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Universal Alloy Corporation

In the May 2019 issue of Model Railroader magazine I describe how I built the Universal Alloy Corporation facility on my layout. The prototype industry located in Canton, GA builds various components for the aircraft industry and ships these items out on flat cars picked up by the Georgia Northeastern Railroad (GNRR). What makes the operation interesting is that the aircraft components are slightly longer than the flat car and overhang the ends of the cars. This requires the GNRR to use empty flat cars as idler cars to pick up the loaded flat car and add a second empty flat car to the other end to provide protection for the load. When the GNRR arrives at the facility, they need to have three empty flat cars with them, two to use as idler cars for the loaded car and one car to drop off so that it can be loaded with the next load. To make the switching operation even more challenging, the lead to the industry is on a sharp curve that is also on a steep grade. Once I found out about this industry I had to include it on my layout.

Originally when I built my layout I had a lift out section that I could install across the doorway entrance to the train room for a continuous run option. After about a year of operating my layout, I found that I never used the lift out for a continuous run, I only operated point to point so I decided I would convert it to a removable industry. I decided that I would model Universal Alloy on the removable section, when not installed it would stored on a shelf under the layout. The prototype facility only gets switched a few times a month so having it as a removable industry that is only installed when it is scheduled to be worked was a good compromise. I typically schedule the industry to be worked every third or fourth operating session. The lift out section was reworked to include the structure, industrial yard, loading ramp and an overhead crane to replicate those features seen at the prototype facility.

The structure was scratch built using .060 sheet styrene and a few other components. I based the design of the building from a few photos I had of the prototype facility. The prototype structure was built using the tilt slab style of construction that has seen a dramatic increase in recent years due to its low cost and rapid construction methods. Assembly of the model building was relatively easy and is a great way for modelers to learn how to scratch build a simple structure.

The loading ramp was scratch built using Rockite Expansion Cement to cast the concrete ramp in a custom mold I made for the ramp. Nothing looks more like concrete than concrete, so using the expansion cement gave me the look that no other material could. Once the ramp was removed from the mold, I gave it a light sanding and then painted the yellow lines along the edges. A light application of weathering and a few rust streaks down the sides and it was ready to install.

The storage racks were scratch built using the same techniques I used for the lumber racks at the Capitol Building Materials facility. I added some styrene tubing painted aluminum color and a few stacks of aluminum sheet materials to the racks to finish them off. A few other details finished off the yard scene.

I really enjoy switching the Universal Alloy Corporation during operating sessions. The extra moves to get the idler cars on the ends of the load add an interesting twist to a regular ops session. Below is a link to a video that shows the installation of the lift out section and how the crew switches the facility and be sure to check out my article, Model a modern tilt-slab building, in the May 2019 issue of Model Railroader magazine.

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