NEW PRODUCTS: Protocraft’s New 41-ND Truck & Glenn Guerra produced SW-1

Protocraft has introduced a new Proto48 passenger car truck.  The  Budd Company’s 41-ND disk brake passenger truck.  8’-6” w.b., single-pointed 36” steel wheels, ball bearings, fully equalized, removable keepers, all-brass, in black or silver – a very accurate model built in Korea by Boo Rim Precision, using Edw G. Budd Co. factory plans dated April 1946.   $149.95/pr

Glenn Guerra is preparing to offer a much sought after EMD SW-1 switcher.  This will be the third domestic brass locomotive to enter production.

He is working on a SW-1 Phase 3. The trucks will be first. There are 36 casting and 4 etchings in each truck. The model will be an etched brass.
Here are some drawings. Next week patterns will be started for the trucks so Glenn can do the waxes and send them out to Valley Brass and Bronze.  for casting as well as the parts for the pickups. The black parts in the truck drawings will be printed in a nylon resin.
That is the latest on new products.

MODELING: Swift Meat Plant


One of my favorite modelers, Jim Zwernemann, created a model of a Swift meat processing plant that once existed in Austin, TX close to the Southern Pacific depot.  The lead photo was taken by Jim Hickey and came from the Frank Peacock collection. Fortunately Jim Zwernemann obtained a copy after Frank’s passing.

In it’s prime Swift & Company had regional plants all over the country in small to medium cities.  Another example of the smaller facilities shows up on the photo below. It was taken in Sacramento, CA very close the SP passenger station.  The timeframe of this picture is in the the 1958 period.  SP 1744 was likely in town for a excursion out of Davis to Knight Landing.

Here is Jim’s model of the Austin plant.  It was built with minimal depth to allow it to occupy space in the back of the scene.  The principal material used is styrene. The wall has a plastic brick laminated to the styrene.  Jim found the brick material and thought it might work for the Swift plant.

The overall effect is eye-catching based on the colors and basic design.  Other Swift structure that I have seen were a deep red but I must say I like the white and contrasting red band.

Jim’s work is impeccable craftsman which is visible in this image.   The windows were built from individual pieces of styrene.  The curved frame was difficult to fit into the opening according to Jim. The addition of the downspouts and vent pipe create interest in the wall.

The lettering and color band are the key feature.  Jim created the lettering using a hand-cut stencil.  It was a tedious process.  Jim managed to capture the lettering style of the original building.  It is a different font than used on their classic reefers.

The blanked out the windows are a nice feature of the prototype building. Jim captured the look of bricked over window openings.

Jim needs to build a classic Swift reefer.

Thank you Jim for sharing your work.



Getting back to the 1923 ARA boxcar build with this posting.  This edition will show the details that I applied to this rebuilt Atlas ready to run X29 import.

A new 3D printed grab iron end was used to detail the body.  The parts are shown below.  Dan Dawdy decided to create his own version and is offering them.

Since the last posting, Glacier Park Models decided to create a plastic version of the grab iron ends.  They are offering four sprues for $5.00 plus shipping.  The best way to contact them to purchase the parts is by emailing Jim Booth at

The plastic parts are much easier to add eo plastic models using liquid styrene cement or MEK. The parts have asmall pin on the back side which can be used to locate the part.

If you prefer the 3D printed parts you can go to this https//

The alternate rivet pattern was applieed using Archer decal rivets.  In addition I used their rivet decals along the lower edge of the patch panels and on either side of the door opening.  The rivet decals should be applied towards the end of construction since they are fragile.

The car B end requires some effort to install the necessary details.

The Ajax brake wheel is a PSC plastic part with a gearbox from Grandt and the fulcrum from an old Chooch set.  There are other sources available as you may know.

I used a set of Delrin sill steps left over from a Des Plaines Hobbies X29 kit.  It turns out that they still have these in a set that includes ladders.  The Atlas running board is resting on the roof to see how it looks.  It is a bit thick (.050″) compared to a more scale thickness of .030″  Not sure what I am going to do with this part.

The next step will be to paint the model and add decals.  I reached out to Doug Harding who is a fan of railroads like the Chicago Great Western and others.  He provided me with a PDF which offered recommendation for paint colors.

