MODELING: Miscellaneous Topics

There are a few topics to cover with this posting.  Here they are:


Each year, the best O scale meet occurs in the Chicago area.  The crowds are large with many vendors and manufacturers to see.   Each year I manage to have something else happening.  This year it was lunch on the Napa Valley wine train.  The food was great, with excellent a selection on the wine list (you would hope).  Norm Buckhart sent me a couple shots from the meet.


I was asked a question about the toolbox on the Southern Pacific C-30-3 caboose.

The above images were made off of the 1″ to 1′ drawing hanging on my shop wall.  Hope this helps.


This modern boxcar is the work of Lee Turner.  It was requested by a client.  Lee had to educate himself on the tagger technique and style.  Fortunately, his son has a friend who used to do this on the real stuff.


Norm Buckhart used to publish a periodic magazine with news and techniques on Proto48.   It was called The Proto Journal.  Norm decided that it was taken too much time and wanted to hand it over to a new editor.  I volunteered to do the new magazine.  In 2000, the first issue was put together but the realization of preparation and mailing would be time consuming and costly.  A decision was made to go with a website version instead.  The new website became know as the Proto48 Modeler.  It continues to today.  Protocraft underwrites the web publishing and server costs.

Happy Trails,


MODELING: Scenery Ideas on Facebook

Yeah, I did write Facebook.  Aside from too much political BS and other useless things, I discovered the true value in this social media was access to modelers and artists in other parts of the world.  It is amazing to see the work being done by modelers in other modeling domains like armor.

Thorsten Strover created this scene using typical scenic materials.  He resides in Germany and is a railway modeler.

This incredible scene was done by a fellow in Japan who models in 1/32 scale.  His techniques were not explained but the results are amazing.

The individual leaves really make an incredible impact.  I would assume that this small scene represents a labor of love.

I have found that my visits to this social site was worthwhile.

By the way, this is my 200th posting to my blog.  Thank you for coming along for the ride.

Happy Trails,


MODELING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build #6

I have working on the automobile car build over the last few weeks.   I was able to obtain another shot of the interesting cars from Arnold Menke.  It is an early view shows the original door hardware and position of the interior posts around the door.  The builder drawing is not real clear about what is showing along the side channel near the door opening.  The photo helps even though it was fuzzy.   I like the fact that the car has the doors partially open.  This is the way I am building my car.

The wooden double doors are constructed out of the same “false tongue and groove” material that is on the car side.  I built one side’s doors in one-piece.  It is framed with .010″ x .043″ strips.  The frames will get MacLeod Western N-50 7/8″ square nuts and bolts.  I also used Tichy .025″ rivets on part of the doors.   The other side doors were built as separate parts.

One of the details that you will find on nearly all wooden doors are corner reinforcements.  The shape is a pain to do multiple copies of and have them look nearly identical.  After thinking about it a while, I made a simple jig that would allow me to cut identical angles in a .010″ x .125″ styrene strip.

It is a quick process to create enough reinforcement pieces for the four doors.  You might find this jig for the next car project.

The door set is complete except for the closing mechanism and rollers. A Camel number 50 is used on the lower edge of the door.  Chooch has Camel hardware and closing mechanism parts on their #215 parts sprue.  I will show the parts installation on a future installation.

The side shown above shows the completed interior posts on the side sill.  You can see the doors positioned on the side.  I will add the door tracks and final details once the body is assembled.

Next time I will describe the underframe construction.

Happy Trails,


MODELING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build #5

In this installment, I will show you how I built the reverse Dreadnaught end.   The prototype used a 4/3 end that was 9’4″ wide and 10’0″.  My choice for making this end is to build it out of a plastic part made by San Juan Car Company for their Western Pacific double sheathed boxcar kit.  The process requires two set of ends to build two ends.



Start by figuring out where you will need to cut.  Hint- make the cuts in the center of the large rib or wale.  The relatively flat surface allows any filling and sanding required to make the seam disappear.  Use the non-lumber door end as your end-cut-1

basic part.  Make the first cut on the bottom wale.  The second cut will be on the lumber door end should be on the second from the bottom wale.  I use double-sided tape keep the straight edge from slipping.  Start the cutting with a single edge razor bade.  I also used micro saw to finish the job.  Use sand paper on a flat surface to square up the piece.  Bond the pieces together using MEK or Testors liquid cement.  The parts are likely shot in ABS which bonds better with these solvents.


The second cut is to add a third rib to the top two ribs. You will need to remove the peaked top of the end.

end-3After you are finished hacking away on the plastic, end-final

you should end up with a couple ends that have the right number of wales with the correct width and height.  Finish by filling any voids that might result from the cutting.  I used Tamiya gray fine filler.  I need to sand the filler yet.

Next in the build sequence is the underframe.

Happy Trails


MODELING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build #4


I am getting back to the Rio Grande automobile car build. It has been on my bench with work being performed an hour or so at a time.  Drilling holes and inserting nut/bolt casting is a pain.  It can be done in moderate doses.


If you examine the photo above you can see the sheer numbers of rivets and nut/bolts.   I used MacLeod Western N-50 7/8″ nut with bolt.  No washer was used with this hardware stackup.  You can also use Grandt Line #9.  The rivets are .025″ Tichy parts.


