would work okay too. I still have to plan for the lighting on top. The prototype shows two lights on each module, and I'll need to built reinforcement for this as I go forward. The roof won't go on until everything is painted and ready to go since I need to install the black screening AFTER painting and the roof needs to be off to do this. I'm also working on how to best install the screening. I'll let my subconscious work on this for a little while and see what it comes up with. I don't know if it's unique to me, or people like me, but I will actually build what I'm doing in my mind in many different ways until I arrive at a reasonable solution. I pre-visualize a build kind of like Jack Nicklaus would pre-visualize playing a specific golf course.

As a refresher, here's the prototype. Notice the switchgear and electric wiring which could be nice to add. I don't know what that array of tubes do that are going up the side.




Images (12)
  • Cooling Tower Bottom Outlet
  • CT Cutting the Fan Opening
  • CT Venturi Ring
  • CT Venturi Support
  • CT Fan Support Cross-Lap 1
  • CT Fan Support Cross-Lap 2
  • CT Fan Support Pinning
  • CT Fan Pulley
  • CT Pulley Set
  • CT Motor Test Fit
  • CT Venturi Test Fit
  • PC0417_ePublishing_SPX01

Yup! I'm now realizing that this may be circuitry that goes down through all five units being fed from this end. I've looked more closely at Marley's Brochure, and instead of being a screen in the front it's actually a slanted (out at the top end) array of baffles where the water cascades down exposing tons of surface area for maximum heat transfer. While I'm not modeling the insides, I can slant the screening assembly to replicate this feature on both sides. I'm going to stack several layers of the black tulle to make it almost opaque with lots of texture simulating these arrays. I've also sketched a fan on Illustrator in preparation for building one. The blades are adjustable so they're held to the hub by single pivot rods which actually makes building the model easier in some respects. I noticed too that Marley uses a 90 degree gear box to drive the horizontal motor to the vertical fan. I'm going to stay with the belt drive since I've seen them also and I've already made those neat pulleys.

I see too that there's a flanged rim at the top edge of the venturi. I'm can add something there which will also stabilize the shape.

Well... today was fruitful. I've got a lot of images to share so bear with me.

I printed out the drawing I made of the fan and decided on a mixed-media approach with a brass hub and connectors and styrene blades. I had thought about making the hub thicker using a piece of the 5/8" pipe that I used for the flare, but I none of it left. I was going to drill the arm holes around the perimeter. Instead, I laid out a brass hub with 8 equally spaced lines where the arms will go. I drilled the #31 hole before cutting out the disc.

CT Fan Hub Layout

Cut it out with a jewelers saw and slightly missed on one line, but it doesn't matter in this instance. Dressed up the edges with the belt sander and then needle file.

CT Fan Hub

I soldered the 8 arms onto the disk with the RSU. Again, this soldering job would have been ridiculous with a standard iron, but was a piece of cake with the RSU. I had to use heat sinks to keep other pieces from de-soldering since they were so close together and the disk had a lot of mass.

CT Fan Soldering 1

I soldered opposite sides so the heating wouldn't be too bad. At the start I used hemostats, but went to using heavy steel angle and v-blocks. I added some liquid rosin flux to help it along. I realize now that I could have used different temp solders which also reduces de-soldering, but this worked okay. Here's a pic showing the RSU's tweezers in the act.

CT Fan Soldering 2

After cleaning up the excess flux with alcohol I trimmed all the arms to a specific length. Later I trimmed them even shorter.

CT Fan Hub Soldering 3

I applied a thin layer of spray glue onto my fan drawing and stuck it to a piece of styrene. I cut out all 8 blades from 0.020" sheet. After cutting I soaked the blades in Goo Gone to remove the patterns and then in alcohol to remove the Goo Gone. The blades were too thin to drill the holes for arm attachment, so I needed to add some stock to their backs. After this dried I shaped it a bit some it's not visible when looking down at the fan. 

CT Fan Blade Assembly

I used the small carbide drill to put in a starter hole and then opened it with a #53 drill to match the fan arms. This is the back side.

CT Fan Blade Install

After installing all the blades and adjusting their pitch I added a drop of thin CA to the joint and they were done.

CT Fan Complete

I added a NBW casting on the hub to dress that up.

While the fan blade blocking was drying I added some Evergreen 1/2 round stock to the top edge of the venturi. This note only finished the edge, but also helped stiffen this thin plastic part. When it dried, I sanded the top edge some the thin stock coincided with the beading.

CT Venturi Trim

The last piece the fan needed was the trash screen. Ideally, it would be a circular screen that would have to be photo etched. Since I can't do that (yet) I decided to use the Bridal tulle I bought last week. I used the larger gauge (chain link fence) held in place with two ABS rings. In this case, I used the MicroMark pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) to hold the tulle to the rings. I made the lower ring a smaller size than the upper.

CT Fan Trash Screen 1

I trimmed the excess with a fresh, sharp #11 blade. After test fitting into the space, I realized it needed some stops to hold it in position. It took a couple of tries to get the height just right.

CT Fan Trash Screen Stops

Here's the screen test fit in place. Starting to look pretty spiffy. I didn't glue it in since the fan needs to be painted. This will keep workers from being maimed if they fall into the fan housing. Safety first!

