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Thank you All and Pat!

I had my annual medical checkup this morning, but worked on the building this afternoon and got it finished. I did some very mild weathering on the roof and garage doors and installed all the lighting.

I fastened in the gooseneck lights with a small #55 drilled hole, and then added a shaped piece of styrene on the outside to give it more mass. Thin and medium CA held it all in place. After this pic, I painted the lighting Tamiya Medium Gray.

Refinery Ops Gooseneck Install

The control room lighting was built on a piece of strip wood CA'd to the roof supports. The garage light was also held with the same strip wood supported by a ledge made from some more substantial basswood stock. I CA'd one ledge to the foam board mid-wall and the other ledge to the plastic back wall with Walther's Goo. The cross piece was also held with CA. This picture also shows some reinforcing blocks that back up the goose neck lights on the outside.

Refinery Ops Shop Lighting

As you can see I add shrink tubing on my LEDs to ensure that they never short out. The LED's wiring is in series with a  330 ohm current limiter, and then the two grain of wheat bulbs are connected in parallel with the LEDs. The leads are tied together in two ferrules. Notice I'm using the white ferrule inside the larger ones to compensate for the small gauge wiring. This was a suggestion made by one of my readers and it's a good one. Notice too that the current limiter goes on the minus side of the LEDs. I don't why, but this is how it's shown on the schematics.

Refinery Ops Light Leads

These two combined leads are brought into a Euro-style junction block and then led out of the building with a length of zip cord that ties into the bus bars under the refinery. This particular junction block is a plug-in type that I used when building the modular layout in Germany. It allowed me to separate all the subroadbed panels without lousing up the wiring. It's held to the wall with servo foam tape. I stuck it too close to the back door and you can see the wires, but it's facing a wall and no one actually will ever see it.

Refinery Ops Light Junction

Here's the lighting being tested on the bench. I placed the shop light below the windows so it would just glow which is the look that I was seeking. The control room light is over towards the control panel so you can see it. The white/white LEDs do look light florescent lighting.

Refinery Ops Lighting Test

As I was setting this picture up, I knocked a small container of Dirty Black Dr. Brown's weathering powder, upside down on the floor. What a freaking mess!! It took 15 minutes to clear it all up. Ugh!

Here's the building on the layout. I drilled the two pieces of Masonite and wired it into the refinery system. 

Refinery Ops Comp 2

Refinery Ops Comp 1

So... the ops building is complete. Tomorrow I'll do some terrain work. I'm going to use acrylic-based tile grout for the roadways to the two garage doors. I discovered this material in doing the distillery base. You can tint it with india ink or W-S tinting products and it dries looking very much like asphalt. It's not rigid and doesn't crack when dry. I may also use it to do the contour work from one piece of Masonite to another. I may also go with Sculptamold. I'll how I'll feel when doing it. And then comes the chain link fence. Notice how I keep saying that. I think I'm procrastinating...


Images (7)
  • Refinery Ops Shop Lighting
  • Refinery Ops Light Leads
  • Refinery Ops Light Junction
  • Refinery Ops Lighting Test
  • Refinery Ops Comp 2
  • Refinery Ops Comp 1
  • Refinery Ops Gooseneck Install

Thanks Fellas! Today was a day to get a bit sloppy.

The base board under the building needed to be glued down. While the glue was drying I went about painting all the wooden pipe supports and doing touch up painting on the "metal" ones. It was tricky painting around all the piping and was a harbinger of what's to come when I go about adding ground cover under all that equipment. Won't be easy.

I started building the connecting road to the refinery property which involved a railroad crossing. I'm trying something new with this one using acrylic-based tile grout to build the roadway and crossing. I started by pulling the rails off a piece of surplus Ross curved track to use as flange ways. I temporarily held them to the ties using Walther's Goo.

Refinery Scenery Flangeway 2

I mixed up a batch of the tinted grout adding all the India ink I had left and some Tamiya Nato Black. It makes a good asphalt road color, but quickly found out that I had too large a gradient to fill just using the grout. It wouldn't dry quickly enough and wasted expensive material. So I stopped using it in this application and got out the Sculptamold (STM). I couldn't put that over the wet grout so I started putting it elsewhere. After cleaning off the running rails and center rail it looked like this. It needs a skin coat to smooth it all out, but not too much since the center rail must be proud of the group or it will be a big dead spot. So the completely ugly grout in the foreground will be covered over with STM.

