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.

MODEDLING: Studebaker Time

Studebaker is one of many failed auto makers.  They made some interesting automobiles after WWII.  This post describes Mike George’s construction of a 1947 Studebaker using a Yat Ming 1950 Studebaker as a starting point.

Mike George describes his modeling below:

I’ve seen mention that the Yat Ming 1950 Studebaker Champion, advertised as 1/43, is actually closer to 1/48. I model 1948, so a ’50 model car is too new for me. I watch an on-line auto auction site, Bring-A-Trailer, and a few weeks ago a ’48 Studebaker Champion showed up. It is significantly different than the ’50 model, but it seemed like a worthy candidate for modification. So, I ordered a Yat Ming car. The price is very reasonable and the detail is quite good.

Out came the file and saw. The taillights have to be moved from vertical to horizontal, so some filing is necessary on the tops of the rear fenders. The hood was cut out and the fronts of the fenders were also removed. The new hood is fabricated from .060 styrene in layers with a lot of filing after it dried. The new grille is made from Evergreen styrene bits.

It appears this body style appeared in 1946, so I’m assuming that is what mine is and is a couple of years old. I didn’t want it to look too worn, so I stuck with minimal weathering. I hope no Studebaker purist looks at this, because I’m sure there are lots of details that aren’t correct, but the changes totally change the appearance of the car from a strange jet-age appearance  to a more traditional post-war body style. I couldn’t locate drawings, so all the modifications are done from looking at the BAT website photos, but there were at least 50 from many different angles.

It seems like most photos I see of stations in this era always have a late model nice car parked under the eaves, so I assume station agents made pretty good money! I’ve placed the car at the Ellijay depot and it adds some nice variety with yet another true 1/48 vehicle.

I want to thank Mike for writing up his automobile conversion.

Next time I will start a short construction project on building a Rock Island Fowler clone boxcar using a San Juan Car Company kit.  I know the kit is not currently available but I understand the new owners are planning a return.   My conversion is based upon an article written by Charlie Morrell in O Scale Trains.  By the way, Protocraft has released new decals for this series of cars.



NEWS: The Passing of Ron Sebastian

On the second of October we lost a really nice guy.  Ron Sebastian passed away at home.  It was a shock to receive news of this tragic event.  Not only was Ron a key figure in our hobby but a decent human being, husband, father and grandfather.   Ron was the driving force behind many key projects in the model railroad industry.  Des Plaines Hobbies was his pride and joy and maybe the best store of its kind in America.

Many of us remember his presence at hobby shows and conventions.  I am sure that Des Plaines Hobbies was your destination if you were in the Chicago area.  It was my favorite stopping place when I had time between flights at O’Hare Airport.  Ron was nice enough to drive out and pick me to visit his store.  He was a treasure!

I came across an article about Ron that you might find interesting.  It was in the Chicago Tribune a number of years ago but his story is still relevant.



Rest in Peace



MODELING: Tales From Lake Wobegon

No, this not a story from the Prairie Home Companion.   It is short collection of things related to our hobby and specifically 1/4″ Scale.   Not all of the stories have happy endings but you still may find a thought worth reading.

Up in Minnesota not far from Lake Wobegon, a very skilled model builder by the name of Robert Leners keeps himself busy with a whole stream of beautiful models such as the Northern Pacific 52′ flat car shown below.   His model is built from styrene and is highly detailed top and bottom.   Robert used the plans published in Railroad Model Craftsman which depicted the last series of cars built in the late 1940s.

The decals are a new set from Protocraft.  The hand brake is one of the new sets done by Terry Van Winkle for Twin Star Models.  The stake and poling pockets were designed by Rick Leach and printed by Terry.  The parts were custom cast by Jon Cagle in urethane.   Lots of hands helped the creation but the skill of the build is all Robert Leners.   I am looking forward to seeing the finishing touches applied to this fine model.

