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I've come to the conclusion that I just can't hope to give the real steel industry ANY chance of a fair representation,...I just don't have the real estate on my small layout. So even while I have a number of the Walther's steel kits (already built and weathered by another modeler), I must make a selection of what I can use.

Here is portion of the layout we are talking about,...the freight yard scene down to the steel mill, etc

Naturally the iconic blast furnace must be included. I've located this along the inner edge of the shelf/deck just to the left of the entrance to the shed.

On the aisle side I've provided a little bit of a set back from the very edge by including 2 tracks for slag cars, bottle cars, etc. On the opposite side I've provided for two tracks to feed the blast furnace with its raw materials including coke, limestone, ore, scrape, etc. I could not get those 'feeding tracks' out of the other end of the blast furnace (my yard end), so I thought why not just load them up with a few representative loaded cars and make it look like they were fed in from the other end,...the mirrored end.

In both cases these tracks will appear to be more extensive and extend into the backdrop due to the mirror that I will place at the rear of the blast furnace. This mirror will not only make those tracks appear to be much more extensive, but will also make it appear that I have TWO blast furnace in a row. It will also conveniently hide the double mainline tracks behind it.

The double track bascule bridge across the shed's entrance, just behind my blast furnace and off to one side should also contribute to the 'industrial image' of a steel mill along a waterway.

In the end we need some product out of the steel mill. The rolling mill will be my solution. We have lots of freight cars available that are carrying rolls of steel, steel pipe, steel plate, etc, etc. I'll utilize the Walthers kit as well, likely fashioned up something like this one that appeared on the York model rr club layout I visited long ago,....

Too bad I can't make the rolling mill longer, but I need to keep the building short, and not too big, so I can get those 5 five tracks (2 around the sides, 3 inner ones) on the ends of the building to neck down to 3 of the yard tracks.

One of those tracks also feeds a 'fabricator' of steel parts,...that is represented by the 'rail rebuilder kit' from Walthers with the addition of a outdoors overhead crane out front. This structure could alternately be that Vulcan manufacturing kit from Walthers. I just happen to run across this image and thought it added to the 'industrial image' I'm trying to establish there.

So there you have my idea for an abbreviated steel mill scene.


Well-Known Member
Steel Fabricator

One of those tracks also feeds a 'fabricator' of steel parts,...that is represented by the 'rail rebuilder kit' from Walthers with the addition of a outdoors overhead crane out front. This structure could alternately be that Vulcan manufacturing kit from Walthers. I just happen to run across this image and thought it added to the 'industrial image' I'm trying to establish there.

Just found this old clipping I had saved from years ago of a custom detailing of that Walther's kit,..

So I think my 'fabricator' could be one that built and repaired steel railroad cars and steam engine parts.

Needs to have a small foundry on one side to account for the smoke stacks added to that one side of the original kit, and to account for some of those big parts on the steam locos.

And it might be nice to have a damaged (or newly built) B&O wagon-top caboose, or B&O wagon top box car out front, or along the side.
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Well-Known Member
Steel Mill track plan corrections

It all started out so innocently, 'lets just go ahead and assemble my ladder of turnouts that were going to feed my blast furnace'. BUT,... do I have the correct track spacing dimensions for that blast furnace? (Note: I have been perturbed in the past by the lack of these dimensions on the Walthers foot-print images,...both on this structure and their bigger coaling tower. You would think these were IMPORTANT dimensions for track planning!!)

I'd better revisit my cargo/storage trailer and get that blast furnace model out to recheck things. Good thing I did this, as I discovered I had made a mistake in my then existing paper pattern. I had the track spacing incorrect, and that was going to effect the turnouts (both selection and spacing) for that ladder. And I also wanted to verify if I still wanted that extra slag car track along the edge of the deck?, ….and how many tracks I might provide for the supply ramp on the other side.

Now I can get the track spacing correct and it turns out I likely need 2 'set-track' turnouts instead of the 'streamline' ones in my original planning

Yes I like having that extra slag car track on the edge, as it makes me shift the whole blast furnace in further from the edge,...less possibility of damage by operator/visitor.

And now I can have 2 tracks for supplies to the blast furnace. (Edit: and reading back over some material supplied by Walther's instructions, I can see where I need this additional trackage,..."A ton of pig iron requires about three tons (2.7t) of raw materials: nearly two tons (1.8t) of ore, about 1500 pounds (0.6804t) of coke and the rest in flux, plus a few hundred pounds of iron and steel scrap")

Here I was experimenting with how those 2 supply tracks might be split around that lifting ramp,..
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Those metal rods in the photos above were there just to indicate their direction UNDER the deck. I am no longer installing control cables/rods 'on-the-deck', but rather underneath. However I have a strong piece of angle iron under that deck that needs to have holes drilled into it for those control rods you see there.


