Bothell, Washington is a community adjacent to the Seattle metropolitan area. It is near the northern end of Lake Washington. At one time, the Northern Pacific Sumas Branch ran through the village on its way to the Canadian border. There wasn’t a lot there even in its peak as source of traffic on the railroad. There were a couple regular shippers and small depot that housed the agent. The community to the west was Kenmore which had a log dump and a mill and to the east was Woodinville. There were several shippers in Woodinville but was also a junction with the line that ran on the east side of Lake Washington from Renton.

Many of you may be familiar with the term “LDE” or Layout Design Element. Tony Koester has long championed the concept of adding prototype-based focal points to your railroad. The LDE brings together purpose, location, era and railroad. It can say something about the terrain, industry and intensity of operations. There are my attempt to pretend that I understand prototype operation. I don’t! I have always built stuff and hardly ever ran my equipment. Mostly because of my choice to live in the not so great state of California. Homes are at a premium as you likely already know. Readers of this blog know that I do have space now but have lacked the focus to put it into play. I am starting to see a way forward in direction. Bothell is my focus currently. It will make an interesting diorama and an operating point as part of my planned railroad.

The layout of Bothell is very compact and simple. It has four switches and three customers. A moderately size feed mill, a sheet rock wholesaler and a team track with dock. The focal point is very compact depot of a non-standard design built by a predecessor of the Northern Pacific. To better illustrate the simplicity of Bothell, I have inserted a plan plot done by the railroad detailing some changes to the track in 1955. This is close to the era I model.

I am in the process of sketching out the details of track placement on module for my garage. I need to fit a 60″ radius on one end and fit in the 21 feet allocated for the scene. Stay tuned on that front.

The is a shot taken by Rick Leach showing the depot just prior to it being torn down. In fact, demolition was underway. The camera is point northwest. This not the era I intend to model but the large collection of photos Rick shared really help with planning.

This is the west end of the depot. You can see a small portion of the feed mill in the background.

This is the switch leading to the customers. Note the super elevation on the main and the spur pitching the opposite direction. This is one feature that will not make it on my scene.

The lead photo was taken by Rick’s dad in 1963. It captures much of the original characteristics of the old Northern Pacific. The classic GP-9 in its original colors of imitation gold and black long since gone from the northwestern rail scene. By the way, the depot had been rebuilt several time over its life. There are three different siding material used with shiplap on the west end and novelty on the east end. The hip roof had cedar shingles and a platform for a fire barrel. The NP adopted a sand and brown color scheme in 1943. The Bothell depot was later repainted with just the sand color.

In the early 1960s, the building was rebuilt removing the hip roof and composite shingle material.  The picture yields information on a section car set out and the classic barber pole crossing sign.

Here is a view of the opposite side of the Walters Feed Mill at Bothell.  The picture dated from 1968.  Earlier pictures show that there was a second smaller mill on the right side of the remaining building.  I don’t know when this business folded.  The whole region was rapidly changing from a rural farming area to residential.


Rick Leach’s dad took many pictures in the area having lived in Bothell and Woodinville.  Rick has shared some of these pictures of the 1940s.   The first shot of Bothell was taken before 1945 showing  ten-wheeler 1361 rolling into town. The depot was painted red and bottle green which was likely the original scheme applied by the NP when it took over the line.

It is a bit hard to see the details of this picture but the locomotive headlight had a wartime hood in place.  The depot did not have an coal shed on this end.  Rick Leach told me that logs did fall off as the trains made their way past Bothell on their way to Kenmore.

The Douglas Leach picture shown above was taken the late the 1940s after the depot was repainted and a small coal shed was added.

The year is 1947 and there was a special train movement for some group excursion.  The old truss rod steel underframe coach was used as part of the movement.  The picture shown more detail of the feed mill and the small mill structure to the left of the main building.

Bothell has a simple charm that is a manageable project.


Thanks for the checking out this posting.



MODELING: More Information on Doors

In the previous post I covered the Camel and Union Duplex door opening and closing mechanism.  I mentioned Creco hardware but didn’t show an example of it.  Let me do that and also go into an important source of Camel door hardware in 1/4″ scale.

This post-war EJ&E boxcar is equipped with Creco door mechanism on the Superior door.  Creco hardware was applied to Youngstown as well as Superior doors.

Creco hardware was used on some of the Protocraft boxcars produced by Boo Rim.  It was not sold as a separate part(s) however.

Getting back to the Camel hardware and the Chooch Enterprises #215 plastic parts.  I have annotated a picture of the Chooch part sprue showing what the hardware is used for.

The following key corresponds to the annotations on the above picture.

A. Camel Door Roller used with the lever for lifting mechanism marked as “H”

B. Bottom Hangers for door

C. Camel Door Hasp

D. Camel #32 top door door guide

E. Back Stop for door track

F. Camel Door opening and closing mechanism,  The small part on the left is the Closing Arm and the long part on the right is the Door Starter Lever.

