Feeds:
Posts
Comments

It will be a while until I can get back up into my train loft, and get moving on the roadbed, track, etc. In the meantime, I am hesitant to construct more structures. It seems like I have a surfeit of those. On the other hand, who can’t use more trucks?

I saw a review for a number of new trucks from Berkshire Valley Models in a recent issue of NG&SLG. I ordered three of them. This post is for Kit #232, the REO Box Truck.

This kit builds a nice, highly detailed, model of this truck.

To quote from the Berkshire Valley instruction sheet, “Ransom E. Olds, of the Olds Motor Vehicle Company (Oldsmobile), founded the REO Motor Car Company in 1905. In 1910 REO began producing trucks…..” I assume that this truck dates from this period, which would make it ideal for my railroad set in 1915.

I took all of the metal castings and submerged them in Micro Engineering’s Rail Weathering solution. This is basically an acid, so it burned the mold release off at the same time that it gave the castings a nice weathered light-brownish color. Berkshire Valley’s suggestion to file off the wheel’s tires works great, and fast. It sure beats trying to paint those rims.

This is definitely a “craftsman” kit, but the white metal castings are very clean, and there are some nicely detailed laser cut wood pieces. The instructions are also very detailed, and bear reading thoroughly, several times, at each step in the process. If you are going to build a contest model, I’m sure you would want to make the seat removable (as the instructions suggest) because much of the motor is only visible in this manner. I’m not building for a contest, so I just glued the seat down.

Berkshire Valley explains that there was no suitable chain available to fit the drive sprockets, so they just included the chain material that they had on hand. Sometimes I could get the chain to engage in the teeth of the smaller sprockets long enough for the CA (with Zip-Kicker) to set. Other wheels like the large center flywheel had no teeth, and it was trickier to wrap and glue the chain around these. When I considered the distance from the ground to the seat, I decided to use some extra Grandt Line stirrup steps so my little guy could get up easier.

The driver I used was from McKenzie Iron & Steel. I had him on hand, and his arms are positionable.

I’ll have to come back later and fix those enormous blue eyes!

The wagon bed props are not included in the kit. I added those from things I had on hand. The crates are scratch built. I posted an article on making those a couple of years ago. See the topic “Simple crates from wooden blocks” (2/29/12).

The headlight fillers were little silver decorations made for punching on to leather works. I also had these on hand.

The layers of Dullcoat I used to secure the weathering chalks had made the windscreen pretty opaque. I washed both surfaces of it with isopropyl alcohol and water. Now it just looks like a dirty windscreen that has had some haphazard cleaning.

You always see things when you take photos of your models that you never saw before. It’s like looking at them through a microscope. In this case, it was a small hole just below the rear drop-down gate of the wagon. I was sure this was intended to be for the exhaust pipe, so I fashioned a small piece of wire to simulate that.

 

I also had a kit for the HO scale version of the Tie Hacker’s
Cabin. I decided to just build the cabin portion of the kit, and use it as a background building. As opposed to the O scale version, the HO version of this kit has the strip wood needed to construct the cabin. It seems to be a question of what will fit in the kit box.

At just 3.0 x 4.5 inches, this is a very small structure, but it will look good in the distance as some kind of mountain cabin.

The foundation casting for this one was the right size. The extended room (which I left off my larger version) is just designed to fit on wooden posts.

A few open windows make the place look inhabited.

The Tie Hacker’s Cabin

This is the O Scale Tie Hacker’s cabin/complex from Rusty Stumps Scale Models. I put this together back in November of 2018. Yes, I’m a little behind in my postings. The kit includes plans, but not the wood, for the cabin and an open tool shed. Instructions are provided for securing the necessary strip wood to build the kit. I really like the look of the cabin, but for space saving reasons, I decided to use the rest of the complex in my lumber camp.

The figures are from Railroad Avenue, and I scratch built the little chimney lamp. For the lamp, I used the tip from a plastic eye dropper. The bulb is inside the eye dropper. I placed the lamp on a thin styrene piece that I painted black, and inserted along with the wires through the cabin wall.

The plaster casting for the foundation wasn’t large enough (I think I got the one from the HO scale kit) so I took a piece of pink foam insulation, and surrounded it with Chooch flexible stone wall material. I used acrylic paints on both the chimney casting and the new foundation. I always stain my wood before assembly, and weather it with powders afterwards. Plans for an extension for another room on the back side of the cabin are included, but I decided to leave it off.

This cellar hatch was a fortuitous mistake. I only had enough Chooch flexible stone material to go to the center of the front of the foundation. I though maybe if I painted the gap black it would be OK, but it showed more than I thought it would, and didn’t look right, so I added a few scraps of wood, and created a cellar hatch.

The kit is designed for board by board construction. It takes a little more time than some other methods, but it produces really nice looking walls and floors. I ran the wires for the lighting up through the foam foundation. If I want my bulbs to look like oil lamps, I dip them in Tamiya Clear amber acrylic paint. A bit of the porch roof shows here, and that was just done with strips of blue painters tape, painted black and weathered. This makes a pretty good representation of tar paper roofing, and you don’t need any additional glue.

I used strips of off-white paper for curtains on the two windows.

Here’s a shot of my two Railroad Avenue guys “plucking and strumming” at sunset.

This is the large open tool/work shed I built with plans from the kit. The details are cast into the tables, so the most time consuming part is painting all of them. I put two overhead lights in for night time scenes.

With a rusty corrugated tin roof, my little Railroad Avenue workers will stay dry when it rains. To achieve a rusted look, I paint the roof gray first and then dry brush with a rusty color.

I put the shed on a thin styrene base which was coated with various colors of grass. There are lots of castings with the kit, so I put some outside the shed. The weeds are Silflor Autumn Prairie Tufts from Scenic Express.

The little guys are “burning the midnight oil”. Or maybe they’re just very slow….they haven’t moved since the photos were taken earlier in the day!

There was an abundance of castings with this kit; too many to fit in the one open shed, so I designed and scratch built another small shed for some of the others. I used the same idea with the styrene base.

I used the windows from the cabin extension on this shed.

This is the other side.

There is a nice casting for an oil tank, and plans to build the base. The hose didn’t have an on-off mechanism so I took a Grandt Line water tank band tightener to represent this.

Ooops……

When I posted the article about the Durango Fire Hall, I forgot this little beauty.

Mt. Albert included this little chemical fire extinguisher from Aspen Modeling Company along with their fire hall kit.

It measures about an inch and a half tall, and is composed of cast plastic parts. I pre-painted all the parts, and used CA adhesive and Zip Kicker to assemble it.

This was one of the first items I built with the kit. I set it aside on a shelf in my workshop, and totally forgot about it!

The Durango Fire Hall

What follows are three views of the Mt. Albert Fire House kit. This is a very elaborate, well detailed kit. It comes with a DVD that shows over 80 color pictures which correspond to the steps in the written instructions.

You’ll notice that there is no bell showing in the cupola on these three shots, but the kit does have a very nice heavy brass bell.

This will be my fire hall in Durango, so I wanted to change the sign to reflect that.

I did a little work on my computer to change the sign, and then gave it a light spray with flat beige paint to take the reds down some, and give it a dusty look. I used my standard techniques for painting and weathering the rest of the model. I start with a gray stain made with 91% isopropyl alcohol and a little black leather dye. Then I dry brush with a little light gray acrylic paint. I always stain the wood before I do any gluing. No matter how hard you try, you will get glue showing, and it does not like to take stain the same way the rest of the model does.

In order to save layout space, I shortened this structure front to back as I have done with other kits. This will be the tallest building on my layout, but it should be. The cupola has a windowed lookout area, and you want the little O scale firemen to be able to see all over town from here.

I installed five lights in the fire hall, three outside like the ones shown on the original model, and two inside so that I could see my fire engine at night. I used a system I had employed some time ago that carries the power for the lights on two brass rods running out of sight through the rafters. It is fairly easy to solder the leads from the lights to these brass rods.

This photo shows the two parts of the roof assembly that I will leave unsecured in order to have access to the wiring for the lights.

Here you can see the brass bell. I had to add the clapper. I also added a lightning rod to the roof of the cupola. I thought it looked a little unfinished without it. On the back of the hall I soldered wires to the tips of the two brass rods where they protruded through the wall, and enclosed those wires in small styrene tubes to take the electrical service down through the roof of the add-on structure.

When I shortened the building I made an error in cutting the sub-wall and the outer wall on the second story of this side, so I just created two boarded over windows. It was easier (and more interesting) than cutting the window openings in the sub-wall plywood. My window shade technique has been described elsewhere on this site.

The figure of the man holding open the door is from Scenic Express, and I assembled the fire engine a long time ago from a white metal kit. I always intended that this fire engine would be used in Durango.

Here is a close-up of the styrene conduit that carries the power from beneath the layout up to the brass rod lighting system.

The kit comes with shades for the three outside lights, but they are just decorative. I substituted the Old Fashioned Green and White Lamp Shade & Bulb from Miniatronics.

I painted the interior of the fire hall black, and used black wiring to carry the current down from the brass rods to the lower lights. Maybe I’ll come back with some black Gorilla tape to secure the wires to the wall a little better.

All five lights that I installed can be seen in this view. The interior floor is made from coffee stir sticks.

This is the scene I had in mind when I envisioned the use of the two interior lights.

Rusty Stumps Bakery

The latest kit I’ve tackled is the Rusty Stumps Bakery. This is the photo from the front of the instruction manual. This building is quite long and narrow, so as you’ll see in the next picture, I shortened it to save room on my layout. Maybe I’ll use the left over pieces to make another smaller building. I’ve done that kind of thing before.

I cut the two side walls just in front of the side window, and stained the kit more to my liking.

A large blank side wall in this era would have been used for several advertisements. I had some signs left over from other projects.

The kit has heavy card stock floors for the first and second stories, but nothing for a foundation. I also wanted to add a small rear porch, and a wooden walk in front. I built the foundation with 1/8″ square strip wood, and extended it under the thin planking of the front walk and the back porch.

Because of the shortening of the structure, and the sloping side walls, I needed to add to the top of the kit’s rear wall. I found some suitable materials in my spare basswood supplies. Using the same stain for these added materials blended them in nicely.

Refer back to the first picture, and you’ll see a large square roof vent. That didn’t seem appropriate for my period, so I scratch-built a roof hatch to cover the hole left in the roof from the omission of the other vent. Then I added some Grandt Line hinges and a scratch-built handle.

The left side of the bakery has two more wall signs.

I used postal tape again for window shades.

I had some shake shingles left over from another project, and I like the look of these better than the roofing included with the kit. The people are from Railroad Avenue.

If you were looking closely you may have noticed that I reversed the arrangement of the details on the roof. The sub-roofing card stock was pre-cut for the location of the roof details. After cutting the shorter piece that I needed, it just made more sense to turn it 180 degrees. With this kind of roof, some means of draining rain water would be needed. I’ll come back and add that, along with a downspout and rain barrel.

All my interior lighting for the bakery is on the first floor, so I made the roof and the second floor so that they could be removed. It’s better to assume that you will some day need access to that light on the first floor. The tarpaper roofing material here is blue painter’s tape, overlapped and painted black. Then a little weathering powder creates that dusty look.

This view straight down into the store shows the placement of the shelf unit that has the bakery goods on display, and also the positioning of the bulb that will illuminate the shelf at night…..or during the day. It was a lot of work to decorate all those cakes. Large kit walls like these always seem to warp a little, so the two 1/4 inch square posts on both sides help keep the walls straight.

Here you can see the way the light plays on the bakery shelves. I noticed that I’ll also need to do a little masking of the light leak along the edge of the window.

There’s a slot in the front wall behind the bakery sign. The second floor was meant to insert here, but I cut the tabs off the second floor so that I could remove it. The little light bulb just happened to fall right behind that slot. I’ll slip a little piece of tinfoil in between the bulb and the slot, and that will fix the unintended rosy glow.

Some time ago I bought this Rusty Stumps kit because I liked the look and the size of it. I had already built a passenger/freight depot for Silverton that was of my own design. It more closely followed the D&RGW style for depots. When I finally got around to building this kit, I still wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with it, but I had a space on my track plan for Silverton that was simply marked for a generic “industry”. I assumed that inspiration would follow as I built the kit.

 

The rectangle on the plan shows the location for the “industry”. The light green block is where the passenger/freight depot will go. I have three earlier posts on the construction of the Silverton Depot.

 

As I was assembling the kit, I decided that this model could be an earlier Silverton depot and freight house that was left standing when the new one was built. This building could then be used for overflow freight, long term storage, etc.

 

I followed my usual methods for staining the wood parts of the kit, then lightly dry brushing them with acrylics. I find that this is the quickest way for me to get the look of worn and peeling paint. Weathering powders complete the effect.

 

Simultaneously I was completing the last of my Leadville Shops reefers. I decided to use one of the Bachmann under frames for On30 cars for several reasons. The plastic under frame fit the car, and came with couplers already installed that matched the rest of my rolling stock. This would save me the time and frustration of trying to assemble all of the tiny (but accurate) details that come with the kit. I am not building models for a contest; I just want reliable running, and the underbody details don’t really show that much. The biggest difference in doing things this way is the look of the trucks, but I figured my railroad could have replaced the earlier trucks.

 

This end view shows the unusual venting technique for keeping the shipment cold. The grill just above the end bolster would let in cool air as the car moved, and the vent pipe at the top of the car would exhaust the warmer air. Ice was loaded through the side doors, and placed near this passive re-circulating system.

 

In order to get the car floor to come close to the loading dock height, I put a strip of California Roadbed under the track. This brand of homasote roadbed is no longer being sold, but Steve Cox at Cascade Rail Supply promises to stock a matching product.

 

This is the view of the backside of the building. It will hardly show in the position in which I plan to use it, but at some point in the future I’ll probably add a loading dock here.

 

There are two choices of shingles with this kit: shakes and the more conventional style. I chose to use the more regular type. The On30 track shown here is Micro Engineering Code 83, which I plan to use throughout the layout. The figures are from Railroad Avenue, and I’ve placed them so that the two fellows on the dock look like they’re talking to each other, and the third guy in the doorway is listening and waiting on whatever decision they come to.

 

An outhouse is also included with the kit, as well as seven castings for a variety of freight. I decided that just using the included castings would be sufficient.

 

I put two lights in the model. One was placed over the office doorway, and the other inside the freight room.

 

I located the inside light out of sight so that all that can be seen is a soft glow.

This is one of a series of very nice booklets of drawings for scratch-building small period wood structures. It is spiral bound so that you can lay it out flat as you are working, but I copied the pages for my project, so I wouldn’t spill anything on the original book.

There are 45 projects in this volume. Each features detailed construction drawings from all four sides. The drawings are in HO scale, so you need to use your copier’s sizing function to render them in other scales. I decided to make my building in S scale with O scale windows and doors. I did this to conserve space on my layout.

Each project has an introductory page with a written description of the structure, and an isometric sketch that has no scale. The author calls this a blacksmith’s shop, but it could be any number of small structures like a stable or an auto repair shop. By the way, if you are building anything with a horse shoe mounted on it, have the open end of the shoe facing upwards, not downwards as shown here. Good luck falls from above, and the open end of the horse show is supposed to collect it. Horse shoes mounted like this one would produce bad luck.

Most kits are easy to build, but often pricey. They usually yield nice looking models, but without the creative satisfaction of something you scratch build. I used left over shingles from my hardware store project on the small extension that gives this building much of its character. The exterior walls here are just a few scraps of ship-lap siding I had on hand. The windows are from Grandt Line Products.

