MEETINGS: 2023 March-O-Meet

The annual March-O-Meet was just held in Lombard, IL.  This show has been the prermier event in 1/4″ scale two-rail for many years.  I suspect it’s popularity and draw allowed it to survive a change in management and COVID. This year attendance was strong with lots of sellers and buyers to honor the tradition of an scale model railroading “flea market”.

Norm Buckhart reported that 317 vendor tables and 37 display tables were needed to support the show.  He didn’t have an attendance total at the beginning of the show but commented on the crowds in the showroom.  I want to thank Norm for sending the pictures.

An important aspect the meet is to see old friends and meet new ones. The picture below shows Rod Miller at the head of the table with Norm Buckhart on the right and Dick Harley on the left.  Tradition has it the head of the table picks up the check.  How about that Rod?

As part of March-O-Meet judged model contest are included.   Our good friend, Jim Zwernemann, is a frequent entrant and winner. This year he took first place in Caboose, Maintenance of Way, and Freight Car.  We have featured two of the winning cars on this blog.

First place was awarded to Jim for ths scratchbuilt caboose.  Jim built it as a memorial to his late friend Frank Peacock.

The first place winner in Maintenance of Way that we recently featured in the blog.

The first place was award with given to Jim for this boxcar.  It is a Mullet River Model Works kit composed of plywood and etched metal details.  The kit assembly is first rate but the finish is outstanding.  The variation of shading and color intensity on each board elevate this model to a superior level.

Jim Zwernemann continues to amaze me after all these years.  Keep building man!


Gene  Deimling



MODELING: Tribute Modeling

I would guess that most of us have come across a person who has left a lasting impression upon you.  Jim Zwernmann felt that way about Frank Peacock who was a friend and astute historian of railroads.  Sadly we lost Frank in December 2021.  Frank gave some of his massive photo collection to Jim before passing.  Recently Jim decided to build a car that both Frank and he admired.  It is a St.Louis Southwest (SSW) work caboose.   The car appears to be a cutdown boxcar that might have been used in wrecker service.

I think you can see how it might appeal to modelers and historians.   Jim decided to build the car for his collection and as an entry in the annual O Scale event in the Chicago area.  He has collected a number of first place and best of show awards participation in the March Meet contest.

Here is an overall shot of the scratchbuilt car.  Like most of Jim’e cars, this was built from styrene almost exclusively except for trucks and couplers.

This shot gives you a sense of the construction approach.  Adding grain effect to the styrene creates the illusion of old wood found in vintage cars of the the era. Precision and neatness are hallmarks of Jim’s modeling.

The underrame is typical of wood frames with truss rods to support the load.  Since there weren’t any detailed photos of the prototype available, Jim built a tradiitonal style using designs common in the early 1900s.


Here is the completed car in Jim’s P48 layout.  The angle showns the interesting pattern of weathering on the metal roofing.

Thanks for stopping by and seeing Jim Zwernemann’s Proto48 modeling.

Gene Deimling

MODELING: Superior Boxcar Doors

Superior doors are relatively easy to build using strip and sheet styrene.  Our ability to create a highly detailed model have been greatly enhanced by Sarah Griessenbock’s release of Superior door hardware 3D files on her Train Kitchen


Basic door hardware including the door stop and guide locks.  The right side corner piece is missing from the photo.

The picture shown above illustrates a typical Superior door design found on AAR 1937 boxcars. Make sure you consult pictures on the location of the tack board and spacing of the upper ribs.  A change was made on the door design when the builder realized that the tack board was too high to be reached by railroad employees.

The above shots illustrate the point of how the tack board was moved down.  Not the spacing has changed in the upper panels.

The basic door uses a sheet of .020″ styrene as the platform.  The framing is made up of the following strips:

.030″ x .040″ side and top frame

.030″ x .060″ fror the horizontal ribs

.010″ x .030″ flange below the ribs.

Test install door hardware shown above

A key part of the door appearance is the track  I used a .020″ x .060″ strip supported by supports made from .010″ x .100″ strip bonded to a .020″ x .060″ strip.  I used a small mitre box to uniformly cut to length.

I mounted some of the printed hardware to the assembled door and track  The release handle was put in place for the picture without trying to center thr part.



I came across a much-improved version of the tradition Xacto knife.  It is made by Zona  in the USA.  The handle has a softer barrel with and knurled nob on the end that tightens the chuck holding the blade.  This is a huge thing for me since I find the old Xacto chuck loosens too easily allowing the blde to drop out.  You probably recognize the name of Zona.  They make high quality hand saws and have been around for  long time producing quality tools.  I spotted the tool on a Narrow Gauge Modeling Company posting.  The prodcut is widely available. Give it a try.


