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: 1/4” Scale Chain Link Fences

Chain link fences are a fixture of the American landscape.  It seems to be the standard for providing business and industrial security.  From a modelers perspective, a few commercial have been offered over the years.  I have seen fences built from vale material for women’s attire.  They are a bit fragile which might not be an issue on certain locations on your layout.

Bill Yancey decided to develop his own approach using brass etched fence material and cast brass posts.  He contracted with Plano and Valley Brass and Bronze to make the parts.

Here is the fence the Bill developed and installed at an industrial site on his layout.

A closer look shows the simplicity of fence.  The posts include an extension for anchoring barbed wire.

The signs are eyecatching drawing your attention to the fence.


Scott Spears built this fence in his freight yard.  Bill’s fence could be used to create a version of what we see above.

Here is a question for you to consider:

Would you like to purchase this product if it comes to the market?  A company is currently considering the production of kits for the fence.  Don’t contact Bill.  He isn’t offering this.  Voice you interest please.  



NEW PRODUCTS: New Products to Stoke Your Interest

TWIN STAR MODELS Is in the process of releasing several new items in 2022.

First up is a very useful detail for diesel modelers.   It is a spark arrestor used on a number of railroads.  The parts are etched in nickle silver and are easy to assemble.  The final price is not set at this moment.  Ross Dando has a new website coming online shortly.

The production samples are shown installed on a Red Caboose GP-9 hatch and a P&D F-unit fan panel.

Ross Dando is pictured at a recent RPM in Cocoa Beach.  The modern freight cars are new to TSM.  These cars were previously offered by Bill Yancey.  Ross decided to upgrade the kits a one-piece body rather than the previous flat kits.  These kits will be on the new website shortly.

The gondola underframe is all about adding the detail parts contained in the kit.

Ross tried a little modification removing the blank panel where the door goes and some dunnage left over from the last load or two.

Twin Star Cars has a number of detail parts for steam era freight cars as well as some very nice brass castings for diesels.  Down the road you might just see a few steam era freight car kits.

SOUTHERN CAR & FOUNDRY is preparing a couple new car kits in the works.  First up is urethane tank car kit.  The prototype is an 8,000 gallon three compartment tank car.  The prototype was built by Standard Tank Car Company (STC).  STC was acquired by General American Tank Car around 1930. The tank was rebuilt converting it into three compartments with the addition of two small domes and internal bulkheads.

SC&F is preparing a kit composed of urethane castings and etched details like the sill sets.  The rivets on the tank body are dome shaped like the prototype.  Tank car rivets are different from the normal rivet used in othe types of freight cars.  Jon Cagle invented a technique for creating rivet strips like what Archer sells but made from perfectly formed urethane rivets not ink dots on decal film.

The preproduction model shows off the unique STC bolster.  SC&F produced an HO model of this car which is shown below.  Protocraft offers the decal set for this car.

Several other tank cars are planned based upon STC designs.  In addition, SC&F has a couple new boxcars in the pipeline.  The cars are based on the 1923 ARA design with wood sheathing and exterior posts.  A steel sheathed version was represented by an earlier kit of the Sand Springs boxcar.  Jon is talking about doing about doing the Columbus and Greevile and the Missouri Pacific.  These cars differ in door designs.  Jim Zwernemann did the pattern work on this boxcar series and they are excellent.

It is wonderful to Jon turning his incredible talent to producing superior 1/48 freight car kits.

Small Scale Ruler

I found this six inch architectural ruler eBay.  I have been using my short ruler all the time.  Take a look you might find it useful.

That’s all for now.




MODELING: Tank Car Ladders

Steam era tank cars nearly had one or more ladders to allow access to the dome.  Most are pretty simple and can be quickly fabricated our some brass strips and wire.  The key to building them is use fixtures to hold the pieces in-place while you solder them together.  The general arrangement drawing for the Type 30 is shown below.  

I built the ladder from .015″ x .042″ brass strips and .015″ brass wire.  My first step was to mark the location of the holes for the rungs and the 90 degree bend at the bottom of each stile.  I like to tape the stiles together for marking locations.  This will help with making holes cross from each other and will result in straight rungs.


I made a simple bending jig to form the top “hook”.  Each stile has a 90 degree twist near the start of the top hook.  The twist is performed over .060″ space using two small pliers.  Now you can form the stile of the brass rod at the top of the fixture.