I’ve always wanted to try the coffee stir stick method for wood siding. I got a lifetime supply on Amazon for just a couple of dollars. About 35% of them are too warped to use, but that still leaves hundreds that are fairly straight. I stained them in my customary manner and used them for the vertical boards. In O scale they are about 12 inches wide. They are harder than basswood, so a little more difficult to cut. I found a saw works better than a knife. The handles on the big double doors are bent from a couple of pieces of a paperclip, inserted through small drilled holes and secured with CA on the back side.

For the chimney, I used another technique I had wanted to try for a long time. I first made a rectangular styrene mold and filled it with plaster of Paris. I let the mold sit for several days until the plaster was no longer cool to the touch. That means it has completely cured and hardened. I had to break the mold away from the plaster, but I wasn’t planning to use it again, so no problem. Once I had the basic chimney block free, just a little sanding gave it a nice round-cornered shape. I drew the stones in pencil, took a needle file with a small tip and carved in the joint lines between the stones. I gave the whole chimney a wash of acrylic Depot Buff to seal the plaster, and then painted the individual stones with three additional colors. I left about 25% of them with the Depot Buff base coat. After that, I used very thin washes of acrylic raw umber to tone everything down, and blend the stones together. Finally I brushed the chimney with a dusting of near-white weathering powder. This takes the shine off of it, and gives it a weathered rock look. The stack on top of the chimney is a bit of plastic drinking straw recessed into a 1/4 inch hole I made by hand-turning a drill bit down from the top. Plaster of Paris carves very easily.

For the roof I simulated tar paper with blue painter’s tape over card stock. It helps the roof to hold its shape by making a couple of interior supports to match the peaked end wall. Then I painted and dry brushed it, and used some light dirt colored weathering powder on it. This is a quick and simple way to make roofing. I just used a thin line of black paint where the chimney meets the roof to simulate flashing.

At this year’s National Narrow Gauge Convention in Minneapolis, which is close to where I live, I had a nice conversation with Mike and Korie Pyne of Wild West Scale Model Builders. I have built many of their kits, and I told Korie that I really appreciated the isometric instruction drawings because they reminded me of the drawings that you get with Legos. She said that that was exactly what they had in mind when they created them.

Their kits always include beautiful photos of the finished model from all angles. There was an option to leave the roof and second floor removable, so I did that with my kit in order to have greater access to the lighting I intended to install.

I added three figures from Railroad Avenue, and one from Arttista. I like to compose small scenes with my little people so I made two conversational groupings, one on the stairs, and one in front of the store.

The barrels and the crate were included with the kit. I’ll be able to take the warp out of the board walk later.

I always reinforce the flooring and give it a little elevation so that when I finally put the model on the layout, I can bring the surrounding soil in without sinking the building too far into the ground.

Mother Nature rarely makes anything just one color, so I always use three colors to dry brush my shingles.

A technique that I’ve been using since the 1980’s for simulating window shades is beige postal tape. It sticks right on the windows, and as you can see from the night time photos below, it lets a little light through.

The lighting is similar to that which I’ve used on other models.

Having finished the model, I realized that it had no chimneys. There were none provided with the kit, but I can easily whip a couple up.

 

The second kit that I purchased that night at the convention was for a small fire house.

This kit also has nice color photos of the model from all sides.

With the addition of this kit, I now own 3 fire houses, so with only two towns, something is going to have to go. My original drawings for a fire hall in Durango can be seen in an earlier post called “Plans for the Durango Fire Hall” (11/22/13). I have partially constructed this building, but it can easily be repurposed. I have a kit for the Mt. St. Albert Fire Hall, so I think I’ll build that one for Durango, and this much smaller fire house can go in Silverton.

The little horse with one front leg lifted is from The Aspen Modeling Company.

I decided to use a tin roof instead of a shingled one. Less of a fire hazard! This corrugated roofing is from Dr. Ben’s Scale Building Materials. Since I wanted to play around with a stone foundation on this model, I dropped the angle of the flooring in front of the doors.

One fire ladder is included with the kit. I’m not sure which side of my fire house is going to be visible on the layout, so I created little pegs on each side of the building. I’ll hang the ladder where it can be seen. The pegs were created using straight pins, exactly like the method I use for door handles.

This is a good picture of the foundation I created. The material is two courses of Chooch Enterprises flexible cut stone wall. I cut a piece of 1/4 inch plywood the same size as the kit flooring, and applied the Chooch wall material around it. I felt the stone foundation would go along with the theme of “fire retardant”.

There is no bell provided with the kit, but I had a whole bag of silver bells from Michael’s. They were a perfect size, and a simple paint job made it look like a bronze bell.

The seated figure is from Railroad Avenue. I don’t remember where I got the horse-drawn fire wagon, but it’s a perfect size for this small fire house.

A Display for Relatives

For three weeks in late August and early September, we had four separate groups of relatives here for a visit.

So that they could see some of my modeling, I set up a fictitious town with a number of my structures.

I say fictitious because this is not the exact location where these buildings will go. Many will actually be in Silverton, but I currently have no benchwork up there.

Even this area where Durango will eventually go has no track laid.

The homesite here just has a coat of Kilz-2 primer to seal the material, so please ignore the ground color. I am not trying to depict winter! Here in Minnesota, we cherish our springs, summers and autumns.

It looks a little bit like there is a lake in the background here, but that is just the gap between the homesite and the photo background. This will be filled in when I get around to finishing this area.

Durango’s mayor is still waiting for his city to be completed, too.

Maybe that horse and wagon coming around the corner will pick up some of these crates.

Somebody is inside the bank making a deposit…..or a surreptitious withdrawal?

Here comes the Main Street trolley. Durango’s first trolleys were horse drawn like this.

The Rochester Hotel on my layout is a selective compression of the old hotel that still exists in Durango.

The laundry and the general store are still doing good business.

The local freight house is still the only place in town to buy fuel for the “newfangled horseless carriages”.

This is a project I’ve been working on all summer. Since my layout is On30 scale, and this is an HO scale kit, my intent is that it will be a background model if I can find a place where I can fit it in. I do this to create forced perspective, but this technique works best at eye level, and you need a little distance from foreground to background to make it work best. See “More HO Half Houses” in my category “Modeling In Other Scales”.

I originally felt that I could just assemble the water tower on a couple of layers of one inch styrofoam insulation material, but then the project started growing on me!

If I was going to have a water tower, I needed to have a locomotive and tender to put water in, so I needed track to “run” the locomotive on. The model will be static (thank goodness). I added more styrofoam underneath and on both sides of the original piece, and contoured it all with Amaco Sculptamold.

I wound up making my static locomotive and tender from a number of sources. Most of the pieces came from Shapeways compliments of Railway Recollections, but the running gear was from an old N-Scale Minitrix loco. Since my layout is narrow gauge, I opted for an HOn30 locomotive, “running” on some old N-Scale track that I already had.

I enjoy modeling, but working in HO scale is tiny stuff. The whole diorama is only about 10 inches square. You can double click on any of the photos to get an enlarged view.

One reason the project took so long was that I had to source the various components from so many different places, mostly by internet purchases and waiting for delivery. HOn30 is not a very common scale, so for instance, the tender wheels came from a different place than the tender truck side frames. The Shapeways parts were supposed to fit on a specific N-Scale 2-6-0 locomotive which was going to be quite expensive to purchase, so I used a Minitrix 2-6-0 (which I bought on eBay, non running), but the switch meant that the Shapeways locomotive pilot wouldn’t fit correctly, so back to Shapeways for a different pilot…..and so on.

Once the locomotive and tender were assembled, I turned to Google Images for some research into painting details.

The research photos also helped with ideas for further details.

The headlight and tail light were little stick-on jewels from Michael’s. The figures were from an HO Preisser engine crew set. There were six of them, and I managed to find work for them all. I made the builder’s plate from the kind of thin clear plastic that comes with a lot of packaging. I punched it out with a paper punch, and painted it gold. It’s about 2mm in diameter.

The water in the tank is Woodland Scenics Realistic Water. I like this product because you can color the water by mixing in acrylic (water based) paints before making the pours. I say “pours” because this product works best if you build up the water with thin layers, no more than 1/8 inch each. The tank looks almost full, but of course, there’s a wooden disk just a little way under the water.

The locomotive hand rail in this picture was made from an HO scale brass etched ladder. I cut it in half lengthwise, drilled small holes along both sides of the boiler, and glued the two halves in. The pilot support rods are small bits of wire.

The deciduous tree on the left was made with a Scenic Express Super Trees stem. For thickening the trunk, I used the technique of applying hot glue, and shaping it with the tip of the hot glue gun. This gives the trunk a more realistic thickness, and strengthens it. The yellowish leaves are Scenic Express Super Leaves, Moss Green, and the underlying dark green leaves are also Scenic Express.

I believe the coniferous trees were from Affordable Forests; I purchased them at a train show. The rail was weathered with Floquil Rail Weathering pens, and acrylic paints.

Weathering on the tender and locomotive was done with acrylic paints and weathering powders. The track ballast is some old N-Scale ballast I’ve had for decades. The open cover on the tender water hatch was made in the same way as the builder’s plate.

The decals for the number “5” on the locomotive and tender were another special order item. The grass tufts were from Bachmann Scene Scapes, 10mm tufts (Tan). I like the way this picture makes the water tower look like it is high up in the mountains.

I also like this running gear level view. The workman on the right is oiling in the piston rod area. He does have an oil can in his hand, but he wound up facing away from the camera in all my shots.

I often work on two or more projects at once. By doing that, I can shift gears when I need to let something dry overnight. I only wish I had a larger workbench surface, but I can get by. While pushing bravely ahead on an HO scale backwoods water tank that will become a background scene on my layout, I decided to tackle one of the two On30 Leadville Shops cars I had purchased some time ago.

This is the photo that Leadville Shops uses on their web site for the Denver, South Park & Pacific Tiffany refrigerator car. These are sold as “craftsman kits” which means you not only have to have a fairly high degree of modeling skills, and a good stock of modeling tools, but also the patience of Job.

This is my finished car. One thing I have found with many of these craftsman rolling stock kits is that the modeler really needs to have a comprehensive knowledge of how the prototype was constructed. I think the companies that make these kits assume that you will know what every part of the car was called, and how it connected to the other parts. The instructions could sometimes be a bit more helpful.

Having said that, you could easily build a contest quality model with this kit, but since I was only interested in a car that would run reliably, and be detailed enough to pass momentary inspection, I took a few shortcuts.

Underbody detail…..You have to furnish your own trucks and couplers, and that requires some fiddling around with the car’s frame to get everything to fit. I left off the brake detail on the trucks for the sake of being able to operate the car. It also looked like the brake gear would not easily fit on the trucks I used. Some of the brass wire piping, air lines, etc. interfered with the ability of the trucks to pivot cleanly. Since it doesn’t show very much unless you pick the car up and turn it upside down, I left some of that detail off. 

Instruction sequencing….I like to stain, paint, weather and decal the sides and roof of the car before assembly, not after. I also paint all the detail parts first. I always start by staining the wood with my alcohol and leather dye mix. The next thing I did on this reefer was to dry brush the sides with some acrylic Depot Buff. My research said that some of these cars were painted a pale yellow, and the Depot Buff turned out to look like a weathered pale yellow. As the car nears completion there are more and more fragile detail parts hanging off all sides of it. The less you have to handle it the better, so I saved some of the detail like the brake staff and brake wheel for last.

After the initial staining on the roof, I used a rusty brown dry brushing as well as some light brown weathering powders. Research said that some of these cars had dark brown roofs. There is a nice brass etching set, and I weathered this right away with Micro Engineering’s rail weathering solution. The door hinges and the corner braces show this effect.

There wasn’t enough wire in the kit for all the grab irons, so I substituted some white metal grab irons that I already had. These came with the NBW detail already cast into them. There is an ample supply of small detail parts, like the tiny NBWs. Leadville shops correctly assumes a fair percentage of these will go flying off into never-never land as you try to handle them with your tiny tweezers. There were no stirrup steps with the kit, but I used some from my detail supply. The holes on the ends of the car are for ventilation to help keep the ice from melting too fast, and to keep the vegetables and meats from spoiling. You will notice that there are no rooftop ice hatches. The ice compartments at the ends of the car were filled by carrying ice through the large side doors. When the ice had been loaded, then the contents to be kept cold were put in the center of the car. I am making progress on the water tank scene, and should be able to post something about it in the not too distant future.

Some weeks ago I purchased one of Bachmann’s newest offerings. It is the On30 Derrick Car in MOW Grey, Item #26901.

Almost all railroads needed a piece of maintenance of way equipment like this. Derailments were a fact of life, and other large things needed to be picked up along the right of way, or loaded on and off flat cars.

All D&RGW MOW cars were originally painted in Tuscan or Boxcar Red after rebuilds in the 1920’s etc. However, just about all of them were painted MOW Grey in the mid 1940’s. My railroad is set in 1915, so technically I should have purchased the version of this car that Bachmann does make in what they call “Oxide Red”, but all of the rest of my MOW equipment is grey, so that’s what I went with.

I did some light weathering with acrylic paints, chalks and Testor’s Dullcote. I wanted to take the shiny plastic newness out of the model, but leave it looking like it was in good working order.

This close-up shows some of the nice mechanical detail that Bachmann has included inside the enclosed portion of the car. Now my maintenance of way trains will really be well-equipped to deal with problems out along the line. 

This is a kit from B.T.S. Structures. According to their instruction sheet, that stands for “better than scratch”. Historically many Chinese men, and families, were brought to this country to work on the transcontinental railroad. From the outset they faced prejudice and discrimination, even on the railroad that brought them here. Eventually their superior work habits, skills, and clean living gained them widespread acceptance on the railroad, but they still faced an uphill struggle when they left the railroad to pursue other occupations. One of the few businesses they were allowed to own and run was the local laundry.

This kit consists of an elongated main structure and a small attached side room of some sort, as seen in this rear view.

Since I’m trying to save space in Durango, I decided to leave the small addition off, and shorten the depth of the main building. I can use the little addition to make a small shed somewhere. You can always use a lot of small sheds!

I don’t intend to have the back of the laundry show, so I just used a piece of card stock, and painted it a rust color. Now I can add the windows and doors shown in the second photo above to my stock of spare parts.

I decided to use a different chimney so it wouldn’t dominate the structure so much.

I like to use photographic interiors, and you can almost always find something useful on Google Images. I used this on the back wall of the laundry.

I split this photo in two and used half of it on each side wall. The canopy glue I use on the window glass, and the addition of a window shade makes these photos very hard to see, but that’s OK; I know they are there.

I put two lights on the structure: one over the door, and one on the inside near the back.

From this angle, you can see both lights. Now my little Railroad Avenue people can have clean shirts.

The Kokomo House

Another kit I recently completed was the Kokomo House by Wild West Scale Model Builders. With a footprint of roughly 6.5 x 4.0 inches, this structure is a little bigger than the houses I have been building lately. Maybe it can be the home of a rich person, or some business office. A bit of history by Joe Crea on the Wild West web site says, “Kokomo, a small Colorado mining town, once existed just below the east crest of Fremont Pass. The townsite is presently buried under extensive tailing ponds of the Climax Molybdenum operation. An early photograph of the town revealed this small house. Like many log structures of the period, this building has its facade sheathed with siding to provide a more finished appearance. The house appears not to have been painted, but it was common practice to paint only the finished facade and allow the log portions to weather naturally.”

This is the front view of my finished house. Nothing new in terms of techniques here. The mortar lines between the logs took a while to paint with a very fine brush. Fortunately, rough is OK here.

The front from another angle.

The back has an interesting little walk-out addition, and cut-away roof line.

The other rear view angle. I put two lights in the structure because of the size of it, and the many windows.

