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: Rio Grande Auto Car Build 11.0

I will trying to bring you up to date on the boxcar build.  It seems that there has been a lot of things going on the last few weeks.  At any rate, progress has been made on my model.

This post will be a repeat of the roof build since I ended up scrapping the original piece.  I didn’t like the spacing of the ribs and the thickness of the material.   The curved roof section was formed the same way as the first time using laminations of .010″ sheet styrene.  The last lamination (#4) has the ribs marked while the sheet was still flat.  I decided to reduce the size of the small stiffening rib to a .020″ styrene rod.  I used a scribing tool to create a slot in the sheet.  This will allow the rod to drop in while bonding.

The first layer of the rib is .005″ x .188″.  I glued a .010″ x .030″ under the strip.

The second layer of the rib is .010″ x .138″.  I made a simple jig to position the strip. The jig helps with marking where the final layer will be positioned.

Once the final layer is added (0.015″ x .080″) to the rib. The rib end is shaped with a taper to the end and then rounded.

Next, I drilled a .018″ hole 13″ from the end and centered on the rib.  I added .025″ Tichy rivets to each rib.

The drawing shows the details of the Murphy Radial Roof construction.

Next time we will provide some information on the recent Collinsville RPM meet.  Protocraft was there representing the 1/4″ scale community in a largely HO/N scale gathering.

Dick Harley sent this picture of our recent visit to the world headquarters of Protocraft.  The picture reveals how Norm keeps his prices so low.  Import labor from Texas.  The workers are Bruce Blalock, Jim Zwernemann and Frank Peacock.  Actually, they are well know in the railroad community for their expertise (not packing couplers).  Bruce does smile frequently when not in the view of a camera.



MODELING: Little Bit of This and That

Robert T. Gallagher

This posting is a bit of a catchup since I have been busy with non-hobby stuff.   There are a few topics that I will cover.  First is a notice of the passing of Steve Grabowski’s father-in-law, Robert T. Gallagher.  Carl Jackson sent me a not of Robert’s passing.  Many may not recognize these names but Robert was a key person in the development and production the Grabowski/Protocraft scale steel wheels.  Steve Grabowski and his father-in-law made a commitment of time and energy to produce the true scale wheels with full contour wheels and axles.   We are fortunate that these two gentlemen filled a major void in the Proto48 market.   You can buy these wheelsets from Protocraft in a variety of axle and wheel size.

Texas Grass Party

Jon Cagle, owner of Southern Car & Foundry, visited the Austin area to install a commercial display.  He managed to find time to visit Jim Zwernemann’s home and layout. Bruce Blalock joined the party.   Jon has visited Jim’s a number of times over the years.  He has been doing a little scenery work each time.   We should all be so lucky to have a very skilled commercial model maker do your scenery.

Jon is on the left and Jim is on the right.  It looks like they just returned from lunch.  The picture below shows the “grass” work of Jon.  He uses an electrostatic applicator.  The cow on the right looks like it could yield some decent brisket for the local BBQ joint.

I would like to thank Bruce and Jim for sharing the photos or their recent social.

Top Secret Shipment

Lee Turner has uncovered several classified photos taken of  shipment being loaded for shipment to Oakridge, Tennessee in 1943.  The equipment was to support the Manhattan Project.

Well, the reality is of scale models that represent Lee Turner’s craft.   He has a flair for combining railroad and military models in one scene.

The weathering on the gondola is on the light side but remember the scene is in 1943 when war emergency gondolas were new.   Lee used figures and a jeep from Tamiya.

Next week, I will return to the Rio Grande automobile car project.






MEETINGS: O Scale West 2017

Regional O Scale meetings are very popular and do allow the opportunity to buy and sell model supplies, see operating layouts and new products from suppliers.  The meets draw people from a wide geographical area and interests.  O Scale West has been going on for a very long time under the leadership of Rod Miller.  This show is one of the very few I can easily visit.  It has been held in Santa Clara, CA in the shadow of Levi Stadium ( SF Forty-Niners football).  The meet had been in late January or early February but the new football stadium and explosive growth in Silicon Valley have created a challenge to maintain low hotel rates and use of the Santa Clara Convention Center that adjoins the Hyatt hotel.  For now, the meet is been held on the Memorial Day weekend.  For those who haven’t been in this part of Cali, the airport is very close to the hotel and light rail runs by the Convention Center.

