Sunday, December 5, 2010

Progress on Market St. Station Warehouse

The first of the Market Street warehouses is taking shape. As usual, I'm scratchbuilding the model in styrene. Scratchbuilding basic square buildings is pretty easy, and styrene is fun to work with because I can pretty much build as fast as I can cut, and don't need to worry about painting til after assembly.

Like most of my styrene models, this one's built out of the usual small number of "staple" styrene shapes; I keep a supply of basic styrene for anything I'm building up from scratch, and only buy sheet styrene for siding and Grandt Line windows and doors when I figure out a particular project to make.

My staples for plastic are 12x12" HO (1/8" square) styrene rod for bracing, 2x12 strip for large boards (in this case for the sheathing on the loading dock), 2x6 strip for cross-bracing and railings on the stairway, 4x4 rod for posts for the stairway, 1/16" sheet styrene for the core of the object, and any handy width of scribed siding for large wood floors such as the loading dock and stair platform. I normally don't like the very thin (1" scale) plastic, but I use 1x4 strips and scribed sheet to make the baggage doors from scratch. Other than the staples, this model took a couple packs of board and batten siding (suitably weathered with a brass brush and occasional removed boards), and some Grandt Line doors and windows from a large stash. A while back, I bought the Grandt Line window and door assortment so I'd always have some window and door castings available; I restock the particular pieces I use, but if I'm not picky on a project, I can usually find something in the box to use. I also keep one or two of the Central Valley stair sets on hand so I don't have to fabricate those from scratch.

All the staples make for about $20 in plastic, and I'm good about buying additional plastic whenever I visit the local hobby shop. The only item not in the hobby shop is the 1/16" white styrene sheet, which I buy from Tap Plastics, our local plastics supplier, for around $1.50/square foot. I'll buy a few 1' x 4' sheets for backdrops, and any extra gets borrowed for other projects.

This model represents about three evenings of work at this point - most of the effort was just in deciding what to build, and feeling familiar enough with the various warehouses to be able to guess at dimensions.


  1. That's turning out very nicely Robert. I like the idea of the 1/16" sheet from Tap for the core.

    What's the roofing material going to be on the warehouse?

  2. I haven't thought about it, to be honest. None of the pictures show enough detail to suggest what the roofing material was, and the Sanborn maps don't say. My guess is the two choices are wood shingles or tarpaper. (Were composite shingles available at the turn of the century?)

    I leafed through a couple of my favorite sources just now. Mulally and Petty's "Southern Pacific in Los Angeles" has some nice overhead shots of industrial LA, and all the warehouse roofs were tar in the 1920's. I also leafed through Arcadia's "San Jose's Historic Downtown" and saw a lot of tar roofs, including on the Western Granite and Marble / Borcher Brothers Building Supply. (Whoops, another mistake on that building - I used corrugated steel.)

    Looks like tarpaper's the front runner for now, but I'll poke through old photos for more inspiration.

  3. The Sanborn maps should give you some indication. They have a symbol for it and everything. Look to the corner of the building-
    x= wood shingle
    open circle = metal or slate
    solid circle = composition
    From one of your previous posts I can see that the Farmer's Union General Warehouse on Ryland shows such an x in the northeastern corner- but then about 1/3rd of their building on the western side had a composite roof. Of course, Sanborn mostly cared about how flammable the material was.

    If you can get your hands on the original color version of the Sanborn book you might find some additional interesting things that don't show up on the black and white copies (perhaps one of the university libraries may have the original book available for viewing)

    I'm thinking in particular the silver band that could show up as an outline on an otherwise yellow building - this would show you that it is a wooden frame building but "iron clad".

  4. Ah, that'll teach me not to re-read the key occasionally. Looks like I need to check out the maps again. Thanks for the hint!