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Pin and Stave Mill

3752 Views 14 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Reylroad
The town of Blacklog on the Tuscarora Railroad is home to Beers & Green woodworking. They make small things like locust pins (for joining timber beams), barrel staves, spokes, and tool handles. Historically, the Beers & Green mill was located about 1/2 mile north of the Orbisonia depot, but I needed to move some industry into the town of Blacklog to justify shipping timber products there, so I moved the mill about a mile east. Technically, Beers & Green was solely a pin mill. There was a spoke and handle mill almost directly across the street from the Orbisonia depot. In the interest of selective compression, I combined both endeavors into one small mill. This way I could justify the increased traffic to the mill.

This particular structure is built from an old Pola kit which I bought at a swap meet. It was definitely in sad shape, lacking a base as well as all the doors.

After a bit of paint, a new base, and a new roof covering (thanks to all who responded to my "roofing material" question), it's now in place, ready to handle all your woodworking needs.

The makeover will be covered in an upcoming GR Basics column. I'll get some photos of the other sides, including the coal bin for the mill's steam engine. (Gotta power those machines somehow, and electricity hadn't come to the region yet.)


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Very nice! Just wondering, will you be weathering it? But that is a great makeover! I can't wait for the basics column to come out, I have a few pola buildings that could use some TLC.
Kevin -

Wow! Talk about making "a silk purse out of a sow's ear" - you've done it.
Kevin, that's great. I really like the way you approach the whole thing--the size of your operation, the eye for getting things right. It's inspiring. That's a really nice piece of work
well done.

are the signs homemade or bought?
Nice rebuild. It looks good with the empty flat and the fresh wood on the platform.
Amazing how the signs and lumber on the loading dock make a relatively simple structure look very believable. Congratulations really good job!

Nice compression of the scene. What a lot of character for a small area. I love it!:cool:
Nice conversion (remodel?). I like that you came up with an industry that belongs. To each his own, I know, but having a structure that has no purpose being where it is, upsets my sense of logic. Yeah, I know, they're just toy trains...
Thanks, guys. Of course, getting this building done really points out that I need to get the rest of the buildings in Blacklog finished.

Anyway, some more shots I took this afternoon...

This shows the other end of the building, including the coal bin for the boiler inside the shop. It also shows the surrounding landscaping a bit more clearly. BTW, lest we get too grouchy about the cost of track, the 2' long piece of 1/2" ID copper pipe for the smokestack cost me darned near $4! Yeah, in terms of detail parts, still inexpensive, but it's copper pipe for cryin' out loud! No wonder that stuff's being heisted from construction sites.

One little dumb goof on my part--I didn't leave expansion space between the cedar planks for the deck. After watering the railroad last evening, and this morning's almost constant drizzle, I was rather quickly reminded why we put them there. Fortunately, it didn't warp to the point of lifting the building--just the ends lifted. Still, once things dry out, I'll have to go out and remove a wee bit of wood to give things room to expand.

To answer Kevin's question, I did do some very light weathering on the building, in the form of a wash of very dilute grimy-brown/black paint. I wiped some of it off, because there was too much "grain" on the wood and the building looked completely unkempt. Mother Nature has her own way with outdoor buildings, anyway, as can be seen by the dirt splashes on the side.

The signs I made myself. I use Adobe Illustrator, but really any program that allows you some degree of flexibility in arranging type should work. They're printed on vinyl "paper," which I found on line from these guys , but can also be found at Office Depot, etc. in the form of ink-jet printable bumper sticker paper. I just stuck it to some styrene sheet, and glued the styrene to the side. We'll see how well they hold up to the elements, but Del Taparro's vinyl signs have held up rather nicely, so I don't think this stuff would be any different. I did overspray them with a UV-resistant sealer from Krylon.

A close-up view of the coal bin. It takes the place of a second door, which I felt was not needed. The bin is built up from leftover cedar strip from the deck. The coal is just glued to a piece of styrene stuck in the very top of the bin.

The next projects... The shell of the station is made from Fiberock, which is a tile underlayment. It used to be handled by Lowes and HD, but I haven't seen it there in a while. This shell has been out for two winters as is, and has held up VERY well. Only one piece broke off, and that was due to our dog continually walking over it while it was buried under 12"+ of snow. It's next to come in and finally be finished. The "Beggin' Strips" bucket will be replaced by a water tower. The barn in the background will be fixed up, though I'm not convinced it's going to stay there. I've gathered a small herd of Schleich cows, so I may move the farm scene to the other end of the line, behind Neelyton where it can be a bit more prominent.

Of course, there's also the passenger cars to finish, and the tannery facilities at Shade Gap, to say nothing of completing the lift-out bridge so I can actually get trains around the railroad again...


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Concerning the overpriced copper chimney and the buckling wood deck, quoting Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate," I have one word for you: "Plastic." Actually, styrene, but potato, po-tah-to.

One question: how does yout pin works scale out, relative to most of your 1:20.3 rolling stock? And is that a new or old flatcar? Also, what about figures?

The more I see of that era, the more I think modeling turn-of-the-century is the way to go. Ya can have a few cars, some horses and wagons, and lots of neat industries that don't exist today. No need for pavement or sidewalks either.
I thought about plastic, especially for the stack, but couldn't find any in a suitable diameter that didn't have walls half as thick as the opening. At least I know it's not going to break off. I stayed away from plastic for the platform because I wanted to keep things fairly simple, and cutting plastic to shape isn't as user-friendly as ripping a cedar fence plank on a table saw. Considering all the wood for the base cost me less than $3, I guess that balances out the cost of the copper stack, eh? Oddly, the most expensive part of this project was the roof. The safety tread tape cost me $13. I bought the building for $10!

As for the size of the building itself, it's tiny. Just the building scales to 12' x 25'. It's probably not feasible to fit such an industry in a space that small, but that that's okay. I don't have the room for a reasonably sized mill on the railroad anyway. It's the features on the building that were important to me. The loading doors are 7' tall, while the door on the end is 6' tall--not uncommon for doors on some small buildings of that era. I'm going to find some smaller (5' 5"ish) figures to have working there, so they'll blend in.

BTW, the flat car is one of the Bachmann 1:20 flat cars. It's makeover can be found here.


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Kevin: Good job. Well done all around. You need to head back to that swap meet soonest.


Great looking building, especially from an old Pola kit. You shoulod look into Precision Board. As long as it's primed and painted it will never rot, warp, or anything else. I've rebuilt all my buildings with PB (see my article in GR). It's the greatest material I've ever used.

When Bob Treat and I began using it about 9 years ago, we had to carve our own board and batten siding, shingles, and rock carving. We still carve our rock sidings but Ross and Sue Piper of Rainbowridge Kits have clapboard, board and batten and vertical siding already milled in sheets.

I'll send you some photos off line.

Tom Rey
San Diego
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