CT Fan Trash Screen 2

I cut the lower portion fan shaft to a length for the lower pulley. I cut it too short since the motor extends a little farther into the unit. I'm therefore thinking of changing from a belt drive to an angle drive (as Marley uses on the prototype). This should be an easy piece to cobble together.

Tomorrow I'm going to get the railings into place, and put the bracing on the box's outside. And then I'll build the water baffles which aren't vertical. They slope forward and are not flush with the front at their bottoms. These are going to be black so it's another reason why the roof will not be glued until after assembly and painting is finished.

My roll of 22 gauge red/black zip cord came today to make wiring up all these LEDs easier. I bought a 100 ft. roll. I also received the flashing white and red LEDs that I can use for aircraft warning lights on the flare tower (and others), and I got the K-S 3 foot lengths of brass tubing for the light poles and making the chain link fencing. Instead of using steel rod as Brennen included, I'm using small brass tubing. It will be easier to shape the cross-lap joints and much, much easier to solder securely. It all has to be painted anyway so whether it's brass or steel, it doesn't matter.





Images (12)
  • CT Fan Hub Layout
  • CT Fan Hub
  • CT Fan Soldering 1
  • CT Fan Soldering 2
  • CT Fan Hub Soldering 3
  • CT Fan Blade Assembly
  • CT Fan Blade Install
  • CT Fan Complete
  • CT Venturi Trim
  • CT Fan Trash Screen 1
  • CT Fan Trash Screen Stops
  • CT Fan Trash Screen 2
Last edited by Trainman2001
Mike welkie posted:

Miles, I know that you've heard it many times ,but it can't be said enough. You are a true master craftsman ! Your work is trully breathtaking and sets the bar for all others to follow. I learn from each of your projects and you are a true asset to the forums.I wait with baited breath for each new project! Keep up the good work !


Ditto. Mike said it all. 

Even if I've heard it before, I don't mind hearing it again. Thanks guys! You make all this writing stuff worthwhile.

Exercise day limits my work shop time to around two hours. That being said, I did accomplish something.

I did change out the belt drive for a cobbled together angle gear drive. I loved those pulleys, but this was a simpler installation since it's almost out of sight anyway. I thought about putting a ring of bolts around the housing's top, but quickly disabused myself of that idea since it's facing downward into a completely closed space. AMS* is a bad disease and we must not give into it. I still may hook up some faux wiring to that motor though.

CT Gear Fan Drive

*AMS = Advanced Modeler's Syndrome.

Got back to work on the housing by building the frames which will hold the tulle representing the water baffles. I thought of this while waking this morning and realized that using structural shapes would give this assembly some needed depth. I had some small sized Plastruct ABS I-beam stock which worked well for this. It took a bit of massaging to get them to seat properly in the housing. I used the same PSA to adhere the tulle to the front and backs of these frames. I used solvent cement and CA to secure the frames and little corner braces.

CT Water Baffle Frames

I am going to fit these frames on the angle as in the prototype.

CT WB Frame FIt 2

Next I added the cross-bracing, center brace and corner brackets to the housing openings. I used 0.030" Evergreen round styrene rod for the braces held with CA. I didn't trust using solvent cement here since the rod surface area was so small. I added little triangular brackets for the corners and added the center braces that are shown in the prototype.

CT Cross Bracing

So here's today's Cooling Tower status shot.

CT Status 7-18

Next up: railings, outside bracings strips, tulle installation, and lighting. When I do the lighting for this unit, I'm also going to be designing it for all the rest. I still have to build a number of pipe racks and the loading platform. When I get into these scratch-builds, I really don't know at the start how it's going to turn out or exactly how I'm going to do it, but I've reached the point where if I can draw it in SketchUp, I can probably build it the real world. I usually build stuff in my head several different ways until I come up with one that I think will work. Then all I have to do is duplicate what I thought about. Simple! Eh?




Images (5)
  • CT Gear Fan Drive
  • CT Water Baffle Frames
  • CT WB Frame FIt 2
  • CT Cross Bracing
  • CT Status 7-18

Myles,      Really looking great, and coming together very well.  You have really gotten me to thinking, remembering, back to when I worked all those years in the petrochemical plants in the Houston/Baytown areas.  Yes, as you stated above, the cooling towers I ever worked on had a gearbox mounted in center of the fan shroud support steel.  The drive motors were located outside the shroud area, on reinforced pads towards the tower outer edge.  From the motors, a drive shaft (supported by a couple of carrier bearings along it's length) was flange mounted to the horizontal input of the gearbox, the blade assembly hub mounted to the vertical output shaft by means of a keyed through shaft.   The power supply conduit ran up from ground level to the tower top and along the length of the cooling tower, each appropriate conduit connecting to each drive motor.  One item I have been wondering about is what type retaining/containment walls you plan to have around the tanks and vessels... reinforced concrete or concrete topped earthen dikes?  I have seen both used, each depending upon the location and type of product to be retained in the event of a spillage or vessel loss of integrity.

Keep up the really superb work, sir.

