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: Heavy Load by Lee Turner

When you have a model of heavy duty flat car like the Pennsylvania Railroad F33 class, you need to come up with a load commensurate with the capability of the car.   Well, Lee Turner had a client who want an old Alco Models brass import done up with paint, lettering, weathering and an appropriate load.

The load suggests a steel casting or fabrication that would tax the capacity of this flat car.  I was curious what Lee used to create this impressive cargo.   As it turns out, He heavily modified a fishing reel to create the basic shape. I was augmented with styrene to disguise the original purpose.

The finishing helps create the illusion of a heavy steel part.  Lee used Vallejo and MIG products.  He spray on a rusty coat as a base then applied chipping fluid and a top coat of blue-gray to simulate the scale found on steel recently fabricated.  At this point, the light top coat was chipped off using water or old tooth brush.

A load this heavy needs an appropriate cradle to keep the assembly from moving or being damaged.  This cradle was made from Evergreen styrene “I” beams.  They were rusted up and a special technique was used for creating the assembly welds.  Lee sprayed a very thin line of black to create the soot marks that occur during welding.

Thank you Lee for the photos of your flat car project.  It is an impressive model.

Next time, I will show you the decaled Rio Grande Automobile Car.  Weathering will be in a subsequent posting.

Thanks for looking in,


MODELING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build 12.0

The construction part of the build is done.  I added the last few pieces  last night. Today I got the airbrush out and shot a primer/sealer.  The gray color is an important step in finishing the model.  The primer provides what painters refer to as the witness coat.  It shows off all of the mistakes.  And I found a few problems that will get some attention prior to the color application. With any complicated scratchbuilding project, it ends up taking much longer than planned. Late in the build I struggle with finishing the last details. In the past, I would rush the completion and cut corners.  Sadly, I would not be happy with the end results.

There are a few details that I want to point out to you.  The first is the running board supports.  I made my from a strip of .020″ x .040″ and two short pieces of .015″ x .020″. The support is 18″ long with two short pieces on the end.  This will straddle the curved surface of the radial roof.   The running board is a lamination of HO 2″ x 10″ strip and .005″ material.  The prototype running board is 1.25″ thick so the lamination creates the proper thickness.   I drill and insert Tichy .020″ rivets to simulate carriage bolts used to attach the running boards.

You will notice the running board is attached to the roof side with a tab that features a bolt detail.

The picture below is of the primed underframe.

If you look closely you will see a few dings that need some filler before finishing.

I decided to add some dunnage to the car interior just to provide some interest.

Back to do some touchup and the final color.  Next time I will show the car with some color.

Thanks for stopping by.




OPINION: Year Four Is in the Books

Please stand by for Year Five!

This past year had a total of 10,016 visitors to my blog.  The visitors clicked over 47,000 pages during their visits.  That is down from the prior year by roughly 50 %.  I keep this trend up I will loose my sponsors (LOL).   In year three, there were a couple postings on Lee Turner’s weathering techniques that scored some huge numbers for you blog.  Finished models and layouts score the best for visitors.  Lee always has nice stuff to share with us.

Thanks for your support during the past year.



NEW PRODUCTS: Modern Modeling

Model and photo by Ed Nadolski


There is an aspect of Proto48 modeling that I have overlooked in my blog.  It is prototype modeling of modern equipment.  Modern is this case defines a period of the 1960s through the present day.  As a modeler I have not had an interest in it since I am hopelessly stuck in the 1950s.  However there is a lot of railroad modeling that I have not paid attention to.  At one time I did railfan here in Cali and Oregon with camera in hand but it never stimulated me to model what I observed.

In recent years the O scale importers like Atlas, Lionel, MTH and the now defunct Weaver have done a number of moderns pieces of equipment.   Several modelers and designers have produced some very interesting items that allow a modeler to jump into the era.  The modern era eliminates the one issue that holds back steam era modelers, drivers.

Model and photo by Patrick Welch

I would like to make readers aware of the development of parts and equipment for modern railroad modeling in 1/4″ scale.  Interest seems to be building in the era and equipment.  When you start to look around you realize how much is out there. One supplier has been making the task of modern modeler much easier.  James Lincoln has produced 3D designs for things like conversion bolsters for Atlas and Lionel modern equipment.  Lincoln Proto48 Engineering is Jim’s firm and he makes the parts available through Shapeways. The link above will take you to Jim’s blog which has multiple links to Shapeways.  The Chinese-made equipment looks pretty good and can be refined even further with some modifications. 

Lincoln Proto48 Engineering has recently produced this cushion coupler pocket for an Atlas boxcar. The picture on the left shows a simple conversion of adding Protocraft 70-ton ASF trucks and the cushioned pocket.  This one of many parts available.



Bill Yancey has decided to get involved with the creation and selling of a new series of urethane boxcar kits.  He has picked a line of FMC-built 50′ cars that started production in the 1970s.

The following car configurations will be made available:

A   Single 10′ sliding door car

B.  Combination 6′ plug/10′ sliding door (ABOX)

C.  Centered double 8′ door

D.   Diagonal double 8′ door

The double door cars are available with either Youngstown or Superior 5 panel doors.

These cars have not been produced before and are very popular with railroads in that era and later.  The masters shown above and below are now at the caster for production of the pilot model parts.



