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.


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.