The photo shown above came from the Northern Pacific Historical Association archieves.   It was taken by the late Wade Stephenson collection.  He was an employee of the Milwaukee Road but photographed other roads such as the NP and GN.  This shot was taken on the Milwaukee Road under wire.

So, I have been trying to build the same or similar car following a slightly older version of the car.  The project has been a disaster from day one.  I was moving towards the completion of the basic underframe when I discovered a few mistakes that lead to warping of two cross bearers.  This was on build #4.  Well, now that I am back from vacation I will attempt #5.  This car will not beat me!  I hope.

Here is the underframe prior to scrapping it out.  Notice that I am using a large square of granite as a work surface.  The straight edge is useful to make sure the side is straight as you bond the parts together.  I made an error in the height of the cross ties along the far side of the car.  They were too tall to fit in the side channel.  If there is a lesson to be learned is not to try to scratchbuild a model with only short work sessions.  Mistakes are made as a result of no continuity in fabrication.

And now for a different topic.  This time Lee Turner shows us two examples of what you can do with old Max Gray and US Hobbies brass imports.  These models show up at swap meets and shows for a modest amount and can provide the basis for an attactive model.

The addition of some details to car such as cut levers and a load really lift the basic brass car to something that will look great on your railroad.  The prototype of the model is a Bethlehem 52′ mill gondola.  A lot of this cars were built and used all over the country. Lee finished the car in Lehight Valley, his favorite, and added a load of “steel” sides.  Carbuilders would make replacement sides for older wood cars.  Railroad would get a shipment much like Lee has depicted above.  His sides were left over from the days when he manufactured resin replacement sides for kitbashing Intermountain freight cars.

This brass import had a few dents added to the sides showing the normal wear these cars would get.   I believe this car is a 48′ long straight side version.

The load appears to be parts from a plastic model kit.  They look like a credible pair of machinery items heading to a  factory.

So don’t overlook these older brass models.  They can be upgraded to look very good.  Weathering is a key factor in improving the appearance.   Things like Archer decal rivets can spark up the plain inside of these models.  Adding rivet heads to the grab irons add to the texture of the sides.

Thank you Lee for the inspiration.





NEW PRODUCTS: More Good Stuff

It seems that I forgot to ask several suppliers if they had anything new in the pipeline or available today.   Here is second posting to cover what has been overlooked by me.

Smoky Mountain Model Works has released their Southern Railway low-sided gondola kit in 1/4″ scale.  It features a one-piece urethane body like his previous AAR flatcar.  The masters were designed in 3D and printed using a high resolution resin printer.  The body is loaded with details on the top, bottom and ends.  The inside of the gondola is fully detailed.

The prototype was long-lasting and could bridge into a the diesel era.  It is available with two styles of lettering for the early black cars shown below and the red later scheme.

S scale pilot model shown

The kit can be ordered complete except for trucks.  It weighs in at about 10.5 ounces with  metal trucks attached.  It does have a weight cast in the body.  This probably will be ok on the layout byut weight can easily be added.  Visit SMMW website to get particulars on price and ordering.

Right O’Way received their first shipment of P48 track with steel rail.  This is 125 rail available from the company.   Jay Criswell is testing the market on this to see if there is significant interest in the steel version. The price is $135 for a bundle of 19 pieces which make 51.5′ of right of way.  You can also puchase a piece for $8 each.  The track is 32.5″ long which different from the usual 36″ length of flextrack.

Modern  Era O scale has a new car in the works for summer 2020 release.  It is Thrall gondola.  Like all of their kits it will feature a urethane castings and detail parts.  This model will come with a one-piece body.   No price or date for release yet.

KV Models has released some very interesting etched stainless steel parts for the Atlas O SW-8/9 diesel.  The parts are well thought out and very nicely etched.  You need to check out their website or look for them on eBay.

These parts will elevate the Atlas unit to more refined shedding some of the ugly parts done for the three-rail market.

Hopefully these new items will interest you.




NEW PRODUCTS: Just Around the Corner!

