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Modeling 'The Gilpin Tram' - pt.II
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 Posted: Sun Mar 22nd, 2020 03:53 am
531st Post
Keith Pashina

Joined: Sun Nov 4th, 2012
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Posts: 798

Cor V - thanks for posting the link to the brass-etched detail parts - are they 1:35 scale?
I always liked the figure and detail part choices available in that scale.


March has been a very busy month for me, for many reasons.
However, I have continued with the Gilpin Tram enginehouse model.

I finished cladding the walls and roof.

I used 3M transfer tape.
This is a double-sided tape-like material, that is thinner, stronger,
and more durable than typical double-sided office tape.
Once I put a piece down, it stays!

I used Wild West Scale Model Builders' embossed corrugated metal roof sheets,
which come in paper strips I cut to length.

The wall siding is painted paper, cut to "tin" siding sheet sizes.

Once I had built the exterior walls and roof,
it came time to frame up the interior.

But, what actually was in the enginehouse interior?

There are no photos or drawings showing much detail as to what was there.
A few clues come from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map.
Besides showing a plan draining of the enginehouse, they drew a dark circle with the notation "U.B.",
which according to a key to Sanborn symbols I have indicates a vertical steam boiler.

There is also a drawn circle with the notation "F.P. & Hose", for a fire pump and hose.
There are a couple of other circles drawn,
which could either represent standpipes for water lines,
or maybe a stack - I am not sure.

The sketch above was drawn by Joe Crea,
based on his observations of the photos of the enginehouse.

He drew the enginehouse in the 3-stall version,
and the sketch above is cropped to not show the 3rd stall. 

My interpretation of the Sanborn map, Joe's sketch, and photos led me to "guesstimate" that the enginehouse:
  • Had a vertical steam boiler, used to power water pumps and belt-driven machinery for machine tools
  • There was a partial second floor at the former barn's loft - the left hand side of the enginehouse has an upper large door, typical of a barn hayloft door
  • The tall stack is the vertical boiler stack, and the two smaller stacks with pointed end caps are smoke vents for where engines park

Also, Dan Abbott told me a few years ago that his research,
when he was writing the Gilpin Tram Era book,
found that there was a water cistern inside the enginehouse, used to water locomotives.
So, I needed to include that in my model, too!

So, based on my observations, notes, speculation, etc.,
I came up with these ideas as to what would be inside the enginehouse:

Using this information, I continued building the enginehouse,
and also checked the fit for where it will drop into my layout:

The above photo shows the "roughing in" stage,
when I was checking fit and loosely laying in some of the walls.

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 Posted: Sun Mar 22nd, 2020 04:05 am
532nd Post
Keith Pashina

Joined: Sun Nov 4th, 2012
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Posts: 798
I built the interior framing of the enginehouse with styrene,
and painted it the same time as the rest of the walls with an airbrush.

I posted a photo of this in progress, 2 posts ago.

This photo shows the model starting to come more together.
I have left off some of the walls to make it easier to add interior details.

Near the front of this photo, you can see the water cistern,
used for watering locomotives.

Because this would be a heavy load,
it is supported on its own heavy wood framing.

Next to it sits the vertical steam boiler,
a cast resin kit from Rio Grande Models.

By now, I had added all the interior details,
and was ready to finish installing the walls.

The photo above shows I have added figures, tool benches,
shop machinery, and general clutter to the model.

The two stalls are very compact,
there would not have been a lot of room inside the enginehouse.

The workbenches are resin castings from Rusty Rail.

I added a belt-driven drill press, a metal casting from Rio Grande Models.
I haven't added the belt drive yet (colored tracing paper).
Also, the LED lights haven't been installed in this photo, either.

The red hose is used to fill the little Shay locomotive tenders.
The hose is painted wire solder, bent to shape, and painted red,
this seems to be the color favored in rubber hoses 100+ years ago

Work continues on the model,
but I am getting much closer to finishing the model.

I'll work more on the model tomorrow,
and then post photos later this coming week.

Until then


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 Posted: Wed Mar 25th, 2020 10:46 pm
533rd Post
Keith Pashina

Joined: Sun Nov 4th, 2012
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Posts: 798
There are many great small manufacturers out there making nice detail parts and accessories.
It seems like I am continually finding new sources when I starting browsing around the web.

Unfortunately, there are many small businesses that sprout up for a while, then disappear.

When I started modeling in narrow gauge,
several experienced modelers advised me to buy something I liked when I saw it,
because the product may not be available tomorrow.