George Toman prepared a presentation for the 2017 RPC describing the construction of a CGW 1937 boxcar.  The presentation outlined paint choices and that the roof and underframe were covered with Texaco car cement (black) and the running boards were unpainted.

The following is a direct lift from George’s presentation:

The color for the 4 paints would reasonably match a medium red-brown such as Tru-Color Paint TCP-188, 193,197 (they are the same). This color was commonly used by numerous railroads in the mid-1940s-1950s, such as SP, Seaboard, NP, MP, NYC, WP, IC, RI, RDG. The color is for a new car and does not take into account any “scale factor” or subsequent weathering effects.
The Pullman bill of materials for paint specs start by instructing “Laps & Joints” of the roof and underframe to receive car cement. The car cement was Texaco black car cement.
Later instructions denote one coat of car cement on the underframe as well as one coat “Stibloy” and one coat of car cement. Also one coat of black paint on the trucks. The sides and ends were to receive either Glidden or DuPont Freight Car Red (75 cars each). No mention is made about painting or not painting the running boards. (I don’t know what “Stibloy” was, but it’s relatively unimportant since it was covered by the car cement.

That is all for this posting.






MODELING: Lee Turner’s Latest Vehicle Modeling

Here is an innovative conversion of a Tamyia 1/48 military vehicle kit.  Lee took a WWII German SS-100 heavy tractor and converted it into a Federal straight van.

You can compare the stock Tamiya vehicle to the conversion and what Lee did to the kit.  The kit frame was lengthened to a longer wheelbase to accommydate a reasonable sized box body.  He used the fenders and running board from a 1/43 pickup.  The Tamiya cab was truncated behind the from door.  The headlights were salvaged from the diecast model.

Lee added a open windshield to create a early “air conditioning” ventilation.   The truck lacks mud flaps since the few trucks required them up as late as 1954.

The combination of tuscan red and yellow lettering/striping creates a period look to my eye.  Lee is a fan of Frank Ellison’s Delta Lines early O scale railroad.  One of Frank’s prominent industries was Richmond Packing.  Lee created a tribute to a pioneer railroad/modeler who incorporated a number of new concepts in 1/4 inch scale.

Thank you Lee for sharing your creative modeling with the readers of my blog.


As a postscript to this story, I went on eBay and bought one of the Tamiya kits to try my hand at a conversion like Lee’s.

NEW PRODUCTS: SAL K-7 Wagontop Boxcar

Smoky Mountain Model Works has announced a new urethane kit is in production.  The model is of the Seaboard Air Line wagontop boxcar.  They railrorad purchased a design similar to the PRR X31 class boxcars.  There are a number of differences between the K7 and the X31.  The K7 has a proprietary end and roof with small corrugations in the panels.

 Advancements in 3D printing over the past many months now allow SMMW to print accurate, durable (flexible) parts that once would have been expensive/finicky etchings or require the kit builder to drills LOTS of holes, form brass strip, etc.  The picture shown below is of the much earlier S scale model done before the new printing and resin technology was available.

Custom-printed parts drastically reduce kit-building-time while adding a higher level of prototypical authenticity, compared to “close enough” when using commercially available parts that are generic in nature.  Some of you have seen what my printer is capable of spitting out … scale diameter ladder rungs and grab irons, for starters.  The SAL box would include printed parts for Ajax brake wheel/housing, platform, retainer valve and air line, grab irons, steps, corner Apex grid roof platform, and a 1-piece AB brake system (including piping and levers, but not brake rods).  The 1-piece body, underframe, and door patterns would be 3D printed, then cast in grey urethane just like previous kits.  Trucks not included.  Kadee 740s will be included if desired. There will be a production run of 50 kits.  This will be a limited run kit … once produced, the patterns will be stored, and the kit removed from the market.   The price will be $190.00 plus shipping.




MODELING: CGW Build Part 2

I have made some progress on my new boxcar project.  The Chicago Great Western 1923 ARA boxcar was unique compared to the majority of the ARA steel cars built.  The most obvious detail are the rivet patterns on sides and the unique Pullman door.  The riveted roof and flat end further distance this car from most of cars built to this design.  The implication of these differences will mean more work on the Atlas body and a new frame.

