No. 120: The Ackley Layout – Coal Bins on Carstens Siding

It’s been over a month since my last post.  I’ve been very, very busy with work and family stuff, and whatever time I had left went to planning St. Louis RPM. 

We also, during that time, took an eight day trip to the Canary Islands.  We visited Lanzerote and Fuertaventura and we had a wonderful time.  We went for the sun, seafood and beaches and it didn’t disappoint.


Below. Here’s a pano of the area around one of our favorite towns, El Golfo, in the Timanfayo National Park.  Spectacular black sand beaches are a favorite spot on this side of the island.


It was pretty cheap living, and at least once a day we got a big meal that looked a lot like this:


There were no railroads ever on either Lanzerote or Fuerteventura, so after seven days I was eager to get home to the layout and get back to work.

Back in Albersbach…


The re-working of the north end section of the layout is just about complete.  The only things left to be completed are building the stock pen and rebuilding the cannery.  The cannery, seen below, needs a whole lot of work.  New windows are being installed and it will need a new roof too.


Before leaving for the Canaries I did a lot of work on the coal bins adjacent to the elevator on Carsten’s siding.  Sanborn maps indicate there were coal bins on the siding but I have not found any pictures of them.  I decided to freelance a little and built bins I saw in an aerial photo at another M&StL site.  Here’s that photo again below.  Apologies for the graininess…

Coal Bins

I was also inspired by a photo I found online of a British OO scale (1:76) scene.  I like the open bins and thought that modeling an open bin would be more interesting than building a typical closed bin. 


Here are a couple poorly-lit photos of the bins I built.  I used whatever I had on hand–mostly leftover styrene strip and wood from other projects.  I saw another photo of bins that were supported by logs, so I trimmed down a few sticks and used them in the prototype manner.  I deliberately tried to make my bins look old and beaten up.


Another photo showing how I built them around the curve.


And finally, a longer shot to show how they’re built next to the elevator.


The bins need to be loaded at least halfway, so I cut down a few pieces of German “Styrodur”, and shaped them a little bit…


…and then glued them into place.


I painted the faux coal piles with Tamiya Flat Black and then put real coal on top.  I used scale “lump” coal on the nearest and farthest bins, and fine-sifted coal in the center bin. 

When the paint was dry I saturated the coal pile with matte medium, with plenty of rubbing alcohol added to break up the surface tension, to fix ithe loose coal in place.  Then I sprinkled on another light coat of coal on the top.  The result is a nice coal pile with a slightly shiny, glossy coal sheen.


Below.  Here’s a closer view.


While I was fixing up the south end the layout I touched up a few places on the fascia, and found to my surprise that the green paint I have always used seems to have shifted.  So I had to repaint all the fascia on the south end for a third time.   Check out the photo below.  The south end of the layout is on the right.  The paint color shifted and now I’m going to have to repaint everything.


I also repainted all the telephone poles on the layout.  I used Rix poles for the railroad lines and a combination of Rix poles and Walthers crossarms–from the 933-3101 Electric Utility Pole Set–for the city lines.


I must admit that I’ve had a lot of difficulty motivating myself to work on the layout since I moved it across the room.  Work has really been getting me down, my schedule has been relentless–even on the weekends–and St. Louis RPM planning has been more than frustrating.  It was nice to take a week away and I felt refreshed and motivated to get back to it when I got home.

Sometimes you just need a break, right?  – John G


One thought on “No. 120: The Ackley Layout – Coal Bins on Carstens Siding

  1. Love the layout, but a question: who you gonna get to throw the coal from the hoppers over the fence to the bins? Gondolas May be the answer. Don’t you hate nit pickers?


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