There was a place close to Newark New, Jersey know as NK Tower.  It was the interchange point for Lehigh Valley passenger trains go to and from New York City.   The change of motive power would occur with each train go onto or leaving the Pennsylvania Railroad’s mainline.

In the picture shown above the Pennsy classic GG-1 would handle the Valley trains in and out of New York City.  The handsome ALCO PA-1s would be set aside until the returning train arrived from NYC.

While this scene is 1/48 scale, it captures to beauty of a routine event between two railroads.  It has been gone for a long time.

Lee Turner created the scene using a Kohs GG-1 with light weathering and a Christmas wreath secured to the nose of this magnificent model.   The PA is a conversion of a MTH three-rail model with extra details and classic Turner weathering enhancements.  In the 1950s the locomotives would have been relatively clean as depicted by Lee.

As a kid, I remember seeing this handshake a few times from the rear seat of my parents automobile and once from a New York and Long Branch commuter train.  One of very many railroad memories long gone.

Another look at the GG-1 decked out in DLGE and pinstripes  The baggage car following was scratchbuilt by Lee.  Love that Cornell Red on the car.

Thank you Lee for bringing back memories of an earlier time.




MODELING: Part 2 on Lumber Loads

My previous posting generated more than the normal feedback from readers.   It seems that many folks have discovered that buying a large box of coffee stirrers can provide and excellent source of material of loads and other uses around the shop.  I had started down that path some time ago and bought a box of 1000 stirrers on Amazon for less than $8.00  They appear to made from a wood like basswood.

Building a lumber load that does not consume as much wood if you create a void on the underside.   It also allows for space to add weight. Another approach is to build the load around a block of balsa or pine.  This save a ton of scale lumber.   Lee Turner used balsa to build his load around.

He used stirrers for the wood on this Chooch Ultra Scale II AAR war emergency flat car.   I think this is proof that coffee stirrers can create a realistic load at not a lot of money.   Lee also pointed out that his uncle suggested stirrers years ago as a way to save money modeling.

Here is my approach to creating a void. The basswood used in this load came from the Napa Orchard Supply Hardware store. OSH was a regional favorite of mine. Sadly, the big box stores killed a business that started in the 1930s in San Jose, California.

The flat car load shown below dates back over twenty years ago.  The loads were built around pine blocks.

So that is all for now on flat and gondola loads.  Thanks to everyone for the feedback.


MODELING: Lumber Loads

Our HO modeler friends have all the luck.  Owl Mountain is offering an HO plastic kit to build up lumber stack for flats and gondolas.   For us poor souls in 1/4″, we have to make our own.

An example of how lumber was loaded and secured during the steam and early diesel era.  The Northern Pacific 50-ton flat car has been stacked and separated with dunnage.  You can see the posts and cross ties look to be showing some darkening due to age  The load shows variations in color as well.

The Milwaukee Road flat appears to be loaded with heavy timber.  In doing some reading on the subject of shipping lumber by rail, rough cut wood was generally ship exposed on open cars.   Finished wood was shipped in box cars.   Local lumber yards ordered rough cut and used their own equipment to finish to size.

The NP 52′ flat shows lumber is bundled with steel strapping.   The lumber size appears to be finished cut.  This illustrates how methods of shipment changed.

Owl Mountain’s HO product got me thinking about how to do this in our scale.  Before you ask, Owl Mountain is not likeyly produce this kit in O. So get yourself some stripwood and dig in.

Yes, it takes a lot of wood but everything below to the top layer is built with full length pieces.  I cut them 16′ long from 3″ by 6″ basswod.  I was very fortunate to go into a hardware store in Napa that was closing.  They had a whole rack of basswood marked 40% off.  Unfortunately the store was Orchard Supply that was closing all of their stores.  They have been a fixture in northern Cali since the Depression.   Their first store on Race Street in San Jose was my go-to hardware store when I lived in Los Gatos.