On the Way

Prior to the meet, a group of friends got together and did a few railroad related trips.   Several friends took advantage of their location and rode the Napa Valley Wine Train.  It is an interesting trip that rambles through the beautiful Napa Valley.  Miles and miles of vineyards and wineries to delight your eye and pallet.  The ride is a gourmet experience with wonderful entrees, wine and deserts.

The next stop on the pre-meet tour was a ride north to Ukiah for some local BBQ and a tour of P-B-L facilities west of town.  The facilities are compact and somewhat remote in the hills with a view of the Pacific Ocean from the lofty heights of 2600 feet above sea level.

From left to right is Frank Peacock (railway historian), Jim Zwernemann ( expert modeler), Bruce Blalock ( Katy historian, modeler and artist), Bill Peter (P-B-L) Norm Buckhart ( Protocraft), Jimmy Booth ( Glacier Park Models and P-B-L), Mike O’Connell (Chooch Enterprise Owner) and Dick Harley ( UP modeler and historian).  The visit was enjoyable and informative.  P-B-L is Sn3.  It was a pioneer and created a loyal following in the hobby that has grown to a legion of strong following.   The facilities supports a wide range of production capabilities.  Model production is largely done with resin and injection modeling plastics.

The injection molding machine shown above produces much of the P-B-L and Glacier Park Models.   Dies are made using CNC mills from brass plates.   The designs are created using 3D software.   It is a process that has become standard for much of the hobby.  The image shown below is of the brass dies used to make the parts for kits.

P-B-L has a room that hold their convention displays featured Sn3 models.  They are exquisite displays.  The displays remind one that Bill Peter and Jimmy Booth are superb modelers.

Returning to Protocraft’s home base in Sonoma was a smooth trip for most except for Frank and Bruce stuck in the last row of Norm’s SUV.

At the Show

The show opened on at 9am on Friday.   A couple of newcomers in P48 attended the meet.  Ross Dando and Shawn Branstetter came down from Idaho to meet other modelers.  They are both accomplished modelers and now working in our scale.  Ross

brought down a modified Protocraft AAR steel boxcar to show and participate in the favorite model contest.   He is a Rock Island fan and did his car with Protocraft Rock Island decals.

The favorite contest had some nice models.  Joel Kirk brought his Sacramento Northern GE 44-ton diesel, Bill Yancey entered a CP Rail wood chip gondola and Jim Zwernemann brought his Milwaukee Road stock car.  I believe that Joel and Jim took first prizes in their categories.

Well, I hope you found this posting interesting.   Why not try going to a regional O scale meet in the future.  I have found that the real benefit is the opportunity of meeting and socializing with fellow modelers.


MODEDLING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build 10.5

Well, I didn’t quite finish the auto car project in time for O Scale West meet at the end of this week.  Rats!  It seemed like a safe bet to complete the project.  I even ordered fresh Star Brand paint from P-B-L .

The side view is where I have ended this week.

Lots of little details go into the doors.  The upper rollers are a Camel #27 and the lower are #50.  The door opener and latch are from Chooch along with the rollers.

The process of mounting the door and guides starts with building the upper door track which is a strip of .040′ x .030″ styrene.  Mount the door next and build the lower track.  The lower track is built up from a strip of .020″ x .060″ with a piece of .015″ x .020″ added to form a “L”.

Sorry for the short report but this has been a very busy period.


MODELING: Other Peoples Work (OPW)

I have been fortunate to have regular contributors to my P48 Blog.  One such gentleman is Erik Lindgren.  He is an accomplished modeler, photographer, artist and raconteur.  His interests run from classic cars to being a dad.  His skills as a photographer and artist can be seen in his postings.  Recently, Erik shot some images of the new Key Models Southern Pacific AC articulates.  He was kind enough to share a few shots that were not property of the importer.  I thought the picture shown above was unique in that it showed Erik focused on the details in setting up his stage.

Few models approach the realism of the Key locomotive. It is stunning to look at and operate.

Thank you for Erik for sharing.

Another contributor is Lee Turner. His work is fantastic and very realistic. Today’s subject is a urethane kit produced by Rails Unlimited.  The prototype is of a Milwaukee Road stock car.  The car is a classic.  The Milwaukee Road had a fondness to using Klasing hand brakes.  Fortunately, Protocraft brought in some casts of this interesting design.  Lee pointed out that the door is incorrect for cars with drop bottom doors.  You can spot the drop bottom doors with the Wine door latches on the side sill.

