NEW PRODUCTS: Resin Boxcar and 3D Printed Details

A surprise from a tradition HO producer of quality resin kits.   Yarmouth Model Works has posted a picture of a new project in 1/48.  It is a Pennsylvania X31f automobile car.  In the early 1940s the railroad rebuilt older X31a boxcars into a group of 690 automobile carriers (81200-81889).  The turtleback raised roof section allowed for the use of auto racks to increase the number of autos carried.   I have read that this group was also used to carry Jeep vehicles during WWII.

The model was developed using 3D design tools and printed on a high end machine.  I suspect the production cars will be resin cast. It will likely available with detail hardware such as ladders, brake equipment, sill steps running boards and an AB brake system.

The above prototype picture shows chain tubes  extending below the underframe.  The cars were equipped with a 2D-F12 truck like the one Protocraft has imported.   The photo shows the National B-1 used on these cars.  Protocraft imported these as well.

The prototype cars lasted for a long time with 680 still on the roster in 1963 and a significant drop in 1968 to 12.    The posting mention that the kit is targeted for fall release.


Smoky Mountain Model Works has proposed a series of 3D printed details in 1/48.  Jim King circulated a list of possible details ranging from AB brake sets, new hand brake systems, ladders, and a bunch of other parts.  SMMW is using a new printing resin in their Form3 SLA machine that produces parts that are much more durable than tradition printed resins.

Here is an extract from an email sent by Smoky Mountain Model Works:

Below is a list of items I’m considering adding to my O scale freight car details line.  If you want something specific, just email me off-list with your suggestions and I’ll add them to the list.  No guarantee it/they will be made because market demand and available info (drawings/photos) drive new products.  All of these will start out as S scale items, then be upscaled and tweaked for O.

Keep in mind that these are highly detailed, printed parts in clear resin.  Detail is equal to injection molded parts but the material is more brittle so applications need to be scrutinized.  These are not “miracle” parts that survive rough handling.  The trade-off to availability of parts that otherwise would not be produced is greater brittleness which should not be an issue for most modelers.  Many suppliers have retired or the companies sold over the past decade, making their parts increasingly difficult to find and pricey if found.  3D printing addresses this and allows for new designs that cannot be justified using traditional manufacturing methods.

The ladder shown above is for S scale.  Jim has proposed a ladder design with .016″ rungs and .021″ wide stiles.  That would make them very close to scale.  Part of the discussion has been about making replacement parts for the old Intermountain freight ladders and bracketed grab irons.

Stirrup steps will not be produced … they are FAR too brittle to survive.  Flat wire, injection molded parts and brass castings are still the best options.

These brake wheel/housing designs come from the 1953 and 1961 CBCs; the Universal dates to 1940s AAR flat cars:

Superior brake wheel/housing

Ajax AB brake wheel/housing

Champion/Peacock brake wheel/housing

Klasing brake wheel/housing

Universal brake wheel + ratchet mechanism for flat cars

AB “complete” brake set (Apex platform, reservoir, cylinder, triple valve, at least 3 lengths of levers, phosphor bronze wire, chain, clevises, retainer valve, bell crank).  Everything you need to detail 1 car, regardless of car’s length.

Apex brake platform (grid) with angular supports (sold separately from AB set)

Retainer valve (sold separately from AB set)

Bell crank (set of 10 or so; sold separately from AB set)

“Grid pattern” roofwalks/end platforms (Ajax and Morton are main ones) for 40’ and 50’ cars

Draft gear (coupler) box and lid with screws to fit Kadee 740 (no drilling of box required)

Boxcar doors (not sure of designs yet … tell me what you want)

This is an exciting development which can add a range of details to our scale.   This is an important development since the previous line of Chooch Ultra Scale II plastic is not on the market with uncertainty on its return.  The former San Juan standard gauge parts are also currently unavailable so their AB brake system leaves a huge hole in model building.   The parts are critical for kit makers too.   The lack of details may cause kit makers to think twice about offering anything new.


Jay Criswell is developing a new version of joiner bars that may be more appealing to many.  A nickel silver that can be soldered directly to the rail to capture the adjacent rail.

