MODELING: Finishing My Type-30 Tank Car

This construction project got underway when Norm Buckhart decided to create the Clinton decal set.  A discussion between Norm and Jimmy Booth result in a joint project in which I did a fair amount of the heavy lifting.  How did that happen?  Oh well, we will have a unique tank car model.

I decided to try out a new paint made by Mission Model  It is acrylic paint with an urethane additive to improve durability.  I chose MMP-105 which is called Worn Black Gray Tires.   I s a decent color for viewing the model on a layout.  I am still learning how to work with it.

I decided to decal the frame while the tank was separated.   It does make it easier to avoid breaking details during the decal work.

The Protocraft decals provide all of the lettering to completely detail the frame.

This picture shows the frame lettering installed and tank mounted on the frame.  I started decaling the tank with the herald.

Here is a shot of the lettering complete.  I still need to airbrush a flat finish and add a bit of weathering.  It has been a interesting project that was made possible with help from Norm, Jimmy Booth and Frank Hodina (Resin Car Works).



MODELING: Build 1.5 Ton Chevy Truck

Mike George sent me pictures of his latest project.  It is a 1/48 Chevy truck that requires nearly no scratchbuilding.

The model is a very impressive looking truck that would fit in neary any layout.  You will need to to collect the following components to assemble this 1/48 vehicle:

Menards 1947 Chevy Panel Delivery.

Atlantis Models 1955 2 ton Chevy truck kit.  The kit has an issue with the front axle parts.  They will raise up the front end too high.  The axle locators need to modified to prevent the front end is raised too high.  You need to cut off the inside tang so the axle rests on the leaf springs directily.  

Gaso-Line GMC cab for Tamiya truck kit

The above parts are made in France by Gaso-Line.  They can be ordered from a French website or Wannamakers Hobbies in the US.  They are cast in resin.

So when put all the parts in the blender you end up with something that looks like this.

The edie cast from fenders required some work to increase the size of the wheel opening.  The from axle had to be shortened to bring the wheels inside the fender line.  The diecast front end piece retained the running boards.   The Atlantis chassis was fitted to the front end parts.

Side mirrors and a bumper were added.  The etched wipers were included in the cab kit.  You will have to cut a piece of window material which requires some patience.   Mike reused the kit flat bed and side fences.

The above picture I plucked from the web to illustrate how well Mike’s model captured the look.

Thank you Mike for sending your most recent modeling effort.


MODELING: Shortline Modeler Blog

Shawn Branstetter has developed a very informative blog that describes techniques for modeling the railroad scene.   The emphasis is on technique and materials used by by scale plastic modelers.  He has mastered many of the newest modeling paints and materials developed in Europe.  Companies like AK Interactive, AMMO by Mig and Vallejo have created the kind of stuff that allows you to build realistic models and scenes.  Road building is one such tecnique Shawn developed a system using acrylic paste and Hydrocal creating realistic asphalt material.  He shows how to do this in his blog.

Here are a few samples of Shawn’s work on track, layout and building material.

Shawn’s blog is worth a look.




MODELING: Tank Car Handrails

Building the tank car handrail is one of those nasty jobs I dislike.  I usually drag my feet until it is absolutely necessary.  In the past, I have used cast brass stanchions to attach the railing to the tank body.   The picture below shows the Back Shop stanchions installed on my Type-20 tank car.  The parts are a little delicate and will break if you are not careful but they are nice looking once installed.

I am in the process of building several GATC Type-30 tank cars and needed a more cost effective and stronger stanchion.  I decided to fabricate stanchions from .010″x .060″ strip brass.  I started by forming the brass around a .032″ length of wire.  This ensure a good fit on the actual .032″ handrail.  Use a pair of pliers to create a loop and pinch the tail of the brass strip.  Solder the tail creating solid staff.

I made a little fixture to hold the stanchion while filing down the tail to approximately .032″ wide.  I wanted to minimize the size of the hole in the tank body so went with a .032″ diameter hole.   

The stanchion is inserted in a pre-drilled hole in the tank body.   The railing is spaced 3″ from the body.  It is also offset downward by approximately 3″.

The handrail is at the longitudinal center of this tank body.

The end railing follows the contour of the tank end.  I formed the shape starting with a paint bottle.  The piece was inserted into a jig that allowed me to create sharp bends to meet up with the side railing.

I use a round-nose plier to form the sharp bend.  The end piece is attached to the side railing using a very thin-walled tubing that is made by Albion Alloys in England. I used a 1.0 mm O.D. size with is a snug fit for the .032″ handrail.   This is a very thin tubing that is cut using a sharp knife blade rolled over tube on a hard surface.  It will easily snap off done correctly.

