Roundhouse doors drafted

Tonight I drew up the roundhouse doors, which have a pleasingly interesting pattern of cross-bracing.  Some panels have an X, and others have a Z.  The braces match a Mattingly photo, taken in the 50’s, but the reasons why these shapes were chosen are lost in time.

My friend, Mike Chandler, who worked at servicing locomotives, conjectures that it was because the doors had been repaired by different crews over the years.  Well, until earlier images appear that show all panels the same, I’m going to follow the photographs I have.  Details like this make for a richer, more interesting model.

The man door served as a bit of a mystery for a while.  In the Mattingly photo, it has a deep shadow across its top, indicating that it is set back from the rest of the door.  I even spent some time looking for references about framing a door within a door.  Finally, I concluded that it must have been a sliding door, hung from a track on the back of the third door.  This makes sense: a hinged door would be more likely to blow open and bang into equipment as it passed; also, a hinged door would stop working if the larger door became skewed.  A sliding door is much more forgiving.

6 thoughts on “Roundhouse doors drafted

  1. Hello Rene,
    I am following your progress on the roundhouse. The photo you shared helps me visualize better what you are modeling. Thank you!

    I come from a family of carpenters and construction workers. I shared your photo and questions with some of them. We think that the shadow you see above the man door is not much different than those thrown by the bracing on the other doors. That being said, and based on some of us actually building a door in a door, it is Much more common to find said type of door hinged to the larger door rather than on a rail or slider. It will be an in-swinging door most likely swinging the opposite of the larger engine door.

    I hope this helps you pull off what I have no doubt will be a fantastic(because it’s realistic) model roundhouse!!

    Regards, Shawn

    1. Thanks for this insight, Shawn. Would you make a hinged man door because it is inherently easier or better in some way? How do the hinges connect to the larger door? Is there a frame and jamb, it would you simply hinge the door flat to the main door somehow?

      1. Hi Rene,
        I would say because it’s easier 🙂

        I am waiting on replies from a brother yet but what I can say right now is that we have simply cut out the man door-sized section from the larger door, framed it as you would the larger door(s) with “Z” or “X” bracing and then hinged it to the inside of the large machine door using strap hinges. You could also build the large door with a “hole” in it and then build the man door separately. Generally there would be a strip at the bottom of the larger door to help keep it stiff/straight. You would need to step over this when entering/exiting the building.

        This will suffice for a barn or some other building that needs minimal security. Or if it can be barred from the inside. In the case of a warehouse or garage where you may want more security, then you would build a frame inside the opening of the larger door to accommodate a latch and strike just like your home’s door. Or you could simply use a hasp and padlock. I would suspect the latter in the case of your roundhouse, IF they felt the need to “lock it up”. 🙂

        Does this make sense or did I muddy the water?!

  2. And this from one of my brothers(who also happens to share the hobby)
    Ben says:

    I took a second look at the photo. Quality and resolution of the photo is pretty poor, but there is a dark spot to the right hand side of the door. That is almost certainly a latch of some sort. It does not look like a knob though. The doorway is framed with what appears to be 2 x 6 lumber fastened flat to the sides of the doorway as opposed to normal jambs that are on edge inside a doorway. The door is hinged on the left hand side and most likely swings in. So therefore the hinges will not be visible to the outside. It is not likely that a branchline railroad would have gone to the extra trouble and expense of a sliding door when hinges would have been both quicker and cheaper.

    All sliders I have seen are latched on the end farthest from the slide if there is only one latch. Sliders always have some kind of retainer, either a simple block of wood or a roller on the bottom corner towatd the side it rolls away to. This prevents a slider from blowing in the wind when opened and eliminates the need for a latch on that side except for very large doors. Since the only obvious latch is to the right side, and therefore opposite side of the man door from the hinges on the main door, that makes it very unlikely to be a slider as it is impossible to have the door slide toward the hinged side of the main door

    So there’s another analysis on your roundhouse door 🙂

    We are rooting for this project! Shawn (and Ben)

    1. It’s a great point about the latch, Ben and Shawn. Zooming in on the image, it’s also possible that the shadow at the top is slightly wedge-shaped, further suggesting a hinged door. I think I shall have to send away for a full resolution copy of the image.

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