The picture below is of a model built by Jim Zwernemann with a new door.

 Last but not least is Jim Zwernemann of those who contribute.   His work is exceptional.  Recently, he has been working on his layout trying to complete a new scene.  Jim is a regular for groups and individuals who are in the Austin, Texas area.  The line from the movie “Field of Dreams” that goes like “if you build they will come” best describes the attraction.   Jim says that group visits tend to make him stay focused on a project to have something new to show.  I could use some of those.

Jim added a new bridge to part of his layout along with a factory.  The bridge is made from Masonite, wood and plaster castings.

Thanks again to Erik, Lee and Jim.  This blog would be pretty boring without them sharing their work.


MODELING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build #10

This posting will cover the underframe and end detailing.   I am pushing to try to finish the model in time for O Scale West.  It may not get paint and lettering done in time. Too many interruptions the last few weeks.

The fishbelly underframe is capped with two layers of styrene.  I am trying to simulate angle stock riveted to either side of vertical sheet.  My approach starts with a  .010″ x .138″ strip to which you add .010″ x .060″ strips.  There will be a gap in between the strips.  The lamination is now attached to the center sill as shown in the lead picture to this posting.

I am equipping my car with an AB brake system.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a diagram for the installation only the original K brake system.  All of my photos tend to be dark in the underframe area.  I was able to make out where the control valve and brake cylinder are located.  The reservoir is conjecture on my part.  I had to create a design for supporting the brake components.  Murphy’s Law states that information will now appear given that the model is nearing completion.

The control valve is suspended off the center sill very close to the cross tie. The control valve is supported by two straps running from the side sill to the wood stringer.  By the way, I am using the San Juan Car Company AB brake kit.

I fabricated the brake lever attached to the brake cylinder.  The brake rods are tied to the lever with a San Juan Car Company clevis.  The interconnecting air lines were made from .020″ wire.  I used Tichy phos bronze wire which is a bit of a pain to bend in tight spaces.  Details Associates brass wire seems to be a disappearing act.

The bolsters were capped with .015″ sheet styrene.  I built up the side of the draft gear with .015″ sheet with .025″ Tichy rivets added for detail.  I cut a slot in the sides to facilitate part of the detail. The side pieces were added to the outside of the center sill pieces.  I wanted to increase the room for coupler swing given the 50′ car length.   The draft gear is built up to fit a cut down Protocraft coupler pocket. I built up the scale striker plate from .020″ strip and .060″ styrene angle stock.  The striker is mounted to the body.

So this is what the B end looks like with everything but the ladder and cut lever installed.  The Chooch brake fulcrum is connected to the Ajax gearbox with clevis made from a San Juan turnbuckle cut to remove one end.  The brake platform and supports are sourced from Chooch.  The gearbox is a Grandt Line part.  Notice the three rivets and the two square nuts are positioned on the end of the side.

The picture shown above helps visualize the method of attaching the hand brake rod.

This wraps up the installment #10.


MODELING: Tribute to Navy Seabees by Lee Turner

 Here’s one dedicated to all you Navy Vets and especially the Seabees.  Lee Turner was asked to build this Bates bulldozer as a load for a yet to be painted Car Works forty-foot PRR class FM car. Bates was a real company that ceased production in 1937. The customer’s railroad was set in 1954 time period.  Lee had to find a rational way to make this model realistic for this time frame.  After some thought, the idea came to him. Before WW2 the armed services were starved for funding and perhaps the Navy got a good deal on the last production from Bates.  During this period when the Seabees were intensely building island bases the Bates dozers were kept stateside due to concerns about spare parts.  After the war, the crawlers were sold to an auction house with limited or not running time.  The machines were sold at very low prices to new owners that took delivery by rail.

So that is Lee’s artist license.  It sounds good to me and it looks fantastic to boot.


For those of you who are armor modelers will recognize some of the weathering techniques used by Lee on the blade and tracks.  It is amazingly time consuming to create the weathering effects on this model.  The dark rust is very convincing with the look of old rust. The standard Navy Gray is weathered down to look like it has been sitting in a storage yard for some time exposed to blazing sun.

Might just make an interesting project to do.

Build something!


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