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Archive for the ‘Props’ Category

A Buckboard

The buckboard wagon was one of the most ubiquitous conveyances of the nineteenth century, and there were still plaenty of them around in 1915 when my railroad is set.

The buckboard wagon was one of the most ubiquitous conveyances of the nineteenth century, and there were still plenty of them around in 1915 when my railroad is set.  This wagon got it’s name from the footboard that was positioned between the driver’s feet and the horse.  If the horse bucked, he’d hit the board, and not the driver.

Most of my projects begin with research, and in the case of things which are fairly generic, I turn to Google Images, select some pictures that have features that I like, and run them off to look at while I design and build.

Most of my projects begin with research, and in the case of things which are fairly generic, I turn to Google Images, select some pictures that have features that I like, and run them off to look at while I design and build.

The next step was to select a size.  Nothing scientific here; I just eye-balled it until I thought it looked right.  Here is the wagon's bed, upside down, and the two axle arrangements.  From my metal stuff junk box, I picked out two little brass tubes that just fit into the wheels I was going to use.

The next step was to select a size. Nothing scientific here; I just eye-balled it until I thought it looked right. Here is the wagon’s bed, upside down, and the two axle arrangements. From my metal stuff junk box, I picked out two little brass tubes that just fit into the wheels I was going to use.

I had some very small styrene stripping left over from an HO commission, so I decided to try to fabricate a couple of leaf springs for the seat.

I had some very small styrene stripping left over from an HO commission, so I decided to try to fabricate a couple of leaf springs for the seat.  Track pins and homasote come in handy.

The wheels are Grandt Line Popcorn Wagon wheels.  When I try to paint just the spokes on these tiny wheels, I use bamboo shish-ka-bob sticks.  The pointed end usually wedges into the axle hole nicely, and I hold the blunt end in my teeth, leaving both hands free to manipulate the brush and wheel.

The wheels are Grandt Line Popcorn Wagon wheels. When I paint just the spokes on these tiny wheels, I use bamboo shish-ka-bob sticks. The pointed end usually wedges into the axle hole to hold the wheel firmly, and I hold the blunt end in my teeth, leaving both hands free to manipulate the brush and the wheel.

A wagon needs a driver and a horse.  I can't remember where I got these, but they are exact 1:48 scale.  Sometimes we have to compromise, especially where horses are concerned, and live with 1:43 or 1:50.

A wagon needs a driver and a horse. I can’t remember where I got these, but they are exact 1:48 scale. Sometimes we have to compromise, especially where horses are concerned, and live with 1:43 or 1:50.  When painting figures, I like to paint them all black first to create an automatic shadow.  Other colors can then be applied in a dry brushing fashion.  I later decided to use a different driver, because he had a hat.

I keep finding great uses for the common straight pin.  Here I've cut the head and about 1/8 inch of the staff, and they are a perfect fit into my little brass tube axle

I keep finding great uses for the common straight pin. Here I’ve cut the head and about 1/8 inch of the staff.   It fits perfectly into my little brass axle tube to create a hub cap.

I think it's called the "hame ball", but whatever it's name, on these particular horse casting, it can very easily break off.

I think it’s called the “hame ball”, but whatever it’s name, on these particular horse castings, it can very easily break off.  So, here, I’ve found another great use for the head of a pin.

A wagon needs a load, so I culled through my details parts and selected some I thought appropriate.  The fresh lumber piles are N-scale from my modeling wfforts back in the 1980s.

A wagon needs a load, so I culled through my details parts and selected some I thought appropriate. The fresh lumber piles are N-scale from my modeling efforts back in the 1980s.  As it turned out, I didn’t have room for the two larger barrels.

Here's what the detail parts look like once they are painted and glued into the wagon.

Here’s what the detail parts look like once they are painted and glued into the wagon.  I left the rear gate of the wagon removable for loading.  The two uprights at the back of the wagon bed hold it in place when the wagon moves.

The photo set-up also features my recently completed Silverton Miner's Supply store, and a few of my deciduous trees made from Colorado open range bush armatures.

The photo set-up also features my recently completed Silverton Miner’s Supply store, and a few of my deciduous trees made from Colorado open range bush armatures.

Enjoy the rest of the pictures!

Enjoy the rest of the pictures!

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Mileposts

Mileposts are used on a railroad, much like they are on today's interstate highway system, t0o give a locatin in relation to some known fixed point.

Mileposts are used on a railroad, much like they are on today’s interstate highway system, to give a location in miles of distance in relation to some known fixed point.  This can let you know how far you have traveled, or how far you have yet to go.  In their timetables, railroads only use the directions “eastbound” or “westbound”.  If the track direction is north or west, it is considered westbound, and if it is east or south, it is considered eastbound.

Here is a real-world map of the line between Durango and Silverton, as it exists today.  You can see that it is basically a north-south line, but the railroad would call the journey from Durango to Silverton, this "westbound"

Here is a real-world map of the line between Durango and Silverton, as it exists today. You can see that it is basically a north-south line, but the railroad would call the journey from Durango to Silverton, “westbound”, and the return to Durango, “eastbound”.  Therefore, the mileposts running between Durango and Silverton on my layout have the suffix “W” for westbound.  The D&RGW used the city of Denver, it’s hometown, as the fixed point for determining milepost numbering.  The mileposts indicated on this map refer to distances, in miles, from Denver.  I will use Durango as my hometown, so Durango is milepost 0 for all lines radiating out from there.