Viking Ship

Here is a little model of a viking ship that I have spent over three months working on. It is from a kit from Artisania Latina. The ship is approximately 11″ long from prow to stern and 11″ tall from keel to top of mast. I wanted to build this ship for display in my library, and because I have ancestors who were actual Vikings.

This picture shows the model in one of my lighted display cases.

There were a number of challenges to the construction, which explains the lengthy assembly process. Almost every piece of this kit had to be cut and/or shaped from the raw wood supplied. There were some exceptions like the stand beneath the ship, which was part of a laser-cut sheet.

The most time consuming process was shaping and installing the strakes (boards) along the sides of the ship. Each one of these has between seven and nine points of attachment to the underlying hull formers. The brass nails are only for visual accent; the strakes had to be glued at each of the 7-9 aforementioned points, and I could only do two to three of these points per day. The work had to be clamped and set aside for the glue to harden over night. I usually work on several models at a time, so I can move on to other projects when I have to wait for steps like this. This photo also shows the side tiller at the rear of the ship. This was one of the few steering mechanisms these ships had.

I modified some elements of the kit to create a more realistic model. The most visible modification is the sail. The stripes were my addition. I don’t know of any Viking sails that were not colored or decorated, and a stripe design was the most common. The colors identified the ship’s owner. I also wanted the sail to look like it was billowed out with a nice following wind, so here is what I did. First, I carefully stretched the sail on a flat surface, and drew in the red stripes. I used a permanent marker because the technique for filling the sail with wind would be using water based products. Then I sewed the top of the sail to the yard arm, and blew up a balloon. The sail and yard arm were carefully stretched across and secured to the surface of the inflated balloon. The next step involved using a diluted mixture of white glue and water. I used construction glue so that it would give the “white” surfaces a bit of an eggshell color. In the theatre, this kind of a mixture is called “dutchman glue”. I think this term came from the trade war that was waged between the English and the Dutch in the mid-1600s. At that time the island of Manhattan was a Dutch colony. When the English won the war and took over Manhattan, they either obliterated anything connected with the Dutch, or created derogatory terms for it. We still have sayings like “Dutch-treat” which implies something cheap. I think watered down glue acquired the same kind of demeaning appellation. If you are interested in learning many other fascinating facts that emerged from this period (including how the New York Mets got their colors), I highly recommend reading “The Island at the Center of the World” by Russell Shorto. Back to the sail: I gave it several coats of this glue over many days, and when the glue had thoroughly dried, voila! I popped the balloon and the sail retained its shape! The next picture shows minor modifications I also made to the ship’s rigging to keep the sail positioned properly. I guess you’d have to know a lot about Viking ship rigging to know what’s correct and what isn’t.

The other major modification was to the shields along the sides of the ship. The shields in the kit had no decoration on them. For the Vikings, their decorated shields were part of their pride and their identity, so I found pictures of Viking shields on Google, sized them, and printed them on glossy photo paper. It’s a technique I’ve used before to make signs for structures for my model railroad.

I glued the photo paper to the plain shields. Then I found some small stick-on jewels at Michael’s to create the shield boss on each shield. The shield boss was a cup-like steel projection at the center of the shield that protected the warrior’s hand as he (or she) gripped the back of the shield. The Roman Legionnaire’s shield had the same feature. This boss was also used as a “butting” weapon. The edge of this otherwise wooden shield was then clad in a steel “tire”. I have some little Viking figures on order to complete the scene.

 

 

As you know if you have been following my postings, I am currently engaged in creating some housing for all of those little people who will populate my railroad.

Since these structures take up very little space, and are of a simple generic nature, I have been using ready-made kits instead of designing and scratch-building everything. I also have some houses and other buildings that are in S scale and HO scale so I can create some false perspective on the layout. I posted an article on May 20, 2012 (in the “structures” category) that shows how convincing false perspective can be. The photos in that article were shot on a set up that was less than four feet deep.

This kit is called “Tommy Knocker’s Cabin”, and is from Wild West Scale Model Builders. They produce some very fine laser-cut wood structure kits in a number of scales. I won’t cover all the techniques I use on these kits because the information can be found in earlier posts.

This kit contains number of options like this addition, and the small front porch roof. I like kits that give you options, because you can individualize your structure.

There are two windows on the back side of the cabin, but no back door. A door could very easily be added.

The other side of the cabin has room for an optional storage room. I built the kit with all the options, and the footprint is still only 5.5 x 5 inches.

The kit just comes with a small tubular styrene piece for the chimney, but I like to add more detail, so I scrounged in my spare parts storage for this chimney cap, some guy wires, and flashing. If you look closely at the full photo of this angle, you will wonder why I put the chimney in this location which sort of suggests that the stove would be located right inside the front door. I wondered about that, too, but the deed was already done! I guess the cabin’s owner will have to route some stove piping to the rear of the room….a more logical location for the stove. I hope he can still get good draft.

I wanted to try doing window curtains here, so I used some of the tissue paper from the kit. This paper is supplied for the builder to paint black to simulate tar paper roofing. The shingles shown are also provided in the kit. I drew the curtain details in pencil on the tissue paper, and then cut out the shape, allowing excess width and height to make it easy to glue the curtains on to the inside walls. I cut away the shape of the opening between the curtains. I think the effect worked well. I also added interior lighting so that the curtain modeling would show up better at night.

Here are the results of my work with two Banta Modelworks kits. This company makes some very fine laser-cut wood kits in many scales, and I have assembled a number of them in the past.

This is the photo that comes with the kit for the house. There are not two houses in the kit; this photo just shows two variations of the same house.

The kit includes an interior layer of walls that are just plain laser-cut plywood, and an exterior layer with inscribed siding. You are supposed to sandwich these walls for strength, but I started to think that I could actually build two houses with this kit if I reinforced each set of walls with some basswood strips. Make sure your reinforcement is at a 90˚ angle to the grain of the laser-cut wood. You can see the wiring for the interior lighting. I won’t do a separate photo of the lights “on” since I have done that in so many recent posts.

To build two houses required a little scratch-building, but that didn’t deter me. The hardest part, cutting all the window and door openings, was already done for me. For variety I decided to make my second house resemble board and batten construction.

To further differentiate these houses from each other, I used separate roofing techniques. As I was developing these two structures, I decided that one would look “cheaper” than the other, and that decision colored all my choices. Here you can see that one house has a nice shingled roof, and the other has a simple tar paper job. Wooden battens were often used on tar paper roofs to resist the paper lifting in high winds. On both roofs I used Clever Models “Creeky Brand” printed paper products.

Here you can see two techniques I have become quite fond of; the use of canopy glue to resemble the cheap glass often found in early western structures, and the employment of simple straight pin heads for O-scale doorknobs. This photo also shows the wooden beams I use as a foundation on many of my structures. This adds detail, and helps to resist warping. I used AIM weathering powders on all of these structures.

On the more expensive home, I included a porch light. This is from Miniatronics, item #72-512-03.

Here is the photo that Banta provides for the outhouse kit. There are actually 6 outhouses in this one kit, as you can see from their statement.

I tried to create as much variety in the outhouses as well. I made one to match the coloring of each house, and one to look like it was newly built. Since a lot of my structure work so far has been commercial buildings, I think it’s time I create some places for all those people to live.

Icing Dock

I’ve been working on the O scale kit shown here for the last few weeks. It comes from Rusty Stumps Scale Models.

The original store still exists in Silver Plume, Colorado.

I won’t go into all the staining/painting methods I use because they are in previous posts about other models. Suffice it to say that I did not follow the coloring on either the original store, or the kit box cover. The figures are from Railroad Avenue. I don’t know if they have many left, but you can check at their web site.

I detailed the front scene with some parts I had, and some I scratch-built. The produce display rack was scratch-built. The little green and red vegetables are bird shot pellets that I painted. The chimney is one I had from Grandt Line.

The signs on the side of the building can be found on Google Images, and sized accordingly. More on them later.

Here is the other side. The old man leans on his cane as he inspects the produce.

I don’t expend a lot of energy detailing any side of a structure that is not going to be seen, as you can tell from this backside view of the store.

I really enjoy putting lighting into my structures. It brings them to life just as much as the figure groupings. The storekeeper is keeping a close eye on the old guy leaning over the produce! There are two lights inside, and the light with the shade over the storekeeper is from Miniatronics.

Here is the same scene with no added light from the display box I am now using in my library to photograph these models.

I make the roofs removable if I’m going to detail the interiors, especially if I plan on lighting. That always needs repairs, and gravity holds the roof on fine. Here you see two shelf units that are also detailed, but not visible from this angle. Each shelf has a little HO street lamp behind it. There’s just enough of this light sticking up to resemble a table lamp. The wire powering the light over the front entrance is visible on the right, under the yellow tape.

In this view of the interior you can see the photo backdrop I used. If you put enough “clutter” in front of it, you can get away with some elements that are out of scale. It just looks like “something” is in the store. You also get a better view of the little HO scale street light that I made to look like an O scale table lamp.

Sorry for the odd angle; that was all that would work. Here is a view from inside the store looking to the window displays. Some are two-dimensional, others are three-dimensional.

Returning to those signs as promised. I wanted to try the sanding-thin technique that resembles signs painted on the side of a building. It took considerable time, and then I carefully cut slits between the boards along the side of the store. Other signs, like the “Trundles” sign here, I copied on to glossy photo paper to look like enameled signs.

This is the other side of the structure.

I’m really liking the use of canopy glue to simulate old fashioned western glass, and it hides a multitude of sins behind the window panes.

I’m still plugging away here. One of these days I’m going to have to actually get up into the loft and work on my layout. This is a little O scale kit from Wild West Scale Model Builders. The kit contains materials for a number of different options, and I chose to build the “saloon” version. I also wanted to try the old rubber cement “peeling paint” effect shown here. I’d never done that before.

I love the little figures that were created by Railroad Avenue. They come painted, and their slender shape suggests the body styles of people in past generations. A while ago I read that they were not going to be made any more, so I stocked up. I can’t tell from their web site if they are still available or not. I wanted to create a conversational grouping in front of the saloon. I added the transverse stripwood below the model floor/base. I do this on all my models; I think they look better that way than sitting right on the ground. I also created a styrene base (painted dark brown) for when I put this structure on to my layout. Styrene is better than card stock because it doesn’t warp. I’ll blend it in to the surrounding terrain with scenery materials.

This is a head-on view of the structure that I created from the kit. The sign is one of the options I mentioned. The barrels, crate, and chair came from my miscellaneous details supply.

Only one side of the kit has a window. You could create an opening, of course, in the other side, or the back side, and insert a window from another manufacturer….I like Grandt Line castings. I don’t do step-by-step pictures any more, but I always start these building projects by staining all the laser cut wood with my preferred stain, alcohol and leather dye. I made the base stain for this project to be a light weather wood gray, so that would show through when I rubbed off the rubber cement. See earlier posts for a description of the stain. I stain both sides at the same time, so there is no warping. Using the alcohol as a medium also helps to resist warping. Water or water-based paints are not good.

I did use a reddish acrylic paint for the base coat over the gray stain. I wasn’t sure how enamels might react to the rubber cement I wanted to put in places on the walls. Even at that, I applied the paint in a dry-brush fashion, so it didn’t soak into the walls. The doors and trim were base coated and weathered in enamel. I like to put handles on my doors, and this kit didn’t include any. I have used the heads of pins before on HO or S scale models, but this handle (and the one in front) are made from the heads of very small finishing nails. Just paint the nail, drill a hole, insert, and cut off from behind. Then add a dab of Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue on the back side where it won’t show. They make a very nice appearance for 1:48 scale.

Here is a close up of the side wall after I peeled the rubber cement off. The technique worked exactly as advertised, and left a worn and peeling look to the paint job. Be sure to be very random in doing this, but keep in mind that wood walls like this weather more on their lower sides than under their eaves because of sun and rain exposure.

Additional weathering is achieved by the cautious use of weathering powders, sealed with Testers Dullcote.

The kit includes nice strips of heavy paper shake shingles. I stained these using the same method as the walls, and weathered with light dry brushing and the powders. The cap shingle strip needs to be cut into individual shingles and overlapped as shown. There is no chimney flashing included with the kit, so I cut a little square piece out of thin styrene. Then I used a new mounting process I developed. I should have taken a separate picture of this, but didn’t think about that until it was too late. I’ll try to describe it. The chimney is styrene tubing (included with the kit). I cut it to the desired angle, and then inserted and glued a short piece of square basswood in the bottom of the chimney. It makes a good handle, and a secure way to insert the finished chimney assembly into the roof. Then I cut a small hole in the flashing square, and slipped it up and glued it to the angle cut on the chimney. I painted the chimney and flashing flat black and let it sit overnight. I think chimneys generally extended above the roof ridge line to facilitate good smoke disbursal, so select a spot to drill your roof mounting hole accordingly. Insert the chimney assembly with a tiny bit of glue (I used Aleene’s on everything for this model), and make sure it is very upright. The tacky glue sets up fairly fast, but gives better working time than CA glues. I see now in looking at this picture that I forgot to include the three guy wires I usually attach to chimneys. I can put them in later.

I created variety for the four figures on the porch by placing one on a crate, one in a chair tipped back against the wall, and one reaching for the door handle to open the door. Groupings like this are always more interesting if you can suggest that the little people are talking to each other, or doing something together.

Western window glass was not very good quality, and often had a rippled look to it. I achieved this by brushing some canopy glue on the inside of the windows. The glue dries clear, but the brush strokes appear as ripples.

Finally, I wanted the structure illuminated. You probably noticed the red wires running from beneath the styrene base in some of the other photos. I use “grain of rice” bulbs that run on 12v DC from an old power pack. I dip the bulbs in Tamiya Clear Yellow X-24 acrylic paint for the amber effect. The kit has detailed interior roof trusses, similar to the exterior one in photo #5. It is very easy to bend the bulb leads into a little hook, and place it over one of the trusses so the bulb hangs downward. I soldered longer leads (the red wires) on to the ones that came with the bulb to extend the connection below my layout.

You can see a little rippling on the glass at night in this photo from the front.

 

 

Slim’s Shoe Shop

I’m still plugging away here. One of these days I’m going to have to actually get up into the loft and work on my layout. This is a little O scale kit from Wild West Scale Model Builders. The kit contains materials for a number of different options, and I chose to build the “saloon” version. I also wanted to try the old rubber cement “peeling paint” effect shown here. I’d never done that before.

I love the little figures that were created by Railroad Avenue. They come painted, and their slender shape suggests the body styles of people in past generations. A while ago I read that they were not going to be made any more, so I stocked up. I can’t tell from their web site if they are still available or not. I wanted to create a conversational grouping in front of the saloon. I added the transverse stripwood below the model floor/base. I do this on all my models; I think they look better that way than sitting right on the ground. I also created a styrene base (painted dark brown) for when I put this structure on to my layout. Styrene is better than card stock because it doesn’t warp. I’ll blend it in to the surrounding terrain with scenery materials.

This is a head-on view of the structure that I created from the kit. The sign is one of the options I mentioned. The barrels, crate, and chair came from my miscellaneous details supply.

Only one side of the kit has a window. You could create an opening, of course, in the other side, or the back side, and insert a window from another manufacturer….I like Grandt Line castings. I don’t do step-by-step pictures any more, but I always start these building projects by staining all the laser cut wood with my preferred stain, alcohol and leather dye. I made the base stain for this project to be a light weather wood gray, so that would show through when I rubbed off the rubber cement. See earlier posts for a description of the stain. I stain both sides at the same time, so there is no warping. Using the alcohol as a medium also helps to resist warping. Water or water-based paints are not good.