I added cross ties at the door opening sme intermediate supports of the AB brake components.  Next step was to install the AB equipment with levers and rodding.  I decided to use a brake cylinder from my Protocraft parts bin and a brass lever from PSC.  The clevises are a mix of San Juan plastic and brass on the Protocraft parts.  The rodding and air lines are a .020″ brass wire.

I used some cast brass parts for the angle cock and mounting on the train line. Protocraft has listed these parts in the PC-1101 AB brake kit type 1. I also used some 3D printed draft gear  designed by a friend.  No they aren’t available.  You can use any draft gear you want like the Protocraft or the Kadee if you prefer their coupler.

I am starting to rework the Atlas body next.  Since the grab irons and ladders are on my list to replace, I started there.  Look closely at the body-mounted grab irons.  They are riveted to the body unlike the Atlas model with uses a bracket style grab iron.  This means you have a bunch of holes to fill with .032″ styrene rod.

This shows the filler used on the ladder mounts.  I scratch built replacement ladders but the Atlas ladders are ok just a little bit heavy.  You cn sell the filled grab iron holes on the car end.

Since I am modeling a later era after the side panel rust had been repaired, modification are needed to the basic body castings.  The patch panels appear to be 9′ high so I layed out pencil lines defining the height of the smoothing. The lapped plate effect needs to be removed to get the patches to be flat once applied the blue tape is to protect the cast rivets.  I used plue tape the protect the rivets while I was removing the widely space rivet lines on the side.  New decal rivets will be applied 6.5″ to the left of the lapped seam and rivet line.

The patch panels were cut from .005″ styrene sheet.   They were applied with MEK to the body very carefully to avoind melting the patches.  The door was test fit to the opening.  The lower door track needs its height reduced about .010″  The door hareware cast on the left side of the opening needs to be removed.

Test fitting of the scratch built ladder.

Here is what the side looks like with a coat of Tamiya fine primer applied.  I also added pencil lines for the new rivet strips.

Grab irons and ends are being fitted to the body.  The grab iron ends I used were pretty bad whhich prompted a friend to bail me out some 3D parts to replace these ugly parts.

The new iron.

Here are the new printed grab iron ends applied to the side grab irons.  They were applied with very thin CA.

Next time I will finish up the body and frame in preparation for paint and lettering.



MODELING: Lee Turner’s Latest Innovation

We are pleased to sharing this novel technique for aging/distressing open top cars like gondolas and hoppers.  Railroads historically have hauled various commodities in gondolas which subjected the side and floors to significant damage.  Many times the loading and unloading process dinged up the car badly.
The following description is from Lee:
 I have always wanted to show the physical weathering so evident on gondola sides. I think every modeler has taken the old soldering to heat and distort (usually destroy) an old plastic car. I have had better luck with taking old Max Gray and USH brass cars and beating them up with various tools from the inside but that technique limits you to brass cars only and a sixty dollar experiment is easier to stomach that to start beating on a $350.00 Protocraft car!
 In looking at worn gondola prototypes it occured to me that the bulging and denting is a cumulative process spread out over many loads. I had the idea of using thin aluminum foil to represent the damage by denting the foil and gluing it to the car sides between the ribs. Years ago I had bought a three pack of resin Funaro and Camerlingo NYC rebuilt gondolas for 20.00 (less than 7.00 a car!) so one was chosen for the experiment. I used waterproof yellow wood glue as the adhesive because it is somewhat bulky and really attaches quite strongly to smooth materials. The panels were precut and damaged and then applied over a coating of glue, burnishing down the edges first to trap the glue under the foil to bulge it out. So far I am pleased with the results but see where improvements could be made. I tried to use the foil over the existing side sheet rivets but they aren’t as sharp and distinct as they should be, maybe better to use Archer rivets but I’ll wait until the car is complete and weathered to see how it looks.
  As we all know modeling is a series of compromises, what we find acceptable or good enough. To take this idea to the extreme would involve scratchbuilding in brass or possibly styrene to do it as close to the prototype as possible. This experiment is to see the merits of using an existing kit to achieve the look without the time or effort of scratchbuilding one car. It is compromised as it only will show on the outside and the car will need a load to hide the interior but it hopefully it will make for a very realistic finished car. The two pictures show a car side with and without a primer coat. I think so far it looks promising.
(The picture shown below was taken by Rick Leach after he had applied new lettering to this classic drop bottom car located in Toppenish, WA.  Rick has applied his lettering talents to more than scale railroad lettering by making stencils based upon actual prototype lettering guides and photographs. ed)
 As good modelers, as we all are, we must push the boundaries of what is possible for our own satisfaction and continuously  improving our skills.

