MODELING: Old Hopper from Lee Turner

: Lee Turner is a very busy guy working on client models. He has managed to find time to do something for himself.

As you may know, Lee is a real fan of the old Lehigh Valley.  His dad working in Sayre, PA at their major shop.  Lee built this USRA twin hopper and lettered for the Susquehanna & New York.  The S&NY disappeared in 1942 with small part of it acquired  by the Lehigh Valley.

The hopper is an updated Intermountain kit.  Lee replaced the grab irons and sill steps with brass parts.  The rusty and sooty interior is fantastic. Lee has captured the look of an old car that has seen a lot of use.

Thank you Lee for the contribution of this material.



MODELING/NEW PRODUCTS: Latest Lee Turner Project and a New Kit

Lee Turner just sent several photos and description below.

Here is a Westside Models heavy duty 16 wheel flat car. Cut levers and air hoses were added. It was painted and lettered to match one of three PRR F34 class flat cars , note the Dahlman two level heavy duty trucks with a short five foot wheel base. The load was supplied by the owner who had bought these resin cast “scooper things” at an estate sale of a O-scale steel mill modeler. They were painted with a dark gray and then sponge painted with a light gray which gave a good base simulating mill scale. A quick wash of modelers crack (Vallejo dark brown wash) gave definition to the structure of the object. Bits of sponge were used a again to apply Vallejo dark rust, red leather and light yellow rust. Some Winsor & Newton tube oil burnt sienna was used to bring all the rust tones together in the heavily rusted interior portions. Lastly a very thin coat of burnt umber was judiciously sprayed on the edges and seams. The Mesta Machine placards were done on the computer and printed  on photo paper. The deck of the flat was prepared with Evergreen styrene angle for this load and excess angle and strip was glued around the deck to simulate dunnage from previous loads. Simulated fresh welds and chalk marking from the layout of angle iron bracing was the final touch to load and cars.
  As a side note Mesta Machinery was a real company who made the huge machines used in steel making like presses and shears. IF you google image search “Mesta Machine” you will find many shots of various PRR heavy duty flats and loads along with the products they manufactured.
 Lee’s work is incredible.  I would have never thought of adding chalk marks on the deck.  Thank you for the inspiration.

Rails Unlimited has released a several new urethane kits that are available as a flat or with pre-assembled bodies.  They sent several photos of their Rock Island stock car kit.  It is a classic design that was rebuilt from Fowler clone boxcar.  The Rock Island ran these cars for a long time well into the diesel era.

The patterns and the pilot model were done by Jeff MacDonald. I understand the production kits were cast by Westerfield.   The castings look very nice based upon a photo sent by Ross Dando.



Mike Cougill is a skilled modeler with a strong sense of seeing the scale and features of a model or scene.  I found the picture shown below on how to create an effective scene that creates interest and draws the person into the work.  You should check out Mike’s work at OST Publications.


Thanks for stopping by



Smoky Mountain Model Works (SMMW) has finally released their urethane kit for an AAR 70-ton flat car.   The wait was worth it. Jim King crafted a very highly detailed model of a common prototype.  The kit is composed of urethane castings for the body deck and details.  The master was created using 3D CAD and printed by a high resolution printer.  The resulting model was molded and cast in urethane.  The castings are beautiful and amazing with deep undercuts and details on the exterior and even inside the sidesill.

The frame is very accurately rendered.  SMMW didn’t miss anything when it comes to capturing the prototype.

SMMW provides a steel bar for weight.  It will be less than nine ounces without trucks. I might suggest adding additional weight in centersill.

The deck is textured to look like wood and steel over the body bolsters.  The stake pockets are accurately shaped and well formed.

The prototype used 70-ton trucks which are now available from Protocraft in several flavors.   Protocraft has a range of decals for this kit.  You won’t need to dig into your old stash of Champ or Walthers decals.

This one of the finest urethane kit I have seen.  It is on a par with Jon Cagle’s kits.  Hopefully, this will be the first of many kits from this company.

And now a little Zwernemann to finish out the posting.

Jim Zwernemann crafted these two attractive freight cars.  The West India Fruit reefer was built from a Chooch Ultrascale FGEX kit.  Jim had to reduce the side height to match the prototype.  W.I.F. got their cars from Fruit Growers Express so it was a good starting point.  By the way, Jim mastered the original kit for Chooch Enterprises.