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Ladder of Turnouts for Blast Furnace

I've been working laying down some track in my steel mill scene,...finally after much planning and changes. Since this portion of the deck is so deep, I figured I had better start with the tracks out near the aisle, and work my way inward, (I'll do the innermost tracks when I lift that whole section of the deck out to my outer workbench to get at the staging tracks underneath)

I was pleasantly surprised by my ladder of turnouts that feed the blast furnace. During some of my initial mock-ups I had thoughts I was going to have to trim a few of those turnouts, OR purchase a couple of 'set track' (tighter radi ones), to get everything to fit.
But with some finagling, and realignment to not follow my exact cut edge of the plywood, I was able to fit in all the turnouts of the ladder with stock, non-trimmed turnouts,...Hurray .

Can't say the same for those 2 tracks that feed raw materials for the blast furnace! The upload elevator I got with my used blast furnace doesn't exactly fit the structure properly, and as a result I'm am unsure as to where its proper footprint on the deck should be?? So my planned tracks there did NOT fit properly. I had to unglue those tracks last night even while they were just getting set in,....and I will have to make readjustments.
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Well-Known Member
High line missing
Your tracks are on the ground instead of up on the high line. This causes your mismatch as the skip is
designed to go under the track level of the high line.
I see what you mean Steve. I went back to my older brochures that Walthers put out on the steel mill models to see if they had included them, I did not remember that, or had not noticed it. Sure enough there it was.

Now I am at a dilemma, whether or not to try and raise those 2 tracks. If I did so it would probably be a short rise (representative) , and it would have a pretty steep rise in those tracks.

I had been thinking I was just going to let the 'bins' below these tracks be pits. John Garaty made some suggestions back here,...


Well-Known Member
You will note that I have a track branching off those highline tracks that goes into the EAF. That track was (is) going to be the one that delivers torpedo hot metal cars to the EAF. I was concerned about that track being at ground level while the other side was rising. But I was unsure about HOW those torpedo cars emptied their load at the EAF.

Torpedo Bottle Car Unloading
Can someone show me an image of the unloading of a torpedo bottle car at an electric arc furnace?

I've looked at MANY images and not found one. I inquired on the steel mill forums and was told that those bottle cars rotated over to unload their contents, but I have found it difficult to find images.

Did Walthers suppose that those bottle cars could be utilized with their electric arc furnace model?


Well-Known Member
Found this after dropping "bottle" from the search parameters and using only "torpedo"

It appears that in the steel industry they call them either "torpedo' or "submarine" cars, not 'bottle" cars.
And I found this video that appears to be a car similar to what you found

So it looks like the torpedo car must be on a track located above the ladle, and/or the ladle must be in a pit of some sort?

Having a little problem telling what is ground level in that video you posted? Is the torpedo car at ground level, and the ladle in a pit??

That was one of the problems i was having to figure out, the torpedo cars got their loads into the ladles in the EAF plant of Walthers? I could not image the 2 of them at the same level during any pouring?
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Well-Known Member
from another forum/member...
Steel mills tend to be the odd ball. A blast furnace does not always have run through room for torpedo/bottle cars, while the track for slag pots may be a run thru track. In this case, the area used to tap a BF into a bottle car is limited to a 2-3 car capacity, depending on the BF volume per tap. The bottle cars may have run thru space at the next level, Bessemer convertor, open hearth or oxygen furnace. The ladle car tracks at the next level may be run thru, but may also have to serve several furnaces, so running thru the building may be limited if not restricted. If, at the second level, ingots are teamed instead of filling ladles, the ingot cars may have the same restrictions.
Many of the cars at a steel mill are also captive to the mill, with cars going back and forth between only two buildings repeatedly during the day. The flow is:
  1. Raw material delivered by the main connection to a mill's yard, and emptied as required. Typically this is done within a day.
  2. Raw materials fed to the BF and tapped every couple of hours. Slag to slag pots/cars and molten iron to a bottle car(s).
  3. Slag cars are taken to a slag pit and dumped. Slag rarely solidifies to the car, so it may not be immediately.
  4. Bottle cars are taken directly to the next furnace for steel making and dumped into ladles.
  5. Slag and bottle cars return to the BF
  6. Ladle cars or ingot buggies are teamed (poured) and taken to the next stage.
  7. Ladles are emptied into a continuous caster, or for earlier periods the ingot mould is removed and the ingot placed into a holding furnace for the breakdown and rolling mills.
  8. Ladle cars/ingot buggies return to the second level furnace for refilling.
  9. Ingots enter one end of a building and are run thru a breakdown mill to slab form. slabs leave the opposite end or enter the rolling mill stands. At the end of the rolling mill stands, finished product may be loaded onto cars fed into the mill's yard for customer deliveries.
There is more that can happen, but the point is that in a steel mill certain cars are captive between two buildings and only leave this route for repair work. The only place I know of in the USA, where bottle cars run filled on mainline trackage is in the Chicago area, and even then, the cars cannot wait to long to be off loaded as the molten iron can solidify, which will require the car to be removed from service for major work. Sorry for the long post, but I felt it necessary to detail the steps in the mill.


