Away We Go! Steel Mill Layout

Penner Mar 9, 2021

  1. Penner

    Penner TrainBoard Member

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    Here is one more pic of the Walthers "HO" rolling mill stand and motors, modified by me to fit into the N scale rolling mill ... as I mentioned earlier, I had to alter it a bit to make it fit by removing the drive shaft extensions.

    2021-05-02 rolling mill.jpg
     
  2. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The more I see, the more I like it. Nice work! I have never seen the rolling mill equipment before.
     
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  3. Penner

    Penner TrainBoard Member

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    Well, well, well ... what's that in the distance? o_O

    2021-05-10 substation long view.jpg

    Yep. It looks like the Bee Steel Electrical Department boys completed the plant substation in conjunction with the local power utility ahead of schedule. How did that happen?

    One can only assume the suits in the Bee Steel C-Suite have at least one friend at City Hall who was able to, um ... grease the skids. ;)

    2021-05-10 substation 1.jpg

    Anyway ... It's good to know some parts of the mill are moving forward. The company is still waiting for some key material before the Rolling Mill and Blower House finally go up. The foundations have been poured, but both structures are officially behind schedule now and still probably a few weeks away from completion. :D

    2021-05-10 substation 2.jpg
     
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  4. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    What's all the 'buzz' about? It's just an electrical substation. *lol*
    :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

    Very cool. This is a detail not often modeled. A steel mill would probably have very significant substations, or one for every major facility, no?
     
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  5. Penner

    Penner TrainBoard Member

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    You're correct, Hemi. I don't think this would be enough to run my mill. This will have to suffice as a compressed representation as a switching substation complex! :)

    Here is a screenshot I took from a youtube video of the electric substation for the old Kaiser Steel mill where I grew up in Fontana, California. It was a large mill -- in fact, in its hay day it was the largest steel mill west of the Mississippi River.

    electric substation kaiser.png

    That should amp a few people up. ;)

    The full video, which shows the mill in an eastbound drive-by view from San Bernardino Ave, and long after the mill's glory years, can be found here:





    I do have Walther's Northern Light & Power kit (the distribution station that taps power off the HV transmission grid) which I will eventually be assembling too at some point -- but due to its location on my layout that probably won't need to be built until the the mill is nearly complete and all of the track on the mill property is laid down.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
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  6. sd90ns

    sd90ns TrainBoard Member

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    Is that one of your current jokes?
     
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  7. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Instead of modeling it, you could use a building flat or a photo on the backdrop to represent the whole kit & caboodle.
     
  8. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Maybe, but Penner really got 'amped' up over it... :p :p
     
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  9. Penner

    Penner TrainBoard Member

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    Admittedly, some people do find that kind of humor to be, er ... revolting. ;)
     
  10. Penner

    Penner TrainBoard Member

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    This week was spent working on the rolling mill floor layout. It was quite a bit of work ... I think I put in about 16 hours in all. I had a lot of fun as this part of the project required several different models:
    • I put the finishing touches on the Walthers HO Reversing Mill Stand (which as I mentioned earlier is actually built to N-scale dimensions)
    • The roll table (which is actually seven N-scale roll table kits from KenRay (three on the bloom/ingot side and four on the billet side).
    • Two soaking pits from the Walthers HO Reversing Mill Stand kit that I modified for N scale
    • Ingot molds from KenRay
    • The two giant mill stand motors and motor platform from the Walthers HO Reversing Stand kit that I had to modify for N Scale
    • A ladder and ladder cage from Gold Medal for access to the top of the mill stand
    • Kit-bashed and scratch-built coil cradles
    • Scratch-built steel-plate and hot billet stands
    • Wheel stops from Piper Craftsman Kits
    2021-05-16 rolling mill floor.jpg 2021-05-16 rolling mill floor 2.jpg

