MODELING: Bull Moose!

Certain machines get labeled with names of creatures from the animal kingdom.  Bull Moose is a name that conjures up a vision of a large beast with a rack of horns.

That is a Bull Moose of the animal kingdom and the picture below is the Bull Moose of the locomotive kingdom.   It is a 2-8-8-0 built by Alco in the teens and rebuilt by the railroad in 1937.   The Union Pacific rostered these monsters as helpers on Sherman Hill in Wyoming and other areas where helpers were required.

Not the most attractive locomotive to grace the Union Pacific roster.

Lee Turner applied his incredible finish to one of these beasts.  The model is an Overland brass import.   It arrived in Lee’s shop in need of repair prior to finishing.

Lee’s finished the model to represent a locomotive that has been in service for a while and has accumlated a good coat of grime.   Areas like the firebox and running gear reflect the mark of heavy service.

From any angle the Bull Moose is an animal.

Lee did some serious body and fender work on this Weaver Northeastern caboose. He replaced the four side windows with two new windows and total replacement of of the platform steps.  The conversion takes on the look of a Magor-built car.   The model was finished with paint, lettering and weathering.   Lee’s dad worked for the Detroit Toledo and Ironton.  The model has personal meaning to him.   The DT&I was once owned by Henry Ford and served as a raw material conveyor belt for the auto maker.

As always, I am grateful to Lee for his contribution of images and narrative.   It is rare to find a custom builder of Lee Turner’s calibre who is willing to share his work.

Hope you enjoy the material.


MODELING: Fresh Paint

We have focused on trying to convey the well weathered look on our rolling stock.  In some cases new cars were delivered to railroads and stayed fairly clean for a while.  I foud this picture on the web last week and thought that there were some interesting artifacts on this new car.

It is rare to find a color picture from the wartime era.  This photo was taken by Bill Wolverton.  Even though the car is relatively new there are subtle effects like grime on the rivet lines and on the door panels.   The shine is just about gone from the sides. The trucks look very clean with little road grime.

The car was built to the AAR 1937 design.  It was built by Pullman in 1941.  It was equipped with wood running boards and Ajax hand brake equipment along with 8-rung ladders on a 10′ interior height.   The railroad bought cars from AC&F that came with black ends and possibly a black roof.

This photo shows that a new car can blend in with well used equipment.


MODELING: A Visit to Sonoma

My wife and I spent a couple days in Napa and Sonoma. We enjoying some exquisite wines and good food with family.   I was able to break a way for a few hours to visit Norm Buckhart.  I delivered the recently completed Rock Island Fowler Clone to Norm.  He seemed to be pleased with the model.  A few days later Norm sent these photos taken on his massive P48 railroad.

Norm took a few pictures showing the car along with other models built by Jim Zwernemann and me.  The SP mogul switching these cars has a bit of history as a victim of the Sonoma Fire of 2017.  Norm found the model buried in debris from the fire that burnt part of his layout room.

Errol Spangler took this mess and restored it to its original appearance.   Norm said that it is a smooth runner.  That is a remarkable bit of work.

Key imported these E-7 diesels a few years ago.   Norm’s locomotives were converted to P48 with DCC and sound added.

I was able to get a few pictures of Norm’s newest centerpiece.   It is the 1/4″ scale Southern Pacific ferry boat Sacramento.  The model is stunning and massive.  Norm has a few large marine models on his layout but this one is the premier ship on the layout.

The model recreates a ferry that Norm once rode as a teen.   The SP fleet operated on San Francisco Bay between the Oakland Mole and the Ferry Building in San Francisco.  Ferries were removed from service in the late 1950s reflecting the loss of ridership and the ending of  passenger train service at the Oakland Mole. The Oakland Mole was the Southern Pacific’s prinicpal long-haul passenger station built on the edge of the San Francisco Bay.  This partial view of the Mole shows a smoke stack from a docked ferry.

Norm is constructing the train sheds to the left of this picture.  That will be a sight to see.

I enjoy visiting Norm’s layout.  There is always something new to gaze upon.


“PS” the top photo is of the Sonoma City Hall decorated for the season.

MODELING: Rock Island Fowler Clone Completion

I am wrapping my rebuild of a San Juan Model Company Fowler Clone boxcar.  Paint and decals were applied.  I am just about finished with the weathering.  Hopefully, I will be able to deliver the model this coming weekend.

I used decals from Protocraft and Rick Leach.  I was trying to represent a car as it appeared in 1947 or so.

Weathering was done with acrylic washes along with oil paints.  There are several layers applied to build up the color and effect.  A final flat coat will be applied this week.

This was a fun build since only a new roof and running board was added to the basic kit.  There were other changes made to the basic car such a sill steps added angle appled to the doors and different brake wheel.  You can go back and see the previous posts that described the construction process.

Now on to my next project.  Tune in to see what the project I will tackle.



NEW PRODUCTS: Two Interesting Products

From time to time I try to show a few new materials and tools on my blog.  The items shown below are new to me even if they have been around for a while.

