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Archive for February 28th, 2012

I had a set of three Bachman side-dump ore cars that I wanted to run as a connected consist, so I removed the couplers between the first and second, and the second and third cars, and connected the cars with what is known as a draw-bar.  I used a small piece of flat plastic with holes drilled in both ends, and reconnected the cars with the coupler pocket screws through the plastic draw-bar’s holes.
My ore load in these cars is paver sand, sifted through a spaghetti strainer.
Notice how careful dry-brushing can bring out the cast-on detail of these cars.

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In between shows, “Harriet’s Halloween Candy” (set and light design at the Phipps), and “Joseph and the…you know the rest”…lighting design only), at the River Falls Community Theatre, I have managed to eke out a few hours to complete this latest project. You will remember from one of my last postings that I had purchased, by mistake, a set of HO scale Donkey engines, which I then painted and weathered and re-sold on eBay (at a very nice profit). This project started with the purchase of the correct size model, and a stock Bachmann D&RGW flat car.
I treated this car to the same techniques I have used on other flat cars…wood decking added, painting and weathering. This car had an interesting “sway-back” look to it that I made permanent with beams along each side designed to hold the lift rings. If you got my post about a year ago on the lumber cars, you will remember that I fashioned these lift rings with small brass eye pins and tiny black beads from Michael’s.
The donkey engine came with the top of the boiler stack and one of the side spools detached, so I decided to leave them off and create an open-topped crate for them. I actually think donkey engines were usually shipped without the smoke stack attached. I also saw a photo of a donkey engine stack with a flared top, so I added a small rubber o-ring from my scrap box to approximate this. Donkey engines in the woods traveled on heavy wooden skids. They could actually be rigged to pull themselves along sometimes. Bachmann’s model comes with a plastic skid that is the right size and shape, but looks like…..well, plastic….so, I removed it, and fashioned a real wooden skid for my model. I hadn’t done this on the HO scale models I worked on because the skid was glued on, but on this O scale model, you can remove the plastic skid by taking out a couple of screws, which is very handy.
The boiler itself is nicely modeled in black, but the metal frame and gears are in brown plastic, so they all had to be repainted. I wanted them to look new, so I went with a sort of shiny look.  Another reason for not playing around with the boiler color was the nice detailing job that Bachmann has done on the valves and gauges.
I created a small platform on the back of the skid for a water tank. Sometimes these were wooden, but they could also be steel tanks, and that’s the choice I made here. This was made with styrene sides and pounce wheel rivets glued over the same small wooden blocks that I’m using to create shipping crates.   I had to furnish a hose to connect the tank to the boiler, but because I was going to ship this rig in an unassembled fashion, I made the hose from a little piece of insulated wire that I painted black, and left  it coiled between the tank and the boiler in this photo.  With everything finished that belonged on the skid, I glued the skid to the flat car deck.
I took a couple of finished shipping crates that I had built for another article, and glued one on just ahead of the skid, and placed the other in the open-topped crate that contained the smoke stack and side spool. This top view shows the various crates supposedly containing small parts for the donkey engine. Next I used beige thread to simulate rope, and tied everything in place.
And now I can include a nicely detailed shipment for the Cascade Canyon Lumber Company when we do operating sessions.