I pin the stiles in place and solder the rungs.  The stainless pins help keep things aligned while soldering.

The picture below shows what the ladder looks like prior to painting and installation.

Hopefully you will find this simple task helpful in your modeling.


NEWS: The Passing of Frank Peacock

It saddens me to post this notice about the passing of a legend in the railroad hobby.  Please view this announcement prepared by Ed Hawkins, Norm Buckhart and this author.

Frank H. Peacock

Frank Peacock passed away at the age of 77 on 2 December, 2021.  He had passed away after a difficult battle against Mesothelioma.  The disease progressed quickly robbing Frank of many things he loved doing.  As many of you know, he was a frequent participant in historical society meetings, prototype modeling events and model railroad shows.  Frank was a fountain of knowledge on a number of railroads and had a particular interest in freight cars.  He had a remarkable memory for specific cars including what appliances, paint scheme and truck types.  His knowledge was not limited to just one or two railroads but many.  Ed Hawkins shared his affinity for freight cars and all the wonderful technical details that make this subject so fascinating.  Ed and Frank developed a close friendship that spanned over twenty years.

Frank served our country as Naval officer and dentist.  Upon retirement he decided to try his dental skills working for Aramco Company in Saudi Arabia. Frank settled down in the Austin, Texas area developing close friendships with Bruce Blalock, Jim Zwernemann, A.T. Kott, Dick Harley and Norm Buckhart among others.

Dick worked closely with Frank on a number Union Pacific related projects.  Norm found that Frank was a guiding light on his ¼” scale import projects. He advised Norm on what cars to produce and to be sure the details were correctly executed.  Frank made a visit to Norm’s shop and discovered a major flaw in a number of his car projects.  It ended up costing $65,000 to fix it but was the right thing to do.  Sadly Frank will not be able to see the completion of Protocraft’s latest to import model project of UTLX and General American tank cars.

One of Frank’s passions was baseball.  He made an annual trek to Phoenix to witness spring training.  Like everything in his life, he had each trip planned out in minute detail all contained on a stack of 3”x5” cards.  Many of his trips were repeats year after year each time refreshing his memory as the best places to eat and stay along his path.  It was his analog of a smart phone with navigation.

Frank Peacock will be interned at the Resthaven Cemetery in Jacksonville, Texas on Sunday 5 December at 2PM.

We will miss you.



MODELING: And New Stuff

I have been working on a new build project of a Pullman Standard PS-1 boxcar.  It isn’t quite ready so I thought that I need to share some new things with you.


Norm Buckhart has received all of his 50′ boxcars from Boo Rim.  The last shipment arrived just before he left on vacation.


The new cars a beautiful as with all of the models produced by Protocraft and Boo Rim.  They are fully reseached and designed using the skills of Ed Hawkins and Jimmy Booth to produce the finest 1/48 scale model of freight cars.

In addition, there are a couple new trucks that were produced for the cars and available separately.

The first truck is a Commonwealth BX express design with a 5’6″ wheelbase.  It was commonly used on freight cars used in express and mail service.

The second truck released is the Allied Full Cushion design.  This truck was used on WWII troop sleepers and also express cars.   It has a 5’6″ wheelbase and is available in five-foot gauge and Proto48.

Here are two examples of the new 50′ automobile cars that are in stock.  The photos show two version of the wood sheathed automobile cars once owned by the D&RGW.


Ross Dando is getting ready to launch his new website with lots of interesting items featured.  A sample of his new offering are etched spikes that are scale 1/48.

Here are some images of the new spikes.

I look forward to getting my hands on these soon.


Lee was kind enough to share some his work done a while back.  He worked his magic on two Sunset GP-9s that were imported earlier this year.

He also sent a couple shots of details he has created for a heavyweight passenger car that is under construction.   Lee is crafting some interesting pieces for his own personal car.

Thiws vintage radio is complete with a lighted dial and knobs.  Very cool!

The waiter serving up a cold beer is a perfect touch.  He “kit bashed” the figure.


Thanks for stopping by.



MODELING: Pullman-Standard PS-1 Project

This is a project that has been kicking around my workbench for a long time.  It probably had is genesis with two events from the past. The first was a series of posts by Brett Whelan on his efforts to upgrade a Lionel PS-1 boxcar.  Brett had purchased several modelings and decided that the Lionel was the most accurate on the market.  His process was probably done about 15 years ago.  To date the Lionel model is the best one available.