    For the three coil cradles in between the middle and right tracks, I slightly modified some extra rolling table stretchers from the KenRay kits. I also built another coil cradle (it's empty, you can see it to the right of the right track) from the KenRay ingot mold kit sprues. The steel I-beam supports for the hot billets are simply Evergreen I beams painted a rust color. The wood supports for the steel slabs are just left over plastic parts painted a light brown color to represent lumber. The railing on the top of the mill stand and motor platform originally had to two rails, but since they are HO scale, I had to cut the top rail off to make them the correct height. The only thing I couldn't modify was the stairs -- but let's just keep that between us. ;)

    I'm not very good with a camera phone ... here is a slightly lower perspective:

    2021-05-16 rolling mill floor 3.jpg


    The Walthers Reversing Mill Stand kit comes with eight soaking pit doors but as you can see, after playing around with multiple floor plans, the best I could do was make room for two soaking pits. What you see here are actually the HO pit doors turned upside down; then I took some spare styrene and added some slightly smaller raised doors. The lifting hooks on top of the two doors are the unmodified HO kit hooks. I then placed the KenRay ingot molds next to the pits.


    2021-05-16 rolling mill floor 5.jpg

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot ... I also used four of the HO pit doors as a platform for the mill stand (you can see a small portion of them in the picture above). I had to raise the stand up a bit to ensure the rollers lined up properly. I also used one more door as a platform for the lower drive motor. Those HO pit doors sure came in handy! Another bonus that comes with the HO Reversing Mill Stand kit is that it comes with two large smokestacks! The N scale rolling mill does not have any smoke stacks. The stacks will be placed adjacent to the soaking pits when I erect the rest of the building later this week.

    Here is a backside view of the mill stand and soaking pits. You can see the stacked pit doors I used as the mill stand support ... yes, it looks a bit sloppy. I probably should have used some modeling putty to fill the gap, but I didn't put a lot of effort into making it perfect because nobody will see this side of the stand! :D

    2021-05-16 rolling mill floor 6.jpg

    Here's one more view ...

    2021-05-16 rolling mill floor 4.jpg

    As I said, the walls, crane and roof go up this week. From the perspective above, I'm still trying to figure out how much wall to leave open on the front and left side (where the cars will enter). Walther's suggests leaving the bottom third open, but I am leaning toward leaving the top two thirds open on one of those two sides. What do you guys think -- is two thirds too much open exposure to be realistic?
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2021
  11. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Fantastic work, Penner! Your clever adaptations of HO and N scale parts is very impressive.
    Looking down the road...
    I saw your listing of cars for operations within the steel mill. I know it’s early, but do you have any plans (hopes? daydreams?) of modeling any rail operations beyond the steel mill, such as ore loads in/empties out, Gons with alloys, electrodes, or equipment in/coils,slabs, or billets out?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  12. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    That scene brings back memories... A friend and coworker had designed, supported, and performed installations/upgrades for a line of non-contact speed and thickness measurement equipment for hot-rolled steel flying off the mill rollers at 50+ mph. That job had taken him all over the world. Very interesting technology, in an austere environment. When something started to go wrong, it had to be corrected very quickly or the SHTF in a big, loud and expensive way.
     
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  13. Penner

    Penner TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you, Dave. My layout when completely finished will have an iron ore mine and a coal mine -- so, yes, I definitely plan to model those operations. The only thing it won't have is a limestone quarry; but I'm still going to have gondolas that carry the limestone anyway.

    The great thing about a steel mill is there are opportunities to model lots of other operations and every type of rolling stock beyond the ore cars, gondolas, hoppers, and bottle, ingot, slag, and other mill cars that many people usually think of being used at the mill. I plan on including box cars for brick service and various supplies for the mill departments and shops, and tank cars for by-products! :D
     
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  14. Penner

    Penner TrainBoard Member

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    I hear you, Jake. Doing this layout is bringing back some pleasant memories for me too. Not only of the mill in my home town, but also of my favorite uncle in the whole world, who also happened to be a mechanical engineer for US Steel! He and my mom -- and their other eight siblings (!) -- grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, which used to be a HUGE steel mill town. (I remember as a kid in the late 1960s and early 70s visiting Youngstown with my parents and I still remember the huge mills there.)