Modern Era O Scale has new kit in production currently.  They are a Soo Line 7-post 50′ boxcar and a Southern Pacific exterior post double door 50′ boxcar. These are urethane kits cast by one of the best foundries in the hobby.  Each kit includes a custom plastic hardware set for details.  Decals will be available for these cars.   You will need to bring your own trucks and couplers to finish off these beautiful cars.

Both kits will be released soon so keep an eye on Modern O Scale’s website to see the announcement.

Protocraft is expecting a new shipment of Barber 70-ton roller bearing trucks this week.  Check their website for when they are ready to ship.   This is a very popular truck for the modern era and sell out quickly.

Twin Star Cars continues to amaze with interesting new products they are preparing for the market.   Their newest eye candy is an EMD cut lever bracket found on hood units from the GP-7 to the latest locomotives.  PSC has offered this part but lacks the detail and accuracy possible via 3D design and printing.  Terry Van Winkle did a beautiful job rendering of the part and produced samples in white bronze castings for Twin Star.  The parts are starting the production process and will be out this fall.

Here are the new parts installed on a Red Caboose GP pilot.

All three items are in the pipeline and will be available soon.  Be patient and save your pennies.



MODELING: More Eye Candy from Lee Turner and Jim Zwernemann

I feel blessed to have the likes of Lee Turner and Jim Zwernemann willing to share their work with this blog.  They represent some of the finest craftsman to be found in our hobby.

Recently, Jim Zwernemann added this little structure to his P48 layout.  He created a model of the Texas & New Orleans yard office that once stood in Austin, Texas.  The model was built using styrene and painted with acrylic paints blended to match Southern Pacific Common Standard colors for structures.  The AS-616 is an Overland import that was detailed and finished by the late Jim Hickey.  The view shown below also captures part of the Mather boxcar built by Jim a new of years ago.  His friend Jim Hickey did the artwork and printed the decals using an ALPS printer.

Recently, I posted a few pictures of Southern Pacific cabooses done by Lee Turner.  He added his stamp to the models by customizing figures to fit the location on the particular car.  Lee used plastic filler to change the position of the body parts creating a unique character.

One of the recreations done by Lee are two figures that were part of the Edward Hopper titled Nighthawks.  This must have been a fun project to capture the images in 3D.

Now, the cafe needs to be built to provide the setting for these two characters.

Thank you to Lee and Jim for sharing your work with this blog.


MODELING: NP 52′ Flat Car 1.96

This week has been the “Honey Do List” week.  Not much accomplised on the flat car.  I did manage to work on the sidesills, cross ties and Stringers.

The stringers are made up of .030″x.080″ on the bottom, a vertical of .030″x.060″ and a .010″x .060″ strips.   The fit between the Cross Bearers and the bolster.  I maade a simple gauge to help with the location prior to bonding.

Once the stringers are installed, I started to make the cross ties.  The span between the sidesill and centersill.   There is a cutaway on the bottom (actually the top when the car is upright].   I used  the drawing to get the basic shape and size then layed the parts out on a sheet of .030″ sheet.  Once they are cut out, I applied top and bottom flanges made from .010″x..060″ strip.

The last item to show this edition is the sidesill preparation.   I drilled holes for all of the rivet locations and used Tichy .025″ rivets.  I also drilled the urethane stake pockets.  They have two locator pins cast on the back to help with installation.   Not this hardware is actually mounted at this step.  I want to install the sidesills before populating them with rivets and stake pockets.  The picture below shows what it will look like when I start installing the goodies.

Next installment will cover the completion of the sidesills, weight installation and assorted things.

One last photo is of a 1/4″ scale model of the Southern Pacific ferry boat Sacramento.  The model is on Norm Buckhart’s layout and will provide the key prop to the Oakland Mole passenger station.  Norm rode this ferry when he was sixteen.   After years of wanting the Sacramento  in model form his dream was realized recently.   It is nearly 7′ long and weighed 300 pounds when shipped.  Enjoy your ferry!