G. Door Handles (large and small)

H. Door lifting mechanism. Allows door to move on the track.

I. Camel Door Lock for double door installation.  Used with Door Hasp (C) and a wedge that you will have to make.

J. Routing Board. Located on the lower portion of the door in the center.

K. Door Starter Fulcrum

L.  Mount for Closing Arm (fixed to carbody)

The illustration above shows a typical installation of parts I and C.  The Camel Door Lock is a “Y” shaped piece that holds the wedge to engage the hasp.

The image above shows the hardware installed on double Youngstown doors.

Here is a typical installation of Camel hardware on a Youngstown door.  Photo from Rick Leach collection.

Here is a 1932 ARA boxcar with Creco hardware installed on a Youngstown door.

Hopefully, this post will useful for freight car modelers looking to add details correctly to their models.




MODELING: Door Opening and Closing Mechanism

Steam era boxcars used a number of door opening and closing mechanisms during the wood and steel construction period. The most common was made by Camel. There are a number of other mechanism such as the Union Duplex and Creco.

The picture shown above is the common Camel type. The railroad worker is in the process of attaching a seal the door hasp. The picture below is of the same application but from a different angle.

As a modeler we are fortunate to have these parts available from Chooch Enterprises.

You can find the Camel door opening and closing mechanism on the #215 sprue. You can purchased the parts via the Chooch website. They are only available direct from them.

The 1932 ARA boxcar shown above had a Union Duplex door and opening closing mechanism. This is a type that had not been produced commercially. I did a set of patterns for a Union mechanism for a 1932 boxcar kit that never made it to prime time. The Youngstown door has to be modified on the lower corners. Also a door lock and tracks were made for the door.

From time to time, I will touch upon other topics on freight car details. Proto48 is about the getting the details right.


MODELING: Caboose End Sill and Railings.

Caboose modeling provides the modeler with lots of challenges along the path to completion.  One of those tasks is building the end beam and railing for a Southern Pacific C-30-3 wood caboose.

The end sill is a steel channel on the prototype with a combination of flat steel railing and round posts.  My approach is to use an 3/16″ styrene channel with brass wire.  There are a number of rivets on the end beam as well.  This prototype car has a steel frame even though it was sheathed with wood.    The drawing shown on the right gives the details for this car.

I have made caboose railings in the past using brass strips and wire.  I elected to go with .080″ x .010″ strip brass.  The four intermediate are made of 0.7 mm nickel silver tubing and .015″ phosphor bronze wire. This type wire has better rigidity than brass for the same gauge.

Albion Hobbies makes a large range of tubes, bars and shapes in England.  I purchased my tube pack from Amazon.  There are several dealers who sell the products in the US as well.

I made a simple fixture to hold the end beam and railing during assembly.  I used a small piece of a hardwood that I found in a bin at Home Depot.  It drills nicely and will hold the .080″ brass wire I used for bending the end of the railing.

I used .022″ brass wire for the end part of railing.  I wanted to get a repeatable bend for both ends of the railing.  The picture below shows the bending fixture I made.

I formed the flattened end with a small bench vise from an old Unimat.  The formed part was soldered to the flat metal on the top.

The four posts appear to tie together the railing assembly.  The prototype used a 1 1/2″ square nut with washer to do the job.  I recreated the appearance of the prototype by drilling out several Tichy #8037 square nut and washer.

Here is a shot of the completed metalwork on the railing.

I placed the end assembly on the car to see how it fits.  It is crooked in the picture but will be installed correctly when I am get to that step.

Thanks for stopping by.

Happy New Year!



OPINION: Scale or Gauge

There are a couple terms that have bothered me for years.  Withing the world of 1/4″ scale model railroading there are a number of gauges in use.  We have O, On3, On2, On30 and Proto48 in 1/48.  Yet some have decided that the term O Scale means two-rail and that O Gauge means three-rail.  That seems to be confusing to me.  Both two-rail and three-rail O gauge use the same 1.25″ spacing between the rails.  So why label one scale and the other gauge.  This seems strange to me.   Scale is the size (1/48) we work in and gauge is the space between the rail on standard gauge.

I suppose that it isn’t that important in the total spectrum of 1/4″ scale modeling.  Proto48 doesn’t suffer this confusion fortunately.




MODELING: Christmas Came Early

We all have our “bucket list” of projects that you intend to build someday.  I have an overflowing bucket of projects but a number have something missing that has kept me from diving into the project.  So in essence, I have managed to create a bucket list within a bucket list.  How weird!  Some would say that I have created my own barriers to not built the model.  I do this often.  There is always something I need to complete the picture.

As part of my “Just Do It” campaign, I decided to get going on a project that has bugged me for many years.   A simple part can make a difference in the completed model.  The part is a simple hinge assembly that was very common on reefers both steel and wood.  It is an assembly that allows the ice hatch to open and close along with a hinged insulating plug.

The hinge assembly is a simple yet difficult part to make.  The prospect of making eight parts per car has kept me from doing it.  I have a few Intermountain PFE R-40-10 reefer kits that have a rather clumsy representation of the prototype.