Refinery Scenery Crossing first coat

I added STM over all the changes in elevation, the open spaces at the fascia, the fascia edges and gaps and any open holes in the base board. I used some screen wire and/or crumpled newspaper to fill in the large gaps before using the STM. That new real estate in the triangle seems to be begging for another small substation to feed the refinery... Maybe I will and maybe I won't.

Refinery Scenery STM blend 1

A 1:43 car is just going to be able to slip by the building on the left side into the parking area in front.

Refinery Scenery STM Blend 2

All this stuff has to completely dry before I do any more finish plastering and painting. So I started building the fencing. I quickly found that I am very short of the brass I bought for this purpose. I was able to build one 34" section  and will not have enough to build any more. I've just ordered more material from Special Shapes that should finish the job. 

I'm using the jig that Brennan includes with his fence kit. He used steel wire which was very difficult to solder successfully. I'm substituting brass which solders like a dream using the RSU. 

Refinery Fencing 1

The joints heat almost instantaneously and as soon as the solder flows into the joint I take my foot off the switch but keep tension on the tweezers until the joint cools. I use an abrasive cutoff disc with the Dremel Flexishaft and also grind a flat at the top end so it nests better with the bigger top bar and provides more surface area. Notice how I clamp the Dremel into the Panavise so I can use two hands to control the brass cutting and shaping.

Refinery Fencing 2

Depending when the grout and STM fully cures, I'll be able to finish up the terrain work. It will be some time before all the brass arrives that I need to finish the fencing. Meanwhile, maybe I'll start putting in some street signs and those telephone poles I built four years ago.


Images (6)
  • Refinery Scenery Flangeway 2
  • Refinery Scenery Crossing first coat
  • Refinery Scenery STM blend 1
  • Refinery Scenery STM Blend 2
  • Refinery Fencing 1
  • Refinery Fencing 2
Last edited by Trainman2001

I'm a little squeamish about building another substation even though it's really needed. I have some telephone poles I made that are already with transformers mounted, but they really wouldn't be big enough to power a serious industrial installation.

The grout was hard so I mixed up some more STM and built that road. I then went back and sanded yesterday's STM and applied a layer of joint compound to smooth it all out. That will dry by tomorrow and I'll be ready to add a skin coat to the road and begin painting and landscaping the edges. I was to leave an unadulterated row where the fence will go and may I just mask off a strip and get the ground cover in. It was really scary sanding near all that piping. I only knocked one set off its stands which I fix when all this disturbance is over.

It's a bit hard to see, but it's probably 1/2 to 3/4" of STM to get it up track height. A skin coat will smooth out the road's texture. This crossing will just get some cross-bucks, no crossing signals or gates. The STM feathers out to the parking lot level although it's hard to see here.

Refinery new road

I also built up the other drive from the garage on the other side. This is a 1/8" drop (1 layer of Masonite). This has a skin coat in place already and drying. Still a little lumpy. I may or may not worry about it. We'll see what happens if I sand it a bit.

Refinery other driveway

And here was the skin coat on the other side of the refinery just smoothing out the transitions and the layout edges.

With all this sealed in with plaster, if or when I sell this refinery installation I will probably removed the OSB sub-based and life it all away. It will not be shipable and would have to be picked up. Please note, I'm not contemplating selling any of this for quite a while.

Refinery Skin Coat

Tomorrow it should be dry and I'll finish up the road and do some landscaping.


Images (3)
  • Refinery new road
  • Refinery other driveway
  • Refinery Skin Coat

Just checking in... STM is not quite dry so I can't put on the top coat. I'll do that on Monday. Meanwhile I've started another miscellaneous plastic project; recreating a 1:24 Ertl model of the car I owned as a senior at Michigan State in 1966. It was a 1966 Ford Fairlane GTA. It was quite fast, but like other muscle cars, didn't handle very well. 

Car was pretty basic: AM radio, heater... power steering and brakes. That was it. And a 390 cu. in. V8 with 335 hp and a big Holley 4-barrel carb. It would burn rubber on the those Firestone wide-oval tires for as long as you kept your foot on the pedal. After we got married we didn't keep that car very long. The car that replaced it was...well... the sublime to the ridiculous; and AMC Rambler Ambassador with a straight 6 engine. It was an awful car that couldn't get out of its own way. We got rid of that one in three years and bought a great car; a 1972 Olds Cutlass S that we kept for a long time.

Me Michele and the GTA

That nice-looking girl on my arm is my wife of 49 years. This was a memorial day camping trip to Muskegon Michigan in 1966.  I found a light yellow lacquer that should work. I also found a website that has actual colors of this car if I don't like the yellow I chose. I'm blogging this build on the Fine Scale Modeler magazine web forum if you care to follow along.

