Water Tank – Prep

I have said it over and over – watching videos by Jason Jensen tends to make me want to start modeling. It also makes me want to slap my models with grime and rust ..

Here is how Widget Supply looked before I weathered it.

I just retitled this section as ‘Water Tank – Prep’ .. yes . I am adding an extension with a water tank but had to get Widget Supply ready first …

The Plan – of a sorts

An overhead look. Widget Supply is tucked up against the cliff. There is a smallish space between the end of the building and the outer edge of the bridge abutment that I can put in a water tank/structure. I am resrcted by clif, abutment and building on two sides, a road to the front and an alley past the abutment.


When Rusty Stumps Scale Models sold their structure line to Rail Scale Models Walt Gillespie sent me a box of odds and ends from the kit production including O scale clapboard. With that in hand I wanted to use the clapboard to construct an extension and something supporting a water tank came to mind. Like I mention above, I was restricted to a small area of 2.5″ x 2.875″. The clapboard was 6″ tall sheet. This means full-size a tower 10’x11-1/2′ with a maximum height of 24′.

With this I  have a water tank 2.68″ dia x 2.53″ tall. Full-size this would be 10.72′ dia x 10.16′ tall.  This would contain 917 cu.ft. or 6860 gallons. If you figured the tank would be filled to 70% this would give you a weight of 39,978 lbs or 20 tons. Filling to the top of the tank would give a weight of 28.5 tons. Knowing humans I would think that an engineer would build a structure to support 30 tons of weight minimum. That doesn’t take into account things like wind shear, snow load and who know all what. In any case, I am a modeler and not an engineer. I just found it interesting to play with the numbers a bit.

Walls, Walls and walls

I show the four walls at the full six inch height of my clapboard sheet.

  • Left – The area shown cross-hatched will be covered by Widget Supply. The area at the top could be a blank wall with pipes and/or ducting coming out of it, windows etc.
  • Front – A door centered at the bottom .. need to look in my box of building parts to see what I have
  • Right – the bottom can’t extend out any as that runs right up on the alley. The upper part though can overhang
  • Back – completely hidden so can be ignored other than making a back for the structure


I have to stress up front that I am a modeler and not an engineer by any stretch. That being said I think that putting 30 tons of weight on the upper part of a wooden walled building is asking for the walls to blow out. Modern steel framed structures are a different thing altogether. Brick buildings without iron or steel varied the thickness of the walls for heavier loads. That is all well and good but my tower is non of that.

What I am visualizing is a frame structure encasing heavy timbers that do the actual support of the water tank .. basically a shell around the tank and support. The ‘why’ in my world is to use that space to add machinery of some kind. That will at least partially dictate things like vents, fans, windows, doors and whatever.


Since I want to simulate a timber frame supporting the water tank wrapped with a clapboard shell I figure the best way to do that is add some .060″ Mat board to the clapboard to get a .12″ thick wall. The idea is to have the heavy timber structure poke through the roof but obviously separate from the clapboard wall frame.

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