MODELING: North of the Border By Lee Turner

The CN car was painted a dark red brown mixed from Model Master acryl colors Rot Braun (German camouflage color, red brown) and leather with a couple drops of burnt umber to darken it further. Not all colors should be lightened! After paint and the decals had 24 hours drying time the sides were given a heavy wash of Vallejo dark brown wash and when dry most was removed with Mean Green dampened paper towel working from the center of the panel to the edges in a vertical motion. This left the seams, rivets and edges darker and blending into the brighter color in the center of the panel. A thin mixture of MM Leather was sprayed in the center of the panel for highlights and thin Burnt Umber was used to darken riveted areas further. This left the lettering very dark and dull after all the steps above. A microbrush, a tuft of fiber on a plastic stick was used with Mean Green cleaner to clean up the lettering. I left the grime on the green of the leaf as it didn’t stay clean like the lettering. Final steps were air brushing the repack patches and reweigh areas using index card mask’s. Over the capacity data I sprayed right over the lettering and then lightly cleaned the red from the restencilled caapacity. This gave tha appearance of lettering that bled
 after being applied. Many roads did this outside in rain or snow or whatever. Some white wash was used to show the lettering bleeding.
  The CP car was painted with Model Master Rust, Rot Braun and some Guards Red.A lighter coat of Dark brown wash was done to the sides and even more was cleaned off just leaving a hint of shadow. Then a light brown wash (Vallejo European Dust) was applied from an almost dry brush in vertical streaks. Lastly the rivets and seams were dry brushed with Vallejo Dark Rust. Once again the lettering was cleaned up with a micro brush and Mean Green. Finishing touches were re-sprayed repack patches, remains of paper door seals on one door and remains of a paper grain door behind the other door.
The door seal paper residual is made with cigarette paper like the brand Zig-Zag.   I suspect that most purchasers of Zig-Zag never though of using it to simulate door seal paper.
Lee Turner is a resourceful modeler who has innovated many techniques for modeling.  The paper is very creative.
By the way, the boxcars are imports from Protocraft and are based upon the 1937 AAR design with a Murphy flat roof, Dreadnaught ends and sill steps on the end ladders.  The Canadian roads bought huge numbers of this design.
Thank you Lee for sharing your art with us.

MODELING: Memories of Lampasas, Texas

Bruce Blalock’s days attending college at Texas Tech were brought back into focus when he received a scratchbuilt model of the Lampasa depot.   The late Jim Hickey built the model from stryene based upon his visit to the site.   Jim gave the 1/4″ scale model for helping with the disposition of his collection.  recalls his college days traveling to Texas Tech.   Bruce has shared his stories of train trips in the 1960s.  He also took the photos shown in the posting.

Until I went off to Texas Tech I lived in Burnet, Texas. Lampasas was 22 miles north of Burnet and the Santa Fe grazed the North side of town. There was a wye where the line went into town, named Radio Junction, which had a passenger shelter. In older days, the passenger trains would actually go to the Lampasas station, then go back out to the main. By the 1960s it was a flag stop for the California Special, Train 75 and 76, and the few times that I rode westbound to Lubbock the nighttime drill was: point the auto east and when you saw the locomotive headlight, flash the car lights and the engineer would stop. Then you would board, pay the conductor and wake up in Brownwood where four passenger trains met, switched and go on their way. You would then wake up around Slaton to the scent of Santa Fe’s special blend of Chase & Sanborn coffee with ham and eggs cooked over charcoal. Arrival time in Lubbock was 0715 with westward train departure at 0730. The arrival time meant one could make it to an 0800 class, usually well rested.

At Brownwood, the California Special, 75 and 76 interacted with trains 77 and 78, Dallas-Fort Worth-Brownwood-San Angelo. They interchanged cars and units in the wee hours. No. 75 also picked up a T&P mail car at Sweetwater and set it out at Lubbock. Also 75 and 76 connected at Lubbock with trains 93 and 94, Lubbock to Amarillo. It was a good time to see Texas passenger trains.
It seems like there were always Houston-area Texas Tech kids on the train, especially around holidays, along with other colorful characters. One of those whom I met was Haystacks Calhoun, a professional wrestler who weighed over 600 pounds and could barely go between cars. Haystacks wore a heavy galvanized chain necklace over his overalls and wanted to play cards. My money was appreciated enough that I didn’t want to give it away, so I didn’t play.
The photograph was made by Fred Springer on May 26, 1963 (courtesy of the John McCall collection  contributed by Jay Miller ) when the name board was called a “ blind siding sign .
The wonderful model of the shelter by Jim Hickey in O Scale is complete in every way, right down to the schedule on the train bulletin. It also has the replacement telephone pole added just like it was on his visit with the fresh dirt and all.