Jesse      TCA


Jesse, thank you! I haven't decided on the dikes and barriers yet. In fact, I hadn't really thought about it much, but your question brings it to the front of my mind. I'll leaning towards concrete dikes since they're probably easier to model. I did see an image of the Marley gear drive on their website. The gear box is a casting, but I didn't want to fuss around trying to carve something to simulate it since, as I've mentioned before, it won't be seeable. If this was a shelf model that someone could pick up and turn around, all the interior stuff could matter. But it's going to sit quite a distance from the average viewer (unless they open the gate and go inside the layout), and from that view, they won't even see the fan, let alone the works inside.

Here's the pic from their brochure. I didn't include all that structural steel holding it all up, again for the reason given above. I mounted mine upside down on the roof supports. Notice too, the thickness of the water baffles. Mine are not going to be that thick.

Marley Gear Drive

Since I've gone with a corrugated steel siding, I'm wondering if I need the outside seams that this Marley unit has? I also have to model that access door.

And here's that gear drive. You can see why I didn't want to try and model it. I could have made it out of clay and cast it in resin... if I was nuts, that is.



Images (2)
  • Marley Gear Drive
  • sr_grdr
Last edited by Trainman2001

I just had a third of a post finished, stopped for dinner, showed some other picks to my younger grandson, and lost the whole deal and am starting over. Oh well...

Found some good graphics for the Marley and SPX logos (SPX is Marley's parent company) and was able to first photo edit them and then bring them into Illustrator to make masters for future decals. I printed them out in several sizes to try them on the cooling tower. First I attempted to re-draw that arrow-shaped logo, but then found an excellent one on another part of Marley's website.

CT Marley Logos

Since I'm using faux corrugated siding on the housing, decaling would be troublesome so I made some graphics panels and glued them on top of the siding. I will print the logos out on decal paper and put them on the model. These panels will be aluminum colored along with the rest of the model.

CT Logo Panels

While on the housing I did several things. I made and installed the access door. Prepared the ladder and installed the ladder standoffs, and repaired/modified several details in preparation for the railings. I added a piece of round stock to simulate the piano hinge. Behind the door are strips that prevent it from falling through and I put a piece of thick stock in the area where the door handle is going so it will properly supported.

CT Access Door

There were gap areas in the front corners that needed filling. I glued some styrene filler pieces and when dry cut and trimmed them flush. After priming I may go back and add some Tamiya filler to further dress it up.CT Trim FIx 1

CT Trim Fix 3

I also added a doubler under the roof and installed the water inlet elbow. I added a disk underneath the elbow to dress it up a bit.

Again I chose to make my own railings since the Plastruct spacing didn't work for this structure. I had to make sure that there's not centrally located stanchion on the end since it would interfere with the water inlet. I also had to clear the ladder opening which further eliminated the Plastruct railings.

To get a good place to anchor the rails, I couldn't do it on the corrugated siding. The Marley pictures clearly show that the stanchions fasten to the outside edge. Therefore; I added a 0.040" X .188" strip all around the top. It dressed off the top edge and give as square and broad surface to glue the stanchions.

CT Railing Band

I made the stanchions as before with the sphere tank platform, but this time, I'm using corner posts. In order to fasten the stanchions in such a way that the holes faced in the right direction, I had to add corner blocks that were flush with one side to stand the corner posts off the corner in line with the side stanchions. It's easier to see than to write about.

CT Railing Stanchions

The last thing I did today was apply the "Fill" which is the term for the water baffling system that expands the surface area exposed to the air flow. This is an induced counter-flow cooling tower. The fan creates negative pressure on outside of the fill panels. Meanwhile, the water fills a tray on top that has many opening where the water cascades down through the fill while the air passes through it. Cooling towers work by cooling created by evaporation. They're much more technical than one would think, but then almost everything is. They're affected by ambient temperature, barometric pressure, wind velocity and direction, and relative humidity. We all know that water doesn't evaporate well in high humidity. There are different designs for areas that experience this.

I used the black tulle for the front faces. In real life, the front face can take the form of a honeycomb that steers the air flow into the fill. The fill consists of many tiers of baffles that let the water cascade down exposing the most area. The first layer was held to the frame with the PSA, but the second layer didn't respond well to this. I needed at least two layers to give it more visual density. I resorted to medium CA. It was messy and not fun, but I got it stuck. I then PSA'd the back and adhered black construction paper to opaque the whole affair. In real life, you cannot see through the fill, so blacking it all out works. I tried it in to see what it looked like.

CT Fill

Works! I also fitted the ladder. I put it in place where you can see the SPX logo.

CT Ladder Fit

The last work to complete is the lighting. Then it will be ready for painting. I'm thinking that I'll prime everything with the Tamiya grey primer, then gloss black for anything that's going to get the metallic surface. Apparently, silver paint shows up better over black. I should try this on a test piece before screwing anything up. It's getting near the end on this sub-unit. 

Still to do: all those pipe racks and the loading rack. The loading rack is probably going to get the Plastruct railings since there's so much of it. And let's not forget about all the lighting. But we're still getting pretty close. I want the refinery on the layout before August 12. Lots of family is coming to L'ville for my younger grandson's Bar Mitzvah and I want something cool to show them.



Images (9)
  • CT Marley Logos
  • CT Logo Panels
  • CT Access Door
  • CT Trim FIx 1
  • CT Trim Fix 3
  • CT Railing Band
  • CT Railing Stanchions
  • CT Fill
  • CT Ladder Fit
Last edited by Trainman2001


I agree with Pat, that you already have something cool, but given your current pace, you will probably have it completed.