GTA Box Art


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  • Me Michele and the GTA
  • GTA Box Art

Happy Monday!

I worked on the refinery AND the Ford GTA. I put the skin coat on the RR Crossing leading to the refinery make a model distributor for the Ford's engine and then went on to building the chain link fencing. 

All my brass from Special Shapes arrived and I have enough to complete the fencing. I got another 34" inches built and then started fitting it to the layout. Of course this didn't go quite as well as it should have. I got a couple of the bends backwards, had to re-cut the fencings after soldering the previous erroneous cuts. And then there were the breaks which occurred in the previous bent sections. As it were, I did make some progress.

Refinery Fence Setting

While it's tempting to actually curve the fencings to conform to the layout contours, chain link fences are made of straight pieces of galvanized piping and therefore are chords of a curve, not curved. To make the bends, I marked the pipes with a Sharpie and made saw cuts about halfway through to facilitate the bend. This also greatly weakened the fence at that spot. The long bottom portions of the verticals will be sunken into the layout almost up to the botton longeron. 

To repair the broken parts I used a piece of 0.032" wire into the smaller tube and a piece of the smaller tube into the larger upper one. K-S tubing is convenient that it's all sized to telescope into the next larger size. I also joined one 34" section to the next using these internal pieces. This makes and almost invisible splice.

I have one more break to repair (tomorrow) and another section to build to complete the perimeter. I'm not planning on having fencing running at the back trackside of the refinery, although it probably would be fenced. The retaining walls is at the back which would preclude access by that way.

I'm ready to paint the roadways, add the marking and warning signs, and paint and add ground cover to the entire refinery area, then finish the fence and install, and the refinery will be finished.


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  • Refinery Fence Setting

Needed another skin coat, and may need a bit more. After sanding yesterday's coat I found that the texture of the underlying grout was way to coarse so I covered it with another layer of joint compound. When that's dry tomorrow I may need a little more touch up and then it will be time to paint.

I made another 34" section of chain link fencing and finished up the bend joints on the work done previously. I'm getting the hang of making all the joints, but I keep dropping the finished fencing on the floor when I'm wrestling with assembling the fencing to get the bends positioned. It's very fragile and clumsy to place the fence pieces on the layout without fastening anything down just to get some measures done. The lower projections on the fence will embed into the layout almost to the lower longeron. I'm going to drill oversize holes and then use epoxy with filler to seal the fence in. This way slight variations of pole-to-pole distance won't matter. When I did the substation's fence I made tight fitting holes and it was a pain in the butt getting all the posts into the "ground". I could also use plaster instead of epoxy, or I could use epoxy putty. It's almost like installing a real fence. I'm brainstorming with myself here...

Refinery More Fencing

With the latest section of framing completed, I'm almost done. I need another foot to bring the fence around the back end. I'm going to bring the fencing to the edge of that triangular piece on the right side. This gives a bit more enclosed real estate that could house another out building or a small substation. I knew going into this that the fencing was going to be a major part of the project. I wasn't wrong.



Images (1)
  • Refinery More Fencing
Last edited by Trainman2001

A rare Sunday work session. Spent the whole time continuing to build the chain link fence. I've pretty much figured out how to handle the bends without creating a weak, floppy mess. Besides cutting the tubing at the bends and installing inner pieces that are bent and control the bend, I'm adding middle reinforcing rails that further strengthen the bends and hold them. I finished roughing out the framing all the way around the right side, but have a few more middle bars to install. I had a couple more spots for joint compound which I also did today after sanding last week's plaster. This should finish it off and be ready for paint.

Refinery Chain Link Corners

Refinery Chain Link Rt End

This is the extra space where I can either add a small substation or another out building. I'm still not convinced I want to build another substation. The last one can't be matched.

Refinery Chain Line Right end

The fencing is in one piece up to the middle of the run up the front. It's long and completely unwieldy. Moving it from the layout to the shop and vice versa is challenging to keep from bumping it into stuff and wrecking it. I've had to re-solder several joints due to this. I won't be able to put on the gauze in one piece, and it must be painted with the gauze in place. Therefore, planning the finishing schedule is taking some consideration. To join the several sections, I'm using thin CA on the pins that connect the pieces. Brennen uses solid steel rod in his kits so it's impossible to splice sections together. By going with K-S brass tubing, I'm able to pin sections together with an almost invisible splice. I'll try and overlap the gauze joints at the corners where they'll be less noticeable. I was right in my assessment: the fencing is as challenging as any part of the refinery project.



