MODELING: Another Caboose Build SP C-30-3


I resurrected this project stored away in a packing box awaiting a move someday. It was started about five years ago and set it aside after building up the sides, ends and underframe.  My interested waned as I got busy on a few commercial project.  I felt the need to start finishing old projects.

 The car is a Southern Pacific C-30-3 caboose.  The SP had a bunch of C-30-1, C-30-2 and C-30-3 cabooses.  They look similar but differ in details.  The -3 class had steel frames with the interior posts extending below the wood sheathing. The LA shops built 79 cars in this class between 1929 and 1930.

The lead picture of 619 was shot at Friant, CA at the end of the line.  This car spent a good deal of its later life on the Friant Branch.  Motive power was often a “Fresno Mallet” or better known as a Mogul.

I was able to obtain a 1″ scale blueprint of the car.  You can also find a drawing in SP Freight Cars Volume Two published by Signature Press.   Tony Thompson is the author of this very useful book.


This broadside view is from the Arnold Menke collection.   Number 26 operated in the Bay Area nearly its whole life.    The picture below was taken in Santa Clara in the mid-1950s and is from my collection.   The car is being pushed by C-9 2777.  Sadly Glacier Park Models advertised this loco but didn’t import it.


Collection of Gene Deimling

Collection of Gene Deimling

You can find a considerable amount of information on specific car numbers by obtaining a copy of equipment card which will describe the car and equipment configuration and upgrades.  Copies of these cars can be obtained from the California State Railroad Museum library.


One thing you will notice that car numbers were assigned vacated car numbers.  So it is possible to find a car with #2 or #4 as well #619.

Construction of the model follows the technique outlined in the NP caboo30-3-insidese build published on 10 October.  Sides are cut from Evergreen 3-1/4″ scribed styrene.   I added nail head marks along the sides.  The nail locations were taken from photographs of the actual car.  I make nail holes with a small scribe.

I sheathed the inside of the car with the same scribed siding that was used on the outside.  I started thinking about doing a whole detailed interior.  My current thinking is to just paint the interior ” light green”.  You can see the interior framing used on the end.    The brass strips are soldered to the bolster inserts.  I will likely add a  DCC decoder for the markers.


This side view shows the interior sheathing.


The center sill was made from .020″ x .250″. The bolsters, crossbearer and crossties are replica of the prototype parts.  I will apply Archer decal rivets on the bottom plates.   The bottom flange on the centersill  is made of .015″ x .156″ styrene.   The sidesills are made from Evergreen channels.  They are applied after the ends and sides are assembled into a box.  Before applying the channels I added the interior posts and rivets.  It is much easier to do this when they are separate.

The bolster insert is from Protocraft.  I rethreaded the parts to accommodate 2mm screws.  That is a standard size for Protocraft trucks.  They will be imported a 30-ton Vulcan truck for SP cabooses.

The steps are made from .015″ sheet styrene.  I used Tichy .020″ rivet heads for the steps.  Building the steps is much easier if you build a simple jig. The treads are wood on the prototype.  I used .020″ styrene strips that I textured with a small Dremel wire wheel.  You drag the wheel across the strip.


The next picture is of the underframe showing the location of brake components and tool box.   I am trying to figure out the location of the brake cylinder so I have not installed it yet.


I will end this installment at the point of my progress.   More research is need before I proceed further.

Oh by the way, I will go back to the NP caboose soon.

Happy Trials,


MODELING: Replacement for Deleted NP Build Posts


NP 1254  Tacoma

Well, this is NP 2.0 on building a NP 24′ caboose.   I didn’t like the previous version and thought I could try to do better.

With any scratchbuilding project, you need to do your research on the model you are going to build.  Plans are essential and photographs allow a modeler to better understand.  I was fortune to enough to dig up a number of useful documents.  You can see the material below.


The drawings were published in the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association Mainstreeter magazine.   They represent a 1700 class car.  We are building a 1200 class.  Key dimensions for windows and trim are included below.

NP 1254 001The NP cabooses vary in small dimensions for the most part.  Window position varies in position and detail.


close-up-of-1324Ken Johnson’s restored caboose is an example of the railroads most common caboose during the steam era to well into the diesel era.


I will be sharing more photos of Northern Pacific cars as we go though the process.

This project started with building the car body and then the wood frame and underbody.   The basic body is two ends and two sides.  One side has a small window (WC) at the end.    The sides and ends are cut out from Evergreen 3 1/4″ siding.  I prefer .020″ thickness.  This siding is also available in .040″ thickness.   Cut  the windows out from the side sheets.  Add .060″ reinforcement to the back framing the window openings.


The end construction is slightly different.  I started by cutting the top radius in the Evergreen material.  I made a tool to allow me to cut an accurate radius on a repeatable basis.


You can find a discussion on the cutting tool in the June 23, 2015 posting.   The ends were reinforced in a similar fashion to the side.


The window openings are framed on the top and side with .015″ by .060″ strips.   The strips were topped with .015″ styrene rod before cutting to length and installing.  The window  frame is made from .015″ strips.  You can see the thin strips in the inside of the body.


Ok, we are nearly back to where we left off.  I will post one more section to complete the missing material.

Happy Trails ??


Postings Removed



I just removed the three posts on the Northern Pacific caboose build.  The project has been put on the shelf.  I am not sure if I will proceed with the model.

I am rethinking the blog direction and what content I will post.