While working for Virginia Power, on days I worked at the power station switchyard, I often moved the van down to the point where the cooling towers were.  The point being Possum Point, on the north shore of the Quantico Creek meets the Potomac River.  I mainly parked there for an excellent view of the water, but also the RF&P bridge over to the town of Quantico and the Quantico Marine base.  There were lots of Tropicana juice trains and Amtrak made stops at the Quantico station.  

Back to the cooling towers; I'm sure everyone will be impressed with yours!!!

Guys, I appreciate the sentiment, but I'm going to press on. I have about three weeks and should get a lot done. I'd at least like to have it all moved over to the layout. Some folks are better than other in visualizing incomplete things in their future state.

Speaking of getting stuff done, I did get some more stuff done today. Boy! Being retired is sure great for model railroading. I'm literally in heaven having the opportunity to work on my favorite things each day. I enjoyed my professional life. It was interesting, enriching, had impact, and I made a decent living, but this is so much more enjoyable.

Got the railing on the cooling tower and built the two light poles for this particular unit. The carbide drill I'm using for the rail holes in the stanchions is 0.0315", not quite 0.032" of the wire, so it's a tight fit. Since I don't want to stress the stanchions while threading the rod, I used a actual 0.032" drill to relieve the holes a bit. This rod slid through nicely without breaking any stanchions. I like using the carbide drill for this size rod in normal circumstances since it offers a very snug fit when using brass pins for mechanical assembly.

CT Railings Comp.

I used my existing silicone mold to cast another light head and refined my building process a bit. I'm using new wire that I just got from Bulk Wire .com. It's 22 gauge red/black zip cord. While the conductors inside are 22 AWG, the insulation's a bit thick and I was afraid that it would pass down the 1/8" brass tubing I'm using for the poles. It just makes it, but I was worried about insulating the + lead. I was able to use a small piece shrink tubing to protect the little bit of exposed lead to not let it touch the pole which is serving as the negative pole.

I put the u-bend into the LED so it snugs up into the fixture housing. I carefully hold the leads at the LED end when bending them so they PUT NO BENDING LOAD inside the LED. They will be ruined if you overstress the leads. The red lead is pulled back down inside the pole, the LED negative lead is cut a bit shorter and then soldered to the outside of the pole. I used a combination of regular Weller iron and the American Beauty RSU.

CT Light Poles 1

Here're the two poles before painting. Right now I'm planning on running them down the outside of the unit to the base instead of mounting them on the roof and running the wires down inside. I may change my mind on this. A bit of masking tape on the LED lens is all that's needed before painting. The resin heads are held to the poles with med CA.

CT Light Poles 2

That's about all the Cooling Tower stuff I can do without painting so I got started on the loading rack. The plans call for using Plastruct I-beams, but I had none of this left. But I had the same size I-beam in brass. Working with brass is kind of fun. The micro saw cuts brass almost as easily as ABS... really! I had to cope notch the brass cross pieces.

I measured the plans vis a vis how the Plastruct railing material fits and adjusted the length a tad shorter so the stanchions come out evenly at the ends. On the inside they already come out evenly.

I tried soldering this with the RSU, but my unit seems a little too low wattage to handle the mass, so I turned to my mini-butane. This is one of the pencil-shaped ones that I found very useful, but it does require re-filling frequently. I applied so excess rosin flux, but it probably would have been a quicker job if I used acid-based flux and solder, instead of rosin-core.

I marked the locations of the cross pieces and then clamped them together using a combination of quick clamps and twisted black iron wire.

CT Load Rack Brass 1

CT Load Rack Brass 2

There are little extensions of the frame that support the outrigger platforms. These needed soldering too. In this case I used t-pins on the ceramic soldering pad.

CT Load Rack Brass 4

To get the exact platform height to a tank car, I took the Masonite base and a combination square onto the layout and aligned it with the loading platform of the tank car. I then took this measurement and made space blocks to use in erecting the platform.

CT Load Rack Fitting 1

I tried these blocks out back on the railroad and it came out too high.

CT Load Rack Fitting 2

It was because I forgot to subtract the thickness of the brass frame and the walkway material. So I trimmed the blocks by this much on the chop saw and retested the height.

CT Load Rack Fitting 3

The height is now correct and I can continue building the four upright supports. These will be ABS columns that will have bearing pads under the brass cross members. All of this will be epoxied together since it's a multi-media assembly. There's a short pipe rack that runs along the bottom that carries the liquid and gaseous feeds to the rack. There will be 3 light poles on the rack. I can count about 2 more on the distillation tower, 2 for the HP spheres, maybe one on the big liquids tank, 1 at the heater, and some others lighting the ground areas. So I'm probably going to have to make about 10 more lights. I also have to build some environmental dams around some of the units. Details, details...



Images (9)
  • CT Railings Comp.
  • CT Light Poles 1
  • CT Light Poles 2
  • CT Load Rack Brass 1
  • CT Load Rack Brass 2
  • CT Load Rack Brass 4
  • CT Load Rack Fitting 1
  • CT Load Rack Fitting 2
  • CT Load Rack Fitting 3

Great work as always, Miles. As for the loading rack and tank cars, is there an AAR standard relating to the height of the platform on the tank cars themselves? Also for the stationary platforms ? Also if so,are these standards that have been maintained through various eras? If it seems like a dumb question,please forgive me. Btw, what is the main era that you primarily model?