Images (3)
  • Refinery Chain Line Right end
  • Refinery Chain Link Corners
  • Refinery Chain Link Rt End

Exercise day, got to work around 2 something. Finished the brass work on the fence and started painting the refinery area. I decided to create the entire fence as one assembly. After soldering the splices and adding the corner reinforcing bars, it holds together well enough to move it from place to place. It's really long and very easy to catch in things like the rest of the layout, the florescent lights, and anything else that might be in the way. However, I now know that I can paint the entire fence system off the layout and get it to the layout without wrecking it.

Refinery Chain Link Assmbled 1

For the final corner, the one where the straight run turns left on the right end, I added the reinforcement with the fence on my sawing table in the layout end of the room. I moved my RSU to that spot so I could solder this last piece in place with enough elbow room to hold the entire fence. I ran out of 1/16" solid rod so I substituted 3/64" rod for the last two corners.

You can see the extent of the whole deal in this picture. Please ignore the mess...

Refinery Chain Link Assembled 3

It was time to start painting. I put the first coat of dark earth on all the fresh plaster areas and a first coat of Jungle green for the fascia boards. I didn't add any ground cover yet. When I put the next coat of latex down I'll start adding the final gray ballast as a gravel surface. I chose this route since the raw plaster absorbed the paint so quickly that it would be wet enough hold any ground cover. The paint needs to be really wet to get good adhesion. 

Refinery Painting Start 1

It looks pretty good with the fascia matching the rest of the layout. The white areas on the left is the access road that's going to be treated with asphalt colors. I did finish all the sanding over there and am satisfied with the surface. It's really far away from the viewer so I'm just being finicky.

Refinery Painting Started 2

I pre-painted white craft paint in the road areas that are going to get any line work. I'm going to have the wide stop line in front of the tracks and I made a stencil for the RRXing lettering that goes on the road surface. I also pre-painted where the white parking lines will be in front of the ops building. I first did these by winging it with the ops building moved off its location.

Refinery Parking Slots 2

But then I put the building back and found that my lines weren't going to work, so I added more down the line. Even so, this is one cramped parking lot. Maybe that's what's going in that space on the other end. Right now, Sinclair Oil must be asking the EEs to walk or bike to work. In fact, looking at this picture, The lines should probably face in the other direction and be on the other side of the lot next to the HP Spheres' stairs. That way, the cars will at least have a chance to get into the parking space. There's also very little space by the left end of the building. I tried an auto and it just squeezes by. I felt this space was tight from the get go, and I didn't want to make the building any smaller. O'scale is a pain in the butt! Stuff is big!

Refinery Parking Slots

I woke up thinking about the best way to attach the fence to the platform. One way would be to make 1/8" holes or larger to give the slop needed to get all of those poles into those holes. I then thought about using the next larger telescoping tubing size to make sockets. Place them on the legs and glue them into the holes, trying to not get any on  the sockets. This would hold the fence securely, but make it removable. I thought about what glue to use: epoxy putty, plaster, Gorilla Glue...? Epoxy putty would be a good way to go since it would be easy to control, wouldn't ooze into the sockets, and hold like crazy. It would also fill the excess space well and give some reasonable working time to get it all together. I will take suggestions from the audience on this one.


Images (6)
  • Refinery Chain Link Assmbled 1
  • Refinery Chain Link Assembled 3
  • Refinery Painting Start 1
  • Refinery Painting Started 2
  • Refinery Parking Slots 2
  • Refinery Parking Slots

Thank you!

I've been thinking about that too. The way I see it the sockets were mounted on the fence poles and then be inserted in the oversized holes so everything would seek its own alignment, after gluing in the fence with its sockets, things should (famous last words) naturally go back into the same places they were originally. At least that's how it SHOULD go. The gauze and painting all needs to be done off the layout since it would be impossible to paint the back side of the fence with the refinery in the way. So if I could glue the sockets in before all the painting and gauzing, it might make it all work.

Myles, I agree, final assembly and painting needs to done off site where everything is accessible. I wouldn't use the next size telescoping tubing for the sockets. Unless you have sufficient clearance (slop) you will have the same problem identified above.

I know based on solutions exhibited in all your previous projects you will solve this dilemma and complete another fabulous model.


You convinced me. No telescoping tubing. Besides, the tubing is expensive. The fence so far is quite costly (like almost half the price of the refinery kit). 

