MODELING: Heavy Load by Lee Turner

When you have a model of heavy duty flat car like the Pennsylvania Railroad F33 class, you need to come up with a load commensurate with the capability of the car.   Well, Lee Turner had a client who want an old Alco Models brass import done up with paint, lettering, weathering and an appropriate load.

The load suggests a steel casting or fabrication that would tax the capacity of this flat car.  I was curious what Lee used to create this impressive cargo.   As it turns out, He heavily modified a fishing reel to create the basic shape. I was augmented with styrene to disguise the original purpose.

The finishing helps create the illusion of a heavy steel part.  Lee used Vallejo and MIG products.  He spray on a rusty coat as a base then applied chipping fluid and a top coat of blue-gray to simulate the scale found on steel recently fabricated.  At this point, the light top coat was chipped off using water or old tooth brush.

A load this heavy needs an appropriate cradle to keep the assembly from moving or being damaged.  This cradle was made from Evergreen styrene “I” beams.  They were rusted up and a special technique was used for creating the assembly welds.  Lee sprayed a very thin line of black to create the soot marks that occur during welding.

Thank you Lee for the photos of your flat car project.  It is an impressive model.

Next time, I will show you the decaled Rio Grande Automobile Car.  Weathering will be in a subsequent posting.

Thanks for looking in,


MODELING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build 12.0

The construction part of the build is done.  I added the last few pieces  last night. Today I got the airbrush out and shot a primer/sealer.  The gray color is an important step in finishing the model.  The primer provides what painters refer to as the witness coat.  It shows off all of the mistakes.  And I found a few problems that will get some attention prior to the color application. With any complicated scratchbuilding project, it ends up taking much longer than planned. Late in the build I struggle with finishing the last details. In the past, I would rush the completion and cut corners.  Sadly, I would not be happy with the end results.

There are a few details that I want to point out to you.  The first is the running board supports.  I made my from a strip of .020″ x .040″ and two short pieces of .015″ x .020″. The support is 18″ long with two short pieces on the end.  This will straddle the curved surface of the radial roof.   The running board is a lamination of HO 2″ x 10″ strip and .005″ material.  The prototype running board is 1.25″ thick so the lamination creates the proper thickness.   I drill and insert Tichy .020″ rivets to simulate carriage bolts used to attach the running boards.

You will notice the running board is attached to the roof side with a tab that features a bolt detail.

The picture below is of the primed underframe.

If you look closely you will see a few dings that need some filler before finishing.

I decided to add some dunnage to the car interior just to provide some interest.

Back to do some touchup and the final color.  Next time I will show the car with some color.

Thanks for stopping by.




MODELING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build 12.0

The photo above was submitted by Warner Clark of his layout.  Richard Bourgerie shot the photo and added the impressive background.   Warner has an excellent eye for combining kits with scratchbuilt models to create an interesting..  The tall building is cheese factory.



IT IS NOW AT is the new email address


I have been working on the automobile car build during the last few weeks between interruptions.  I am now at a point where is needs only weight added inside, running board and primer.  Due to a finger injury I will have to wait a couple weeks for paint since acetone on a wound is not the greatest.

I added a number of final details prior to painting.  The first item are stirrups.  They are made from .010″ x .040″ brass strips.  I used a bending tool to create shape ninety degree bends where needed.  The tool is sold by the Small Shop. I have mentioned this before when I was forming some etched brass parts.

I build a simple jig to allow me to form consistent parts.  It is made from a few bits of styrene.

The stirrups were drilled as part of the forming process.  The is a ninety degree twist in the right side.  I used two pliers to make the bend.

The stirrup was attached to the car body with .7mm rivets that I purchased from Scale Hardware.

The next bits that were added are door stops.  I built a set of stop to fit on the lower door track.  I used a similar Chooch part as a guide.  They were made from .020″ x .040″ strip with a .010″ x .030″ surround.  I also added stops on the car sides. There are four required per side.  I used a part from Grandt Line.  The part is on a sprue which has other hardware.  It is #6 in their catalog.

There is a sheet metal wrapper that ties the upper side strap to the end.  I used a .010″ x .080″ strip to make this detail. One end is tapered to .060″ to match the end strap.  I pre-bent the strip to approximate the end shape.  Start by bonding the wide end first.  Once the joint is set, I bonded the other end to the car end.

Well that wraps up the basic construction with the exception of the running board. I will add weight to the inside and prime and paint the interior before bonding the roof and running board in place.

The model will be primed with a lacquer and painted with Star Brand D&RGW freight car red.   Star Brands is sold by P-B-L direct and through some dealers.  It is a lacquer as well. If you are sensitive to this type paint, I would suggest using Model Masters acrylic as you base color.  You will need to mix the right shade.

Our next posting will be on modeling modern prototype railroad equipment.  No, I won’t be doing any but I will show some of the creative cottage industry suppliers who are making it easier to this in P48 as well as O scale.

