MODELING: Incredible Modeling by Luc Po

I have made a huge mistake regarding the creator of this beautiful model.  It is actually the work of Luc Po.  He is also a talented model builder. I will leave the pictures but remove the text.  I am  sorry to have mislead you with this story.










MODELING: Penn Central by Jim Zwernemann????

So this guy who lives in the middle of Texas decides to do something a little off the wall.  He build something that interested but didn’t quite fit into the local railroad scene.   It is a Penn Central transfer caboose.  So I asked Jim Zwernemann why he wanted to do this.  His response was that it is no different than me building a Lackawanna wood caboose.  Ok you got me.

As you can see, the car is composed of sheet and strip styrene with brass and parts found around his shop.  Jim used a section of a Lionel automobile car roof.   The running boards is a very old Quality Craft Blaw Knox molding.

The underframe looks like it came from an Intermountain boxcar.  Jim added a pair of Protocraft’s new Bettendorf swing motion caboose trucks and their AAR Type-E couplers.

The weld lines on the carbody were created using some .010″ styrene.

One of the hallmarks of a Jim Zwernemann is the finish.  He creates the well used look with acrylic washes and spot applications.  The galvanized roof coloring is really nice.  By the way, he made a mask and sprayed the Penn Central logo.  The car number came from a dry transfer set.  The model shows that with a little scrounging you can create an unique model.

As always, I am grateful that Jim shared his work with my blog.  By the way, he won first place in catagory at the recent March Meet in Chicago. Jim Zwernemann is a true champion in my book.



MODELING: NP Automobile Car 5.0

I shot some color and applied decals over the last week or so.   The car was painted with Tru-Color Northern Pacific TCP-193 Freight Car Brown.  I added about 5% gray and about 3% gloss to reduce the saturation for viewing indoors.  Tru-Color match their paints to actual railroad color samples.  They are perfect for paintIng a full-size car and viewing in bright sunlight.  So a slight tweek is necessary for the color to look realistic on the layout.

Once the paint has set I started to apply decals.  As it turned out, I had two fresh sets of RL Decals done by Rick Leach a few years ago before he moved to Idaho.  I will save the Protocraft decals for a different 50′ boxcar.  Protocraft based their set on the Rick Leach artwork so it should be right on.

Here is what the side looks like after all the decals are in place.  RL Decals used a very thin film so care must be taken during the application.  I wet the decal by dunking it in distilled water then position on the model.  Once the decal slides easily on the paper backing I push it onto the car.  Make sure the model surface is wet.  Position the decal and allow it to sit for a few minutes.  Use a scrap of paper towel to draw off water from the edge of the film.  Be careful not to hit the film with the paper.  Allow the decal to settle in before applying Microscale Blue Label to the edge of the film.  Be patient and let the first application do it job.  You can go back and apply additional setting agent until it is void of any silvering.  Sometimes you need to poke the film with a fresh #11 blade.  Be gentle or you will tear the film or scar the paint.

I will apply a clear gloss lacquer over the decals after they have dried.  The next step is application of weathering.  I will touch upon that in the next chapter.

You may have noticed that the floor is not installed.  I like to leave the installation until the last step before final weathering.  However, I do apply weathering to the floor so it is ready to go when installed.  My technique is to apply a wash of Vallejo or Tamiya earth colors to the complete underbody.  Let it dry and follow it a wash and highlight using AMMO Oil Brushers.

The rust was used as a highlight as was the buff.  I used Starship Bay Sludge as an overall wash to the trucks and underframe.  It has a slight green cast to it and looks a bit like oil and dirt mixed.

Here is the finished underframe with all of the weathering applied.  It is ready for installation.

I used the same weathering techniques on the trucks.  I added some oil stains using a Vallejo product.  The truck style used on these cars was a Dalman Two-Level 50-ton truck.  Fortunately for P48 modelers, Protocraft imports this same truck!  It is a really distinctive design.

Next time, I will show you the finished model.  So stick around for the next chapter.



MODELING: Trackside with Lee Turner

Lee Turner continues to amaze with his signature style of weathering and aging.  This time it is a Kemtron brass GP-20 that belongs to Bill M’Connell of O Scale Turnouts.   The Kemtron model was offered as a kit back in the 1960s.  It was composed of etched brass panels and lost wax castings for details.   Lee adorned the model in the classic Blue and Yellow paint of that era.  This is the second model Lee has done for Bill.   With all of Lee’s work you need to study the pictures carefully to appreciate many of the subtle accents applied.  It does look like time has taken its toll on the beautiful Blue/Yellow finish.

I must admit that Lee has made me a fan of this Santa Fe color scheme.  I used to like the old black and silver zebra stipes but not any longer.

By the way, Lee Turner will be presenting a 2-hour clinic at O Scale West on 23 May in the evening. The event is being held at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara.

Thank you for sharing this exquisite model with us.



MODELING: Applying Technology to Model Making

A lot has been written on how 3D printing is changing the way modelers create things.  The concept of creating models using 3D has long facinated me. I saw a model of a F-16 fighter printed by a machine in our engineering labs back in the 1980s.  The model was crude by todays standards but remarkable for its time.  The design tool was a huge program called CATIA.  It ran on a mainframe.  Years have passed and technology has made huge strides.  Now you can do design on a PC or MAC at a reasonable price.  Printers are getting better and cheaper.  Cheaper is a relative term.  Formlab has a very capable machine that will produce beautiful parts.  The old saw about getting what you paid for is very true when talking about printers.  However, don’t expect high quality capability for less than $1000,  There are service bureau such as Shapeways that will print your designs.   I have purchased parts from Shapeways but have not been impressed.  The parts lacked a smooth surface and had evidence of layers from the printing resolution.  The highest quality parts cost more due to the amount of machine time required.