I did use a reddish acrylic paint for the base coat over the gray stain. I wasn’t sure how enamels might react to the rubber cement I wanted to put in places on the walls. Even at that, I applied the paint in a dry-brush fashion, so it didn’t soak into the walls. The doors and trim were base coated and weathered in enamel. I like to put handles on my doors, and this kit didn’t include any. I have used the heads of pins before on HO or S scale models, but this handle (and the one in front) are made from the heads of very small finishing nails. Just paint the nail, drill a hole, insert, and cut off from behind. Then add a dab of Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue on the back side where it won’t show. They make a very nice appearance for 1:48 scale.

Here is a close up of the side wall after I peeled the rubber cement off. The technique worked exactly as advertised, and left a worn and peeling look to the paint job. Be sure to be very random in doing this, but keep in mind that wood walls like this weather more on their lower sides than under their eaves because of sun and rain exposure.

Additional weathering is achieved by the cautious use of weathering powders, sealed with Testers Dullcote.

The kit includes nice strips of heavy paper shake shingles. I stained these using the same method as the walls, and weathered with light dry brushing and the powders. The cap shingle strip needs to be cut into individual shingles and overlapped as shown. There is no chimney flashing included with the kit, so I cut a little square piece out of thin styrene. Then I used a new mounting process I developed. I should have taken a separate picture of this, but didn’t think about that until it was too late. I’ll try to describe it. The chimney is styrene tubing (included with the kit). I cut it to the desired angle, and then inserted and glued a short piece of square basswood in the bottom of the chimney. It makes a good handle, and a secure way to insert the finished chimney assembly into the roof. Then I cut a small hole in the flashing square, and slipped it up and glued it to the angle cut on the chimney. I painted the chimney and flashing flat black and let it sit overnight. I think chimneys generally extended above the roof ridge line to facilitate good smoke disbursal, so select a spot to drill your roof mounting hole accordingly. Insert the chimney assembly with a tiny bit of glue (I used Aleene’s on everything for this model), and make sure it is very upright. The tacky glue sets up fairly fast, but gives better working time than CA glues. I see now in looking at this picture that I forgot to include the three guy wires I usually attach to chimneys. I can put them in later.

I created variety for the four figures on the porch by placing one on a crate, one in a chair tipped back against the wall, and one reaching for the door handle to open the door. Groupings like this are always more interesting if you can suggest that the little people are talking to each other, or doing something together.

Western window glass was not very good quality, and often had a rippled look to it. I achieved this by brushing some canopy glue on the inside of the windows. The glue dries clear, but the brush strokes appear as ripples.

Finally, I wanted the structure illuminated. You probably noticed the red wires running from beneath the styrene base in some of the other photos. I use “grain of rice” bulbs that run on 12v DC from an old power pack. I dip the bulbs in Tamiya Clear Yellow X-24 acrylic paint for the amber effect. The kit has detailed interior roof trusses, similar to the exterior one in photo #5. It is very easy to bend the bulb leads into a little hook, and place it over one of the trusses so the bulb hangs downward. I soldered longer leads (the red wires) on to the ones that came with the bulb to extend the connection below my layout.

You can see a little rippling on the glass at night in this photo from the front.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From June 24th to July 1st, I was in Chama, New Mexico, along with Steve Mitchell of Yard Goat Images. My daughter, and a friend of her’s accompanied us to help with the videography. We were completing shooting on a DVD Steve is going to develop for marketing next spring. The video will focus on the “Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec” program at the C&TS. Volunteers who are interested can sign up to go to the C&TS in the summertime, and spend a week at a time working on the railroad.

 

We had wonderful weather, and came home with hundreds of hours of beautiful video of the trains. We shot the volunteers working on their projects, and did interviews with them in which they discussed their backgrounds and their experiences with the “Friends” program. As far as we know, this will be the first C&TS video that is primarily focused on this extremely important volunteer preservation program.

 

On my birthday, my daughter and her friend and I took the train ride from Antonito to Chama. To do this, we took a short bus ride from Chama to Antonito, and boarded the train there. The train ride lasts from 9:30 in the morning to about 4:00 in the afternoon. I wanted to be traveling from east to west, so that we had the best light for morning photography. This photo is from Osier, Colorado, where the trains from Chama and Antonito meet for a lunch stop.

 

Here our two talented videographers disembark from the train when it arrives in  Chama in the late afternoon.

 

This is the 487, the locomotive we rode behind, waiting in the yard the next morning. It was getting ready to take that day’s train from Chama to Antonito.

 

Out along the line, my daughter and her friend shoot a passing train. It was an incredible trip, and so rewarding to share it with my daughter, who had never been around steam locomotives before. I am really looking forward to the finished video next spring. It will be available at Yard Goat Images.

Yard Goat Images

 

Yard Goat Images has a change in their web address. Please update your files. You must now use the letter “s” after the “http” at the beginning of the address. We are going back to Colorado at the end of June to complete a video on the C&T Scenic Railroad. It will be focused on their “Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad” volunteer program. It should be available for purchase next fall.

Structure Models

Lest you think I've totally abandoned my model railroading efforts, here are some other things I've been working on this spring. In the late summer of 2013, I attended the National Narrow Gauge Convention in Kansas City. This was my first national convention experience, and I had a wonderful time. As you know, these conventions always feature a huge room for vendors, and I came home with a number of kits.

Lest you think I’ve totally abandoned my model railroading efforts, here are some other things I’ve been working on this spring. In the late summer of 2013, I attended the National Narrow Gauge Convention in Kansas City. This was my first national convention experience, and I had a wonderful time. As you know, these conventions always feature a huge room for vendors, and I came home with a number of kits. Among the items I purchased were kits in S-scale and HO-scale to use as background buildings on my layout.

This structure (front view above) is the Wild West Scale Model Builders S-scale Assay Office. The kit is lazer cut plywood and basswood, and the footprint is 6.5" by 3.5".

This structure is the Wild West Scale Model Builders S-scale Assay Office. The kit is lazer cut plywood and basswood, and the footprint is 6.5″ by 3.5″. I stained the wooden parts with a mix of Fiebing’s Leather Dye and isopropyl alcohol, and weathered the finished structure with AIM Weathering Powders and Testor’s Dullcote.

The windows with this kit can be built open or closed. I didn't try to avoid hitting the window glass with the weathering powder or the dullcote, since I am not going to add interior details.

The windows with this kit can be built open or closed. I didn’t try to avoid hitting the window glass with the weathering powder or the dullcote, since I am not going to add interior details.

A larger S-scale kit is this Miner's Supply and Exchange complex, also by Wild West Scale Model Builders.

A larger S-scale kit (5″ x 8″ footprint) is this Miner’s Supply and Exchange complex, also by Wild West Scale Model Builders. With all of these kits, I added a wooden foundation to reinforce the lazer-cut flooring sheet that accompanies the kit. Without this bracing, that thin piece of floor would certainly warp.

I used a thin-tipped permanent marker to add some detail to the tar-paper roofing material. I can also see that I need to add some chimney flashing.

I used a thin-tipped permanent marker to add some detail to the tar-paper roofing material. I can also see that I need to add some chimney flashing. There’s nothing like the camera to show you what you overlooked.

The rear of this two-store complex is almost as interesting as the front.

The rear of this two-store complex is almost as interesting as the front.

In HO-scale this kit from RSlaser is for the Deadwood Gazette. I purchased the facade-only version because I knew I wanted to keep the depth of the building to a minimum.

In HO-scale this kit from RSlaser is for the Deadwood Gazette. I purchased the facade-only version because I knew I wanted to keep the depth of the building to a minimum.

I added short side walls with some Grandt Line windows I had in my supplies left over from another project.

I added short side walls with some Grandt Line windows I had in my supplies left over from another project.

The footprint of this structure is 2.5" x 2.0" which will make it easy to fit into the background.

The footprint of this structure is 2.5″ x 2.0″ which will make it easy to fit into the background.

The telegraph office from B.E.S.T also makes a nice tiny, HO-scale background building.

The telegraph office from B.E.S.T also makes a nice tiny, HO-scale background building.

The footprint of this building is 2.0" x 1.75".

The footprint of this building is 2.0″ x 1.75″.

Grandt Line makes a nifty model of the Gomez store that exists in Pagosa Jct., Colorado.

Grandt Line makes a nifty model of the Gomez store that exists in Pagosa Jct., Colorado. If I were replicating this structure as a foreground model, I would certainly build the whole thing, but as a background HO-scale structure on my On30 layout, I wanted to keep it small.

I'll use the remaining parts of the kit for some other small

I’ll use the remaining parts of the kit for some other small building. Here you can see some photos I reduced to fit as displays in the windows. There is also a photo across the rear of the interior that will show when I put lighting into the store.

This building occupies a space of 3.5" x 1.75".

This building occupies a space of 3.5″ x 1.75″.

Here is a representative street scene with the S-scale projects.

Here is a representative street scene with the S-scale projects.

And here are the HO-scale structures.

And here are the HO-scale structures.

Somewhat unrelated, but picked up at the same convention is this Grizzly Mtn. Engineering farmer's wagon in O-scale.

Somewhat unrelated, but picked up at the same convention is this Grizzly Mtn. Engineering farmer’s wagon in O-scale.

As much as I love building these things, I have to be conservative until I see how much room I'm actually going to have on the layout.

As much as I love building these things, I have to be conservative until I see how much room I’m actually going to have on the layout.

This past spring, while not actually doing anything on my layout, I decided to keep my modeling skills sharp by working on some other kinds of models. These were all kits, but required varying degrees of craftsmanship and finishing techniques, all of which transfer quite readily to the model railroading world. Pictured above is a Mantua wood and brass kit made in Italy. The label describes it as "Cannone da Costa USA 1780-1812" or American Coastal Cannon 1780-1812. The base measures 6" long by 4.5" wide, and the cannon is 1:17 scale. To weather the barrel, I used Micro Engineering Rail Weathering solution along with various colors of dry brushed enamels. For coloring the wooden parts, I used the same shoe dye and isopropyl alcohol mixture that I use on basswood on my railroad structures. To pull the surfaces together and give everything a nice finished look, I used Testor's Glosscote.

This past spring, while not actually doing anything on my layout, I decided to keep my modeling skills sharp by working on some other kinds of models. These were all kits, but required varying degrees of craftsmanship and finishing techniques, all of which transfer quite readily to the model railroading world. Pictured above is a Mantua wood and brass kit made in Italy. The label describes it as “Cannone da Costa USA 1780-1812″ or American Coastal Cannon 1780-1812. The base measures 6″ long by 4.5” wide, and the cannon is 1:17 scale. To weather the barrel, I used Micro Engineering Rail Weathering solution along with various colors of dry brushed enamels. For coloring the wooden parts, I used the same shoe dye and isopropyl alcohol mixture that I use on basswood on my railroad structures. To pull the surfaces together and give everything a nice finished look, I used Testor’s Glosscote.

This model of a naval 24 pound cannon is by Palmer Plastics. It is roughly 7" long by 3" wide, but the exact scale was not specified. Plastic models present some different challenges from wood and brass kits, namely that the raw plastic has to be painted to look like other materials. Here the elevating block, the wheels and the ratcheting handle are painted like wood, the barrel is made to look like brass, and the cannon carriage like heavy cast iron. Everything here started out as plastic, and was assembled with Plastruct Plastic Weld solution.

This model of a naval 24 pound cannon is by Palmer Plastics. It is roughly 7″ long by 3″ wide, but the exact scale was not specified. Plastic models present some different challenges from wood and brass kits, namely that the raw plastic has to be painted to look like other materials. Here the elevating block, the wheels and the ratcheting handle are painted like wood, the barrel is made to look like brass, and the cannon carriage like heavy cast iron. Everything here started out as plastic, and was assembled with Plastruct Plastic Weld solution.

Back to another Italian brass and wood kit, this one by Areopiccala-Torino. It is called a "Cannone da Marina" or Marine Cannon. It looks a lot like the cannons that were on the Swedish warship, Vasa, which sank in 1628. The wood parts in these kits are often oak, and require a lot of drilling and edge-finishing in addition to staining. The brass fixtures are all very new and shiny, and require varying degrees of rail weathering solution to make them look more realistic. Another challenge in assembling some of these kits is that the instructions are all in Italian (which I do not speak). A glue which I find that connects wood and metal parts quickly and securely is Aleene's Quick Dry Tacky Glue.

Back to another Italian brass and wood kit, this one by Areopiccala-Torino. It is called a “Cannone da Marina” or Marine Cannon. It looks a lot like the cannons that were on the Swedish warship, Vasa, which sank in 1628. The wood parts in these kits are often oak, and require a lot of drilling and edge-finishing in addition to staining. The brass fixtures are all very new and shiny, and require varying degrees of rail weathering solution to make them look more realistic. Another challenge in assembling some of these kits is that the instructions are all in Italian (which I do not speak). A glue which I find that connects wood and metal parts quickly and securely is Aleene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue.

This is another completely plastic kit by Encore Models for a revolutionary war cannon. Note the different painting techniques for wood, brass and iron. The scale of the model is 1:24 and measures about 8" long by 5" wide.

This is another completely plastic kit by Encore Models for a revolutionary war cannon. Note the different painting techniques for wood, brass and iron. The scale of the model is 1:24 and measures about 8″ long by 5″ wide.

Here is another version of a naval 24 pound cannon, this one by the Italian company, Artisania Latina. The scale was not specified, but the base on which the cannon rests is only 5" long by 2.5" wide. This presents the challenge of working on something which is so diminutive; the cannon balls in the boxes in front of the cannon are about the size of shotgun pellets.

Here is another version of a naval 24 pound cannon, this one by the Italian company, Artisania Latina. The scale was not specified, but the base on which the cannon rests is only 5″ long by 2.5″ wide. This presents the challenge of working on something which is so diminutive; the cannon balls in the boxes in front of the cannon are about the size of shotgun pellets.

These final two kits took the most time to construct. They are sold separately, but go together to form a cannon with its accompanying limber. The 1:16 scale models are by Guns of History/Model Shipways, and represent a James Cannon, 6 pounder, Model 1841. These guns were used in the Civil War. The cannon measures approximately 8" long by 4.25" wide, and has wood, brass and cast metal parts, just like many model railroad craftsman kits.

These final two kits took the most time to construct. They are sold separately, but go together to form a cannon with its accompanying limber. The 1:16 scale models are by Guns of History/Model Shipways, and represent a James Cannon, 6 pounder, Model 1841. These guns were used in the Civil War. The cannon measures approximately 8″ long by 4.25″ wide, and has wood, brass and cast metal parts, just like many model railroad craftsman kits.

The limber was used to harness the horses which pulled the cannon, and to store the materials used to fire the gun....cannon balls, powder charges, etc. The soldiers of the artillery corp also rode on the limber, until they discovered that opposing artillery forces could target the limber, and blow up everything thus rendering the cannon unserviceable for lack of a crew.

The limber was used to harness the horses which pulled the cannon, and to store the materials used to fire the gun….cannon balls, powder charges, etc. The soldiers of the artillery corp also rode on the limber, until they discovered that opposing artillery forces could target the limber, and blow up everything thus rendering the cannon unserviceable for lack of a crew.

 

 

The DVD that Steve Mitchell of Yard Goat Images and I shot last January in Colorado is finally ready for a pre-release. I met with Steve today, and he gave me a number of copies at what he calls his distributor price. He also gave me permission to sell these at a discount to friends and family. For obvious reasons, he requested that I not advertise the discounted price, but if you would like one, please contact me at my e-mail address    Some of you saw the DVD that I made from my video alone; this finished version, with the work of both cameramen, is twice as spectacular.  If you like steam trains and western scenery, this is one DVD you are definitely going to want in your collection.

Here is the other DVD that I am holding in the post above. Steve Mitchell of Yard Goat Images and I shot this in January of 2013 in Colorado. Some of you saw the DVD that I made from my video alone; this finished version, with the work of both cameramen, is twice as spectacular. If you like steam trains and western scenery, this is one DVD you are definitely going to want in your collection.

