Wood Water Tower

Dateline: Summer 2004

This past summer I got a little bored and decided to make an authentic water tower for the Fairfield Railroad switching yard. We have been working on a new scale engine house and I figured it would look in the same area. Using some rough plans that I borrowed from a member of the Midsouth club in Tennessee (Jo Ed Gaddes), I started in making the thing.

The first thing I discovered that there was no commerically-available lumber that would work for the scale sized lumber that I would need. So all the pieces had to be sawn from larger pieces. Most of the bracing and other structural parts were cut out of 4×6 pressure treated posts. Some of the tank parts, most notably the staves, were obtained by ripping 5/4 pressure treated decking planks into 0.4″ miniature planks with the correct beveled edge to make them as water-tight as possible.  The “plumbing” parts such as the tank valve had to be fabricated from various fixtures I found at the hardware store. The shutoff valve is a standard toilet tank float valve attached to a length of 1/2″ galvanized pipe.

The roof was especially tedious getting the pie-shaped tin pieces to fit and look good. I hand-formed the spout out of some copper sheet from an old piece of duct work that I scavenged a few years ago and tucked away for a rainy day. When in doubt about something, I just made it look like the real thing from pictures (I’ve never actually seen a real water tower!).

Overall, it was a fun project but it took a great deal of time. The results were worth the effort as it looks really nice sitting in the yard. We have it temporarily placed for now and intend to locate it to a more permanent spot when other changes to the area have been completed.