MODELING: Radial Roof


Steam era freight cars used radial roof designs as part of their construction.   Modeling a radial roof can be challenging if you are trying to accurately match the proper radius of the prototype.   Learning how to build these roof designs will open up new opportunities for you as a modeler.   I have published a technique for building up the radial shape using .010″ styrene sheets.  The technique is like making a sheet of plywood.  The binder to hold the layers together is a combination of CA and MEK or Testors (if you like in Cali like me).


Creating a consistent radius is the trick.  You can make a wood form to a special shape or find a piece of wood molding as I did.  The trim piece happen to match the radius of  Southern Pacific wood cabooses.  The radius that I tried to match 18′ 2″ of the prototype.


The key to using this lamination technique is to use double-sided tape to hold the first sheet tight to the form.  Start the lamination by bonding the edge of the sheet with MEK.  Flow a small amount of CA between the layers.  Press the top sheet down starting at the edge and moving to the non-bonded edge.  Continue to add sheets until you have the required thickness.  Clean up any CA that might flow out as you press sheets together.  Sell the edge with MEK.  Let the assembly cure overnight or so.


The picture above shows how I added a clamp to hold down the lamination as it cures. The roof mold was modified to create a slightly different radius.  The approach was not successful.  The basswood overlay did not maintain a constant radius so the roof failed to conform to the desired radius.  I will try a different approach in a couple of weeks.

The next post will cover the construction of the cupola.

Happy Trails,


MODELING: Other People’s Work (OPW)

Lets take a break from my construction projects.   I would like to share the work of other modelers.


First up is a project that I had suggested to Norm Buckhart for a decal set.  He was kind enough to do the decals for a Gibson 6-compartment wine tank car.  Protocraft has done the silver tank version in the past.  The new set is for a black tank.  It is a stunning color scheme.  The lead picture shows Norm’s new set applied to one of his PSC wine

cars.  The prototype car was a General American Transport Corporation (GATC) design.


Thank you Norm for the decal set.


Lee Turner shared some photos of a recent commission.  He built a special piece of history for a client.   The passenger car is a model of this US Army Escort car.  The Army converted a number of cars to carry armed guards for the protection of high value shipments during WWII.

The model that Lee used is a PRR passenger baggage car imported by PSC.  Lee painted and weathered the car to his usual high standards.  The Army configured the cars with bunks, kitchen and bathroom facilities.


One of the challenges of this project was to create the figures that represent the Army crew that rode the car.  Lee used 1/48 scale Tamiya Army figures.  The plastic figures were modified by repositioning limbs and building up features with filler materials.


The finished model was installed in a display case with LED lighting in the car powered for showing the interior off.   I would like to thank Lee for sharing images of his project.

Happy Trails,


MODELING: Craftsman Bungalow 3.0

I was looking at photos on my phone and realized that I didn’t post construction photos of the porch before posting last night edition.  So here are the photos that were intended to go in the previous post.


The tops of the porch railing were cut from .020″ styrene sheet approximately .250″ wide.  They look like an “L” when fabricated.  The posts are cut from .080″ square styrene.   Rather than build a complicated jig to hold the posts upright, I used the Mark 1.0 eyeball and a square block.


I taped six pieces of ;080″ square together and cut them to make sure they were uniform in length.   It doesn’t take long to do this step but one should let the glue joint become solid before playing around with the pieces.


There is a complementary piece the fit under the canopy of the porch. There are detail trim attached to the underside.  The posts will support the upper portion where the trim pieces are located.


I assembled the porch parts in a very simple jig composed of square blocks, and straight edge.  I like to work on a granite block.  I picked up the block from a kitchen store who supplied it as a sample of the stone.

Well that should fill in a few of the build details.

Happy trails,



MODELING: Craftsman Bungalow Modeling 2.0


Back on January 5th, I started construction of a classic Southern California bungalow.  You can go back and see what I did ten months ago by following this link


Last week I decided to dust off the build for a change of scenery.  Structures are a refreshing change from the precision of rolling stock construction.   All of the windows and doors are now finished and painted.  The walls were painted a cream color using Tru-Color Pullman Cream.  I contrasted the yellow with white trim.  As a person who hates to mask multi-color paint jobs, I opted to create modules based on color.


