MODELING: Oil Brushers

I have been using acrylic paints to weather my models for some time now.  Lee Turner has convinced me that this is the way to go for creating a wide variety of effects.

Ammo MIG is major force in producing products for painting and weathering. Most of the market is oriented towards armor, aircraft and dioramas.  They have both acrylic and enamel (oil) products in their line.   MIG introduced a new way to use oil paints for weathering models.  Each tube has its own fine brush that can add a spot or streak of color.  The oil can be drawn out with mineral spirits.  I tried out the MIG product on a piece of aluminum corrugated metal.  I dabbed a few spots and used the mineral spirits to create a thin color wash.   I finished by using a gray acrylic wash to blend the colors.

I was messing around with oil on wood.  Those of you who modeled in wood using Floquil paint to rub a finish on.  It appears that one can replicate the old school methods featured in Finelines decades ago.

I need to play around some more to get a better technique for application.

The real advantage of oil weathering is that you can apply it over acrylic paints without softening the base color.  This is also true with most lacquer finishes.   Jim Booth is a big fan of oil-based weathering.  He recently finished up weathering over 100 Sn3 K-class imports.  P-B-L has offered custom finishing by Jimmy for years.   The picture shown below was taken by Jimmy after finishing up the locomotive.  Much of his weathering is done with an airbrush.  Mineral Spirits is the preferred thinner for oil. Jimmy suggested adding a drop of Japan Drier to the mineral spirits.  It accelerates the drying process.



MODELING: Masonry Buildings

In this edition, I will explore a technique for making brick and concrete buildings using a common foam core board you can purchase at an art supply store. I became aware of this approach via Facebook. A fellow named Martin Welberg has a page called Dirty Stuff by Martin Welberg. He is a professional modeler and producer of scenery products range from custom trees to scrubs and bushes. You can purchase the later at Scenic Express

The image above is a tree built by Martin.

He built this wall using a foamboard that the paper layer was carefully peeled off exposing the polyurethane core. The core is different than your run of the mill foam board which uses styrofoam filler. Polyurethane is firmer and will retain impression made on its surface.

In the process of assembling this post I came across a Word Press blog that had a very useful explanation of the use of foamboard to do masonry buildings. I suggest you check out this blog. The photo shown below I lifted from the blog. It shows what it looks like when you peel back the paper cover on the foamboard.

Martin Welberg used a board that is made in Germany. The product name is Kapa and it is produced by a company called 3A Composites. I did a search and could not find a US source. Canson is another supplier of foamboard. They use polystyrene foam in their product.

Individual bricks were painted using MIG primer colors. Different shades of brick color provide some variation. The brick has a well-worn look to it. It should look great for an old structure such as a warehouse.

I was sharing some information on using foamboard to do masonry building with Jim Zwernemann the other day He reminded me of the model he built in 2010 using this technique.  I hope to have new pictures of Jim’s creation shortly.  They will be posted in the next edition.

Thanks for stopping by,



Bothell, Washington is a community adjacent to the Seattle metropolitan area. It is near the northern end of Lake Washington. At one time, the Northern Pacific Sumas Branch ran through the village on its way to the Canadian border. There wasn’t a lot there even in its peak as source of traffic on the railroad. There were a couple regular shippers and small depot that housed the agent. The community to the west was Kenmore which had a log dump and a mill and to the east was Woodinville. There were several shippers in Woodinville but was also a junction with the line that ran on the east side of Lake Washington from Renton.

Many of you may be familiar with the term “LDE” or Layout Design Element. Tony Koester has long championed the concept of adding prototype-based focal points to your railroad. The LDE brings together purpose, location, era and railroad. It can say something about the terrain, industry and intensity of operations. There are my attempt to pretend that I understand prototype operation. I don’t! I have always built stuff and hardly ever ran my equipment. Mostly because of my choice to live in the not so great state of California. Homes are at a premium as you likely already know. Readers of this blog know that I do have space now but have lacked the focus to put it into play. I am starting to see a way forward in direction. Bothell is my focus currently. It will make an interesting diorama and an operating point as part of my planned railroad.

