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RyanAK
Engine Wiper

USA
302 Posts

Posted - 01/23/2020 :  08:46:14 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've gone through all 41(!!!) pages of your HOn3 modeling several times, Bruce. It brings me a lot of inspiration and has a ton of great info. I really should take notes the next time I go through it. :)

The Smethport site is one of the best I've found to give a good overview - along with some great technical and commercial information - of the wood chemical industry. The drawings and input/output quantities are a great resource for a modeler too. This drawing essentially shows what's happening in the photo you posted above... a much simpler operation than the others shown and a real possibility to incorporate into a layout.

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RyanAK
Engine Wiper

USA
302 Posts

Posted - 01/23/2020 :  10:42:15 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Here's a quick initial sketch of how the Acid Works at Nordmont, PA could work. I'll write up detailed ops when I have time, but a few important points...

* Staging is on the bridge in the lower left. This can be a removable cassette, or bend the layout around the corner and model the full bridge across Muncy Creek.
* The Acid Works were served by the standard gauge Williamsport & North Branch and the narrow gauge logging line of C.W. Sones (who also owned the Acid Works). The W&NB served the works via a spur from Nordmont. That's the line entering from the bridge cassette.
* I've made this a dual gauge layout. From the prototype photos, it doesn't look like the dual gauge track extended to the bridge across the creek, but I've made it so for now.
* This dual gauge arrangement allows the works to be switched either by the W&NB road engine (they used small camelback locomotives) or by the narrow gauge logging loco (which would need an idler car or off set couplers).
* Acetate of lime pans are in the charcoal cooling room and both are loaded for shipment there.
* Methanol tanks are on the top siding next to a warehouse, so... tank cars!
* Yep... stacks and stacks and stacks of cordwood... though cordwood won't play too much of a roll in this plan since at Nordmont it was almost exclusively supplied by the narrow gauge logging railroad. But... a few cars moving inbound on the W&NB and/or getting spotted in the retort building for loading of the retorts will keep things interesting.
* This would be a nifty one-industry layout or give someone a way to add some interesting dual gauge operations to their larger layout.
* Some refinement is needed. Obviously... ha.





R
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Michael Hohn
Fireman

USA
6120 Posts

Posted - 01/23/2020 :  2:58:09 PM  Show Profile  Visit Michael Hohn's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Ryan,

That looks like a good plan. You don't include the building behind the boiler, at a right angle and attached to the building labeled "charcoal cooling." Was that deliberate? It doesn't really expand the overall footprint and adds to the visual complexity.

Good job.

Mike
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RyanAK
Engine Wiper

USA
302 Posts

Posted - 01/23/2020 :  3:11:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I just left it out on this draft. When drawing to scale Iíd see if it could be included because it does add interest. I always wonder about buildings inhibiting an operatorís reach to throw turnouts or uncouple cars. My preference would absolutely be to include it.

R

Edited by - RyanAK on 01/23/2020 3:24:22 PM
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Faire to Midland
New Hire

USA
26 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2020 :  1:13:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This is a fascinating industry I never knew anything about before.
The linked website makes it sound like charcoal was merely a byproduct of the acetic acid production. Makes me wonder if there's just certain kinds of hardwood that are preferable for chemical production? There is a lot of information on such plants in southern Pennsylvania (online anyway). I have been looking online for evidence of any such plants in the Ozarks, but my preliminary search has only found an article mentioning some plants in southern Arkansas. I wonder whether the forest was different enough in northwest Arkansas that such chemical plants didn't exist there, or if there's just scant information about plants that did?
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Michael Hohn
Fireman

USA
6120 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2020 :  1:50:15 PM  Show Profile  Visit Michael Hohn's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thatís an interesting question. Perhaps it was the large expanse of hardwood forests in Appalachia. In addition to a plentiful water supply the wood chemical industry needed a cheap source of energy such as coal or natural gas; of course wood could be used. Access to markets was important and Pennsylvania was in the middle of the northeastern industrial powerhouse.

Mike

Edited by - Michael Hohn on 01/30/2020 1:51:39 PM
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deemery
Fireman

USA
8265 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2020 :  2:49:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hemlocks, widely common in Appalachia, was used for both lumber and bark. The latter provided chemicals for the tanning industry.

dave

Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)
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RyanAK
Engine Wiper

USA
302 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2020 :  3:43:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Charcoal was a product of the process, as was methanol. But the acetic acid was the most valuable, so the others often sound like by-products. Charcoal was initially very important not just for home heating and cooking, but in industry as well. Early iron furnaces were fired by charcoal... until moving to coke. One of the largest industrial users after iron was alcohol distillation... until prohibition.

Timing and geography seems to have been everything with the wood chemical industry. Most in PA were in areas rich in natural gas for firing the retorts. My example in Nordmont was an outlier using wood and/or coal. As Mike says above, fuel and water were drivers for location of these works. As was access to markets.

I don't have my notes handy, but you're correct in your assumption that certain woods had different yields for charcoal, methanol, and acetic acid.

I'll see what I can find on Arkansas prototypes... but most searching will lead back to Appalachia, Pennsylvania in particular.
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RyanAK
Engine Wiper

USA
302 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2020 :  1:32:43 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by RyanAK

Here's a quick initial sketch of how the Acid Works at Nordmont, PA could work...



R



I think I'm going to need to mock this up in SketchUp just to see what size would be needed to make it work. This feels like "desk top" size. It would be a neat layout for above a desk tucked into a corner. Lighting on the bottom to illuminate the desk. I think this could be done in 30"x72" plus the staging cassette.

R
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RyanAK
Engine Wiper

USA
302 Posts

Posted - 02/04/2020 :  4:27:08 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Not sure this would be successful. 36"x96" as shown. Parallel tracks are about 24" from the fascia and there are big buildings between the operator and trains. Might need to fine tune this some more, but I feel like this is workable... eventually. Fun buildings to draw though!










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