My objective is to build an accurate model of a Rock Island PS-1.  The series I picked to model was built with Barber S-2 trucks, 6-foot door opening equipped with a Superior 7-panel door, Creco door closing mechanism and Universal Handbrake.  This car configuration was numbered in the 21000-2290 lot which was part of a large order of 2,000 cars built in 1951 and 1952.

I started putting together a file with plans, photos and descriptions prior to the start of construction.  This is my usual practice for building models.  I discovered that I knew very little about these iconic boxcars.

The above illustration came from a Pullman-Standard advertisement.  It defines the magnitude of this important design.    Nearly every railroad should have at least one of these classics on the layout. They were available in both 40′ and 50′ with several different door openings and the usual varied of hand brakes, trucks, doors types and other specific hardware items. In addition to these variations, the Pullmand design evolved  over time.  Pullman added  six embossed panels at the top of the roof.  They changed the roof with the addition of a raised panel at the ends.  The underframe configuration of stringers running from the bolster to the car end changed from two per side to three.

Lots of railroads decided to buy significant quantities of the cars.  Ed Hawkins and Ted Cullota tabulated information of the various orders and configurations.  I have attached a link to the spread sheet on these cars.


As I starting to research thsi project, I discovered how little I knew about these historically important cars.  Since they were a product of Pullman Standard, I reached out to Bob Webber at the Pullman Library in Union, IL for help in locating information on this specific 2,000 car order for the Rock Island.  The Hawkins/Cullota spread sheet provided information on order #8028  for the Rock Island.  Bob put me touch with the leading authority on the Rock Island, Steve Hile.  That lead to a connection with Ed Hawkins who’s credentials are well established by his efforts on the incredible series of publications callled the Railway Prototype Cyclopedia.  This connection yielded lots of useful information.

One of the questions I asked the experts as the if and when the pressed stiffeners were applied and in particular to the Rock Island car order.  Ed clarified this detail with the following information.

The prototype car photos came from my personal collection.
The Rock Island car had 6 pressed stiffeners at the top of the ends have often been referred to as “rectangles,” they are actually the shape of a “right trapezoid” due to the upper portion angled to follow the roof slope. Most of them are hidden by the hand brake in a normal 3/4-BL view. The far left pressed stiffener is even hidden by the right edge of the hand brake in the attached direct B end view. The only way to see all 6 is a good 3/4-BR view.
These stiffeners were first used on PS-1 ends for cars built in 1949. Starting in Oct. 1953 the height of the stiffeners was reduced roughly by half of the height shown in this view. A transition from the taller height to shorter took place between 11/53 to 2/54 such that PS-1s built 3-54 & later had the shorter pressed right-trapezoid stiffeners.

I collected a couple plans for the 40′ PS-1 boxcars.  Two were published in the Mainline Modeler and one came from an old Simmons & Boardman plan book.  Upon closer examination, I noticed differences in the underbody such as stringers and location of crossbearers.  In addition, the roof panels changed during the long run of PS-1 production and well as the bolster tabs on the sidesill.  I have taken the liberty of using an annotated photo created by Ted Cullota showing a couple changes the occured between the 1941 version and the subsequent production lots in 1951.  He used the excellent Kadee HO models to illustrate changes to the design.

The car on the top is the earliest style of roof used on PS-1 boxcars.  The lower one is what the is on the Rock Island car and the Lionel body.

I referred back to the model Brett Whelan had started.  The images below were shot by Brett on his Lionel conversion.  He removed the oversized grab irons and ladders to start with.  The holes were plugged with styrene rod.  The unique end grab iron was fabricated by Brett.

The underframe was a typical 3-rail design that didn’t lend itself to a scale model.  He created his own with cast bolsters, crossbearers and crossties.  The stringers and centersill completed the basic frame.

Brett’s work is very clean and precise.  He came up with an approach to modeling the weld seams on the side sheets. It involved removing the original ridge cast in the Lionel model and replacing it with a scribed line that had altered by pressing the edges together.  My approach is use Archer decals to simulate the welded seams.