For the GT enginehouse, I started purchasing kits for machine tools, detail parts etc. about 15 years ago,
that I intended for my boiler works and machine shop, and enginehouse models.
Like any real modeler, I avidly collected many more parts and kits than what I actually needed!

Not to worry, though.
I can use the "leftover" kits and detail parts on a future smelter complex I am contemplating building.


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 Posted: Thu Mar 26th, 2020 03:41 am
534th Post
Tom Ward

Joined: Tue Nov 14th, 2017
Location: Florida USA
Posts: 674

Your engine house is really coming along. 
Beautiful work and the details look great. 

I keep getting sidetracked on mine and the time just slips by. 
I’m impressed with the amount of progress you’ve made. 

I’d like to add that this thread of yours,
is what caused me to join Freerails. 

Thanks for all the work you’ve put into it. 
Really informative and inspiring.


Tom Ward

"When I die I want to go quietly in my sleep like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers."
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 Posted: Thu Apr 2nd, 2020 05:01 am
535th Post
Jon Dierksheide

Joined: Sun May 27th, 2018
Posts: 33
Great work Keith on the machine shop and engine house. 
Thanks for sharing your journey.  I've really enjoy following it.

I was browsing the Denver Public Library Western Collection and stumbled on this photo.
In the thumbnail image I thought the wagon wheel tracks were railroad rails,
and that's what caught my eye.

But no, instead it was the W J Chamberlain Sampling Works and the Randolph Mill,
with the Gilpin rails leading down to it,
a harp switch stand and what is really interesting is the corrugated roof on the building. 

I thought at first it was some large metal corrugation,
but I think it may have been canvas,
or other stiff material draped on the rafters with some rips on the right side. 

On the left it looks more like canvas,
but on the right it looks too smooth in areas to just be draped over the rafters. 

It looks like one sheet, not tar paper rolls.
I can't imagine how that would hold up to snow loads in the winter,
and it doesn't look like it was a temporary tarp. 

Has anyone seen a roof like that?  I've never seen one.
Also interesting is that there is a tall chimney next to the building,
but no connection to the building, unless it is behind the dog, but that seems too low. 

I would have expected a pipe near the eaves,
but maybe it had been removed, since the windows are boarded up.

I of course got out The Gilpin Era,
and found what looks like a companion photo to this one on p308,
with this one taken in the opposite direction from where the track crosses the flume. 

I thought the wagons might be the same but one horse is white. 
The wagon tracks are similarly visible, but what seals the deal is in front of the buildings,
on the left is the head of a man behind the rock pile,
and on p 308 there is what looks like the same man,
in a depression behind the rock pile from the opposite side!

It was taken with quite a zoom lens,
since the harp switch stand next to the building is for the sampling works and mill,
and you can see the rails enter the left of the sampling works building. 

So the rails curve left behind the front building and then back right,
and into the left side of the sampling building.

I think Keith talked about that building previously. 

On p310 there is a birds eye (or hill side view) of the area from the other side,
and you see how far apart the buildings really are. 

With that much zoom, I think the Mill sign to the right of the flume,
may be the Penn Mill further down the valley (see p 312). 

Also interesting is the fill under the tracks,
not the usual fine stone work I think of on the Tram.

I also noticed a tram tower and what looks like unloading building
(with the large angled supports to counter the cable tension)
which would have been about right where the Gilpin entered the Mill
(p212 in the Gilpin Era). 

Did you talk about the cable tram in a previous post? 

I thought there was one after the Gilpin ceased,
but with a horse wagon it seems like it must have been there about 1902,
although the 1900 Sanborn maps don't show it. 

Didn't mean to change subjects, but this is still Gilpin related.

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 Posted: Thu Apr 2nd, 2020 01:09 pm
536th Post
Kevin Fall

Joined: Thu Nov 9th, 2017
Posts: 37

Nice observations on the Denver Public Library photo you linked to.
I don't recall seeing this before.

Keith did talk about the Randolph Mill cable tram back on his 239th post.
He showed a distant photo of the mill with the tram tower circled in red,
in what I believe is the same tower, that is a clearer view in the DPL photo you referenced.

It is also shown from the other side.
I am thinking about possibly building the Randolph Mill eventually,
and the clearer view of the tram tower and terminal building, certainly solves another mystery.

I think you are correct in thinking that the sign in the background of the photo is the Penn Mill sign.
If you look on page 315 of the Gilpin Railroad Era you can see the same lettering on the mill (photo dated 1909),
which appears to match the photo you referenced, but the letters are now faded.
Thus the DPL photo would have been taken at an earlier date.