The building was moved to ranch of Lloyd Lively near Lometa and converted to a cabin for deer hunters.  Unfortunately it was demolished in 2003.  By the way, the baggage wagon is of a “high type” that was designed for loading caskets.
For those of you who do not know Bruce, he is a lifelong lover of railroading.   He has modeled in Sn3, On3 and O scale.   At one time he organized a modelers get together called the Bull Shoot.  It drew a wide range of modelers to share ideas and techniques.
Bruce is a retired Union Pacific locomotive engineer and an occasional steam loco engineer on the Austin Steam Train.
Thank you Bruce for sharing you experiences and photos of the wonderful model.

MODELING: CB&Q XM-32 Express Boxcar

The Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad was one of the legendary granger roads that operated some comfortable passenger accomodations between the cities like Denver, Chicago and Fort Worth.   Quarter-inch scale modeler, Santiago Pineda, is a real dieheart fan of the road.  He has amassed a sizeable collection of equipment and locomotives.  He does put his stamp on each and every model with paint and or details.  Santiago hails from Bogata, Columbia.  He studied at LSU.  Somewhere along the line he develped a serious interest in the CB&Q.

Express boxcars are an interesting application of what looks like a standard AAR steel boxcar.  Railroads depended upon bulk mail, priority LCL shipments as a means for making money off of passenger operations.  Configuring a boxcar to run in high speed passenger service entailed changing or adding hardware to perform in this service.

Here is Santiago’s description of his project:

The CB&Q Havelock erecting shops delivered their first class XM-32 boxcars in 1940. Within that batch, the first 50 were intended for head-end baggage, mail and express service. These cars, numbers 30000-30049, were consequently equipped with steam and air signal lines. And, to match their heavyweight companions, were painted Pullman green in contrast to the standard freight mineral red. Although they were seldomly assigned, they served the Q’ throughout the 40’s and 50’s and all the way to the late E7 years.

I strived to model this Burlington oddity using a standard O scale Protocraft 1937 AAR boxcar. Detailing-wise, some work had to be done. I swapped the Bettendorf trucks with a pair of PSC allied full cushion ones. To do this, I tapped the car bolster with a size M3 x 0.5 tap drill. I also removed the outer brake shoes and modified the end cross bars to get rid of the conspicuous screws. Other additions include: a PSC steam signal line running along the frame of the car, ownership plates on either sides of the car and correct stepladders. For painting and lettering, I used Revell enamels and Microscale-printed, Protocraft decals.


I’m pleased to have completed this special project. This unusual critter is a welcome addition to my Exposition Flyer head-end equipment.

Hope you enjoyed Santiago’s story about the XM-32.


MODELING: Mike George shares his Weathering Technique

If you have been in this hobby for any length of time, you probablt been exposed to dozens of techniques for achieving the “well worn” look to your models.   Mike George was kind enough to share how he weathers house cars for his Louisville & Nashville branch.

The base coat was plain old Testor’s Gloss Brown Enamel, toned down with some white. I kept that basic mixture after airbrushing the model and then added more white and more of the base brown to add the subtle differences in color on the siding. Next came a thin wash of Testor’s black followed by dry brushing with a small amount of the base color in white. Then it was finished with Dullcote after applying Norm’s excellent decals.  It is Mike’s favorite car as far as weathering and overall color. It made me realize we paint most of our equipment way too dark for viewing in a normal layout room.

This same car is in the lead photo of the Model Railroad Planning 2019.  Mike has built several L&N prototype boxcars.   The double sheathed 36′ car is an example of his focus on prototype and using lighter colors to show all of the details.

The L&N had a sizable fleet of single sheathed boxcars based upon an ARA design.  Mike’s rendering of this important member of the fleet is shown below.

It seems that we obsess on getting the right shade of freight red or brown.   Mike uses Testors paint which is readily available in a good number of store.  He has avoided the costly search for certain brands of paint that is matched to car builder drift panel.   I am guilty of that myself.   The reality is that we need to reduce the intensity of colors for indoor viewing.  Adding gray or white shifts the basic color dramatically.   We all should consider buying a few basic colors and blending the appropiate shade rather than spending $$ for a one ounce bottle and more than that to ship it.   Lee Turner uses about five or six basic colors to create all his wonderfuls paint jobs.