My model takes advantage of ideas shown in his modeling.  I reused the original bolster casting done by Brett.  I had the parts cast in a modern urethane material along with new patterns that I prepared for the crossties and crossbearings.   The parts along with a replacement underframe will be marketed by Twin Star Cars.

Here are the new crossbearers situated on the frame.

The crosstie is placed on the frame to see how well it fits.

The Lionel body is the only part of the original I ended up using.  I started by removin the original weld lines and the upper and lower door tracks.  Most ready to run or kit boxcars undersize the doors. I suspect this is done to simplify the die design.

The body looks pretty sad at this point.  I still have some sanding to do on the weld lines and door guide preparation before applying the decal weld lines.  They are fragile so minimizing the handling of the body is a good idea.

Next time I will press ahead with the body finishing and detailing.  In parallel, the underframe and parts will be sent out to the resin foundry to make parts.









NEW PRODUCTS: New Releases from Right-O’-Way

Jay Criswell is likely one of the most productive manufacturer working in 1/48 scale these.  He is a key supplier to many aspects of our hobby.


First of all, a posting by David Woodhead on FaceBook caught my eye.  He purchased a pair of wood beam archbar trucks from Right-O’-Way and added wood brake beams.  The truck is of a very old design but suprisingly lasted in service into the 1970s on cabooses.  The truck was originally developed by Mike O’Connell at Chooch Enterprises.  I believe the pattern was done by the late Oscar Neubert in the 1970s.  Chooch sold it in a delux version which was extremely challenging to assemble and get it to track (my own experience).  Jay has invested time and money in the old Chooch trucks bringing them back to life with improvements.

As you can see, the truck is a set of brass castings with Protocraft steel wheels.  This is the Nova version which is very simple to assemble.   The sideframe has a button cast on the back that fits in a slot in the bolster.  This is similar except for the fact that the bolster is all new based upon a 3D design by Terry Van Winkle.  The truck is now held in-place by two small screws that hold the cover plate to the bolster capturing the button.

David Woodhead set up a simple fixture to attach the brake beam using .020″ phos bronze wire.  He soldered the wires to the coverplate and bent the wire to go around the axle.  The brake beams were drilled out to accept these support wires.  This is a technique that has been used by narrow gauge modelers since the early days.  It is much easier than suspending the beams from the car body as on the prototype.

Here is David’s truck assembled and painted ready for operation.

The Soo caboose shows the road’s use of wood beam trucks well into the 1970s.


Right-O’-Way came up with a very useful part to convert Intermountain and Athearn trucks to Proto48 using a brass bolster and wheelsets with the proper axle length.  It allows you to quickly reuse your Intermountain and Athearn trucks for P48 operation.

Here is the bolster installed in an Intermountain truck along with P48 NWSL custom wheels.

Jay ordered a custom run of new wheels, axles and insulators.  The latest owners are producing very finely machined products.  Look at the smoothness of the wheels shown below.

The new axles were cut to fit the Intermountain sideframes.

The new bolsters sell for $8.00 per pair plus shipping.  With the new wheels the package sells for $30.   Right-O’-Way also has new P48 wheelsets available for $22.00 (4 axles).

Right-O’-Way will be supplying new cast frogs in O and P48 based upon 3D CAD work by Rick Leach and printed by Terry Van Winkle.   Jay should be announcing the release soon.


I have started to build or more properly rebuild a Lionel PS-1 boxcar.  So stay tuned.


MODELING: My Son’s Sn3 Modeling

I recently visited my son ,Mark,who lives in the area.   He has been a railroad modelbuilder for a long time.  Most of his modeling efforts have been building HO modern equipment.  Lots of diesels with DCC and sound.  Mark has taken up laser cutting wood and laser board based upon his CAD designs.  I have included a shot of his D&GW coal tower and depot.

Mark’s skills include steam locomotive modeling.  He purchased a well worn P-B-L K-27 that needed driver work, paint, weathering and DCC/Sound.  Sn3 has become his primary modeling interest

Another locomotive he built is a Railmaster white metal locomotive.  He said it was a challenge to build complicated by the inadequate instructions and missing parts.

Mark has expanded his skills by starting to do 3D CAD and printing using an inexpensive printer.  It was a bit of a shock to see how nice the parts looked coming from a $200 printer. 

This machine uses a UV light source to harden the resin.   The printing platform is approximately 4″ square.   No 1/48 boxcars but lot of detail parts.

