Hazel Mine Tipple - Foundation
02/19/2018
From the prototype engineering drawing, I gathered that the foundation blocks were about 3 feet square. Although the diagram appears to have the blocks stick out some distance above the track, from my own model experience I found that that would not leave enough clearance for things like the trucks and side steps of cars and engines. So, I have decided to make my blocks, vertically, to be just under the tops of the rails (from actual model measurements that means 14 scale inches). That is a small compromise that I will have to adjust for when I build the vertical beams of the structure (making them a bit taller).

To build a total of 44 blocks, I decided that I want to make them out of styrene. In previous attempts I had used Plaster of Paris and had cast them. This worked well, but that was when I had made them much taller. At a scale 14", they would be too thin, and thus too fragile, I think. To make the styrene blocks, I decided to build them all together in one collection. The design diagram I drew, shown below, shows the top view of this styrene collection. The base is a 33'x40' sheet of styrene. To that I will apply four rows of styrene across the length. These represent the blocks. Those rows are 3 feet wide, and are 7 feet apart. That way the rows are spaced apart at the correct distances for the vertical columns of the tipple building, as viewed from the side of the building. When the styrene foundation is done, I will cut it with my tablesaw, starting at the dashed line. Each of those cuts will yield a 3-foot strip. My table saw blade has a 7/64" kerf (or an S-scale 7"), so I accounted for that in the design. This will yield 11 such strips (plus some extra waste). There are eleven vertical columns to the building, as viewed from across the five tracks.
Hazel Mine Tipple
Looking at the styrene section from the side shows this profile. Each vertical "blob" will be a total of 14" tall from the bottom of the styrene, and will represent the concrete block upon which the vertical column of the tipple sits. The bottom section of styrene that connects them all together will be hidden in the ballast, but it will guarantee that all the foundation blocks are the same distance apart from each other. This would otherwise be a real challenge: to make sure that all 44 blocks are perfectly in alignment with each other (in both directions of the horizontal plane).
Hazel Mine Tipple
As per the design diagram, I cut a piece of styrene, and started gluing 3-foot strips to that. These were all cut from sheet styrene of several thicknesses. The weights are there to make sure the strip doesn't move as I apply the Testors glue.
Hazel Mine Tipple
Here is the final construction of the styrene "collection". I used whatever styrene I had on hand, until I reached a combined total height of 14 scale inches.
Hazel Mine Tipple
After setting up a temporary system on my tablesaw, I carefully cut each of the 3-foot strips across the rows. Some pieces came off during the cutting (not enough glue had wicked in all the strips). Also, the speed of the blade caused some material that was being cut to melt and coagulate. It left the strips looking rough, but it actually went pretty smoothly. The one in the top-left corner of the photo shows the extra that I had added to my calculations.
Hazel Mine Tipple
I then had to clean each strip. I also filed the edges down so that the layered hierarchy of the individual strips of styrene wouldn't be so visible. Finally, I rounded off the top and vertical edges of each block, so that they didn't look so artificial. I decided to use Aleene's Tacky Glue to glue these strips to the top surface of my layout (painted ceiling tiles). After moving the strip around until the glue really gripped, I made sure that it lined up with the pencil lines I had drawn on the layout surface before I had installed the ties, and that the strip was centered between the two rows of ties. Some weights were then placed on the strip to hold it all down while the glue cured.
Hazel Mine Tipple
In the time between when I started to prepare for laying the ties and now, I had received some more prototype information, so the tipple is actually longer than I had originally thought. So, as you can see from the photo, some of the strips had to be placed on the green section of the layout. I also had misplaced one of the strips, so I had to remove it and move it to its correct location. The Aleene's glue held really well and it ripped that section of ceiling tile apart as I removed the strip. I painted over it, and ballast later on will hide it all. I did some fine-tuning of the blocks by sanding a few that were too tall, and adding any missing strips that had come loose during the tablesaw cutting session.
Hazel Mine Tipple
With all the strips in place, I then went back and painted all of the white areas with a brown color, just to make sure that, should there be any gaps in the ballast, no white would show through the ballast later on.
Hazel Mine Tipple
The last step in building the foundation blocks was to paint them with Polly-Scale "Aged Concrete".
Hazel Mine Tipple