Sunday, February 11, 2024

Ciment St-Laurent - Part 1

Life has been busier than I could expect in recent weeks and several unpredictable events unfolded... some sad, some happy. That said, I forgot for a while this blog but modelling has been active, both on Monk and the Murray Bay Subdivision.

The new structure is a 1:1 replica of the real plant

One of the biggest step forward is our commitment to complete the large Ciment St-Laurent plant in Villeneuve. The current (now dismantled) structure was a half baked mockup that needed to be replaced by something more permanent. Learning from our initial mistakes, we have greatly improved our construction methods and the new cement plant is both more realistic and practical.

Rails embedded into 3/4" thick MDF

It was decided to start from scratch, including the sub-roadbed. We wanted to replicate the loading track embedded into the structure concrete pad and it called for a new slab of thick MDF. After fiddling around and finding out the layout was not level due to warping caused by our decade ago sloppy craftsmanship, we decided to screw the pad to the wood dowel columns to create a strong and sturdy assembly. It seems to work!

Fixing the MDF concrete slab to the structure

Another hurdle was dealing with cladding. On several buildings on the layout, we have been using white extra fine corrugated cardboard. This is a very useful material to replicate old asbestos corrugated sheathing from the 1950s. Unfortunately, it's getting very hard to source and three previous attempts miserably failed from several suppliers: what they advertised has extra fine, was in fact fine... and don't be fooled, by fine, I mean OK for O scale. Another option was using corrugated styrene, but it's extremely costly and it's a pain to glue on MDF without using a lot of CA or epoxy. Didn't want to go that route.

Working with paper cladding is easy, simple and efficent

Finally, frustrated, I decided to give a second look at scrapbooking suppliers and found one, Doris from Germany, that claimed to sell extra fine corrugated cardboard. The listed dimensions fitted what had been used on Donohue and I ordered a bunch. Several week later, it was a joy to discover it was the right material and the cement plant project could go forward.

Laying thin cardboard strips to create the overlap effect

As for cladding the building, I like to overlap the individual rows of sheets. You can't do that in HO scale due to the cardboard thickness, but a way around that is simply to cut the row to the correct length and glue a thin 0.25mm cardboard strip at the bottom. It creates a subtle yet realistic overlap that brings some relief to the surface. When all glued in place, you get a very neat appearance and it only takes a few minutes to assemble because MDF and cardboard bond together quite fast when using regular carpenter glue.

A completed wall!

For vertical lines between individual sheets, I will use a dark pencil and draw them. I don't see the need to model these joints in real. If I was dealing with corrugated paper or tin foil, that would be another matter!

No comments:

Post a Comment