MODELING: Little things that make the model

Many of us probably have a “bucket list” of projects that are missing something is holding you back.  I probably have a list longer than my bucket list.  Rather than bore you with the details of my list, I will share with you how I solved the problem of one part.

NPRHA Collection

NPRHA Collection

The hoops are held in-place with hardware parts called tank lugs.  They are small casting that the hoops are threaded through and held with a nut.  A typical tank has three hoop segments with three lugs.  It sounds like a simple part but so far no one has made it.  Grandt has a lug that is different

Look at the closeup of the tank below.






Look closely at the little blobs connecting the bands together.  Notice that the bands are offset by the lug.

Well I do want to build a water tank and do need this style of lug.  I have talked to a friend and he did a CAD design but printing the part is not practical at a reasonable cost.  A master could be made and have them cast in brass.  In the meantime, I played around with a couple of ideas.  The jury is out on my technique.

NP Standard PlansSo here is the drawing for a typical lug.  This one is for the Northern Pacific and from the NPRHA archives.  The hoop enters the right hole and is capped with a large nut on the far end. The left tube is where the hoop comes and is terminated with a nut.  The tubes are pitched to allow for the nut.

I was staring at a bin with nut and bolt castings.  One caught my eye.  It was MacLeod Western #N-9 1-1/2″ square head nut on a bolt.  I cut some off the sprue and placed them side-by-side to create the appearance of the prototype lug.




I bonded the bolts to .005″ styrene strip.  Once the joints are solid, I used Tamiya plastic filler mixed with MEK to allow me to paint over the parts.  Once that was dry, I sprayed the parts with Tamiya primer.  The parts were cut apart and ready for installation.

While the parts are not as good as a proper pattern or a SLA rendered 3D part.

What do you think?

Oh yes, these same parts can be used on one of these.


Happy Trails,



16 thoughts on “MODELING: Little things that make the model

    • Bill
      Good question. My plan is to build a styrene tank composed of invidual staves over a plastic form. The hoops will be .020″ styrene rods. So everything is bonded with the usual MEK or Tamiya liquid cement.

  1. Hmmm….. this could also be used to simulate bands on pickle vats for pickling stations and pickle cars! Looking forward to your reply to William’s question.

  2. Good plan. I of course was thinking nylon fishing line or wire for hoops – should of known that you would use styrene. 😆


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