In Part one of “The Ice House” we looked at some of the history associated with the small ice plant at N and 17th street in Merced, CA. In the early 1900’s.
History in hand (and I’m still occasionally digging into some of the information about the plant and National Ice & Cold Storage), it’s time to look at what I can model of this important location on the YV, and the equipment to operate it on the layout.
I know of only two photos of the Merced Ice & Cold Storage plant. One is a “corner on” shot, likely a company photo, taken of the front of the building, and a second front view, that shows more of the grounds of the facility. Both photos are available in a PDF along with drawings of the two visible sides of the building from Jack Burgess on the information CD’s that can be purchased through his shop on yosemitevalleyrr.com. Those photos are helpful, but do not inform on the rear of the building that faces the tracks…. Much.
One little snippet that informs what I should model is visible on the company photo of the rear of the building. Just the very end of a freight car, poking out from the rear of the building, can be seen. This car is nearly impossible to identify. It could be a boxcar or a reefer, though no ice hatches appear to be open on the visible “B” end of the car. With that said, it’s interesting to note that the car does not appear to be positioned to be iced. As seen in my drawing that I included in Part 1, the facility has a platform around the rear of the building, but I don’t see any evidence of a high platform that would access the ice bunkers.
This fits with my belief that the facility is not prepared to ice any bunkers, but is simply a consumers ice facility, equipped to provide ice as the loaded commodity, in the car for shipping. The size of the facility doesn’t much indicate that it would be receiving much ice either via “ICE SERVICE’ reefers that PFE was operating in the period. I suppose that’s possible occasionally though.
On the layout, there really isn’t a huge amount of space for any industry, even though I believe this industry is important enough to include in the plan for Merced. In Proto:48, the freight cars are the majority of the “scenery” on the layout, however, I do want as much of an indication of this shipper as possible.
In the plan, there is a spur that comes off the mainline, and serves the plant. That spur is 32” long, with room for just about 3 of 40’ cars to be spotted on the siding. The space for a structure and dock is somewhat limited by the “as drawn” configuration. The space is really indicated to be a triangle shaped structure with the platform. While there is room for just one car really at the platform, the original map indicates that there was an oil tank, and a coal pile, on the property as well. Equipment for those commodities is something I’ll deal with later. Right now the focus is the building and the ice and food related equipment.
I used the drawing from Jack and enlarged it to O scale, printed it, glued it to foamcoare, and cut it out to make a stand-up to see what fits. This gives some idea of what size the structure will wind up being.
My plan for the construction of this first building is to combine a couple of tips I’ve seen recently on, and over the years, from Model Railroader Video Plus. In one video on Perry Squire’s Shawmut line, he talks about painting the styrene he uses as the building core for his structures black. I like that idea, but painting the structures cores black can be eliminated if I use black styrene as the core to build with. The other series that I plan to do some emulation of is a recent one with Mrs. Renee Grosser. She’s shown some excellent tips on structure building in O scale, including building the cores out of .080” styrene. As the structure takes shape, we’ll see how some of these ideas and techniques work for me.
Now we come to the rolling stock, the freight cars that I plan to build to service the plant. It seems reasonable to me to work on those at the same time I am working on the structure. That way when the structure is done and ready for photographs, it has some appropriate rolling stock to be photographed with. At the very least I’d like to make a dent in the cars.
My plan is to have a number of reefers that will come onto the YV, iced, and ready to be loaded with block ice to take up the railroad toward El Portal. When the day comes and I build Merced Falls, it’ll be interesting to include the ice storage building that I noted in Part 1, so there will be a spot to send cars online there.
To build this small fleet, I plan to backdate a pair of Red Caboose R-30-12-9 cars/kits to R-30-12 appearance (prior to rebuilding). The most notable items will be the replacement of the brake details, the removal of one of the grabs on the left end of the car sides, and proper paint for 1928, more yellow than Daylight Orange in the body color. These cars will then get Protcraft trucks and couplers. The cars are plastic, so the changes should be relatively easy.
To bring in fruits and vegetables to Merced, I can use the same R-30-12’s, or I can also add some ventilated boxcars. I have a Mullet River ACL ventilated car that would be fun to deliver watermelons in for sale in Merced and for transport to the hotels at the National Park. That car could be captured by the YV and sent to Merced Falls for loading of lumber. I have a number of photos of ventilated cars being used for lumber hauling. I might also use that ACL car for carrying live bees as I have seen in photos. The short, 36’, car should be an interesting addition.
Two reefers likely won’t cut the fleet, though. I have a Chooch R40-2 kit that I would like to build. This is an older kit, and the resin has warped. My plan is to try and rescue this car, as I have a number of other, older, Chooch kits to build. I can’t really hurt it. If I can rescue it, so much the better. The R40-2’s were brand new in July of 1928, so one occasionally bringing fresh produce would be a good addition.
I will need to sort out at least one meat reefer as well. There are several options, but I haven’t yet decided which direction to head there.
Ice wasn’t only carried by rail car into Merced. The facility there at N and 17th appears to have been servicing the local area with ice for refrigeration, and likely making some food deliveries too on occasion.
One of the photos of the plant shows some vehicles on the property, and I am going to try and replicate the delivery vehicle with another kit.
I believe that I can build something similar to the vehicle in the above photo by using a High Wheel delivery vehicle kit from Berkshire Valley Models.
So, the construction list is:
- Merced Ice & Cold Storage building
- R-30-12 for PFE
- R-30-12 for PFE
- R-40-2 for PFE
- Undecided Reefer kit
- ACL Ventilated Boxcar
- High wheel delivery truck
There we go, that’s what I’m aiming to build at a minimum. It’s likely that there will eventually be a meat reefer and possibly some ATSF equipment as well down the road.
Now the fun starts. It’s time to actually build something.