The layout of Bothell is very compact and simple. It has four switches and three customers. A moderately size feed mill, a sheet rock wholesaler and a team track with dock. The focal point is very compact depot of a non-standard design built by a predecessor of the Northern Pacific. To better illustrate the simplicity of Bothell, I have inserted a plan plot done by the railroad detailing some changes to the track in 1955. This is close to the era I model.

I am in the process of sketching out the details of track placement on module for my garage. I need to fit a 60″ radius on one end and fit in the 21 feet allocated for the scene. Stay tuned on that front.

The is a shot taken by Rick Leach showing the depot just prior to it being torn down. In fact, demolition was underway. The camera is point northwest. This not the era I intend to model but the large collection of photos Rick shared really help with planning.

This is the west end of the depot. You can see a small portion of the feed mill in the background.

This is the switch leading to the customers. Note the super elevation on the main and the spur pitching the opposite direction. This is one feature that will not make it on my scene.

The lead photo was taken by Rick’s dad in 1963. It captures much of the original characteristics of the old Northern Pacific. The classic GP-9 in its original colors of imitation gold and black long since gone from the northwestern rail scene. By the way, the depot had been rebuilt several time over its life. There are three different siding material used with shiplap on the west end and novelty on the east end. The hip roof had cedar shingles and a platform for a fire barrel. The NP adopted a sand and brown color scheme in 1943. The Bothell depot was later repainted with just the sand color.

In the early 1960s, the building was rebuilt removing the hip roof and composite shingle material. The picture yields information on a section car set out and the classic barber pole crossing sign.

Here is a view of the opposite side of the Walters Feed Mill at Bothell. The picture dated from 1968. Earlier pictures show that there was a second smaller mill on the right side of the remaining building. I don’t know when this business folded. The whole region was rapidly changing from a rural farming area to residential.


Rick Leach’s dad took many pictures in the area having lived in Bothell and Woodinville. Rick has shared some of these pictures of the 1940s. The first shot of Bothell was taken before 1945 showing ten-wheeler 1361 rolling into town. The depot was painted red and bottle green which was likely the original scheme applied by the NP when it took over the line.

It is a bit hard to see the details of this picture but the locomotive headlight had a wartime hood in place. The depot did not have an coal shed on this end. Rick Leach told me that logs did fall off as the trains made their way past Bothell on their way to Kenmore.

The Douglas Leach picture shown above was taken the late the 1940s after the depot was repainted and a small coal shed was added.

The year is 1947 and there was a special train movement for some group excursion. The old truss rod steel underframe coach was used as part of the movement. The picture shown more detail of the feed mill and the small mill structure to the left of the main building.

Bothell has a simple charm that can be a manageable project.

Thanks for the checking out this posting.


MODELING: More Information on Doors

In the previous post I covered the Camel and Union Duplex door opening and closing mechanism.  I mentioned Creco hardware but didn’t show an example of it.  Let me do that and also go into an important source of Camel door hardware in 1/4″ scale.

This post-war EJ&E boxcar is equipped with Creco door mechanism on the Superior door.  Creco hardware was applied to Youngstown as well as Superior doors.

Creco hardware was used on some of the Protocraft boxcars produced by Boo Rim.  It was not sold as a separate part(s) however.

Getting back to the Camel hardware and the Chooch Enterprises #215 plastic parts.  I have annotated a picture of the Chooch part sprue showing what the hardware is used for.

The following key corresponds to the annotations on the above picture.

A. Camel Door Roller used with the lever for lifting mechanism marked as “H”

B. Bottom Hangers for door

C. Camel Door Hasp

D. Camel #32 top door door guide

E. Back Stop for door track

F. Camel Door opening and closing mechanism,  The small part on the left is the Closing Arm and the long part on the right is the Door Starter Lever.

