Engine House & Car Barn
Nelson Riedel, Nelson@NelsonsLocomotive.com
11/09/2012, last updated

This page was developed to give others some ideas on  building scale structures. 

Photo above shows the completed Engine House & Car Barn.   

 The plan was to build the structure at home then disassemble it, haul it to the track and reassemble it there.   The readily available trailer could  accommodate a structure  up to about 6' 4" wide and up to about 14' long if it hung out the back a bit.    The above diagram shows the  layout that meets my needs and fits within the trailer  dimensions. 


The drawing above shows the overall design.  The engine house is located in a very visible part of Mill Creek Central Railroad so appearance was a primary concern.    The door height at 30 inches is the minimum possible to accommodate the equipment while keeping the building as close as possible to scale.  The very large windows would be typical of industrial buildings of the period.  Vinyl bead board soffit material that simulates vertical siding was used on the sides.  Sheet metal panels were used on the roof.  The trim is Trex composite.  All the material is relatively maintenance free           

Base:  The base was made of treated 4X4s.   Treated 2X6s would have been preferred but the treated 2X6s stocked at the local stores are not rated for ground contract.   1"X1"X1/8' angles were used for the rails.    
There must be a way to access the rear of the engine house. A removable or hinged roof was considered but deemed to require too much effort to fabricate.  Instead, a nice floor of 5/4" deck boards was installed to make it less of a chore to crawl to the back of the structure. 

Framing: The framing pieces are shown in dotted lines on the drawing above.   The framing boards are all 2"X3" except for the long pieces supporting the roof panels that are 2"X4"s--- see photo on right.  The sides are covered with 7/16" OSB with the scraps used to reinforce the roof trusses.    The sides are attached to the base with only a couple screws at this point facilitating easy disassembly for transport to the Mill Creek Central.
This photo shows some of the vinyl siding in place as well as some of the windows and a door.
This photo gives a better idea of the inside framing as well as the trim on the corners and around the door.  The trim was made from scraps of TREX composite boards left over from a deck project.
This photo shows the partially reassembled engine house at Mill Creek Central.
The windows are a significant feature of the design and were made before the building construction was started.  The glass part is clear acrylic sheet material from Lowes.  The cross pieces to form the panes are 1/8" and 1/4" black pin striping.   The entire door is made of acrylic sheet with the part that is not the widow painted black.
The key part of the doors and windows is the frame sawed from Trex 1-3/8"  square railing spindles. 

The acrylic was cut to the correct size and then the pin striping was applied.  The window frame pieces were then attached to the sides with Super Glue.   The acrylic fits into the 1/8" slot in the frame.   (The actual slot was a little less than  1/8" wide).  After the glue  set the widows were slipped into mating holes in the OSB and secured with finishing nails using a nail gun.   The last step was to apply caulk along the seam between the frame and the vinyl siding to prevent rain from entering.      

The doors were also an important appearance feature.    The prototype structure would typically have a set of double doors for each track.   The diagram at the right shows such an arrangement.   It would be impossible to make scale door framing with sufficient strength to support the 8 doors.  Instead, it was decided to use use just two doors but trim them as if there were 8 doors.  
Photo on the right shows the actual doors.   The trim is made of  thin strips of the Trex composite material.  
The frames for the doors are made of 3/4" X 1/8" angle with a cross piece of 1 1/2" channel.  These pieces were welded together.  The hinges came without holes. They are attached with 1/4"-20 stainless steel button head cap screws.   Sleeves 1/2" OD and 1/4" ID for the hinge screws were welded to the angle frame so that the hinge screws would not crush the vinyl siding.   Tee nuts were used on the long hinge screws into the wood framing around the doors.   The trim strips of 1/2" thick Trex were attached to the angles and channels with 8-32 stainless button head cap screws.  The trim strips hold the vinyl siding in place against the angles and channel.   

Roof:  The roof panels are 3 foot wide and provided the exact length required by a local supplier.   The panels are secured with self sealing screws through the panels into the framework.    

Track:  The initial thought was to use switches to route to the four tracks in the engine house, to a siding and to a steaming bay.  That would require five switches plus a considerable length of lead track.    A turntable was considered but it would be difficult to make a flat spot wide enough for a turntable in the area leading up to the engine house.   The rotary switch shown in the diagram on the right was selected as the best option.  The switch bridge is 10' long which is greater than my largest locomotive.   A train of any length can go through the switch when it is set to the siding position shown in the diagram.    


The photo above shows the actual track arrangement before the final ballasting of the tracks. The locomotive is on the steaming bay track.  The siding next to the steaming bay track was extended another 20 feet after the photo was taken.    

This photo shows the Heisler on the steaming bay.    There is an electrical receptacle on the steel trestle tower just to the left of the steaming bay.  Compressed air (needed to bring steam up on the oil burners) is piped from the compressor in the back of the engine house to a quick connect on the post supporting the end of the steaming bay.  More fill, gravel and ballast was added after this photo was taken.   

Photo above shows John Buckwalter on his narrow gauge Shay pulling a string of (standard gauge) log cars across the rotary switch at the Mill Creek Central Logging Locomotive Meet October 12-14, 2012.

Above photo shows the Raccoon Valley Shay and Heisler fired up and ready to pull a string of log cars up the logging line.  Photo was taking at the Mill Creek Central Logging Locomotive Meet October 12-14, 2012. 

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