He created this backhead for a D&RGW narrow gauge rotary plow. The front end piece for the rotary plow was a freeware part developed for garden railway.  Mark decided to add a lot more detail to the cowl and the fland assemby..

Needless to say, I am very proud of what my son has accomplised in modeling and his life.  Besides modeling, he is a police officer and a loadmaster on the California Air Guard.


MODELING: Classis F100 Build

Menards has imported a number of true 1/48 scale vehicles over the last several years.  Last year they imported a model of the 1953 Ford F100 pickup.  I purchased a few when they were less than $5 each.   Straight out of the box they can serve as a prop for the background scene.  However, the model is pretty close to scale and has promise.

I started this project by doing a little online research.  I found a dimensioned drawing for the truck and a few photos.  Actual truck photos showed lack of chrome compared to the model.  The other visual aspect that caught my eye was a rubber gasket surrounding the windshield.  Vehicle models either don’t have windshields or one’s that don’t fit very well.  This model has some gaps around the windshield.  The other point was that the wheels are too far out.  I haven’t fixed this since I tried to pull the rims off the axle with no success.  I didn’t want to risk damaging the rims. I may go back and cut the axles and push them in.

This drawing shown above is for an eight foot bed.  The model is shorter than this.

Start by removing the screws from the bottom and remove the cab and bed.  I decided to see what I can do to improve the appearance of the grill.  I am not entirely happy with it.  I decided press on since it is a supporting actor and life is too short.

I painted this grill to cover the chrome.  My choice of color was way off and changed it later in the build.   I added a black wash to the grill openings.  I also painted the space behind the grill black.  Not sure how much it shows.  Mike George did a quick check on books on old Ford trucks and found that the bumpers were not chromed at the factory.

The windshield gasket was made from .5mm lead wire.  I purchased the material from UMM-USA online.  Roll a length of wire to straighten it.  I blackened it followed with a coat of black paint.   The wire was pressed into the windshield opening.  I used canopy glue to hold it inplace.   Try not to get any on the glass.

The photo above shows an untouched diecast truck and my model that is in-process.  I think this photo shows the effect of adding the black paint to the grill opening.  It creates some depth to the model.  The Ford crest is way oversized but I don’t have a simple solution for replacing it.   The windshield gasket does add to the finished model.

I added a side mirror to the door of the truck.  I found this Tichy part in one of my parts bins.  I sliced one of the “insulators” off and added a piece of .020″ wire to create the mirror.  A drop of thick CA created the mirror surface.

Here is a side view of the truck with the side mirror in place and a gas tank filler.  This was made from styrene tube and a Tichy nut,bolt,washer casting.  Drilling the cab casting takes some time will create a more solid mount for the details.

I need to add side windows to complete the cab.

A steering wheel was created out of a spoked wheel casting made by Tichy.   The seat was painted a dirty gray color to show better.

The final touches included weathering the body and running gear.  I started with an Vallejo acrylic black wash to highlight and darken features.  I then applied a wash of Ammo Oil Brusher dust color.  It help tamp down the shiny paint.   Oh yes, the paint on the model likely contains lead some don’t chew on it.

The nearly finished ’53 pickup is parked next to the latest Menards release.  It is a 1951 Ford F-1 truck.  This will get a similar redo once a I get some more things done on the layout.


MODELING: Finishing My Type-30 Tank Car

This construction project got underway when Norm Buckhart decided to create the Clinton decal set.  A discussion between Norm and Jimmy Booth result in a joint project in which I did a fair amount of the heavy lifting.  How did that happen?  Oh well, we will have a unique tank car model.

I decided to try out a new paint made by Mission Model  It is acrylic paint with an urethane additive to improve durability.  I chose MMP-105 which is called Worn Black Gray Tires.   I s a decent color for viewing the model on a layout.  I am still learning how to work with it.

I decided to decal the frame while the tank was separated.   It does make it easier to avoid breaking details during the decal work.

The Protocraft decals provide all of the lettering to completely detail the frame.

This picture shows the frame lettering installed and tank mounted on the frame.  I started decaling the tank with the herald.

Here is a shot of the lettering complete.  I still need to airbrush a flat finish and add a bit of weathering.  It has been a interesting project that was made possible with help from Norm, Jimmy Booth and Frank Hodina (Resin Car Works).