sanding tower

Locomotive sanding towers come in many different styles, and we are not trying to match any specific one, rather just trying to get the flavor. Note the central support mast, railing around the top, ladder, a platform part way up. There is a pipe running to the top of the tank for the sand to be blown into the tank using compressed air. The L-shaped pipes or hoses at the bottom can be swiveled to align with the loco's sanding fill.


Every hotel room comes with the ubiquitous mini shampoo bottle. After washing your hair, bring the bottle home.


First, a test fit on the layout. Find a spot with a bit of space between two tracks. The empty bottle is placed upside down on a wooden dowel, here we used a kabob stick, already pointed on one end, for convenient insertion into the Styrofoam layout base. Check the height: Prototype sanding towers have the bottom of the tank at about twice the locomotive height. Once the height is determined, glue the bottle and dowel together. We pumped hot melt glue into the bottle then just stuck the dowel into it.


A piece of 7 mesh (7 squares per inch) plastic canvas is cut to form the top railing and ladder assembly.

The plastic canvas is wrapped around the top and hot glued in place. The rubber bands keep it round until the glue sets. A piece of tubing with a hole drilled in the side is added to the top to receive the inlet pipe. A thumbtack covers the top of the tubing. The platform on the mast is made from a couple of flat washers hot glued in place.

The assembly is sprayed with aluminum paint.

The tank is set is place over a scrap of truss for a base. The inlet and outlet pipes are made from wire. The inlet pipe goes up from the air compressor unit at the base. The U-shaped outlet pipe is passed through a hole in the dowel, then bent into the U shape. The assembly is given a rust wash to dull it up a bit.

Home • Revised Mar 4 2017