The FW&D boxcar was built from an old Atlas (Roco) X43 boxcar.  The Roco model is a 10′ 6″ interior height car with diagonal panel roof and an improved Dreadnaught ends.  Jim added details and built new Superior doors.

Thanks for stopping by,


MODELING: Lee Turner on Distressing Freight Car Roofs

A friend asked if I had some magic approach to weathering freight car roofs.  In particular, he was interested in failure of the paint and car cement on galvanized roofs.

The picture above was taken in 1936 shown a string of 36′ boxcars with major failure of roof paint.

I reached out to Lee Turner on how he does it.  He sent me an email with his approach to creating this effect.  The following text and pictures are from Lee.

I’ll start with a near complete failure. Mask and paint the entire roof, spray with the galvanized color (mixing instructions below) Take some of the leftover mix and add a couple drops of black, just enough to make a slightly darker shade. Take an irregular hunk of sponge foam (like brass is packed in) and dip  it in the darker shade, wipe most of the paint off like you were dry brushing and then lightly tap the foam on the roof being careful to turn the sponge and vary the pressure. This gives the roof the mottled appearance of exposed galvanized metal. The next step is to brush a dark gray along the rib seams and around the roof ribs being very random, mother nature doesn’t like regimented weathering. Also don’t cover anything completely leave plenty of open spaces. Then go back with a very slightly darker shade of the sides and randomly paint splotches of remaining paint on the roof ribs and under the running board and even some along the eaves  anywhere there is an edge, fold or seam. Use a fine brush. Usually for a complete paint failure it could take 15 or more years on the prototype in which time the rest of the car may have been repainted so you can spray just a little body color overspray around the perimeter of the roof.

  For just some light peeling I would take the galvanized mixture and a fine tooth brush and freehand paint chips starting in the center of panels over the roof which should be painted body color. With a thin dark paint, airbrush along each rib  to give the impression that the car cement is starting to bleed though.

The galvanized color is half model master gull gray and half Testors Model master acrylic “steel’. Galvanized steel should be a light gray with just a hint of metallic.

  A final word on painting random patterns. Your mind will want to organize as you go along so its a good idea to do this while watching TV  or something else to draw your mind away from the task at hand.
Thank you Lee for adding to our understanding of weathering railroad equipment.
There are a few other techniques that can used for creating a similar effect.  I was talking to Jim Zwernemann today and he reminded me of a technique that he has used.  Apply rubber cement to the roof in dabs before applying the top coat. Remove the rubber cement by rubbing the area with your finger.   I used hair spray to distress the roof of this venerable Chooch kit.
Rock salt can be applied to a slightly dampened roof.  Apply top coat and then rub to remove the rock salt.
You can use Vallejo chipping fluid applied before the final color.  Lee demonstrated this technique very well on this MTH three-rail plow.
In the near term, I will compile a list of weathering techniques that Lee Turner has been kind enough to share with us.  I am amazed  at the number of postings that Lee has provided us.
Thanks for stopping by,

MODELING: Bx-27 Completion

Well, I just wrapped up my rehab of a boxcar that I built over ten years ago.  The Santa Fe purchased a series of 10′ interior height steel boxcars.  They were equipped with Duryea cushioned underframe with the rest of hardware being fairly standard.  The cars wore the famous map graphics.  First the curved and later the straight versions.

 I built the model using Champ and Microscale decals.  They don’t compare to the current Protocraft offerings.  I compounded my dissatisfaction with the decals by messing up the weathering.  I used alcohol-based washes and some old Floquil paints. A few moths ago I got the bright idea to rehab the model and attempted to strip some of the weathering.  The exercise went badly so a friend offered to strip the model with a sandblast rig.  The model came out with a very clean and smooth finish ready for a coating of Tru-Color lacquer.  I didn’t like the Tru-Color’s ATSF brown.  I mixed up a little MKT brown with some of the ATSF brown.

The old Floquil ATSF brown was a good match for the railroad’s color.  As you know, Floquil is ancient history.  Tru-Color makes an excellent modern paint and produces a very smooth glossy finish.

I chose the Scout train graphic for the car.  The Santa Fe had a number of of famous name trains advertised on the left side of the cars.  I tried to pick a car number that matched the slogan.