First up is a new flush cutter that works for brass or phos bronze small gauge wire and plastic sprues.  The tool is being offered by P-B-L and is identified as P-B-L-843ex.  The tool is Swiss made and modified at P-B-L.  The tool is expensive at $44.95 but really is  beautifully crafted with comfortable padded handles.  I tried it out on a few tasks and found that it cut wire smoothly with a lot of control.  I recommend you try this wonderful cutter.


The tool can be purchased direct from P-B-L at their online catalog.





The next item is an acrylic paste made by Ammo MIG.  It is intended to simulate concrete for various projects on your layout.

I purchased a container on eBay from Burbank Hobbies.  The product is a thick liquid with the consistency of thick pancake syrup.  I tried it out on a mockup of a concrete wall section.  The material was applied with a wide brush follwed with a metal rod that allowed me to level the surface.  The Ammo MIG concrete dries fairly quickly in an hour or so.  The texture turned out the somewhat coarse but it might be a good material to create a stucco surface.  I like the texture for this application.  I tried to to float a thin coat of the material on the surface.  It did fill in some of the irregularities from the original application.

I will try sanding the material to see what happens.  Being an acrylic material, it can be tinted with an acrylic paint to create the look of older concrete.  I will continue to play around with this product to what can be done.  The large container sells for $12.95 plus shipping.  There are a number of online sources for AMMO Mig products.

That’s all for now.



MODELING: A Personal Experience

Lee Turner’s dad was an Alco man. He had a long history history with these diesel locomotives. Recently, Lee completed a commision on this 1/4″ Overland imported locomotive.  The model was painted in Reading scheme and the owner wanted it to reflect the post Conrail look.  He created the patch paint and grime of many days of hard useage by the railroad.

Here are Lee’s words about this project and the emotion it brought to him:

This one I felt my fathers presence with me, almost like he was looking over my shoulder talking as I worked.  Dad was always an American Locomotive Company man after starting his railroad career with Alco. He also knew how railroads had a pecking order in the motive power department. He said “If a railroad merges with another the units that don’t get new paint are the first that will be retired”. When Conrail was formed it inherited an odd assortment of worn out power, considering that only EMD and GE were producing new locomotives it didn’t take a genius to see that the first generation power and Alcos would be the first to be replaced. Conrail inherited quite a few C-424 roadswitchers from the Erie Lackawanna, Penn Central (ex PRR) and Reading. The Century series and especially the C-424  wasn’t a popular model with motive power men. The prime mover was “hot rodded” to gain horsepower and be competitive with the U-25b from GE and reliability suffered. As far as I can tell none were repainted into Conrail blue and were given “patch” jobs by painting out the former numbers, heralds and road names.”Son, they are gonna run the wheels off those units and when they fail, that’s the end, off to the dead line where they wait to be traded in”. Well apparently those old Reading Alcos were tougher than expected as they kept lugging with that memorable four stroke sound. While many of the other former railroad’s C-424’s were sitting in dead lines by 1977 some of these Reading units were still running in original, faded, grimy and rusty Reading paint. They met their end in 1982 when Conrail had enough newer power that they purged the roster of Alco products. Why the longevity? My Dad knew. In the early diesel days in the late forties all railroads were having mechanical problems with the new diesels and he, representing the Lehigh Valley, and officials of many eastern railroads formed The Locomotive Maintenance Officers Association. The locomotive manufacturers were blaming most failures of their products to poor maintenance with the leadership of the locomotive departments taking the heat. With the new association they could provide a united front against the manufacturers failures and begin to sort these problems out. My father had told me that during the fifties he got together with the Reading’s motive power chief and found that very quietly the Reading was lowering the horsepower by a few hundred per unit to limit failures by working the units below their limits. My father as head of the Lehigh’s locomotive department started doing the same, locomotives had the fuel injector racks turned down to reduce horsepower and increase dependability. “I bet my bottom dollar those old Reading Alcos weren’t producing more than 2,000 horsepower, that is why they lasted, if you drove your car at full throttle most of the time it wouldn’t last long but if you put a block of wood under the gas pedal it sure would last longer”. I have never heard about other railroads de-rating their locomotives. Of course this wouldn’t be advertised as if it became common knowledge the motive power officials would have some explaining to do to upper management. Thanks dad for letting me know the secret tricks you had up your sleeve!

Thank you Lee for sharing this personal journey.  You work is amazing and I am certain you dad is a fan of your work too!



MODELING: Rock Island Fowler In Paint

I managed to get some paint and decals on the Rock Island Fowler clone.  That only leaves the weathering and I can deliver the model to a friend.

Painting a styrene model starts with a cleaning in water with Dawn dish soap.  Once dry I primed the car with a Tamiya gray primer in  rattle can,  It is a great base for paint.  I used Tru-Color Rock Island Freight Car Red (TCP-197}.   Paint was applied with a Paasche VL gun.

I used the Protocraft decal set RI-Fowler-1 augmented with a old Rick Leach Rock Island set for some of the smaller stencils like trust and paint information.   Unfortunately, Rick doesn’t make decals any more.

I obtained this photo which helped with the pos-WWII appearance.

Weathering will go on next.  I will report on the finished car soon.