About gene48

I am a retired marketing professional. I do professional model work for kit makers. Over the years, I have done kit masters for Des Plaines Hobbies, Chooch Enterprises and Southern Car & Foundry. My favorite modeling medium is styrene. I have been an avid builder for many years. Model Railroading has been a life-long interest. My particular interest is in Proto48 which is a subset of O scale (1:48 scale). I have tried HO, American Flyer, On3, S scale and Sn3 before settling on Proto48. In addition to this blog, I have a discussion group @ Yahoo and a website called the Proto48 Modeler.

NEWS: Protocraft Survives the Wine Country Fire Storm

California has been experiencing one of the worst fire seasons in modern times.  Tragedy struck the popular and populated area of Sonoma and Napa Counties.  We have lost over 7000 homes and forty plus souls.  Our friend and Protocraft founder, Norm Buckhart, has gone through a horrible fire storm that struck Sonoma where he lives.  Norm and his wife live close to the hills near the town center.  Lots of trees and wild grass.  His home and shop stood thanks to an incredible effort of dedicated fire fighters of Sonoma.  They fought a close encounter that consumed his wife’s art studio and 30 year collection of art.  The home’s stucco exterior was overheated by the flames.  His garage which contained some of prized autos and his layout underneath.   Some damage was done by the fire.  Repairs will be needed.

Fortunately, both escaped without injury. they evacuated late Friday night and set up shop in the City.  There will be lots to do and keep Norm busy.  Recovery for all of the wine country will be very slow due to a shortage of trades people and the usual red tape of insurance companies and city regulations.

Norm told me that Protocraft is still in business and will be able to ship products just like before the fire. You can order via his website and mail will be processed via the listed address P.O. Box 21 Vineburg, CA 95487.  Norm will be receiving production 53′ 6″ gondolas and new trucks very soon.  Don’t miss out.



MODELING: More Trucks and a few new products

As I said last week, I continue to build things. My focus is to finish up projects and to do a few odd jobs.  I managed to decal and weather the other side of Glacier Point Models pilot model.

I was in my local Hobbytown store and came across a new  product (to me).  It is paint pen made by Gundam (all the instruction on the tube are in kanji) The marker is called Real Touch Markers.  They are available in a number of basic colors. The paint is an acrylic which should blend nicely with other acrylic paints like Vallejo or Tamiya.

The markers have two different tips in one pen. The tips are a harder material and have a nicely defined tip.  I bought a gray pen and used it to fill in a grill area and step on my White truck project.  I like the product and imagine that will be very useful.

The next product I saw on Facebook and it is a textured rust acrylic paste.  It is made by Acrylicos Vallejo.  I tried it on my truck’s muffler.  The texture is very realistic.  It looks like old steel that has a heavy and coarse layer of rust.

I purchased the texture paint from Amazon rather than online hobby shops that want a bunch for shipping.

My next posting will cover this White truck conversion.  It was built by a well-known modeler who did this project as a diversion from his professional efforts.  The finished model is incredible.

Thanks for stopping by,



OPINION: Sunday Morning Wandering

Jim Fredrickson Photo from NPRHA Collection

I like to get up around 0700 hrs. on Sunday and enjoy a cup of Peets coffee with my Pixel XL (smartphone). Invariably, I will find railroad things that intrigue me. That kicks off a process of doing some searching to discover more about the topic of interest. I start rationalizing how I can change prototypes and/or scales to follow this idea. The bane of the modern smart phone and applications like Google Search is that you can gather a great deal of information and pictures to flesh out my latest scenario of the moment.

Somewhere close to church time, I snap to my senses and realize that I am 72 years old and don’t see how I can really do such a radical shift in direction. I have become obsessed with actually finishing projects of late. I would like to have something to show for a lifetime in this hobby. Not sure that anyone will care if I do or don’t but I care.

Casting about for many years following various themes, I have frittered away much of my modeling life. Much of the time was spent working in the Chooch and SC&F foundries making kits. Some of the cars were things I still enjoy owning today. Don’t get me wrong but I have amassed a decent collection of “keepers”. I still have a bucket list and interest in adding to the list.

While I did spend a lot of time with pattern work, it yielded benefits of extra parts to do some projects on the bucket list. The real frustration that I feel is with waiting and planning my journey around promised parts and models that have not shown up. I wrote something a while back about the Nike marketing phrase of “Just Do It”. Well, I still don’t seem to follow my own advice. I keep hoping for the little nuggets to show up.

One thing that I have come to realize is that the path less traveled is my calling in the hobby. Whether is it S scale, Proto48 or railroads like the Lackawanna, Soo or Northern Pacific beckon me to follow. I have modeled the SP in P48 for years but find that I have done the comfortable me-to route. It is a comfort zone for someone who has lived in Cali for most of their adult life. While I keep looking at another railroad but may never realize it within my modeling years.

The one thing that keeps disrupting my train of thought (pardon the pun) is S scale. Between the postings of Trevor Marshall on his blog or the latest email from Paul Washburn showing his newest project. While the allure of a fresh start is strong, I am reminded that I am an old guy and don’t have the amount of time needed to move to a new scale. Each time I go off on this journey I am reminded that all the neat stuff I enjoy in Proto48 is not to be found in this scale. I do have history in 3/16″ scale. I dabbled in it around the late 1960s with the help of a kind gentleman. In the early 1980s, I jumped in when a number of brass models were imported. I bought several locomotives and cars. About the same time, Intermountain tooled a 1937 AAR boxcar. I saw a test casting and decided that is the key to getting back into 1/4″AAR (P48).