As a final touch I added short lengths of styrene with rivets added.

The above picture shows the primed tank body that still needs some attention to a few bumps and gaps.

Hopefully, you find this posting usedful in your model building.


MODELING: Bill Yancey’s Super Models

Bill Yancey has become an accomplished builder of modern freight cars.  He developed a line of urethane freight car kits.  After shuttering the kit business, Bill has been very active building rolling stock for his own layout.

Bill sent me pictures of his latest creations. Here are some pictures of the two wood chip gondolas. They were scratch built of sheet styrene and shapes.   The former BN car was built using drawings from MR in the May & June 1977 issues.  I was hoping to do a construction article on it if permission to use the published drawings comes through.

Styrene was used to build up the side and underframe ribs  Bill used a small square to ensure alignment of the ribs.

The ends of the wood chip cars were designed for end dumping.  Bill included the hinge details on the car end shown below.

The former UP car was also scratch built of styrene and H columns.  The walls were carved up to look like plywood sheets before assembly.  The load cover was made of unbleached cheesecloth to resemble load netting.

The former BN car was covered by a tarp which was made by hammering thin lead even thinner.  The tarp was painted with Rustoleum semi gloss black then weathered.

Both cars are equipped with Protocraft roller bearing and Type E couplers.

These cars are really fantastic and represent the state of art of modern modeling.  I appreciate that Bill provided us with information about his latest models.




MODELING: Soo Line Caboose Redux

The above painting by David Oram captures the feel of the old Soo Line.  Their wooden caboooses were part of the railroads character.

As a followup to the last posting on the Soo caboose that Robert Leners built, I have some additional information to share on the subject.

Robert sent me a picture of the underframe prior to painting.  The AB system is a San Juan kit.  The installation seems to be fairly common for rebuilt wood Soo cabooses. Dennis Storzek pointed out that the needle beam are farther apart compared to the majority of the rebuilt cars.  This was an artifact of the original car’s longer length.

Stu Nelson posted a followup on the Soo History on  He is a retired Soo employee and historian of the railroad.   Here is what Stu posted today:

 A little information on the caboose 99090 and that series.
Haskell & Barker built a series of cabooses in 1909 for the WC.  
WC numbers  WC 152 to WC 201  became renumbered 99056 to 99095.
Believe all were the  design of 4 windows on each side and cupola  closer to one end.
     99090 was built  Feb 23, 1909  as  WC 196.  32 ft 6 in long
Renum  99090  on Nov 29, 1909 
     Further info   Window Curtains inst at  Stevens Point  Dec 1923
        Permanent back-up pipe and whistle,    Steel Center Sill,   Refrigerator inst  Stevens Point  Nov 1927.
         Shatter proof windows inst   Fond du Lac  Dec 1938.
I believe the major reconstruction of the sides to the 3 window on one side and one on the other
was done during that session at Stevens Point  in 1927.

This is an excellent rundown on the car’s history.

Here is a CAD drawing done by Dennis Storzek.  It shows the general arrangement for rebuilt Soo cars.

That’s all for now



MODELING: Soo Line Caboose by Robert Leners

The Soo Line maintained a large fleet of vintage wooden cabooses with the newest being built in 1921.  The railroad was frugal and rebuilt their cars over their life.  One such example is car # 99090.  It was built by Haskell and Barker for the Wisconsin Central with a different side windows and cupola.   The rebuild was extensive to the point where you would not recognize the two as being in the same series.  The picture below is of an unrebuilt car in the same series.

The above photo shows what the 99046-99095 series looked like.  This particular car survived the rebuilding process to a large extent.  The photo was provided by the Soo Line Historical Society.

Robert Leners is a long-time ardent follower of the Soo Line and a very skilled modeler.  His style is always precise and clean.

Styrene is the ideal material to build a model of this calibre.  Robert is well versed in working with this material.

One of the interesting feature of many Soo cabooses is the single window on one side.  The original Haskell & Barker cars had four windows on either side.  A hallmark of the road’s cars was the tall cupola which could be found with a single window or double as shown with this car.

Robert’s approach of painting and decals a partially completed model is a bit unorthodox.  I can understand that some paint on part of the model will likely motivate one to complete it.  I recently did something similar with a tank car build.  I painted and decaled the completed frame.

This closeup of the end shows how careful Robert is with his work.  It is flawless.

The “W.C.” initials on the right letterboard indicate Wisconsin Central ownership and does the 99000 series number.