The part shown above was printed on a Formlab Form 2 machine.   The part is a bolster/saddle for a GATC tank car.  A complex part that is the strong suite of 3D process.

The picture shown above is what a set of parts rendered on design software.  The design is an Universal 5934 hand brake set.  These were applied to flat cars starting in the late 1930s.

Here is the hand brake assembly installed on a Pere Marquette 70-ton AAR flat car.  It was a common hardware item found on a wide range of cars.

Ross Dando has started a small 1/4″ scale kit business called Twin Star Models.  His first product is a Rock Island rebuilt 53′ flat car.   The project needed a special hand brake set for the car.  He contracted with a 3D designer to develop the part based upon drawings.

The designer used a process of printing a type of resin that can be burned out in the brass investment process.  The blue parts shown below are sent off to a brass foundry for casting in metal.

The benefit of this approach is that the resulting castings are super sharp when compared to creating a mold to shoot wax investment parts.

The parts are shown assembled and installed on a the end sill of the flat car.

Ross has created an extremely useful and essential part.   There are several cars I can now build when that it becomes available.  Special parts like specific decal sets are enabling items that allow great models to be built.  Ok, I am a bit of a foamer that counts rivets.   Proto48 is about  doing the model right.  It is about quality not quantity.

Ross Dando’s flat car is a tour d’force in fine pattern making.  The resin castings were done by Jon Cagle who is the best.

Good stuff coming our way!















MODELING: Branchline Steam Power

One of my all-time favorite steam locomotives is the Katy 4-4-0.   Specifically, a model that Bruce Blalock owns.   Bruce is a lifelong Missouri-Katy-Texas Railroad fan and a very knowledgable historian.  The model is custom built masterpiece done by Kelley Morris.  Bruce commisioned Kelley to create a 1/4″ scale model of his favorite locomotive. Kelley is professional model maker and owns Kelley Morris Models and Miniatures.

Bruce Blalock Photo

I reached out to Bruce to supply some photos of this wondeful locomotive.  He was in the process of taking pictures for a clinic he is presenting at the Katy Historical Society convention.   Bruce supplied the photos and a little background to go with it.  The 311 and some of others were retained for branchlike passenger service. The two significant areas were Wichita Falls north (trains 53 and 54) and Waco west (trains 35 and 36). In Texas the consist was a 70’ RPO and a 60’ wooden coach made from a combine. I have one about 1/3 finished.

They were renumbered in four digits to have the 300 series available for diesel numbering in 1949 and were out of service by 1950. The 311 was retained by the Katy for a museum train which was donated to the St. Louis Transportation Museum in 1952 and it is the only surviving Katy steam engine.

The E-3 class of engines were built by Baldwin in 1890 and rebuilt by the Katy shops in 1924. Rebuilding is a funny word. The only pieces that I’ve determined that were from the originals were sand domes and tender trucks. They got new boilers from Alco, new longer frames and new, larger diameter drivers. I’m sure there were tax credits to rebuild rather than replace.

Thank you Bruce for sharing your beautiful American.


MODELING: NP Automobile Car Kit 4.0

I have made a little progress on constructing the vintage (2006) Chooch Ultra Scale II kit.  The car is getting closer to going into the paint booth.  It is always motivationaly  refreshing to get paint on the model.  I find my enthusiasm tends to hit a low point about this point.  The smell of the lacquer fumes gets me charged up to throw some decals and weathering on the car.  Satisfaction of viewing the completed model is what we all seek (I think).

The primed model is very close to the final finish.   I will show you some the things I did to get it to this point.

I decided to build the model with a partially open door on one side.   I find that building up the area behind the urethane door provides better support for the door and a larger bonding surface.

Detailing the side can start once the doors are in-place.  The Camel door hangers are installed along with the stops.   The door guides are installed next.  They are very fragile and can easily be snapped off.   I painted the gap in the door opening to see if it will give the illusion of a dark inside.

The fully detailed “A” end with all the Camel hardware is complicated but fairly quick to complete.  The plastic latches turned out a bit short when tooled.  The kit should have enough parts to splice the bars and extend their length.  A little plastic putty fills any gaps or seams left from the splice.  You may have noticed the foam pad under the car.  I like to place the model on something like this while detailing the model.

At this point I shifted to the running board construction.  Running boards scale out to be .025″ thick.  You can buy styrene strips with this thickness so just laminate a .015″ and .010″ using a solvent-based glue like MEK (except in California) or Tamiya Super Thin.  I like to use Tichy .020″ rivets to simulate the carriage bolts used to attach the running boards to the roof.  Once installed I will go over with fine sand paper and greatly reduce their height.  They will be less obvious once painted.  My poor drilling will be less obvious is what I ment to say.

The Northern Pacific used a different style of lateral running board on their wood cars.  The boards are oriented crosswise rather than the more tradional configuration.  I use the .025″ laminated material to build up the laterals.  Assembly is quite easy with a simple jig and some .020″ spacers.  I add straps to the underside to hold the boards into an assembly.

I have included an excerpt from the general arrangement drawing to show position of the grab iron and bolts.  You can also see the steel straps used to support the lateral running board.

The kit provided injection molded laterals that are too short.  They were tooled for one of the earlier Chooch NP kits.  That is why I had to do my own.  The boards need to be 48″ long.

I used an etched brass part to create a support for the lateral running board.  It was designed for a 10,000 series NP boxcar but it seems to fit the car well.  A friend had a bunch of little parts etched for NP cars several years ago.  Sadly, the etching company burned down and the gerber was lost.  I wish that I had a few more parts…..

Well, this concludes this chapter of my build.  Next time, I will have paint and a brand new set of Protocraft decals just released for this car.