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Thread: Builder's Railroad Project: in the Beginning...

  1. #1096
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    bernheim II: Shed Paint & Landscape Start

    Got the second coats of paint on the shed and started landscaping the base. All the while I cast the rest of footings.

    The roof is a base coat of rust red and then Dark Iron. The wood work is Tamiya flat brown. Tomorrow, I'll lightly abrade the dark iron to bring up some of the rust. I will alcohol was the wood. Then I do some rust work on the exposed NBWs and do some weathering power work. By that time, all the footings will be fully cured and I'll finish them up and install them. I sanded and trued up all the ones that had cured from the last two days pours.

    (Picture didn't load even though it was only 1.5 MB)

    Before laying down any Sculptamold I needed to mask the areas where the building was going to set. With a smaller structure that weighed less I would have applied food wrap under the building and put the plaster right up to it. But this building is heavy and a bit dedicate so I made place holders instead (like I did with the boiler house). I traced the profile onto some cardboard and cut out the pieces.

    I also made a 0.040" Styrene sidewalk with scribed expansion lines and some scribed cracks. This two was traced to make a cardboard template. These pieces were affixed to the base board with some 3M77 spray adhesive. This was just needed to hold down the edges so the SM wouldn't creep underneath.

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    I masked the RR track and got the SM ready to apply by adding some W-S Earth Color Tinting to make it less white. I then slathered a layer over the entire board and got it into all the ties. Before it set up hard, I pried the templates out since I didn't want them to be hardened onto the board which could have risked popping the plaster loose. When I pulled it off, the edges were pretty clean. I tested the sidewalk and it fit nicely. When I do the ground cover it should be a pretty clean installation. The edges are slightly raised which I'll knock down with the sanding stick when fully hard. You can also see that I smushed the shed into the wet plaster to denote where the footings are going to be. I then took a footing and smashed the plaster some more so it will be easier to embed the footings into the "ground". The rectangular hole in the base is the passthrough for the AC converter that's attached to the building.

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    The plaster is relatively thin and should be dry tomorrow so I can start ground cover. At least that's the plan. Tomorrow is also my 48th Anniversary and we're having a special dinner out at Mesh in Louisville.

  2. #1097
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    Bernheim II: Shed Complete

    Finished painting the shed and cleaned up, painted and installed the concrete footings. I spent the rest of the day cleaning plaster off the track and cleaning up the edges next to where the buildings were going to go. I painted the styrene sidewalk too. On Monday I'll treat it to bring out the expansion joints and cracks.

    The Sculptamold (SM) takes a long time to dry especially when air can't get to the backside. It's been 24 hours and there are still areas that are wet and too soft to really work with. I shouldn't have bothered to paint the rails since almost all the paint has been removed in the process of cleaning off the excess plaster. When all is fully dry I will re-spray the rails. The footings' holes are a little big and I'll probably use some filler to close it up a bit. I was going to sand off the dark iron color to reveal the rust base coat, but as soon as I tried it, the paint came off the standing ribs down to the styrene white, so I stopped and added rust weathering powder to the surface. If it was a flat surface, it wouldn't have been a problem.

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    I need to some research on how to model buried spur tracks. Since I'm not actually sure what to do next and this detail is front and center on the finished diorama. Any suggestions? You can see the wet areas of the SM. By the end of the weekend, they will all be dry and ready for paint and ground cover. Have a nice weekend!

  3. #1098
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    Bernheim II: All Done

    Well... I did a full-court press yesterday and actually, sort of, finished up the Bernheim 2 project. It needs to thoroughly dry and then get some more spritzes with wet water and scenic cement to secure all the grass. For the track, I painted everything earth color and then picked out the ties with medium gray as if they were aged wood. It seems to work. Here's some final, but not display, pics.

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    When finishing the sidewalk I ran into a problem that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I painted the styrene with two coats of a custom mixed concrete color (Tamiya Deck Tan and Medium Gray mixed about 50:50). I then oversprayed with Dull Coat to protect it from the alcohol wash that would bring out the joints and cracks. Doh! Isopropyl alcohol dissolves Dull Coat. So as I was wiping off the excess, all the paint was coming off too. I decided to clean off all the paint and start over, but what was left was all the cracks nicely filled in with paint. So I then air brushed two light coats of the same concrete mix that gave it a concrete color and let the colored cracks show through. The results were very pleasing and are a way I'll probably do this in the future. Serendipitous discovery... kind of like Teflon.