As you can see, the porch has three colors each painted separately and assembled.  The deck is green as is the first step.  The deck slides into the back of the porch assembly.  The white corner trim is made from two strip of styrene glued together to form an angle before painting. The railing and post assembly was a real pain.  It took three attempts to get it to fit properly.


The next step for me was to add the roof to the bungalow.  The basic roof is cut from .040″ styrene.  Fitting the porch extension on the roof took some trial and error to get it to work.  There is more detailing to be done on the basic structure as well as the roof.   I will cover this in future postings.



So enough of bungalows for this session.  It is starting to look like something.   The color is a bit bright so some weathering is in order.

Happy Trails,


MODELING: Part 4.0 of the SP Caboose Build


Moving right along, I decided to fit Protocraft couplers to the caboose.  The model was built with the intent to add the original San Juan Car Company AAR Type-E working couplers.  Fitting the Protocraft couplers required a few modifications to the coupler box to fit within the scale centersill.


The plastic coupler pocket was narrowed by slicing the sides off the pocket.  I attached the pocket to a .032″ by .250″ brass strip.  with the 2.0mm screws that came with the couplers.  The shank sticks out a bit to allow for the scale striker.  The striker is 4″ thick and I had to allow for the compression of the centering spring.


The brass plate will be bonded to the plastic centersill.  I will likely use CA to attach the plate.



Be Happy Drink Shiners Bock



MODELING: Part 3.0 of the SP Caboose Build + S Scale

LEAD PHOTO: Erik Lindgren for Key Models

The last two weeks have been hectic for me with little or no hobby time.  My wife has endured major surgery successfully.  Life is starting to get back to some routine.   The work I am presenting tonight was done the beginning of last week.

Two areas were worked on.  I installed the plumbing and brake rigging.  In addition, I completed adding rivets using the Archer decal product.  c-30-3-underframe  The interconnecting pipes were formed from .020″ wire.  The levers were made from brass except for the dead lever ( on the right side).  The rodding was attached to the levers with San Juan Car Company clevises.   There is a second lever on the left.  It ties the hand brakes on each platform to the brake system.


I still have to add the branch pipe connecting the trainline to the valve.

Moving onto the rivet detailing.

As I said earlier, the rivets came from Arcrivet-decal
her.  I used the 7/8″ size on the top plate of the crossbearer.  The 5/8″ size was used on the steel toolbox.  The rivets are applied like any wet decal.  Archer uses Microscale clear decal paper.  I used Microscale decal solvent to set the strips on the car parts.   I sealed the rivets with a light spray of Tamiya Super Fine Primer (comes in rattle can).

I received the following images from Paul Washburn.  Paul is a superb modeler who works in S Scale.  He is building a ATSF 3129 class Mikado.  There low driver locomotives showed up in Southern California and other parts of the Santa Fe empire.  The tender was formed from styrene.  The trucks were cast in urethane after Paul built an excellent pattern of the Commonwealth truck.   This is not the first locomotive and tender that Paul has used the rivet decals on.  He built a 1950 class ATSF Consolidation using styrene and Archer rivets.




Consider the possibilities you can create with products like Archer.   Sit down and try your hand at building something.

Happy Trails,


MODELING: Part 2.5 of the SP C-30-3 Caboose Build

Discovery is a part of this hobby. It does make a project interesting to find out things you didn’t know.   This caboose build has turned into a series of discoveries.  The most recent is that there are multiple ways the railroad installed AB brake upgrades.   Part 2.0 showed a style used on #619 and likely others.   Cabooses were converted to AB brake equipment in more than one shop.

I decided to configure my car in the way shown below.   It is my story and I am sticking to it.  Here is my final configuration below.



The little dots on the tool box and underframe are decal rivets from Archer.  It was a fun way of adding details to a model without the traditional rivet impressing tools.

A Word from Lee Turner

Double sheathed wood boxcars sometimes lack interest due to a single shade of the basic color even with the weathering accents.  Lee used a selection of similar colors premixed from inexpensive acrylic paints.   It does create an interesting effect.


The close up below shows the color variation Lee was trying to achieve.


Happy trails