This time I took a different approach to weathering.  The first layer used was Vallejo acrylic black followed by old wood. I did some highlights using Ammo MIG brushers. The prototype car was last painted in 1940 ( my modeling window is 1954).  It is more faded but not totally weathered out.  The railroad last painted the Scout slogan in 1940 so I used the periods after each of the ATSF letters.  I believe the road stopped using the periods when they dropped the map graphic.

As part of the upgrade, I replaced the San Juan trucks with Protocraft double truss 50-ton trucks and installed Protocraft magnetic couplers at the same time.   Weathering trucks is fun proposition.  I used a layered approach starting with Ammo MIG Rust brushers to do the wheel back and highlights to the brake shoes.  The axles were painted with Vallejo textured rust finish.  It produces a gritty finish.  The sideframes were highlighted with Vallejo washes using umber, old wood and black.  I added a gloss black to show overflow from journal oiling.  I also used both Ammo MIG dark brown brusher to the wheel face with Vallejo acrylic black.

So that is a wrap.  Put another one on the shelf.




NEWS: Update on Protocraft and Other Topics

Progress is being made on the reconstruction of Norm Buckhart’s garage and Protocraft office.  As you may remember, the horrific Sonoma fire last October damaged his home and layout room.  Given the wide spread devastation in the Napa and Sonoma area, contractors and supplies have been in short supply.  Help has finally arrived and work rebuilding has gotten underway.

The above picture shows the demolition of the roof on the garage end.  The first step in rebuilding was getting new roof trusses from the a truss shop.  There was about a four month wait before they showed up.

Tile roofing is being installed at this point.  Looks like there was some salvage of old material.

Once the roof was secure, the interior was sheet rocked and lighting fixtures were installed.

The wall in the rear is temporary and will be removed shortly.  All new ceiling tile had to be installed due to smoke and water damage.  The walls had to be sealed and repainted to cover the smoke damage.

Hopefully, it won’t be too long before trains can be running again on Norm’s layout.  I would like to thank Norm for sharing the progress on his reconstruction.


As most of you have heard that Grandt Line is closing down after 60 plus years of providing wonderful plastic parts and kits.  They provide a huge and important source to the hobby.  It is a real loss.  Hopefully, a buyer will step forward and rescue this national treasure.

San Juan Car Company is now for sale following a failed effort to make a deal for the firm.   They are the core of On3 modeling and has been an important supplier to Proto48.  Again, I hope that a white knight rides up and rescues the line.

It is a simple fact of demographics that is catching up with of hobby. We are all getting older and building less and buying more.  The young generation is not interested in model railroading.   You need only to look around at a hobby show and see the age of the attendees.


Joel Kirk created an interesting scene for his railroad.  I found this on Facebook.  It caught my eye and got me interested in trying a scene like this.

I now a visit to the forest as created by a couple talented European modelers at Grove Den.

“That’s all folks”



MODELING: Other Peoples Work (OPW)

This edition will display the work of Lee Turner, Charlie Morrill and Tony Koester.

First up is Lee Turner sharing his work on a Kohs K4s with subtle weathering. Next up is a KTM/Sofue Big Boy.  These models are rare and certainly an excellent candidate for Lee to work his magic.  It now looks like a hard working beast out of Cheyenne.

A customer asked Lee to add a touch of weathering to his Atlas California Zephyr equipment.  He uses a wash over the silver paint used by Atlas.

Charlie Morrill has been in 1/48 scale for a very long time.  He has built a couple of really nice railroads.  One of his early efforts was to modify a PFM C-48 to a Southern Pacific C-28 consolidation.  The conversion is pretty credible and looks darn good.  As with all of Charlie’s locomotives, this engine runs smoothly after rebuilding the drive.  I saw this model first hand in 1980 when I visited his layout in the Houston area.  Now days the Morrills live in Benjamin, Texas (population 258) in northwestern Texas.  Bruce Blalock was kind enough to photograph Charlie’s locomotive.

Next up is a scene constructed by Model Railroader editor, Tony Koester.  It was built to demonstrate O scale and Proto48. Tony had a Red Caboose NKP GP-9  rebuilt by Jay Criswell with a new Proto48 drive.  He also added a few pieces of rolling stock including a Protocraft NKP boxcar and an imported caboose.  The structure speak to geographic location of the running diorama.  He did an excellent job of capturing rural Indiana.

I would like to thank Lee, Bruce and Tony for their submissions.

Hope you enjoyed OPW.