Constructing a Paint Rack from MDF

Had picked up some 1/4″ MDF a year or so ago, and this 3/4″ MDF was gifted to us. Ripping everything took a few hours to complete.

I was gifted some shelving my Grandfather had built for his house on Cape Cod many years ago. It once sat in the laundry room and held baby food jars full of nuts and bolts as well as small jars of oil and other knick-knacks. When the house was being closed up, I had asked for it since I knew it would make a wonderful paint storage rack and currently I was just using a few odd cardboard boxes. Well, over the years I have outgrown that little set of shelves and finally decided to construct some new ones, this time using MDF.

My new shelves on the left, my Grandfather’s shelves to the right.

This project took about a half day, as it took a good bit of ripping and fitting to get everything right. The back and shelves themselves are 1/4″ MDF and the sides are 3/4″ MDF. I used a dado blade set to cut grooves in the sides for shelves and to recess the back panel. In retrospect, I could have recessed it a bit more and could have fit the shelves a bit tighter, but it all worked out just fine in the end. The back was glued and tacked on with nails. Shelves are glued in place. I hand painted it two coats of semi-gloss white, some paint I had leftover in the garage. The fact that the paint is a bit “tacky” means the paint jars don’t slide around on the shelves. The whole thing sits on a rail that’s screwed to the wall, with L-brackets up top screwed into the studs. I modeled it after the shelves my Grandfather built with shelves set to accommodate the various paint bottles I have collected. Overall, I think it’s just right for what I need and it turned out well.

Rock Creek Bridge Construction (Purple Line)

Purple Line construction on the Rock Creek bridges. View is west, and in the distance you can see the new tunnels beneath Jones Mill Rd. Previously, the railroad crossed at grade. In 2019, after demolishing the trestle, they lowered the right of way and began construction of two new bridges across the Creek. From Facebook.
This view from the 1990s and part of the Coalition For The Capital Crescent Trail collection, is a similar view from the years when the railroad was out of service.

1993 Action at Georgetown Junction

Al Moran kindly shared these two wonderful photos over on the CSX “Cap, Met, and OML” subs, Railfans Facebook Group of a local servicing Mason-Dixing Recycling, which occupied the old E.C. Keys property for some time. Once the Branch was abandoned, a small amount of track remained near the Junction, servicing the plant.

Thank you, Al, for allowing me to share these here on the blog! He writes: B731-08 (possibly D780-08 not sure when the change occurred) with CSX 4234/CSX caboose 904130 at Georgetown Jct after working the last remaining customer on the Georgetown Branch (a recycling place) on 09/08/93. 29 years ago today.


GP30M, CSX 4234 (ex BO GP30 6904, blt 10/1962) heads up the local coming off the branch on 9/8/93. Photo by Al Moran. The photographer is standing on the Talbot Ave. Bridge. Note the new ballast on the branch. Looks like some ties had been recently replaced as well. (Shared with permission from photographer.)
C27A Caboose, CSXT 904130 caboose with Operation Lifesaver & Operation RedBlock livery, brings up the rear of the local having just served Mason-Dixon Recycling; the last remining customer on what was the Georgetown Branch. Date is 9/8/93, photo by Al Moran. (Shared with permission from photographer.)

Bethesda Aerial, ca 1953-57

I picked up this print off of eBay a couple months ago. Based on comparisons with this image, my notes and Historic Aerials, I believe this dates between 1953 and 1957. I could probably narrow it a bit more with more time, but that’s pretty good for now.

Aerial photo of Bethesda, MD ca 1953-7. Photographer unknown.
  • Cave Ford and Bradley Shopping Center were constructed in 1953 and are visible in the photo.
  • The RR bridge over Bradley Blvd was still 2 lanes wide and there are no signs of construction so this is likely before 1958-9.
  • There are structures visible left over from the Griffith Consumer Co. fuel dealer. These were gone in the late 50s.
  • Between 1957-8 the Eisinger Lumber yard was demolished and converted to parking. It’s still very visible in the photo.

If you have additional information about the image, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Workbench Update: 9/4/22 Rock Creek Trestle

The last several weeks proved to be some of the busiest for me at work and as such progress has slowed. Today, however, I tackled another milestone – completing all of the assembly for the trestle structure itself. I tacked on the final bracing, stringers and girts to complete the lower section. Here’s a few photos of what it’s looking like:

This means that the to-do list is getting shorter and shorter. Here are a few highlights of what’s left:

  • NBW castings on the side-facing stringers and beams. This will take a good amount of time as I will have to drill and install each one. Much like what I did on the bents, but a bit fewer. I’m not going to install NBW castings on the inner facing beams due to the difficulty in placing them in such tight spaces.
  • Attach a brace to the bottom of the middle two bents. This will serve as support when the model is turned upright.
  • Build a sort of cradle to hold the bridge when upright.
  • Remove bridge from base and flip upright onto cradle/steps.
  • Build two emergency platforms on the top side.
  • Install the two beams that run atop the deck parallel to the track, install NBW castings.
  • Install bracing/walkways that run along top of bents.
  • Weather and install on layout.
  • Build and install bracing around lower center bents and cribbing for the ends.
  • Drink a cold beer.