Mad City Train Show 2016

Last weekend I went with my friend, Steve Mitchell, to the Mad City Model Railroad Show in Madison, Wisconsin. I have sometimes shot video for Steve's DVDs, and I like to help him with these shows. I'm holding two of the videos that I did a lot of work on.

Last weekend I went with my friend, Steve Mitchell, to the Mad City Model Railroad Show in Madison, Wisconsin. I have sometimes shot video for Steve’s DVDs, and I like to help him with these shows. I’m holding two of the videos that I did a lot of work on. I posted articles on both these videos when they first came out, and I have reproduced those postings below.

 

For five years, from 2004 to 2008, I had a Christmas train layout under our tree using Bachmann's On30 equipment. That's where I fell in love with the scale. The only problem was that each January, the layout had to be packed away until the following Christmas season. Although it had a pretty complex track arrangement, and two levels, it was made with Lemax Village buildings and people. Their buildings are OK for what they are, and are generally speaking quarter inch scale, but their figures are closer to G-scale, and I had some 1:32 scale automobiles on it. All in all, it was OK for a Christmas display, but it wasn't a real model railroad. I had done some video pieces of it every year because I like doing that kind of thing. In January of 2009 I knew I was going to be able to start on a real model railroad, so I made a farewell video, using all of the tricks at my command. I arranged special lighting for all of the scenes. I placed theatrical gels over the camera lens to simulate dusk and night. I had a small fog machine that generated a pretty good blowing snow effect, and I did some "camera-on-flatcar" shots. I even plotted the suggestion of a story. Jump forward to July of 2013. My friend Steve Mitchell, of Yard Goat Images, e-mailed me to see if I'd like to make a commercial release of my 2008 Christmas train video. I pounced on the idea, and we spent the next five or six weeks re-editing the video, tightening up the story, re-scoring the music, and adding all new sound effects. The finished product is the DVD, "The Last Train to Christmasville", which is now available on Steve's web site, yardgoatimages.com. The running time is about 30 minutes, and the price is $15.00. The preview of it can be seen on the web site, or at U-Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mbu1Qyr-C3k Young children love to watch trains, and I really think "The Last Train to Christmasville" turned out to be a delightful product for young children, ages toddler up to middle school, so if you have any kids that age in your life, your own, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, I'd strongly urge you to consider it for a Christmas gift.

For five years, from 2004 to 2008, I had a Christmas train layout under our tree using Bachmann’s On30 equipment. That’s where I fell in love with the scale. The only problem was that each January, the layout had to be packed away until the following Christmas season.
Although it had a pretty complex track arrangement, and two levels, it was made with Lemax Village buildings and people. Their buildings are OK for what they are, and are generally speaking quarter inch scale, but their figures are closer to G-scale, and I had some 1:32 scale automobiles on it. All in all, it was OK for a Christmas display, but it wasn’t a real model railroad. I had done some video pieces of it every year because I like doing that kind of thing.
In January of 2009 I knew I was going to be able to start on a real model railroad, so I made a farewell video, using all of the tricks at my command. I arranged special lighting for all of the scenes. I placed theatrical gels over the camera lens to simulate dusk and night. I had a small fog machine that generated a pretty good blowing snow effect, and I did some “camera-on-flatcar” shots. I even plotted the suggestion of a story.
Jump forward to July of 2013. My friend Steve Mitchell, of Yard Goat Images, e-mailed me to see if I’d like to make a commercial release of my 2008 Christmas train video. I pounced on the idea, and we spent the next five or six weeks re-editing the video, tightening up the story, re-scoring the music, and adding all new sound effects. The finished product is the DVD, “The Last Train to Christmasville”, which is now available on Steve’s web site, yardgoatimages.com.
The running time is about 30 minutes, and the price is $15.00.
Young children love to watch trains, and I really think “The Last Train to Christmasville” turned out to be a delightful product for young children, ages toddler up to middle school, so if you have any kids that age in your life, your own, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, I’d strongly urge you to consider it for a Christmas gift.

 

As I promised some weeks ago, I am posting an account of my visit with Troels Kirk on a recent trip to Sweden.

As I promised some weeks ago, I am posting an account of my visit with Troels Kirk on a recent trip to Sweden.

Troels lives in a small village not far from my Swedish cousin, and he graciously received us at his home on Thursday, July 9th. The thrill I got from spending an hour or so with Troels must be somewhat equivalent to the excitement felt by modelers who visited the famous John Allen during the 1970's. I was also reminded of the afternoon I spent with the late Paul Scoles in Seattle in 2013.

Troels lives in a small village not far from my Swedish cousin, and he graciously received us at his home on Thursday, July 9th. The thrill I got from spending an hour or so with Troels must be somewhat equivalent to the excitement felt by modelers who visited the famous John Allen during the 1970’s. I was also reminded of the afternoon I spent with the late Paul Scoles in Seattle in 2013.

Troels beautiful layout, the Coast Line RR, housed in a small out-building, was everything I expected it to be.

Troels beautiful layout, the Coast Line RR, housed in a small out-building, was everything I expected it to be.

Despite living in Europe, he has captured the feel of the Maine seacoast in the 1930's to perfection. An additional attraction for me is that Troels models in the same scale that I do, On30.

Despite living in Europe, he has captured the feel of the Maine seacoast in the 1930’s to perfection. An additional attraction for me is that Troels models in the same scale that I do, On30.

The artistry and craftsmanship of this layout is everything you would expect of a talented painter....

The artistry and craftsmanship of this layout is everything you would expect of a talented painter….

....with imagination.....

….with imagination…..

.....an eye for detail......

…..an eye for detail……

.....and the patience to recreate such a magnificent miniature world.

…..and the patience to recreate such a magnificent miniature world.

The front edge of the walk-around layout is almost exclusively devoted to coastal scenes; the trains generally follow a route through the  middle ground......

The front edge of the walk-around layout is almost exclusively devoted to coastal scenes; the trains generally follow a route through the middle ground……

........and the water modeling is spectacular.

……..and the water modeling is spectacular.

Troels' railroad not only features locomotives with sound, but there is an elaborate system of speakers below the layout to provide sounds for specific scenes. These sound tracks were custom made by a sound artist who worked for the Walt Disney organization. Troels told me an interesting story about seagulls. You would naturally expect the Coast Line RR to feature many calls of these ubiquitous birds, but after having lived on a boat near Paris for some time, he grew so tired of constantly hearing seagulls, that he asked the Disney artist specifically not to include the sound of seagulls. Troels subsequently removed almost all of these birds from his layout. The bird pictured here is one of the few remaining.

Troels’ railroad not only features locomotives with sound, but there is an elaborate system of speakers below the layout to provide sounds for specific scenes. These sound tracks were custom made by a sound artist who worked for the Walt Disney organization. Troels told me an interesting story about seagulls. You would naturally expect the Coast Line RR to feature many calls of these ubiquitous birds, but after having lived on a boat near Paris for some time, he grew so tired of constantly hearing seagulls, that he asked the Disney artist specifically not to include the sound of seagulls. Troels subsequently removed almost all of these birds from his layout. The bird pictured here is one of the few remaining.

All the structures on the layout are scratch-built except for the engine house by the turntable, which is kitbashed. These feature the creative use of card-stock and painted paper. You can see more details about this process on Troels' DVD, "Realistic Color for Railroad Modeling", which is often available on eBay.

All the structures on the layout are scratch-built except for the engine house by the
turntable, which is kit-bashed. The buildings feature the creative use of card-stock and painted paper. You can see more details about this process on Troels’ DVD, “Realistic Color for Railroad Modeling”, which is often available on eBay.

While scenery on the Coast Line RR is virtually complete, Troels continues to re-work certain areas and add details.

While scenery on the Coast Line RR is virtually complete, Troels continues to re-work certain areas and add details.

Troels shared a secret of his for keeping trains running smoothly. I'm not sure I had ever heard of this product, but Troels says he learned about it from a man at a museum who has to keep a large layout running flawlessly. It is applied to both track and wheels.

Troels shared a secret of his for keeping trains running smoothly. I’m not sure I had ever heard of this product, but Troels says he learned about it from a man at a museum who has to keep a large layout running flawlessly. It is applied to both track and wheels.

When I got home, I looked it up on the internet, and found that Home Depot carries what looks to be an American version of the same substance.

When I got home, I looked it up on the internet, and found that Home Depot carries what looks to be an American version of the same substance.

One feature of Troels' railroad I've always admired is his dramatic treatment of the sky. It has an energy that suggests that at any moment it might suddenly storm, or burst forth into radiant sunshine.

One feature of Troels’ railroad I’ve always admired is his dramatic treatment of the sky. It has an energy that suggests that at any moment it might suddenly storm, or burst forth into radiant sunshine.

While Troels uses mainly Bachmann On30 equipment, he paints, weathers and details it in a way that makes it look very much at home in a New England setting.

While Troels uses mainly Bachmann On30 equipment, he paints, weathers and details it in a way that makes it look very much at home in a New England setting.

Forneys and rail buses abound........

Forneys and rail buses abound……..

.....as you might expect.

…..as you might expect.

Small vignettes reveal interesting stories wherever the viewer looks.

Small vignettes reveal interesting stories wherever the viewer looks.

Having spent 60 years of my life in the theatre, I was especially pleased to see his rendition of a small town theatre with the cast for Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" posed on the front steps for an opening night photo.

Having spent 60 years of my life in the theatre, I was especially pleased to see his rendition of a small town theatre with the cast for Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” posed on the front steps for an opening night photo.

After looking over the layout with us for some time, Troels bent over and picked up a small sketch book that was lying on the floor under the bench-work. When he opened it, here were the famous concept sketches that we have all grown accustomed to seeing from him.

After looking over the layout with us for some time, Troels bent over and picked up a small sketch book that was lying on the floor under the bench-work. When he opened it, here were the famous concept sketches that we have all grown accustomed to seeing from him.

Following the better part of an hour in the railroad "house", Troels led us into his painting studio, or atelier to use the French word. It is housed in the shell of an old theatre/movie house.  Entering through the lobby, we passed the ancient ticket office.

Following the better part of an hour in the railroad “house”, Troels led us into his painting studio, or atelier to use the French word. It is housed in the shell of an old theatre/movie house.
Entering through the lobby, we passed the ancient ticket office.

When looking at Troels' paintings I have always admired the amazing realism he conveys with a limited color palette.

When looking at Troels’ paintings I have always admired the amazing realism he conveys with a limited color palette.

His works are Scandinavian scenes, but the connection with his American-based railroad is unmistakable. Incredible though it may seem, Troels says that he gets up at 4:30 in the morning, and paints until around 9:30 at night.

His works are Scandinavian scenes, but the connection with his American-based railroad is unmistakable. Incredible though it may seem, Troels says that he gets up at 4:30 in the morning, and paints until around 9:30 at night.

On the small stage of the former theatre is an elaborate rig that Troels designed to photograph his paintings. He uses these high definition photos of his originals to have prints made for sale.

On the small stage of the former theatre is an elaborate rig that Troels designed to photograph his paintings. He uses these high definition photos of his originals to have prints made for sale.

I'll leave you with a few more of his beautiful paintings.

I’ll leave you with a few more of his beautiful paintings.

His scenes of nature are hauntingly powerful.

His scenes of nature are hauntingly powerful.

I can't wait to return to Sweden, and see what Troels Kirk has got planned for the future.

I can’t wait to return to Sweden, and see what Troels Kirk has got planned for the future.

Update June, 2015

Allow me first to apologize to all my regular subscribers, and especially to the new subscribers who continue to sign up, despite the dearth of recent postings.

Allow me first to apologize to all my regular subscribers, and especially to the new subscribers who continue to sign up, despite the dearth of recent postings. I could go on and on with reasons and excuses for neglecting my railroad and my web site, and many of those would be very valid, but the bottom line is that I owe my subscribers more content. One thing that has been holding me up has been the depth of that Durango section of the layout. I finally bit the bullet, and decided to eliminate the turn-back curve in Durango. This will bring most of the trackwork to within three feet of the fascia vs. the four foot reach that was there with the turn-back curve. Double click the photo above for an enlarged look. In order to preserve continuous running on a part of the layout, I added a cross-over on the far right side of the track diagram. I took out the San Fransisco style armstrong turn table for the Durango trolley. That was never going to be more than cosmetic, and I’m using the Tam Valley Train Shuttle to control the trolley anyway.

On a more exciting note,

On a more exciting note, I am traveling to Sweden next week, and I’ll be visiting Troels Kirk and his famous Coast Line RR. In e-mails with Troels a couple of years ago, I discovered he lived fairly close to my Swedish cousin, and he invited me to stop by the next time I was in Sweden. I’ll post something about my visit when I get back….and I promise to make more progress on the D,D&SRR later this summer.

Steve Mitchell and I attended the big railroad show in Madison, Wisconsin this past weekend. I sometimes volunteer with Steve's company, Yard Goat Images, Yard Goat

Steve Mitchell and I attended the big railroad show in Madison, Wisconsin, this past weekend. I sometimes volunteer with Steve’s company, Yard Goat Images, to help with videography or with shows like this. Here is the quiet before the storm at the Alliant Energy Center on Friday night during set up for the show.

Here is Steve in front of the two tables that comprise his vendor's location.

This is Steve in front of the two tables that comprise his vendor’s location.

9:00 am Saturday morning the doors open. By 5:00 pm Sunday night, over 10,000 people will have attended the show.

9:00 am Saturday morning the doors open.

By 5:00 pm Sunday night, over 10,000 people will have attended the show.

By 5:00 pm Sunday night, over 10,000 people will have attended the show, which featured 29 layouts, 3 clinics, 20 exhibitors and 69 vendors.

Layouts ran the gamut from small dioramas like this one....

Layouts ran the gamut from small dioramas like this one in HO scale….

....to large scale masterpieces like this one from the G Whiz Gang....

….to large scale masterpieces like this one from the G Whiz Gang.

In between there were little jewels like this suitcase train....

In between there were little jewels like this suitcase train….

....and some nicely detailed modular layouts.

….and some nicely detailed modular layouts.

Exhibitors included several museums and historical societies.....

Exhibitors included several museums and historical societies…..

....and the National Model Railroad Association.

….and the National Model Railroad Association.

There was the usual selection of vintage railroad equipment.

There was the usual selection of vintage railroad equipment…..

....and structures of all shapes and sizes.

….and structures of all shapes and sizes.

Children were not overlooked. This young man is fascinated by a garden railway set-up.

Children were not overlooked. This young man is fascinated by a garden railway set-up…..

....and the circus train was a popular ride.

….and the circus train was a popular ride.

Anyone for a cup of coffee? Fuel your day with purpose at chapincoffee.com.

Anyone for a cup of coffee? Fuel your day with purpose at chapincoffee.com.

The G-scale circus train is always an eye-catcher.

The G-scale circus train is always an eye-catcher.

How about this 7.5 inch gauge stock car, over6 feet long!

How about this 7.5 inch gauge stock car, over 6 feet long!

Anyone have room for a helix this big?

Anyone have room for a helix this big?

Last but not least, I always look forward to seeing my friend, John Drechsler, from Milwaukee.

Last but not least, I always look forward to seeing my friend, John Dreschler, from Milwaukee.

He creates some of the most detailed scratch-built structures and rolling stock in On30 that I have ever seen.

He creates some of the most detailed scratch-built structures and rolling stock in On30 that I have ever seen. Here is a logging camp bunk car he was working on.

 

 

 

I have earlier posted plans to create forced perspective in some areas of my layout. The vast vendor display area at the Narrow Gauge Convention featured a number of booths with attractive kits in HO and S scales.

