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!


5 Attachments

MODELING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build #9

Photo Credits: Bill Welch

Bill has been working on a set of HO patterns for several variations of the Rio Grande boxcars. His work is incredible.  I know that this beyond my ability to work at this level on such a small model.   The kits will be offered commercially in the near future by an established HO producer.

Thank you for sharing your modeling and photos.



We will assemble the body using the previously built sides, ends and floor.  The key to getting the proper fit is to establish a common reference for the alignment of the ends to the sides.  If you build the model with open doors on one side make sure the floor is oriented properly with the opening, extended floor boards and the “B” end.

The top edge is my reference to ensure alignment of the body parts.  Bond the end to the side making sure it forms a ninety degree joint. The floor will rest on the top of the side channel.  Test fit the floor to make sure it fits.  I ended up trimming the floor length and notching the end sill to clear the center sill extension.


Add the second end to the side.  Insert the underframe and add the second side.  Once this has set, you can bond the floor to the side channels.  Let this whole assembly time to set before moving ahead.

I added two side spacers to keep the long sides from sagging.  They are not very rigid so some reinforcement is in order.  Don’t plate over the top completely.  I will be adding weight so access is needed.   The interior will need to be painted and weathered before the roof is installed.

A few weeks ago Richard Bess (pattern maker for Rails Unlimited) sent me a shot of a variation in the D&RGW 50′ auto car.  The railroad rebuilt a number of the cars to allow auto loaders to be installed.  The roof was raised by six inches with a Murphy steel raised pane roof on top.  The auto loader chain tubes can be seen on the underframe.  The doors and opening were widened to 15’6″ for ease of loading.

End of #9

Jim Zwernemann

Robert Leners

Lee Turner

Well, this is all for this installment.  Again, I would like to thank Bill and Richard for their assistance.


MODELING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build #8

Back on the job and getting stoked about finishing.  I got the body assembled and I can see the end of the project.  A lot of time was spent fabricating parts and drilling holes.  Oh yes, getting to remake things that didn’t work out.

The underframe was built on a 040″ sheet that I scribed board lines at 5″ intervals.  Normally, I would use .060″ or .080″ sheet but I wanted to have the doors open on the one side and need to have a scale thickness floor boards showing.  I did add .080″ pieces on either end to stiffen area where the trucks and coupler are mounted.

The fishbelly centersill was cut out of .020″ sheet.  I created rivet strips out of .015″ to outline of the centersill.  The strips run along the base plate of the centersill.  The rivets are spaced at 3.25 scale inches apart.  You can use Archer rivet decals to do this job.  Use the 7/8″ size rivets.

As you can see, there are crossbearers and crossties.  There is are 4″ square stringers that run parallel to the centersill.  Make sure you add the .032″ trainline before getting ahead of yourself with the cross members.

The flooring extends on one side for the open door side.

I test fitted the open side to the floor.  Mark where the channel overlaps the flooring.  This helps with trimming the crossbearers and crossties to fit.

You will need to determine where the “B” end location.

The next posting with go into the body assembly.



MODELING: ATSF Mikes on the Joint Line

I spotted this exceptional​ photograph on the O Gauge Magazine forum.  It is the work of Erik Lindgren.  He is a master of photography and a truly talented modeler who resides in the Denver area.   The locomotives were custom built by David Long “Kelly Creek Backshop” Bozeman, MT.  He built them for Tom Deats about 15 years ago. He rebuilt them from the ground up contest winning level. One was a Sofue-built model the other Max Gray.  They are of same class of ATSF mike but the models represent a spread of 40 years from the models were built.

The grasses are Silfor and some under growth dead and such from various including my own ground up in a food processor the real deal.

I want to thank Erik for sharing his work with us.

Happy (Santa Fe) Trails,