I added more white for the parking lines to accommodate the new parking lot design, and then mixed up some dark gray artist's acrylics for the asphalt. It's way to dark, but it's just the first coat. I'll add another coat of a lighter gray to more closely match the access road to which it connects. 

Refinery Paving Step 1

It seems to be drying pretty shiny and I'm seeing lots of brush strokes. I'm hoping some of these will disappear as it fully cures. The parking lines and the RR stop line are masked under this paint. I'm hoping I get them up without peeling the "asphalt" paint. We'll see. 

You can clearly see that this looks like really new asphalt next to an older road. While that's pretty prototypical when road work is done, I'm going to try and match it a little better.

Refinery Paving Start 2

Tomorrow I'll finish the asphalt painting and use the stencil to put the RRXing in place. Then it will be time to paint the fence and add ground cover into the refinery. I'm worried about that. Even with the little painting/plastering I've done within the refinery's confines and loosen too many pipes for my liking, so putting down paint and scenic glue in between all those units isn't going to be fun and may not end well. I didn't know any other way of approaching it since landscaping first and then installing all the apparatus seemed impossible.


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  • Refinery Paving Step 1
  • Refinery Paving Start 2

Glad to be of service. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Since we weren't going to the place we're going to for TG dinner, I did get some layout time and got the paving and ground cover done. Sometimes you get really productive. Today was one of those days.

I mixed another batch of paving color much lighter than the first and covered all the paved areas with it. I then pulled the masking tape and did some very minor touch up. It worked well. Funny thing though... When I revised the parking space design, I have the spaces going down a slight slope where the Masonite plate tapered down to the main base. From above the lines look parallel, but from across the room, they look completely whacked. Oh well.

Refinery Paving Fin

I'm going to weather all this asphalt and add some cracks filled with pitch, oil spots, etc. Still have some pavement to add to the front door, and some vegetation at the building front to separate it from the parking lot... I think.

It was time to put ground cover on this new work. After putting a second coat of earth brown on the triangular space on the right I added various W-S grasses and "dirt" to fill up the space. I'm not concerned about this vacant lot since it's going to be repurposed at some point.

For the refinery proper, I dreaded having to paint the entire base with latex paint to hold the ground cover so I tried an experiment in the right corner to see if just using scenic cement and the gray fine ballast would be sufficient to hide the base and do the job. Putting on the cement was much easier than painting since it dries clear so if I got any on the apparatus bases it would be invisible when dry.

Refinery Gravel Test

The experiment worked so I was able to quickly do the entire surface. I diluted the thick scenic cement with some of the thinner stuff so it would cover easier and faster. I haven't added any further liquid cement to the coverage. I'll wait until it dries and may go back and add some wet water and liquid scenic cement to further fasten everything in place if needed. Since nobody or nothing is going to mess around back there, if some gravel is not attached it really shouldn't cause a problem.

Refinery Ground Cover 1Refinery Ground Cover 2

What was truly miraculous was I didn't break anything. I was amazed that I got the brush with the glue into and around all the stuff without knocking anything. I did lightly bump my elbow into the flare tower, but I caught myself and was more careful going forward. The parking lot still has a lot of sheen so I'm going to shoot it with some Dull Coat to flatten it out. I may do this after weathering.

Refinery Ground Cover 3

Makes a big difference with the surface uniform and not all marked up like it's been. Now I have no reason at all to procrastinate finishing up that chain link fence which has been patiently waiting to have bridal veil attached and painted. The fence will install right at the margin between the gravel and dirt.

I finished this post after having the TG celebration so I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. I know ours was very good.



Images (5)
  • Refinery Gravel Test
  • Refinery Ground Cover 1
  • Refinery Ground Cover 2
  • Refinery Ground Cover 3
  • Refinery Paving Fin

Thanks Mark!

Well I hope all of you survived the holiday. This was the first TG in quite a few years that both kids and all the grandkids were not here.

Well the bullet has been bitten! I'm actually putting the "fence" part onto the chain link fence. I started out by spraying a very light coat of Tamiya gray primer. I did this in the basement and proceeded to smell the whole house up since the work space where I was working is next to the heater and it pulled the fumes into the system. Didn't make CEO very happy. I opened some windows in the basement to pull in the some fresh air.

I was working on the sawing bench I have in the shop adjacent to the layout. It was badly lit since the nearest florescent is over the railroad behind me and I was working in my shadow. I just bought another LED shop light at Costco to replace a light in the shop. I'm slowly going to replace all the fluorescents with LED fixtures. They put out more, purer light at half the wattage. I then installed this now-spare fixture over the work table to make my life much easier.