The side sill details take time so be patient.  One of the interesting details of this car is the exposed interior steel posts.  I built these up using three pieces to simulate a “Z” bar braces.  I made a simple jig to position the vertical element first (.020″ x .060″).  Once that piece is secure I added the top flange (.015″ x .060″) and the lower flange (.010″ x .060″).


The photo on the right shows all of the details. The steel strips on the sheathing had flat rivets where the door passes over the area.  The rest of the attachment points are done with nut/bolt fasteners.

The doors are made from the same scribed styrene as used on the sides.  This siding is laminated to .020″ plain styrene to create a scale thickness.  It is framed with .010″ x .043″ strips (HO 1″ x 4″).  Nut/bolt castings are used around the perimeter. Note the there is not a frame on the bottom.


I built one side of the doors as a single piece.  The other side doors are built as separate pieces.  My intent is to have those doors partially open.


The door hardware will take some effort to create using Chooch plastic parts.   I will get into this  in the next post.

That is all for now.

Happy Trails,


MODELING: Super RS-3 by Lee Turner


Well, Lee has done it again.  He has built a superb rendering of a Northern Pacific Alco RS-3.   The model is beautiful to look at but it requires a serious study of all the subtle touches incorporated by Mr. Turner.

A client engaged Lee to build a 1/4″ scale replica of a Northern Pacific RS-3.  A specific locomotive was selected for the build.  A Weaver plastic model was selected as a starting point.  The Weaver model was of a early phase unit.  The model was rebuilt into a later phase with different door configurations and body filters.  The project was started with research, collecting photos and selected parts to aid the build.  Lee headed over to P&D Hobbies in the Detroit to buy the parts that will work.  This defined the items that Lee has to scratchbuild.


The above prototype photo was from the Fallen Flags website.  It depicts the prototype for the era the Lee was building.



Lee was able to obtain this partial shot the correct style locomotive from Rick Leach.  Alco’s were an extremely rare occurrence west of the Rockies.  This shot was taken after the BN merger.


 Lee provided this description of his effort:

Here is the unit ready to get a bath tonight and primer tomorrow. There was a lot of details that needed to be changed and as you can see I had to hang a lot of “jewelry” to get there. I had been debating how to do the NP style air intake grilles on the long hood. Most phase 3 units and apparently some of the earlier NP units just had screened openings with filters inside the body. The later NP units had a filter grille that stood proud of the doors by about an inch, I finally got the idea of using Farr air grilles cut from a scrap Atlas F-9 body They are a tad heavy detail wise but I had no better option I could come up with.


One of the interesting details on NP RS-3s was a heater cabinet.  It is located next to cab and provided essential heat in the cold winters around Duluth and Superior.


Here is the model after painting and decaling.  Not all of the pieces are installed.  From this point, Lee’s art comes into play.  Weathering with washes and highlights starts the process.

The decals were drawn by Rick Leach and sold as part of a massive set of Northern Pacific lettering covering most of their diesels.  The challenge with yellow lettering over black bodies is the transparency of the yellow ink.  Typical decals have a tendency to shift to a green tint on the yellow.  Microscale decals have this problem.  Key imported NP diesels with greenish lettering on the sides.   It took Rick about five or six passes with the decal makers to get the ink to render the proper shade of yellow (imitation gold).  His persistence paid off.  Lee was able to take advantage of Rick’s accurate font and color.


Here is the model after painting and decaling.  Not all of the pieces are installed.  From this point, Lee’s art comes into play.  Weathering with washes and highlights starts the process.


Here is more of Lee’s description:

Here is the finished project RS-3 and I think you’ll enjoy it. I was especially pleased with the chipping paint on the long hood sides. These units were painted yellow first then the yellow areas and lettering was masked off and the red stripes were painted and then masked with the black being the final color. When the black paint wore through it exposed the yellow except around the stripes where the red could be seen. Where the red stripes have chipped it exposes the yellow coat. Three reasons for this appearing on the sides where the prime mover is. First the paint could get very hot  which didn’t help its durability and it also got greasy and oily and with the paint being petroleum based the oil softened the paint, lastly when the oil and grime was washed away it took a strong caustic solution to cut through the grime.


The NP used a reflective tape on their diesels.  I believe it was made by 3M.  Lee was able to create the effect by spraying yellow and turn signal yellow (metallic accents added) on decal film.  The resulting material is a bit thick but it gives the effect you want once it is cut into strips.


  This unit was a lot of fun because of the many unusual details that set this apart from the standard RS-3

Well, that is some locomotive.  It is nice to see this unique locomotive in scale.  Thank you Lee.

 Happy Trails,



MODELING: A Masterful Upgrade


Erik Lindgren was kind enough to send me a number of photos of a beautiful US Hobbies Union Pacific 2-8-0.   The model is the work of a gentleman by the name of Andy Revis.  The model was converted to Proto48 along with a total makeover from pilot to tender.   The original KTM-built import was a rather plain model which was typical of the early brass models.







As you can see, Andy elevated this model to the level of a Glacier Park Models import.  Great job!

Thank you Erik for your professional photography……..

Happy Trails,