    Anyway, my uncle eventually ended up getting transferred from the Youngstown mill to the South Works in Chicago. He gave me a tour of the South Works when I was in my early 20s, which I will never forget. He was also put in charge of closing down the South Works after US Steel decided to close it in the early 90s. That job included the demolition of some of the old structures. He retired after that; he passed away several years ago.
     
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  15. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for sharing your handy work. (y)
    I've never been near one of those businesses but, worked on what came out. As a machinist and then a quality technician were it got assembled into machines. I also watched the trains coming and going. :coffee:
     
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  16. Penner

    Penner TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, Shortround. It is a shame that so much of our manufacturing base has gone overseas. I think a lot of kids today think most of the materials that are used to create our consumer products are magically created with the click of a mouse! ;)
     
  17. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Wow. That's it in a word. Just wow. I have never seen the inside of a steel rolling mill, but I'm guessing yours is a fairly close representation of the same. The first thing that grabs me is the ingot color. It just SCREAMS red hot. I feel like I need tongs to handle the models as they just look HOT. You nailed the color. The rest of it, minus a ton of grime (which will further disguise any modeling errors/slop), just looks like it belongs. The floor seems a bit crowded, but I'm guessing that's just modeling compression.

    On a side note, I too grew up near Youngstown. While never old enough to see the mills in action (Black Monday happened before I was born), I recall them at a young age in the Youngstown skyline in the valley. My paternal grandfather worked at Republic Steel until he retired, so steel is more of less in the blood. My dad worked at the mills for a little while before being hired on at the GM Lordstown plant in 1971, retiring in 2018. My maternal grandfather worked for PRR/PC/CR from Hazelton Yard to Conway, just outside of Pittsburgh (and elsewhere) as a conductor until he retired in 1984, and I have been searching the internet looking for a caboose shot of him at work, just as a family keepsake. Lots of neat mill shots on Flickr.
     
  18. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    That's for sure. Two of my last employers are in Canada and one is somewhere in Europe. After that I couldn't get anything but part time. All were large.
    It's had to keep the trains going that way.
     
  19. Penner

    Penner TrainBoard Member

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    I got the hot ingots and hot billets are from KenRay Models; I agree ... they ARE terrific. :D I was hoping he sold representations of the hot blooms too but, alas, he didn't -- I couldn't find them being sold by anyone anywhere. :mad:

    I debated whether or not to make the rolling mill grimier ... admittedly, the floor does look more like the manufacturing floor where I currently work (with pristine epoxy industrial flooring and zero FOD anywhere) -- it's an almost antiseptic quality. In the end, I decided to keep that look. Although Dean Freytag mentioned in his book on steel mill modeling how the steel industry facilities became much cleaner by the late 90s -- but still I'm sure they were nowhere near as clean as my model shows!

    And you're right, the floor is crowded -- chalk it up to the curse of that dreaded compression monster! ;)

    Both my parents grew up in Youngstown. To this day, most of my relatives still live in Ohio; my Uncle Tom moved back to Poland, Ohio after he retired from US Steel. Most of my other relatives have moved away from Youngstown proper and now mainly live in Struthers, Akron, Boardman, Columbus and New Albany.
     
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  20. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    What's a hot bloom? I'm not a steel mill study... I look forward to seeing this mill scene progress!

    At the end of the day, it's your model RR, so rule #1 always applies. I just feel bad for the 1:160 scale janitorial crew that has to work so hard to keep the facility for such a grimy process in top-notch clean condition! :p :p

    My extended family still lives in Mahoning and Columbiana counties, with a few outliers like me in North Dakota.
     

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