Saturday, 11 October 2014

Just A Thought... Fuel Depots, Part 1


The only upside of another week deprived of modelling the thinking one can do.  As regular readers would be aware, the siting of the flour mill (on the outskirts of Fish River) has had me pondering for some time.  My doubts were not so much the general locale...but the aesthetics of placing the industry so close to the bridge that spans the river.  The sheer bulk of the building seemed to dwarf the bridge and to my mind detracted from the overall flavour of this area.  While the comments from readers that emanated from that post were invaluable and gave many options, I had mentally mothballed the decision and refocused on unrelated structure building.

Apart from the flour mill, Fish River will play host to a small number of varied industries and amongst these will undoubtedly be an oil depot or two.  While unearthing all of the "fuel depot" bits and pieces that I have amassed...the thought crossed my mind that the flour mill siding may well be a better candidate for a fuel depot while there may be a better option for the flour mill at the opposite end of town.

So...earlier this afternoon I set about placing the almost completed storage tanks in situ and while there is much more infrastructure to be added to a depot scene, at least I could get an idea as to whether the overall plan would fly.  As I fiddled around with this concept, it dawned on me just how ironic it was that after spending half of my working life in the petroleum and around refineries, terminals and depots...why it is that I have waited so long to concentrate on this type of industry for the layout?. 

Regional fuel depots, were a fairly simplistic affair and while there were many varied layouts in terms of physical appearances, the four main items of infrastructure that made up each depot were largely a constant.  Storage tanks, package store, truck loading gantry and some form of an office were the norm and in reality it was only the location and surrounding population the depot serviced that decided or dictated the overall size of each of these components.  In the early days ( and not unlike the railways approach to infrastructure) there were "types" of depots that each oil company had concept plans prepared for, and the intent was that these depots would all be built exactly the same at each location on a repetitive basis with the thought that it would ensure consistency and cost savings in terms of initial construction, basic equipment, operating procedures and maintenance.  Of course just like the railways...there were many changes to this "master plan" and depots took on a uniqueness based on land availability, plot size, rail and road access factors as well as particular client/location requirements.

A typical depot of yesteryear would have consisted of one or more leaded (standard) petrol tanks, one or more distillate (diesel) tanks, a fire water tank (in some instances), a package store for storing and decanting of drummed product, specialty products, oils and greases, a truck loading gantry and as already office or amenities block for the employees.  Other items that existed were elevated horizontal storage tanks for products such as home heating oil, winter diesel (in extremely cold areas) and in some cases kerosene.  A blend tank was sometimes included.

In terms of rail unloading operations...this varied on a case by case basis and could be an "in depot" operation with a dedicated siding within the confines of the depot...or a "remote unloading point" which was located beyond the depot fence line on a dedicated or shared siding.  There were of course depots that made use of a second or shared siding within the depot that also allowed easy transhipment of drummed and package product from rail wagon to package store and aided reloading empty drums to say 4 wheel S trucks.

Returning to the subject of the rail tank car unloading operation...Some depots utilised a dedicated unloading pipe for each product while some depots relied on a single multi-use line that entailed an unloading sequence where a diesel tank car maybe unloaded and then say petrol would follow up the same line and a depot operator would await the "interface" or changeover of the product to reach a predetermined location and then swing the valves to the correct tank.  Yes it was an inexact science...but a good operator would generate very little "slops".  It must be remembered that in the refineries it was common to put water slugs between products as separation...and water take off points in storage tanks were common...

I have included some photos of a rail car unloading point...and while they were taken in South Australia some years ago...the same theme was played out all over the country. It must be said that not many regional depots in NSW had a dedicated fire line secondary to the unloading line...


In the next instalment I will begin the Fuel Depot project for Fish River and post the meantime I have included one shot to show the proposed location...certainly a change from the flour mill...

No comments:

Post a Comment