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Sidewall of my Sn3 pilot model.

Sidewall of my S-scale pilot model


    DURANGO and GUNNISON Roundhouse in On3!

    I'm taking digital pictures of my progress on the O-scale roundhouse models as I go and posting them here on my web site. It's more a scapbook than it is a well organized essay at this point. Perhaps later when I have the time- Note that this is a work in progress and not all sections are posted at this time.

        Durango Roundhouse Kit Page    




        Durango Prototype    

        Gunnison Prototype    


        Durango 2006 Convention    

        Constructing the Patterns    

        Mold Making    

        Casting Hydrocal    

        The Floor Plan    

        Constructing the Base    

        The Inspection Pits    

        Fitting the Parts    

        Coloring Brick and Stone    

        Building the Roofs    

        The Engine Doors    

        Final Assembly    

        The Boiler House    

        Foreman's Office and Crew Room    

        Additional Details    


        Gunnison Notes    

        The Pilot Model Display    


    The 1/" Durango roundhouse project actually started several years ago when some local S-scale narrow gauge modelers encouraged me to do something for them. I forget how I selected the Gunnison Roundhouse but I found myself busy at work on the patterns with a set of Mike Blazek plans in front of me.

    Unfortunately the plans were inaccurate, noting that the 84 ft. side walls were actually 67 ft. in length as shown on some original DRGW plans found in the John Maxwell collection (showing the raising of the roof). No problem, I simply cut down the castings and made new patterns and molds, which allowed me to easily do an all brick Durango version while I was at it.

    So here we are a few years later and my friend Glenn Farley has slipped down the slippery slope of O-scale modeling choosing Gunnison as his focus. Gunnison roundhouse in O-scale? Well, why not? I have just about everything figured out. I agreed do the brickwork (for both locations) and Glenn would do the stonework for Gunnison using my stock hand-carved stone (HCS-M).

    A few weeks passed, then a few more and I almost forget the project. Then Glenn asked how I was doing on the patterns. Well, I was in my busiest season ever, working crazy hours just to keep up with production. I hadn't really touched the patterns. I lied and said, "oh, I'm workin' on it." A few weeks later when he reported he was nearing completion I figured I'd better get busy. It was the kick I needed.

    Initially, we were just going to do the exterior detail however, I guess just the shear size of the models required interior detail as well. Glenn is, though he reports not to be, a nut and bolt counter. But not just one of those pests who counts them and never builds but complains that you left a few out of your model. Glenn builds his models to the highest degree. For instance, a typical brass tender will have about 25 detail castings. Glenn's scratchbuilt LN 0-6-0 switcher has 250 (HO) details of his own making! Just on the tender!! So you can imagine what he was doing on the roundhouse. Yeah, it had to have interior detail.

    Glenn also pushed for accuracy in the stonework. Where I had been satisfied with the simple rendition of the Blazek drawings Glenn searched for every clue he could find in books and photos, noting there is a man door that does not appear in any of the drawings, and barely seen in any photos. And there are actually knobs of wood (old timbers) that extend out the holes where the old roof (removed/burnt) extended. Every detail that could be found was noted.

    This pushed me to do a similar job on Durango. Admittedly I had not done a great job on researching the S-scale model. I did pretty good but now I have a chance to bring it up another level in O-scale. I gathered books and searched for photos. I called on the internet for help. Fellow modelers like Mike Trent and Scott Anderson stepped forward with photos and information. We called upon some friends in Durango to collect actual measurements to confirm my growing knowledge.

    You'd think the iconic roundhouse in Durango would be well documented, published for all to see a dozen times over and easily at hand. However this is not so. I mentioned Mike Blazek who has distributed a set of plans however these are of a more recent date, where several of the original stalls had been removed and others changed drastically. Some original elements remain but many are left to be guessed at. In the Maxwell collection we find a plan for extended three stalls however these are obviously a simplified copy of the Gunnison plan and wonder if the Durango drawing was done by the railroad or by Maxwell, and find flaws in it when compared to photographs. Questions remain without clear answers. It's an endless pursuit of the truth, or what we think it is, or was.