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Why am I doing things in scales other than my On30? Well, this was an error on my part. I wanted to buy Bachmann’s new Donkey Engine on eBay one night….in O scale, and after I bought it, I found out that I had bid on an HO scale item. I toyed with the idea of using it in the background to create some forced perspective (an idea I may yet pursue), but the Cascade Lumber Camp is going to be on a particularly narrow section of the layout, and I thought maybe I could do something more creative with these (there were two in the package). So I painted and weathered them, and scratch-built a wooden water tank on the back, complete with feed pipe, and sold them back on eBay. The result was a profit of twice what I paid for them in the first place, and easily enough to purchase the O scale donkey engine.
A steam donkey, or donkey engine is the common nickname for a steam-powered winch, or logging engine widely used in past logging operations, though not limited to logging. They were also found in the mining, maritime, and nearly any other industry that needed a powered winch. A logging engine comprised at least one powered winch around which was wound hemp rope or (later) steel cable. They were usually fitted with a boiler, and usually equipped with skids, or sleds made from logs, to aid them during transit from one location to the next. A donkey engine could actually pull itself over the ground if the cables were attached to a nice solid tree. Usually a water tank, and sometimes a fuel oil tank was mounted on the back of the sled.  John Dolbeer, a founding partner of the Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Company in Eureka, California, invented the logging engine in that city in August 1881, but not all Donkey Engines were Dolbeer Donkey Engines; there were other manufacturers.
The recently released Donkey Engine from Bachmann has remarkable detail. This little HO scale model is only 2.0 inches tall by 2.25 inches long. I was going to try to replace the plastic sled with a wooden one, but I was afraid of damaging the minute details, so I just weathered the sled to look like old wood. The platform under the water tank is actually a mixture of plastic and real wood, and I think it blends nicely with the plastic sled.
The barrel hoops of the water tank are made from flat dental floss, painted black. I used weathering powders as well as dry-brushing techniques to achieve the look I wanted.

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Cupola for the Combine

The Pagosa Junction style cupola on a combine.  Narrow gauge lines tried to save money wherever they could, and if they could make one car serve the purposes of two or three, then that’s what they did.  The Combine is already, as its name implies, a car that serves a combination of functions, baggage car and passenger car.  By adding a cupola to the top, the railroad also enabled this car to serve as a caboose.  The purpose of the cupola on a caboose was to enable the brakeman or conductor to keep an eye on the train ahead of it for hot boxes or other problems.
Here is the Bachmann model of the D&RGW combine. The current Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge line also uses these same colors on much of its passenger stock. The cupola in this article was run on the line to Pagosa Junction.
Banta Model Works makes a nice laser cut wood kit for a cupola for this car. Here are a couple of pictures from the instructions that come with the kit.

Laser cut wood kits are a relatively new phenomenon, and they are a joy to work with because the wood parts come 99% already cut, and the cuts have the precision of…..well, lasers. You only have to separate them from the rest of the sheet by cutting in a few small places.
And here are the assembled sub-walls for the cupola. I used my trusty Gorilla CAA glue to bond the pieces together. (Update: See article Durango Depot Part 1, for why I no longer use this glue very extensively.)
The cupola has a second layer of what might be called car-siding. This material has a peel-and-stick backing that makes it easy to apply. When it is time to fashion the corner grab irons, there is a nifty little wooden jig to do this with, so that you get the length of each side, and the corner angle exactly right on every one.
The support wire for the corner of each of the “grabs” is glued into the roof, and to the corner of the grab-iron, and then the wire will be cut off after the glue has had a day to set.
It’s time to check the fit on the roof of the combine, and begin to get an idea of what the finished project will look like.
This photo shows several things. The cupola has been painted. Testors Silver made a pretty good match for Bachmann’s silver roof, but it took quite a bit of playing around to mix a yellow that matched the combine’s sides. The kit comes with two small wooden pieces to cover the combine’s clerestory windows that will be blocked off by the cupola. I painted those black. Then there are the ten supports for the roof walk, which I also painted black and glued in place.
And here is the painted cupola in position on top of the combine.
This photo from the instruction sheet shows the roof walk, end ladders, and the roof handrail in place.
And here is my completed car with the same pieces attached.
Close up of the roof walk hand-rail. These joints were actually soldered, not glued.
I also added wire grab-irons next to the baggage doors, where they would have been on the prototype.
Part of the plastic end rail had to be removed to place the cast metal end ladders leading to the roof walk.