Paul Washburn’s S scale C-9

So, the tug of war continues but model building continues at a decent pace.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings.


MODELING: Junction City, Wisconsin by Robert Lener

Depots built at junctions seem to be common in the Midwest. I have seen pictures of many depots located at crossing of different or the same railroads.  If you look at a map of railroad lines in the 1940 you will see many lines intersect each other.  Some of these crossing hosted depots to serve passengers and shippers.  As a long-time fan of the old Model Railroader magazine, I became familiar with many of these unique depots.  Railroads like the Nickle Plate Road, C&NW, Milwaukee Road, Monon and Soo had many depots at crossings.  The depot shown above was at Jefferson Junction, Wisconsin.  It served two different C&NW lines.  Followers of Paul Larson writings will recognize this depot. Robert Leners  is a huge fan of Larson and built a number of his projects including this depot.

The model was under construction in the above view.  He located his model at a junction much the same way Larson did on his Mineral Point & Northern.


Getting back to Robert’s latest build on the Soo and Milwaukee Road at Junction City, Wisconsin. The model is a work-in-progress story. Robert is using styrene as his principal material. He did a few interesting things to more accurately represent prototype construction. The Soo Line Historical Society sells drawings for Junction City making the build a little simpler.


These two prototype photos were taken by Robert of Lake Junction towards the end of the structure’s life. It was a popular spot for railfans and modelers for many years.



The photos below was taken while the Milwaukee Road still had passenger service in the northern part of Wisconsin.



The model is based upon a set of drawing that Robert purchased from the Soo Line Historical and Technical Society. Armed with these drawings and photos he had taken, Robert dove in.  He decided to use Evergreen lapped siding for the basic walls.  However, the prototype photos show that the window trim was at the same level as the siding.  Robert’s solution was to plank the Evergreen siding.   You can see how the siding butts up against the window trim.  Robert made the window trim following the drawings and photos. I have wondered how to do this in the past and like this approach to building this type of structure.

The above view illustrates the siding in cream and the white space where the window fits in.


I will break the story at this time waiting for more progress to be made.

Thanks for stopping by



MODELING: Kitbashing a Truck Part 2

Dave Sarther made a good point about the fact that the Revell kits don’t come with “glass” for the windows.  You are left to your own devices.  He elected to try to vacuum form a windshield for the Revell pickup kit.  He formed a wood block to the shape of the screen.  Styrene was pulled over the form to create the basic shape.  The part was trimmed to fit and set in-place.

The more modern wrap-around windshield makes it necessary to do something like this.  The White cab windshield is more or less flat so I didn’t need to take this step.

The bed measures 8′ wide by 19’3″ long. The bulkhead is 52″ high.  The side sill is 5″ thick.

The wheelbase is 18′.  The frame extends out from the cab back wall by 20’2″.

Thanks for stopping by,



MODELING: Kitbashing a Truck

I wanted to pursue a diversion from freight car building for a while.  Over the years I have been collecting plastic and metal kits for 1/48th scale vehicles. So might as well try my hand on building up a truck using parts from one of my kit collection.

I reached in the bin and pulled out an old Revell gas truck kit.  The kit dates back to the 1950s with recent production coming from Germany. I have always liked the White 3000 Cab Over Engine (COE) in the kit but thought about making it into a flatbed truck for haul things like cut lumber or fruit lugs. I started by consulting Google for inspiration.  Didn’t yield much but a few gems popped up.

This yellow straight chassis is perfect to model.  I am not sure what was on the truck as a body.   The picture shown below is a good source for modeling the flatbed.

The bed is wood with a steel frame on the perimeter.  There are pockets in the steel frame to hold stakes to restrain the load.  I didn’t have any specific dimensions to work with but determined the bed was probably eight feet wide.  The bed was made twenty feet long so that gave me a starting point.  I used .040″ by .100″ styrene boards with grain applied with wire wheel and sandpaper.

I started the project by building up the cab following the instructions.  I did not put the roof on since I wanted to pre-paint the interior and cut out some clear styrene for windows.

I assembled the kit parts like tires, motor and frame.  The frame and components were used to experiment with Vallejo chipping fluid.  I increased the wheelbase to hold a long flatbed.  Since I assembled the frame I have cut the length twice.  The chassis was primed with Vallejo RAL8012 German Red Brown urethane paint.  I sprayed it on and let it harden for several days.  The chipping fluid was airbrushed on some areas of the chassis.  It takes a while for the chipping fluid to dry.  I shot some Vallejo black as a final coat.  I let this set then put the from under water and used a tooth brush to start chipping.  Well, like everything in the world of weathering it is a finesse game. So a more delicate approach will be used on the flatbed.

So the chassis starts to look like something with the wheels mounted.  The motor and the cab release are installed.

The cab roof is just placed on the cab for appearance.

I put pockets on the deck to accept the side stakes from another Revell kit.  The bulkhead was added to protect the cab from a shifting load. There is etched screen that was found in my junk box.  It seemed to fit the opening perfectly.

You can see the front of the bulkhead. I have to put side mirrors and other details once the cab is assembled.  The cab will be painted the same green as the wheel centers.

So this is what I have done to date.  There is more work to be done before final painting.

Thanks for stopping by,