I used a simple mitre box to cut the wood.  I stained all of the wood before cutting to size.   I used Model Masters acrylic wood.   The paint was applied like a wash with distilled water.  Jimmy Booth show me a trick that he used on a wood load for P-B-L Sn3 gondolas.  I used a little paint to create knots in the wood.

Jimmy sent me a couple of pictures of a load he was preparing for a P-B-L cover shot.

Jimmy used a different paint to finish his loads.  The load is actually injection molded layers used to create stacks.

The plastic sprue shown above is what the HO and Sn3 modelers get.  Notice that the center is cut out for adding weight for small scale models.

Here are a couple cars done by Jason Hill (Owl Mountain owner).  Their website has very useful information on creating realistic loads and the AAR rules for loading and securing loads.

Robert Leners and I have been corresponding on building loads.  Robert has been working on a 42′ post-war gondola using a set of plans that were in an old Mainline Modeler.

The model is not complete but the load is finished.  The car was built from styrene and painted with Scale Coat II.  Robert was lettered with a new set of decals from Protocraft.

You can see that Robert created an open area in the load so weight could be added.  He also used the Model Masters wood color for his load.

MODELING: MKT Branchline Caboose

Many of the railoads in the United States found themselves short of rolling stock during WWII.  The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad was no exception.  Restrictions of critical material limited construction of new equipment.  The MKT found that they lacked passenger and freight equipment.  The railroad’s shops in in Dennison, Texas addressed one problem by converting older stock cars into branchline cabooses.  I railroad used AC&F stock cars in the 46000 series as the basis.  The resulting conversion served multiple needs like LCL freight, conductor’s office and minimal transportation for passengers on many branchlines in Texas and other states served by the Katy.

The railroad painted the cars in their colorful Sloan Yellow (Chrome Yellow) and later a few were painted in freight red with white lettering.  The Katy built ten cars and were numbered in the 341 to 350 series.

Masterbuilder, Jim Zwernemann, built a model in 1988 using data collected by Katy Expert, Bruce Blalock, and Texas railroad historian, A.T. Kott.  Fortunately a an old carcass was found in North Texas that allowed significant collection of photos and measurements.   A.T. created a working drawing for the car and motivated Jim to build a model.  I need to mention that A.T. Kott is true historian of Texas railroad history.  He has gone about measuring and photographing wonderful examples of unique railroad relics.   We owe a debt to A.T. Kott for his efforts.

Here is the model that was the result of research and work of Jim’s freinds.   A key component that Bruce Blalock provided was custom artwork and decals printed by Chuck Francis of Thin Film.

The pictures shown here are the work of Bruce Blalock.  By the way, Bruce now owns this beautiful model.

The model was constructed using styrene, wood and brass.  The sidewalls were made in a way that window glass could be slipped into the wall once the painting was done.   The color and weathering is stunning on this model.  I love the peeled paint of the roof is very realistic.  One of the interesting features of Katy caboose was the inclusion of safety saying on the cars. The placard on the end platform says ” In life as in baseball its when you get home safely that counts”.

The drawing above is the work of A.T. Kott and was published in the late O Scale New in 1988.  The drawing appeared as part of an article written by Jim describing his car build.  The model won first place at the 1988 O Scale National in San Antonio.  Th OSN editor, Greg Heier suggested that Jim should do an article on the model.  Greg and his magazine are now gone and part of the rich lore of our hobby.

I want to thank Bruce for taking the pictures and sharing information on the prototype car.


MODELING: Jim Hickey’s Unique Flat Car and Load

Steam era steel flatcars are designed to handle heavy loads with deep center sills that form an inverted truss.   Cars were rated as to their maximum load and in what areas the load can be places.  In the context of this statement, I want to share photos a model that shows what happens when a car is pushed beyond its limits.

The late Jim Hickey was a great student of the railroad scene.  He saw details and colors that escaped most.  Jim was a prolific photographer and came across this poor Southern Pacific flat car on one of his excursions.

