CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Structure - Albany Steel

There were two steel fabrication companies located in the area near Iroquois Millwork, though I don't believe either was receiving rail service in 1984.  One was Albany Steel, and the other was McKinney Steel. I randomly guessed Albany Steel was here. The pictures I have from that time just show a large pile of red steel pipes. Currently, there is an overgrown weedy concrete pad in that location so I assume it existed in 1984. I see nothing around the pipes such as a fence, nor do I see racks holding the pipes in place. They look just like a pile of pipes. Perhaps the lot was used as a storage or holding area. This is how I set about modeling it.

I started with the concrete foundation which was made by scribing some 0.060" thick styrene with the back of a hobby knife in a 2" x 3" grid. I needed the pad elevated to clear the ground-throw control wire, so I added styrene strips around the edges and in the middle. I also notched out an area for my ground throw. I then sprayed with styrene with Rustoleum Camoflauge "Desert Sand" spray paint, which not only was a good color for old concrete but it also left a rough texture that to my eyes was spot on perfect. After that dried, I applied a wash of India ink and alcohol in a blotchy pattern and it pooled in the cracks nicely.

While that was going on, I set about creating a pile of pipes. I bought three packages of 1/4" diameter styrene pipes from the hobby store (and more online, as I wanted a lot and discovered that they didn't go as far as I had hoped) and cut them down into scale 39' lengths. I have no idea how large pipes normally are, but this size fits into 40' gondolas and onto 40' trailers. So, it seemed reasonable. I kept the shorter scraps too, as in my mind a steel company would have several lengths of pipes lying around. For the cutting, I used a pipe cutter which went quickly but rounded the cut edges. These were cleaned up with an Xacto knife.

I pondered how to paint them. I wanted even coverage all the way around, and I also needed to get inside the ends. I could have taped them to a painting stick but that would take a lot of tape, and a lot of sticks! Casting my eyes at my workbench, I spotted a container of thin nails and a scrap of wood. Bingo... I introduce to you my Pipe Paint-o-matic (patent pending). The pipes were first washed to remove any residue and then they were sprayed with several light coats of red paint. I had to go to the hardware store first to try and get a color that perfectly matched the picture I had. It seems red primer has gone out of fashion, and now everyone uses gray primer. I finished them with a spray of Dullcote, but I didn't weather them further (to my wife's dismay) as the picture didn't seem to show them old and rusted.

I glued the pad down to the layout with Arlene's tacky glue, and let it dry. Next, I used a microbrush to dab tiny bits of my matte medium adhesive onto the cracks in a random pattern. Some were little dots, others were in bunches, and some areas got none. Then, I sifted on Woodland Scenics fine green foam. I let it dry completely and vacuumed off the excess, leaving little weeds and such growing in the cracks. I considered using static grass clumps, but they were too large for a concrete lot that was still actively being used by a company. Perhaps if it had been abandoned for a long time or something.

The pipes were then stacked up in a somewhat organized way and glued down with more of the tacky glue. The pictures I had showed three rows of pipes, which I selectively compressed into two rows. I made sure to leave the ends a little bit askew, and also didn't stack them in a pile that would look like it was ready to fall or roll over. The pile on the left of shorter pipes was especially fun to arrange because I tried to think like a forklift operator who was just dumping pipes here and there. I realized that I didn't have enough pipes to fully cover the pad, and I didn't want a large open area, so I needed to come up with something else to fill the space.

So, off to the hobby store again and this time I picked up some H-columns, made from ABS plastic by Plastruct. They have a lot of interesting architectural shapes and the corners are much crisper in ABS plastic than the comparable ones from Evergreen styrene. I bought five sticks of 1/2" H-columns and cut them up with my razor saw. The ends were deburred, and I sprayed them with light coatings of gray and red primer with a focus more on the red. The ends were dabbed with an orange, rusty colored craft paint. These were also stacked in a pile. These too were piled up in a not-so-random way. 

I searched the internet for HO scale forklifts that would look good here. I found several, and bought two (including a gorgeous Wiking model that I later determined was too modern for my 1984 era). The one I went with was a Kibri "Steinbock" kit #10002. It came in pieces in a tiny plastic case about the size of an old tape cassette. It was an odd way to pack a kit, but the few parts contained therein went together well based on the pictorial assembly drawing. I repainted the orange with a brighter shade, the tire rims were painted a duller yellow, and the hydraulic shaft was picked out in silver. After assembly, it was weathered with an oil wash. I glued some leftover pipes and pieces of chain to to the forklift, and it was done. An operator will come later.

The area between the concrete pad and Iroquois Millwork was a little scene that came together while thinking about what I had seen while driving through the area. Abandoned, rusted tractor trailers are to be found everywhere. Discarded garbage, bushes, weeds, and other visible evidence of neglect abound. I searched through my parts bin for a surplus tractor trailer and patched out the USPS markings. Then, it was weathered and detailed and planted along with dirt, bushes, and junk in the small vacant lot. I carried the dirt and bushes around the concrete pad to firmly plant everything into the ground with no visible gaps, and then I declared the area complete.


  1. Really like the look of the abandoned and rusted tractor trailer and the area. Looks great for how I would think run down 1970's / 1980's would looked.