Protocraft has released eleven new decal sets.  On the sets is perfect for the CGW ARA boxcar project.  Take a look.


MODELING: More Lee Turner Magic

Over the years, Lee Turner has shown a wide range of topics and models.  I received a few shots of that represent his variety of modeling.  The flat car represents a heavy duty car with a load of “vessel heads” or tank ends.  Lee obtained the ends by cutting the bottom out of an aerosol can (empty of course).   The dunnage and tilt of load will catch your eye on any layout.

Here is a Renwal/ Revell plastic Model T roadster kit that Lee modified into a work truck.  He sawed off the trunk and built the wood bed and sides.  Notice the subtle details Lee adds to help sell its realism.  The license plate and tail lights finish off the model.  The figure is resin military model that was modiied to create a unique “person”.  The dog is actually  1/32 scale casting that Lee used to create a miniature of his own pet.

The following pictures of a work-in-process model of a 1932 Chevrolet Tudor.  The model is being created out of a Renwal roadster kit that is exceedingly rare.  The kit provied the frame, fenders, wheels, hood and doors.  The black parts are the kit and the white styrene is all new.  Lee did an exception job on the body including the belt rail and decorative ribbing. The door panels are well defined suggesting individual parts rather than scribed line.

Last but not least is Lee’s rendering of a salt flat racer and push truck.  The model are 1/25 scale and aircraft model wing tank and V-16 motor for the racer.  The 1948 sedan delivery is a slightly modified 1948 Chevy Sedan Delivery.  Very cool?

Thank you Lee for sharing images of recent work.


NEW PRODUCTS: A Few Good Things & Wood!

It is always interesting to discover that a new source for decals in 1/48″ scale.  The decals are for Western Pacific GP-7 and GP-9 locomotives. The Western Pacific has small following of devoted fans that will be happy to see decals being made available. The source is Bill Kennedy who is a HO Western Pacific modeler. He does his art work using a graphics application and prints them using a laser printer.

Here is the decal set which includes the white and black stripes.


Black and white strip decals.  The sets sell for $15.00 and include shipping.  You can contact Bill directly to order sets.  He uses PayPal for payment.

kenfamily2 at gmail . com


Dan Dawdy has released new grab iron ends that are 3D printed.  He added two new styles used on caboose curved grab irons.  One type is for a rivet application on steel cars and the other is with square nuts and bolts for wooden cars.  In addition to the caboose hardware, he does produce a riveted and bolted style for use on frieght car grab irons.  The parts are very clean and come with a .015″ pin on the backside to help with securing the part.  Dan used a form of nylon resin to print his parts.  It is flexible and resists breakage.

Go to  Model Railroad Resource 3D Division

The top part is the riveted style with the bolted version below. As a reference, there is an old Grandt Line part attached to my caboose.

Here is a shot of the single bolted grab iron end avilable from Dan.

Plastic to Wood

I used to make my running boards from stripwood.  The end product wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.  Dissimilar expansion coefficient between wood and plastic or resin caused the boards to become separated from the car.  I switched to styrene found a more stable material.  The challenge became a finishing method to look like wood.  Recently, I tried a slightly different technique using readily available paints.  AK Interactive sells a weathering kit for finishing plastic to look like wood.

I combined this with a oil-based black color sold by Ammo would allow me to apply dissimilar paints without diluting the acrylic layer.

Here is my approach.  Evergreen styrene strips were cut abd assembled into the running board and laterals.  I did apply distressing the top surface using a fine wire brush and a #11 blade.  The boards were cut a length shown on a drawng.  The joints are always situated above running board supports.  The running boards were attached to the roof using plow bolts which have a slightly domed top. They appear to be countersunk.  I similuate this by drill a shallow hole with a .030″ drill.  Weathering will bring out this detail.

The running boards are temporarily placed on the roof.  It shows off the bolt detail and the distressing of the styrene.

The painting process starts with a gray primer like the one provided in the AK kit.  Once that is hardened i apply the Cork color using a distilled water and touch of dish soap to break surface tension.   You want to create a “blotchy” look.  I applied a thin wash of black oil paint to highlight the grain and bolt heads.  The gray and cork colors can create the appearance of replacement boards installed by the railroad.  It is best to go lightly with the these colors and go back and apply a second wash to augment the look.

So that was a short technique you might want to try on your next car project.




