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Peter's Model Railroading | Articles | Structures | Background Building #3

While this structure will not win any awards, its purpose is as a filler building at the back of the layout. The layout I had at the time, took a slice of an actual region and part of that slice was the tail end of one of the manufacturing buildings of the Canonsburg Fort Pitt Bridge Works. The orange rectangle drawn on the photo shown here indicates the portion of the building that falls into my layout's region. I want to document the construction of this structure as it shows how to build a simple structure that is rugged enough to withstand a cat laying on top of it (yes, that did happen at one point in time; I wish I had taken a photo of that event). It also shows some wood-working techniques and may provide ideas on how you can solve some of your own model-construction issues.

This Sanborn map shows an expanded version that encompasses the area that I was modeling in that layout. The gray section marked "17" is the Fort Pitt Bridge Works. The right-most corner of the building near the Chartiers creek is what I am modeling in this article. If you compare this map with the photo above, you can see where the two roofs of the left-most portion of the building have a different color. The older/darker-colored roof-line matches that of the drawing. The photo is newer and is what I am using as my go-by for this model.

Having no detailed engineering information about this structure, I spent some time trying to figure out how tall and wide this section of the factory must have been. This photo shows an interesting feature of this building; namely, it had an industrial track running through it to serve this facility, as well as a number of other industries that laid adjacent to this facility. The PRR's railroad standard at the time required a 22-foot clearance, so I could use that measurement in the drawing to determine that the overall height of the vertical walls was 37 feet. Based on the Sanborn map above, I've determined (since it provides a drawing scale) that each building was 66 feet wide. My model will only cover a portion of the first building. Using the standard "4 in 12" roof pitch (an assumption), I can calculate that the roof section is 11 feet tall, thus making the entire building 48 feet tall.