Union Mill No. 2 Scratchbuild

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by Jac's Lines, Aug 28, 2005.

  1. Jac's Lines

    Jac's Lines Member

    These are some picks of a stamp/amalgamation mill scene that I've been working on for the past couple of weeks. I built the structure last year, but only recently got around to adding the roof and putting it into a base. Eventually, this base will find a place on my layout (turn of the century narrow gauge mining tram in the Black Hills of South Dakota).

    Still lots to do on this -- I want to do a bit more landscaping, add a freight door and loading docks (bagged amagamated ore will be loaded into boxcars), and a trestle connecting the mill to the hilltop (hand cars will transport raw ore across the trestle to the mill). I also need to add some junk piles and assorted clutter, as well as figures. For now I'm pretty happy, and things get busy next week, so I don't know when I'll get back to this.

    Attached Files:

  2. Jac's Lines

    Jac's Lines Member

    And some photoshop magic...

    Attached Files:

  3. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    great looking mill.:)
  4. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    That's neat, nice modeling. Give us some details, like what materials did you use. I like the sign too.
  5. lemkerailroad

    lemkerailroad New Member

    looks pretty good their buddy
  6. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    That's looking good! Love the support cables for the stacks.
  7. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Excellent work JL. That sepia photo looks like it came right from the archives.
  8. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    That mill is looking good....Now my question:What is a stamp/amalgamation mill??I know it pertains to gold or silver mining, but that's about it. I would appreciate any info you may provide.
  9. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    Great rock work on your hill. :thumb: I always believed that good landscaping is what makes a layout work.
  10. Jac's Lines

    Jac's Lines Member

    Thanks everyone. Some basics on the structure... This is an HO model, built board-by-board over a basswood framework. The windows and doors are Grandt Line (I think), and the pressed metal roofing material is made from cardstock. I may at some point go back and replace the roof with another medium, but for now I'm satisfied. The smoke stacks are just styrene, with cardstock details. The support cables are thread stiffened with white glue and paint, and are attached to very fine eyebolts in the smokestack and roof of the structure.

    The entire structure was painted with an alcohol-india ink wash, and the main part of the building was then overpainted with dark brown craft acrylic. When this paint was just dry to the touch, I used a metal wire brush to remove much of the paint. I've found that this is the best way to present heavily weathered and peeling paint.

    The sign was a major pain. I tried homemade decals and hand painting, but couldn't get it right. Finally, I hand drew the sign on graph paper, scanned it into photoshop and fiddled around with stretching the image until it looked right, and then printed it on thin typing paper run through a regular inkjet. This makes a sign that's thin enough that it settles into the wood grain and looks painted on. Once everything was dried for a couple of days, I also passed the wire brush lightly over the sign to blend the edges and add some weathering.

    The landscaping is on a basic foam base. I know that the use of white styrofoam is heresy, but I've been using it anyway. To cut, I use a cheap hot wire cutter sold in Michael's craft store for flower arrangers (this incidently, was a great purchase -- cost $7 as opposed to the big bucks for hot wire cutters, and runs on 2 D batteries). All of the rocks and boulders were carved with the hot wire cutter and then glued in place. I then covered the whole scene in Durham's water putty; just before the putty set, I stippled the entire scene with a regular paint brush to give it texture. Coloring was through a series of about 6 washes of acrylic craft paint.

    I had some struggles finding something that looked right for sagebrush. Eventually, I ended up just using the fine tips of lichen, and I think it probably looks as good as anything. Ground foam and various experiements with WS products just never cut it. The rest of the ground cover is a mixture of fine ground foam, fine fibers cut 1/16 inch long from jute twine, and a variety of small rocks and ballast. In working on the landscaping, I kept thinking how very simple, traditional, and inexpensive techniques could produce really good looking results.

    Like I said, eventually I'm going to need to add a lot more details. I obviously need loading docks and staircases, some industrial junk piles, a trestle, and smoke jacks on some of the side buildings. I'll also be building a small water tank to sit in the left rear of the scene.

    Hope this fills in some of the blanks, and thanks again to everyone for the comments/encouragement.
  11. Jac's Lines

    Jac's Lines Member


    As I undertand it (and I am no expert), stamp mills were used at the turn of the century to extract gold or silver from lower quality ores, usually quartz. Low grade coarse ore was brought into the stamp mill and would be pulverized by a series of heavy vertical hammers (stamps). Through a combination of gravity and washing with water, the gold would be separated from the rest if the ore, similar to how a sluice box works.

    In cases where the gold ore was of lower quality, amalgamation would be a second process to remove fine gold dust from ore. Finely pulverized ore is passed over a screen coated with mercury. Through a chemical reaction, gold and silver bonds with the mercury while nonprecious ores pass over. Once the mercury plates were completely bonded with gold or silver, they'd be scraped off -- this would be a gold or silver amalgam. The valueless rock would be cast off or hauled away.

    Smelting would then liberate the more or less pure gold or silver from the mercury. By exposing the amalgam to high heat, the chemical bond between the mineral and the mercury is broken, and the gold or silver can be poured into ingot molds. Sometimes, small smelters would be done on site, but because of the expense involved were ususally done somewhere else. The mercury was reused at the mills. I can't imagine that this process was very healthy for any of the people involved...

    There's also a process that uses cyanide, by which even lower grade ores can be purged of gold and silver. I'm not clear on how this works, but maybe someone else knows?

    This particular model is loosely based on the Gold Coin Mine and Mill in central Montana.
  12. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Wow! :thumb: :thumb:

    Can't wait to see it when you've added all the other details!

  13. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member


    Thanks for the info. I'm thinking of tucking something like this into a corner of my layout.
    Keep up the good work!!

  14. zedob

    zedob Member

    The stamp part smashes the heck out of gold ore into a fine powder. Then murcury is added to absorb the gold, which is then heated to seperate the gold from the murcury.

    I'm sure OSHA would regulate that process to death if it were used today.:eek:

    Today, ball mills are the prefered crushing device and cyanide is used for extraction.

    I'm sure OSHA regulates it to death, today.:D

    I just realized it was already explained before I typed in my answer. Sorry.

    Oh, BTW, nice model:thumb: . Makes me want to get back into narrow gauge.

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