I came across a few pictures that a worth sharing.  You may find them of interest.

Here is a view of a Northern Pacific tender deck.  It appears that the deck is knee deep in coal dust.   There are even a few weeds that have taken root in the debris.  It would be a striking addition to your coal burner.  The locomotive and tender are in the scrap line awaiting the torch.  The head end brakeman must not been too interested in doing housekeeping.

Most modelers including me tend to not put much effort into a tender.   One modeler who has not forgotten this area is Jimmy Booth.  He has applied coal to a number of the Foreground Models offered by P-B-L.  The model shown below is a Sn3 K-36 that features custom weathering by Jimmy as part of the Foreground package.  The coal is from Chama, NM and is fixed with a clear lacquer.

Coal and clinkers shower the locomotive and train.  Some stick to surfaces like the tender deck and to surfaces like the roof of brakeman’s shed.

If you operate oil burners, you have possibilities for weathering with the combination of dust, grime and spilled oil on the deck.  The oil is called Bunker C and is tar-like unless heated.  Spilled on a oil tank, the stuff hardening in the cooler weather and sticks to your shoes in the summer.

Jimmy sent me these two photos of his weathering applied to P-B-L 37-ton two-truck Shays.  The oil spill was done with Tamiya X-1 Gloss Black,  The Dixiana Shay has added debris like actual leaves ground up with a coffee grinder.  It seems that Jimmy doesn’t drink coffee. That wouldn’t work in my home.

I would be interested in learning how you might create the hardened puddles of Bunker C.

I would like to thank Jimmy Booth for his model photos and the NPRHA for the Wade Stevenson photo of the coal tender.




The 20th gathering of the annual of the Railroad Prototype Modelers just concluded in Cocoa Beach, Florida.  Each year modelers and historians gather to show off their latest work and share information via numerous clinics and informal discussions.  There is much to learned and see at these meetings.

The coverage is courtesy of several photographers who covered aspects of the event.  The pictures were gathered off of Facebook and emails.

Tony Thompson posted the above picture of the vendor sales area.  While most the hobby items are for HO, there were several photo sellers like Bob’s Photos to lightened your wallet.  Ross Dando reported that he did some serious buying at the event. Our intreped reporter, Ross Dando, managed to take a picture of his own models including his Twin Star Cars flatcar. He sold out of kits at the event.

Ross was all over Jim Zwernemann’s fantastic display of his Proto48 models.  As you can see, Jim built a display rack to better show the models on the low tables.

As you can see, Jim loves cabooses and has built some incredible cars over the years.  The most recent is the Penn Central transfer caboose.   We have posted most of these models on the blog in the past.  You can do a search on Jim’s name to see more of his work.

Jim built this Rock Island caboose using a San Juan Model Company boxcar kit as a starting point.

The Proto48 community was well represented with gentlemen pictured below.   Front to the back they are:

James Lincoln, Ross Dando, Harz Sondericker in purple, Jim Zwernemann and Jon Cagle in the back.

Dave Hussey shot this picture of Ross, Jim and Jon.  It is titled the “Three Musketeers”.

Check out the Railroad Prototype Modeler event calendar website.   You will see that there are events scheduled around the country.   I recommend you attend an event.






MODELING: Bull Moose!

Certain machines get labeled with names of creatures from the animal kingdom.  Bull Moose is a name that conjures up a vision of a large beast with a rack of horns.

That is a Bull Moose of the animal kingdom and the picture below is the Bull Moose of the locomotive kingdom.   It is a 2-8-8-0 built by Alco in the teens and rebuilt by the railroad in 1937.   The Union Pacific rostered these monsters as helpers on Sherman Hill in Wyoming and other areas where helpers were required.

Not the most attractive locomotive to grace the Union Pacific roster.

Lee Turner applied his incredible finish to one of these beasts.  The model is an Overland brass import.   It arrived in Lee’s shop in need of repair prior to finishing.

Lee’s finished the model to represent a locomotive that has been in service for a while and has accumlated a good coat of grime.   Areas like the firebox and running gear reflect the mark of heavy service.

From any angle the Bull Moose is an animal.

Lee did some serious body and fender work on this Weaver Northeastern caboose. He replaced the four side windows with two new windows and total replacement of of the platform steps.  The conversion takes on the look of a Magor-built car.   The model was finished with paint, lettering and weathering.   Lee’s dad worked for the Detroit Toledo and Ironton.  The model has personal meaning to him.   The DT&I was once owned by Henry Ford and served as a raw material conveyor belt for the auto maker.

As always, I am grateful to Lee for his contribution of images and narrative.   It is rare to find a custom builder of Lee Turner’s calibre who is willing to share his work.

Hope you enjoy the material.


MODELING: Fresh Paint

We have focused on trying to convey the well weathered look on our rolling stock.  In some cases new cars were delivered to railroads and stayed fairly clean for a while.  I foud this picture on the web last week and thought that there were some interesting artifacts on this new car.

It is rare to find a color picture from the wartime era.  This photo was taken by Bill Wolverton.  Even though the car is relatively new there are subtle effects like grime on the rivet lines and on the door panels.   The shine is just about gone from the sides. The trucks look very clean with little road grime.

The car was built to the AAR 1937 design.  It was built by Pullman in 1941.  It was equipped with wood running boards and Ajax hand brake equipment along with 8-rung ladders on a 10′ interior height.   The railroad bought cars from AC&F that came with black ends and possibly a black roof.

This photo shows that a new car can blend in with well used equipment.


MODELING: A Visit to Sonoma

My wife and I spent a couple days in Napa and Sonoma. We enjoying some exquisite wines and good food with family.   I was able to break a way for a few hours to visit Norm Buckhart.  I delivered the recently completed Rock Island Fowler Clone to Norm.  He seemed to be pleased with the model.  A few days later Norm sent these photos taken on his massive P48 railroad.

Norm took a few pictures showing the car along with other models built by Jim Zwernemann and me.  The SP mogul switching these cars has a bit of history as a victim of the Sonoma Fire of 2017.  Norm found the model buried in debris from the fire that burnt part of his layout room.

Errol Spangler took this mess and restored it to its original appearance.   Norm said that it is a smooth runner.  That is a remarkable bit of work.

Key imported these E-7 diesels a few years ago.   Norm’s locomotives were converted to P48 with DCC and sound added.

I was able to get a few pictures of Norm’s newest centerpiece.   It is the 1/4″ scale Southern Pacific ferry boat Sacramento.  The model is stunning and massive.  Norm has a few large marine models on his layout but this one is the premier ship on the layout.

The model recreates a ferry that Norm once rode as a teen.   The SP fleet operated on San Francisco Bay between the Oakland Mole and the Ferry Building in San Francisco.  Ferries were removed from service in the late 1950s reflecting the loss of ridership and the ending of  passenger train service at the Oakland Mole. The Oakland Mole was the Southern Pacific’s prinicpal long-haul passenger station built on the edge of the San Francisco Bay.  This partial view of the Mole shows a smoke stack from a docked ferry.

Norm is constructing the train sheds to the left of this picture.  That will be a sight to see.

I enjoy visiting Norm’s layout.  There is always something new to gaze upon.


“PS” the top photo is of the Sonoma City Hall decorated for the season.

MODELING: Rock Island Fowler Clone Completion

I am wrapping my rebuild of a San Juan Model Company Fowler Clone boxcar.  Paint and decals were applied.  I am just about finished with the weathering.  Hopefully, I will be able to deliver the model this coming weekend.

I used decals from Protocraft and Rick Leach.  I was trying to represent a car as it appeared in 1947 or so.

Weathering was done with acrylic washes along with oil paints.  There are several layers applied to build up the color and effect.  A final flat coat will be applied this week.

This was a fun build since only a new roof and running board was added to the basic kit.  There were other changes made to the basic car such a sill steps added angle appled to the doors and different brake wheel.  You can go back and see the previous posts that described the construction process.

Now on to my next project.  Tune in to see what the project I will tackle.



NEW PRODUCTS: Two Interesting Products

From time to time I try to show a few new materials and tools on my blog.  The items shown below are new to me even if they have been around for a while.

First up is a new flush cutter that works for brass or phos bronze small gauge wire and plastic sprues.  The tool is being offered by P-B-L and is identified as P-B-L-843ex.  The tool is Swiss made and modified at P-B-L.  The tool is expensive at $44.95 but really is  beautifully crafted with comfortable padded handles.  I tried it out on a few tasks and found that it cut wire smoothly with a lot of control.  I recommend you try this wonderful cutter.


The tool can be purchased direct from P-B-L at their online catalog.





The next item is an acrylic paste made by Ammo MIG.  It is intended to simulate concrete for various projects on your layout.

I purchased a container on eBay from Burbank Hobbies.  The product is a thick liquid with the consistency of thick pancake syrup.  I tried it out on a mockup of a concrete wall section.  The material was applied with a wide brush follwed with a metal rod that allowed me to level the surface.  The Ammo MIG concrete dries fairly quickly in an hour or so.  The texture turned out the somewhat coarse but it might be a good material to create a stucco surface.  I like the texture for this application.  I tried to to float a thin coat of the material on the surface.  It did fill in some of the irregularities from the original application.

I will try sanding the material to see what happens.  Being an acrylic material, it can be tinted with an acrylic paint to create the look of older concrete.  I will continue to play around with this product to what can be done.  The large container sells for $12.95 plus shipping.  There are a number of online sources for AMMO Mig products.

That’s all for now.