  If the exposed wire is a worry, try liquid elecetrical tape. It's great stuff imo. Kinda dries like rubber. Slightly inconsistant in viscosity, I'd use a thicker glob as a filler if overall dia./ gauge is a concern; and dress with a swap or cheap-o watercolor brush. Come to think of it, there is/was a "liquid rubber" at one time to, that I am pretty sure was the same basic product. I never used "Dip it" coating but imagine that's similar too.

 Silicone (household or "gasket maker") can be used, but imo Lq.E. Tape grips wire insulation and metal better, and has a bit more flex/pull before losing its grip. 

   It's also nice to have for the times that you forget to slip the shrink tube onto the wire before you attach THAT terminal.

..... You know THAT terminal. The one you have no extras of  

Thanks folks!

As to the tank car height. I only have four of such cars so if the platform height works for them I think I'm good to go.

I have Liquid Electrical Tape and have used it for just those kinds of issues. I have to get some more since my bottle is getting too thick. I may revert to using it if the shrink tubes don't do the job.

Speaking of shrink tubing, I have a neat tool that I bought at Radio Shack (you remember those...). It's a hot air gun specifically designed to heat shrink tubing and it's a terrific time and finger saver. It has a metal shield that wraps around the wire so it heats all around and keeps the hot air from blowing on you.

I may have a problem with this thicker cable when I run out of the very thin wall tubing and use the more normal thicker wall K-S tubing. If it doesn't work, I have some finer gauge red wire that I can run down the tube and tie the zip cord to the bottom. I have to add the resistor and that could be a convenient place to splice the two leads together.

You see... that's the problem. I generally have late steam and early diesels, but I do have some 2nd generation diesels, and some modern structures, the substation being a good example. I modeled that with state of the art ABB equipment. And the distillery, although the main building dates back to the late 1800s, has a modern silo system connected to it. The refinery too is not going to be old. So anything goes. My autos on the layout date from the 40s to the 80s (or later), with most from the 50s. I am not a purist. I buy/build what I like and find interesting. My engines are basically what was imprinted on me when I read my George Zaffo train books when I was 5.

Moving right along. Exercise day, but had an earlier start so I was down in the shop by 1:30. 

Got a lot done on the load rack with the platform surface and the four posts built and glued. Cast another lamp post head and wired one up.

I measured the platform shape off the print. The length required two pieces with a seam so I made sure the seam would split one of the brass cross-members to ensure glue surface on the edge. ABS to brass means epoxy. I'm using the 5 minute Gorilla epoxy which has nice holding power and sets up reasonably fast. It does not really cure for a good 24 hours, but you can de-clamp in a short while as long as you don't disturb it.

CT Load Deck Epoxied

I used the measuring blocks to set the leg height. I wanted to put a concrete pad at the bottom, used Plastruct H-beam to transition the leg post to the brass structure and added a thin "steel" pad with some NBWs. I stacked them up and marked the post height, set up a fixture on my bench miter box and cut four legs. I squared up the ends with the Precision Sander.

CT Measuring Load deck post

I also used the sander to ensure that the H-beam faces were true and flat. They look okay, but when you use the sander you can quickly see that they weren't flat.

Since I'm gluing ABS to ABS I used solvent cement to joint the head to the post. The base plates are very thin and weren't in the equation when I measured the post height. I also used solvent cement for these plates and used CA for the NBWs. 

CT Load Deck Columns

I also took a larger file to the bottom of the brass frame to true the gluing surface and match the flatness of the H-beams. Again, ABS to brass = Epoxy. I used some square edges to hold things square if they showed any out of square behavior.

CT Load Deck Posts Epoxied

And here's the glued up rack. As I noted, it's not cured until tomorrow, but they'll be strong.

CT Load Deck Status

Next up will be attaching the railings and stairways. The plans don't show any form of loading apparatus so I'll have to do some research.

While this was curing, I poured another lamp head. This time, instead of clamping the mold in my Panavise, I clamped it between some boards held with rubber bands. The Panavise was not applying equal pressure and the mold kept leaking resin. This new way didn't leak a drop. When I tried tightening the mold in the vise, it would start distorting, but it was still leaking.

CT Light Post Resin Pour

I made another light assembly. This one sized for the HP Sphere platform. As I was afraid, the new cable doesn't fit easily into the thicker walled K-S tubing, so I used the finer 24 AWG wire which I spliced to the heavier wire at the other end. The thicker wall bends without kinking in the spring wire tube bending tool.

It's a weekend, so no work until Monday.

Y'all have a nice COOL weekend.


Images (6)
  • CT Measuring Load deck post
  • CT Load Deck Columns
  • CT Load Deck Epoxied
  • CT Load Deck Posts Epoxied
  • CT Load Deck Status
  • CT Light Post Resin Pour

Happy Monday. Unlike the rest of the civilized world, I actually like the weekdays more than the weekend, since I've made this deal of "no working on the trains on the weekend". 

