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Thread: Building Chicago - The Post Office (a.k.a. the elephant in the room)

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    Default Building Chicago - The Post Office (a.k.a. the elephant in the room)

    I've stumbled around with thinking the blog was where to post the layout build thread (way wrong), and have been unable to actually start a build thread in Layouts, but I do want to start on this kitbash/scratch build thread since it is a fairly massive and unusual structure - the old Chicago Post Office.

    For those not familiar with the building, you would ride one of the Zephyrs or a Pennsy train out of Chicago Union Station under the P.O., or drive through it on the Eisenhower Expressway. Sounds like a piece of cake to model, eh?

    The kitbash starts with 3 N Scale Architect Wall Panel System backdrop wall and window flats to imitate the original Parcel Post section that was constructed well before the more familiar 13 story structure added around it.

    After a couple of splices were made and an elevator blank wall section added, I ended up with a reasonable facsimile, losing a couple of sections for compressions' sake. I may take on more than I can chew, but I do know there is only so much authenticity and fidelity to scale I can fit into the layout. The wall sections in the kits were well cut, but I very soon realized there probably be incidents resulting in unrepairable damage, so I took the step to slap on multiple Avery Label stickers onto the back to minimize those accidents of rough handling.

    For those using the Wall Panel System kits, N Scale Architect does not include as many windows as there are possible openings. I know this is by design, and had already begun an order to San Juan Details (Grandt Line) for the openings I had added to the top floor. I was just a little stressed when I couldn't find the particular window style in the catalog. I'm hoping they could match a picture I sent with my order, or else I will be sanding and working with the tiny files abit.
    In my last post to Weekend Update, I mentioned that I needed to learn brick grouting. I hit upon unscented baby powder (grandparents know where it it), then tried to Dullcoat the painted sheet. Either the spraycan had too much pressure, or the powder was just too light to stay put...either way, I'll be taking the grouting and pointing lesson someday soon.

    Going onward, the Peel and Stick brick and concrete precuts were not difficult to work with, just watch for accidentally pulling the stick'um off the part when separating from the backing sheet. On the paper based parts, it will ruin your day when the part falls to the ground and you are determined to find it for a post mortem. The fit could be a little tighter, as some gaps do show up, but I found it tolerable for the scale of what I was creating.


    If you've stuck with this to here, I now am asking for a little C&C, as I fidgeted with my mock-up to have the 'look' of the Post Office while enjoying the maximum compression for the space available. The next three shots are what I slapped together this morning to resemble my desired outcome. I have room to add roads on the two long sides and the side facing the CUS, as well as passing Eisenhower through the building. The short sides can be expanded by 2", losing one of the roads, but adding to the mass of window bands visible. I don't think I want to expand the length, as it has that 'aroma' of the original building for me.



    What are your thoughts?
    And that rising track for my St. Charles Air Line (Kato track) projecting into the clearance above is not an issue for me. For all my research and photo views, I've yet to find a shot of THAT particular door, so I'll use that ol' artistic license to pop it out of the ground there.
    Well, thanks for sticking with this bit of explanation, and please feel free to post your thoughts back about the compression factor. Right now, it's still a mock-up, so as long as I have posterboard and a sharp blade, anything is possible!
    Thanks!!
    Steve


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    QUITE A PROJECT! I look forward to following your progress.

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    WOW, what an undertaking , will be following along and encouraging you whenever needed , you started off great , so keep us informed.
    As long as I can model in N-scale, I know I'm not old

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    http://www.janbouli.com

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    I hope that I don't disappoint too greatly. I don't always remember to document what I am doing.
    Thanks greatly!

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by Janbouli View Post
    WOW, what an undertaking , will be following along and encouraging you whenever needed , you started off great , so keep us informed.
    I actually received a very encouraging bit of news last night when my wife informed me that she had purchased a Brother Scan N Cut just before Christmas last year, but never used it. I had no idea something like that would be at my disposal. The amount of repetitive cuts required for this project has just gained a great deal of daylight for me now!
    It can't cut material over 3mm thick(all the mock-up foam core is thicker at 3.5 mm), but it will be great to have it as another tool.

    Steve

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    Just a update for the week- I haven't progressed as I wanted to do, due to lacking the San Juan Models (Grandt Line) windows on order. I know the size, but since this model is based on what looks correct instead of some detail drawings, I may need to adjust a bit as I roll.


    Another item that is in the back of my mind is whether I should light it up when it's installed, and if so, how thorough should that task be? I am trying to strike a balance between the amount of detail involved, and to have enough to be recognizable. So although the core boards are mostly for structural support, some of them will be exposed surface (painted). So for now, I'm cutting out the window slots on the Original Old Parcel side, which will be the face to an observer around the layout. We'll see if things change on the side seen from the inside of the loops.


    Things should go a bit swifter as soon as the weather breaks out of the 90's. Layout and workbench are in the garage which does get warm and stays that way. This is a recreational hobby...I don't need to be sweating over the panels under the knife!

    Thanks for all who had a look at this thread already!

    Steve


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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody709acy View Post
    Another item that is in the back of my mind is whether I should light it up when it's installed, and if so, how thorough should that task be?
    I vote for lighting it up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nskale View Post
    I vote for lighting it up.
    Duly noted. It will add another level of planning to this project, and since I have a penchant to overdo, don't be surprised if I somehow add individual rooms on floors under separate controls. Sounds like a Rasp Pi or Arduino project. I got a couple lying around in drawers. But I must first get more walls figured out before I go chasing 'shiny objects'...

    Steve

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    Impressive.

    I drove under that building more than once the last time I was in Chicago. We stayed at the Hilton Downtown and I was going to the N-scale convention in Rosemont.

    When the building was in service, were there unloading tracks for mail underneath, or was it just the through tracks that passed from one end to the other?

    Paul
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    I thought for sure you were laser cutting this. It's all hand cut?? Amazing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pbender View Post
    When the building was in service, were there unloading tracks for mail underneath, or was it just the through tracks that passed from one end to the other?
    There were (and still are) tracks under it, and there used to be several specifically for mail and parcel. I believe those mail tracks have been demo's long ago. That is what got me hooked on this project a decade ago when I started my first section, the Chicago Union Station. My layout does have two tracks dedicated to mail under the station & post office, and another by the Grand Central location (building to come).
    My understanding is some mail storage cars destined for departing trains would be loaded at the post office, then switched into the consists at CUS. I've read that the Alton would originate the Midnight Special at the post office building, attaching coaches loaded at CUS, similar to the way sleepers were switched into and out of train consists.

    I've actually only been to Chicago twice for 3 days total, and spent all that at a facility next the BRC Clearing yard.

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by baronjutter View Post
    I thought for sure you were laser cutting this. It's all hand cut?? Amazing.
    I have nothing so handy as a laser cutter. I was trained for lead on vellum drafting, and made model buildings WAY back when there were no other 3D display options. Older now, but it is therapeutic as well as time consuming. Difficult to keep the concentration going for the full stroke of knife or razor, keeping it perpendicular to the work, dragging at the right angle, starting and stopping cuts on the proper work guide lines.
    The back side of the building will tell the story if I can stay with it across 39" of cuts every ".

    Steve

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