You only need to solder the joint bars to one side of the connection.  This will allow expansion and contraction of rail on your layout.   Jay will be offering the castings in Code 148, Code 125 and smaller rail heights.

The new parts should be available shortly.  Contact Jay for availability and pricing.

I have some new material from Lee Turner.  I thought I would share a view.   More material will be posted shortly.

Thank you for taking a look.


MODELING: The Bodega Avenue French Laundry

Every now and then I come across an interesting building to just calls out to be modeled.  One such structure is laundry once located at 570 Bodega Avenue in Petaluma, CA.  I suspect the vintage signage caught my eye initially.  The building featured a false front design with gabled roof behind.  It was sheathed with shiplap siding.

There was a feasibility study performed by Page and Turnbull in 2014 to determine if it could preserved as a historical landmark for the city.   Sadly, the study concluded that it was too far gone to  be saved.  However that does not mean a model couldn’t be built reflecting what it might have looked like when it was a laundry.

This view shows details of the west elevation of the structure.

At this point the roof had collapsed along the east elevation.

This photogr

This photograph was taken during the 2014 study.  At this point it looks like a good candidate for a supply of shiplap for Chip and Joanna Gaines.

The back wall showing the rear entrance and a boarded up window.


The east wall is essentially gone.  One can speculate that there were likely windows

The first step is to construct a simple drawing and possibly a cardboard mockup to get a sense of what the building will look like when completed.

I plan to use styrene for the basic material.   I saw a painting weathering technique shown by Vallejo acrylics on how to create the appearance of an old wooden structure.  It looks like the way to go to get the effect desired.   My objective to depict the appearance in the mid-1950s.

Model and Photos are from a Vallejo brochure explaining this technique

Final appearance of the weathered plastic using Vallejo acrylics.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in the laundry build.



My laptop decided to crash due to a hard drive failure.   That was fixed and I have a new 1TB solid state hard drive.   No more spinning patten in my machine.   It was only $100 for a Samsung device.  Some technology parts can be a bargin but not cell phones.

I will be putting together a new posting to my blog shortly.





MODELING: Lee Turner on Rock Island B-2 Boxcars

Years ago, San Juan Car Company produced their first standard gauge 1/48 kit and it was a Rio Grande Fowler-clone boxcar.   The late John Parker ( San Juan founder) had a passion for the Rio Grande.  He had the late Joel Berling tool the kit for injection molding.  The Rio Grande had a bunch of these cars but a lot less than the 3,000 B-2 class built for the Rock Island.  It had a few differences such as the number of roof panels and an additional angle on the doors.

I built the model for Lee Turner using the car kit, trucks, couplers and a K-brake assembly.  The original kit was supplied with a AB brake system.  This unpainted picture highlights the major changes needed to convert the Rio Grande prototype to a Rock Island car.

Lee applied his magic to the assembled model.  A basic paint job with lettering from RL Decals.  He started to apply character to the model using various techniques to add shadowing and highlighting to get all the detail to pop.  Lee also contrasted the metal parts from the wood siding in  how much fading occured.

By the way, the Rock Island car is for Lee’s own collection.  As you may know, he has retired from doing client work.  He hasn’t stopped working on models so we may see some more of his work soon.   Thank you Lee.