G. Door Handles (large and small)

H. Door lifting mechanism. Allows door to move on the track.

I. Camel Door Lock for double door installation.  Used with Door Hasp (C) and a wedge that you will have to make.

J. Routing Board. Located on the lower portion of the door in the center.

K. Door Starter Fulcrum

L.  Mount for Closing Arm (fixed to carbody)

The illustration above shows a typical installation of parts I and C.  The Camel Door Lock is a “Y” shaped piece that holds the wedge to engage the hasp.

The image above shows the hardware installed on double Youngstown doors.

Here is a typical installation of Camel hardware on a Youngstown door.  Photo from Rick Leach collection.

Here is a 1932 ARA boxcar with Creco hardware installed on a Youngstown door.

Hopefully, this post will useful for freight car modelers looking to add details correctly to their models.




MODELING: Door Opening and Closing Mechanism

Steam era boxcars used a number of door opening and closing mechanisms during the wood and steel construction period. The most common was made by Camel. There are a number of other mechanism such as the Union Duplex and Creco.

The picture shown above is the common Camel type. The railroad worker is in the process of attaching a seal the door hasp. The picture below is of the same application but from a different angle.

As a modeler we are fortunate to have these parts available from Chooch Enterprises.

You can find the Camel door opening and closing mechanism on the #215 sprue. You can purchased the parts via the Chooch website. They are only available direct from them.

The 1932 ARA boxcar shown above had a Union Duplex door and opening closing mechanism. This is a type that had not been produced commercially. I did a set of patterns for a Union mechanism for a 1932 boxcar kit that never made it to prime time. The Youngstown door has to be modified on the lower corners. Also a door lock and tracks were made for the door.

From time to time, I will touch upon other topics on freight car details. Proto48 is about the getting the details right.


MODELING: Caboose End Sill and Railings.

Caboose modeling provides the modeler with lots of challenges along the path to completion.  One of those tasks is building the end beam and railing for a Southern Pacific C-30-3 wood caboose.

The end sill is a steel channel on the prototype with a combination of flat steel railing and round posts.  My approach is to use an 3/16″ styrene channel with brass wire.  There are a number of rivets on the end beam as well.  This prototype car has a steel frame even though it was sheathed with wood.    The drawing shown on the right gives the details for this car.

I have made caboose railings in the past using brass strips and wire.  I elected to go with .080″ x .010″ strip brass.  The four intermediate are made of 0.7 mm nickel silver tubing and .015″ phosphor bronze wire. This type wire has better rigidity than brass for the same gauge.

Albion Hobbies makes a large range of tubes, bars and shapes in England.  I purchased my tube pack from Amazon.  There are several dealers who sell the products in the US as well.

I made a simple fixture to hold the end beam and railing during assembly.  I used a small piece of a hardwood that I found in a bin at Home Depot.  It drills nicely and will hold the .080″ brass wire I used for bending the end of the railing.

I used .022″ brass wire for the end part of railing.  I wanted to get a repeatable bend for both ends of the railing.  The picture below shows the bending fixture I made.

I formed the flattened end with a small bench vise from an old Unimat.  The formed part was soldered to the flat metal on the top.

The four posts appear to tie together the railing assembly.  The prototype used a 1 1/2″ square nut with washer to do the job.  I recreated the appearance of the prototype by drilling out several Tichy #8037 square nut and washer.

Here is a shot of the completed metalwork on the railing.

I placed the end assembly on the car to see how it fits.  It is crooked in the picture but will be installed correctly when I am get to that step.

Thanks for stopping by.

Happy New Year!



OPINION: Scale or Gauge

There are a couple terms that have bothered me for years.  Withing the world of 1/4″ scale model railroading there are a number of gauges in use.  We have O, On3, On2, On30 and Proto48 in 1/48.  Yet some have decided that the term O Scale means two-rail and that O Gauge means three-rail.  That seems to be confusing to me.  Both two-rail and three-rail O gauge use the same 1.25″ spacing between the rails.  So why label one scale and the other gauge.  This seems strange to me.   Scale is the size (1/48) we work in and gauge is the space between the rail on standard gauge.

I suppose that it isn’t that important in the total spectrum of 1/4″ scale modeling.  Proto48 doesn’t suffer this confusion fortunately.