I have earlier posted plans to create forced perspective in some areas of my layout. This involves using background structures and figures in smaller scales to trick the eye into thinking the layout is deeper than it really is. The vendor display area at the Narrow Gauge Convention featured a number of booths with attractive kits in HO and S scales. O scale is quarter inch to the foot, S scale is three sixteenths inch to the foot, and HO scale is approximately one eighth inch to the foot. I can use S scale material in the mid-background areas, and HO scale material in the extreme background of my O scale layout to achieve the forced perspective.

This HO scale kit by Wolf Designs is called the Iron Horse Press building

This HO scale kit by Wolf Designs is called the Iron Horse Press building. It is basically some nice flat rosin castings for the walls and roofs, with plastic castings for the windows, doors and smoke stacks.

I used painting and weathering techniques that I have used elsewhere on this blog. The most visible of these is probably the one for the deteriorating paint on the walls.

I used painting and weathering techniques that I have used elsewhere on this blog. The most visible of these methods is probably the one for the deteriorating paint on the walls, and the wear on the board sidewalk. Following a base coat, and letting it dry, I scraped some of the paint off with my track saw. I deliberately did a sloppy job of painting the trim and the window and door castings to suggest faded paint on these areas. I painted all the interior walls flat black in case I want to put lights in there. The window glazing is dusted with weathering powder.

Since this will be a background structure, I didn't waste time. or window castings, on walls that would not show.

Since this will be a background structure, I didn’t waste time. or window castings, on walls that would not show. I used rusty weathering chalks around the smoke jacks that protrude from the roofs. I painted the inside of this one rear-facing window with flat black so interior lighting wouldn’t hit my backdrop. The building extension doesn’t connect through to the main structure, so those open window holes won’t leak any light.

Here is a size comparison to an O scale ore bin that will go in the Silverton mining area.

Here is a size comparison to an O scale ore bin that will go in the Silverton mining area.

This is the color postcard-sized picture that comes with the Hunterline King Post Truss Bridge kit.

This is the color postcard-sized picture that comes with the Hunterline King Post Truss Bridge kit. I have admired Hunterline products for several years, so when I had the opportunity to pick up this little bridge kit at the Narrow Gauge Convention in September, I bought it. You could scratch-build most of the Hunterline products from pictures or plans, but I thought I’d try one of their kits first.

The first step is to scrape some wood grain into the basswood supplied with the kit. I got over-eager, and stained my wood first, so I had to come back and do the wood grain after the stain had dried. That worked out alright, because I decided the wood needed a second dip in the stain anyway.

The first step is to scrape some wood grain into the basswood supplied with the kit. I got over-eager, and stained my wood first, so I had to come back and do the wood grain after the stain had dried. That worked out alright, because I decided the wood needed a second dip in the stain anyway. I use leather dye mixed with isopropyl alcohol for my stains.

The kit comes with plans for three different bridge widths, which I had not realized, but is a very nice feature. After some clearance testing on my 23 inch radii, I determined that the narrowest bridge, the 12 foot clearance, would work alright for me.

The kit comes with plans for three different bridge widths, which I had not realized, but is a very nice feature. My bridge will be on a curve, so after some clearance testing on my 23 inch radii, I determined that the narrowest bridge, at 12 scale feet wide, would work alright for me. I cut out that part of the plan, and taped it to a scrap of homasote, under some wax paper. I wanted to keep the bridge as small as possible to conserve space on the layout. I plan to have two of these bridges, separated by a snowshed, on the turn-back curve below my Silverton mining area.

Using the drawing I positioned and glued the bridge ties to the stringers.

Using the drawing I positioned and glued the bridge ties to the stringers. I used Elmer’s carpenter’s glue for this, applied very sparingly, and then I weighted the whole arrangement down overnight to insure a solid bond. You can see how the second application of stain left some variation in the coloring which I like. This is simply achieved by throwing all the ties into the stain, and then removing them one at a time. The first ties to come out are lighter in color, and the last ones are darker.

The kit comes with nut-bolt-washer castings, but they are extremely small, as you can see from the upper sprue in this picture. The lower sprue has larger castings from Grandt Line.

The kit comes with nut-bolt-washer castings, but they are extremely small, and hard to see, as you can tell from the upper sprue in this picture. I’m sure they are prototypical, but those on the lower sprue from Grandt Line, will be more visible.

The instructions call for the bridge ties to be bolted every fourth tie, and in the center of the bridge.

The instructions call for the bridge ties to be bolted every fourth tie, and in the center of the bridge. You can see what I mean about NBW casting visibility here.

Here is the bridge with the diagonal bracing in place. The long brace under the center of the bridge will pick up the central brace and the truss rod.

Here is the bridge with the diagonal bracing in place. The long brace under the center of the bridge will pick up the central brace and the truss rod.

I gave the completed bridge a dusting of rusty weathering chalk from AIM in the areas where the NBW castings were located. I also used some light brown weathering chalk from AIM generally on the other bridge surfaces. For the time being, I didn't seal this powder in with dullcoat, and maybe I never will. AIM suggests sealing the powders only if the model will be handled a lot, and bridges, once installed, don't fall into this category.

I gave the completed bridge a dusting of rusty weathering chalk from AIM in the areas where the NBW castings were located. I also used some light brown weathering chalk from AIM generally on the other bridge surfaces. For the time being, I didn’t seal this powder in with dullcoat, and maybe I never will. AIM suggests sealing the powders only if the model will be handled a lot, and bridges, once installed, don’t fall into this category.

A view of the other end of the bridge, showing a bit more of the truss rod.

A view of the other end of the bridge, showing a bit more of the truss rod.

My completed bridge. Compare this to the first photo in this post.

My completed bridge. Compare this to the first photo in this post.

Wagons

Some people like to model the steam to diesel transition era so they can have both steam engines, and diesels on theOne of the reasons that I selected 1915 as the date of my layout

Some people like to model the steam to diesel transition era so they can have both steam engines, and diesel locomotives on their layout. One of the reasons that I selected 1915 as the date of my layout was so that I could have both horse drawn wagons and gasoline powered cars and trucks on my layout. At the Narrow Gauge Convention in Kansas City in September, I picked up a few nice little kits for horse drawn wagons. This one is the Grizzly Mountain Engineering Billboard Delivery Wagon. I pulled the Colgate sign from Google Images, and the driver is a figure by Railroad Avenue.

This is the Light Delivery Wagon from McKenzie Iron & Steel put out by Anvil Mountain Models.

This is the Light Delivery Wagon kit from McKenzie Iron & Steel put out by Anvil Mountain Models. The driver is by Railroad Avenue.

We had out of town visitors for Thanksgiving, so I threw some buildings and figures back on the Durango part of the layout.

We had out of town visitors for Thanksgiving, so I threw some buildings and figures back on the Durango part of the layout.

 

 

The workshop in my garage has been completed for a couple of weeks now.

The workshop in my garage has been completed for a couple of weeks now. I attached six shelves to the wall facing into the garage to help with storage. There is still room for my Mazda Miata, but when I purchase a new car, a Toyota Prius, I will probably have to remove the bottom three shelves to make it fit in the garage.

The inside of the workshop did hold everything.

The inside of the workshop did hold everything.

It is crowded, but at least it is warm. A small enclosed oil heater visible in the rear of this picture keeps the temperature at a constant 50-60 degrees F, and I can make it warmer when I'm working.

It is crowded, but at least it’s warm. A small enclosed oil heater visible in the rear of these pictures keeps the temperature at a constant 50-60 degrees F, and I can make it warmer when I’m working. I went with this type of heater because there are no exposed heating elements to start a fire, and it uses less electricity.

With the help of my friend, Collin Ludwig, we bagan framing in the walls of the 6 foot by 11 foot space that will become my all-weather garage workshop.

With the help of my friend, Collin Ludwig, we began framing in the walls of the 6 foot by 11 foot space that will become my all-weather garage workshop.  The garage is deep enough to get a car in between this structure and the garage door.

These walls will be insulated and then lined with plastic to help hold off the Minnesota winters.  Our temperatures here can sometimes get into double digits below zero.

These walls will have wallboard on the outside, and then be insulated and lined with plastic to help hold off the Minnesota winters. Our temperatures here can sometimes get into the double digits below zero.

An insulated, exterior door will help with the heating.

An insulated, exterior door will help with the heating.

A small oil-filled radiator will keep the temperature at a constant 60˚ Farenheit when I'm not in the workshop.  This will prevent damage to any of my paints.

A small oil-filled radiator will keep the temperature at a constant 60˚ Farhenheit when I’m not in the workshop. This will prevent damage to any of my paints.

The concrete floor is covered with quarter inch thick, interlocking rubber mats, and eight inch thick tempered masonite.

The concrete floor is covered with quarter inch thick, interlocking rubber mats, and eighth inch thick tempered hardboard. The hardboard will protect the mats, and give me a good smooth surface for the rolling office chair that I sit in when I work on small modeling projects. More to come…..

Getting Out of Durango

Load your wagons, hitch up your horses, and let's get out of Durango.

Load your wagons, hitch up your horses (and mules), and let’s get out of Durango!  There’s nothing like out of town relatives coming for Thanksgiving to motivate you to get something running on the railroad.

It won't be easy.  Just as the pioneering builders of the first line to Silverton faced almost insurmountable natural obstacles, I'm looking at laying track into "mountains" of obsructions, too.

It won’t be easy. Just as the pioneering builders of the first line to Silverton faced almost insurmountable natural obstacles, I’m looking at laying track into “mountains” of obstructions, too.

My solution will have to be the creation of an all-weather workshop in one end of my garage.  Those of you who have been following this site since its inception will remember that this is the area where I built my first models, while the space above it was being renovated as a train room.

My solution will have to be the creation of an all-weather workshop in one end of my garage, where I can move the construction and painting of small models.  Those of you who have been following this web site since its inception will remember that this is the area where I built my first models, while the space above it was being renovated as a train room.  The only difference is that back then, I was working down here in the summer.  Now I have to prepare the area to withstand the rigors of a Minnesota winter.  Work in here starts tomorrow, October 24th.

Meanwhile, back in Durango (upstairs), I have cleared all the buildings.

Meanwhile, back in Durango (upstairs), I have cleared all the buildings, and decided to lower the bench-work by 2 inches.  By doing this, the backdrop will not be obscured by the structures, and I will hopefully have a little better reach to the backside of this widest part of my layout.  I’m still not happy with the distance here, but short of changing the whole track plan to a “point-to-point” arrangement, this is just going to have to work.

First I installed the wall supports at the revised height.

First I installed the wall supports at the revised height.

This is a small sample of the construction technique I am using on the wall supports.  These 2x2 with quarter-inch ply gussets will screw to the 2x2s that are lag screwed to the wall studs around the room.

This is a small sample of the construction technique I am using on the wall supports. These 2x2s with quarter-inch plywood gussets will screw to the 2x2s that are lag screwed to the wall studs around the room.

The wall braces extend into the room as far as the point where the fascia (brown line) will be attached.

The wall supports extend into the room as far as the point where the fascia (brown line) will be attached. For the time being, I am only going to use the 36 inch wall brace to support the Animas Canyon line out of Durango.

On top of the wall supports I'm putting traditional "l-girders".  When this is all screwed together, it is remarkably strong and stable.

On top of the wall supports I’m putting traditional “l-girders”. When this is all screwed together, it is remarkably strong and stable.

Under Durango, I'm just using small right angle hardware to make connections for now.  I've already had to undo these angles a couple of times to pull Durango away from the wall to work on things on the long side of the bech-work and the backdrop.

Under Durango, I’m just using small right angle hardware to make connections for now. I’ve already had to undo these angles a couple of times to pull Durango away from the wall to work on things on the long side of the bench-work and the backdrop.  More to come……

 

 

From September 3rd through the 6th, my wife and I attended the 34th National Narrow Gauge Convention in Kansas City, Missouri.

From September 3rd through the 6th, my wife and I attended the 34th National Narrow Gauge Convention in Kansas City, Missouri.  This was my first experience at a national model railroad convention of any sort, and I thoroughly enjoyed it  They have a beautiful new center in KC attached to a Sheraton Hotel, so the convention facilities were outstanding.  This backside view doesn’t really do the exterior justice, but we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn next door, and this was my view each morning as I walked to the convention center.

The main registration/information desk was in the west-facing foyer of the center.

The main registration/information desk was in the west-facing foyer of the convention center.

The clinics for the convention were conducted in rooms at the Sheraton, which were just a short covered walkway away.

The clinics for the convention were conducted in rooms at the Sheraton, which were just a short covered walkway to the west.

A spacious and inviting, east-facing lower lobby led to the clinic rooms.

A spacious and inviting, east-facing lower lobby in the Sheraton led to the clinic rooms.  Most days there were five clinic choices, spaced at 90 minute intervals, 8:00 am to noon, and 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm.  The afternoons were free for local layout visits, that we scheduled on an individual basis.  I usually tried to attend two morning clinics, and two evening clinics.  I was able to see an average of 4-5 layouts on each of the afternoons of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  There were 51 layouts available to see, so I had to choose judiciously.

I didn't take pictures in every clinic I attended , but this is Joel Bragdon of Bragdon Enterprises

I didn’t take pictures at every clinic I attended, but this is Joel Bragdon of Bragdon Enterprises talking about his geodesic foam scenery techniques.  I have to say that with my concern about putting too much weight up in my layout loft, his materials make a whole lot more sense than plaster.  There’s a bit of a learning curve for those of us who have always used plaster in rock molds for scenery, but I think it will be worth the effort.

Another presenter I photographed was Sam Swanson who did a presentation on kit-bashing a critter, and modifying and painting figures.

Another presenter I photographed was Sam Swanson who gave a nice presentation on kit-bashing a small diesel critter, and modifying and painting figures.  You can see the substance of his talk (about the critter, at least) in the 2013 edition of the On30 Annual.

Like most national conventions, there was a contest room.

A part of most national conventions is a contest room, and for this narrow gauge group there was an interesting category called the “one square footer”.

I can't show pictures of all of the dozens

I can’t show pictures of all the dozens of contest entries (although, believe me, I took them), but this was a large HO scale diorama with a level of detail that must have taken years to achieve.

Detail can be found in small spaces, too, as we see in this nicely executed snow plow.

Detail can be found in small spaces, too, as we see in this nicely executed diminutive snow plow.

It seems that the more dilapidated, run-down and neglected something is, the better we narrow gaugers like it.

It seems that the more dilapidated, run-down and neglected something is, the better we narrow gaugers like it.  Evidence this crumbling shed with its burnt out shell of a rail car, which won several awards, including Best in Show.

There was an exhibit hall that had to be 100 yards on a side.  This plan shows the layout and location of all the vendors and modular layouts.

There was an exhibit hall that had to be 100 yards on a side. This plan shows the arrangement and location of all the vendors and modular layouts.

From the entrance door looking left.

From the entrance door looking left.

From the entrance door looking right.

From the entrance door looking right.

A restored Model T Ford that was actually used by the D&RG.

A restored Model T Ford that was actually used on the D&RGW.

The sheer quantity of things at a convention n like this defies description.  A small sample of the vendors on hand

The sheer quantity of things at a convention like this defies description. A small sample of the hundreds of vendors on hand included Wild West Scale Model Builders with their gorgeous craftsman structure kits.  I’m going to put some S-scale and HO-scale buildings in the background in Durango to force the viewing perspective.

Hunterline Products was there with their stunning bridgework in all scales.

Hunterline Products was there with their stunning bridgework in all the popular scales.

Banta Modelworks had many of their fine laser cut structure models on display.

Banta Modelworks had many of their fine laser cut structure models on display.  The nice thing about a convention like this is that you can see these products with your own eyes.  It really helps you to choose what will work best on your layout.