Spent the entire afternoon continuing work on the loading dock. Got all the railings and stairs finished, and then started working on the enhancements. The kit includes no information on how materials get from the all those tanks to the tank cars. So I went online and found many illustrations of chemical loading racks. First of all, there are movable platforms that drop down to bring the operator safely over the tanks loading ports. There are also, sometimes elaborate, articulated piping systems to bring product to the filling ports.


So after putting on all the railings I started to cobble together my version of the loading system.

I had ensured that the platform was a multiple of the Plastruct railings spacing. I had to shorten the overall length any about 1/2" total taking equal amounts from either side. This proved very smart since the long rail fit perfectly. I used some square edges blocks to hold the rail vertical while I solvent glued it over its length. I did the same for the shorter rail-side railing. I clamped the whole deal in the wood worker's vise and blocked it in so I wouldn't crush the leg bases that were wider than the legs themselves. This made it nice and stable to be able to work on getting the rails installed.

CT Load Rack Railing 1

There were a bunch of little short rails to build in around the stairway and the loading sites. It was these short pieces that brings all the concern and provides good excuse to make your own railings.

CT Load Rack Railing 2

I built the two stairways and this time glued their rails on top of the stair stringer. I really don't know whether Plastruct wants you to put the railings along side or on the top. Hopefully, one of my followers can clear this up for me.

I needed to find out exactly where this thing was going to go vis a vis the railroad. It's going to be permanently mounted to the narrow piece of Masonite. I had to remove the ballast up to the edge of the Vinylbed roadbed foam, and then place the rack on the Masonite which my biggest rail car next to it. There are no curves approaching on either side that are close enough to cause overhang problems.

CT Load Rack Spacing Set 2CT Load Rack Spacing Set\

When it was where I thought it would work I marked the location with a Sharpie. Here're the final location marks.

CT Load Rack Spacing Set 3

Once all the details are built an it's all painted I'll epoxy the rack to the base. Incidentally, the epoxy was letting go at various places where the deck met the brass frame. I find gluing plastic to metal a problematic activity.

I built two articulated platforms out of the thin ABS with the ABS 3/32" angles. To this I added some ABS wings which will provide the pivots for the platform. THE PLATFORMS WILL NEVER BE DOWN!  If so, they will be rammed and destroyed. That is an absolute certainty. Work began by adding more beef to the extensions to which the pivots will attach.

CT Load Rack Moving Deck 1

Here is one of the two platforms just after I attached the pivot wings. Technically, since as stated before, the platforms will never be down, they don't need actual pivots, and some NBWs would provide the illusion of mobility.

CT Load Rack Moving Deck 2

There's more to these platforms than just this, as seen in the first picture in this post. There are lift cylinders, and articulated railings that close the gap that occurs when the platform is down. There's also an additional railing up above that comes down over the tank car's load ports to add more security for operators on the tank. I'm not going to model that detail based on its fragility and the difficulty of modeling it faithfully. But I probably will add he lift cylinders.

In exploring all the Internet images, I did find proof that single-legged platforms do exist. I was concerned that this seemed a bit weird, but they're not uncommon. Some have additional diagonal bracing in various places. They also have some additional gusseting at the baseplates. But I made my baseplate are bit too narrow to accept more details. I did add this level of detail on leg feet in the substation.

Oh... and one more thing. I molded two more light hoods. It only takes a view moments to mix the resin and pour the mold. And then while it's curing I'm working on other stuff. By the end of the week, I'll have the full set of light hoods needed for all the lighting.


Images (9)
  • GREEN_Liquid-Transfer-Loading-Arms-101
  • Loading_platform.308113021_std
  • CT Load Rack Railing 1
  • CT Load Rack Railing 2
  • CT Load Rack Spacing Set 2
  • CT Load Rack Spacing Set
  • CT Load Rack Spacing Set 3
  • CT Load Rack Moving Deck 1
  • CT Load Rack Moving Deck 2

Miles,  When gluing two dissimilar materials such as brass and plastic ("I find gluing plastic to metal a problematic activity.") i have found two solutions that have served me well. Good old Walthers Goo which i apply to both surfaces and then heat (i use an old hair dryer) until it just bubbles; then join both surfaces. I have some joints that have held for over 20 years using this method. A more recent discovery (thanks to Gunrunner John) is a product called Loctite 380. It is a rubberized CA with a working time of about 90 seconds, sets in 1 hour, and fully cures in 24 hours. To save you some searching time, it is NOT distributed in the hardware, automotive, or mass merchandiser channels, but rather in the industrial supply channel. I get mine  from a machine shop supply house. It's not inexpensive, but has recently become my  "go to" adhesive.



That's good input. I just did a search and Amazon has it for $27 plus change. It's expensive, but if it works then it's worth it. Besides, I get my retirement from Henkel so giving them some business is a good thing. I'm going to buy it. How's its shelf life? BTW: to keep CA for a long time, put it in the freezer. It stops it from curing due to atmospheric moisture. Henkel is now the world's largest producer of CA. They make it machines that are kept below freezing.

Exercise day so only a couple of hours. Finished the drop platforms by crafting some lift cylinders and mounting them.

The cylinders themselves are Plastruct 1/8" tubing. The piston rod is 1/16" steel rod I had lying around. The ends are some Evergreen styrene bar cut cubic, drilled for the 1/16" steel. After putting the two together with CA I shaped the curved end on a sanding block and drill for 1/32" brass rod. The holes were then located on the load rack and pin with the brass rod. The whole deal is held together with CA. 

