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.

MODELING: Louisville & Nashville in P48


Tennessee resident, Mike George, is an ardent fan of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad.   His focus has been on Hook & Eye Division that operated in his home state.  It was a secondary line but still hosted passenger trains and lots of freight.  Mike loeved this line so much that he wrote a book on it and self published it.   He has demonstrated his historic chops but his real accomplishment is that of a very skilled model builder.  Mike started out in HO and produced a kit or two of L&N equipment.  His business was called Blue Ridge Historics.   Over time Mike got interested in 1/4″ with desire to build models with the correct gauge (Proto48).   Blue Ridge Historics did produce a few resin 1/4″ scale kits as well.      On top of all these accomplishments, he has built a P48 Hook & Eye Division of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad.  Mike’s railroad has  been featured in magazines showing his innovative design of a two-level layout.

Mike’s modeling experience ranges from scratchbuilding passener cars and structures as shown above.

This tank car is scratchbuilt using a special tool Mike developed to punch conical rivets in the tank body.  He worked from only a few know dimension and a photograph.  He lives in Tennessee so building models from his home state is his passion. The decals were custom made for this car.

Mike has been working on scratchbuilding four L&N H-29 class 2-8-0s.  Building one locomotive is a major undertaking but four is a herculean effort considering that he has a full-time job and this is a hobby.  I belive one of the locomotives is standard five-foot gauge and is going to a friend.  Building locomotives today like these H-28s was helped  from 3D design and printing.  Terry Van Winkle did some of the heavy lifting in this technical area.

Mike”s range of skills is represented by the scratchbuilt L&N pacific and consolidation crossing a small trestle.

Hope you enjoy seeing Mike George’s beautiful work.




MODELING: Stucco Finish

Stucco is a common exterior finish applied to buildings for a long time.  There are various degree of texture shown depending upon the builder’s intention and/or skill.  In the past, I have used 600 grit sandpaper with and been unhappy with the results.  My friend, Jimmy Booth, mentioned a technique he had developed many years ago for application over wood surfaces.  I decided to give it a try.  I will let you be the judge of the finished product.

Here is my completed wall of the Pleasaton gas station.  The wall has some texture but still maintains a relatively uniform surface finish.  It is not at it’s final color.  One more coat of the final color and I should be good to go.

The technique and materials are simple and easily found.   I use a Tamiya flat acrylic paint diluted with their airbrush thinner.  To this solution I add aluminum oxide blasting grit.  I purchased it from Paasche for grit blasting models.  The object is to create a slurry grit suspended in paint.  Do’t add too much since we don’t want to make a paste.

I mix the stucco up on a small jar and use an old brush to dab it on.  I will sometimes put a few drops of thinner on the surface to allow the grit to flow.  Applying over a primed surface is better than plain styrene.  I have done both and like the primed surface better.  I use Tamiya spray primer in a rattlecan.

The stucco mix was applied directly over smooth styrene in this view.   The finish is a fragile so handle with care once applied. That also means you can sand it to soften the effect or even redo it. The view below shows the effect over a primed surface.

Here is a closup of the painted stucco wall.

I am satisfied with the results.


MODELING: Detroit Terminal Railroad

The Detroit Terminal Railroad served a significant number of industries in the greater Detroit area  The railroad operated from 1905 to 1984 when it was absorbed into Conrail.

The locomotive shown above is the work of Lee Turner using a Car Works VO-1000 brass model.   The model features custom made decals for this small railroad.   He created a striking model of a rare prototype.

Short Gas Station Update

I have been messsing around with the vintage gas station the last week or so.  Starting to get a feel for the “stucco” technique.

The stucco finish still needs some tweaks before I can call it done.  I started finishing the tower by reducing the thickness of the application. I did sand the stucco once the finish was dried.   The recessed panel needs some attention.   The building will get a final coat of a dark yellow finish.


The canopy roof has a gentle curve which creates some issues of forming the curved shape.  I built a web of .015″ strips supported styrene filler strips to create the contour.  The actual roof surface will be two layers of .015″ sheet styrene.  The first layer will be bonded to the strips and the second layer will marked with guide line for the mission tile installation.  The two layers will be bonded together.   The roof installation will occur once the model is nearly complete.

Prior to adding the roof, I will add to LED bulbs to the canopy roof.

That’s all for now.


MODELING: Pleasanton Gas Station #1

Like most of us, I am stuck at home with lots of time and a short honey-do list.   I have been looking at the mission style gas station in Pleasanton, California for nearly forty years.  It has been on the bucket list along a bunch of other project.  Now is the time to build it.

I took some measurements a while back and found that my wife’s 12-foot tape measure made it challenging.   I was able to a sense of the general size of the basic structure.  There were a few parts that I wanted to use.  I have some old Chooch plastic windows that looked like it might be a good stand in.   these windows simulate a metal frame design with a hinged panel.  I turned the window on its side to copy the orientation of the real window.  The castings have less panes but I didin’t want to build four windows from scratch.



As you can see I have juggled the dimensions just a bit.  I guess you have to wait to see if I can capture the feel of the building.

Styrene is the material of choice for me on this type of project.  Form core board could be used since the wall are 12″ thick.  I am not sure what was used to construct the actual building.  It could be wood framed with screen and stucco over shiplap.   I used .030″ thick sheet styrene for the basic walls.  I used .100″ and .080″ to frame the wall interior bracing.  I framed the outline of windows and door with this material.  I used two size to get a feel for a proper

The basic dimensions of the building are shown in these annotated photos.  I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the building dimensions.  I did a little “adjusting” on the information collected on my short visit.

west elevation

north wall elevation

south front elevation

east elevation

The window openings will have to be adjusted to fit the part you choose if you can’rt find the Chooch window.

