This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Modeling the B&O’s St. George float bridge

The years flew by Finally, in 2005 or 2006, after having moved in 2004, I found someone who was able to send me a supply of small cast resin gears, seconds from a line of kits that he manufactured. I was able to position them to hide their imperfections from view. More importantly to me, there were enough to make two winches. So, out came the carefully-packed, now nearly thirty-year old model to see what I could manage. Surprisingly, all those years of banging around, at first unprotected on my old workbench, then after moving and sitting in a box in my unheated garage, there was no damage to repair. After finishing up some uncompleted detailing on the bridge and making a start on building the apron, I took out the bag of cast resin gears and took a deep breath. The first step was to build two pairs of side frames from stained stripwood. This done, the gear collection was sort- ed out and No. 65 clearance holes were drilled through the hubs. I also careful- ly sanded the thicker gears until they were all about the same thickness (a scale 4″ to 5″). The drums started with a length of .032″ brass wire. Onto this I slipped three telescoping sizes of styrene tubing cut to a length of 2′-0″ to build up the diameter. One of the large spoked gears was slipped on one end and secured with cyanoacrylate ce- ment to the end of the tubing. An inter- mediate-size gear was then glued onto the other end.

The pillow bearings for the shafts of the winch were made as follows. Using the smallest diameter tube, I glued a scale 10″ length of 2″×4″ styrene per- pendicular to the length of the tube. When this cured I trimmed the tube to 4″, slipped it onto the brass wire axle of the drum, and glued it in place about 2″ from the face of the gear. I made a second bearing assembly for the other end and put it on the axle but did not glue it yet. The evolving drum assem- bly was put on two raised blocks so the two 2″×4″’s were sitting flat on the top of the blocks, then the second bearing was glued to the shaft. This ensured that the pillow blocks would sit square- ly when the drums were installed on the winch. Next, I assembled the shafts that extend through the trusses to the winding wheels located by the tracks. When I started building the winches I worried they wouldn’t look right be- cause the gears did not mesh since the teeth were different sizes and they were not as detailed as I had hoped. When the first one was finished and given a coat of shiny gloss black paint to represent years of accumulated grease, you could barely make out the gears, let alone see any details. My


worrying was for nothing. Before mounting the winches onto the extended floor beams, I wound “hawser material” on each drum; cyanoacrylate cement was used to secure the cordage, keep the ends from unraveling, and to secure it to the deck looking as if it was ready to tie up the next car float. The four large winding wheels locat- ed inboard of the trusses were scratch- built. I found a pen of approximately the right diameter (4′-6″), wrapped scale 2″×2″ styrene around it and cut eight pieces. This pre-bending helped set the shape. They were butt-glued into circles and left to dry. Small discs of styrene were used as hubs, and the spokes were cut from .025″ styrene rod. After the wheels were assembled

and painted, the winches were glued to their outriggers with the shafts for the wheels extending through the truss members. The wheels were slipped onto the shafts, glued, and the shafts trimmed flush. When the winches were finished I stopped to add up all the bits and pieces needed to assemble them. Without the winding wheels, it came to 70 parts per winch, and adding the wheels added almost twenty more apiece. (Truly models within a model!) I also made a hydraulic ram; it was mounted on the vertical end timber of the center truss at the outboard end. This was not present on all bridges, but does appear to have been installed on many of them. I used styrene, and (I think) a brake reservoir from my scrap box. Its purpose was to aid in aligning the deck of an incoming car float with the end of the float bridge. If a float was empty or lightly loaded its deck could be quite a bit higher than the end of the bridge. In that case, the ram was used to push the bow down or raise the end of the bridge until the toggles on the bridge could be driven home into the staples on the float. If the float was lower than the end of the bridge, the switching crew would run cars out onto the bridge to force the float deeper un- til the toggles could be driven home. In 1976 I noted that strain from the use of the ram was tearing the end of the center truss apart at St George. I also added the large solid steel toggles across the end of the bridge that were used to hold the end of the bridge in alignment with the deck of the barge. These are commercial castings, purchased years ago from, I think, C.C. Crow.

I built up a foundation for the bear-

ing “log” which supported the inboard end of the bridge. I used cast plaster “granite” blocks from C. C. Crow to build up the pier, then assembled the framework that supported the log. At the outboard end of the bridge, I used styrene to assemble a steel pontoon to

support the outboard end of the float. With all the photos and notes I took thirty odd years ago, I never looked to see if the B&O’s bridge used a wood or a steel pontoon. In the interest of speed and ease I opted for the steel version. It is little more than a tank. By this time I was approaching panic

mode, as I had been approached by John Teichmoeller, Coordinator of the Rail Marine Interest Group, about pos- sibly bringing the model to the 2009 NMRA National Convention in Hart- ford, Connecticut, as supporting mate- rial for his marathon symposium, an all day series of clinics on the Rail Ma- rine Scene. In a fit of madness, I had agreed and now needed to finish it to a presentable stage.

Turning to the last parts, I built the two finger piers using bamboo skewers for pilings and stripwood for the brac- ing. I admit to cheating at this point by using scribed sheet basswood for the deck planking on the piers. This is the only place on the model I did this. More n.b.w.’s were also installed. These piers served a dual purpose. In addition to providing access to the outside of the bridge and the winches for mainte- nance, they also restrained the float- supported end of the bridge and kept it from moving sideways from tidal ac- tion and wind.

The last piece of the puzzle was the

apron, which at St George bridged the gap between the yard and the bridge pier. Some, if not most, locations around the New York Harbor boasted a bulkhead with water deep enough to allow the bridge to be placed at right angles to it without the need for an apron. At St George, the level of the yard sloped down gradually into the water; as a result the B&O had an apron. I again used the bamboo for pil- ings and stripwood for the bracing . On the apron however, I resorted to laying individual planking. Last, not least, and no surprise, one final batch of n.b.w.’s were added. With everything completed, I weath- ered the sides of the rail and used pow- dered chalks to tone down and blend together the dry brushing I had done on top of the stain. I applied gloss black paint to the gears of the winches to represent years of grease build-up, and as a last touch, brushed the bottom portion of the pilings and those parts of the diagonal braces that were under the piers with dark green paint to rep- resent seaweed growing on the por- tions that were constantly wet. I mounted everything on a piece of Gatorfoam®

board and took the model

to the NMRA National Convention at Hartford. There, in addition to much favorable comment, I received a First


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116
Produced with Yudu -