Thanks for tuning in,






MODELING: New Product and Modeling Topics


It is summer and all of the heat you would expect only it is only July.  Six days of 105 degrees plus is a bit much even for Northern Cali.  I was going through my photos this morning and found this shot of the Milwaukee Road’s Hiawatha ready to depart for the North. The miserable cold and damp weather seems refreshing today.  The picture has tons of interest to me since as a child I likely rode this to Milwaukee, WI.


Glacier Park Models is currently selling their latest kit for a Cotton Belt 40′ double sheathed boxcar.  The kit is composed of urethane castings for the body parts, custom ABS ladders, various Chooch and San Juan plastic parts.  It is available direct from GPM at $125 plus $14 shipping continental US only.  This is the first in a series of kits planned by Jimmy Booth.

Protocraft offers the decals for this kit.




Lee Turner just completed rework of a pair Key Models ALCO PA-1s.  Key depicted the models in a later configuration with MU plugs high on the nose.  Lee’s client didn’t like the look of these plugs on the wonderful PA nose.  The holes were patched and the paint touched up. The new paint spots are perfect in matching the factory finish.

The Nickle Plate called their PAs the Bluebirds.  These locos replaced the road’s handsome 4-6-4 Hudsons.  I think it was the late George Hilton who referred to the ALCO PAs as honorary steam locomotives.  They were famous for their black cloud produced when the throttle was advanced.   You can learn more about the prototype by visiting the Nickle Plate Historical Society


I had posted several pictures of Jim Zwernemann’s layout and Jon Cagle’s help planting scenery on a corner the railroad.  Jim follow this up with structures, figures and a story.  He created a vignette in an empty corner of the layout.  Looks great but needs some fencing.

Thanks for tuning in.



MODELING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build 11.0

I will trying to bring you up to date on the boxcar build.  It seems that there has been a lot of things going on the last few weeks.  At any rate, progress has been made on my model.

This post will be a repeat of the roof build since I ended up scrapping the original piece.  I didn’t like the spacing of the ribs and the thickness of the material.   The curved roof section was formed the same way as the first time using laminations of .010″ sheet styrene.  The last lamination (#4) has the ribs marked while the sheet was still flat.  I decided to reduce the size of the small stiffening rib to a .020″ styrene rod.  I used a scribing tool to create a slot in the sheet.  This will allow the rod to drop in while bonding.

The first layer of the rib is .005″ x .188″.  I glued a .010″ x .030″ under the strip.

The second layer of the rib is .010″ x .138″.  I made a simple jig to position the strip. The jig helps with marking where the final layer will be positioned.

Once the final layer is added (0.015″ x .080″) to the rib. The rib end is shaped with a taper to the end and then rounded.

Next, I drilled a .018″ hole 13″ from the end and centered on the rib.  I added .025″ Tichy rivets to each rib.

The drawing shows the details of the Murphy Radial Roof construction.

Next time we will provide some information on the recent Collinsville RPM meet.  Protocraft was there representing the 1/4″ scale community in a largely HO/N scale gathering.

Dick Harley sent this picture of our recent visit to the world headquarters of Protocraft.  The picture reveals how Norm keeps his prices so low.  Import labor from Texas.  The workers are Bruce Blalock, Jim Zwernemann and Frank Peacock.  Actually, they are well know in the railroad community for their expertise (not packing couplers).  Bruce does smile frequently when not in the view of a camera.



MODELING: Little Bit of This and That

Robert T. Gallagher

This posting is a bit of a catchup since I have been busy with non-hobby stuff.   There are a few topics that I will cover.  First is a notice of the passing of Steve Grabowski’s father-in-law, Robert T. Gallagher.  Carl Jackson sent me a not of Robert’s passing.  Many may not recognize these names but Robert was a key person in the development and production the Grabowski/Protocraft scale steel wheels.  Steve Grabowski and his father-in-law made a commitment of time and energy to produce the true scale wheels with full contour wheels and axles.   We are fortunate that these two gentlemen filled a major void in the Proto48 market.   You can buy these wheelsets from Protocraft in a variety of axle and wheel size.

Texas Grass Party

Jon Cagle, owner of Southern Car & Foundry, visited the Austin area to install a commercial display.  He managed to find time to visit Jim Zwernemann’s home and layout. Bruce Blalock joined the party.   Jon has visited Jim’s a number of times over the years.  He has been doing a little scenery work each time.   We should all be so lucky to have a very skilled commercial model maker do your scenery.

Jon is on the left and Jim is on the right.  It looks like they just returned from lunch.  The picture below shows the “grass” work of Jon.  He uses an electrostatic applicator.  The cow on the right looks like it could yield some decent brisket for the local BBQ joint.

I would like to thank Bruce and Jim for sharing the photos or their recent social.

Top Secret Shipment

Lee Turner has uncovered several classified photos taken of  shipment being loaded for shipment to Oakridge, Tennessee in 1943.  The equipment was to support the Manhattan Project.

Well, the reality is of scale models that represent Lee Turner’s craft.   He has a flair for combining railroad and military models in one scene.

The weathering on the gondola is on the light side but remember the scene is in 1943 when war emergency gondolas were new.   Lee used figures and a jeep from Tamiya.

Next week, I will return to the Rio Grande automobile car project.