CT Lift Cylinders 1

I added some NBWs to dress up the assembly. These may be a tad oversized, but once on the layout towards the back wall, behind all of the other plant units, it will not be seen. It's just for my enjoyment.

CT Lift Cylinders 2

I noticed on the picture that their drop platforms had a shaft that extended from one side to the other so I installed one here. It too terminates with NBWs.

Here is the rack with the racks installed. I'm glad I elected to put on these details. They make sense. If this model was produced by Tamiya or Trumpeter instead of Plastruct, all of these details and many more would have been included.

CT Load Rack Drop Plats comp

I then started building the "flexible" tank filling apparatus. It won't move, nor would I want it to since it would surely move into the path of an oncoming train. I used the picture I had to guesstimate it shape and size.

I'm basically using solid 1/16" brass rod, plus some larger tubing which it telescopes into. I made some flexible joints by slicing off some Plastruct 1/8" pipe using the micro saw and a v-block to hold and align the saw. The slices are very thin.

CT Making Pipe Couplings

I couldn't move the joints over the bar when the bends were made so I would put on a joint, make a bend, put on the next joint and so on. Then I had to add a larger piece, and finally solder this to a pivot tube with a diagonal brace.  This was done with the RSU. Because I had those plastic donuts already installed I used a forceps to act as a heat sink so the plastic wouldn't melt.

Here's the first one sitting on the drawing from which it was created.

CT Car Filling Apparatus 1

Here is it separate so you can better see what's going on. There's a counterbalance cylinder that mounts on top of the main piece which I'll add.

CT Car Filling Apparatus 2

I took the whole deal back to the railroad and positioned the fill apparatus where it would mount on the rack and checked clearance. It ran into the top of my auto rack so I re-bent the arms to position the nozzle end in its safest position. I'm also going mount the rack another 1/4" farther from the track then I originally chose just to add more safety margin from collisions.

I stil have more stuff to do on this arm including the pipe couplings at the bottom which connects to the supply system, and the pivot assembly that mounts to the rack itself. Full work session tomorrow (other than having the HVAC tech coming) so I should probably finish it up. Also, made two more light housings.


Images (6)
  • CT Lift Cylinders 1
  • CT Lift Cylinders 2
  • CT Load Rack Drop Plats comp
  • CT Car Filling Apparatus 1
  • CT Car Filling Apparatus 2
  • CT Making Pipe Couplings

  All that pipe makes me want to cut some pipe thread, lol.

   I helped install various cooling equipment attached to some portable "test rooms" that were going to be used by or for a Henkle job. I forget the shops name but it took me an extra twenty minutes to get out of there each day because of all the oddball projects going on around me were so interesting. ...and talk about thinking big! These were good sized rooms. 5x10 was the smallest. Ones for automotive industry got mounted on hydralics; looking like cross between a virtual reality ride, and a giant paint can shaker.

   Your CA tip has allowed an uncapped tube of liquid Superglue to sit in the freezer, stood upright in a tall shotglass, since right after you posted that tip many months ago. The cap morphed into a plug at room temp.. I had been waiting for a big job before I cracked it off with vice grips, thinking it would be the last time it could ever be opened and would have to be used up in one sitting. 

I dont keep much frozen as far as food goes, but kept checking anyhow. There has been no perceptible CA odor at all either.  I find the smell kinda offensive too. 

I'll let you know if any fudgcicle sticks get stuck to my fingers.

Or maybe not....typing won't be easy  

Glad the freezer worked. You just have to remember you've put it there. I've got some Henkel stuff that's probably 15 years old sitting in the freezer which I brought back from Germany with me.

We had an air conditioner problem. The main unit was 21 years old and we had it replaced earlier in the Spring. The upstairs unit, one ton smaller, is also 21 years old and two days ago stopped cooling. The diagnosis: wire from the starter capacitor had burned off. After replacing the wire, the tech tried the unit and the compressor tried to start, but didn't make it. He installed a "kick starter" unit to give it a starting boost and it's working again. But... it's living on borrowed time. I'd like to get it through to next year. Two replacements in one year is a bit much. The upstairs unit is in a closet in the eaves in the bonus room over the garage. It's not an easy place to do an installation. You can stand up in the space and there's a light and an electrical outlet in the space so it's doable.

So... I only got a couple more hours to work. So what did I do? I completed one of the filling booms including creating the mounting bracketry that will hold it to the loading deck.

I used a piece of Evergreen H-beam for the vertical support just like the prototype pic. Onto this I added some brackets, found some Evergreen round stock that telescoped into the rotating piece to act as the axle. I also had to machine a nozzle head out of the aluminum on the lathe.

I machine the larger plastic pipe to serve and the fluid junction to the boom. The prototype is much more complicated than this with piping going into the swivel joint, with gauges and other apparatus showing in the image. I chose to let this stuff off for obvious reasons. On the arm there's the counterbalance cylinder which is depicted with smaller 1/8" Plastruct tubing with the ends capped with the thin styrene sheet glued on and shaped.

