MODELING: Inspiration for Modeling

Every now and then you come across a model builder who’s work is inspiring and innovative.   I nominate Paul Washburn as being just such a person.   Paul is a skilled modeler who scratch builds nearly everything he needs.  I would like to share with you his accomplishments.

When you look at the photo above it is could be an HO or O scale layout since the Southern Pacific locomotives have been imported in these scales.   What if you could not buy locomotives in your scale.  If you are Paul you just build it.  Most of us, myself included, will sit around a complain about the fact that you can’t buy something.  The way to get what you want is to build it.  It may require investing time to learn a new modeling technique but it will yield what you want.

So if you want a SP T-28 like the one on the right,  you could roll your own.  It is not impossible to do.   In fact you don’t have to build it in brass you could use plastic with some metal detail castings.



In Paul’s case he has invested the time to teach himself how to build steam locomotives with only a few basic machine tools.  Metal fabrication is nearly a lost art in our hobby.   Seeing work like this makes me want to go out a burn my fingers on brass fabrication.

Here is an under-construction shot of the T-28 boiler.  Paul’s sheet metal work is better than the Korean factories.  The domes and headlight are likely from spare parts from an imported model.

Here is an example of Paul Washburn’s versatility as a builder.  He built three SP general service gondolas from styrene.  What is amazing is the he is very fast in his work.  Jimmy Booth had told me that Paul has done pattern work for P-B-L in a few days which would have taken another modeler weeks to complete.

Paul’s story is not complete without showing you his layout.  He has managed to scratchbuild a whole roster of steam locomotives, structures and rolling stock but also a complete layout.

Overview of Paul Washburn’s layout

The layout is housed in a Tuff Shed style building roughly 14′ by 20′  It was installed on a concrete pad, insulated and a HVAC system.  Paul’s home is in the desert so basement or garage layout room are not typically an option.  Once inside the building you will not know that it might have been intended to be a garage or tool shed.

Space under the layout is utilized fully.

Paul has made good use of all the space afforded by the building while still have a railroad accessible for operation.

Modified imported C-9 with scratch built 90-R-1 tender in tow.

The scenery reflects desert southwest.  All of the track and switches were handlayed.

The SP boiler house is one of very few kits used on the layout.

The engine house was scratchbuilt following the SP design for desert locations.  The sides provide maximum ventilation and providing shade from the hot sun.

Scratchbuilt M-9 Mogul

Scratchbuilt crew locker room.

No shortage of equipment on this layout.

Scratchbuilt TW-8 4-8-0 switching at a packing shed

Paul built this tank car from brass

Layout has vignettes to catch your interest.

I want to thank Paul Washburn for sharing his photos and work.  He is a very talented builder who is also a very nice guy.  I finally met him at the past O Scale West in May 2017.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Paul models in S scale.  It is part of the reason so much is built from scratch.  My point is that it is possible to build what you want.  It won’t happen overnight but persistence will yield what you desire.

Thanks for stopping by,



13 thoughts on “MODELING: Inspiration for Modeling

  1. Gene, Paul’s work is awesome! Even though I model SP branch line operations in HO there is much to pick up from his layout.


  2. Really fine work by Paul. I appreciate his willingness and ability to scratch build what he can’t obtain otherwise. Those attributes seem to be found slipping away from us in the modern instant gratification world evolving now.

  3. Thanks Gene for the fine right up on your blog. It was a real surprise and thanks to your readers for the kind words.
    Paul Washburn

  4. Gene,
    I have seen snippets of some of Paul’s other projects on the NASG site. The following link in my favorite: Paul is a talented scratch builder in a variety of medias. Modelers like Paul, Tom Mix and yourself continue to astound me with the models that are completed and then shared to us.
    As requested by Scott above, I certainly would enjoy reading more about Paul’s methodology in rolling and fabricating boilers. Additionally I would would like to learn more about his approach to the bolts shown on his build-up boiler front as well as his method of creating rivets.
    Thank you again for your blog. I enjoy following your projects and I always like having the opportunity to view work that has been done by other modelers.
    Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas.

    • Michael
      It would be nice to see a tutorial on his boiler making techniques. There are several books written by UK modelers on their techniques. Might want to do a search.

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