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I use a Kadee Ho Coupler Height Gauge to make sure that all my rolling stock couplers will match up for smooth operation. If you’ve looked closely at some of my other pages on this site, you may have noticed some arch bar trucks with the side frames upside down!  I confess….I was so preoccupied with getting the couplers to the right height that I chose the wrong direction to mount the trucks. Here’s a better solution.   (Update:   One thing I know about the internet is that you can’t always trust the information that’s out there…..even when you put it out there yourself!  After writing this article last night, I did some more poking around this morning, and discovered some things about arch bar trucks that I didn’t know….or had forgotten.  See below.)
I was assuming that the flat bar on an arch bar truck needed to go at the bottom, like this illustration.
As I poked around, I was running into the term, “inverted arch bar truck”, and that made me curious. Here is an illustration of an arch bar truck with the flat bar at the top.  Coincidentally, this is a photo from Bachmann of the exact truck I was writing about.
I started finding images of arch bar trucks with flat bars top and bottom…..
……and images with no flat bar at all! The one consistent factor in determining right side up or upside down seemed to be the direction of the diagonal bars leading down to the center springs. On all of these trucks, the diagonal bars sloped down towards the center springs.  But even more important for the truck to function properly is that the bolster has to exert downward pressure on the springs…springs beneath bolster ends should line them up correctly for you every time.  Therefore, what follows is a treatise on how to mount your trucks UPSIDE-DOWN.  C’est la vie!
In this article, I’m using Bachmann’s 29906 underframes, that are designed to give a car a lower more prototypical narrow gauge look. Then I am using Bachmann’s 29904 Arch Bar trucks, but if the trucks are applied right out of the package, they result in a coupler that is about 4 mm too low. I’m sure there are other ways of doing this, and as a matter of fact, I’ve messed around with filing or shimming the coupler housing, but this method is quite a bit faster than anything else I’ve tried.  First, I remove the arch bar trucks from their packaging, and put aside the two little washers and screws that come with them. I never throw anything away, so these little bits of hardware go in my coupler “tool box”. I purchased longer machine screws at Ace Hardware.  I think these are a number 2 or 3 shaft, and they are one-half inch long.
This is the Bachmann Arch Bar truck as it comes out of the package.  (And, upside-down, as it turned out.  If I had just thought about it a little more, the springs couldn’t function in this orientation!)
I like to hold truck side frames on the end of a paint brush to paint them. They fit tightly, don’t move around as you brush them, and you don’t wind up with paint all over your fingers.  I do eventually plan on investing in an air brush, but that’s a step I haven’t taken, yet. Here I’m painting the side frames with Polly Scale “Grimy Black”.
After the Polly Scale dries, I lightly dry brush with some Testor’s “Rust”.
I also do the wheels themselves with “Rust”. I paint both sides, but try to keep the paint off the treads. I have seen rigs you can buy to mask the treads for air brushing, so maybe I’ll invest in one of those when I get an air brush.  If a little paint gets on the treads, just wipe it off right away with a small piece of paper towel.  Holding the wheels with a good tweezers keeps the paint off your fingers.
After the paint is dry on both the wheels and the side frames, I dust them with some of Joel Bragdon’s marvelous weathering powders. Here I’ve used “Dust Bowl Brown”. Notice how the dry brushing and the powders have visually unified the whole truck, which started out as two distinctly different colors.
Now it’s time to look at some little plastic spacers I also bought at Ace Hardware. They are about a quarter of an inch tall, and have an interior opening that just fits over the little spacer that Bachmann provides with the car under-frames. It is important they they fit over this narrow end of Bachmann’s spacer because the hub on the under-frame bolster is the same size, and the white spacer needs to fit over it.
As it happens, half of one of these little white spacers is just about the exact height that I need to raise my couplers. I put the spacer in my hobby vice, and using my track saw that has a very fine blade, I cut the spacer as nearly in half as I can.
Here is what half of the spacer now looks like.
And here is the white spacer on top of the bolster hub.
Sorry about the focus on this picture; my camera’s auto-focus beam missed the small drill bit and spacer, but you can understand what I’m doing here….drilling the hole on the Bachmann spacer just a hair larger.
I found that by using a 5/64 drill bit, I could enlarge the hole just enough that the 1/2 inch screw would thread its own way in.
The screw is only partially inserted in this picture. I wanted to show the orientation of the black spacer, screw and side-frame.
Now the screw is tightened down on both the black and the white spacer, and I’m ready to snap the wheels back in place.  Then I’ll put the car on my coupler height gauge test track and see how I’m doing.
It worked!