One of the most popular diesel models in 1/4″ scale has to be the Red Caboose GP-9.  Leon Fairbanks picked a prototype that would cover a wide range of time from the 1955 era to the present time.  The original kit has a drive invented by Roco for the original Atlas F-9.  It was inexpensive and ran well but had several weaknesses that would show up over time.  Des Plaines Hobbies and Pat Mitchell came up with a machined brass plate that would adapt the Weaver drive system to the model.  It replaced the flimsy plastic frame.  A lot of folks went this route as an upgrade including myself.

Finescale 360 is a new supplier who is produced custom machined frames and gear towers to upgrade the original Weaver drives.  Kelly Regan, owner, developed the parts as a result of a lengthy series of posts on the old Yahoo Proto48 group.  By the way, the group is now on Groups.IO.  The frame and tower really make a huge difference in the Weaver drive.  You can go a step further and upgrade with P&D Hobbies brass Blomberg trucks and change out the gearboxes for ball bearing version produced by Right O’ Way .  Jay Criswell, Right O’ Way owner, can do all of the heavy lifting if you don’t feel mechanically inclined.

Here is the Finescale 360 frame for the Red Caboose GP-9 


The above photos show the tower installed in the Finescale 360 frame and the one below shows the tower components in the kit.  Contact them directly via their website.

Here is a shot of a P&D Blomberg with Weaver components installed.  The brass castings and wheels are for P48 conversion.  They were offered by Protocraft but now are available from Right O’ Way of Clovis, California.  Shawn Branstetter’s website the Shortline Modelers posted this picture of the truck and parts.

The Blomberg shown above is the work of Ross Dando and is going into his Rock Island GP-7.  Weathering really punches up the details on the truck.

Hope that you found this posting of interest and even useful.  I will try to include new items that surface as I become aware of them.

Back to our regular programming,



MODELING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build 12.0

The photo above was submitted by Warner Clark of his layout.  Richard Bourgerie shot the photo and added the impressive background.   Warner has an excellent eye for combining kits with scratchbuilt models to create an interesting..  The tall building is cheese factory.



IT IS NOW AT  groups.io.com

proto48@groups.io is the new email address


I have been working on the automobile car build during the last few weeks between interruptions.  I am now at a point where is needs only weight added inside, running board and primer.  Due to a finger injury I will have to wait a couple weeks for paint since acetone on a wound is not the greatest.

I added a number of final details prior to painting.  The first item are stirrups.  They are made from .010″ x .040″ brass strips.  I used a bending tool to create shape ninety degree bends where needed.  The tool is sold by the Small Shop. I have mentioned this before when I was forming some etched brass parts.

I build a simple jig to allow me to form consistent parts.  It is made from a few bits of styrene.

The stirrups were drilled as part of the forming process.  The is a ninety degree twist in the right side.  I used two pliers to make the bend.

The stirrup was attached to the car body with .7mm rivets that I purchased from Scale Hardware.

The next bits that were added are door stops.  I built a set of stop to fit on the lower door track.  I used a similar Chooch part as a guide.  They were made from .020″ x .040″ strip with a .010″ x .030″ surround.  I also added stops on the car sides. There are four required per side.  I used a part from Grandt Line.  The part is on a sprue which has other hardware.  It is #6 in their catalog.

There is a sheet metal wrapper that ties the upper side strap to the end.  I used a .010″ x .080″ strip to make this detail. One end is tapered to .060″ to match the end strap.  I pre-bent the strip to approximate the end shape.  Start by bonding the wide end first.  Once the joint is set, I bonded the other end to the car end.

Well that wraps up the basic construction with the exception of the running board. I will add weight to the inside and prime and paint the interior before bonding the roof and running board in place.

The model will be primed with a lacquer and painted with Star Brand D&RGW freight car red.   Star Brands is sold by P-B-L direct and through some dealers.  It is a lacquer as well. If you are sensitive to this type paint, I would suggest using Model Masters acrylic as you base color.  You will need to mix the right shade.

Our next posting will be on modeling modern prototype railroad equipment.  No, I won’t be doing any but I will show some of the creative cottage industry suppliers who are making it easier to this in P48 as well as O scale.

Thanks for tuning in,






PROTOTYPE: Swift Wood Reefers

The Swift Company operated a large fleet of reefers to distribute meats from their slaughter houses to regional meat preparation distribution centers. In 1948, Swift had over 3700 cars in operation. The cars were largely wood but steel construction appeared in the fleet after 1954. With the exception of one group, all of the wood cars were either 36′ or 37′ long. This length was typical of the wood era. The wood cars do vary in details and dimensions from one series to another. The picture at the top of the pages illustrates variation in underframe and safety equipment.

I have included a table that was once published in Railmodel Journal many years ago. It shows how the fleet was not a monolithic design that you see on most model railroads. With the exception of the Sunshine HO kit, nearly all commercial models missed the mark on this legendary car.

As you may know the cars wore several decoration schemes ranging from a yellow with black letters to bright red with billboard lettering.

The two photos above show the yellow carbody schemes. Quarter-inch scale modelers are fortunate that Protocraft offers two lettering sets that cover both of the yellow styles and the red sides with white lettering.

The one car that interested me is in the 2500-2875 series. It has an exposed side sill with tension rod bolts and plates below the sheathing.

The brake booster was a piece of hardware to reduce the force needed to apply the brakes. It could be found on a number or freight cars. I did a MKT boxcar for Southern Car & Foundry which had this part included. The picture shown below illustrates a typical installation on a freight car. Ted Culotta was kind enough to provide a correction for the proper name for this device. This brake booster is a Universal product.

I am thinking that this car might be my next build once I finish the Rio Grande automobile car.

Thanks for stopping by