One company that has only been around for a short time is Clever Models.

One company that has only been around for a short time is Clever Models.  They’ve taken an old modeling technique, the use of paper or card-stock, and elevated it to new heights.  All of the models in the foreground here, and the complete layout behind are made from their paper products.

Dozens of modular layouts adorned the exhibit hall.  Although not modular, this tiny jewel of a layout has to be one of the smallest working layouts I've ever seen.

Dozens of modular layouts adorned the exhibit hall. Although not modular, this tiny jewel of a layout has to be one of the smallest working O scale narrow gauge layouts I’ve ever seen.

At the other end of the spectrum is the world-famous Sundance Central layout from Florida.

At the other end of the spectrum is the world-famous Sundance Central layout from Florida.  This giant masterpiece in 1:20.3 scale deserves several hour’s perusing.

Every time you turn around you see well known people from the model railroading community.  Here's Joe Fugate of Model Railroad Hobbysit Magazine.

Every time you turn around you see well known people from the model railroading community. Here’s Joe Fugate (in the black t-shirt) of Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine.

My afternoons were filled with learning to navigate Kansas City, on both sides of the Kansas/Missouri border.

My afternoons were filled with learning to navigate Kansas City, on both sides of the Kansas/Missouri border.  I use a Magellan GPS, but even the most sophisticated modern technology doesn’t always get you where you want to go.  I took hundreds of layout pictures, and these are just a very small sample.  Dr. David Jacobs has a completely finished dual gauge layout featuring On30 and O scale three-rail trains.  His layout room was also the most inviting and comfortable space I saw all week.

Another layout which is finished to a large degree is Steve McKee's RGS & D&RGW RR.

Another layout which is finished to a large degree is Steve McKee’s RGS & D&RGW RR.  This On3 pike fills a 2200 square foot basement.  Again, comfortable surroundings provide operating crews with an inviting atmosphere in which to work.

The Stockton & Copperopolis of Don Ball featured the most authentic late 19th century dispatcher's desk on display this week.

The Stockton & Copperopolis of Don Ball had the most authentic late 19th century dispatcher’s desk on display this week.  Even the telephones along his main line featured the early scissors-mount apparatus.

I saved the outdoor layouts for Saturday, and was blessed with wonderful 70 degree, sunny, weather.

I saved the outdoor layouts for Saturday, and was blessed with wonderful 70 degree, sunny, weather.  The Rock Creek Railway of Doug and Nancy De Berg features this full size railway station.  That’s right, that’s not their house, it’s their railway station!

Their track plan is only about 50% complete, but what is there meanders through some

Their track plan is only about 50% complete, but what is there meanders through some appealingly manicured scenes.

Their 7.5 inch gauge layout hosts both live steam and gasoline powered diesels.

Their 7.5 inch gauge layout hosts both live steam and gasoline powered diesels.

The club-size private layout of Gail Gish, called the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

The club-size private layout of Gail Gish is called the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad.

1/8" scale live steamers abound on this wonderful pike.

1/8″ scale live steamers abound on this wonderful pike.

Dual gauge

Gail’s railroad features over 5,000 feet of dual gauge track.

The Big Creek & Southern RR of Pat McCarthy is truly of amusement park scale.  This layout occupies 13.5 acres, that's right acres!

The Big Creek & Southern RR of Pat McCarthy is truly of amusement park scale. This layout occupies 13.5 acres; that’s right I said acres!

The track is all complete, and much of it sports CTC control with signal bridges and lights.  He runs both live steam and diesel powered locomotives.

The track is all complete, and much of it sports CTC control with signal bridges and lights. He runs both live steam and diesel powered locomotives.

There are also full size railroadianna like this

There are also full-size railroad pieces like this mast and signal light.

Much of this layout is four track main line, as you can see from my passenger's seat on this train.

Much of this layout is four track main line, as you can see from my passenger’s seat on this train.

A transfer table allows visiting engines and rolling stock access to the railroad.

A transfer table allows visiting engines and rolling stock access to the railroad.

Although many modelers and vendors had left by Saturday night, the closing ceremonies wwere well attended by a good representation of the over 1,500 who attended this year's convention.

Although many modelers and vendors had left by Saturday night, the closing ceremonies were well attended by a good representation of the over 1,500 narrow gauge modelers who took part in this year’s convention.  A great speech was given by Charlie Getz of the Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette.  Bob Brown, long time editor of the Gazette was also present.

I'm going to close with a topic that has often been discussed in our hobby, and although I probably can't shed any new light on the subject, I thought I'd air my thoughts. Looking around at this convention I didn't see too many people who looked younger than 50 years of age, and the majority probably topped 60.  One railroad owner on the layout tour was 91 years old.  I'm happy to say he was spry and in complete possession of his faculties.  He was a delight to talk to. So, the topic of the aging model railroad community comes up often.  Charlie Getz mentioned it in his closing speech.  Maybe the hobby has always been dominated by retirees.  Certainly most of us of a certain age have more time and wherewithal to engage in something like this, and that might explain the average age of the serious model railroader. But can we depend on a continuous flow of senior citizens to sustain the hobby?  Is it really true that fewer and fewer young people are coming into model railroading? We need to examine how we first got interested in modeling to see if today's youth are exposed to the same things that led us to enjoy playing with small trains.  Let's face it; that's what we do! Back in the 1950s, when I grew up, we often considered rail passenger service as a viable option when we wanted to take a trip.  I even took my first train trip in the late 1940s.  I think it was on the New York Central from Cleveland to Chicago.  I was only about three, but I remember the grey-green color and the fuzzy texture of the passenger car seats.  I even remember a stranger offering me a stick of Spearmint gum.  I often traveled by train in the late 1950s and early 60s before I could afford a car.  Rail passenger service in this country today can hardly be considered a mass transportation option. What did we see around us?  I frequently saw steam locomotives and interurban electric "doodlebugs" between Peoria and Bloomington, Illinois when we made our weekly Sunday car trips to visit my mother's sisters.  Trains were a part of our lives in a way that just isn't the case for today's youth.  All of us in the hobby, almost without exception, credit our first Christmas train set for jump-starting our interest in model railroading.  My first set was a Marx wind-up train.  What percentage of today's kids dream of that Christmas train, as opposed to the newest computer game or action figure? So what's the answer?  That, as they used to say, is the $64,000 question.   I do have to say that when I go to model railroading shows representing the Minnesota Transportation Museum or Yard Goat Images, I see a lot more young people and families with small children at those events than I did at this convention, so I hope that bodes well for some level of regeneration for our hobby. And, although "Thomas" is the little train we all love to hate, I think he has done yeoman service for the future of our hobby, because he introduces kids to the steam trains they will rarely be able to see in the real world.   Here in the Twin Cities, we have a program on Public Television called "The Choo-Choo Bob Show".  It is sponsored by a hobby shop of the same name, and the show won three Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Awards in 2013.  This is just the kind of programming that will help develop future model railroad enthusiasts. We know that our love of trains started at an early age, and was due to our exposure, in one way or another to trains in the real or fictional world.  We need to do everything we can to help see that today's young people have that same opportunity.

I’m going to close with a topic that has often been discussed in our hobby, and although I probably can’t shed any new light on the subject, I thought I’d air my thoughts.
Looking around at this convention I didn’t see too many people who looked younger than 50 years of age, and the majority probably topped 60. One railroad owner on the layout tour was 91 years old. I’m happy to say he was spry and in complete possession of his faculties. He was a delight to talk to.
So, the topic of the aging model railroad community comes up often. Charlie Getz mentioned it in his closing speech. Maybe the hobby has always been dominated by retirees. Certainly most of us of a certain age have more time and wherewithal to engage in something like this, and that might explain the average age of the serious model railroader.
But can we depend on a continuous flow of senior citizens to sustain the hobby? Is it really true that fewer and fewer young people are coming into model railroading?
We need to examine how we first got interested in modeling to see if today’s youth are exposed to the same things that led us to enjoy playing with small trains. Let’s face it; that’s what we do!
Back in the 1950s, when I grew up, we often considered rail passenger service as a viable option when we wanted to take a trip. I even took my first train trip in the late 1940s. I think it was on the New York Central from Cleveland to Chicago. I was only about three, but I remember the grey-green color and the fuzzy texture of the passenger car seats. I even remember a stranger offering me a stick of Spearmint gum. I often traveled by train in the late 1950s and early 60s before I could afford a car. Rail passenger service in this country today can hardly be considered a common mass transit option.
What did we see around us? I frequently saw steam locomotives and interurban electric “doodlebugs” between Peoria and Bloomington, Illinois when we made our weekly Sunday car trips to visit my mother’s sisters. Trains were a part of our lives in a way that just isn’t the case for today’s youth. All of us in the hobby, almost without exception, credit our first Christmas train set for jump-starting our interest in model railroading. My first set was a Marx wind-up train. What percentage of today’s kids dream of that Christmas train, as opposed to the newest computer game or action figure?
So what’s the answer? That, as they used to say, is the $64,000 question.
I do have to say that when I go to model railroading shows representing the Minnesota Transportation Museum or Yard Goat Images, I see a lot more young people and families with small children at those events than I did at this convention, so I hope that bodes well for some level of regeneration for our hobby.
And, although “Thomas” is the little train we all love to hate, I think he has done yeoman service for the future of our hobby, because he introduces kids to the steam trains they will rarely be able to see in the real world.
Here in the Twin Cities, we have a program on Public Television called “The Choo-Choo Bob Show”. It is sponsored by a hobby shop of the same name, and the show won three Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Awards in 2013. This is just the kind of programming that will help develop future model railroad enthusiasts.
We know that our love of trains started at an early age, and was due to our exposure, in one way or another, to trains in the real or fictional world. We need to do everything we can to help see that today’s young people have that same opportunity.

 

 

D,D&SRR Update

First of all, I want to apologize to all my readers, both new and ol

First of all, I want to apologize to all my readers, both recent and long standing, for having gone so long without a post.  I have been dealing with some health issues that have not only preoccupied my mind and time, but also kept me out of the train loft.  I have two conditions, spinal stenosis and diabetic neuropathy that cause me sciatic back pain, which results in insomnia.  I have been seeing a dozen doctors for the last several months.  There is no cure for these conditions, short of surgery for the stenosis, which they are not recommending at this time, but I think we are finally getting to a solution that is allowing me to sleep.  I wanted to post my picture here because I am attending the National Narrow Gauge Convention in Kansas City next week (September 3-6), and I would love to meet with any of you who follow this site.  My wife and I will be staying at the Hilton Garden Inn, which is right next to the Convention Center.

Here is the current state of the loft on the west end.

Here is the current state of the loft on the west end.  One issue with the railroad is that the more track work I complete, the less storage and work space I will have.  To some extent, things which are now boxed up, will eventually live on the railroad, but I’ll need to make my workbench smaller and more mobile.  In the end, the workbench may have to move to a weatherized space in the garage.

At the eastern end of the pike, I still have Durango on a moveable piece of benchwork.

At the eastern end of the pike, I still have Durango on a moveable piece of bench-work.  This needs to be cross-braced and secured to the 2x2s on the wall.  My Topside Creeper is lower in this picture than it will go; it is possible to position it so that I can reach all of Durango.  It’s not comfortable, but it works.  However, I am still considering bringing all of Durango down a couple of inches.  I can work the elevation into the grade to Silverton without any serious issues, and I just feel it might be more comfortable to access Durango without the Creeper, as in operating sessions, if it were a little lower.

The Durango unit is still more or less a storage piece, although a lot of the track and structure locations are correct for future use.  Bringing Durango down some will also help with the transition to the photo backdrop.

The Durango unit is still more or less a storage piece, although a lot of the track and structure locations are correct for future use. Bringing Durango down some will also help with the transition to the photo backdrop, because it will allow me to create a little berm in the space between the track and the backdrop.

On another note, I have been working with an old high school classmate of mine on some archival audio tapes and Super mm film that he rescued

On another note, I have been working with an old high school classmate of mine (Peoria High School, Peoria, Illinois) on some archival audio tapes and Super 8mm film that he rescued from disposal when an even older friend of his went into assisted care.  The audio and video dates to the 1960s and 1970s, and does include a lot of narrow gauge activity.  I am hoping that some of this material may eventually be available to the public through Yard Goat Images (www.yardgoatimages.com).  When I’m down in Illinois, as I was last week, I usually stay with my sister who lives outside Pekin, Illinois, across the river from Peoria.  Going to Peoria, I always pass this end of a power plant yard, so I stopped to shoot a picture.  Enlarge it to see the incredible detail.

 

About a month ago I had an inquiry from a fellow in Texas about building him an O scale water tower to go with his Lionel Challenger and Mikado.  Since these are larger locomotives than my On30 narrow gauge, I

About a month ago I had an inquiry from a fellow in Texas about building an O scale water tower to go with his Lionel Challenger and Mikado. These are the same scale but larger locomotives than my On30 narrow gauge ones.  I knew I’d need to make the support section of the tank taller than the ones I made for my own layout, and I decided to make the circumference (and the corresponding volume) of the tank larger, too.

The first item on the agenda was to select a mailing tube of the required size.

The first item on the agenda was to select a mailing tube of the required size, and cut off the needed length.

I sealed one end of the tube with card stock, and measured how many basswood strips would be needed to enclose the tube,

I sealed one end of the tube with card stock, and measured how many basswood strips would be needed to enclose the tube.  The machinist square will help me get them glued on exactly perpendicular to the ground.

I always stain my stripwood before assembly, and I use isopropyl alcohol with a few drops of leather dye.  I keep various colors of stain in plastic containers like the one in the background of this photo that is marked "wire".

I always stain my stripwood before assembly, and I use isopropyl alcohol with a few drops of leather dye. I keep various colors of stain in plastic containers like the one in the background of this photo that is marked “wire”. I used scribed siding to cover the card stock on the bottom of the tank.  This area won’t show very much on the completed model.  This photo also shows the start of the leg assemblies that are made from 1/4″ square basswood stock.

For the tank bands I used Evergreen styrene strips that are .015 x .080 inches.  They are painted grimy black before being glued to the tank. I butt joined them

For the tank bands I used Evergreen styrene strips that are .015 x .080 inches. They are painted grimy black before being glued to the tank.

I butt joined them, and graduated the placement as the bands go up the sides.

I butt joined them, and graduated the placement as the bands go up the sides.  They were placed this way because the water pressure inside the tank was greater in the lower portion of the tank.  I’ll hide the butt joints behind the structure for the spout counter-weights.

A quick dunk in some rail weathering solution does a great job on these Grandt Line spout parts.

A quick dunk in some rail weathering solution does a great job on these Grandt Line spout parts.

The legs are completed.

The legs are completed.

I had some Grandt Line band tighteners, but they are made for tightening cable, and don't really look right on steel banding.  I decided to scratch build something that would look better.

I had some Grandt Line band tighteners, but they are made for tightening cable, and don’t really look right on steel banding. I decided to scratch build something that would look better. These are two small beads, and a short piece of wire, mounted on layered sections of the banding material.  I put them together with CA and Zip Kicker for speed, then painted them black.

They are a little less than 1/2" each, and I made one for each band on the tank.

They are a little less than 1/2″ long each, and I made one for each band on the tank.

Here is the start of the under-structure that fits between the legs and the tank body.

Here is the start of the under-structure that fits between the legs and the tank body. Since my friend in Texas wants the tank spout to operate by remote control, I’m cheating a bit on the spout pivoting system.  I’ve made other tanks with more prototypical chain support for the base of the spout, but the chain tends to break with repeated use.

I made the tank top with more of the scribed siding, and four battens.  The hatch handle is a small piece of bent piano wire, and I'll be putting Grandt Line hinges on later.