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Another commission I had was to build a Conestoga wagon in N-scale for a client. This little model is about an inch and a half long.
The driver and the horses are commercial pieces.
The wagon body is built from basswood, and the canopy is one ply of Kleenex tissue, stiffened with paint.  I used the ends of paper clips to support the canopy.
The reins are dental floss. It’s a little over-size. I think I’d use black thread if I did this again. The wagon wheels are some old N-scale brake wheels I had on hand.

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Cheap Flat Cars

One of the most ubiquitous, and useful cars on a railroad has always been the flatcar. Just about anything, as long as it isn’t granular or liquid can be transported on a flat car. Early tank cars were actually just a cylindrical tank mounted on a flat car. Beyond this, the basic flat car can be used as the foundation for any number of special use cars. See my article on the idler flats used with pipe gondolas in the San Juan oil fields in southwest Colorado. My operating system proposes to use both loaded and empty cars where the loads will show. I will need twice as many flat cars to manage this, so an inexpensive method of building a large number of flat cars is called for.
Bachmann sells separate parts for some of its equipment, and one of the items you can buy separately is a standard freight car under-frame, pictured above (they come three to a package).
You can also buy the trucks for freight cars separately. They come one pair to a package, and I would suggest you check the prices at “The Favorite Spot” on eBay. With these two elements as starting points, I can create a generic flat car for about half the cost of buying one already built.
The first step, as with any new car on your railroad, is to make sure that the couplers match up with your coupler height gauge. This is one of the most critical factors in good railroad operation, so I always take care of it first thing. I use the Kadee coupler height gauge for HO scale Kadee #5 couplers.
Adjusting the coupler height to match the gauge can sometimes involve a little filing or shimming at either the coupler pocket, or the bolster, but it must be done or your trains will be coming apart unexpectedly when you run them.
After that, I measured the under-frame to see what length pieces of basswood would be needed to create the side and end sills. I also measured and cut wood for the decking, and then I threw all the precut pieces into a mixture of isopropyl alcohol with a few drops of leather dye. For this project, I used two colors of dye…black and mahogany. If you cut your wood pieces to length before staining them, the cut ends get stained as well. Because it is alcohol based, the wood dries fairly quickly after being removed from this stain, and you can proceed to glue things together without a long wait. Here is the car with the end and side sills in place. You can also see the NBW castings on the end sill, and some more of those scratch-built plastic corner braces I have been creating.  I also have to point out an embarrassing mistake which I will need to correct on a number of cars…..the arch bar truck side frames are on upside down.  They got this way because I was paying more attention to the simplest way to fit the bolsters on to get the couplers to the right height…..so now I’m in for more fiddling, but I can’t leave the trucks upside-down!
Once the side and end sills were done, I started gluing on the decking. I’ve found that a product called “Aleene’s Tacky Glue” works really well for connecting wood to plastic. I’ve used it before on all my wood replacement decks on flat cars. It is non-toxic, water-based, faster drying than Elmer’s, and can glue just about anything to anything.
The flat car with deck completed, but still needs side stake pockets and brake detail.

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Business Cards

People I meet often ask me what I am doing in my retirement. Sometimes it can be rather lengthy to explain that I am building a model railroad in my garage loft. I thought that if I had a business card I could hand them, it would simplify the explanation, and lead them to explore this web site.  This is a rough draft of a card I took to the printer. The finished product will have a yellow drop-shadow on the reddish letters, and a black drop-shadow on the yellow letters.  I can also use it at model railroad shows, and other places where I want to invite viewers to come to my site.

Here is what the finished card looks like.

