The Ten Mile Branch – the MCMR&HS second HO layout – – Part 4 – Building the ULC (Union Lumber Company) Pier

MCMR&HS is the name of our club – The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society

Hank Simonson and I used to sit in his garage and pontificate on the state of the world whilst we were feted by his wonderful wife Flo with coffee and delicious cookies. Our ideas, designs and plans, both practical an outrageous whiled away many a pleasant hour. One design, “The Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere layout” still exists. I appointed him consultant extraordinaire for the Ten Mile Branch.

In his consultant capacity Hank helped me design the ULC pier for the Ten Mile Branch. Hank had worked for the ULC and had intimate knowledge of the pier – more of which in the next post. This is what the ULC pier looked like:


ULC pier from the sea

ULC Pier from the top of the Mill

Now comes a very sad part of this post.  Make sure you have tissues to hand.

In order to obviate the same level of disaster I had building the Little Valley Tramway (see previous post) Hank and I agreed that I should build the pier upside down. This worked well and we got the track and decking looking pretty real. Next I built the pilings and attached them to the decking. Voila, I had a six foot long pier.

Hank and I agreed that to make it look authentic it should stand in the sea. No prob, right?

I built a rectangular box of 1″ by 8″ on a sheet of 1/2″ plywood. This I mounted on four 4″ by 4″ Here’s the pier in the box.

Th pier in the box

I painted the inside of the box and caulked the seams. Then I put in water. It leaked like a sieve. Not only did it leak but there was no seabed and shore . My trusty consultant and I agreed that the answer was concrete. I mixed up two 60 pound bags and it went nowhere. So, I got two more. Still didn’t look right. So I got two more. Better, but not great. So I put in two more bags. It still wasn’t perfect but it was passable. And then I went to bed.

Now you geniuses out there have, I am sure, figured out what happened overnight. Under the weight of eight sixty pound bags of concrete the box had undertaken a Titanic size list. With the aid of a buddy and some car jacks I got the bloody thing level again. I reinforced the supports and thought I was home free.

Not so. I hadn’t realized that not only had the box listed the  1″ sides had bowed out. I sloshed some more concrete around the edges to fill up the gaps. Next day I poured in water – it leaked like Niagara Falls. My consultant suggested caulk. Well that worked to the extent that it took about three hours for the tide to go out. We decided that we should quit whilst we were ahead by a nose.

Looking down the pier to the shore soon after filling

Hank said it looked ok except that the pier legs needed barnacles. More concrete was applied.

The pier with barnacles and the tide nearly out

The above pics show the pier being tested. After the test Hank and I posed besides our masterpiece.


Yours truly

We never did get it to hold water. Alas, our ideas for making waves were never tested. Pity.