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Brass Wigwam Sawdust Burner Kit
by Yesteryear Creations
Review by Jeff Saxton
Reprinted with permission of

      Sawmill slash burners, also known as sawdust burners or Wigwam burners for their teepee-shape, are a deceased breed. Once typical of a sawmill site, these structures have given way to progress in the forest industry.

      Once, sawdust was just so much waste, with maybe a sideline use as insulation in icehouses or cheap homes. Normally, it was just burned. Today, chipboard, paper, and any number of chemicals can be made from refuse sawdust. Sawdust is no longer considered a waste by-product in lumber mills. This N scale kit from Yesteryear Creations builds up into a most attractive rendition of these once typical industrial forms. The cleanly etched parts of the kit come on a single fret, along with a few loose pieces in a separate bag. The kitís instructions are in exploded view format, and I had no trouble in assembly. The etched sheet is very nicely done, and I marvel at the ability of someone to sit down and calculate the required angles and dimensions to make a flat part fold up into this complex cone shape. The finished model measures just more than 3" tall (42 scale feet), and it is 2.5" in diameter at the base (33 scale feet).

      I began by studying the instructions completely, as you should with any new kit. The instructions are well illustrated, and what text there is, is clear and to the point. A suggested tools list was quite helpful.

      There are 21 listed steps, and only a few gave any problems in assembly. I should note, these are not problems with the kit, but rather problems in VERY small parts, getting folded up into even smaller shapes; and I add that hands accustomed to large scale train kits required some retraining to correctly assemble all the little bits properly.

      I deviated by using Hot Stuff Super T and their Hot Shot NCF accelerator only, I did no soldering on this kit as suggested, and it actually does not require any solder to assemble the kit. Use of solder would make the finished structure stronger, but I think it would also measurably add to ones colorful vocabulary during assembly.

      The neatest part of the kit was in folding up the main shell piece to form the cone itself. By carefully folding corners, and using the supplied bottom ring, this complex part was made up quickly and effectively. I found myself holding it for quite awhile just looking at it, and thinking how neat it was.

      The rest of the kit boils down to adding details: an upper walkway ring, entry doors, stiffener ribs, and the two section conveyor for supplying the Burner with sawdust and mill scraps. As I said earlier, no pieces gave any problems, but I did experience some difficulty in steps 7, 10 and 11. Step 7 involves folding the upper screening into one seamless dome----just take your time, and carefully adjust each adjoining piece until the top looks acceptable.

      Steps 10 and 11 concerned the entry door assembly. The doors can be made to work with care, but after five tries, I still could not get the Door Casing (part #9) glued up into a square without getting some glue into the tiny pivot hole for the nearby door. One door on mine does open, and you seldom need to go inside these; and once on a layout, opening doors would be extraneous anyway!

      I omitted step 15 (which is listed as optional)-this one was adding small lengths of etched strip stock to the screen top as ribs. Letís just say I once had a very bad experience curling brass strip stock, and the thought of doing that again put me off step 15 entirely!

      A short note of caution. This is definitely a kit where you must keep your wits about you. As noted, small pieces of etched brass can cut you very painfully, as well as very seriously. Handle all parts as if the edges were razor blade (which, in effect, they are!) and you will be once step closer to not needing any emergency health care from the medicine cabinet.

      After I completed the model, it looked like the unpainted brass unit in the photos. Since I currently have no plans on where this structure will be placed, I merely finished it for later placement on a layout. I painted the model overall flat black (silver or gray is acceptable too), then used my own concoction of washed-on powdered rust mix. Several commercially available rust washes will do just as well. All the burners I have ever seen are uniformly rusty, and a freshly painted burner would only be appropriate for the modern day scene, where it is being used as some sort of advertising display (which the prototype for this kit is, by the way). If I had more time, I would have tried home etching a series of very small holes in the main shell piece since many burners were rusted completely through while in service. As it is, I spent about six hours assembling the kit.

      If this type structure intrigues you, I suggest a book titled Woodburners by Daniel Mihalyo, published by the Princeton Architectural Press (ISBN# 1-56898-104-X). It is a soft cover work addressing the development of the device, and aside from the incorrect use of the term woodburner throughout, it is well worth it.

      Yesteryear Creationsí Wigwam Burner Kit is a very nice addition to the N scale realm, especially if you are modeling anywhere near a lumber mill. In fact, the kit is so nice it may just require you to add a sawmill operation to your layout just so you have some place to showcase this excellent kit. Displayed properly, with a small flickering light unit inside and a commercial smoke unit puffing away, it would become the focal piece on any model railroad. I really liked the kit, and I urge any N scaler with an interest in sawmills to acquire one of them.

P.O. Box 2504, Florence, Oregon, 97439
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(c) Copyright 1999    Stephanie and Lee Oman     All rights reserved