Just speculation, but thanks for the information.

And Keith

Very nice work on the engine house, and thanks for the reference to Rusty Rails.
Somehow I hadn't run into them before, even though I've been in the hobby 45 years.


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 Posted: Sat Apr 4th, 2020 03:23 am
537th Post
Keith Pashina

Joined: Sun Nov 4th, 2012
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Posts: 798
Kevin and Jon,

Thanks for posting the comments and observations in the last two posts.

I had used that photo before, but never paid much attention to it,
but  as you two noted, there is a lot to see in that photo!

The photo referred to is shown above.

It is image X-61796 from the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection,
and identified as possibly being taken around 1900.

Those curving tracks in the foreground are wagon wheel tracks in dirt,
not a railroad.

Above is a key to the photo,
pointing out some of the interesting things that can be observed in the photo

The map above shows about where the photographer in the previous photo was situated,
looking downstream along Clear Creek, in lower Black Hawk.

The green building is at the center of the background of the photo,
and portions of the Chamberlain Sampling Works and Randolph Mill,
and even parts of the Penn Mill can be seen.

I posted some stuff starting with the 237th post, back on January 19, 2018,
and that is where this map came from

This is an enlargement of part of the same previous photo.
In the left background you can see the very end of the Chamberlain Sampling Works.

The Gilpin Tram trackage enters the door on the left side, on top of a stone retaining wall.
The tracks curve on the backside of the brick building at the front right.

It also has a nice front view of a freight team and teamster.
It reminds me that I haven't modeled a horse team with a white and black,
and I should do that

From the same photo, we now look at the right side, and see lots of cool stuff.

The tall tower is for the aerial bucket tramway that fed ore into the Randolph Mill.
The line terminates in a tall shed which sits on the Randolph Mill.

You can also see a harp switch stand to the left of the tram tower.
The switch stand is missing its target, this seems to have been very common on the Gilpin Tram.

The right spur would have led to the Randolph Mill,
and the left spur into the Chamberlain Sampling Works door we previously saw.

The brick building and stack at left foreground,
are remnants of Nathaniel Hill's former Boston & Colorado Smelter,
which previously occupied this site.

This building and stack can be seen in some of the smelter photos.
Parts of the Chamberlain Sampling Works also appear to have been reused.

I don't know what the brick building and stack may have been used for at this time

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 Posted: Sat Apr 4th, 2020 03:33 am
538th Post
Keith Pashina

Joined: Sun Nov 4th, 2012
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Posts: 798

Continuing with enlargements from the same DPL X-61796 photo,
we see the Gilpin Tram spur curving towards the stub switch and harp switch stand,
we saw in the previous photo.

Note the stone wall, it isn't the neatly laid stone walls used elsewhere,
this looks more like rubble dumped into the place. 

The worker in the foreground has a forked sad and shovel for the hole he is digging,
I wonder what the hole is for?

That recycled brick building in the front of the previous photo, is seen here in an enlargement.
Also, the greatly exaggerated curve of the Gilpin Tram spur, can be seen here.

The brick building has very deteriorated brick in the bottom half of the wall.
Other published histories have mentioned a local brick used in construction of many buildings.
This brick was cheap and local, but also weathered poorly in the mountainous climate.
This would be an interesting detail to model.

Interestingly, the original C&S depot in Central City was built of a similar brick,
and soon after construction, the lower parts of the walls were reinforced,
with the concrete walls that can be seen today.

Also, Jon commented on the roofing on the brick building.
As can be seen in the photo, it has very pronounced curves or dips between ribs or rafters.

My opinion is that this may be an early variant of corrugated sheet metal roofing.
This would have been sheets overlapping each other and nailed to wooden roof rafters.

I don't really know one way or another,
but that appears similar to certain other old structures in the area.

Here is a modern metal corrugated roof, showing how sheets overlap each other,
this example has lag bolts holding the sheets down.

Most modern roof sheets have corrugations much more closely spaced together,
compared to 1880s sheets!


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 Posted: Mon Apr 6th, 2020 05:15 am
539th Post
Jon Dierksheide

Joined: Sun May 27th, 2018
Posts: 33
Keith and Keith, Thanks for elaborating on and adding much to my post.
I thought I found a new photo, only to realize when I looked back that Keith had already posted it!
Thanks for adding the enlargements.

