This post is to show photos of a beautiful model of a sugar beet loader, built in HO scale by John Tabler and loaned to me for photography by Chuck Catania. The model follows the structure at Sargent, California, still standing today though extensively vandalized and graffitied. Similar beet loaders were found in many growing areas. This one was owned by Union Sugar, and has their typical medium blue paint scheme.
There have been some excellent prototype photos over the years of beet loaders, including several in my book about Southern Pacific gondolas (Volume 1 of the series, Southern Pacific Freight Cars). I will shown one example, from the Union beet loader at Cooper, near Salinas, California (Southern Pacific photo, 1948). You can click to enlarge.
Note you see here the entire sequence: a truck body being dumped at right, with the triangular frame of the lifting cable above it, the office just to the left of the truck, and beets falling from the top of the loader into a gondola.
Here is a photo of a different Union Sugar facility, at San Ardo, California, and it shows the “office” where truckloads were checked in for unloading. The sign contains the Union logo and the building is the usual blue color. (My own photo, from 1987.)
The Tabler model is exquisitely rendered. Here is a view from what would be rail side of the structure. The lifter for truck bodies, and the receiving bin, are at left.
The other side, with the concrete truck driveway, looks like this.
Next, here is an overhead view to show the relationships among the components more clearly.
This next view from the end of the model nicely shows the structure at the top of the loading conveyor.
Finally, here is the model office structure, which was off to one side from the loader.
I really have enjoyed having time to examine this fine model and to photograph it. John Tabler deserves a lot of credit for the excellent modeling of this sugar beet loader.
Nice model. The article put me in mind of visiting my Uncle Bill in Sandusky County, Ohio. He would drive me around to see the various businesses connected with N. Ohio railroading as he knew my interests as a young man. One of these places was a sugar beet reload facility. Basically there were piles of sugar beets dumped on the ground by local farmers and loaded into high-side gondolas using a front end loader. Pretty rudimentary, if you ask me and nothing fancy. Perfect for a model, huh?