Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Tribute To History: Back Dating A Building Flat

From one of my previous layouts I had a very simple building flat that was constructed from two wall sections of a Butler-style metal building made by Rix Product's Pikestuff Division. It probably was from their Distribution Center model.

 The Original, Very Simple Building Flat

While Butler-style metal buildings are quite common today, there were very few of these around in 1956, the year that I model. I do have one such building on the layout, the Sanford & Son Truck Salvage Company.
Sanford & Son Truck Salvage Company
I really didn't want another Butler building on the layout, which also meant that a completed kit-bashed welding shop would not have a home on the layout.
Kit-Bashed Welding Shop
The simple building flat, with its very obvious Butler heritage, was era-challenged and faced an uncertain future. After some study I decided the building flat could be made into an acceptable shallow relief structure by applying an overlay to simulate a wood structure of the same size and shape. Having ample Evergreen styrene sheet on hand I set to work. All I needed to do was to cut the Evergreen siding to the proper size, cut in some holes for windows and a vent, add two shallow side walls and a roof, and apply some trim pieces.
Scheu Manufacturing Company: The Model

The sign on the building indicates that it is the Scheu Manufacturing Company. As I know now, this simple model in no way resembles either of the real Scheu buildings in Upland. At the time it was constructed I had no photos from which to work. But the company was and is real and its history is entwined with the citrus industry so that is why it is represented on the layout by this simple structure.

Scheu Manufacturing Company: The Original Complex 
The company was started in the early 1900s by W.C. Scheu of Colorado. He invented an oil burning heater that protected the buds of peach trees from damage during late spring frosts in his area. In 1913, severe freezing storms paralyzed Southern California and devastated its citrus crop, destroying millions of oranges and lemons. Citrus growers asked Scheu to come to California and demonstrate his device.

The young inventor's device garnered tremendous success and by 1920 he had purchased a former packing house in Upland from which to distribute this increasingly popular device. Scheu had these manufactured in the east. Shipped by rail to California, this simple device would protect citrus groves throughout Southern California and much of the western United States for years, first as a smudge pot and later as a cleaner burning heater.

Original Smudge Pot Design & Cleaner Burning Return Stack Heater
The founder's son became involved in the business and in 1944 took over as president. In 1949 he decided that his firm should manufacture its own products, thus ending a lengthy relationship with the American Can Company, which had been producing the device in Toledo, Ohio. Factory machinery was transferred from Ohio to Upland.

Machinery Arrives At Upland (Notice Reefer At Rear Of Photo)
Model railroaders who conduct operations in the 1920 to 1949 period can simulate boxcar movements, hauling loads of smudge pots from the American Can Company's factory to the Scheu Company. Scheu was on a spur of the Santa Fe's Second District/Los Angeles Division.

Scheu initially operated a complex at 297 and 255 Stowell Street in Upland, consisting of an office and a warehouse/manufacturing facility. This location is just east of Second Avenue and across the former Santa Fe tracks from the Upland depot. The current Scheu office is located at 177 D Street in Upland and is the former Upland City Hall.
Inside The Scheu Factory

Current Scheu Office
The growing enterprises added factory space in 1948, 1951, and 1953. In 1962 Scheu bought out a longtime competitor, National Riverside Company, and in 1970 acquired the California Orchard Heater Company.

As used in California, the original Scheu heaters worked well to heat the groves but by design generated thick, oily smoke on the theory that a radiant blanket of such smoke would create and trap the heat. This theory eventually was discredited and the use of these heavily polluting smudge pots was banned in the Los Angeles Basin in 1957. Scheu and competitors redesigned their devices to produce heat with much less smoke.

Smoke & Fire
In the late 1970s, wind machines were becoming more prominent both as sole sources of frost protection as well as being used in conjunction with heaters. Orchard Rite Ltd., a small company in Yakima, Washington, proved to have a superior wind machine, and the Scheu companies became partners with Orchard Rite. This company has provided over seventy percent of the wind machines in use throughout the world today.

Wind Machine



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