This is the final of the experimental weathering of a gondola by added overlays of thin aluminum foil to replicate the denting and bulging of the side sheets on a well worn gondola.

 Here are images of the finished project, could it be improved upon? Certainly! If I were to do another car with this technique I would try 24 hour epoxy rather than wood glue to attach the side sheets and sand off the bottom rows of rivets to replace with Archer rivets. Since the original kit has flat castings and Murphy ribbed ends with no interior detail I scratched new ends out of styrene which also served to back date the car some. The inner sides still needed detail other than the separate resin splice plates so I marked the location of the splice plates and then bounced a round carbide cutter chucked in my Dremel on the inside to obtain outward denting effects.
  I’m a sucker for “Forgotten” road names so the car was painted and lettered with a K4 decals set for a M&O gondola. The M&O survived until the 1940 merger with the Gulf Mobile and Northern to make the Gulf Mobile and Ohio railroad. Weathering proceeded with washes to darken the exterior low spots and dry brushing a lighter shade of the base coat to highlight the raised areas. Rust chipping was added afterwards with Vallejo cork brown with hull red for the darkest rust. For rust and debris I ground up real rust from my son’s old pickup that saw 20 years of salty Michigan winters. I added  scraps of wood, paper and real dirt for additional debris which was attached to the floor with Mig products Pigment Fixer. A load was fabricated from resin cast girders to be shipped to a Roosevelt depression era NRA grade separation project.
  Never one to leave well enough alone I made the charred remains of a old hobo campfire made for warmth. That led me to look for some figures to bash into a pair of  hobos trying to keep warm, hey this is a car built as a mid thirties depression era piece so how fitting! While looking through my “Dr Frankenstein” box I found a standing Preiser figure who bore a resemblance to Lee Marvin, then it clicked! The 1970 movie Emperor Of The North starred Lee Marvin as the top hobo A#1 who battles with the conductor played by Ernest Borgnine. A little looking on the internet turned up color stills and even multiple shots of Lee Marvin’s costume which allowed me to replicate the clothing colors. I converted the figure with a crouching figure from the waist down from the 1/48 Hasegawa USAF ground crew set. The other figure is also primarily a figure with repositioned arms from the Hasegawa set. It would have been futile to have them trying to warm over a cold fire so a little red/orange/yellow brought the fire to life. 
   Now the car represents a place in time in US history, kind of like a mini diorama in a freight car..
I want to thank Lee for sharing his technique and photos of the model.  Once again he has pushed the boudries of modeling with this novel method for adding realism.
Best Wishes,

MODELING: Build a 1948 Ford F-1

Mike George has created an very nice 1/48 scale model of a 1948 pickup using a 1951 Ford pickup as a starting point.  We are very fortunate to have decent selection of diecast 1/48 imported by Menards stores.  They have a website where you can order models via the mail.  Menards Diecast

The conversion is fair easy since it involves the grafting of the 1948 hood and fenders to the the 1951 pickup model.  Menards offered a 1948 Ford Panel Delivery which is the donor for the front end.  The Menards trucks can be found on eBay or order direct from their website.

Here are a few shots of a restored ’48 pickup.

Mike used two models to make this conversion.  The front end was taken from a 1948 Ford Panel Delivery.  The second model used was a 1951 Ford pickup.

The surgery is visible  with some filler used to smooth out the transition between the donor parts.  The underside of jount was reinforced with brass bars.

The other area that needs to be addressed is the size of the rear window on the cab.  Ford increased the size of the window in the 1950-1951 models.  Mike used a combination of styrene and filler to accomplish this modification.

Mike carved off the gas filler cap and door handles to be replaced with wire pieces.

The model was repainted the  dark green and paint the chrome to reduce the toy-like appearance.

I think that Mike has done a great job backdating the inexpensive diecast model fit his modeling era.  As a sidebar, he has managed to do this modeling while recovering from a significant injury while riding his bike in the early morning hours.  Get well soon!

