MODELING: Santa Fe All The Way

Bill McConnell is the proud owner fof this beautiful ATSF waycar. The modeling is the work of master modeler Lee Turner. Lee used a Pecos River brass import as the basis for this modern caboose. The model is equipped with Protocraft couplers. As with all of Lee’s work, there are weathering accents added to the red paint scheme. The finish shows signs of oxidation and runoff of dirt and grime collected in road service.

The waycar is trailing one of Lee’s own Lehigh Valley cars. They are both stunning models.

By the way, Bill has an incredible GP-9 that he built up the drive with battery. Lee did the finish work on the model. He is the owner of O Scale Turnouts, INC.

Thank you Lee for sharing your work with my blog.



MODELING: Building a GATC Type-22 Tank Car 3.0


I have been continuing to fine tune the build process as I go. My original plan to use laminated plastic running boards.  After playing around with the plastic version I decided to go with brass strips.  I used .016″ x .250″ brass strips made by K&S.  I used coarse sanding sticks and wire brush to add some texture to the brass.  Two strips were laminated with lapped joints at the ends.  I build a simple wood jig to hold the strips in-place while sweat soldering the lamination. A 100 watt iron works just fine for this job.


You can see the overlapping joints at the end.  The bottom layer extends the full width to create the bond.  I was trying to avoid a butt solder joint which has no strength.

The next area of revision was the dome as i discussed in the 2.0.  I made a new flange base for the dome using .010″ styrene.  I taped a piece to the tank and held the dome in place while I traced the shape of the dome base.  It creates an elipitical pattern as you would expect.  I marked multipe points for a 5″ flange width.  Using a compass I roughed in the radius.

It turns out the Plastruct makes a dome with the proper radius and diameter which would save some time in fabrication.

The new dome is 54″ in diameter and 26″ high as measured from the top of the tank.  The first step was to create a dome top.  Again, Plastruct came to the rescue with a cap that had an outside diameter close to the desired size.  I predrilled to location of the two vent fixtures and marked the flat spot diameter for the hatch.  The piece was shaped on my lathe.  I salvaged the hatch and vents from the original Red Caboose kit.

I added a styrene strip to simulate the lapped joint on the side of the dome.  The dome was bonded to the flange which had been added to the tank body.  Next, I did a little body and fender work.  I filled the joint of the dome base to the saddle and one side of the overlapped joint.

It looks a little messy but the excess can be removed with some 600 grit paper and water.  Oh yeah, the sill steps are shown alongside the tank.

The basic tank body is just about done.  I will add a grab iron on the dome side and add the tank bands which will provide the base for the hand rail brackets and dome step.  Once that is done, the car will be primed and rivets added using Archer decal rivets.

That is all for this visit.



MODELING: Protocraft Gondolas finished by Lee Turner

Protocraft imported a series of 53’6″ gondolas from Korea.   I have spent some time looking them over and decided that these are the most accurate scale model of a gondola imported in any scale.  The cars are accurately designed to follow the car builders drawings and photos.  Protocraft captured the right details for each railroad series modeled.  Hand brakes, truck types and stake pockets are all there and done right.  While they may be a bit pricey, they do reflect the state of art and the cost of manufacturer in Korea.  I would suggest you don’t miss out.  They are so superior to the Lionel, Atlas/Roco and US Hobbies models that it is hard to imagine owning any of these cars.

Fortunately, modelers have purchesed these cars and sent them to Lee Turner for finishing.  The models were painted by Lee with his classic weathering touches.  The steel interiors are very realistic in the way he handled the rust effect.  Loads are a favorite detail Lee likes to add to him customer’s models.  He is very creative in coming up with credible items.

I really like the finish and weathering on the Western Pacific gondola shown below.

The orange corner is correct for identifying the “B” end of the car.

Here is a view of the inside of the WP car showing dunnage left over from the last load carried.  The working stake pockets permit this detail to be added.

Lee uses Model Masters acrylic paints on all of his models.  He finds that they are durable even on brass.  Most of the colors seen are blends of a few basic shades of paint. Even the rust is created by mixing basic colors.  There are lots of products out there that can provide the basic colors in acrylic formulations.  I have used MIG/Ammo and Vallejo with decent effect.  Practice is needed to approach the beauty of Lee’s finish.

I am grateful that Lee shared pictures of his recent work on these spectacular Protocraft gondolas.

Thanks for stopping by


MODELING: Ford 1932 Model B and Screens

The Studebaker Silver Hawk (alias Lee Turner) has shared some of his work again. The is time is a couple simple projects that you might find useful.

Lee built this old Renwal 1/48 scale kit for a Ford Model B. The Renwal kits are really pretty nice with a few enhancements. The headlights were reworked and a windshield wiper was added. Notice the sticker on the windshield. Nice touch!