As always, I am grateful to Robert for sharing his work with you all.

Thanks for taking a look at Robert’s work.




MODELING: Lee Turner Does Modern


Over the years Lee Turner has finished a wide range of models that span the scales and eras.  Such a diverse requests from clients exposes him to an amazing variety ot projects.   This particular modeling project has a bit of a story attached to it.  I am sharing Lee’s words and description.


This project has been sitting on my shelf for a few years. It started as a decorated Atlas D&H/ New York state Transportation box car in bright blue and white. The client had seen a photo of one of these cars in extremely weathered condition and wanted the photo recreated. Only trouble was that neither he nor I could find the photo online.  I searched all the usual railroad picture sites and even looked through Guilford and Canadian Pacific pictures following where the railroad ended up all to no avail. Finally my client found that these cars were sold to short lines including many to the Georgia Northeastern. With that clue I found the picture in question in minutes. It was really like doing two boxcars with the major differences between the way the white and blue color weathered. I started by masking off the blue areas and weathering the roof and portion of the sides and doors that’s in white. The I Heart NY  must have been a decal of some sorts that peeled off, or perhaps the white band was an area overpainted to de-identify the car when sold and the lettering was ghosting through. After the upper portion was completed the roof and white areas were masked off and the blue portion of the sides and ends were weathered working from the photo. At the same the underbody and trucks were painted and weathered. Up to this point basically all weathering had been done with an air brush but for the final weathering I switched to Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna oil paints in a tube to add more rust tones and bring the different colors together. A very interesting and satisfying project and it sure was nice to finally get it off the shelf.

Here is the starting point. An Atlas 3-rail fifty-foot PS-1 boxcar.   The paint scheme is base upon prototype cars owned by the Delaware & Hudson.

Here is the picture that kicked off the project.

The model shown above is remarkable considering the starting point with the shiny blue and white paint.

The oil washes really create a realistic rust patena on the car.


I want to thank Lee for sharing his methods for achieving the well worn look on a modern boxcar.


MODELING: The Bodega Avenue French Laundry

Every now and then I come across an interesting building to just calls out to be modeled.  One such structure is laundry once located at 570 Bodega Avenue in Petaluma, CA.  I suspect the vintage signage caught my eye initially.  The building featured a false front design with gabled roof behind.  It was sheathed with shiplap siding.

There was a feasibility study performed by Page and Turnbull in 2014 to determine if it could preserved as a historical landmark for the city.   Sadly, the study concluded that it was too far gone to  be saved.  However that does not mean a model couldn’t be built reflecting what it might have looked like when it was a laundry.

This view shows details of the west elevation of the structure.

At this point the roof had collapsed along the east elevation.

This photogr

This photograph was taken during the 2014 study.  At this point it looks like a good candidate for a supply of shiplap for Chip and Joanna Gaines.

The back wall showing the rear entrance and a boarded up window.


The east wall is essentially gone.  One can speculate that there were likely windows

The first step is to construct a simple drawing and possibly a cardboard mockup to get a sense of what the building will look like when completed.

I plan to use styrene for the basic material.   I saw a painting weathering technique shown by Vallejo acrylics on how to create the appearance of an old wooden structure.  It looks like the way to go to get the effect desired.   My objective to depict the appearance in the mid-1950s.

Model and Photos are from a Vallejo brochure explaining this technique

Final appearance of the weathered plastic using Vallejo acrylics.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in the laundry build.


MODELING: Lee Turner on Rock Island B-2 Boxcars

Years ago, San Juan Car Company produced their first standard gauge 1/48 kit and it was a Rio Grande Fowler-clone boxcar.   The late John Parker ( San Juan founder) had a passion for the Rio Grande.  He had the late Joel Berling tool the kit for injection molding.  The Rio Grande had a bunch of these cars but a lot less than the 3,000 B-2 class built for the Rock Island.  It had a few differences such as the number of roof panels and an additional angle on the doors.

I built the model for Lee Turner using the car kit, trucks, couplers and a K-brake assembly.  The original kit was supplied with a AB brake system.  This unpainted picture highlights the major changes needed to convert the Rio Grande prototype to a Rock Island car.

Lee applied his magic to the assembled model.  A basic paint job with lettering from RL Decals.  He started to apply character to the model using various techniques to add shadowing and highlighting to get all the detail to pop.  Lee also contrasted the metal parts from the wood siding in  how much fading occured.

By the way, the Rock Island car is for Lee’s own collection.  As you may know, he has retired from doing client work.  He hasn’t stopped working on models so we may see some more of his work soon.   Thank you Lee.