Sunday, 18 December 2016

Cement Works Part Five

Finishing the cement plant kit building on my HO scale bookshelf layout required a little bit of good ol' fashioned kit-bashing. Largely because there were a number of minor flaws with the HO scale Faller Old Cement Works kit. Finally, more than a year after I kept coming back to work on this kit building, my cement plant is now finished and standing alongside the rail line.

There were just as many leftover pieces in the Faller old cement works kit as went into the finished structure!

There were several flaws with this kit, which if not addressed would have taken away from the structure's overall appearance. Namely, the small, central upper level extension that overhangs the rail line had a blank provision for what looked like a pouring spout to handle wet cement. Now while I'm not aware of any cement plant that loads wet cement into rail wagons or hoppers, the spout for starters didn't fit. Also, on the left side of the structure, there was a door on the upper level that led to nowhere, with no mention in the instructions of what was supposed to go there. Even the images on the box didn't lend any clues, with the structure only shown from the three other sides!

Once more I hand painted the pieces I used to kit-bash the cement plant receiving dock.

Fortunately, there were enough left-over pieces from the kit for me to fashion something from. My best thoughts are that this kit shared generic sprue pieces from other Faller kits, and it was simply cheaper to share the manufactured sprues between models without any care for the wasted leftovers. Now I've been in the hobby long enough to know one thing, and that it is you never throw leftovers away. They always come in handy for something down the track.

In this case, I decided to kit-bash a wagon height receiving dock, complete with a staircase leading up to the dubious door to nowhere. Using a leftover stairwell (that was much shorter than what was needed), I glued on some angled handrails (that were also leftovers), and cut a small piece of plastic to act as the landing at the top of the stairs before painting them with a silver paint pen. As the stairs were not long enough to reach ground level, I used a leftover section of what looked like wall paneling to act as the rail dock platform, and painted this using different shades of brown acrylics to resemble timber. The dock is then held up with pylons of what looked like log dividers that were supposed to go with the sand holding bins which I didn't end up modelling beside my structure. I painted these using oil paints to resemble green treated copper logs, as though the receiving dock had recently been re-stumped. Finally, I cut down some leftover sections of ladder that would provide two access points to ground level, and painted these with visible white handles at the top.

Kit-bashing the steps and receiving dock solved the problem of the door to nowhere.

So far, so good. The dubious second level door that you can see on the structure above now looked like it was there for a reason! As for the pouring spout, I boarded it over using a small piece of nailed on planking that was also left-over in the kit. So if no cement is going out, it stands to reason that I then had to make my cement plant look like it received loads of dry cement mix instead, to be mixed on-site and loaded into trucks that would then deliver the wet concrete to local building sites.

By this stage, I had long decided to abandon the idea of using the 3 stall holding bin that was supposed to stand beside the plant. I had constructed it in my Cement Works Part Four post, but the end result just looked cheap, plastic and well.... just plain awful! Instead, I went ahead and scratchbuilt the abandoned siding and concrete loading apron that you now see beside the cement works. I'm sure you'll agree it looks much better!

The receiving hoses were made out of old speaker wire, spliced in two, painted and glued into place.

From this point on, I've got to be honest. I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to receiving train loads of cement hoppers, other than it involves discharging the cement mix from the myriad of valves and piping that reside underneath the models of the NPRY/NPRF cement hoppers that I purchased from Southern Rail Models. So for that, I painted a circular piece of something-or-other that was still attached to the sprue sheet with the silver paint pen. I next glued a short section of spliced two-way speaker wire into the round hole, (painting one strip of the speaker wire with a black marker pen for a bit of visual variety) before gluing it into position beside the track to resemble a messily-unwound hose that supposedly connects the something-or-other to the underneath of the incoming cement hoppers.

Adding a danger sign gave the model a more serious look.

I kit-bashed two of these, and spaced them evenly where two of the NPRF/NPRY hoppers could be set out beside the structure. I next added another leftover section of painted silver down-piping, (that I simply couldn't get to fit where the instructions said it went), and glued it instead to the overhanging upper level office extension where it runs down along the kit-bashed receiving dock to ground level. What it does I don't know. But with a printed "DANGER" sign added above the pipe, it gives the model a little bit of interest.

The cement plant was then glued into place and the scenery blended to the edge of the structure.

Being a plastic kit, the structure lit up like a roman candle when I tried to add interior lighting to the building. So I simply pulled the lights back out and glued the structure in place beside the rail line as there is no need for the building to be removable. Next, I added some LED light posts to either side of the structure so that they would light up the stairwells leading to the upper level, and blended scenery to the edge of the structure using the same scenery methods I've already outlined on my construction page.

Finally, a cement plant that I was happy to see finished!

Finally I stood back, dimmed the lights and admired the finished structure. By night light, the building takes on a realistic industrial appearance, as though the plant is awaiting the next load of cement hoppers to be delivered before the workers arrive first thing in the morning. Finally, I added a few more tufts of grass between the sleepers (that's railroad ties for the good ole boys from the US), to give the siding a more sleepy feel.

The concrete loading pad will handle both loads in and loads out for operational purposes.

The concrete loading apron with the abandoned rails protruding from the concrete beside the cement plant, has the light posts spaced out enough for the forklift driver to have access to load the louvered vans and soon-to-arrive steel wagons that will be needed for the steel-reinforced concrete spans the boys are working on just beyond the layout edge.

Pressed hard to the edge of my layout, my cement plant reaches right to the layout's ceiling.

Building this structure was a slow process that I spaced out over the course of 12 months, largely because of the dubious door to nowhere that almost had me beat when it came to finding a solution. Thankfully my perseverance paid off. While not pretending that this is an actual portrayal of a working cement works, it looks 'railroady' enough to provide me with some realistic operating fun on a small bookshelf layout. By placing the structure at the end of the layout, the building doesn't really obscure the view of the trains from the public, and with the backdrop being reversible, you can see from the above photos that I have the added benefit of viewing the cement plant from both sides of the track when I want to.

Having now figured out the lighting dilemmas that previously hindered me completing this layout to my own satisfaction, this past week I have also skipped ahead and replaced the lighting at Philden's railway station. The cement plant and the lighting were the two final projects I had needed to do in order to say that stage one of my layout is now effectively complete! As the year draws to a close, I've actually surprised myself with how much modeling I've managed to fit in before Christmas. Not only have I completed my bookshelf layout before the end of the year, but in the month of December I've also spent a day at the cricket, taken my family to a Brisbane Bullets basketball game and been treated to a night out with my daughter to see Keith Urban in concert as an early Christmas gift. Life just seems so good right now!

Later this week, I'll post a final photo for the year with our Christmas tree set up in front of my bookshelf layout. But as usual, I'll let that be a story for another day.

See also: Building an abandoned siding or Cement Works Part Four and Cement Works Part Three and Cement Works Part Two and Cement Works Part One


  1. Hi Phil,
    The plant has turned out well. That must be the first cement hopper to the new plant, no sign of cement dust anywhere.

    1. Good observation! There's just a hint of off-white dust in front of the plant, but I may gradually weather the receiving track some more over the coming year with each operating session, so that the layout continues to evolve. After all, a layout is never truly finished is it?


Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil