NEW PRODUCTS: More Good Stuff

It seems that I forgot to ask several suppliers if they had anything new in the pipeline or available today.   Here is second posting to cover what has been overlooked by me.

Smoky Mountain Model Works has released their Southern Railway low-sided gondola kit in 1/4″ scale.  It features a one-piece urethane body like his previous AAR flatcar.  The masters were designed in 3D and printed using a high resolution resin printer.  The body is loaded with details on the top, bottom and ends.  The inside of the gondola is fully detailed.

The prototype was long-lasting and could bridge into a the diesel era.  It is available with two styles of lettering for the early black cars shown below and the red later scheme.

S scale pilot model shown

The kit can be ordered complete except for trucks.  It weighs in at about 10.5 ounces with  metal trucks attached.  It does have a weight cast in the body.  This probably will be ok on the layout byut weight can easily be added.  Visit SMMW website to get particulars on price and ordering.

Right O’Way received their first shipment of P48 track with steel rail.  This is 125 rail available from the company.   Jay Criswell is testing the market on this to see if there is significant interest in the steel version. The price is $135 for a bundle of 19 pieces which make 51.5′ of right of way.  You can also puchase a piece for $8 each.  The track is 32.5″ long which different from the usual 36″ length of flextrack.

Modern  Era O scale has a new car in the works for summer 2020 release.  It is Thrall gondola.  Like all of their kits it will feature a urethane castings and detail parts.  This model will come with a one-piece body.   No price or date for release yet.

KV Models has released some very interesting etched stainless steel parts for the Atlas O SW-8/9 diesel.  The parts are well thought out and very nicely etched.  You need to check out their website or look for them on eBay.

These parts will elevate the Atlas unit to more refined shedding some of the ugly parts done for the three-rail market.

Hopefully these new items will interest you.





NEW PRODUCTS: Just Around the Corner!

Modern Era O Scale has new kit in production currently.  They are a Soo Line 7-post 50′ boxcar and a Southern Pacific exterior post double door 50′ boxcar. These are urethane kits cast by one of the best foundries in the hobby.  Each kit includes a custom plastic hardware set for details.  Decals will be available for these cars.   You will need to bring your own trucks and couplers to finish off these beautiful cars.

Both kits will be released soon so keep an eye on Modern O Scale’s website to see the announcement.

Protocraft is expecting a new shipment of Barber 70-ton roller bearing trucks this week.  Check their website for when they are ready to ship.   This is a very popular truck for the modern era and sell out quickly.

Twin Star Cars continues to amaze with interesting new products they are preparing for the market.   Their newest eye candy is an EMD cut lever bracket found on hood units from the GP-7 to the latest locomotives.  PSC has offered this part but lacks the detail and accuracy possible via 3D design and printing.  Terry Van Winkle did a beautiful job rendering of the part and produced samples in white bronze castings for Twin Star.  The parts are starting the production process and will be out this fall.

Here are the new parts installed on a Red Caboose GP pilot.

All three items are in the pipeline and will be available soon.  Be patient and save your pennies.



MODELING: More Eye Candy from Lee Turner and Jim Zwernemann

I feel blessed to have the likes of Lee Turner and Jim Zwernemann willing to share their work with this blog.  They represent some of the finest craftsman to be found in our hobby.

Recently, Jim Zwernemann added this little structure to his P48 layout.  He created a model of the Texas & New Orleans yard office that once stood in Austin, Texas.  The model was built using styrene and painted with acrylic paints blended to match Southern Pacific Common Standard colors for structures.  The AS-616 is an Overland import that was detailed and finished by the late Jim Hickey.  The view shown below also captures part of the Mather boxcar built by Jim a new of years ago.  His friend Jim Hickey did the artwork and printed the decals using an ALPS printer.

Recently, I posted a few pictures of Southern Pacific cabooses done by Lee Turner.  He added his stamp to the models by customizing figures to fit the location on the particular car.  Lee used plastic filler to change the position of the body parts creating a unique character.

One of the recreations done by Lee are two figures that were part of the Edward Hopper titled Nighthawks.  This must have been a fun project to capture the images in 3D.

Now, the cafe needs to be built to provide the setting for these two characters.

Thank you to Lee and Jim for sharing your work with this blog.


MODELING: NP 52′ Flat Car 1.96

This week has been the “Honey Do List” week.  Not much accomplised on the flat car.  I did manage to work on the sidesills, cross ties and Stringers.

The stringers are made up of .030″x.080″ on the bottom, a vertical of .030″x.060″ and a .010″x .060″ strips.   The fit between the Cross Bearers and the bolster.  I maade a simple gauge to help with the location prior to bonding.

Once the stringers are installed, I started to make the cross ties.  The span between the sidesill and centersill.   There is a cutaway on the bottom (actually the top when the car is upright].   I used  the drawing to get the basic shape and size then layed the parts out on a sheet of .030″ sheet.  Once they are cut out, I applied top and bottom flanges made from .010″x..060″ strip.

The last item to show this edition is the sidesill preparation.   I drilled holes for all of the rivet locations and used Tichy .025″ rivets.  I also drilled the urethane stake pockets.  They have two locator pins cast on the back to help with installation.   Not this hardware is actually mounted at this step.  I want to install the sidesills before populating them with rivets and stake pockets.  The picture below shows what it will look like when I start installing the goodies.

Next installment will cover the completion of the sidesills, weight installation and assorted things.

One last photo is of a 1/4″ scale model of the Southern Pacific ferry boat Sacramento.  The model is on Norm Buckhart’s layout and will provide the key prop to the Oakland Mole passenger station.  Norm rode this ferry when he was sixteen.   After years of wanting the Sacramento  in model form his dream was realized recently.   It is nearly 7′ long and weighed 300 pounds when shipped.  Enjoy your ferry!




MODELING: Lee Turner does SP Cabooses


Pacific Limited imported the Southern Pacific C-30-1 caboose in 1/48 scale back in the 1980s.   It was probably the best rendering of this classic car of the imported SP models.  Recently, a client sent a couple of these rare models to Lee for his magic touch.   He has tried to show a recently painted car with the early 1950s lettering scheme.  The SP dropped the bar above the name in early 1950s timeframe.  At a point in time later in the decade, the railroad painted the ends Daylight Orange.   There were a few that received a bright red end paint before the orange treatment.

Lee started out with a base color of red and used a light red-brown filter to shift the tone and create a vibrant red.   The weathering is restrained to represent relatively new paint.  The SP did use black on the roofs prior to WW-II and a few cars managed to make it to the 1950s without a coat of oxide red.   Pacific Limited did a nice job on the awning brace. The railroad used that piece of hardware on three classes of wood sheathed cars.

Part of this story is about the figures used in populating these cabooses.   The old guy on the rear platforms is probably wondering where the coupler went.   The figure is an old Charles H Brommer casting that is nearly as old as Lee (exaggeration slightly).  Lee used acrylics to finish the fellows attire.

This figure started out as Hasegawa 1/48 scale figure that was reworked by Lee.

This C-30-1 was modeled after Southern Pacific of Mexico cabooses.   They apparently adopted their own painting standards by adding silver or aluminum paint to the steps.

Lee weathered the SP de M car reflecting a lack of maintenance and the effects of heat and dust on the finish.  He tried to sand the decals to give a worn look.  The effect is credible to my eye.

Here is an example of a C-30-1 trailing a long freight near Burbank.

As always, I want to thank Lee for sharing his work with us.  It is always a treat to see and share his modeling.



MODELING: NP 52′ Flat Car 1.0


Progress is being made on my latest project.   This is the start of a construction project to build a 1/48 scale model of a Northern Pacific fifty-two foot flat car.  The NP had a large number of this type of car with the following lot build dates and number:


In addition, the car was purchased for the Burlington, SP&S and Great Nothern.   Differences exist between the various Hill Lines in terms of hand brakes and lettering.


I have made some decisions on various aspects of the model construction.

  • Basic centersill and crossbears are made from .030″ styrene.  I have tried to use .020″ material but found that is not very rigid and have caused me problems in the past.
  • The centersill has been widened to increase the area for the car weight.  Flat cars are notorius for being light and having tracking problems in train service.  I noticed Jim King had done this for his 70-ton AAR flat car kit.
  • Rivets on the underframe will be Archer decal rivets.  The sidesill and endsills will have punched rivets.


I recommend you start with a copy of Railroad Model Craftsman November 2016 issue.  It has a decent scale drawing of this car.  I detected a few differences when compared to the blueprint obtained from the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Associations.  I suspected that the draftsman may have used a CB&Q or GN railroad drawing.  The RMC drawing is much easier to use given the way the railroad drawing shows only the “B” half of the car and added multiple footnotes on features used on the “A” end of the car.