The above drawing is for a PFE wood car.  It shows the hinge assembly.  I reworked the original drawing to make the size clearer. My original plan was to make a pattern and have them cast in urethane.


The part would have some nasty undercut that will likely tear the RTV when making multiple castings.  This is the incomplete pattern but decided not to proceed with it.

During the time I was doing patterns for Mike O’Connell and his Chooch Ultra Scale II kits, I suggested that he should have Joel Berling tool it for plastic manufacture.  I offered to do a reefer or two use the part.   Sadly Joel passed away so it never reached a serious consideration.

Early this year  I met a guy who had 3D design skills and was willing to try his hand designing the part.  He was successful and the part was printed using a SLA printer.  This is the second part I had done.  The first part was a water tank lug. It turned out better than expected.

The orange colored part is the printed hinge plate.  I have installed two of them on this scratchbuilt wood reefer.  The reefer is the work of Robert Leners. The printed part is incredible. It has replicated the hardware faithfully.  I wasn’t sure that the square nuts would reproduce.  The speed in which 3D printers has progressed is amazing.  It is now possible to print parts with lettering as small as .020″ high.  That is incredible.

I had mentioned Intermountain reefers as being a project that needs a hinge upgrade.  The original part made by Intermountain is pretty crude.

Keith Jordan sent me a correction on the steel hatch type used on the PFE R-40-10 reefer.  They used a Holland Kapco design.  The part looks a little different from the modified hinge assembly I used.   Maybe I can get the correct part done one of these days.

The two pictures above show the basic assembly used on the R-40-10.

The model picture shows  the original hinge part at the top.  I cut off the kit parts and prepared the are for inserting the printed hinge.  The hatch bracket was left intact.





 I bonded the printed hinge to a strip of .010″ styrene to make it easier to position.  CA adhesives are somewhat difficult to slide a part around when setting the final location.   I did trim the tail end of the hinge to fit better and look more like the hinge used on steel roofs.


The final shot after touching up the paint. I will go back and do some weathering before calling it a wrap.

So Christmas came early as the title suggested.  I have a much needed part to move forward with multiple projects.

Hope your Christmas is fulfilling and happy.


MODELING: Inspiration for Modeling

Every now and then you come across a model builder who’s work is inspiring and innovative.   I nominate Paul Washburn as being just such a person.   Paul is a skilled modeler who scratch builds nearly everything he needs.  I would like to share with you his accomplishments.

When you look at the photo above it is could be an HO or O scale layout since the Southern Pacific locomotives have been imported in these scales.   What if you could not buy locomotives in your scale.  If you are Paul you just build it.  Most of us, myself included, will sit around a complain about the fact that you can’t buy something.  The way to get what you want is to build it.  It may require investing time to learn a new modeling technique but it will yield what you want.

So if you want a SP T-28 like the one on the right,  you could roll your own.  It is not impossible to do.   In fact you don’t have to build it in brass you could use plastic with some metal detail castings.



In Paul’s case he has invested the time to teach himself how to build steam locomotives with only a few basic machine tools.  Metal fabrication is nearly a lost art in our hobby.   Seeing work like this makes me want to go out a burn my fingers on brass fabrication.

Here is an under-construction shot of the T-28 boiler.  Paul’s sheet metal work is better than the Korean factories.  The domes and headlight are likely from spare parts from an imported model.

Here is an example of Paul Washburn’s versatility as a builder.  He built three SP general service gondolas from styrene.  What is amazing is the he is very fast in his work.  Jimmy Booth had told me that Paul has done pattern work for P-B-L in a few days which would have taken another modeler weeks to complete.

Paul’s story is not complete without showing you his layout.  He has managed to scratchbuild a whole roster of steam locomotives, structures and rolling stock but also a complete layout.

Overview of Paul Washburn’s layout

The layout is housed in a Tuff Shed style building roughly 14′ by 20′  It was installed on a concrete pad, insulated and a HVAC system.  Paul’s home is in the desert so basement or garage layout room are not typically an option.  Once inside the building you will not know that it might have been intended to be a garage or tool shed.

Space under the layout is utilized fully.

Paul has made good use of all the space afforded by the building while still have a railroad accessible for operation.

Modified imported C-9 with scratch built 90-R-1 tender in tow.

The scenery reflects desert southwest.  All of the track and switches were handlayed.

The SP boiler house is one of very few kits used on the layout.

The engine house was scratchbuilt following the SP design for desert locations.  The sides provide maximum ventilation and providing shade from the hot sun.

Scratchbuilt M-9 Mogul

Scratchbuilt crew locker room.

No shortage of equipment on this layout.

Scratchbuilt TW-8 4-8-0 switching at a packing shed

Paul built this tank car from brass

Layout has vignettes to catch your interest.

I want to thank Paul Washburn for sharing his photos and work.  He is a very talented builder who is also a very nice guy.  I finally met him at the past O Scale West in May 2017.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Paul models in S scale.  It is part of the reason so much is built from scratch.  My point is that it is possible to build what you want.  It won’t happen overnight but persistence will yield what you desire.

Thanks for stopping by,