Keep on truckin’


MODELING: Time for a New Build CGW Part 1

I have decided that it is time to build a freight car and take a break from spiking track and installing switch motors.  My project came about as a result seeing a new 3D part generated by a very talented modeler in Austria.  Sarah Griessenboeck is the designer and the project is a Pullman door for the 1923 ARA steel boxcar.

So here is the door:

The door was also referred to as the “builder’s door” in ARA literature.  Sarah did an excellent job on capturing the design.  I downloaded the data file from her website called

The 1923 ARA boxcar is nearly identical to the PRR X29.  Atlas has produced an excellent scale model of the X29 which is my launch point for the build. I decided to build a version of this ARA steel boxcar.  My go-to source for new projects is usuallly the Railway Prototype Cyclopedia series of journals.

I discovered that the Chicago Great Western ARA cars were unique in several respects.  The location the side posts are different from the PRR X29 cars.  That changes the location of the alterating row of rivets that are parallel to the rivet line on the plate seam. Steve Hile was kind enough to provide this picture which I modified with some annotations.

The other significant difference is the truck spacing has been reduced on the CGW car to 31’2″.  For me that suggests building a new underframe.  You may elect to not make this change for the reduction of 12″ in the spacing.  It does change the appearance of the car with reference to how close the wheels are to the end.

My construction project addresses these major areas of difference with the Atlas X29/1923 ARA model.  We will start with the underframe.

The underframe is composed of a sheet of .040″ styrene laminated to a .040″ Evergreen styrene scribed with .100″ grooves.  There is a .020″ plate that runs the full length.  It is 20″ wide.  The centersill is composed of two 12″ Evergreen channel that have been modified with a piece of the channel cut from the channel material.  The prototype used a 7″ wide and 12″ tall shape.  The addition of the inside flange widens the Evergreen shape to 7″.

I cut the bolster and crossbearer sides from .020″ styrene.  A filler strip was added to create the basic width.  The bolster plate which would rest against the floor is supposed to be 15″ wide.  I elected to add rivet strips of .015′ styrene on either side to form the basic shape.


I added a Protocraft bushing and plate to the centersill.  The bolster lower sheet was something left over from a very old Des Plaines X29 I did in the dark ages of resin.

The bolster the basic end design reveals the bolster and crossbearer profiles.

The top down and side view relveals that the car lacks the stringers that the Atlas frame has.  In fact the basic X29 lacked stringers.  The express version added the two stringers per side like more modern designs.  Unfortunately Atlas picked the least useful underframe design.

There were six lots of 1923 ARA cars built for the the Great Weedy (CGW) by Pullman.  I picked the last lot to build since it came with AB and two side grabs.

Next time i will finish up the underframe and move on to the Atlas carbody modifications.

Thanks for stopping by.



MODELING: Eye Candy and New Things

I received some images of a recent model completed by Kelley Morris.  He is a commercial model maker who does projects for himself from time to time.  The photos are of NJ Custom Brass Alco S-1 switcher.  The model started out in Jay Criswell’s shop for conversion to P48 and a new super drive that includes Right O’Way ball bearing gear boxes and precision low current motor.

At that point Kelley did his magic.  The upgrades consisted of a removable cab roof, complete cab interior, completed underframe details and upgrades to the Blunt trucks.


The cab details included real wood floorboards, lighted control stand, brake stand, interior wall lining, door latches, and windshield wiper complete with motor.

Tacoma Belt is a real railroad that is city-owned to service local industry and the port area.  They did own an Alco S-1 that was acquired in 1968.

The paint scheme required three maskings to create the paint lines for the two-color scheme.

Speaking of the Pacific Northwest, the latest issue of the Model Railroader features a story about Mike O’Connell’s massive multi-level Proto48 railroad.


Right O’Way is working on new frogs for O scale and Proto48.   The are #10 for those who want the look of big time railroading.   The designs were done by Rick Leach using 3D CAD.  Terry Van Winkle processed the design files and printed them for casting at Valley Brass & Bronze.

This #10 frog is designed to look liike a spring frog.  It isn’t spring loaded like the prototype but has all the complexity of the real thing.

The second is convention rail-bound #10 frog this casting is for a conventional O scale flangeways.  I believe there is a P48 in the works.

As Bugs Bunny once said: “That’s All Folks”