The body was painted with a gloss acrylic. A pin wash of Vallejo European Dust wash in seams and gaps brought out the detail. To get that sheen the body was rubbed down with a q-tip just dampened with the Mean Green cleaner I use all the time. It imparts somewhat of a shine with swirl marks. Sheen is a very important component in modeling something that is fairly clean and shiny but still shows age and realism. That sheen contrasts nicely with the canvas roof insert and rubber running boards in a flat finish.

The second topic is how to make and install “screens” on a piece of rolling. Scaling down window screens to 1/48 is a challenge. Lee may have found the ideal approach.

Hallmark imported a classic steel drovers caboose based upon an ATSF design. Lee built frames out of styrene and used Archer 3/16″ scale simulated screen vent decal (AR35380)to create the screen.

The optical effect makes you think you are looking at a screen grid. The decal was fixed with diluted white glue. Lee added matresses inside. He made them from Durham wood putty. I think the overall effect is quite realistic to the eye.

Thanks for taking a look.


MODELING: New Pictures from the Jim Zwernemann Layout

Jim Zwernemann sent me some recent pictures taken around the time of the Austin Eagle NMRA show. His layout is a very popular stop on convention tours of the greater Austin area. Periodic showings serve as motivation to do make progress on the project.

This Sunset Models GE 70-ton diesel is a recent project completed by Jim. He is in the process of retooling his motive power adding more diesels and less steam. The diesel era is something he feels more of an affinity for since it was a period of his early railfanning. The GE switcher was detailed to reflect SP modification such as train indicator boards and of course the imfamous “tiger stripes” paint scheme. Jim said that was a pain to do and likely to be his last.

Here is a nose shot of his GE locomotive sitting in front on the Katy freight station in Austin. This building is a hec of a model in its own right.

Here is another view of this interesting structure scratchbuilt by Jim. The prototype was a landmark in Austin for many years. He used Micro Mark printed brick material for the walls. Cream color stone and brick were common architectural details of that part of Texas.

Thanks for stopping by.


MODELING: Building a GATC Type-22 Tank Car 2.0

In my first posting on this build, I showed a completed bolster/saddle pattern that I was hoping to have cast in urethane.  To my surprise a friend in SoCal did a 3D design of the bolster and printed four parts on a Form 2 SLA printer.  This is a state-of-art printer that is less than an arm and leg.  I can’t tell you how happy I am to get these parts made.

The photo above is what the raw part looks like after printing and washing.  You do have some minor cleanup to do before you can use the resin casting.

Here is the printed part cleaned up and primed.  I test fitted it to the centersill.  Notice the rivet heads on the casting.  I didn’t put these on my pattern.  Nice touch.  The details can been seen in the following photos sent to my by Frank Hodina, Resin Car Works.

The photo shown above was also courtesy of Frank Hodina.

I started work on the underframe trying to prepare it for the installation of the bolsters.  The running boards are supported by an extension of the bolster, the centersill and four inch channels that run under the centersill and up to the position of the running board.

The milled channel used for the running board support came from a hobby shop near Kings Cross Station in London.  I have noticed that Albion Alloys makes a similar channel.   I added the Protocraft bolster insert.  This part was retaped for 2.0mm screw.  I will be adding Protocraft couplers and a striker plate for the draft gear.

I want to thank Warren and Frank for their valuable assistance on this project.



MODELING: Building a GATC Type-22 Tank Car 1.0

My post of June 8 talking about building a Type-17 single compartment tank car.   Shortly after posting the story a kit manufacturer sent me an email with copies of GATC drawings.  As part of his text he explained that the prototype I picked wasn’t really a Type-17 car but the next iteration of the design.   GATC didn’t identify it with a “Type” nomenclature.  The contributor has adopted the Type-22 nomenclature to make it a bit easier to identify the subject.

The drawings were a real great contribution to my project.  However, it did mean that I would have to redo the frame completely and replace the dome with a larger diameter version.  Not the end of the world but it does slow the process down a bit.

The bolster/ saddle is different from the one I built.  Different enough that I would not be able to live with it.  The other significant finding was that I built the original frame short by around nine inches.  That is a show stopper in my mind.  Besides the running board would not look right on the car ends.

So I built up a new centersill from two lengths of Evergreen 1/4″ channel.  I cut 1/4″ square blocks and drilled them to take Protocraft bolster inserts.  I retreaded them for the 2mm screws used on Protocraft trucks.   I installed .030″ Tichy rivets to simulate draft gear attachment points.

The Protocraft bolster parts are shown above.

The bolster casting also forms the tank saddle.  I made this pattern from .030″ styrene sheet with .015″ reinforcements in the openings.  The “ear” sticking out on the left side is the polling pocket.  The part is notched on the right side to interface with the channel.

So at this time I will break the build and send the bolster part off to the foundry to get some resin castings.