NEW PRODUCTS: Busy Time of Year

This time of year seems to be busier than the rest of the time.  Decorating and preparations for family and friends visiting consumes the day.  Retirement wasn’t supposed to be this busy.   As you would expect my modeling time is an expendable part of the daily routine.  I have done very little new to show for the time.


Protocraft survived the Wine Country fire this fall.  While Norm’s home and railroad did sustain damage, he was luckier than many in his community.  The state continues to battle wild fires but in the southland.

I wanted to show you two parts that Protocraft has in their extensive line of parts.  The first is a threaded bushing that is designed to be used on wood, plastic or resin cars. The knurled surface will enhance the attachment.  The bushing is threaded for 1-72 shouldered screws that are included.

The second part I am highlighting is a cast brass roping bracket.  Freight cars were often moved at an industrial site with a cable that was attached to a bracket that was at the car bolster.



The roping brackets of this style was commonly used on Southern Pacific single sheathed boxcars.  Other railroads used similar or identical parts on their freight cars.




I have pointed out a typical installation of the bracket on the body bolster of the A-50-6 automobile car.



Here is a closeup of the bracket installed on this  Southern Pacific B-50-13 boxcar. 

Protocraft expects a large shipment from Korea of new models and trucks in the new year.  Stay tuned.



NEW PRODUCTS: Modern Modeling

Model and photo by Ed Nadolski


There is an aspect of Proto48 modeling that I have overlooked in my blog.  It is prototype modeling of modern equipment.  Modern is this case defines a period of the 1960s through the present day.  As a modeler I have not had an interest in it since I am hopelessly stuck in the 1950s.  However there is a lot of railroad modeling that I have not paid attention to.  At one time I did railfan here in Cali and Oregon with camera in hand but it never stimulated me to model what I observed.

In recent years the O scale importers like Atlas, Lionel, MTH and the now defunct Weaver have done a number of moderns pieces of equipment.   Several modelers and designers have produced some very interesting items that allow a modeler to jump into the era.  The modern era eliminates the one issue that holds back steam era modelers, drivers.

Model and photo by Patrick Welch

I would like to make readers aware of the development of parts and equipment for modern railroad modeling in 1/4″ scale.  Interest seems to be building in the era and equipment.  When you start to look around you realize how much is out there. One supplier has been making the task of modern modeler much easier.  James Lincoln has produced 3D designs for things like conversion bolsters for Atlas and Lionel modern equipment.  Lincoln Proto48 Engineering is Jim’s firm and he makes the parts available through Shapeways. The link above will take you to Jim’s blog which has multiple links to Shapeways.  The Chinese-made equipment looks pretty good and can be refined even further with some modifications. 

Lincoln Proto48 Engineering has recently produced this cushion coupler pocket for an Atlas boxcar. The picture on the left shows a simple conversion of adding Protocraft 70-ton ASF trucks and the cushioned pocket.  This one of many parts available.



Bill Yancey has decided to get involved with the creation and selling of a new series of urethane boxcar kits.  He has picked a line of FMC-built 50′ cars that started production in the 1970s.

The following car configurations will be made available:

A   Single 10′ sliding door car

B.  Combination 6′ plug/10′ sliding door (ABOX)

C.  Centered double 8′ door

D.   Diagonal double 8′ door

The double door cars are available with either Youngstown or Superior 5 panel doors.

These cars have not been produced before and are very popular with railroads in that era and later.  The masters shown above and below are now at the caster for production of the pilot model parts.



One of the most popular diesel models in 1/4″ scale has to be the Red Caboose GP-9.  Leon Fairbanks picked a prototype that would cover a wide range of time from the 1955 era to the present time.  The original kit has a drive invented by Roco for the original Atlas F-9.  It was inexpensive and ran well but had several weaknesses that would show up over time.  Des Plaines Hobbies and Pat Mitchell came up with a machined brass plate that would adapt the Weaver drive system to the model.  It replaced the flimsy plastic frame.  A lot of folks went this route as an upgrade including myself.

Finescale 360 is a new supplier who is produced custom machined frames and gear towers to upgrade the original Weaver drives.  Kelly Regan, owner, developed the parts as a result of a lengthy series of posts on the old Yahoo Proto48 group.  By the way, the group is now on Groups.IO.  The frame and tower really make a huge difference in the Weaver drive.  You can go a step further and upgrade with P&D Hobbies brass Blomberg trucks and change out the gearboxes for ball bearing version produced by Right O’ Way .  Jay Criswell, Right O’ Way owner, can do all of the heavy lifting if you don’t feel mechanically inclined.

Here is the Finescale 360 frame for the Red Caboose GP-9 


The above photos show the tower installed in the Finescale 360 frame and the one below shows the tower components in the kit.  Contact them directly via their website.

Here is a shot of a P&D Blomberg with Weaver components installed.  The brass castings and wheels are for P48 conversion.  They were offered by Protocraft but now are available from Right O’ Way of Clovis, California.  Shawn Branstetter’s website the Shortline Modelers posted this picture of the truck and parts.

The Blomberg shown above is the work of Ross Dando and is going into his Rock Island GP-7.  Weathering really punches up the details on the truck.

Hope that you found this posting of interest and even useful.  I will try to include new items that surface as I become aware of them.

Back to our regular programming,



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,