MODELING: 1/48 Railway Express Agency Truck


Sylvan Scale Models has announced the production of a series of 1/48 scale trucks cast in resin.  The initial offering is a 1937 Studebaker Railway Express Agency truck.  The kit comes with correct decals for REA.  It will be released towards the end of January. Check their website for price and availability.

This will be a welcome addition to the 1/4″ scale market.  In addition to this model Sylvan is preparing two additional models based upon the same 1937 Studebaker COE.  The first will be a highway tractor version of this COE with a 20′ closed trailer modeled after an Edwards single axle with a round nose.  They will be including decals of decoration it in Railway Express livery.  The second will a 12′ grain body to fit on the Studebaker chassis.  These kits are very close to release so keep your eyes peeled.

Here are a couple shots of Studebaker COE that I found on the web.

This COE highway tractor made it all the way to New Zealand.

This is really exciting news.


I have been hacking away at my own REA based upon a 1948 Ford chassis with a 158″ wheelbase.

I was caught by surprise by the Sylvan announcement that appeared in the current issue of O Scale Resource.  Mike George commented about how sometimes a model is released just about when you are finishing up your own scratchbuilt effort.

Before UPS, FedEx and Amazon, the Railway Express Agency provided a shipping service to shippers and consumers for small packages.  Railroads carried the packages and company trucks provided the pickup and deliver.  REA trucks were destinctive in their green and red livery with silver roofs.  The body styles varied reflecting different manufactures.  The bodies were fitted to a chassis supplied by a truck manufacturer. Chevrolet, Ford, Studebaker, International and others

I have wanted to build a model of this classic part of the railroad scene.  I tried twice before and finally got it figured out this time I hope.  Better information and a source of the front end portion allowed me to mqke some progress.

This picture allowed me to scale some basic dimension of the body.  The document shown below provided the chassis wheelbase available for custom body and cab designs.  The school bus chassis is likely the one used,  I used the 158″ chassis for the REA conversion.

I started the build with a chassis from an old Revell 2-ton Chevrolet.  The kit chassis was modified to fit the 158″ wheelbase.

Here is the modified Revell chassis. The kit has recently been re-released by Atlantis Models.

This is a comparison of my very first attempt to build a REA truck.  It was undersized by my perspective.  Scratchbuilding can be an iterative process when lacking scale plans.

The front end of my REA truck was sourced from a Menards diecast 1/48 panel delivery.

I will be finishing up this model and the 1923 ARA  steel boxcar very soon.  High humidity has given my compressor fits with water condensation appearing as I spray.

Happy New Year!


NEW PRODUCTS: Protocraft’s New 41-ND Truck & Glenn Guerra produced SW-1

Protocraft has introduced a new Proto48 passenger car truck.  The  Budd Company’s 41-ND disk brake passenger truck.  8’-6” w.b., single-pointed 36” steel wheels, ball bearings, fully equalized, removable keepers, all-brass, in black or silver – a very accurate model built in Korea by Boo Rim Precision, using Edw G. Budd Co. factory plans dated April 1946.   $149.95/pr

Glenn Guerra is preparing to offer a much sought after EMD SW-1 switcher.  This will be the third domestic brass locomotive to enter production.

He is working on a SW-1 Phase 3. The trucks will be first. There are 36 casting and 4 etchings in each truck. The model will be an etched brass.
Here are some drawings. Next week patterns will be started for the trucks so Glenn can do the waxes and send them out to Valley Brass and Bronze.  for casting as well as the parts for the pickups. The black parts in the truck drawings will be printed in a nylon resin.
That is the latest on new products.

MODELING: Swift Meat Plant


One of my favorite modelers, Jim Zwernemann, created a model of a Swift meat processing plant that once existed in Austin, TX close to the Southern Pacific depot.  The lead photo was taken by Jim Hickey and came from the Frank Peacock collection. Fortunately Jim Zwernemann obtained a copy after Frank’s passing.

In it’s prime Swift & Company had regional plants all over the country in small to medium cities.  Another example of the smaller facilities shows up on the photo below. It was taken in Sacramento, CA very close the SP passenger station.  The timeframe of this picture is in the the 1958 period.  SP 1744 was likely in town for a excursion out of Davis to Knight Landing.

Here is Jim’s model of the Austin plant.  It was built with minimal depth to allow it to occupy space in the back of the scene.  The principal material used is styrene. The wall has a plastic brick laminated to the styrene.  Jim found the brick material and thought it might work for the Swift plant.

The overall effect is eye-catching based on the colors and basic design.  Other Swift structure that I have seen were a deep red but I must say I like the white and contrasting red band.