I started with a full sheet of .030″ styrene and squared all sides.  I marked key breakpoints for cutting out the shape of the two girders and baseplate  I also marked the location of the crossties and crossbearers along with the bolsters.  This will aid in the assembly of the various parts in the underframe.

My little aluminum blocks are helpful when squaring up the various parts while the solvent glue sets.  I use the blue tape on the rule to keep it from sliding on the slick plastic surface.

Once the girders are cut out, it is a good idea to cut the slots for the trainline, brake levers and branch pipe (right to left).  The block is to hold a Protocraft bushing for mounting the truck.   The block is .315″ wide.  It also served a good spacer for the girders.  Mark the stryene to make sure you get the correct orientation.

Here is one of my metal blocks holding the girder upright.  The blocks were salvaged from a scrap bin at my employer.  The blocks are square on all surfaces.   They were made as spacers for an electronics rack that went into a 637 Class submarine.  End of story on the liittle blocks.

I used a little fixture to aid in the glueing operation. Crude but effective at holding the strip at a 90-degree angle.

The next step is to fabricate and install the crossbearers on the frame.  They are cut from .030″ sheet with a .030″x.080″ strip at the base.   Add slots for trainline and brake rodding as appropriate.   The shape is defined by the drawings and it must fit between the centersill base and the sidesill channels. The car is 9’3″ across the sidesills.  The centersill base is 0.50″ wide and the sidesills are built up from .030″ with a .015″ thick riveted overlay.  The sidesill is 13″ high so I made a channel shape using .25″x.030″ strip for the full length of the sill.  I built up the height with a .020″x.100″ strip attached to the bottom the top edge.  A .020″x.060″ strip was added to the bottom to create the 13″ channel.   You may think that the wall thickness is excessive but remember the car will likely weight 14-16 ounces when completed.  You don’t want a lot of flex in the sidesill.

The body bolsters were cut from .020″ sheet with a .125″x.080″ spacer to create the form  Like the crossbearer, the sides of the bolster are drawn on the styrene and cut out with a fresh single-edged razor blade.

The bolster is installed on a 14″ by 37.5″ strip cut from .030″ styrene   The 37.5″ length was determined by the width of the centersill (24″) and the sidesill base (.100″ plus .015″ for side overlay.  These dimensions produced a frame width of 9’3″ per the drawing.

The next installment will finish up the underframe and add side and endsills.




MODDELING: It’s Showtime!

After a brief pause, I am back at modeling and working on the blog.  Much to my pleasure, my friend Lee Turner primed my publishing pump with some wonderful examples of his craft.   Seeing his work always adds interest to my enjoyment of the hobby.  Hope that you feel the same way.

First off is an example on how you can turn a stock Atlas R-T-R boxcar into a beautiful and realistic model.   The car came from Atlas painted Federal Yellow (very intense) with lettering inplace.  If you are familiar with the prototype cars you know that the yellow fades badly to a pale yellow that is almost tan.    Lee managed to fade the color with a series of filters applied to the car surfaces.  Highlights around the door hardware and track really capture my eye.

Here is a shot of the prototype to show how it weathers.

This is a very credible model just with some weathering.

Natural light and a real background help create a scene that easily passes for the real thing.

As always, I am grateful to Lee for sharing his work.

So my plan was to roll out the first chapter of  a Norrthern Pacific flat car build.  A combination of circumstances has delayed the this a week or so.   I started the construction and scrapped the first couple attempts at the centersill.  I then realized that my attempt to scan and scale a builders drawing was a bust.   I used a program called Scale Print which allows you to scale a photo or drawing to one several popular scales like 1/48 and 1/32 so that it can be printed.    The program is only as good as the dimensional data that is loaded into the dialog box.   Human error strikes again.

Here is part of the Northern Pacific drawing I am using.   Drawings like this require some time to study and understand before you start wacking away at some styrene.  I didn’t do that so I generated scrap plastic and no progress.   The plan is from the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association library.

The pile on the right is scrap and one on the left is also scrap.   My fourth attempt seems to be going along ok.   The surface below the parts is a marble cheese board that was being donated to a local charity but I intercepted it.  I donated some clothing to replace the contribution.

I hope to get on with the model build this week.

Thanks for hanging around