|A ground-level view of Hympoak, a new industry on my layout. The prototype takes deliveries of plastic pellets in hoppers and produces plastic merchandise shopping bags.|
I'll start with a tip: a full time job and two kids under four years old really cuts into your modelling time! This explains the long absence from posting anything other than prototype photos of Area H for the past few months.
I have made slow progress sorting out all sorts of little things on the layout. Here's what I've been working on
In this post, I shared research and photos about Hympopak, an industry I wanted to model. It takes rail deliveries of plastic pellet hoppers and turns them into shopping bags, like the kind you get at Home Depot and other large retail stores.
When I kitbashed Korex -- another plastic pellet factory on my layout (see here) -- I had trouble keeping the styrene roof and walls from bowing. For this background building flat I wanted to use a more solid base so I wouldn't have this problem again. I built the base of the building out of scrap plywood then laminated styrene sheets to that. This seemed to work well as it kept the long walls arrow straight. The building is long, about 40 inches, so any bowing would really show up and spoil the effect.
I used some scrap MDF for the roof of the building. I set the roof slightly below the edge of the wall to create a little "lip" above the roof.
|This is the wood base I used as the structure for the building. The walls are plywood, the roof is two pieces of MDF.|
|The worst part of the build was cutting the openings for the windows.|
I used brick styrene sheets for the walls, a strip of regular styrene painted a concrete colour for the foundation and corrugated styrene painted black for the cladding at the top. I used doors and windows from other kits for the window and door openings.
Here's what the finished building looks like in place on the layout.
|Here's an overall shot of Hymopak. The team track spur is in the foreground.|
|Here's a track-level shot. I built the small loading dock out of styrene. The doors, windows and hand railings were left over from the Paper Mill kit, which was kit bashed into Korex.|
|The spur can hold three plastic-pellet hoppers.|
|Here are the storage silos, made from the Walthers plastic pellet silos kit. I made the sign with a photo I took of the prototype ... then printed it out on decal paper and stuck it to the silos. The building and silos still need weathering.|
|Another track-level shot. The vertical piping was made from sprues from a kit. They add some detail but here's a secret: they're really there to hide the seams between the brick sheets!|
Now I realize that building doesn't capture many of the details and dimensions of the prototype. The real Hymopak is taller, less of a pure rectangle, has more details, nooks and crannies. I just don't have time to create a model that is that detailed. Because I'm always pressed for modelling time, I have to take a bit of a 'good enough' approach and move on to the next thing. I can always replace it with a more detailed building down the road but for now, there are just too many bare spots on my layout to linger too long on any one industry.
Despite this, I still plan to:
- Weather the building and silos.
- Enhance the windows, possibly using photos of real factory windows.
- Ballast and weather the track (I need to cover that white styrene ramp below the track).
- Add some safety signs, boxes, maybe a forklift, figures, etc. to add "life" to the structure and make it look busy. It's funny how just placing the truck near the building for these photos helped improve the look.
For now, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.
Plastics industry: a great addition to any modern layout
I would encourage anyone with a modern layout to consider a plastics facility like this.
I was interested to see that just today, John Longhurst, who writes the excellent CP Rail & Minnesota Subdivision blog, wrote about a somewhat similar industry in Mississauga (which is just west of Toronto). The industry is called Katoen Natie and it also takes plastic hoppers. You can read John's post about it here.
I've visited this industry myself. Often there is a large boxcar spotted on the spur among the covered hoppers (though there wasn't one there the day John visited).
Modelling this industry (or one like it) would require a similar, simple approach. A building flat (though of steel walls, not brick) and a few storage tanks and you're essentially done.
I now have two plastics facilities on my layout (Korex and Hymopak) and I could have had three. On the Area H spur there's also Polytainers, which takes pellet hoppers and turns them into plastic containers, like the kind that ice cream and yogurt comes in. Again, modelling that would be as simple as a brick building flat with some silos, like the kind in the Walthers Plastic Pellet hoppers kit. I've never seen this industry without two hoppers on its spur.
Some may say these simple industries are not as "eye-catching" as a sawmill, oil refinery or coal mine. Maybe not. But to me they say "modern suburban industry" which is what my layout models.
Other layout additions
Rocking the hill
|I added puffball trees and some rock castings to the area near the creek. I didn't like the look of the rolling hill so I cut out some of the foam and added the castings and foliage.|
I've managed to squeeze in a few other additions. Here I've added a rock face behind the creek. Though there isn't a prototype for this on the area I model, I wanted to try out making and painting plaster rocks. I think they turned out OK. I also added some puffball trees to the top of the hill (and still have to add more).
Before I added the rocks, the hill just seemed too bland. I think this adds some much-needed visual interest. I plan on adding a photo backdrop with a skyline here to enhance the scene's depth.
|GMTX 125 is now in service. Adding all the little detailed parts nearly killed me. I don't think this is the kind of modelling I'm best at (or enjoy most).|
For reasons I can't explain, I wanted a leased locomotive on my layout. GATX 102 started life as an undecorated Athearn SW1500. I painted it, added decals and details. I honestly struggled with getting some of the details on this model. Some did not survive my hammer hands. I may go back and fix these problems later. I'm not sure I would attempt a project like this again. The upside is the loco doesn't look too bad and is a good runner. It was DCC ready so I just had to lift the shell, pull out the jumper and plug in a Digitrax decoder. The ease of this has convinced me that I'm only buying DCC-ready locos from now on!
|Here's a prototype shot I was working from. Another problem? I didn't get the colour close to correct.|
That's it for now. As always I welcome your comments.