NEW PRODUCTS: Urethane Kits in 1/48

 A new offering from Southern Car & Foundry.
Jon Cagle has released his latest kit for the American Railway Association Standard Boxcar of 1932.   These cars were built in large numbers and owned by a large variety of railroads.  It seems that each railroad opted for different appliances like door designs, hand brake types, roof and even ends. This particular version has Square Corner 4/4 Dreadnaught Ends and a Murphy Panel Roof.  Road names associated with this version are the MP, MEC, Clinchfield, Central of Georgia, Western Maryland ( one lot was built with square corner ends ), and the Union Pacific, which had 1.
The kit comprises  the typical components you expect from SC&F;  one piece body/roof combination and one piece floor castings. Etched ladder stiles, stirrup steps, etc., laser cut templates and jigs, laser cut running boards, and the usual injection plastic brake and door hardware from Ultra Scale and San Juan Car Co.  Seven pages of written instructions with over 40 images of the  kit build are also included.
Price of this new kit is $165.00 plus 13.50 shipping, lower US 48.  Southern Car & Foundry will ship world wide as well, contact them for details.  Jon will be updating the website this coming week, but if you want to place an order asap, you can contact Jon thru  and we can arrange an electronic invoice as well.
Decals are available from Protocraft  
Jon has a couple new kits in the works that will  be announced when they are available for sale.
Pacific Northwest Miniatures is a new supplier of high quality printed resin parts and kits in 1/48.  They have a wonderful selection of Model T Ford parts and a wide range of details for doing interiors of building.   I have borrowed several pictures from their website to illustrate the range of products being offered.
The Model T chassis is very complete.  They sell a fixture to hold parts in-place during assembly.  That is a fantastic idea to help models.  The vehicles come with headlight that are hollow so they can be illuminated with LEDs is so choose.
Here are some of their neat details to complete a scene or building interior.
You can review their product line by clicking on the link below.
Hope that the information is useful.

MODELING: Mid Century Composite Boxcar Completed


I have had a longtime interest in building a model of a group of double sheathed boxcars owned by the Northern Pacific.  The car is essentially a AAR 10′ interior height boxcar with wood sheathed sides.  They were built by Pacific Car & Foundry in 1940.  Chooch did offer a kit for this car which I built but wanted to add details to the side sill and other areas.  I came upon the general arrangement drawing and decided to take a crack at building one from scratch.   The first chapter of the construction was posted in June,2020. You can search through my blog a find all of the posting on this car build. And now the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say in his long-running radio program.  Some of used to listen to radio once upon at time.

The final chapter is a description of a process Lee Turner used to paint, weather and letter the car I built.  Lee and I worked out a deal where I built a Rock Island Fowler clone boxcar in exchange for finishing the model.

Lee has used a technique called pre-shading on the sides of the car.  Simply, it involves painting the indivdual boards in the siding with different shades of a color.

I opened an email from Lee and saw this picture and wondered what he had done.  I read the email and learned how he approached this process.  I have seen this technique several times on plastic aircraft and military vehicles.   The key here is to use several shades of a base color to get variation in the finished coat.

Here is what the car looks like after a light coat of the finish color.  He is building layers to create the effect.  Opaque paint would destroy the effect.

At this point Lee proceeded to finish the car like a normal job.  By the way, the 100-ton trucks are one of Lee’s many “shop” trucks.

Lee had some trouble finding a sunny day to shoot pictures of the finished model.   Actually it looks like a typical sky in the Pacific Northwest.   The decals were a custom set done by Rick Leach for this project.  Lee said they were a challenge to apply since the decal paper was white making it hard to read the one inch high decals.  For some reasons it was very hard to find photos of prototype cars in the early 1950s.  We were able to find one which is was the source of the decal design.

I liked this shot as it showed brake system clutter.

No there wasn’t a wreck.   Lee took this shot to show the clutter and also he captured the look of road grime typical of the underside of a car in service.

The topside views shows that the roof paint is sound with no paint failure.

I didn’t expect to the story to end this way.  It is a wonder way to have a model finished by Lee Turner.   He is the master of his craft.  Sadly, he retired from doing modeling for clients.  Now he is working on his own stuff.  Good for him.   He has made a huge impact to how we look at finishing railroad equipment.   Thank you Lee for sharing your work with everyone.



MODELING: Tank Car Frames

I have built a few tank cars in recent years.  One thing that bothered me on first few cars was the running boards.  I used styrene in my first projects.  Prototype running boards were only 2″ thick which is approximately .040″ thick.  I have worried about flexing while handling the car or experiencing sags over time.  That concern started my looking for an alternate approach.

I decided to try making the running boards from brass strips.  Many of the steam era tank cars had 12″ wide boards around the car.  Well, it didn’t take me very long to find that .040″ brass strips are very hard to find.  Yes, you can buy sheet stock and rip the strips yourself.  I don’t have a saw that likes cutting .040″ strips out of a sheet of brass.