Well-Known Member
Ladle Pit

Still haven't seen any still-photos of those torpedo cars unloading their hot metal into the ladles. But those videos confirmed the unloading occurring with the ladles below the torpedo car. The thought occurred to me that I could have my torpedo car come into the EAF on the same elevated track that feeds the highline of the BF,...thus that turnout that feeds the two tracks would not have to operate askew.
I decided to only use a small rise to my highline tracks,...1/4” paint stir strips. And then I used wood wedges to get that rise,

then trimming the excess edges off of that...

The torpedo track raised up by the same amount

But that elevation would not be enough to pour into those ladles. Solution,..make pit that the lades could fit down into,...and why not 2 ladles since the torpedo car as so much more hot metal.

I'm now happy with this depiction that Walthers failed to give us.


Well-Known Member
High Line Tracks

So here are my highline tracks, and the cutouts that will be bins underneath to collect the BF (blast furnace) supply materials.

I'll have to slide that one pair of ties a little to get them to line up,...and I will have to add back that other missing one (perhaps not, when the walkway covers are applied?)

One thing I think is good about mine is they are the entire length of the BF, and will look even longer in the mirror image at the end,....good supply of at least 3 types of material supplies.


Well-Known Member
Semi-finished track plan

Here are a few pics of my finished track plan in that area. I'm leaving it like this till after Easter weekend as there are a few people stopping by the have a look in person. After that I will be pulling that whole corner piece of deck out in order to lay the final bit of staging track underneath it, and to lay the track and turnouts over on the far back edge next to the wall.

I have a diagonal piece of angle-iron steel beam under the front edge of this piece of deck, and I have quite a few my manual turnout control rods that need to go thru it to reach the front edge of the deck. I was very concerned with trying to construct this combo of controls rods thru holes in that steel beam? But very lucky I have found a way the remove the corner piece of deck ALONG WITH the steel beam,...thus i will be able to construct the manual turnout control 'system' in its entirety while on my carport work bench, then reinstall that corner piece in a finished manner.


Well-Known Member
Sparrows Point & Bethlehem Steel

Just for the fun of it I visited my cargo stowage trailer today to see what steel related cars and engines I might have already,...seeing as how I was selling items off at one time assuming I would never have room for a steel mill on a new layout, (sold my original structure kits a number of years ago).
Here are several switchers I came up with,..

That Bachmann 70 ton diesel is a prime candidate. Its DCC already, and its Bethlehem Steel which was the prime steel company at Baltimore's huge sparrows point.

I need to get some Bethlehem Steel decals for my steel structures (to mask those USS steel ones on there now)

PS: One of the worlds largest Steel Mill complexes,..
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Well-Known Member
This past Jan I had the pleasure of visiting a semi-annual 'open house' layout in Orlando Fl. It was a pretty interesting layout, and one scene in particular attracted my attention. it was a steel mill scene placed in a corner area in a diagonal manner rather than in conformity with the straight sides of the corner.

My thoughts were that it presented a lot of 'structure' in a fairly small space.

I am interested in such an idea as I hope to put a steel mill scene on my new relatively small layout

I liked this scene a lot, BUT I just don't think I have room for it,...particularly if I try to run two mainline curves behind it
A steel mill is a very challenging scene to model. They're just so darned huge. I once visited Dean Freytag's home layout. He had modeled a steel mill, and due to his expertise he did a very credible job of it. It took up an entire peninsula, probably 25% of his layout space, maybe a little more.


Well-Known Member
I think I have done a pretty creditable job of getting 3 main structures in my scene. Of course they are not detailed to the extent that many other are, but I haven't finished yet either,...just trying to get the trackplan worked out.

PS: Don't know if my older age will see all of my many industries 'finished and detailed'. I want to get on with running some trains !!

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