NEW PRODUCTS: Right O’ Way Proto48 Flex Track

Jay Criswell has taken over a portion of the Protocraft product line including the Proto48 flex track.  He is currently ready to order more track and wondered if there was a preference for track with steel or nickel silver rail.  It is a simple question and requires feedback as to your preference.

The best way to register your interest is to email Jay.   Visit his website to find his email address.   Here is the link to the Right O’ Way site.

This is a photo taken of Jim Zwernemann’s layout.  It shows his prize-winning Southern Pacific signal tower in the background.

This is one of my favorite cars built by Jim Zwernemann.  It is rebuild USRA double sheathed boxcar.  Many railroads replaced the wood bodies with steel sides made by Bethlehem Steel.

Happy Trails,


NEW PRODUCT: New Protocraft Items

Protocraft introduced a new series of imports during the recent March Meet.  There are a series of new 52′ 6″ gondolas coming from Boo Rim in late June.  The cars are post-war designs and were rated at 70-ton.  The gondolas  are accurately patterned after specific railroad orders.  The cars will feature correct trucks, hand brakes, end (drop or fixed), lading anchors and even folding stake pockets on the inside.  Details are beautiful on the inside and outside.  Protocraft will have correct decals for each of the railroad’s gondola.

Here is the list of prototypes that will be imported












There will approximately five different styles of 70-ton plain bearing trucks.

Protocraft will have several new truck types coming in addition to the 70-ton types.

Norm Buckhart decided to simplify the Protocraft product line.  He worked out an arrangement for Jay Criswell to take over all of the track and switch parts.  The driver tire, driver centers, gearboxes, motors and drive components are now part of the Right O’ Way line.  Jay will be upgrading his website to list of all the new product items.  In addition, Norm turned over a large number of Bill Clouser patterns that were never shown in the Protocraft line.  For those of you who don’t know Bill Clouser, he was a commercial model maker and trolley modeler.  He was a pioneer in 1/4″ AAR modeling and a superb model maker who produced models for museums like the Smithsonian.  Not sure what sure what surprises that are in the collection but it will be exciting to see what Jay unearths.

Lots of new stuff for prototype modeling!

Happy Trails



MILW 776

Fairbanks Morse switchers have always been a favorite of mine.  The early 10-44 (1,000 horsepower/four-wheel x 2) model had a number unique Raymond Loewy styling touches like the steam loco cab roof.  This particular model was not widely purchased by railroads so you need to like roads such as the Milwaukee Road.  Fairbanks Morse was an online customer of the Milwaukee Road in Beloit, WI.  This classic switcher shown above was the work of Lee Turner.   It started life as a MTH 3-rail tinplate model.  Lee had to build new pilots, steps and add to the side sill with an 18″ strip.  The cab front was redone as was the classic roof overhang.  The Milwaukee paint was blended to provide faded colors reflecting many years of neglect the road.  Lee added many highlights like rust, chipped paint, dirt and such.  The end result is spectacular.


We have mentioned that the Irish Tracklayer was working on a new train order signal (TOS).  John Houlihan has been working on a 3D CAD model of the Railway Signal Associates upper quadrant TOS.   It has been a slow process of trial and error to get the thinnest cross section parts yet capable of being cast in brass.  I received an update from John today and I am happy to report that he has just about there.

TOS NPAn example of a prototype RSA TOS is shown on the right.  The Northern Pacific was a big user of this style.  The Erie and Soo were fond of these machines.

RSA was composed of many railroads who developed a set of designs that were widely used by member railways.  The actual signal assemblies came from companies like Chicago Signal.

Here are a series of JPEGS that show the level of detail that John has incorporated in the parts.   This is a signal that needs to be put in a  prominent place on your layout.



The drawings show only one of the semaphore blades to allow one to see all of the details.   We will keep you informed of the progress Irish Tracklayer makes.

Happy Trails,



Recently, Jim King of Smokey Mountain Model Works has revisited the ideal of making kits in 1/48th scale.  He did release two models several years back but was unimpressed with the response.  Jim decided to try to produce S Scale kits instead.

He has proposed a few different models in O scale.