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    I showed these images to the Shapira Family last night. They are the owners of Heaven Hill Distilleries, and their response was wonderful. Max Shapira, the patriarch and CEO wants to get an article written in the local Louisville paper about my hobby, the railroad, my interest in "Bourbonism" (a recent term coined by our mayor), and the creation of this model. I'm looking forward to that.

    Removing the middle rail on the Ross track worked well to simulate 2 rail scale. Of course Ross track is taller than scale spur tracks, and if I went to scale height rail I would then have to change out the trucks on the Atlas Steam Era freight car. The viewers will not pay attention to this. They will be looking at the building and comparing it to the picture from 1870.

    The building dropped into its socket very nicely. I'm not gluing it in. It will be easier to move this if I can separate the building from the base. Prior to doing any ground cover I sanded down any raised edges around the socket to make the transition to the building very flat and even.

    They are now deciding how and where I should deliver it so they can have the base and clear case made.

    Andre Garcia (River Leaf) and I are still trying to determine if there's enough interest in this complex model to offer one to the market. I'm going to prepare some more elegant pictures for him to display at York and see what kind of interest it generates. It's going to be expensive due to the extensive and elaborate cutting costs. If it wasn't for the bricks it would be a simple, but the bricks add an enormous amount of time on the machine.

    Let me know if any one would like something like this on your railroad. If you want one built, that can be done also. I'm getting pretty good at it...

  4. #1099
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    Boy, I leave for a few weeks and BOOM, you finish the second distillery. Looks fantastic.

    jeff

  5. #1100
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    Well that's what happens when you stop paying attention. Not only did I finish Bernheim 2, but I finished a Trumpeter 1:32 TBM-3 Avenger. I documented the build on my other thread in WAB. Check it out.

  6. #1101
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    A Pretty Picture

    The editor of Railroad Model Craftsman asked me to take a new picture of the Bernheim 2 Distillery outdoors with natural lighting and vegetation. He felt it would work with the articles better than those that I originally took. I was a bit anxious about it since I don't actually own the model and didn't want it to get damaged before I deliver it. But I bit the bullet and put the whole deal in the trunk with the other stuff in the back seat and took it all to a nice spot in Cherokee Park. The end results were pleasing and are accepted by the magazine. Still don't have a publication date, but I'll let y'all know when I do.

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    I didn't realize that I was taking these pictures on the edge of an active golf course until reminded of it by a range marshall. I took one more pic and left the area. The last thing I needed was golf ball smacking into one of those completely unfixable windows.

    Natural light enabled me to use a small f-stop so I had good depth-of-field and got it all into pretty good focus. I can't do that indoors.

  7. #1102
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    New Topic: Petrochemical Refinery

    Well folks, if you're up to it, I'm about to describe another biggie; a Plastruct model petrochemical plant that will occupy one of the last unfinished areas of the layout. The model is a kit in name only. It's really a very large scratch-build project with very little instruction, prints that are not in the scale that I'm building, and lots of details that are lacking that I will fill in as I go. The model includes 9 unit operations, but I'm planning on adding a cooling tower and some buildings to house control room and maintenance. In my career I spent a lot of time wandering around these kinds of plants so they're not strange to me.

    Started construction today with assembling some of the bigger pieces: 2 spherical HP storage tanks, a large storage tank, a horizontal reactor and a 50 scale feet distillation tower.

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    Work started by truing up the mating edges on all these pieces. That was done by sanding the edges on a piece of medium grit paper adhered to a granite surface plate. I used a file to then knock down some of the flash on the edges. The rest will be removed by sanding and filling the seams after the solvent adhesive is fully cured. It sure will be since we're heading back East tomorrow for a week trip.

    The distillation tower needed to be cut to length from a longer piece of ABS tubing. I used the same method to cut this as I did when making the boiler house. I used a surface gauge on the surface plate to scribe a line around the circumference which was square to the end. Then I carefully sawed-turned-sawed around the line until it parted off. A final sanding on the NWSL Precision sander gave me a clean, square edge.