The alternative is to purchace K&S brass strips.  I chose to laminate strips to make the a thickness close to the prototype.  The simple fixture shown above provides a jig to allow the lamination of strip brass.  The laminated “boards”  are inserted in the jig below and soldered together.   I clean the brass and pre-tin the inside surfaces.  I used an 80 watt iron to sweat the parts together.  The corners of the running boards are lapped to create a strong joint.



The brass strips are grained with a wire brush to look like wood.  The GATC tank car I am building has a steel angle on the on the end plank.  Grab irons and air hose brackets are attached here.

I am using a styrene centersill with printed GATC bolsters available on Shapeways.  The centersill is composed of two 1/4″ Evergreen channels.  The centersill is wide enough to fit a the Protocraft Type-E coupler and the San Juan automatic coupler.

Here is a link to the bolster I used. 

This posting is not intended to be a step-by-step description but an approach to  building  scale tank cars.


MODELING: Simple Project by Jim Zwernemann

For a change of pace, I am showing a little structure that Jim Zwernemann built in less than a week.  It is watchman’s shanty.   The model is based on a Missouri Pacific drawing that Jim received from the late James Hickey.  As with most of Jim’s builds, it was made from styrene.  The only commercial parts are the stove and chimney cap.  The model was painted in the old MKT structure colors.

Jim has built a neat little shack that will be a scene stealer on his layout.  I love these little projects.  It makes me want to clear off my workbench and build one or two.

I have built a couple over the years and suggest that you try one.  It is a project that can be done a short period of time.  You will a great deal of satisfaction for the project.

I built this herder’s shack over ten years ago.

Here is an example of a Southern Pacific herder’s shack in the huge Roseville yard.

Why not give one a try?


MODELING: Trucks and Cars Redux (revised)

Finding model vehicles in our scale has always been a challenge.  Some modelers elect to use a more common 1:43 scale models.  They are useful in certain locations but tend to dominate a scene in my opinion.  Modelers like Erik Lindgren have exhibited a knack for placement in a scene to minimize the slightly larger size.

The above photo is the work of Erik Lindgren.  He is an extremely talented photographer and artist.  The diecast 1:43 models seem to blend well with the proper staging.

However, there are a few decent 1:48 models that can be built into fine scale representation for your rail scene.  The most useful kits to find are the Tamiya 1942 Ford Sedan and the whole Renwal/ Revell line of automobiles and now the Atlantis revivial of the old 1/48 Revell kits.  In addition, Mike George has shown us how to take the Menards diecast trucks and make an attractive addition to the layout.   Search back on the blog to find additional information on autos and trucks for 1/48 and how to enhance their appearance.

The Renwal ’32 five-window coupe is a shining example of what you can do with a some effort.  Lee Turner is responsible for this build.  He made simple modification to the front wheels turning them slightly.  A license plate and some weathering turned this plastic into an eyecatcher.

Next up is a 1930 Ford AA trucks built from a plastic kit produced in the Ukraine by Unimodel.   The truck design is a Russian copy of the Ford design. Lee Turner built this model and added weathering touches.  He used pin washes to highlight the details on truck. It is very realistic model.

I have showed you Lee’s rendering of the ’34 Ford fordor He built from a Unimodel kit. While the kits are not the most precisely tooled, they can be built into a nice model as you can see in the picture above.

Our other favorite vehicle builder is Mike George.  He has done some fantastic builds starting with pretty basic kits or diecast models.  His latest creation is a 1949 Ford tudor built from a Renwal 1950 Ford convertible.

Mike decided to build the Ford coupe using a new roof that was vacuum-formed styrene part.  He created a postive master using wood with some trim parts added.

Once the part was trimmed and fitted to the kit body, it creates a credible model.  Mike decided to backdated to the a 1949 version.  A new grill was fabricated to replicate the ’49 version.  Another important change he made was to make replacement tires on a lathe.  The new ties were fitted to the kit-supplied rims. The Renwal tires are undersized.  The actual Fords came with 6.70-15 which are 27.4″ in diamter and 6.7″ width.

