Heljan Coal Tower (B652)

Originally I was going to use Heljan B653, but it was too big for the space—shoehorned in place, it literally towered over everything else. So I went with their smaller one. It's the only Heljan product I'm using, mostly because the only kit of theirs I really liked was their corner drug store, which wouldn't work on the layout; the rest I thought were poorly tooled, even for their day.

Grossmont, UK; photographer unknown

In an effort to learn what one of these things might have looked like in real life, I did some searching, and the closest thing I could find was British. It had a skip hoist instead of a conveyor (would love to model one of these—working, naturally), but at least it gave me a sense of how to finish it.

This wound up being the second structure completed after the rolling lift bridge mostly because I needed to verify the spacing between chutes so I could lay the track properly. It seems like a fairly simple kit on the surface, but it's deceiving: Heljan's poor tooling resulted in many ill-fitting parts, often with no means of alignment other than by eye. Other aspects of the kit are quite perplexing; for instance, the top chute has spacer nibs that actually prevent it from resting properly on the frame—you can see this in the box lid photo. Painting the whole thing dark charcoal grey hides a multitude of sins.

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