I made the tank top with more of the scribed siding, and four battens. The hatch handle is a small piece of bent piano wire, and I’ll be putting Grandt Line hinges on later.

I used the same water level scale I designed for some earlier tanks.  I just had to enlarge it a little for this one.  If you look closely, you can see those butt joints in the bands that I was talking about.

I used the same water level scale I designed for some earlier tanks. I just had to enlarge it a little for this one. If you look closely, you can see those butt joints in the bands that I was talking about.

At this point I decided to drill the legs for the truss rods.  Keeping them all aligned really helped with subsequent construction.

At this point I decided to drill the legs for the truss rods. Keeping them all aligned really helped with subsequent construction.

Here is the completed water level gauge.  The pulley at the top is made from an N scale wheel set. I cut it in half at the axle center, filed the axle points flat, and glued it back together with the wheels facing each other.

Here is the completed water level gauge. I later took some of the stark white out of it with a little dust bowl brown weathering powder. The pulley at the top is made from an N scale wheel set. I cut it in half at the axle center, filed the axle points flat, and glued it back together with the wheels facing each other.  I’ve made these before, and they can actually turn like a real pulley, but this one is glued in a fixed position.

I made the ladder on a jig I have for O scale ladders.  The frost box sides are ship lap siding.

I made the ladder on a jig I have for O scale ladders. The frost box sides are ship lap siding.

Because the joints on the ship lap siding showed too prominently, I went through with my back saw and

Because the joints on the ship lap siding showed too prominently, I went through with my back saw and grooved every joint deeper.

After that, another coat of stain helped blend the fake joints with the real ones.

After that, another coat of stain helped blend the fake joints with the real ones.

The spout has been drilled out and secured on a little brass pivot I made.

The spout has been drilled out and secured on a little brass pivot I made.

Another compromise with the prototype is the dummy enclosures for the spout counter-weights

Another compromise with the prototype is the dummy enclosures for the spout counter-weights.  My practical counter-weight will be inside the tank, attached by cables to the spout.  The cables will run through tiny holes in the upper tank side, behind this enclosure structure.

Grandt Line hinges in place on the hatch cover.

Grandt Line hinges in place on the hatch cover.

The frost box is complete.  Both ends of this piece are left open.  The actuating rod for raising and lowering the spout runs up through the frost box.

The frost box is completed with 3/32 angle on the corners. Both ends are left open. The actuating rod for raising and lowering the spout runs up through the frost box.

Various parts are test fit.  I put a card stock base under the legs to secure them.  This can be covered with ground materials.

Various parts are test fit. I put a card stock base under the legs to secure them. This can be covered with ground materials.

Top view.  I'll leave the tank top loose so we have access to the inside of the tank.  You'll see why that's necessary in a moment.

Top view. I’ll leave the tank top loose so we have access to the inside of the tank. You’ll see why that’s necessary in a moment.

Another view.

Another view.

.....and another.  the end of the chain from the water level gauge will drop through a small hole in the tank top.  The marker on the numerical scale is actually suspended by that chain, but I glued it in a fixed position at the pulley.

…..and another. the end of the chain from the water level gauge will drop through a small hole in the tank top. The marker on the numerical scale is actually suspended by that chain, but I glued it in a fixed position at the pulley.

These tanks leaked notoriously with age and changes in the weather, so the extremities, particularly the lower parts of the tank became encrusted with mineral scale from the water leaks.

These tanks leaked notoriously with age and changes in the weather, so the extremities, particularly the lower parts of the tank became encrusted with mineral scale from the water leaks.  I simulated this with a mixture of AIM dirty white weathering powder dissolved in alcohol.  I brushed this on with stokes from the bottom up.  The water level gauge scale has also been weathered in this photo.

Here's that little hole for the water level gauge chain. You just slip it into the hole when you cover the tank; it is not glued in, so the tank top can be removed.

Here’s that little hole for the water level gauge chain. You just slip it into the hole when you cover the tank; it is not glued in, so the tank top can be removed.

I waited until near the end of the project to glue the band tighteners on.  I know from experience that they can be easily knocked off.

I waited until near the end of the project to glue the band tighteners on. I know from experience that they can be easily knocked off.

After the legs were positioned and secured, I cut the truss rods to length and used NBW castings on each end to hold them in place.  I used Bragdon's rust weathering powder wherever there were metal parts.

After the legs were positioned and secured, I cut the truss rods to length and used NBW castings on each end to hold them in place. I used Bragdon’s rust weathering powder wherever there were metal parts.

I was initially going to use chain to suspend the spout, but with previous tanks, I've had trouble with that little scale chain breaking, so I used a heavy needlepoint thread I got from Michael's.  A little weathering, and it looks a lot like braided cable.

I was initially going to use chain to suspend the spout, but with previous tanks, I’ve had trouble with that little scale chain breaking, so I used a heavy needlepoint thread I got from Michael’s. A little weathering, and it looks a lot like braided cable.

A view from t he water level gauge side.  This gauge, by the way, can be place on either side, and my client wanted it to the left of the spout.  I imagine real railroads placed them where they were most easily seen by the engineers and firemen.

A view from the water level gauge side. This gauge, by the way, can be place on either side, and my client wanted it to the left of the spout. I imagine real railroads placed them where they were most easily seen by the engineers and firemen.

Now to the animation.  I had to test this on my layout to see if it would work.  My Durango yard is built on a sandwich of 1/2" plywood and 1/2" homasote; one inch thick in total.

Now to the animation. I had to test this on my layout to see if it would work. My Durango yard is built on a sandwich of 1/2″ plywood and 1/2″ homasote; one inch thick in total.  The thickness of the layout determines part of the length of the spout actuating rod.

I drilled an inch and a 1/4 hole in the layout, and mounted a SwitchMaster switch motor beneath it on a piece of 1 x 4.  The mounting legs on the motor form one limit to the pivoting throw rod, and the dry wall screw to the right of the motor

I drilled a 1.5″ hole in the layout, and mounted a SwitchMaster motor beneath it on a piece of 1 x 4. There was nothing scientific about the hole diameter; I just had that size hole cutter available.  However, a nice large hole helps keep the linkage from binding. The mounting legs on the motor form one limit to the pivoting rod throw, and the drywall screw to the right of the motor forms the other limit.

The actuating rod is soldered to a small screw eye secured to the lead counter-weight inside the tank.  The little piece of styrene tubing helps to keep the "cable" from dragging on the holes through the tank side.

The actuating rod is soldered to a small screw eye secured to the lead counter-weight inside the tank. The little piece of white styrene tubing helps to keep the “cable” from dragging on the holes through the tank side.  I would have made a larger hole in the tank bottom, but the under structure limited me.  This hole seemed to work OK.

I used the measurements with which I had started the whole project, basically how high the locomotive tender fill hatches were, including track height.

I used the measurements with which I had started the whole project, basically how high the locomotive tender fill hatches were, including track height, and the stack height as the locomotive passes the tower.  From these I could determine the upper and lower limits of the spout travel.  The relationship of the actuating rod to the counter-weight determines the up and down end points of the spout travel.  The position of the drywall screw next to the SwitchMaster motor determines the total length of spout travel.  Both are adjustable.

With the animating mechanism removed from under the layout you can see the pivoting rod on the SwitchMaster, the actuating rod attached, and the stops for the pivoting rof.

With the animating mechanism removed from under the layout you can see the pivoting rod on the SwitchMaster, the actuating rod attached, and the stops for the pivoting rod.  To my great joy, the whole business works, and the water tower spout can now be controlled with whatever push buttons or DPDT switches are used for turnout control.  This model took 31.5 hours to finish over 15 building days.

 

 

 

 

 

Mad City Train Show

This terribly cold, snowy winter has just taken away all of my motivation to work on the railroad. It isn't that the temperature in the loft is too cold; I don't know what it is. However, last weekend I went as a volunteer with the Minnesota Transportation Museum and Yard Goat Images to the big train show in Madison, Wisconsin. The MTM table is just barely visible in the left of this photo.

This terribly cold, snowy winter has just taken away all of my motivation to work on the railroad. It isn’t that the temperature in the loft is too cold; I don’t know what it is. However, last weekend I went as a volunteer with the Minnesota Transportation Museum and Yard Goat Images to the big train show in Madison, Wisconsin. The MTM table is just barely visible in the left of this photo of the entrance hall.  At the far right, with his hand lifted, is a scratch builder named John Dreschler from Milwaukee.  I met him three years ago at this same show.  The two pictures below are examples of the wonderfully detailed work he does.

This little logging vignette has won John awards at other train shows.

This little On30 logging vignette has won John awards at other train shows.  The Madison show does not have a contest.

Here is another of John's painstakingly created marvels.

Here is another of John’s painstakingly created marvels.

This is an HO scale logging diorama.

This is an HO scale logging diorama.

And another HO scale creation.

And another HO scale creation.

On the other end of the spectrum, here is a tanker that is about five feet long.

On the other end of the spectrum, here is a tanker that is about five feet long.  It runs on a live steam layout in the Wisconsin Dells.

There were no shortage of trains that kids could ride on.

There were no shortage of trains that kids could ride on…..

.....or stand and wonder at.  Over 5,000 people attended this show on Saturday, and probably more than 4,000 on Sunday.

…..or stand and wonder at. Over 5,000 people attended this show on Saturday, and probably more than 4,000 on Sunday.  Model Railroader magazine had a display, and I met two of the Kalmbach editors, Senior Editor Jim Hediger, and Classic Trains Editor, Rob McGonigal.

More amazing scratch-building.

More amazing scratch-building.

A G scale diorama.

A nicely crafted G scale diorama.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Projects

Since the beginning of December, I've been working on a number of small projects, none of which warrants a complete article post.  Here is one of Bachmann's relatively new Heisler geared locomotives.  You can buy them (I recommend The Favorite Place on eBay; watch for good deals on Ray's auctions)

Since the beginning of December, I’ve been working on a number of small projects, none of which warrants a complete article post, but collectively they might be of interest.  Here is one of Bachmann’s relatively new Heisler geared locomotives. If you want to buy one I recommend The Favorite Place on eBay; watch for good deals on Ray’s auctions.  They come with a DCC decoder, but you need to buy the sound module separately.  I got both for reasonable prices on eBay’s auctions.  The sound module is installed by the user (me), and I managed it without too many screw-ups.  The first time I tried to install it, I had it upside-down.  The second time, I was too gentle and failed to push it down far enough on the connecting pins.  The third time was a success.

I also invested in a R-R Cirkits Locobuffer USB.

I also invested in a RR-CirKits Locobuffer USB.  This little device enables me to connect my computer to my Digitrax control system.  Dick Bronson at RR CirKits has been very convivial to deal with.  We even talk about the weather.

With my MacBook Pro connected to my Digitrax, I can download free software from the JMRI (Java Model Railroad Interface) site.  Their software will do a lot of things, but for the immediate future, I plan on learning how to set all the CVs (configuration variables) on my decoders using their Decoder Pro application.

With my MacBook Pro connected to my Digitrax, I can download free software from the JMRI (Java Model Railroad Interface) web site. Their software will do a lot of things, but for the immediate future, I plan on learning how to set all the CVs (configuration variables) on my decoders using their Decoder Pro application.

One project that takes precedence over all others is to figure out what is going on with my Durango trackage.

One project that takes precedence over all others is to figure out what is going on with my Durango track work.  I have noticed kinks developing that I know were not there when I originally glued the track down.  My thought is that I either didn’t use enough caulk, or removed the pins and Fast Tracks curve forms too soon, although I left everything in place for 24 hours.  I don’t know if temperature variations in the loft could be causing the problem, but I have the heater set so that it doesn’t go below 60˚ when I’m not up there.  Maybe high temperatures have caused the caulk to soften; in the summer it can get upwards of 80˚.

I soldered the rail joints on the curves, and I plan on leaving occasional small expansion gaps.  I'm thinking I may have to spike the rail in places, but I won't use rail nails, I'll use Code 83 rail spikes.

I soldered the rail joints on the curves, and I plan on leaving occasional small expansion gaps. I’m thinking I may have to spike the rail in places, but I won’t use rail nails, I’ll use Code 83 rail spikes.

Work continues, slowly, on the Durango fire hall.  I'm using Monster Model Works new board siding on the sides and upper front floor.  The windows and shed doors are from Rusty Rails Rick.

Work continues, slowly, on the Durango fire hall. I’m using Monster Model Works new board siding on the sides and upper front floor. The windows and shed doors are from Rusty Rails Rick.  The stone foundation is Chooch Industries HO scale flexible stone material.  The horse-drawn fire wagon is in the lower left.  It has been painted and lightly weathered.

 

I decided to go with realistic stud framing and individual board siding on the little shed that will house the horse-drawn wagon.

I decided to go with realistic stud framing and individual board siding on the little shed that will house the horse-drawn wagon.  I’ll have the doors open, and may do lighting and inside detailing.

Here's a closer look at the laser cut brickwork and wood siding from Jimmy at Monster Model Works.

Here’s a closer look at the laser cut brickwork and wood siding from Jimmy at Monster Model Works.  The doors and windows have been painted, but the siding and bricks have not.  They will get treated with a solution of weathering powders in alcohol.  I modeled some of the windows in an open position.

Just look at the amazing wood grain and nail hole detail that is captured here.

Double click this photo to see the amazing wood grain and nail hole detail that is captured here.

This little figure, sometimes known as "Cousin Jack" comes from Grandt Line Products along with this hand-propelled tipping ore car.

This little figure, sometimes known as “Cousin Jack” comes from Grandt Line Products along with this hand-propelled tipping ore car.  He completes my ore tipple for now.

Another Grandt Line products with great detail is their depot baggage wagon kit, here assembled, painted and seen at my Silverton Depot.

Another Grandt Line product with great detail is their depot baggage wagon kit, here assembled, painted and seen at my Silverton Depot.

I recently purchased a 20 Mule Team kit on eBay.  This photo, from Google images, shows the assembled units of the kit (minus 18 of the horses in the lead).

I recently purchased a 20 Mule Team kit on eBay. This photo, from Google images, shows the assembled units of the kit (minus 18 of the mules to the left).  I am building it as two separate ore wagons, and a separate water wagon for the mining area above Silverton. 

Caveat emptor is Latin which is loosely translated as "let the buyer beware".

Caveat emptor is Latin which is loosely translated as “let the buyer beware”.  I hate it when eBay sellers say, “I think all the parts are there”, or “selling as is” without providing details.  They are simply being lazy or too ignorant to find out what is missing before they offer something for sale.  In this case the original instruction sheet was gone, and several major parts were missing.  Assembling this kit left me guessing at how all the parts fit together, sort of like putting together a jig-saw puzzle.  Pictured above are about one-third of the total parts.  All the parts for the two ore wagons and the water wagon were in one plastic bag, which had been re-sealed, so the first task was to try to guess which parts went with which wagons.  The only clue was that if I had two of a given part, they probably went with the two identical wagons.  Single parts, I assumed, went with the water wagon. 

Internet research helped a little, and I ran across these two very nice photos of wooden models of ore wagons.  I'll use some of these details on my plastic models.

Internet research helped a little, and I ran across these two very nice photos of wooden models of similar ore wagons. I’ll use some of these details on my plastic models.

Opposite side view of nice wood model of ore wagon.

Opposite side view of nice wood model of ore wagon.

It's not finished yet, and I'll use a four mule team with it, but here is my wagon so far.

It’s not finished yet, and I’ll use a four mule team with it, but here is my wagon so far.

The major part that was missing from the kit was the tank for the water wagon, similar to the metal one on this photo from Google Images

The major part that was missing from the kit was the tank for the water wagon, similar to the metal one in this photo from Google Images.