Maybe the roof was wide metal corrugations and after many winters of snow and ice damage it looked like it was canvas.
Hence the reason for the narrower corrugations of modern times - they are just stronger and easier to support.
The large wide corrugations couldn't support the snow loads without bending.
It would make an interesting and unique model roof.

The other thing I can't understand is the tram building.
There are clearly two cables going in holes that are visible, but no holes big enough for the buckets,
and nothing that looks like doors, although the photo is a bit blurry.
Where or how was the ore dumped?
Usually the end is open and there is an ore bin below that the ore dumps into.
It looks like there a front portion and the bottom of the larger rear part of the building is not visible,
so the bins may be there, if the buckets can get through the wall!

I went back to the Sanborn Maps and found this detail:

1886 map does not cover the area where the center building is, small stone building next to the track.
Gilpin track by the Sampling works is "Vac. B. Sm." Vacant Building Small?.
The closer frame one on the left next to the hill is an "assay office" No Gilpin tracks to either one.

1890 "Assay Office Vac"-vacant. The low stone one is "Vac. Bl. Sm."
The building in the center shows as "Assay Office".
Tramway only goes to Randolph Mill.

1895 Center building is "Storage". Tramway to both businesses.

1900 Center Building is "Dilapidated", no indication of the cable tram building,
which appear to have been built, based on Keith's earlier posts, about 1901.
Dan Abbot's books dates the photos about 1902.

On the first enlargement - did you notice the head sticking up above the dirt pile on the left,
and end of a shovel handle sticking out?
In post 231 image X-61783 the same guy (I assume) and shovel are in the same hole,
although you may need to go back and enlarge the original to see him.

In looking at the image X-61783 it looks like whoever built the Gilpin track on the fill,
forgot to put in some culverts under the tracks.
From the maps it looks to be a good distance between the New York Mill and the Sampling works,
and all the water running off the hill is blocked from Clear Creek by the elevated Gilpin tracks,
creating some severe erosion next to the track that is almost undermining the wagon "road".

Was the gentleman in the hole or ditch demonstrating the extent of the erosion?
It looks like he was holding a cane or yard stick.

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 Posted: Tue Apr 7th, 2020 03:39 am
540th Post
Keith Pashina

Joined: Sun Nov 4th, 2012
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Posts: 798
Good observations, Jon, regarding what was going on,
around the Chamberlain Sampling Works and Randolph Mill.

As so often happens, there are a lot of questions raised,
but fewer answers to be found.

That tramway terminal at the Randolph Mill is very odd, I cannot see where the ore cars ran.
I would would assume the upper cable/rope would carry the weight of each aerial tram bucket and was stationary,
and the lower cable would be the drive cable that moved and pulled the buckets along.

Regardless, there needs to be a bottom drive wheel and dumping area, which cannot be seen in the photo.
Could there be doors that are closed?
Hard to tell.

As for the two guys digging a hole, new culverts, whatever,
it would be a fun little detail to put on one's layout!


I finished up the  HOn30 Gilpin Tram enginehouse model this past weekend,
and now my Shays finally have a place to be serviced and housed at night!

This was a small, simple model to build,
and it nicely frames in the left hand side of the Black Hawk scene,
it sits squarely at the end of the switch yard, and completes the scene.

I had been working on finishing up the interior,
and added a blacksmith area in the small addition at the back of the enginehouse.

This view gives a better idea of how the small, compact two-track interior is fitted into the building,
with the parts of the former loft from this remodeled barn still in place.

It also shows where the water cistern, to fill locomotives, was fitted in.
Keep in mind that this is all guesswork!

I haven't shown much of the rear of the enginehouse, before,
so here it is.

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps show two additions on the rear of the building.
There are no photos I have seen that show this side.

I built my model so the larger addition is a shop extension, used by the blacksmiths.
The smaller addition, I have no idea what it was used for.

It could have been an office?
It seems unlikely to be an outhouse.
Maybe a coal bin?
I wasn't sure, so I put one window into a tarpaper-covered addition and left it at that,
I did not attempt to model any interior.

The wall and roof cladding is painted paper

This photo illustrates how small this model is in HO - it hardly covers my hand!

Oops, I snagged the threshold for the doorway on the left - need to fix that.

I ended up using Vallejo acrylics, mixing different gray shades,
to get that dull, metallic look on old galvanized metal stacks and pipes on the roof.

I didn't feel like scratchbuilding a louvered roof vent,
so I used a laser cut cupola kit from Rio Grande Models,
which is a model of a large vent for a kitchen work car on the D&RGW

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