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In July of 2011, I went down to Illinois to work for Yard Goat Images to do video of the 2011 Railfest in Rock Island. One of my assignments was to cover railfan day-trips out to the wye at Bureau Junction.  The three-video set that we made is called “Steamin’ Summer” and is available at <yardgoatimages.com>
When I first got there, I discovered this beautiful little boarded-up station. It had so many features that were typical of wood-frame stations of the late 1800’s, that I decided I would make a model of it in HO scale to sell on eBay.
My finished model was somewhat compressed from the original, but retained all of its charming features.
The station at Bureau Junction may date as far back as the 1870s. The town does. The little depot sits in the center of the wye. Here is my model showing the side parallel to the East-West track of the wye.
I used a brick textured plastic sheet for the base, and scribed styrene for the walls.  I picked up an HO scale baggage wagon kit to go at the freight loading end of the station.  The crate construction can be seen in my post on making crates.
The wainscot at the bottom of the exterior walls, and the design on the freight door were scratch-built in styrene, based on this photo of the original.
This side of the depot in Bureau faces North. Since all of the original doors and windows were boarded over, I selected plastic castings from the Grandt Line catalogue that I thought would be typical for the time period.
North side and West end.
East end.  Signs on the walls were created by finding pictures on Google Images, reducing them on my copier, and printing them on glossy photo paper.  This gives them a surface that looks metallic.
I didn’t want to detail the interior, but I did want a couple of the doors to be open, so I simulated the interior floor for a short ways inside the doors.
I also left the center of the base open so that whoever bought the model could rig it with interior lighting.  As it turned out, my little Bureau Junction model went all the way to someone’s layout in Australia.

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Books

I have referred to Google Images many times when discussing research photos, but there are great books out there, too. It doesn’t matter what area of the country, time-period, prototype or fictional railroad you have chosen to build, there are books available to fire your imagination and guide your modeling. Look at model railroad shows, on eBay, at bookstores…particularly used book stores like Half Price Books…Amazon.com, and so forth. If you search carefully, you can usually find what you are looking for at reasonable prices. Cinders & Smoke, Doris B. Osterwald, Western Guideways, Ltd., 1965, mile-by-mile guide to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, great maps and many very nice B/W photos. Still available from Amazon.com’s used book sellers. I found mine on eBay. Either source is very affordable. I just love this book. As you can see from the menu down the left side of the cover, it contains just about everything you’d ever want to know about the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Since my fictional railroad follows the path of the D&S, this book is a great research tool.
There are also detailed maps of the whole length of the line, marked down to a tenth of a mile, with references using the old D&RG mileage numbers. The maps are accompanied by detailed descriptions of the geology, flora and fauna, and history of every inch of this railroad. Despite its age (it was first published in 1965) the material is timeless, and the historic photos are priceless. Many DVDs on the market claim to give you a “ride” on the railroad, but as far as I know, there aren’t any that actually document the entire route from Durango to Silverton. This book helps to connect the pieces you can see in the videos.
Ticket to Toltec, Doris B. Osterwald, Western Guideways, Ltd., 1992, like Cinders & Smoke is a mile-by-mile guide to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, great maps and many very nice B/W and color photos. Also available on Amazon.com. I found mine in the gift shop at the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento, California (one of the finest railroad museums I have ever visited, by the way).
This book, also by Doris B. Osterwald, is a more recent companion piece to the first book I wrote about, Cinders & Smoke. It follows the same useful formula with maps and notations for every inch of the C&TS line from Antonito to Chama over Cumbres Pass. Interestingly, it follows it Westbound, all the way from Antonito to Chama, and then turns around, and follows it Eastbound, from Chama back to Antonito. I am not specifically modeling this territory, although it is technically a part of my layout, because I run “off stage” as far Southwest as Farmington, New Mexico, and as far East as Denver via Alamosa. When the D&RGW abandoned its narrow gauge lines in 1969, the states of Colorado and New Mexico purchased and preserved the run from Antonito to Chama, and it became the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. The D&S has no tunnels, so I will be modeling the C&TS tunnels known as “Mud Tunnel” and “Rock Tunnel”. I will probably borrow other scenic elements found on the C&TS.
Rails Around Durango, Alan C. Lewis, Arcadia Publishing, 2006, part of a series of books on the history of places all around the country. Available from Amazon.com. I got mine for Christmas from my oldest daughter. This series of books is filled with wonderful historic pictures, and a subset of these books deals specifically with railroads, the “Rails Around……..” set. Each photo is accompanied by helpful text, and there are a few maps, too. I highly recommend this series for research on your particular modeling project.
Narrow Gauge Pictorial, Vol. II, Passenger Cars of the D&RGW, Robert L. Grandt, R/Robb Publications, 1982, also part of a series of books of excellent prototype photos. Available from Amazon, eBay, and Grandt Line Products. This book is a part of an eleven volume series on Colorado’s narrow gauge railroads. The books are organized by subject, and this one deals specifically with the passenger cars of the D&RGW. I bought this book for detailed reference photos of the San Juan and Shavano passenger trains. I knew I was going to have to make some modifications to Bachmann’s narrow gauge passenger equipment to get something like the cars I needed, and the photos in this book were perfect. I should say that these books are photo books, and just that. The full-page photos are accompanied by very brief identifications, the location of the picture, and the date it was shot, but for visual reference documents, they are great.