As you can clearly see, the car is seriously bent.  While unsuitable for interchange, it could still serve the Southern Pacific hauling rock to build a jetty near Galveston, Texas.  The rock was sourced in the Hill Country near Austin and hauled down to the Gulf on former T&NO lines.  The car was stenciled to indicate it is in dedicated service.

Jim made his own decals using an ALPS printer.  This service was very hard on the car decking as well as the frame.  Jim created a patchwork of boards to cover the flat car deck.  I am not sure what he sued for making the huge blocks.  The coloring is very credible.

The decking really attracted me to the model.  One part of the deck looks like OSB plywood.  I love the debris on the deck as well.

Jim Zwernemann took these photos and is the current owner of this unique model.  Thank you for sharing Jim.


MODELING: Weathering with Oil Brushers

Weathering has always been a mystery to me.  I have tried Floquil, Poly Scale, pigments, Vallejo acrylics and now MIG Ammo oils.  The last three are now my go-to approach.  I have found it useful to layer effects using acrylic washes followed by washes of oil.  I must credit Lee Turner for showing me the way forward with weathering.  He is the master of technique with a real touch for picking out details and highlights. Thank you Lee!

The picture shown above has been weathered with the MIG Ammo oils.   The oil washes are easy to control and dry slower than acrylics so corrections can be made if necessary.  The car’s underframe had been weathered with Vallejo acrylics. I added a few more touches with the oils.

Here is the tank car before being attacked with Oil Brushers.


MIG Ammo has a good range of colors available but these are the one’s I have found useful.  You can check out the full range here.  By the way, I have been buying my Oil Brushers on Amazon.  Free shipping beats the charge that most online shops charge.

From the left to right here are the basic supplies:  ordorless mineral spirits, jar hold basic mineral spirits with a few drops of Japan Drier and the individual Oil Brusher tubes.  I use a sheet of plastic as a pallet.  I put a dab of the oil with the tube brush on the plastic.

Wet the brush with mineral spirit and touch the edge of the oil.  Capillary action will draw some of the paint into the brush.  Test to see how it will flow onto a surface like scrap plastic.  I suggest you use small amount on the brush until you can get the feel of the medium.

Washes on a tank is best started at the top seem and draw it down to the frame.  It will be two strokes since the railing gets in the way.  The basic washes are dust and dark brown.  The colors will flow together which helps create subtle variations. I did use a couple highlights of rust in a few area on the tank and dome.

Another application for Oil Brushers that has been effective for me.  It is weathering flat car decks.  I use the same pallet of colors on flat decks.  I use Lee Turner’s approach of painting the boards with variations of gray and tan that are mixed from acrylic paints like Model Masters.

This is a repeat of previously published Lee Turner on wood decks.

Here is Lee’s completed Red Caboose deck.   The idea is to not use lots of different colors such the it looks like stripes on a cheap suit.

Now my basic approach is the same as Lee.

I applied Oil Brushers to blend the variations in plank colors.  I used the dust and dark brown to the acrylic color base.

So this completes my story on using Oil Brusher oil weathering models.  How you were able to learn a few things.


MODELING: Finishing My Flat Car Kit

After a little hiccup on decals was fixed rapidly thanks to Norm Buckhart and Microscale and construction resumed. The new decals have been applied and weathering added to the car.   It has to be a record for me to finish a model so quickly.  If you happen to have purchased this kit, you have seen the merits of a well engineered kit that is easy to build.

The model shown above has been weathered using Vallejo acrylic washes and MIG Ammo Oil Brushers.  The Mig product is used as a wash using odorless mineral spirits with a touch of Japan Drier added to speed drying.  Oil can be applied over acrylic washes without disturbing them.   I really like the flexibility of this weathering combination.

So that is the completion of this build.  I now await Smoky Mountain Model Works next kit due at the end of the year.