The store front has been installed in my model and adjusted to fit Tichy windows and door.

I am using Tichy masonry windows for the office wall.   The door is also a Tichy part that used without the frame.

Here is the old Chooch window that is going to be installed on the three major walls.

I next step will be to build the mansard roof and the tower.   The stucco finish will be applied after those steps are completed.

See you next time.


MODELING: Another Rock Island Fowler Boxcar

The Rock Island Fowler clone boxcars have been featured in three different postings on my blog.  The first story appeared on October 25,2019 that described modifications done to the original Rio Grande Fowler kit produced by San Juan Car Company.   The November 18 showing the car painted and decaled.  The last story appeared on December 11.

Now fast forward to a car built by Robert Leners that did not use the San Juan kit.  He scratchbuilt this Fowler clone using the traditional methods of individual siding boards assembled to recreate the prototype construction.  Robert picked the last version of the Rock Island Fowler car built for the railroad.  The car was built in 1927 featured a 3/4 Dreadnaught end and a Youngstown steel door.  The roof was a Murphy radial design.   The railroad car diagram is shown below.


There are published drawings for the original Fowler clone ordered by the Rock Island.  The undeframe is essentially the same for all three of the car configurations.  Robert used the kit underframe as a guide in constructing a new one.  One could reuse the kit underframe but building a new one is what Robert wanted to do.

Reusing the rest of the kit is not really worth the effort.  The car requires a new roof, steel door and Dreadnaught ends.  The diagonal straps on the car side are different on the steel end cars.  Robert went ahead and built new sides using scale-sized ( 5-1/8″ wide) boards along with exterior posts made from .010″ styrene strips and Evergreen .060″ angle shapes.

The sides show the amount of work Robert invested in applying a ton of Grandt Line #9 nut and bolt castings.  The prototype cars held the siding in-place using stove bolts with nuts applied on the outside of the steel post.  The boards were not riveted to the frame since periodic maintenance would call for the replacement the wood boards.  Rivets were used to assemble the “steel” parts together.   Robert used .025″ Tichy plastic rivets on the car.  These details show up on this restored NP boxcar.

You may have noticed the Dreadnaught end has a vertical seam in it.  The end was cuto off of an Intermountain boxcar kit.  The car had to be narrowed to match the correct car width.

Robert took a no-compromise approach to this build.  This called for a scratchbuilt door.  This might look like a lot of work butit goes very quickly using Evergreen and Plastruct styrene shapes.

The car starts to really pop when primer is applied.

Robert is a master at his craft.  His work is crisp and flawless.

Paint and decals are done.  Robert has a few more touches to apply before the book is closed.  I couldn’t wait for the final touches so I decided to go ahead and post the material.

Thank you for sharing your work with us.


MODELING: Bluebirds

Take one exquiste Key Alco PA-1 set and hand it to Lee Turner and you end up with a true masterpiece of American Railroad history.   The railroad acquired 10 of these brutish passenger locomotives from American Locomotive Company (ALCO) in 1947.   They were numbered in the 180-189 series and classified AP-20a.   They acquired the name of bluebird somewhere along the way. Not sure if it was railfans or railroaders who coined the nickname but it it descriptive.   These 2000 hp units took over from the roads Hudson and Pacific passenger locomotives on all principal passenger trains for well over a decade.   Professor George Hilton afforded the honor as “honorary steam locomotive”.  If you have seen one you can understand how one might bestow the title on a “diesel”.  I have watched Santa Fe and Southern Pacific PAs depart and leave a black cloud of smoke in their wake. Lots of noise and smoke marked their operation.

I have seen NKP PAs in Buffalo when I was a kid.  They were dirty.  The gray sides showed dirt readily.   Lee has captured the patina found the real machines.  Key captured the look and feel of these locomotives.  It is hard to tell that they aren’t real photos.

Lee added a touch of character to PA 189 with the tape added under the steam generator hatch.  It appears that they were recently serviced.  The hatch even has a chalk mark with the unit number added.   Lee is an Alco man as was his dad.  It is good that he treats them with great respect.

All I can say is WOW!  This is wonderful stuff.   Thank you so much Lee.


MODELING: Shelter-in-Place

We are all dealing with the need to stay indoor or a safe distance from others when outside.  COVID 19 has turned our lives upside down.   Our hobby offers an opportunity to focus on something enjoyable like railroad modeling.

I set up shop on my kitchen table to stay close to family.  My move is only temporary pending surgery on my other eye.  With only one corrected eye, my depth perception has suffered. I have decided to keep building some things even with this limitation.  My second surgery was postponed to mid-May (hopefully).

My little project is a simple storage shed with drop siding.  I used a plan for a section car shed.  It is a simple building that gives me confidence on my next building,

I didn’t detail the interior completely since part of it won’t show on installed on the layout.   I used Evergreen drop or novelty siding.  The sheet is .040″ thick which is double the actual board thickness.  I compensated for the added thichness by using a 2″ x 3″ rather than a normal 2″ x 4″ boards.

My next building will be the Pleasanton gas station I showed recently.


I was churning through my files and found a couple shot taken of Lee Turner of models he built.  It turned out to be two boxcars that I did patterns years ago.

This car project was created out of an attempt to do a PRR X31 boxcar.  I made an assumption that the roof was like the X31b double door which is flush with the side.  It turned out that it wasn’t but I realized the N&W had a roof like what I built.

Here is an older model also produced by Chooch in their Ultra Scale II line.  I have always loved these Soo Line sawtooth boxcar.  Lee did a super job on the model complete with an old paper door seal.  Lee uses Zig Zag brand cigarette paper to make the seal.   Notice the subtle shading applied to the individual boards.

I am amazed at how many models Lee has created over time.  Thank you for sharing.