CT Filling Rack 1

The cylinders are held onto the arm with medium CA. The geometry was confusing and I first had it installed backwards and on the wrong side of the arm. It wasn't too difficult to break it off and put it in the right place. I've been making lots of parts in pairs so they'll be ready to go on the filling rig on the other end of the loading platform.

CT Filling Rack 3

The last two pieces to add were the nozzle and the diagonal brace to support the mount. The real nozzle is perforated by openings, but the scale of this precluded me from further messing with the little machined part.

CT Filling Rack 4

After holding the assembly in its final position I held a piece of Evergreen I-beam in place to form the diagonal brace that will be glued to the opposite side support beam. It will be epoxied in place. The beam is now glued to the upright H-Beam. I've also glued a pipe extension to the bottom of the big pipe which will hook up to the chemical supply lines. There was nothing showing how this happens so I'm riff'n. When it's all painted, it should look convincing.

CT Filling Rack Bracket

Tomorrow I'll build the opposite side. The trickiest part will be making all those pipe bends going in the reverse direction. I'm sure I will screw that up at least once. It's like cutting crown molding. I still have to build the under-platform pipe racks that will connect to the booms and the plant. I've done some Google Earth searching of the Bayport/LaPorte area of Houston to see what kind of buildings there are on some of the smaller plant sites. I spent a lot of time in that region and it still blows my mind of the miles and miles of petro-chemical plants. Many that I worked at are still there. I have to finish the lighting systems and get them mounted to this construction.





Images (4)
  • CT Filling Rack 1
  • CT Filling Rack 3
  • CT Filling Rack 4
  • CT Filling Rack Bracket

Myles,   Just curious if you ever did any work at the DuPont / Noltex plant in LaPorte ?  When with Fluor Daniel, I was Safety Manager there for over two years, then went to another project in Baytown at a Bayer Nitric Acid unit.  Your modeling of the tank car loading rack is very good.  Cannot count how many times I operate crane while they were removed to repair.  Most times it was due to too little inhibitor added to the product and all the bends in the loading arm would gel up and become a solid blockage.  What really beats all was when NO inhibitor was added to one tank load and the product began to react and produce heat/pressure.  The unfortunate tank car was switched out to the team tracks South of the plant and water filled tank cars were positioned along both sides of the "hot" car.  The closest fire monitors were set to stream onto the "hot" car in an attempt to cool the chemical reaction taking place.  Well.... around 3 in the morning, approx. 14 hrs after being loaded improperly, she blew.  The explosion wiped out the two adjacent water filled cars, took out a lot of track, and one of the nearby high transmission towers along with downing several hundred feet of transmission line.  As precaution, the R&H plant and others were notified to switch over to alternate routed power feeds to their plants and averted any other shut downs of additional units.  When she did blow, it sent quite a fireball into the air and local news captured it very well for all to see.  Certainly bringing back some memories of an occupation and environment that was pretty much considered the "norm" when younger and performing the tasks I did, back then.  And, have always liked the fact of my sense of taste and smell returned over time after leaving those environments.  But, the excitement and keen sense of awareness you always maintained, believe it or not, I wont say are sometimes missed...... just a smile of reminisce occurs sometimes.  It really does have one appreciate the more simple every day events of life, and living with those you cherish/love.

Jesse    TCA   

Jesse, I worked with folks at ARCO Chem's LaPorte polypropylene plant, Bayport propylene oxide plant, Lyondell petri-chemical large complex including the old Oxirane styrene monomer plant next door that they acquired. I then did a plant capability study at the same polypropylene plant after it was owned by BP as an individual consultant. I also worked at the ARCO Chem low density polyethylene plant in Port Arthur. The Port Arthur plant was the one with the rail operations problems.

The Bayport plant was the most dangerous since they produced PO through direct oxygenation of propane. They then created an unstable tertiary butyl hyper-peroxide that in concentrations of greater than 25% would decompose explosively. They lost reaction one year (some time before I joined in 1980) and unreacted peroxide ended up collecting in the bottom of the big distillation column that was the next op. It detonated and blew the entire column a 1/4 mile away. all that was left was the concrete pad and lots of piping pointing to nothing. It was a horrific accident and fostered many changes including creation of one of the most effective plant training systems I'd ever seen. The manager of training and I became life long friends. We were from very different backgrounds, but had enormous mutual respect for what we did and what we stood for.

Myles.....   yes, I started working construction at the ARCO plant on Sheldon Road with Brown and Root in 1975.  At the same time, the Oxirane Plant was starting to be constructed to the South of ARCO, I believe it was on Miller Road.  This was the same plant where an emptied storage tank was being hydro-blasted inside for cleaning and it blew due to residual hydrocarbons and a static charge from the hydro-blasting.  Yes, again, with loss of life.   These experiences, and my personal attitude toward accident prevention when supervising crews, is what lead Fluor Daniel to select me into their Plant Safety Program and eventually my managing of Safety at the Noltex, Rohm & Haas, Bayer Phosgene and Nitric Acid plants.  Starting in 1999 I managed Safety at many projects all over our great nation for Benham Constructors/SAIC/Liedos for 15 years.  I must admit, if anyone has to learn some "on the job" Safety, the petro-chemical industrial environment is quite like nothing else to learn it and be exposed to the need for it.

Jesse   TCA  12-68275 

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