Workbench Update: 7/17/22 Rock Creek Trestle

Exactly one month since my last update and I’ve made some great progress on the Rock Creek trestle model that I’d like to share.

All bents are installed and the model is ready for bracing and stringers to be installed.

On Friday I built a sled/jig thing to facilitate installing the bents perpendicular and square. More on this in a moment. First up, I needed to flip the top of the bridge over, as it was mounted with track side up. I then took the opportunity to extend the lines that indicated where the bents would be installed, as this would guide my sled/jig later. I also measured where I wanted the straight edge to be and installed it with double-sided tape.

I placed small rectangles of double-sided tape where the rails would lay. Aligned the rails to the plans and pressed gently to set in place over the plans.

Next it was time to install the center deck girder section (which I had previously built, painted, weathered and installed ties and tie plates). I prepared some 5-min epoxy and lightly brushed it to the back side of the rails. I carefully positioned the bridge in place and weighed it down while the glue dried.

Getting ready to fasten deck girder to rails with epoxy.
Weights holding deck girder center section down on the rails while glue dries.

I then completed the blocking around the deck girder.

Close up of the blocking around the deck girder bridge section.

The sled/jig allowed for me to install the bents perpendicular and square to the base. This took a bit of finagling to get set up properly but made the job go fast once the system was in place.

Sled for aligning bents. Rides along straight edge.
Overall view of sled and plans.
Sled in action, installing bents.

Halfway there!

Nearly done with the East end. When I reached the center, I flipped the sled around and faced the center section to install the two bents at the end.

And here we are with the completed bents. It’s looking pretty good!

If you flip over the photo you can sort of get a feel for what the completed model will look like.

Ok – that’s all for now. I’m very pleased with how this is coming along and up next I’ll be installing all of the stringers and girts to get this over the finish line! Stay tuned…

On Line: Briggs Filtration Co. & Hot Shoppes

Hot Shoppes warehouse (center), Briggs Filtration Co. factory (right), from the 1955 Hot Shoppes Annual Report, Univ. of Houston Library

In my seemingly never ending quest to discover and decipher industries that were served by the B&O on the Georgetown Branch I have often had to put pins in things until more information comes to light or I have the time to delve deeper into said customers. A few months back a chance photo on Facebook did just such a thing; opened the door to some brand new views of industries that I know very little about.

We’re going to take a look at two industries; The Briggs Filtration Co. (aka Briggs Clarifier Co.) and Hot Shoppes (which eventually became Marriott Corp.) which were located next door to one another in Bethesda, MD at River Road, yet were served by completely separate sidings. Let’s start with an overhead view from Historic Aerials, ca 1949:

Hot Shoppes in the center, Briggs Filtration Co. to the right. Ca 1949. Historic Aerials

Briggs Clarifier / Briggs Filtration Co.

Briggs produced valves, hot water heating boilers and oil filters. A simple Google search will turn up various patents (1) and law suit filings, along with some trade catalogs and maybe even an advertisement. A bit of a digression to Georgetown: while I don’t have a detailed history worked up, what I can gather is that their office was located in Georgetown at 3262 K St, right across the street from Wilkins-Rogers Milling Co. The 1916 Sanborn map reads “Flour & Feed Ware Ho” located at 3262 K St.:

Sanborn Map, 1903-1916. LoC.gov

The 1927 Sanborn Map:

Sanborn map, 1927.

I checked a Sanborn map that has a 1932 date and it does not show Briggs Clarifier listed, but rather Mutual Building Supply Co.:

Sanborn map, 1932.
A 1938 Briggs Clarifier Co. advertisement. Via eBay.

Ok, back to Bethesda. At some point they either moved or expanded (or perhaps were co-located) to a location in Bethesda at River Rd. off of Landy Ln. This fairly large facility, on the East side of Landy Ln. included several warehouse / manufacturing structures. Here is the Sanborn Map ca 1957:

Sanborn Map, 1927-1957.

