Typical of hundreds of facilities throughout the US, the Dolores, Colorado, CONOCO Oil Plant was constructed prior to 1916 and lasted at least until the end of the Rio Grande Southern (RGS) railroad in 1951.  Served by a narrow gauge siding, the facility works equally well on standard gauge railroads as a destination for tank cars or box cars (carrying cases and drums of petroleum products).  CONOCO was the west's largest petroleum company and continues today after merging with the Phillips Corporation in 2002.

It actually took several years and the efforts of some very dedicated modelers to produce this special kit.  Finding a method to mass produce historically accurate bulk oil tanks was the largest hurdle.  In the end, special software was used to generate files allowing Rapid Prototyping equipment to produce wrappers for the tank masters.  But more was needed.  The tank ends, as well as the access hatch covers required that molds be milled for injection casting.  Special injection molds for the filler pipes were also made and masters were made for accurately casting the chimney and tanks in resin.  A lot of problems had to be solved along the way!

The kit consists of four structures:  The Office has a tar paper roof (peel-and-stick) and is made using scribed, or "drop" siding.  In HO it only measures 2 x 1¾-inches deep (S: 2¼ x 2¾).  The garage (HO: 1½ x 2¼-inches; S: 1¾ x 3), uses the prototype's corrugated siding for the sides and roof, and the doors can be mounted either open or closed.  The large warehouse (HO: 3 x 5-inches long; S: 4 x 6¾) contains three large doors that can be mounted open or closed and also uses corrugated material for the siding and roof.  The Small Warehouse is probably the original structure from when the facility was first built (HO: 2 x 2½-inches; S: 2¾ x 3¼) and has a small extension on one wall that serves as a transfer pump house.  It, too, uses the corrugated material.  A full roll of Ragg's Sticky Tape is included in each kit to apply the corrugated material.

HO CONOCO end view

The kit includes the four storage tanks, two of each size, as the prototype.  They rest on "concrete" saddles, made from Northeastern's special Concrete Form Board, lightly showing the forms used to shape the saddles.  The kits include several jigs to aid in assembly, including one to help locate the tanks and the piping. 

HO CONOCO piping

The piping, included, is made from either special injection molded parts or brass rod and castings (Precision Scale Company).  Extra pipe supports are included should you decide to modify the routing of the plumbing.  Three special pipes are included (see above photo) to simulate the hose connections with your tank cars into the pump house.

The large platform includes the stairway at one end and the ramp at the other.  It's designed to allow a certain amount of reconfiguring for other arrangements of the structures.  (An extra stairway is included.) The basswood decking is peel-and-stick, made in large, pre-cut pieces.  If the platform, two warehouses, and four tanks are prototypically arranged, they measure 15½-inches long x 6¼-inches deep in HO and 20 x 8¼-inches in S.  The Office and Garage can be located as shown, but are not included in these measurements.

HO CONOCO 2nd view

DCP-HO Catwalk

The eye-catching catwalk deserves special mention.
  It is very convincing.

DCP HO Filler pipes
  Special, injection molded "Filler Pipes"

As with all of our kits, the instructions are very thorough.  Large type makes them easily readable and the spiral bound pages lay flat during construction.  A Parts Layout Diagram, keyed to the text, helps locate each component.  Useful tools, recommended adhesives (one of our syringes is included), and suggestions for finishing the model are included, as well as at least 55 photographs illustrating the various steps.

DCP HO Catwalk Assembly
A step in the catwalk assembly

DCP HO Tank jig
Jig used to install saddles and pipe supports

I recently added the CONOCO plant to my own version of Dolores. As you can see by the photos below, my space was somewhat irregular and limited. Because of the yard located immediately behind the facility it was necessary to separate the two warehouses and to build the tanks and pump house as mirror images. This was a bit of a challenge but not impossible!

Ragg's DCP 01

Ragg's DCP 02


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