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: Rehab an Older Model

One of my many projects that I am working on is a redo of a model I built over 10 years ago.  It is a model of a Bx-27 AAR boxcar with a Duryea underframe.  The prototype was unique with the application of the shock cushion underframe.  The Santa Fe didn’t use this appliance on many classes of rolling stock.  The map and slogan lettering has always been a draw for me.

The original car project was described on the Proto48 Modeler website  I used an Intermountain AAR 10′ Interior Height boxcar kit as a starting point.  I made a few compromises using this car.  The door tracks are too high on the car side.  This simplified the original tooling.  Most of the effort was focused on rebuilding the underframe to more closely replicate the prototype.

Somewhere along the way I screwed up the weathering big time.  In addition to that the decals that I used had some issues with film thickness.  I just wasn’t happy with the model.  I decided to strip the model of paint.  The paint was Floquil enamel which doesn’t come off easily.  With the help of a friend, I had the model grit blasted to get down to bare plastic.  Now with a clean pallet, I started by repainting the basic Santa Fe brown color. I don’t like the basic color that Tru-Color offers for the Santa Fe.  It is very dark.  I decided to make my own shade starting with MKT brown and a and a little of the Santa Fe brown mixed in.  No it wasn’t done with scientific precision.

As part of the upgrade, I switched to Protocraft trucks, couplers and decals.  I used a threaded  bushing for truck mounting.

The above picture shows the Duryea underframe fairly well.  Notice that the sill steps and grab irons are not typical for AAR boxcars.

The middle of the underframe has some unusual features. The centersill sides back and forward absorbing shock from train motion and coupling. The brake equipment has to be mounted to a separate structure and not the centersill.

The car is a work in progress at the point of this posting.  I applied the Protocraft decal set but have not applied a clear sealer or any weathering.  That is next.  I didn’t paint the underframe black which was standard for the 1940 paint and lettering scheme.  The car number is for the series that carried the Scout train name.

I am happy with the progress to date.   Hopefully, I can finish this in the near-term.

Thanks for the stopping by.



MODELING: Update from Jim Zwernemann

It has been a while since Jim Zwernemann has shared his recent projects. He manages to find time to build some very interesting models.

Looks like to business climate in Central Texas is judging from the new stores on Jim’s layout. Left to right, the first building is an old Yorke plaster kit that was gifted. It was built for a piece of sloping ground. Jim had to saw off the foundation and add a sign. The antique store is a kit done by W.K. Burney and was a favorite pastime of Jim and his wife. The Blalock BBQ is named after his lifelong friend, Bruce Blalock. Bruce introduced me to Texas BBQ back in 1980 while I was visiting in Houston. The place we went to was pretty basic and well worn. It looked like there was grease running down the front windows. Jim’s rendition is in need of some grease. Bruce and Jim get together and share some tasty meats nearly every week. Nearly every town has a “joint” serving up respectable brisket, hot links and ribs. The choice of colors really does make a strong impression when examining Jim’s work.

This boxcar started out as a Chooch Ultra Scale II kit for Canadian Pacific Dominion (Fowler) boxcar. Jim rebuilt the kit and finished it for a friend. It was changed to a Canadian National version of the same 36′ boxcar design. I have seen these cars referred to as Fowler Patent cars. While they had many similar features, these Dominion Car Company design did not follow the original patent. The differences are small.

This photo illustrates the amount of changes made to the kit. The underframe was not changed very much. These kits are very rare and date back probably 20 years now.

By the way, have you tried the Tamiya Super Fine primer in a rattle can? This is a fantastic product and once set is pretty durable. You can see the spray can supporting the model.

Another project on the workbench is this Alton Road war emergency boxcar. The car is scratchbuilt mostly from styrene with the exception of the urethane ends. They are copies of an old Clouser epoxy casting. It is a very nicely executed 10’6″ interior height end. Bill Clouser was an amazingly talented model maker.

The model is not complete. You can see an Intermountain roof and part of a Youngstown door. The car was built with a Champion Peacock hand brake. Amazingly, the old Atlas Roco boxcars came with this rare unit.

As you can see in this closeup, the Clouser was a real gem. He manage to capture the shapes of the large and small wales. It was remarkable to think it was done by hand long before 3D CAD and printers.

The underframe is shown on the Mainline Modeler plan used for the build. The trucks and couplers are from Protocraft.

Thank you Jim for sharing your work.


OPINION: Hobby Shops

Last night I was out shopping in a mall in Folsom and noticed something odd about the local Hobby Town. The lights were out and the store was empty. I was reminded of an old Queen song about “Another one bites the dust”.