As you can see from the map, the B&O siding ran down Landy Ln, passing alongside the factory complex. Later advertising shows the name changed to The Briggs Filtration Co. and also had a Bethesda, MD address:

September, 1949 – Modern Railroads magazine. Briggs Filtration Co. advertisement. Google Books.

Hot Shoppes / Marriott Corp.

I’m not going to go into detail on the history of Hot Shoppes & Marriott because it’s been done before in lots of detail and with great imagery! The Streets of Washington blog did a great post on it some years back. Check that out to get a feel for the background of this local DC institution. I posted this photo last April of the Hot Shoppes HQ located at 5161 River Rd, with the Briggs Filtration Co just off to the right.

J. Willard Marriott and George Romney standing in front of the offices of Hot Shoppes, Inc. , 1959. Multimedia Archives, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, P0164 J. Willard and Alice Sheets Marriott Photograph Collection
https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6029bvz
Area around Hot Shoppes. Note the siding passing behind the building and serving an overhead crane, for unloading heavy items. Also note the coal house & boiler room in the far North corner. Sanborn Map, 1927-1957.
Hot Shoppes warehouse (interior). I believe the view is facing North, with the railroad siding outside the structure on the left side. From the 1955 Hot Shoppes Annual Report, Univ. of Houston Library

Judging from the photo, it’s obvious that Hot Shoppes would receive all sorts of perishables related to the bustling restaurant industry. Machinery, furniture and other supplies related to the expansion of the business would also probably pass through the warehouse. There was also a coal house & boiler room at the north end of the building.

May 30, 1956. B&O switcher crossing River Rd. In the background, the Hot Shoppes warehouse is visible. Note the lead for Landy Ln just off to the right side of the loco. Photo by R. Mumford, B&ORRHS Collection.
May 1973 – B&O EMD GP9 6589 (blt 1958) is Crossing River Rd heading East toward downtown Bethesda.Photo by Wm. Duvall.

In this fantastic photo from Mr. Bill Duvall there’s a lot to see. The view is facing away from the Marriott warehouse, standing on Landy Ln. The yellow & white sign next to the loco reads “Marriott Corporation, 5161 River Road.” The fast food restaurant behind the loco is none other than a JR Hot Shoppes restaurant. The slogan reads “Happiness is Eating Here.”

As a side note, I attended Fourth Presbyterian Church throughout my teen years. We would go to Roy Rogers (which succeeded JR Hot Shoppes) every Sunday after church with friends. It is now a McDonald’s. Note the WDCA20 studio and tower in the background. I may or may not have some friends who climbed to the top of that tower one hot summer about twenty years ago.

BONUS: If we look to the other direction from the photo of the two gentlemen above, we see additional industries just out of view that were also served by rail. There was an auto body/repair shop and more. The siding went between the larger structure and the two smaller sheds, spanning the entire length of the buildings.

Facing the other direction as the above photo, looking West. The GB “main line” was just behind and along that chain-link fence. From the 1955 Hot Shoppes Annual Report, Univ. of Houston Library

Back in 2003, when I went on my first Georgetown Branch exploration, we stumbled across rails embedded in the ground here where the auto repair shop was once located. We also walked around the area near Hot Shoppes / Briggs Clarifier. You can view the photos in the Gallery, here. I hope you’ve enjoyed a bit more insight into the Briggs Filtration Co. & Hot Shoppes warehouses in Bethesda.

Epilog

The Hot Shoppes facility is still standing. It now houses the Washington Episcopal School. They have modified much of the facility but the overall structure can still be observed today.

The Briggs Filtration facility is now gone, having been razed and turned into a soccer field for the adjacent school. However, for the time being you can still view the old structure on Google Street View! (Until they update it.)

And as one final gasp for the old Georgetown Branch, tracks are still visible embedded in Landy Ln. Go visit them when you can.

If you have any additional information, maps, photos or stories about these industries, I’d love to hear about them!

E.C. Keys Coal & Fuel Oil Trestle Model Project

April 2, 1956. Heading west down the Branch from the Junction. On the right is the long E.C. Keys warehouse atop the retaining wall. To the left of the train is the coal trestle lead track. The old B&O MOW X-358? M-15 boxcar is sitting on a storage track.
Photo by R. Mumford. B&ORRHS Collection.