Jim’s work is impeccable craftsman which is visible in this image.   The windows were built from individual pieces of styrene.  The curved frame was difficult to fit into the opening according to Jim. The addition of the downspouts and vent pipe create interest in the wall.

The lettering and color band are the key feature.  Jim created the lettering using a hand-cut stencil.  It was a tedious process.  Jim managed to capture the lettering style of the original building.  It is a different font than used on their classic reefers.

The blanked out the windows are a nice feature of the prototype building. Jim captured the look of bricked over window openings.

Jim needs to build a classic Swift reefer.

Thank you Jim for sharing your work.



Getting back to the 1923 ARA boxcar build with this posting.  This edition will show the details that I applied to this rebuilt Atlas ready to run X29 import.

A new 3D printed grab iron end was used to detail the body.  The parts are shown below.  Dan Dawdy decided to create his own version and is offering them.

Since the last posting, Glacier Park Models decided to create a plastic version of the grab iron ends.  They are offering four sprues for $5.00 plus shipping.  The best way to contact them to purchase the parts is by emailing Jim Booth at

The plastic parts are much easier to add eo plastic models using liquid styrene cement or MEK. The parts have asmall pin on the back side which can be used to locate the part.

If you prefer the 3D printed parts you can go to this https//

The alternate rivet pattern was applieed using Archer decal rivets.  In addition I used their rivet decals along the lower edge of the patch panels and on either side of the door opening.  The rivet decals should be applied towards the end of construction since they are fragile.

The car B end requires some effort to install the necessary details.

The Ajax brake wheel is a PSC plastic part with a gearbox from Grandt and the fulcrum from an old Chooch set.  There are other sources available as you may know.

I used a set of Delrin sill steps left over from a Des Plaines Hobbies X29 kit.  It turns out that they still have these in a set that includes ladders.  The Atlas running board is resting on the roof to see how it looks.  It is a bit thick (.050″) compared to a more scale thickness of .030″  Not sure what I am going to do with this part.

The next step will be to paint the model and add decals.  I reached out to Doug Harding who is a fan of railroads like the Chicago Great Western and others.  He provided me with a PDF which offered recommendation for paint colors.

George Toman prepared a presentation for the 2017 RPC describing the construction of a CGW 1937 boxcar.  The presentation outlined paint choices and that the roof and underframe were covered with Texaco car cement (black) and the running boards were unpainted.

The following is a direct lift from George’s presentation:

The color for the 4 paints would reasonably match a medium red-brown such as Tru-Color Paint TCP-188, 193,197 (they are the same). This color was commonly used by numerous railroads in the mid-1940s-1950s, such as SP, Seaboard, NP, MP, NYC, WP, IC, RI, RDG. The color is for a new car and does not take into account any “scale factor” or subsequent weathering effects.
The Pullman bill of materials for paint specs start by instructing “Laps & Joints” of the roof and underframe to receive car cement. The car cement was Texaco black car cement.
Later instructions denote one coat of car cement on the underframe as well as one coat “Stibloy” and one coat of car cement. Also one coat of black paint on the trucks. The sides and ends were to receive either Glidden or DuPont Freight Car Red (75 cars each). No mention is made about painting or not painting the running boards. (I don’t know what “Stibloy” was, but it’s relatively unimportant since it was covered by the car cement.

That is all for this posting.






MODELING: Lee Turner’s Latest Vehicle Modeling

Here is an innovative conversion of a Tamyia 1/48 military vehicle kit.  Lee took a WWII German SS-100 heavy tractor and converted it into a Federal straight van.

You can compare the stock Tamiya vehicle to the conversion and what Lee did to the kit.  The kit frame was lengthened to a longer wheelbase to accommydate a reasonable sized box body.  He used the fenders and running board from a 1/43 pickup.  The Tamiya cab was truncated behind the from door.  The headlights were salvaged from the diecast model.

Lee added a open windshield to create a early “air conditioning” ventilation.   The truck lacks mud flaps since the few trucks required them up as late as 1954.

The combination of tuscan red and yellow lettering/striping creates a period look to my eye.  Lee is a fan of Frank Ellison’s Delta Lines early O scale railroad.  One of Frank’s prominent industries was Richmond Packing.  Lee created a tribute to a pioneer railroad/modeler who incorporated a number of new concepts in 1/4 inch scale.

Thank you Lee for sharing your creative modeling with the readers of my blog.


As a postscript to this story, I went on eBay and bought one of the Tamiya kits to try my hand at a conversion like Lee’s.