    The plans called for it to be glued to a 12" (scale, 1/4" my world) base, which was not included. Instead of gluing together 2 -1/8" pieces I went with a leftover piece of 1/4" MDF from the Bernheim project. But before doing this, it needed something more, so I made a flange and added a dozen resin nut/bolt/washer details around the ring, glued the ring to the tube and then epoxied to the MDF base. The results are pleasing and make mechanical sense.

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    More details are going to be needed to really make this look like a real piece of chemical apparatus, but I shouldn't go too overboard (famous last words) since it's all going to be 10 feet away from the average viewer placed at the back of the layout.

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  8. #1103
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    Just checking in. After a week back East and the York Model Train show, I returned to Louisville with a sore throat that has morphed into one of my monster bronchitis/sinus infection medleys. It sucks and I am not in the shop doing anything. Stay turned.

  9. #1104
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    Hope you feel better soon.

    jeff

  10. #1105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Builder 2010 View Post
    The editor of Railroad Model Craftsman asked me to take a new picture of the Bernheim 2 Distillery outdoors with natural lighting and vegetation. He felt it would work with the articles better than those that I originally took. I was a bit anxious about it since I don't actually own the model and didn't want it to get damaged before I deliver it. But I bit the bullet and put the whole deal in the trunk with the other stuff in the back seat and took it all to a nice spot in Cherokee Park. The end results were pleasing and are accepted by the magazine. Still don't have a publication date, but I'll let y'all know when I do.

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    I didn't realize that I was taking these pictures on the edge of an active golf course until reminded of it by a range marshall. I took one more pic and left the area. The last thing I needed was golf ball smacking into one of those completely unfixable windows.

    Natural light enabled me to use a small f-stop so I had good depth-of-field and got it all into pretty good focus. I can't do that indoors.
    Wow---I am truly speachless (in the literary sense) by your truly remarkable detail and craftsmanship.
    (I believe a bottle of HH Green Label might get me over it ;-)

    A memorable thread indeed. Cheers in advance of your continuing project.

  11. #1106
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    Back in the Saddle!

    Many thanks!

    Well folks, I'm finally well enough to get back to the shop. That cold/flu was one of the most aggressive I've had in years. I was running a fever on and off for over five days, it settled in my chest and sinuses. I'm still hacking a bit, but am definitely much better.

    So this week I decided to stop working the refinery and install the neat Z-Stuff for Trains crossing gates and signal sets that I bought at the York Model Train Expo. Of course, my layout posed some unique challenges, specifically that there are multiple tracks that feed to the railroad crossing in question. And my distances and angles between the outside and inside crossing signals made using Z-Stuff's integral IR sensors not work.

    To make them work bi-directionally on all these approaches required using 6 Z-Stuff track side dwarf block signals/train detectors. The system is not quite running correctly yet, but I ran out of time today to fully troubleshoot. Most of the block detectors are signaling properly, but a couple aren't.

    First of all, I had to locate the units. I didn't have enough width between track and platform edge on the main street crossing. I added an extension block which I'll camouflage somewhat so it won't be so obvious. I carved the plaster a bit to level the site and screwed it down with the single screw provided.

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    For the other I had to do some similar fitting. In one case built up the low side after the plaster trimming using some foam core shims. All of this will be re-plastered to fair the bases into the scenery and the bases themselves with be painted with concrete with some other landscaping to further blend it into the layout. That will all wait until it's fully functional.

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    In another instance, I had to cut the base into the gas station's apron. Here too I will work to blend it into the existing scene.

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    Here's a view down track showing the right-hand dwarf signals. Notice that the left most one is red. It shouldn't be and the 3rd from the left is displaying red and green at the same time. That's one of the problems I'm having.

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  12. #1107
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    Back in the Saddle Part B

    In two cases, some of the brittle Taiwanese wires broke off at the circuit board. In both cases I used the Solder Puller to remove the old piece of wire in the through hole and re-soldered a different kind of wire into the hole. In the below it was the black wire that broke off. I've found this to be an ongoing problem with Z-Stuff electronics: very brittle connecting leads.

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    Lastly I used my tried-and-true termination method still making use of the many euro-style terminal strips that I brought back from Germany when I built version 1. This type actually pulls apart as a connector. I used many of them to join the various roadbed panels which had to come apart for shipment back to the USA. Since I'm not longer wiring the railroad to be dismountable, I had many of these left over. Every piece of electrical apparatus on the layout is attached to junction blocks of various sizes below the layout. This facilitates removal of anything for service.