Thanks for stopping by





MODELING: NP Automobile Car Kit 3.0

It is time to catch up on my Chooch Ultra Scale II build.   In this posting, I will cover the start of detailing on the body.  The first step is to bend up a bunch of grab irons from .015″ brass wire.

I use a square-bill pliers to bend up the wire.  Each grab iron is measured insitu to make sure there isn’t a variation in the body and drill marks.  The purple board is a .050″ which spaces the grab iron from the body.

Well this is what you end up with after some wire bending.  I applied a light dusting of Tamiya fine primer.  It provides the witness coat to find any flaws.  Yeah, there are a few mistakes to fix.


The kit came with plastic stiles for the end ladders.  I had some custome etched brass stiles I went with these parts.  An assembly fixture would be needed to solder them up.  I used basswood to build the fixture.

I tried some solder paste to build the ladder.

The ladder needs to be cleaned up of the excess solder.

The ladder stiles have mounting tabs so it can be mounting using pins or wire.


The Camel end door has the hinges attached and opening mechanism partially installed.  The plastic parts were made too short so they have been spliced to extend the height.  The door panels where made using  a vacuum-forming process.  It wasn’t an exact  fit for the space of the ribs.  Consequently, the ladder mounting tabs don’t line up with the new etched ladders.  Oh well.

Next time , we should be able to finish the detailing and apply the base coat of paint.  Protocraft has a new set of decals coming for this car so I will likely hold out for their arrival from Microscale.





MODELING: Rusty Old Thing

Modern rolling stock can be rather beat up and in need of paint and repair.  This DT&SL covered hopper is an excellent example of deferred maintenance.    The car shown above is a model.  It is a Lee Turner masterpiece.

Here is Lee’s description of how he transformed a three model into a exquisite representation of the prototype:

This is a Lionel 2 bay hopper from 1993. All grab irons were replaced with wire, the roofwalks were replaced with photo etch and hopper loading hatches and outlet grates were scratchbuilt. The existing graphics were wet sanded to wear through the lettering. The roof was done with Mig “tracks wash”, a dark brownish red and while still wet was dusted with different rust colored dry pigment. The excess pigment was brushed off and some shading and highlights were added with thin burnt umber in the airbrush. the sides had rust chips (Vallejo dark rust) free handed and the streaks were from Mig oil brushers and Mig streaking rust, a brush dampened with mineral spirits blended and extended the streaks. More streaks from the eaves were done with an index card with fine vertical slits cut into it using Model Master Acryl red earth  and red earth mixed with M.M. rust. I was quite pleased with the results even though there are some discrepancies from the prototype it still “looks” right.

This is an amazing example of Lee’s work.   He continues to show new and interesting techniques.   Thank you for sharing.



OPINION: Fifty + Years of Improvements

I was looking at eBay last night and came across a picture of an old All Nation or Zimmer model.   I had read once on a forum of this car that was offered around 1950 or so.  I don’t recall see the actual model built up or even in kit form.  When I was first starting to dabble with O scale I do remember that modelers considered Zimmer as being a cut above most other O scale kits.

As you can see, it is a ATSF Bx-12 raised roof boxcar.  The railroad changed and raised the roof by 12 inches from the original car.  I first saw a string of these cars near the entrance to the Bay Bridge in Oakland, CA.  That was back in the early 1960s.  Over the years I have seen pictures of these cars and finally after doing some research with the help of  Jim Zwernemann and the late Richard Hendrickson.   It turns out that the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum in Temple, TX had the original Bx-12 drawing.  I also obtained a folio drawing which provided details on the raised roof.

I propsed to Jon Cagle at Southern Car & Foundry to do a kit of the car.  He agreed and  I was off and running.  The challenge was to make a one-piece cast urethane with only the doors and floor being separate parts.  Jon is a very talented model maker and with considerable skills working with urethane.

The car had a reverse or inverse Dreadnaught end that was rebuilt and added for the additional height.   I was able to rework ends from a San Juan Car Company kit.  Lots of chop and channel work as the old hot rodders used to say.  The old Zimmer kit doesn’t appear to have a reverse Dreadnaught.

The kit was released in 2012 by Southern Car & Foundry.   I believe they are not available at this time.  The decals were done by Protocraft for this specific car.

As you can see, modeling evolved as result of copius amounts of prototype information, new materials and techniques that have come along in the last fifty plus years.  The “good old days” were so great after all but one has to keep it in context for the period.

Hope that this is of interested.