Wheeler Machinery Co.

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by cnw1961, Mar 18, 2007.

  1. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    Today I started to scratch build the first building that really existed for my Downtown LA layout: the Wheeler Machinery Company. It was located on San Pedro St. near downtown LA. Here is a link to a photo of this structure, which was built in the late 1930s: http://www.wheelermachinery.com/wheeler_1950lg.jpg .

    First, I did a scale drawing of the front wall on my computer to act as a cutting template.


    To make a long story short, I managed to build the front wall this evening.


    More to come :wave:
  2. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Wow!! You're off to a GREAT start! :thumb:

  3. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    WOW,your doin a great job man,i wish i had those scratch building talents.--josh
  4. joesho

    joesho Member

    wow good job,seriosly :D
  5. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Great work! Is that paper, or styrene?
  6. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Now this is what I like about the Gauge. Lots of superb modelers that show me what is possible. That is terrific. Definitely post some pics of your progress!
  7. trainman4

    trainman4 Member


    it's a shame my talent is not scratch building.In fact I don't really have any talents.lol:thumb: :D :thumb: :wave: :thumb: announce1
  8. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    Thank you all for your very nice comments, I really appreciate it :wave: :wave: .

    Galen, it is styrene.

    Here is my update for today – I did the walls. They were quite easy to do, only a few doors and windows.



    The front door is made of a piece of .040 styrene. I scribed it with the tip of a knife to make it look like wood. Somebody left the door open :D .


    The next pic shows where the building will be placed on my layout.


    That was enough scratch building for today. More to come tomorrow.
  9. trainman4

    trainman4 Member


    I hope you don't get a big head with all the positive post but you do real nice workannounce1 announce1
  10. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    WOW! This is absolutely wonderful! I didn't know you were modeling LA in the 1950's..I thought it was Chicago fore the longest time! :rolleyes: I love it! Can you build one for me? ;) (Or at least list the materials, and a reasonable scale drawing with measurement.. or IS that full HO scale?) In any case VERY good job!

    Also...who makes those switch stands? (red circular target) I need about 30 of 'em, so where did you get yours, and for how much?
  11. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    That is downright superb. Are those windows made from styrene strip glued together, or did you cut them out of a piece of sheet styrene?
  12. joesho

    joesho Member

    wow,not to mention you do good work....and FAST!!!!
  13. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    That's a very distinctive structure, for just being '4 walls'. Kinda like the plain brown boxcar - no such thing when based on a prototype. It will definately make a good impression (along with all the rest of your modeling) on any who see it. Fine work, and thanks again for sharing.
  14. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    trainman4, that won’t happen – I am my harshest critic. I am glad you like it.

    Miles, you are right, the story of my layout started in Chicago, but I was never content with the right side of my layout and could not find the right Chicago structures for it, so I nearly dismantled the whole layout. But then I found pictures of this ATSF downtown LA switching area on Bob Smaus’ website ( ATSF Switching the Patch ) and I knew, that’s it. So my layout took the trip from Chicago to LA – all the way :D . train97
    I dismantled the right side of my layout, rearranged the track, changed the ground cover on the left side and here we are. You could say, I’m doing some prototypical freelance modeling of downtown LA now :D . It is only a small shelf layout and I am going to have 12 structures on it, half of them freelance, the other half structures from LA (in HO, of course :) ). I might even replace some of the freelance buildings later on, if I find some more cool LA structures.

    The footprint of my Wheeler Co. is 5" x 12". I only did the drawing of the front wall – it is full HO scale. The other walls are quite easy to do and the height and width of the building are determined by the size of the front wall anyway. The length of the building is determined by the space available on my layout.


    Miles, if you want to build this structure, I could send you this drawing as a PDF file. You can have the drawings of the signs on the front and side walls as well, but I still have to do them.

    I printed out the drawing of the front wall and used adhesive spray to glue it to a piece of .040 styrene. Now I could precisely cut along the lines. After cutting, the piece of styrene looked like that.


    Then I glued it to a sheet of .080 styrene. After the glue was dry, I cut the .080 styrene along the edge of the .040 piece, cut out the windows and the door and the zig-zag line of the roof. Then I added the windows and the trim.


    The switch stands are made by Central Valley, they are $ 1 ea. I got mine from Walthers: Walthers Model Railroad Mall -- product information page for 210-1604 .

    Gary, I tried to cut the windows out of a piece of .013 styrene. I managed to do the first without any problems, but the second went totally wrong. After the third attempt failed, I had enough :curse: . I cut thin strips of .013 styrene, glued them to the backside of the frames and closed the gaps between the strips with some styrene.


    joesho, thank you. :wave:
  15. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    Galen, thank you for your nice words. To be honest, without this prototype picture I wouldn’t have dared to build a structure like that. Only one door and no windows in such a long wall? No, can’t be prototypical :D .

    But that leads to another question: how did they light the interior of the building. I don’t think, they had flourescenting lamps back in the 1930s, when the structure was build. So I guess they had some "windows" in the roof. Unfortunately, the prototype picture does not show it. Any ideas, anyone?
  16. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Skylights and incandescent lamps. You can use GOW bulbs inside the building, but if you do, you'll need to make the walls opaque - usually done by painting it black.

  17. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    That building looks great. What era are you modeling? You might check out this site if you haven't already: www.atsfrr.net If you join the Santa Fe Modeler's & Historical Society, you might checkl for back issues of the Warbonnet. They frequently have articles on Los Angeles in the 1920s-1950s or later. By the way, if your building is on San Pedro Street, I'm not sure when the tracks were removed, but the only street in Los Angeles with old tracks down the middle still is Alameda Street. Washington Blvd now has some tracks down the median strip between the East and West bound lanes, but they were put in about 1987 or so for the Metrolink "Blue Line."

    I just looked at the web site and started checking through the back issues of the Warbonnet. Vol 3 #2 2nd quarter 1997 has an article on the Fast Mail Express. If I remember correctly it will have a few pics of downtown L.A. Volumn 9 #3 3rd quarter 2003 the issue was devoted almost entirely to the Los Angeles Junction Railway. There are a lot of pictures of early Los Angeles in the meat and produce districts. The area would be a little bit East of San Pedro Street in Vernon and the City of Commerce.
  18. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    Val, thank you for this information. But I don’t want to light the building … mmmh, at least not a the moment. I am trying to figure out, how to build the roof. If they did not have many windows in the walls, how did they built the roof to let the daylight get into the building?

    Russ, thank you, too. I am modeling the 1950s. My layout is very small (only 12' x 1 1/2'), so I cannot build it really prototypical. I am doing a freelanced version of LA. That means, I am looking for LA structures, regardless where they were in downtown LA, and try to arrange them in a way, that makes my layout look good. BTW, you mentioned Alameda St. I am planning to build (a part) of the Hass Baruch building, which was on Alameda St (I already did a HO scale drawing and a cardboard mockup). It is not easy to model a place that is so far away from where I live, so I really appreciate your help.

    I know the Santa Fe Modeler's & Historical Society and their website. You are right, it might be a good idea to become a member. I think, I’ll have a look at their terms and fees.
  19. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Also, google "old LA postcards" and see what comes up. I was doing research here for a possible Old LA/Urban renewal module and became anamored with the great downtown architecture...alot of old hotels had postcards made in the linen-type era of the 20's-30's and some of those buildings are still standing, now in the 'bad' part of town, unfortunately. But hey, that's where the tracks were/are, I suppose.
  20. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    Galen, when I was looking for LA pictures, I came across this website with vintage postcards from LA: http://www.yesterdayla.com/. It is great. But I should do a google search for "old LA postcards" – a good idea.:wave:

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