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    I was rushing to get things working late this afternoon and was working with the transformer on. I'm using the 14 volt fixed source from my Z4000. I was holding the power and ground leads in my hand while attempting to hook the hot lead to the bus bar that feeds power to all the crossing apparatus when they touched to long. The dinging of the crossing gate bells abruptly stopped. I was under the platform. I thought I blew something out on the crossings, but after dinner thought more rationally and realized that the Z4000 must have circuit breakers for the auxiliary circuits. It does, and it was popped out and I re-set it and everything worked as it should.

    I made a very short video of the gates operating. I'm still doing something wrong since they activate and deactivate which the rail car was still blocking the dwarf detector. It's why I haven't plastered anything in yet.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKQY...m-upload_owner

    Tomorrow I should have it all figured out. If not, I'm calling Dennis Zander at Z-Stuff. Then it's back to work on the refinery.

  13. #1108
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    Maintenance of Way Repairs et. al.

    I interacted with Dennis Zander at Z-Stuff about my setup and he gave me some advice. The front crossing signal was not functioning. When I removed it from the layout I found both the red and black power leads to be broken off at the circuit board. Before I got it to the bench the blue and yellow wires also separated leaving only one white wire connected to the board. I re-soldered all four. This was the 3rd time I've had to refasten wires on these units. I let Dennis know that this was a problem. He said that he thought they had it solved. I don't think they have. I found the same problem with the hook up wires inside his switch machines. These are made for him in Taiwan and I believe that a finer stranded wire could be used that would flex better without cracking off.

    Dennis suggested that I use diodes on all of the dwarf sensors so they don't interfere with each other. I've ordered diodes from Jameco Electric which is my go-to place for electrical components.

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    As I've noted before, I've trained thousands of people in high quality soldering so fixing is not a problem. But I'm sure there are customers who do not have these skills.

    When running my Santa Fe through the sensors to make the gates work, the engine and several cars kept derailing on the latch side of the swing gate. Something had shifted and I couldn't manhandle the gate back into alignment.

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    The bump was too much for the lighter trucked machines. This is a bad spot for a derailment since it leads directly into the tunnel. I wasn't really happy with this junction for a long time and decided to bite the bullet and do some M.O.W work by ripping up the track across the gate gap, install a new piece of straight track, and after the Liquid Nails that's holding it cures, cut a new diagonal break to enable the gate to open. Couldn't lift the track in one piece so I first tore off the rails leaving the ties firmly attached to the VinylBed below. Kind of looks like some real abandoned track... You can clearly see the suitcase latch that holds the gate closed and in alignment.

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    I repainted the new rail after lightly steel wooling the rails to accept paint, shooting it with rattle-can Tamiya gray primer, and then with acrylic rail brown. I forced dried both coats with the hot air gun and cleaned off all the rail heads. I again used Liquid Nails to glue down the new rail and weighted it to keep it flat while it cures.

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    Tomorrow I'll solder jumpers on the left end which has no track pins. You can't put in a 10" piece of track with track pins when the tracks on either side are glued down. So I put pins on the right side and will solder 12 awg bare copper jumpers on the left side. I wire brushed the track area before gluing it down to prepare it for soldering. Once the track is soldered and secure, I'll make the track cuts.

    Since I didn't used to have a problem with this joint, I'm wondering why now it misaligns. I suspect there's been some atmospheric changes which caused the swing gate to change somewhat. It only has to move a 1/16". That being said, I should probably expect that when winter comes it will move in the other direction. Either way, the track will fit more precisely than the old one.

    Last thing I did today was to start assembling a full-size, 1:48 scale set of plan drawings for the refinery. The Plastruct kit's plans are probably HO scale, but I'm not sure since the multiplier was 185%. I need full-size plans for a couple of reasons not the least of which is to see how the out-of-the-box scheme will fit on the layout. It's really big!

    I made many passes on our scanner/printer to put it into the laptop and then printed out the pieces at the aforementioned enlargement factor. There were some gaps in my scanning of more than 1/2", but they won't affect much. I'm also using the plans to design the pipe runs, cut work platforms, etc. The enlarged and Plastruct plans are both seen in this image. I ran out of Scotch Magic Tape and resorted to using blue tape.