(NOTE: UPDATED DRAWING TO v2 BELOW 7/3/2022) Just about a hundred yards west of Georgetown Junction was the Enos C. Keys & Sons company that sold building materials, aggregates, merchandise, coal and fuel oil from 1889 until 1978 when it finally went out of business. On the North side of the Georgetown Branch track, a turnout branched off and climbed up a steep embankment and sat atop a high retaining wall where it served a warehouse for building materials. Aggregates would be unloaded over the side of the retaining wall via chutes, down into large sorting bins below. On the south side of the GB tracks, a turnout diverged, rose slightly, and then out on a coal trestle that was approximately 227′ long (based on aerial images). This trestle also served as an unloading platform for fuel oil. In the very far northwest corner of the property, at the intersection of Brookville Rd & Stewart Av was the scale house, which was torn down recently. In a strange twist of fate, a fellow GB-served industry, T.W. Perry, is now occupying the E.C. Keys space atop the retaining wall. The lower area where the coal dock was is now a long warehouse building. Much of this will likely (or already has) change once the Purple Line construction is completed.

Feb 22, 1958. Heading to Georgetown. Another view of the trestle lead and warehouse/retaining wall. This is the BEST photo I have of the coal trestle… and it’s not even in the photo! yep!
Photo by R. Mumford. B&ORRHS Collection.

For my model railroad, I am modeling the coal trestle, retaining wall and siding, and the long lumber warehouse.

The area around Georgetown Junction
This view of the layout should give you an idea of where things will go. The coal trestle is going where the small trestle is in this photo, the retaining wall will be along the high siding.

I decided to spend some time studying the site and develop a plan for my model of the trestle.

A snip of the 1957 aerial view from Historic Aerials. Note the fuel storage tanks to the southeast. The scale house was up in the upper left hand corner. Also note the boxcar sitting on the end of the retaining wall siding next to the lumber shed.

Using the scale tools available on the Historic Aerials site I was able to get basic measurements of the trestle. Approximately 227′ long, 15′ wide, bents (bins) about 15′ apart. This was enough to get me going, along with other details in the coal yard that I could observe. I now needed to figure out what sort of prototype to go after. Of course, without a photo I have no idea what the design of this trestle was derived from, but a good starting place was with the B&O Standard Plans book. I happened to have one that covers such things:

B&O Railroad, Roadway and Track Standards, 1945 (rev 1948); Commercial Coal Dump, Timber Construction. Book available from B&ORRHS, item 72047.

This fantastic reference book is available through the B&ORRHS Company Store, now in digital format. I highly recommend it! After some mocking up on my model railroad I realized that I wouldn’t be able to model a whole 227′ trestle and needed to reduce the size. I settled on a nice 135′ which will allow three 40′ cars, two less than the prototype would have held. This would work nicely for my small layout and even at this small size would still be a formidable structure. (I sure am building a lot of trestles on this layout… sheesh. I’ve got about four more to go, but that’s for another day!)

So, using Adobe Illustrator, the B&O plans and some photos I found online of similar structures & models, here is what I came up with:

So the image is quite wide – click for a larger view. I hope this gives you an idea of the design I’m after. I tried to stick as close as possible to the B&O design, but added a few modifications that I felt were necessary. One was the inclusion of additional supports for the walkway, a wider walkway, along with a railing. I also made some slight height adjustments but stayed within the requirements laid out in the B&O plan. All in all, I think it’s a good representation of the trestle and will make a very nice model. If you’d like a copy of the vector file, it’s below as a PDF for your own personal use. (NOTE: UPDATED to V2 7/3/2022)

The E.C. Keys facility will be a key scene on my layout. It’s a fascinating area to switch and this coal trestle will be a centerpiece of the small industrial area. Now to finish the Rock Creek trestle so I can get on with building this!

Workbench Update: Rock Creek Trestle Status

I know, I know, the trestle has been moving forward at the speed of slow. It’s been a while since I made an update so I figured I’d put a stake in the ground and share where I’m at.

20 bents, completed and arranged in order

Last Tuesday during my train club “Bench Time” I finished the last of the 20 trestle bents. Yesterday evening I touched up any of the unstained ends of wood that I missed and installed a few NBW castings that I missed. They are done! I consider this a big milestone. On to the next step.

The trestle deck

I spent some time cleaning up the trestle deck and clearing space for assembly. My plan here is to build a sort of sled with a flat vertical face to lay the trestle bents against for installation. I will keep it square by mounting a straight edge along one side that the sled can slide against. More on this in a future post.

Cutting stringers and girts

Finally, I laid the side view schematic out on some 2″ foam core and began to cut the various stringers, girts and braces that will go on the trestle sides. I need to cut, sort, prep and arrange all of these pieces before I can begin to install the trestle bents to the top deck. I have this weekend off so I think I will try to make more progress.

The project is coming along nicely. The last several months have been busy and as such this fun project has been going slowly. I have mainly assembled trestle bents during train club Zoom meetings. One or two a night, every week or so. I’ve also been working on a few other projects. I’m good at starting projects; bad at finishing them. Can you tell?