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Baggage Wagon

Here’s a simple little project that doesn’t even take an evening’s modeling time. This is a Bar Mills laser kit for a typical depot baggage wagon.
The wooden parts in a laser kit are cut with beautiful precision, and it’s a simple matter of paint and assemble.
I’ll outfit this wagon with some baggage and small freight boxes, and place it in front of the Durango Depot.

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I am a retired teacher of Theatre, theatrical director and designer, who has been active in theatre since 1955. In retirement, I have been working at times as a theatrical consultant, but I have also been spending a good deal of time on this model railroad layout.  I also volunteer for the Minnesota Transportation Museum, at the Jackson Street Roundhouse in St. Paul, Minnesota.  This roundhouse was once operated by the Great Northern Railroad, and much of my work there is for the Great Northern Historical Society.  I also go to train shows around the region to promote the museum.

Like many model railroaders, I had “trains” as a child in the 1950s, but didn’t start building a real layout until 1983. That first layout was in N-scale (tracks nine millimeters apart). Our family moved in 1992, and that layout had to be taken down. The new house didn’t have any unfinished living space for a railroad, so my hobby languished for over 20 years. In that time, the scale of On30 (O-scale narrow gauge trains that run on HO-scale track) saw tremendous development from manufacturers, and many more modelers began to work in On30. The level of detail that can be realized in 1:48 scale, or quarter-inch to the foot scale, is very satisfying, and by working in narrow gauge, layouts in O-scale can be built in spaces that used to only be suitable for HO-scale. As it turned out, there became an unfinished space in my house when I built a storage loft in my two-story garage. Initially it was an open space, but I saw that by adding a short hip wall, I could enclose the space, and make it comfortable for year-round endeavors. A passage was also created into our master bedroom by opening up a wall, and installing a door. This way I don’t have to go into the garage to get to the layout space.

So, why did I create this web site?  My life in the theatre was very social, and I developed hundreds of friends and acquaintances over the years.  I knew when I started this layout that I was committing myself to several years of a hermit-like existence.  I felt this was a way of staying in touch with my non-model-railroading friends…..letting them know what I was up to.   I didn’t want them going about saying, “What ever happened to…….?”  One thing I am NOT trying to do with the web site:  I am not trying to show how great a modeler I am.  I am not bragging or showing off.  If you like what I’ve done, that’s great.  If you feel you can learn a few new methods from the way I build things, that’s even better.  I like to learn new things every day, and I hope that you do to.