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  14. #1109
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    This and That (Part A)

    Lots of stuff to cover today. Finished up the M.O.W. work on the track and tested it...A-ok. Finished cobbling together the 1:48 scale refinery plans and tried them on the layout in the selected spot. And got back to work actually building refinery unit ops spending lots of time sanding the mating edges of all the vessels to make them appear as a welded whole. Finally, got back to building the heater unit with its dubious transition piece.

    With the Liquid Nails set solid, I moved my RSU onto the train platform and quickly soldered the jumpers across the pin-less track joint. I use paste rosin flux when doing rail soldering to add some more oomph to the rosin core solder I'm using. The RSU heated the joint in a couple of seconds, got good solder flow and kept the RSU hand piece tweezers on the jumper until it solidified, then moved to the other end and did the same thing. Very simple, very easy.

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    I cleaned the excess flux off with 91% isopropyl alcohol and then painted the bare areas with rail brown.

    With the rails firmly attached, I took the Dremel with the Flexi-shaft and hung it from my portable Dremel hanger and made the diagonal cut through the gate gap. The tracks are now aligned perfectly both horizontally and vertically.

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    Time for some re-ballasting. I used alcohol/India Ink to pre-wet the roofing granules, and then liberally applied W-S Scenic Cement. I think I may have used too much ink since it looks a bit dark. Of course it's not dry. Tomorrow I'll know better if I did it right.

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    I did a test run and the Santa Fe and its train ran through the new track perfectly. With the train running well I made another movie showing gate activation.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QRt...m-upload_owner

    I finished taping the massive amount of paper together to make the 1:48 Refinery plan. I then brought it to the layout and supported it a bit to see just how it would fit.

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    From this view you can see how wide it is. It protrudes into the open space a bit too far. But you can also see that there's plenty of room on the left. In fact, I'm going to re-design the plan to allow it to spread leftward and be less wide. I'm going to move the high pressure side-by-side, move the location of the big storage tank, turn the longitudinal pressure vessel so it would be parallel to the tracks and re-arrange the distillation tower and heater. This should reduce width about 10 inches. I still need room for the cooling tower, and some offices. I ultimately want to fill in all that open space on the left and extend it out at least a foot.

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    Last edited by Builder 2010; 27 May 17, at 01:46.

  15. #1110
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    This and That (Part B)

    Back to the units. I first used the belt sander to knock down the gross irregularities in the joints. The belt sander isn't ideal for working with ABS since it melts it as much as sands it. You need a very light touch to keep it from making a mess. Here's a pressure sphere after the belt sanding first step.

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    Then I added a lot of elbow grease starting with a 100 grit sanding stick and working my way up to 600 grit. I keep dipping the sticks into water to keep them from loading up. The final result will look okay when painted. While I could use some filler to remove the very last vestiges of a joint, I'm not going to worry about it since this who display will be over 10 feet from the viewer.

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    I did the same thing on the horizontal pressure vessel and the big storage tank. Then I went back to work building with the heater. The transition piece is a thin bit of ABS that was vacuum-formed by Plastruct to a pointed cone. You have to measure the two diameters and cut it to a truncated cone. I measured the diameters with the calipers. made this mark on the cone, and then used the surface gauge to draw a cutting circle. I cut the large diameter with a scissors, glue it to the base with Bondene, and then measured for the small diameter. This was cut with a razor blade.

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    I attempted to glue the stack with bondene, but it didn't want to be secure. Not seen is a styrene disc that forms a surface upon which the stack can glue. Another way to do this would be to make the upper disc with a hole and have the stack go through all the way to the bottom thus supporting it in two places. I didn't do that since I just though about it. To make it more secure, and, equally as important, to really secure the transition piece so I can safely remove all that excess that's hanging over the edge, I used 30 minute epoxy to hold it all together.

    Here's the assembled unit before finishing which will take place on Monday.

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    Notice too that I added an ABS baseplate that will get the NBW treatment like the distillation tower and it too will get a 1/4" "Concrete" base. I just checked and the epoxy is solid as a rock. I'll use epoxy with micro-balloons to fill in the remaining gaps at the transition piece top.

    Next session I'll finish up this piece and move onto one of the more complicated structures; the reactors and their "concrete" and structural steel support frame. With the main units built, it will be time to add platforms, ladders and valving.

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