This is a 1949 Ford Deluxe Coupe.


There was also a Club Coupe with a shorter roof line. Both designs were referred to by auto collectors as the Ford Shoebox design.  Not sure why they garnered that name.

The color panel for 1949 Fords shows a range of colors possible.

I have a bunch of the convertibles and wondered what to do with them.


I forgot to add information about a 1:48 vehicle that I found on

The model is of a Divco milk truck printed by Shapeways in their finest material.  The designer offered it in HO and S scale. At my request, he released it in 1:48.  You can buy other parts like wheels and a frame.  I opted to not buy these since the basic body was expensive.  I am still cleaning up the body which had lots of artifacts from the Shapeways printers.

There are other trucks available on Shapeways.  Ross Dando bought a modern 1970s International truck.  He opted to have Terry Van Winkle print the model.  Not all designers will allow this but it doesn’t hurt to ask.



I am trying something different with this posting.  It seems that the majority of the viewers like viewing pictures of completed models rather than construction articles showing the bits and pieces going together.  Oh yes, I am not abandoning the previous emphasis on technique.


My first serious attempt at an all styrene freight car in P48.  This model dates back to 1973.  The Model Railroader magazine published my construction article on the building the model.  The prototype was a 50-ton covered hopper buit by Greenville Car for the Erie.  In 1973, finding quality detail parts were hard to come by.  Fortunately Bill Clouser created the Ajax handbrake set and AAR couplers to apply to models.  The air hoses and AB brake equipment were available from the Back Shop.  P48 trucks could be found from only one source.

The very first issue of the Narrow Gauge and Shortline  Gazette feature my construction article on building this Quincy & Torch Lake gondola.  This is narrow gauge and was built from basswood with Cerro Bend castings that I patterned, molded and cast using Bob Brown’s centrifugal casting machine.  The is done over a period of six weeks while still going to work every day.

In 1971 I built this depot from wood and made working styrene windows and Cerro Bend castings for parts like the bench and the old Regulator wall clock.. I entered it in the 1972 NMRA National Convention and won first prize in the structures catagory.

The depot model was based on an old Model Railroader article. In those days, it was the go-to periodical for great modeling material.  I had amassed a decent collect of old MRs dating back to the 1940s.

The vinegar tank car shown above and below was built from an old Model Railroader magazine as part of their “Dollar Car” series.  Hard to imagine building any car for one dollar today.

The model is made of mostly styrene with a wood tank.  Today I would use styrene for the whole project and skip the wood.

Yet another model build inspired by Model Railroader magazine.  This snow plow was built following an article by Paul Larson.  He wrote a number of interesting article during his tenure at Kalmbach and subsequently his brief time writing for Railroad Model Craftsman.

The model featuers a brass plow shaped and soldered together.  The basic frame was made from styrene with wood used for the interior deck and sides.  It was one of favorite models.

Here is a shot taken of the underframe ready for the plow and gondola body.

A while ago I acquired a Milwaukee Road diagram book which had a diagram of the prototype plow.


I built this ballast spreader based upon an old drawing from the Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad.  I built the model from wood and some custom Cerro Bend castings.  It was written up in the Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazette.


The John Deere store shown below was built from styrene completely.  The late Chuck Yungkurth collected information and created a drawing and took many photos of the prototype in upstate New York.  The construction of this model appeared in the Gazette along with the Yungkurth drawing.


The Jack’s Cabin water tank was a fun project built in the late 1960s using wood and a plan done by Cliff Grandt.  I had found one photo of the prototype tank.


I built this bucket loader coal station based on a Paul Larson article in the Model Railroader magazine.  The prototype structure was located in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin on the Milwaukee Road.  Scale basswood lumber was the principal material used in the build.  The two figures were once sold by the late Gordon Canon and were cast in Cerro Bend alloy.


After seeing a Tom Yorke plaster kit for a very similiar building, I decided to make my own version using styrene and embossed brick material.  It was fun to take a shot at trying a brick building.

Thank you for enduring my trip through memory lane.