Saratoga Caol*

Publication: Model Railroader
Publication Date: January 2000

by Rich Cobb

Bollinger Edgerly Scale Trains offers a pair of detailed kits for the Saratoga Coal Co., based on a prototype in Saratoga Springs, N. Y. The prototype company stayed in business until 1960, but the wood silos burned down and were replaced in 1926.

This complex is made up of two kits: the combination office and scale house (kit 1016-A) and the silo complex (kit 1016-B). I started with the office and scale house. The instructions include a parts list, color construction photos, a short prototype history, ten pages of drawings, and six pages of assembly instructions. A tool list is also included, to which I would add a single-edge razor blade, which I prefer to hobby knives for most jobs. I also used white glue in place of carpenter's glue.

Prepaint as many parts as possible. In step 2, the wall sections and 1/16" trim should be painted first. Prototype colors were light gray with dark gray trim--I used Floquil SP Lettering Gray and Reefer Gray. The truck scale deck was stained with an India ink/alcohol mix, while the surrounding floor was painted Floquil Concrete.

The windows and doors are delicate, but excellent results can be produced. The window sashes have adhesive already applied, making glazing very easy. I used white glue to assemble the sash to the frame, applying small amounts with the tip of a hobby knife, rather than the cyanoacrylate adhesive (CA) listed in the instructions.

The wall sections fit together perfectly. Most of the second story wall sections for the tower have tabs that will only fit one way, but a couple have the same size tabs top and bottom--make sure you position them so the clapboards match the other sections.

I added masking tape window shades, which help hide the unfinished interior and also highlight the excellent lattice detail in the upper windows.

The tower roof is fairly straightforward and the main roof is more exacting, but everything fit perfectly. The rear wall of the main roof developed a slight sag during shingling, so I'd suggest adding a horizontal brace or two on the underside.

For shingling the roof I didn't use the paper guide strips. Instead I drew lines on the subroof as a guide. I found it easier to cut the correct angle on each piece before installation rather than to trim them afterward.

Item eight (the cap strip) contains the only error I found in the instructions--it states to cut the material in 9/32" strips. This is about 2 scale feet wide--obviously too big. I'm guessing that what was meant was 9/64"--I scribed the material at a scale 6" and cut it at 12".

The roof is unpainted. Painting the roof would cause a problem, as the cap material has printed lines. An alternative would be to scribe the lines or use individual shingles to cover the ridges.

For the porch there wasn't enough 2 x 4 material to cover the tops of the railings. I didn't find any 2 x 8 material in the kit to make the porch stair risers, so I used some of the leftover material from the porch lattice work. I shingled the porch roof before installing it.

The brick material for the foundation was another nice surprise--it had pre-applied adhesive similar to the shingles. However, it was about 16 scale feet too short to cover all of the foundation. Since the foundation under the entrances to the truck scale will be covered by a dirt or concrete ramp when the building is installed, it does not need the brick covering, so there's enough material to cover the visible parts.

The silo kit includes precut wood parts, bundles of scale lumber, Grandt Line doors and windows, three cardboard tubes, precut cardboard for tile roofs, and roofing and stone foundation material. There are six pages of well-written instructions, a parts list and part identification drawings, and seven pages of assembly drawings.

I stained the unpainted wood by dipping it into an India ink-alcohol mix, then spreading it out to let it dry.

Some of the tipple's V legs were a tight fit into the floor slots. I used the flat end of a pair of tweezers above the tab to press them into place. Note that there are four end legs with different tabs in the same parts bag. When cutting the 1/16" x 1/8" bracing, cut the longest pieces first and work down--there's just enough material supplied.

Bins like this normally had the horizontal boards that tie things together bolted at the corners--I used some Grandt Line nut-bolt-washer castings.

When installing the horizontal conveyor I chose to add the windows, doors, coal chutes, and roofs over the loading area first, just for ease of handling.

I spray-painted the clapboard siding light gray before installing it and also added the windows and doors then weathered everything with the ink and alcohol mix.

The stairs on the tipple left a question, as they don't go anyplace. I would guess that they should come down to the ground parallel to the tracks, but I chose to install a ladder instead.

The tower was a straightforward assembly, except that I installed the doors and the windows before putting the sides together.

Three cardboard tubes are provided for the silos, with peel-and-stick adhesive--a great timesaver. After applying the stone foundation, the vertical boards are simply pressed on. Before removing the adhesive backing, I drew some vertical lines on the silo to keep things straight. Even with the guidelines, I wound up about a board off between the top and bottom of each silo. This is easily hidden between the silos. I used a flush-cutting rail nipper to trim the boards at the top.

I applied the bands according to the directions, although I used a slightly larger (no. 50) drill for the holes. Applying the lower roof is no problem with the supplied templates--another great feature of this kit. I'm not sure what type of roof it is supposed to represent, but I painted it weathered black, with black at the seam between the roof and the silo to represent tar.

I used spring clips to hold the 1/16" x 1/8" trim under the lower edge of the roof when trimming it and until the glue set. The conveyor enclosure on top of the silos fit perfectly, except the first roof support from the gable end is right in the middle of a window. This was moved to one side of the window. The directions didn't say which way to install the conveyor enclosure--position it so the end that attaches to the tower overhangs the silo roof by about an inch.

No provision is made to get the coal out of the silos. The lower roof indicates that trucks were loaded on each side of the silos, so I made six chutes from 1/4"-square wood and cardboard, similar to the ones on the tipple.

Construction time was about 30 hours for the silos and 20.5 hours for the scale house.

I found these to be excellent kits, producing high-quality models with several innovative assembly techniques. Everything fit as designed, even the angled roofs around the silos. I look forward to more kits from this manufacturer.

*This review was done when the Saratoga Caol kit was owned by Precision Lasercraft. We have updated the instructions to include more photographs of the building process. We have also made them full color.


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