MODELING: Little things that make the model

Many of us probably have a “bucket list” of projects that are missing something is holding you back.  I probably have a list longer than my bucket list.  Rather than bore you with the details of my list, I will share with you how I solved the problem of one part.

NPRHA Collection

NPRHA Collection

The hoops are held in-place with hardware parts called tank lugs.  They are small casting that the hoops are threaded through and held with a nut.  A typical tank has three hoop segments with three lugs.  It sounds like a simple part but so far no one has made it.  Grandt has a lug that is different

Look at the closeup of the tank below.






Look closely at the little blobs connecting the bands together.  Notice that the bands are offset by the lug.

Well I do want to build a water tank and do need this style of lug.  I have talked to a friend and he did a CAD design but printing the part is not practical at a reasonable cost.  A master could be made and have them cast in brass.  In the meantime, I played around with a couple of ideas.  The jury is out on my technique.

NP Standard PlansSo here is the drawing for a typical lug.  This one is for the Northern Pacific and from the NPRHA archives.  The hoop enters the right hole and is capped with a large nut on the far end. The left tube is where the hoop comes and is terminated with a nut.  The tubes are pitched to allow for the nut.

I was staring at a bin with nut and bolt castings.  One caught my eye.  It was MacLeod Western #N-9 1-1/2″ square head nut on a bolt.  I cut some off the sprue and placed them side-by-side to create the appearance of the prototype lug.




I bonded the bolts to .005″ styrene strip.  Once the joints are solid, I used Tamiya plastic filler mixed with MEK to allow me to paint over the parts.  Once that was dry, I sprayed the parts with Tamiya primer.  The parts were cut apart and ready for installation.

While the parts are not as good as a proper pattern or a SLA rendered 3D part.

What do you think?

Oh yes, these same parts can be used on one of these.


Happy Trails,


MODELING: Lee Turner on Chipping Paint


lt plow1

Recently, Lee Turner sent me an email with attached photos showing an impressive technique for chipped paint.   Rather than paraphrase his words, I copied the text of his email.  I have seen similar techniques using hairspray a release coat.   Lee used a product made by Acrylicos Vallejo for this purpose.

lt plow3

I finally tried the armor modelers trick, the chipping paint effect with chipping fluid. I started with a base coat of rust, first was a coat of Tamiya hull red. When that was dry acrylic tube paints were thinned and blended over the hull red using burnt umber, burnt sienna, raw sienna and yellow ochre. Always remember that rust is a variety of different tones from blue/black to bright yellow so one color for rust doesn’t work. After the plow was completely rusted it was sealed with Testors dull cote.


After drying a thin coat of “Chipping Medium”, Vallejo #76.550 was airbrushed over any area that I wanted faded and peeling paint. I used  Testors acrylic thinner to thin the fluid. Next came very thin color coats, first was a purplish grey mix, then dark faded green mixed with yellow ochre, almost a faded olive color, finally a coat of dark green mixed with white for a faded look. Dampening a small area and then working a stiff brush over it wears away the color coats a layer at the time and the chipping fluid dissolves to reveal the rust underneath. Although this was an experiment on a cheap MTH model it came out with a truly rusty look. I think this proves the point again that paint is as much of a detail an anything else.

lt plow2

The snow plow is an old MTH three-rail piece that acted as Lee’s experimental subject.   Pretty darn good for the first time around the block.

Once of the masters of modeling weathering is Chuck Doan.  I borrowed a picture of a 1/16″ scale Wayne gas pump Chuck has been working on for some time.  This shows were you can go if you work at it.


Happy Trails,



MODELING: Incredible Trees from Europe

Vine Maple in PNW Forest

Vine Maple in PNW Forest ( real scenery)

I was exploring Facebook this morning and spotted a stunning bit of modeling featured on a page.   No identification as to who did the work but the name of MBB Grove Den appeared in the corner.   A quick search turned up a website in the Netherlands.  With the help of Google I was able to translate the Dutch to English.  The company name is MBB Grove Den.  They produce trees and do custom scenery for folks in Europe.   They have a catalog on their site with pricing in Euros.



13422418_293652984305892_8262163376192550889_ologged hillside

I keep looking at the trees trying to figure out how they made them.  It is worth ordering one to see what they are made of.  The needle blanket covering the branches is very realistic.   It looks a little like some of Woodland Scenics material that has been teased out.  It could be a horsehair pad.  An English company by the name of Green Scene sells pads like this material.



I just thought that the two pictures below belong together.

FB_IMG_1472160466466wrong side

Happy Trails


COMENTARY: Stuck in Lodi Again

Lodi arch HABS

Do you remember the old Creedence Clearwater Revival song about being stuck in Lodi again?  It sort of describes my frustration of having the sale of our home fall through.  So we are back showing it to potential buyers.  Uncertainty rules the day!

Aside from the tune’s negative suggestion that Lodi might be another “jerkwater” town in the middle of nowhere, Lodi is not that town. Creedence was not a fan of their wonderful wines and quaintness.  It is now an official appellation for their wine.  They produce a number of very fine Zinfandels.  The SP, Central California Traction and the WP once served this little town in the Central Valley of California.   There are a number of interesting industries that were once served by railroads.   I have liked a number of them.


 Well, I was fortunate not to have packed everything away.  My tools and parts are still there for me to use while waiting for the next buyer to come along.

My previous posting showed a couple X23s done by Lee Turner.   The cars arrived at their owner’s layout.   They belong to Norm Buckhart of Protocraft.   His layout features many custom decorated cars done by a number of modelers.

x23 at norms

Happy Trails,