The next thing was to cut the Bridal Tulle to the approximate width of the fence to which it will be glued. I measured the distance and marked the tulle every foot or so with a Sharpie. I then taped it to a cutting board and with a new #11 blade and 18" straight edge, cut the material. It will take three 3' strips to do the entire fence.

I added the dotted line to the pic to highlight where the Sharpie marks are. 

Refinery Cutting Tulle

I first thought to just use CA to hold the tulle to the frame, but it wasn't working well. I just bought some "fresh" thin CA, but I don't believe it's any good. It wasn't kicking even with accelerator. I'm taking it back. So I turned to the MicroMark PSA. It isn't great since the surface area on the tulle is so small there's just not enough to really stick to the sticky adhesive. But it holds it well enough to then go back and spot glue with CA. I went back to my aging CA. It's getting thicker, but it still kicks and holds.

Any fuzzy areas at the bottom are trimmed with a sharp blade while holding the tulle with a tweezers.

Refinery Tulle Progress 1

I made pretty good progress today even with a protracted work session. I just have about a foot and a half to finish the tulle and I'll be ready to install it. The bare space you're looking at is land reserved for the future engine house and machine shop. Probably scheduled to be built mid-to-late 2018.

Refinery Tulle Progress 2Y

You can get an idea just how unwieldy this construction is. It's over 10 feet long with lots of bends.

After all the tulle is in tomorrow I'm going airbrush the whole deal some kind of simulated galvanized steel color. I may just shoot it with flat aluminum. I'll see how it looks. For the substation, I actually mixed up some gray and aluminum to give kind of a metallic gray. It worked pretty well. Maybe I'll do that again. It's alcohol-based so it doesn't smell up the place too bad.

I'm thinking that I may not need to insert ALL of those posts into the layout. I may clip every other one to streamline the insertion process. The other thought I had was to leave every 5th post long, and the then cut those next to them shorter and the middle one shorter still. This would facilitate getting the posts into the holes because you wouldn't be trying to get all of those long ones into holes at the same time.


Images (3)
  • Refinery Cutting Tulle
  • Refinery Tulle Progress 1
  • Refinery Tulle Progress 2
Last edited by Trainman2001

Well... we're just one day away from completing this long-running refinery project. Today was pretty productive. I got the fence finished and painted, finished weathering and detailing the parking lot and crossing, and started installing the fence. 

The parking lot was completed with the addition of parking bumpers made from 1/8" sq. basswood, simulated cracks, a spray of Dull Coat, oil spots,  etc. I also made a little pavement to the front door and added a touch of grass to the front to dress the property up a bit.

Refinery Parking Lot fin

The lampposts were created a few years back when I finished the Victorian station. Rather than spend the time to create some new ones I decided these were perfectly okay and pressed them into service. I used weathering powders to add some tire rubber on the parking spaces.

I also weathered the crossing roads with the grimy black Dr. Brown's powders. I used a cosmetic sponge to smear the powder on the surface. It's not very scientific.

Reefinery Weather Crossing

I added the last bit of tulle to the fence and put it onto the back shop work table for painting. I mixed up some metallic gray, but it is a little bit dark almost like raw steel rather than galvanized, but it just makes the fence look a little bit older and more dramatic IMHO. I moved my air compressor to this table and sprayed the whole deal. Since it was Tamiya paint and I thin with 91% isopropyl alcohol so even though I hazed the entire room, the smell is not too bad and didn't get a rise from upstairs. I sprayed much more into the air today than yesterday using the Tamiya primer, but the smell was much less.

I then trimmed the posts as I described yesterday. I generally kept all the posts a corner original length and then kept every fifth of sixth post long and clipped the intermediate posts to shorter lengths. This scheme, as you'll see, really worked exactly as planned and made getting them into their holes much easier.

Refinery Fence Fin 1Refinery Fence Fin 2Refinery Fence Fin 3 

Starting at the Ops building end, I first marked the location of the long posts with a medium Sharpie. I drilled the post hole with a 1/8" drill (the posts are 1/16") giving me enough slack to compensate for any inexact location of the holes.

Refinery Fence Install 1

After going from one end to the other with the long posts, I inserted them into their respective holes and again marked the next longest-sized post locations and drilled them. I repeated the insert-until-the-next-shortest-post-hit-the-platform method and drilled the remaining holes. I didn't quite finish up today, but will do so tomorrow.

Here you can see that the fence on the Ops end is down to its final depth.