While it wasn’t a model railroader’s store it carried thing like Plastruct, Evergreen, Vallejo and Model Masters paints. I could get the essentials for modeling. Now I need to get a Plan B. The options are limited to driving for thirty minutes to Roseville to the local Hobby shop. Their stock is a bit sketchy in some areas. The other option is the web. I hate paying eight bucks shipping to get a few packages of styrene.

I guess that I am going to see what most hobbyist live with these days. It is hardship after shopping at the Train Shop in Santa Clara for forty years.

It is a sad state of affairs!


MODELING: More Ideas on Steam Loco Weathering

Weathering techniques abound on the web and in the pages of modeling magazines. I wanted to add yet another approach. This technique will focus on weathering steam locomotives. The methods and photos are the work of Jimmy Booth. He is a master at the art of locomotive weathering. He has done over 5400 P-B-L imported steam locomotives. They say that practice makes perfect. His stuff is perfect.

Coal burning steam locos produce all sorts of debris that collected on surfaces like running boards and cab roofs. Jimmy used actual coal ground fine and sifted for size. It was bonded to the model with MIG Ammo Pigment Fixer.

Jimmy Booth has been using oils for a while to weather models. He has started using MIG Ammo Oil Brushers. The colors he used are Flesh,Buff and Dust. The best example of this method is shown below on the tender. Oil paints can be applied like a wash and streaked like water stains. Mineral Spirits and a drop Japan Drier will create some interesting effects as Jimmy illustrates below.

I had previously shown the Oil Brushers used as a weather tool.

Thanks to Jimmy for sharing.


MODELING: Finishing Wood Decking


Finishing decking on flat cars and gondolas has been a challenge for me.  Each time I try one I am not satisfied with the results.  Ross Dando asked me how I finished wood decking.  I didn’t have a good answer to share so I reached out and asked Lee Turner.  Lee was kind enough to provide me a few words and photos of the work process.

Here is Lee’s approach:

I mix at least three different shades of gray weathered wood and then randomly paint each deck board. After that is completely dry I use a dark wash (Vallejo dark brown) which blends the colors together. Here are some images from my painting and weathering clinic. Don’t forget with a gondola mix up some debris and scrap dunnage and secure it with Mig pigment fixer.

Three variations in gray form the basic foundation of color for the decking. Lee alternated the colors and tried not to create a pattern.  He uses Model Masters acrylic paints mixed to create the shades of gray.

The base color has been applied to the this Red Caboose flatcar.

The last step is apply the Vallejo brown wash.  This will blend the colors together.

The finished effect is quite good.  Lee added dunnage in the gondola setting it with a MIG enamel fixer.

I want to thank Lee for his contribution on finishing wood decking.

Thanks for stopping by




MODELING: Super Bridge

Mike George built this fantastic bridge shown above from styrene.  It is very complete in terms of structural elements.  Looking at Mike’s model gives a course of how a prototype bridge was built the steam era.

The girders literally bristle with rivets.  Each one punched by hand.  It is an incredible task to do it so precisely as Mike has done.

Some may ask why you do this since it can’t be seen.  We do this because it does give one satisfaction of knowing it is all there.

The complete bridge prior to paint ties and weathering.

The completed bridge is most impressive.

The bridge set in place on Mike’s layout is a show-stopper.  The pictures were posted on the Proto48 group on Group.IO.  I took the liberty of posting them here to be able to share with blog followers.

Thanks for looking in.



MODELING: More Bricks

In an earlier post, I featured a technique on making brick and masonry wall using foam core board.  I did some checking on possible sources for the European made board material.  Kapa is not sold in the US. Cason makes a similar product in France but does not offer it in the US either.  Needless to say I was disappointed.

Jim Zwernemann sent me pictures of buildings he built using Dow rigid extruded polystyrene insulation.  This product is readily available in a most of the US.

The brick wall shown above is an example of what can be done with a little patience.  The sign really makes the brick wall a show stopper.  Jim painted this sign by hand.

The feed store was also built from foam board and the super hand painted signs.  I think you can see that brick and masonry buildings can be made from simple materials.  It isn’t necessary to buy expensive building materials to make beautiful models.

The little bar shows the details of the Jim’s brickwork.  The choice of colors and accents create the difference on the finished project.  These are the little things that elevate the model above the ordinary.  The buildings are built as separate modules so they can be arranged to fit various scenes.  The picture below shows the Bull Durham building is shown in the background of this scene. Jim used the buildings to define the boundary between 2D and 3D background.

Hope that you find the material useful and interesting.