    Keep in mind that the roundhouses went through repairs and revisions throughout their lifetime. Even if we had the original drawings these would only be the guidelines for what was actually built. It didn't take long for the changes to begin occurring. Gunnison was originally stone construction. Then that building burnt and they rebuilt in brick (I'm not sure if the brick was built before or after the fire, we'll have to ask Glenn). The one original stone wall remained and added much to the distinctive character of Gunnison. Eleven stalls were built with handsome brick portals surrounding the engine doors. A photo shows these were originally done with the sawtoothed brick detail we see existing today on Durango's remaining original rear walls.

    In 1938 six intermediate stalls were extended by 9-6" and their roofs were raised 3"-6" with wood frame construction on the Gunnison roundhouse. We also note that the brick portals were rebuilt without the sawtooth detail at sometime probably prior to this. The extended stall portals were replaced with wood frame construction.

    We suspect Durango was built from the same original plan. Perhaps it was a "standard plan". Or maybe it was its own plan but coming from the same drafting tables in the DRGW offices. I wouldn't be surprised if the engine doors received the same fancy brick treatment however I've never seen a clear photograph of the original construction. Gunnison's front was quickly rebuilt in a simpler fashion less the sawtooth brick detail, which remains on the existing original rear walls in Durango. Again we can only guess if this detail was also present in Gunnison's rear walls as we have no photographic evidence.

    At a certain point when you have reasonably exhausted your research sources you need to make decisions about your model. All through the process we've been building this image, a model, in our heads. Okay, we know this, and this, but we don't know for instance what exactly the rear walls in Gunnison were. We'll take modeler's license and assume they were the same as Durango and use the same patterns. It wouldn't make sense to guess that they were different and go to the trouble of making up a new pattern. If later on we find out something different maybe we can, but for now, for this model, the decision must be made. We also must consider for practical reasons, how best to create our model. After all, we're not providing the model builder 120,000 scale bricks and some mortar, we're casting them in Hydrocal a few thousand at a time. (Actually, I haven't done that, figured out how many bricks were actually used in the building- Oh, I know, we'll ask Glenn-).

    Some of the things we've done are lengthened the sidewalls. We were shooting for 70 ft. but came up with 71 ft. That's just how the bricks came out as I wanted the windows to be centered. Again, the prototype was/is 67 ft. but we oversized them to allow for longer drawbars on our model locomotives and our less than precise operating skills. The thickness of the walls is strong too. This was done in order to cast both sides with detail and keep the castings strength. You could mill them down another brick's worth but even Glenn didn't worry this. There is a point of reason.

    Another thing to consider is what period we are modeling. While I was tempted to date the patterns later with crumbling distressed brick I chose to model an earlier fresher version which would allow the earlier and if we want, the later. On Durango we see the cap bricks crumbled and repaired with crude concrete patches. That's easy enough. The modeler can hack these sections away with his modeling knife and then fill them in with water putty. I'll even include some templates. If you model in the 60's you can spend some time distressing the brick, scribing cracks and randomly chipping them out.

    Modeling the engine doors is another head scratcher when you consider all the variations. There were the windowed originals. Then rebuilds and modifications. Wider, shorter, taller. Windows were planked over. Then they were gone. The inside sheathing is sometimes different than the exterior. Are you dizzy yet? I'll simplify things by saying I'll offer three sizes, with or without windows, and that's just for Durango. We'll wait and see what Glenn says about Gunnison. There were a bunch of odd doors there. So far I've done four or five.

    Okay, that it for now. No doubt I'll be adding to this introduction as we progress on the models and kits. I've just returned from the 2006 National Narrow Guage Convention in Durango of all places where I displayed the pilot model. I'd hoped to have it complete and finished but simply ran out of time. Fortunately it was to a point where I think it clearly displayed what we are doing with the base, walls and sample truss and roofing. It generated a lot of interest. Bob Brown, editor of the Gazette, was heard to say "You're kidding." No Bob, we're not kidding, we are very serious about this.

    Next section:     Durango Prototype    



    Limited Run - O Scale    

    Future Kits - O Scale    

    Scratch-Building Stock Panels   


  C. C. CROW     P. O. BOX 1427      MUKILTEO, WA   98275   USA