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Wood Tender for a Porter

I have modified one of my Bachmann Porter locomotives with a Banta Model Works wood cab replacement, and a scratch-built wooden tender.  The Bachmann model comes with several stacks, so I have used the one that would be appropriate for a wood-burning locomotive.
In one of my magazines I had read about the idea of scratch-building On30 scale tenders for small locomotives, like the Porter, using HO scale 4-wheeled (“bobber”) caboose frames for the base.  I do volunteer work for the Minnesota Transportation Museum, and one of the things we do is go to train shows to promote the Museum and the Osceola & St. Croix Valley tourist railroad, which runs along the St. Croix River just north-east of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area where I live.  At one of the train shows, I looked around, and soon had some HO “bobbers” at bargain prices with which to work on this project.
The first step is to strip the caboose down to its bare frame and under-carraige.
I had considered using parts from a resin kit for the tender body, but the solid resin casting would not have allowed me to add a DCC decoder or speaker, if I wanted to convert this locomotive to DCC and sound. I decided to scratch-build my tender body so it could be hollow.
The original model had plastic wheels, so I changed them to metal wheels. Metal wheels which are insulated from each other will be better to facilitate the DCC/sound conversion.
The plastic cab on the Bachmann model is easy to remove. Here is the beginning of the laser-cut wooden cab.
I changed to position of the engineer’s left arm.
Wooden cab with roof installed. Pin hole is for brass whistle.
I opened up the center of the rear of the cab, so the fireman could bring the wood into the boiler. I stained the outside of the cab and used Testor’s Gloss-Coat to get a varnished wood look. The interior of the cab is painted a light green, which I have seen on many locomotives of the period.
I reconstructed the framing around my new cab opening, and added a couple of grab-irons .
The tender now has a wooden deck, and has been permenantly draw-bar connected to the locomotive.
Here, the tender box is finished and filled with wood which I made by splitting little quarter-inch slices of pine. A Kadee #5 couple has been added to the rear of the tender, and metal strapping, using my painted/dimpled plastic technique. A fireman has been added to toss the wood into the boiler firebox. See how the bobber under-frame gives an unusual, home-road look to the tender.
Overhead view of the fireman at work.
The switching pilot has been painted to look like wood, and the cylinders and smoke box have received new paint jobs.  I’ll be using locomotives like these at the Cascade Lumber Camp, The Mining Area, and in both of my yards.

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Branch Line Water Tank

This is a picture of a branch line water tank I built from a kit by Evergreen Hill. It is a craftsman style kit that has to be assembled one piece of wood at a time. I’m not sure if I want to use this at Silverton, where I’m trying to keep the facilities as small as possible, or if I want another watering stop some where along the main line. Steam locomotives could only go a certain distance before they had to fill their tenders with water. Depending on the tender capacity, this might be 25, 35, 45 or more miles. The term “Tank Town” arose because railroads had to put water tanks at regular intervals along their lines, and small towns grew up around these tanks. “Jerk-water” was the derogatory term for towns so small they didn’t even have a water tower, and water had to be lifted, or “jerked” in buckets from a stream. Many of these towns continued to be small, and did not survive the railroads’ conversion to diesel power. I just liked the look of this kit, and always wanted to try building one.
A typical D&RGW water tank. This one still exists on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Colorado. I will scratch-build one like this for the yard at Durango.
This is a side view of the tank I built, showing the frost box, and frost box access door. Because of the cold temperatures, the pipes coming up from the ground to fill the tank had to be enclosed. The small metal castings at the bottom represent the tops of the concrete footings; I’ll paint those later. When I took these photos, I also discovered that I had not finished gluing in all of the NBW castings, which is why you can see some unfilled holes along the sides of the tank supports.
Wooden tank top, which I left removable for adding a motor to animate the water spout.
This is the back side of the tank, the least interesting side, but you can see the nail heads in the frost box siding, which were made by dipping the tip of a needle in black paint and gently pricking the wood. Also see more unfilled NBW holes!
This is the other side of the tank. It has the water level gauge, which operates (on the real ones) with a floating part inside the tank attached to a small black indicator on the outside via a chain and head-block. The more water in the tank, the lower the outside indicator would ride. The kit did not provide for the head-block, so I scratch-built it. Before assembly, all of the wooden parts had to be stained, so I used a mixture of black leather dye and isopropyl alcohol. It may look like the spout is not attached to the tank, but that is the way these things were. When the spout was lowered, it covered a smaller pipe coming from the tank (just visible to the right of the fat end of the spout). A line to the release valve was pulled (much like our toilet flush mechanism), and gravity fed water through the small pipe into the larger spout.
This is a close-up of the water gauge mechanism. Notice, again, the missing NBW castings to fill the empty holes, which, by the way, have to be individually drilled out with a pin vice, a small tool that holds an even smaller drill bit, and is turned by hand.
This is a close-up of the front of the tank, and the water spout, showing the chains, pulleys and counter-weights that keep everything in balance. I still have to add the line that the fireman would pull to lower the spout, and the line he would pull to open the valve inside the tank. Eventually, I will have some kind of motor inside the tank that will allow the spout to be lowered and raised when a locomotive stops for water.

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