What IS Coke anyhoo?

Coke is the solid carbonaceous material derived from destructive distillation of low-ash, low-sulfur bituminous coal. Cokes from coal are grey, hard, and porous. While coke can be formed naturally, the commonly used form is man-made. Volatile constituents of the coal—including water, coal-gas, and coal-tar—are driven off by baking in an airless furnace or oven at temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees Celsius. This fuses together the fixed carbon and residual ash.
Coke is used as a fuel and as a reducing agent in smelting iron ore in a blast furnace. It is there to reduce the iron oxide (haematite) in order to collect iron.

Since smoke-producing constituents are driven off during the coking of coal, coke forms a desirable fuel for stoves and furnaces in which conditions are not suitable for the complete burning of bituminous coal itself. Coke may be burned with little or no smoke under combustion conditions, while bituminous coal would produce much smoke.

The Complex

I transcribed this article from my old website using the cached pages via the Internet Archive service. I removed the coke ovens from my layout as they took up too much room (originally part of two On30 modules so the ‘reason’ for the coke ovens and a single siding no longer applied). I still think this is good info.

The Coke Oven bank is just the first of a series of structures that will form the Hill Valley Coke Company complex. It will be the largest structure .. but even so – very compressed in size. My Coke Oven bank will compose of only 16 ovens (even so with the individual ovens compressed in width by 75%) .. will stretch some 40 inches in length. Actual Coke Oven banks would run several hundred ovens.

  1. This is a cliff running along the back of the modules. It is about 8″ above the level of the On30 track. That translates to 32 feet.
  2. On18 track. This (theoretically) connects with the On18 track coming from the coal mine on a friend’s module. This is actually HOn30 Peco track. Hon30 is N gauge track but uses HO mechanisms (and scale). Like On30, HOn30 represents 30″ gauge track. Using the HOn30 track in O scale though .. represents 18 inch gauge. This gives the opportunity for building various ‘critters’.
  3. This is the Raw Coal Tipple/Bin. The On18 coal cars will dump the coal from the mines here. Not shown or labeled is the breaker which will sit below the Bin. That will break/crush the coal for further processing.
  4. This is the Washery. The crushed coal will enter the Washery at the very top .. that’s a small bin just below the label [4] .. and be processed. In short what happens is that the coal has shale mixed it with it. The Washery runs this crushed coal/shale mix through agitation in water. The heavier rock will sink to the bottom of the agitation tank and the coal which is lighter will float to one side. This provides two sources for detailing/operation on the modules .. the washed coal and the ‘trash’ shale. The shale will be dumped .. and picked up by trucks for use in things like road construction.
  5. This is the Coal Bin that supplies the larrys. There will be a conveyor belt from the Washery to this structure.
  6. A coke larry. This small piece of equipment will take on a load of coal from the ‘larry bin’ [5] and then take that load to each individual oven. On the top of the ovens is an opening for charging the ovens. The larry has a chute on the bottom that allows charging the ovens.
  7. The larry track. I found it interesting that it is wide gauge – 6 to 7 foot gauge. COOL! The drawing doesn’t show it but the track will extend under the coal bin.
  8. The Coke Oven bank
  9. The Warf. This is the work area. When the coke is pulled from the oven, it falls onto the warf. We would also find cinders and ash here. This gives an opportunity for a lot of individual points of interest .. workers pulling coke, leveling a new charge, mudding up an oven, moving coke in wheelbarrows to the coke cars, ash carts picking up the cinders and ash (a cart pulled by a mule) .. lots of interesting things can be done.
  10. This is the siding for the Coke Oven bank. Here will be whatever kind of railcars used for transporting the coke. They used both boxcars and various hoppers. I personally like the hoppers since that means we can see the coke … using boxcars would hide this.
  11. On30 Mainline
  12. Switch to the siding


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