Refinery Fence Install 2

Here's looking down the line. The holes are fully drilled to the first curve on the other end, so there's not much more to do in that regard.

Refinery Fence Install 3

So to sum up: Vary the post length to facilitate insertion, use oversize holes for the same reason, and insert, mark and drill the remaining holes as you go along inserting all the posts you can to preserve alignment. This is about the biggest fence I ever want to make in one go again.

Tomorrow, after getting all the posts seated, I'll remove the fence and add Gorilla glue into the holes and glue the fence in permanently. I may add some micro-balloon filler to the Gorilla glue to give it more body to better fill the holes and not have too much drip out the other end. Once it's all glue in, I'll go back and add some weeds and ground cover to hide the any remaining holes. I have to hook up the wires to the new lights which you can wires hanging down below the layout. I have to add one more coat of green to the fascia boards too now that all the sloppy stuff will be done. Lastly, there's some landscaping that needs to be added to the background area and some ballasting to trim around the crossing and the disturbed areas from the project. And with that, IT WILL BE DONE.


Images (8)
  • Refinery Parking Lot fin
  • Reefinery Weather Crossing
  • Refinery Fence Fin 1
  • Refinery Fence Fin 2
  • Refinery Fence Fin 3
  • Refinery Fence Install 1
  • Refinery Fence Install 2
  • Refinery Fence Install 3

Thank you dear followers!

Today, I'm officially turning over the keys to the refinery to Sinclair Oil. There are a few minor punch list items that need doing (signage, landscape around fence posts), but for all intents and purposes the refinery is complete.

I finished drilling the remaining holes for the right end fenceposts and decided to inject Gorilla Glue into the enlarged post holes using a syringe. The glue expands as it cures so it fills up the space securing the fence. I put a board across the far end since it was trying to pop up. Then I decided, before gluing in the left end around the parking lot to check clearances since the fence terminates into the interior of a curve. Boy! Am I glad I did that. My favorite clearance test car is an MTH auto rack. It hit the fence!

Refinery Fence Clear Problem

I was able to stress the next bend and pull the end away on an angle. I then tested this fit with five different locomotives: all of the big steamers and some of the ungainly diesels. The fix cleared okay in all cases, so I was able to glue that end in place.

Refinery Fence Clear 2Refinery Fence Clear Fix 1

After the fence was sitting well, I connected up the parking lot lights, and added all the missing ballast. It was a challenge to get it on the far side of the loading rack, but I persisted. I used a squeeze bottle to carefully apply "wet water" (Isopropyl Alcohol/water mix) and then dribbled W-S scenic cement directly from the squeeze bottle in comes in. As a reminder, I use roofing granules for ballast. It's just about the perfect scale size to 1:1 ballast on the Norfolk-Southern RR.

Refinery Ballast Repair 1

Here's that piece of 1:1 scale lumber holding down the fence's far end until it cures. In these pictures I've just added the glue which is why the gravel is wet.

Refinery Ballast Repair 2

Looks nice now that the M.O.W guys got their jobs done. This "road to nowhere" should eventually end up at a B.T.S grain elevator. Landscaping back there over the refinery is going to be...let us say... challenging. Like maybe I should have put that road and additional RR crossing in before building the refinery.

Refinery Ballast Repair 3

Last thing I did was add another carefully applied coat of Jungle Green paint to finish up the fascia boards. Sometime in the distant future, I'm going to have curtains made to hid all the rest of the benchwork. That will look very spiffy.

So... the refinery is done! Here's some iPhone pics I took from various angles and lighting. I'm going to take some beauty shots with the Canon EOS to submit to various places for publication. The project started in April and finished Cath the end of November... an 8-month endeavor, the results of which I think are worth it.

Refinery Compelte 4

There's an Engelhard car in this picture. I worked there for 8 years. They no longer exist being absorbed by BASF. That's a Kaolin car used to haul that ultra white clay that is used in paint and making paper whiter. It would not get product from the refinery. Although Engelhard was a huge producer of zeolite petroleum catalyst used in catalytic reformers, I do not have such an operation in my chemical plant.

Refinery Complete 1Refinery Complete 3

Grain Elevator will go in that wide between-track space. The RR Crossing has to traverse that long connecting track and it's all right adjacent to the refinery... Ugh! I really think I should invest in a MicroMark topside creeper to reach over the refinery.

Refinery Complete 6Refinery Complete 8

And here's at night...

