My friend Pierre Oliver is building an HO scale layout based on the Wabash Railroad through Southern Ontario (in fact, the Wabash had trackage rights over a portion of the CNR that was used by trains headed to Port Rowan, so trains on his layout and on mine could have met).
Like my Port Rowan line, Pierre’s prototype goes through tobacco country – so we both need tobacco drying kilns. Pierre and I often share the work on layout projects – he builds resin freight cars professionally while I find that building structures satisfies the frustrated architect in me – so I offered to scratch build five drying kilns for him in exchange for some freight cars. (This would also work as a dry run before I tackle on my own, S scale kilns.)
The first kiln is done and I’ll take it to show Pierre before I build the rest, to make sure it’s what he’s looking for. (UPDATE: I took the kiln to a work session at Pierre’s place today, and it’s just what he wanted, so I can go ahead and build the rest.)
From the front, the kiln has a small door (only about 5.5 feet high) and two wood stoves built into the foundation at the corners. These vented out a tall chimney on the back. They heated the kiln to cure the leaves, which were hung inside. The hatches on the peaked walls allowed the farmer to inspect the leaves hung higher up in the building and could also be opened for ventilation. Four were swing-out hatches. The front wall also had a sliding panel up at the peak.
Each side featured a row of three large doors, hinged at the top so they would swing out and up. These were used to load the kilns with tobacco leaves tied in bunches and hung on poles. The Delhi Tobacco Museum and Heritage Centre has a painting that shows how the tobacco was prepped and loaded into the kilns:
(I took this photo with permission while visiting the centre last year and highly recommend a visit to anybody visiting the Delhi area.)
Each opening was secured with one or more simple latches – consisting of a length of wood with a pivot in the middle. What I didn’t appreciate until I started building this kiln is just how many latches, hinges and other details were required. But they add so much character to the finished model, I think.
I’ve given the model a good dose of weathering to represent years of smoke and tobacco juices. More needs to be done but I’ll let Pierre tackle that so he can blend the structures into the others on his layout.
This is a very enjoyable project – so far. Ask me again after I’ve done four more in HO… and five in S!