Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Modeling Danbury - Signature Structures, Electric Service Group, Part 2

Motors Serviced at Danbury

During the mid 50's era of the layout the prototype serviced four motors daily on weekdays.

One motor assigned to the morning New York To Pittsfield train #140 "The Mahaiwe" arriving in Danbury at 10:19 am. After being cut for the engine change to diesel power, this motor was serviced during the day before its 4:26 pm departure on the return Pittsfield to New York "Mahaiwe".

The other motors started their daily turns to New York from Danbury in the morning. The first two powering early morning commuter trains before the 9:46 am arrival of the Pittsfield to New York train #141 "The Berkshire", once the diesel to electric power change was completed the third motor finished the run to New York.  After the evening return of the two commuters and the third motor was cut from the north bound "Berkshire", all three motors overnighted in Danbury motor storage and were serviced by the night shift engine preparer.

A single electric MU car had scheduled shuttle service between Danbury and South Norwalk. Although this car did not need refueling, it would seem likely that this car would have been serviced at Danbury motor storage but I have no photograph evidence of that.

The below photo shows three motors tied up for the night at Danbury Motor storage. The top of the sanding tower and lighting of the elevated service platform can be seen above the middle motor #324.

J. W. Swanberg Photo Copyright NHRHTA Inc. Reproduced by Permission.

The Steel Sanding Tower

The steel sanding tower at Danbury motor storage was specifically for sanding the electrics at the northern end of the New Haven Electrified zone. This tower was erected adjacent to electrified track #8 and between the oil facility described in the last blog post and the elevated service platform. Dried sand was blown by compressed air from the sand house on the opposite side of the yard to fill the elevated storage tank of the sand tower. Sand was dispensed from the tank thru a rubber hose that extended to the ground level.

The sanding tower is the only structure that remains today from the electric service group, it is inactive. The tower is on active railroad property, the recent photo below was taken thru the fence from the grounds of the Danbury Rail Museum (

Click to enlarge photos

Modeling the Sanding Tower

One of the benefits of being a member of the New Haven Railroad Historical & Technical Association Inc. ( is receiving the associations magazine the Shoreliner. Having belonged to the association for 40 years I have saved all these Shoreliner magazines providing me with a substantial data base of prototypical and modeling information.

In volume 14 issue 1 1983 of the Shoreliner there is an article, Modeling the New Haven's Danbury Sanding Towers. Peter C. McLachlan wrote about his experiences sanding motors at Danbury as a young New Haven employee at the Danbury engine house 1957-59. This is very interesting information for this modeler to understand how these duties were preformed in the era of the layout and to aid to building a more accurate model.
The second part of this article was how to scratch build a brass model of the steel sanding tower by the late Bob Rzasa. Bob was an extraordinary model builder, his modeling has always been an inspiration to me. This modeling article provided all the measurements necessary to model the steel sanding tower at Danbury.
This issue of the Shoreliner is out of print and no longer available as a back issue. Below is the drawing Bob Rzasa drew for the article based on measurements he took of the prototype.

Copyright NHRHTA Inc. Reproduced by Permission

Building the Model   

In years past when hobby shops were plentiful, as I traveled it was a habit to stop in shops that I had not been in before to see what they had to offer. Below is a brass sanding tower purchased at one of these shops, it was made by NJ International Inc. The sales slip inside the box states that it was purchased at HY WAY Hobby House on route 17 in Ramsey, NJ in the mid 1970's for $10.95. It has stayed in the box four decades, time to do something with it!

My medium of choice is styrene and this tower is brass. The tank is the correct dimension and the ladder long enough, why not make a brass/styrene hybrid?

First step, dismantle the tower and save the parts to be reused.

A styrene base/mast is built to fit the tank & ladder using the Bob Rzasa drawing adhering to the dimensions a closely as possible.

Brass strip stock is used to fabricate the safety enclosure for the ladder again per drawing and solder it to the existing ladder.

Brass and styrene components are glued together using ACC.

A coat of black on the structure and concrete color for the base.

Finally a good use for that $10.95 model purchased so long ago. The styrene mast is a little larger in diameter in order to fit the brass tank and the tank is riveted not welded like the prototype, these are discrepancies that will most likely go unnoticed if not mentioned and ones that I can live with.

Part 3 will cover the elevated service platform and see at how the completed group of structures look on the layout.

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