Refinery Complete Night 1Refinery Complete Night 2Refinery Complete Night 4Refinery Complete Night 6Refinery Complete Night 7

Tomorrow, the Gorilla Glue will be fully cured and will probably need a little trimming/cleanup, plus i'll do some weed placement around the post bases. I also have some chemical plant signage that I want to print out on hi-res photo paper and make some placards to go at strategic spots throughout the plant. I need to get/modify/make some humans to populate this facility. And then it will be truly done.

So what are the takeaways from this one? First of all thanks to all the supporters who encouraged me and fed me ideas, suggestions and techniques. 

  1. While Plastruct kits look cool, they are a bear to complete for several reasons: terrible instructions, difficulty keeping butyrate tubing together with solvent cement, incorrect quantities of materials, lack of details necessary to make an actual working facility, etc.
  2. Breakthrough was when I realized I could flip the design and have the piping on the aisle way so I could pipe the model while on the layout
  3. Found out there was a website that could help you design transition cones of any size... thanks to one of the readers for that one.
  4. Perfected mass-producing utility lighting.
  5. Perfected making and installing chain link fencing in ridiculous lengths.
  6. Designing an ops building to fit a small space.
  7. Further extending the envelop on my scratch-building skills.
  8. Designing and building a free-lance, believable flare tower with air craft warning lights.
  9. Building a cooling tower from a single picture on a website again using SketchUp and Illustrator to create an O'scale drawing set.
  10. Finding out that you can get enough bridal tulle to build a 10 foot model chain link fence for $0.70 at JoAnn Fabrics. The single cheapest hobby purchase I've made in decades.

I actually ran some trains today to move the various locos into position to test the fence clearances. It's been a long time since they were running and some of them showed it, both with some depleted batteries on the engines that don't have BTRs and running on dirty track, but they did run.

I think the next project will be the Bronx building only because I've got that nifty 3-D details. I'm waiting to hear from Andre Garcia as to when we can schedule the laser cutting. The backlog list is long and we have some years of work left.

Also, I want to finish that Fairlane GTA...


Images (16)
  • Refinery Fence Clear Problem
  • Refinery Fence Clear 2
  • Refinery Fence Clear Fix 1
  • Refinery Ballast Repair 1
  • Refinery Ballast Repair 2
  • Refinery Ballast Repair 3
  • Refinery Compelte 4
  • Refinery Complete 1
  • Refinery Complete 3
  • Refinery Complete 6
  • Refinery Complete 8
  • Refinery Complete Night 1
  • Refinery Complete Night 2
  • Refinery Complete Night 4
  • Refinery Complete Night 6
  • Refinery Complete Night 7
Last edited by Trainman2001

So I just completed making a sheet of signs that would make sense in a Petro/Chemical Plant. I'll print these out tomorrow and mount them in strategic locations. I added the text in the "number of accident free day" sign. There are all readily available in a Google search. I look at IMAGES and click on the one I like to make it larger then make a screen print. I crop the image in a photo reviewer software. I use a Mac so this is pretty easy to do. I use PVA to make the back sticky and put them on thin styrene. I'll print them out on Glossy hi-res photo paper. It easier than making decals out of them.

Signage Image


Images (1)
  • Signage Image

Trainman 2001

What a great oil refinery.  You are a fantastic model builder.  The best I could do was paint an oil refinery on by background on my toy 027 classic 50s operating layout.  I worked for Exxon Mobil in Baton Rouge and used that plant as an example.

I also worked for Engelhard Corp., the mid 1980s, south of Macon, Georgia and we lived in Macon.  They mine and produced kaolin clay used for paper coating and transport it to fine white paper mills in tanker cars as a slurry.  I painted a tanker car with a white top that they use to keep the car cooler to fight algae and a black bottom and installed a company sticker.  Did you work in McIntyre?  I was there for 2 or so years until the economy went down.



Images (1)
  • mceclip0

Thank you all! 

Charlie, I worked at Engelhard corporate at Metro Park from 1986 to 1995. I was at the big kaolin plants a number of times since I worked with the training groups in all the plants and divisions. I was the training director. I stayed at the guest houses near the plant a few times. It was an interesting company, but they lost their way once the Engelhard family was no longer leading. It happens to a lot of great companies when the founders move on and "professional" managers come in. The guy that ran it last was from GE. He ran the minerals division and then when Orin Smith retired took over as CEO. When he sold the company to BASF he walked away with $42 million and a few thousand people lost their jobs. They were once the biggest catalyst company in the world, patented automotive exhaust catalyst, and was one of the leading precious metals companies in the world. Now they're gone...

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