SAL B7 pilot model unweathered 082114a (S) lo rez text

The first is a Seaboard Air Line turtleback steel boxcar.  SMMW has produced this in S already and was well received.  The prototype is rather unique in the style of roof and how it meets the side sheets.  In addition, the end is not your standard Dreadnaught style.  I believe this end has been called a “dartnaught”.  Notice that is missing the small darts between the ends of the large wales.   At any rate, it is different enough to catch a person’s eye on your railroad.

SAL B7 pilot model B end unweathered 082114 (S)lo rez text

Another candidate is a Burlington Road 50′ flat car.   The car is very similar to cars built for the GN, NP and SP&S.   I don’t know if there are differences but the car might work on all four roads with a few tweaks.

Jim is considering a couple non-operating switch stands that are currently available in S scale.   Another resin car suggested for production is a Southern low-side gondola.

Jim is hoping for orders of 60 units to consider production.  The models are produced in high quality resin and feature on piece bodies.   The kits will contain hardware and decals.

Production will depend upon you.  Please contact Jim King at Smokey Mountain Model Works.

Happy Trails,




ALCLAD II is a new product to me.   It is part of a product line familiar to many scale modelers building aircraft.   Many railroad modelers like Trevor Marshall and Jimmy Booth have used it for a long time.  I tried it out this afternoon.  It is different from my normal Testors or Model Masters flat lacquer.  It is slow to dry and slow to go flat.  That is a surprise to me.   The stuff is thin enough to shoot directly without thinning.  I did clean up with lacquer thinner.

allclad finish

The boxcar roof shown above was sprayed with the ALCLAD flat.  I had previously done several washes of Vallejo acrylics.  I like the end result of the flat finish.

alclad crossbook

Oh yes, the barber pole was shot with the flat as well.  I had painted the sign with Tamiya flat white, wash of black Vallejo wash and gloss sealer before decals were applied.  The decals are vintage Rick Leach silk screen printed decals.  The stripes were printed on an ALPS. The pole and crossbuck are styrene.   I built this for an article in Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association Mainstreeter magazine.

Happy Trails,



grosser overview

Ray Grosser was kind enough to send pictures of his wife’s tree work.   Renee built a number of scale sized trees using small branches for an apple tree and scenic material from Woodland Scenics.   What struck me about the trees are their size.  They tower over houses and trains.  Just like real life. Ray told me that apple trees have a rough bark texture that is realistic.   Small branches can be tailored to look like the trunk and major branches.  Renee added plastic branches to fill out the upper part of the tree.   The branches are sold as part of a plastic tree armature.  Woodland Scenics foliage was used to add “leaves” to the tree.

tree ray grosser 1

The impressive size really looks fantastic on their layout.  The tree house is an eye-catcher that draws attention.

tree ray g


Protocraft has their new top-operate Type-E coupler on the market.  The coupler is a modification to the standard bottom-operate coupler.   The coupler is very smooth when operating.  I really like this variant.  This version is PC-1074 and sells for $59.95 for five pair.


Along with the new coupler, Protocraft has made changes to their Gould draft gear.20160307_133959-1_resized

The center post now is circular rather than the wedge on the backside of the post.  In addition a new casting for the coupler plank on either side of the box.  The new box is very slick and goes on freight cars and tenders with not fuss.

Happy Trails,


NEW PRODUCT: Pickle and Vinegar Makers Book


book 1

The subject of pickle and vinegar cars has fascinated me for years.  As an ardent reader of the old Model Railroad (1950s and 1960s), I enjoyed reading the many articles on vinegar and pickle cars and their production facilities.   David Leider’s latest book covers these subjects in much detail.

book 2

David has done significant research on these topics.  There are many photos that have not appeared in print.  The variety of cars shown have amazed me.   Leider’s research covers the history of the industry and their facilities.   Some of the larger producers like Heinz, Squire Dingee, Standard Brands and A.M. Richter are covered showing their cars and plants. I included the table of contents to show the topics covered.  I was pleased with inclusion of car plans and pickle salting stations.

book 3book 4

I have included shots of pages from the book to give you an idea of the level of illustration including.   One of the cars that surprised me was a former milk car converted to haul vinegar.

book 5

The book retails for $32.95 plus $4.25 for postage and is available direct from the author. David Leider’s address is:

601 N. Elmhurst Road, Prospect Hts, IL 60070-1308

If you have an interest in the subject, I would recommend that you purchase the book.

Happy Trails,