Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
07/21/2012
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This project has several significances for me that make it special. First, this was the first thing I did in S-scale modeling. When I started this project I didn't have anything S-scale (no cars, engines, track, nothing). Secondly, when Hurricane Ike hit Houston in 2008 we rode out the storm in our house and spent several days with no electricity. This was a good time to do some modeling, although not exactly comfortable in 100+ degree temperatures with no A/C. Third, this project started off being something different from what it would up becoming.

Note: even though this project was named after an actual facility, this is purely a fantasy structure. This is because I didn't get any prototype information about Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works until I published this project on this web site.

To get a feel for how big S-scale is compared to N-scale, I decided to build a simple building from scratch. My initial plan for this building was to make a Pennsylvania Railroad section house. I started off following the design of PRR plan #59326. A cleaned-up version of the plan can be found in the book "Trackside on the Pennsylvania - Volume 2" by Jeff Scherb on page 79. I started the project with a piece of Plastruct sheet as the base of the model. It represents the ground. In retrospect I should have made it longer to accommodate the two pieces of rail.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
Next I cut two pieces of styrene of .0040" to act as building's the foundation. I will be using code 83 rail, so the two pieces of styrene will get the foundation up to near the top of the rail, which is what the drawings seems to indicate. The pieces measure a scale 20'-4" by 15'-4". On one piece I marked a line indicating how far the rail is to go into the structure. The prototype drawing states that a wooden floor is to be used. I missed that when I started the project. If I build another one of these, I will use a wooden floor.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
I carefully cut the slots for the rails in the one piece of styrene on which I had drawn the line. On these inside cuts you really have no choice but to keep cutting the line until you have gone through the material. The cut-n-snap method doesn't work for something like this. I then used the gaps in the top piece to cut the gaps for the rail in the bottom piece (shown below). The next thing I did was glue the two pieces of styrene together to create the foundation of the structure. I used Testors' Plastic Cement.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
After some filing and trimming, I glued the foundation to the base.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
The plan shows a small concrete wall all around the foundation of the structure. The top, outside edge of that is sloped probably for rain run-off. I tried several ideas, but the one I settled on was to use some Plastruct shallow U-channel stock with the flat edge facing out. The inside of the structure is not going to be visible on this model, so it doesn't matter. Sometimes late at night you have to improvise. I cut and glued two pieces to the long edges of the foundation. I put some metal weights on them to hold them in place while the glue dried.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
I did the same thing with the short edges. The one in the front is not yet in place in this photo. After I installed the front foundation wall pieces, I used some spackling compound to fill in the gaps left by the U-shaped channel pieces at the corners of the structure. After that dried, I filed it down.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
This photo shows the whole foundation painted with Floquil's "Aged Concrete". With the paint you can't tell that the corners are patched.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
I cut two scale 24-foot pieces of code 83 rail, painted them with Floquil's "Rail Brown" and glued them to the base using 5-minute epoxy. The rails were properly spaced using the S Standards Gage (my first true S-scale purchase).
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
Since the interior will not be visible, I used styrene angles to act as the wall supports. I used those parts because that was all I had in stock. I glued them to the painted foundation using super glue.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
Next came the walls. I used Evergreen's "novelty" siding for the wall sections. I roughed up the outside faces with some 60-grid sandpaper. This should simulate wood. I glued the back wall to the foundation and to the vertical angles. While the glue dried I marked and cut the openings for the windows for the side walls. I decided not to put a window in the back wall.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
The wall sections were painted with Polly Scale "D&RGW Building Cream" which mimics the PRR's standard exterior colors.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
I cut, painted, and installed the front and rear walls. I had already painted the window frames with Floquil "Tuscan Red". The window frames are actually Grandt Line N-scale window frames. They don't look too bad. Since I am just starting out S-scale, I don't have a collection of scratch-building items yet, and so I had to make do. I didn't want to hold this project up.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
After hurricane Ike blew through on Saturday September 13th, 2008 there was nothing to do with no electricity, so I spent some time working on this building. I painted the interior of the walls with a black acrylic paint so that the walls don't shine through.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
Before closing up the structure, I glued clear styrene behind the window panes using Crystal Glaze, and cut a piece of black paper stock to prevent revealing the obviously empty interior of the structure.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
I glued some 3/16th inch metal siding from Evergreen. I was starting to trim two pieces when I realized that I could just cut one piece and fold it in half to form the roof. That is what I did in this picture. The prototype calls for shingles, but my version is a bit more updated, so it has a metal roof. Just like in the prototype, the actual construction varied from the design due to available materials and "future upgrades and repairs".
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
I cut and installed two strips of styrene to cover the fold in the roof, painted the roof with Polly Scale's Aluminum (one coat), and glued fascia panels to the front edge of the roof. Those still need to be trimmed and painted. I will probably paint the roof with a second coat also.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
Fast forward four years... I put this structure away for several years. I was so set on this being a section house, for which I have no space in my current layout, that I didn't see its other possibilities. When I "rediscovered" it, I decided that it was too nice of a small project to just let it collect dust. I decided to make it a basic structure for a small shop. So, the first thing I did was rip out the track. I wanted to close up the main door area, because I didn't want to detail the interior. I went through my collection of Grandt Line doors and found "RGS Style Freight Door", part #4040. It fit almost perfectly. After gluing the door to the back of the door frame, I painted the assembly using Polyscale's "D&RGW Building Brown". I also glued some clear styrene behind the windows at the top of the door. I had to remove some of the interior structure foundation (the styrene) inside the building to make room for the door. I also had to trim the bottom of the door to make it fit the opening vertically.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works
After installing the door, I had to finish the roof trim work that I had started several years ago. I also painted that trim the same brown color as the door. The other thing that remained was the corner trim where the walls meet. I painted them the same wall cream color. I took this photo of the building in its approximate location on my layout. This helped me do some planning.
Canonsburg Steel & Iron Works