This enlargement of a portion of my track plan shows the location of  have indicated mileposts on

This enlargement of a portion of my track plan shows the location of some of the various kinds of mileposts.  I decided that about 24 to 30 inches between mileposts on the layout was a good visual separation.   Imagine my surprise when I plotted it out, and the distance to Silverton on my layout came to 45 miles, almost exactly the real distance in Colorado!  So, MP8W along the bottom of the photo above means “milepost 8 west”, or eight miles westbound from Durango towards Silverton.  You can also see mileposts labeled MPD2, D3, etc.  This is the line on my layout that runs directly down to the Denver staging yard, so these are distances away from Durango towards Denver.  There is a short “backdoor” connection to Silverton running through the bottom of the Animas River Canyon that makes possible continuous running on the layout.  This short piece of track will not figure into my operating sessions, so I labeled the miles there as MPS2E, MPS3E, etc., meaning milepost 2 Silverton east.  I used the letters “MP” on the track plan to help identify what the numbers meant, but I won’t put the “MP” on the actual milepost (see first photo above).

Every railroad had their own style of mileposts.  The one pictured here is an actual D&RGW milepost.  I wanted something that would be easy to insert into finished scenery, so I went with a small octagonal panel supported on a short piece of piano wire (see first phjoto above)

Every railroad had their own style of mileposts. The one pictured here is an actual D&RGW milepost. I wanted something that would be easy to insert into finished scenery, so I went with a small octagonal panel supported on a short piece of piano wire (see first photo above).

Some of you may remember my search to identify the little plate on the Hermosa Creek Bridge that kind of looks like an automobile license plate.  I wrote about it in the Hermosa Creek Bridge post a year or so ago.

Some of you may remember my search to identify the little plate on the Hermosa Creek Bridge that kind of looks like an automobile license plate. I wrote about it in the Hermosa Creek Bridge post a year or so ago.

I finally found a photo that was clear enough to read the numbers on the plate, and then I figured out that it was a milepost marker.  Mine pictured here is 1/16th of an inch tall and 3/16th of an inch wide.  At the time, I think I interpreted the "42" on the end as the miles to Silverton from this point, but I think now that it is more likely the bridge number. Railroads used numbers rather than names to identify their bridges.

I finally found a photo that was clear enough to read the numbers on the plate, and then I figured out that it was a milepost marker. Mine pictured here is 1/16th of an inch tall and 3/16th of an inch wide. At the time, I think I interpreted the “42” on the end as the miles to Silverton from this point, but I think now that it is more likely the bridge number. Railroads used numbers rather than names to identify their bridges.

Here is a similar plate on a small bridge on the Cumbres & Toltec.

Here is a similar plate on a small bridge on the Cumbres & Toltec.

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These crates could be used in any scale. Compare size to the quarter above.

Here’s a simple little project that produces some nice looking shipping crates for your railroad.  I wish I could take credit for coming up with the idea, but I can’t.  I read about it in one of my train magazines.  The first step is to go to a craft store, like Michaels’s, and purchase a small bag of mixed sized wooden squares.  For just a few dollars, you can get enough blocks to make as many crates as you will ever need.  I then stained them with my leather dye/alcohol stains in three different colors.

I also glued some of them together to make rectangular combinations.  Not all shipping crates are square.  In a moment you’ll see how I hid the seams.  Taking a steel straight-edge and a pencil, I then marked separations on four sides to represent individual boards in the crate.  The two ends of the cubes which showed the wood grain were covered with individually cut pieces of strip wood.  From a distance it’s hard to tell the 3-D boards from the penciled ones.

I’m not left handed, but for the purposes of photography, it’s easier to suggest the pencil work with my left hand, and shoot the picture with my right.  The next step is to build the exterior framing of the crate, with stripwood stained in colors to match the little cubes.

The crate can be framed just on the corners, or cross-braced diagonally.  I have even seen crates with “X” bracing, so I think I’ll make some of those, too.  I use this framing to hide the seam between blocks glued together.  See the last photo.  You can leave one side of the cube unframed, or do all six sides, but I learned long ago that actors and stage personnel cannot always be trusted to set things down the correct way.  I’m framing all six sides.  When the framing is all completed, I take a sharp #2 pencil, and twirl it into the wood to create the look of nail heads.

The last step is to take some photo-reduced shipping labels, and glue them on the sides of the crates.

And there you have it.  Nifty little crates to travel on flatcars, in boxcars and combines, or to sit on freight depot platforms.

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High Level Switch Stand

A simple way to modify Caboose Industries’ high level switch stands to more closely resemble those currently in use on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
I really like the look of the Caboose Industries High Level Switch Stand, but the indicator signals on it didn’t match the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge prototype I am modeling. I figured that with a few simple adjustments, I could get it to look more like what I wanted. The necessary modifications were as follows: The green aspect signal needed to be a square set on its corner to form a diamond shape, and the red aspect needed to be a circle, located under that diamond. Also, since this stand is designed to be used with HO and S gauge models, I needed something just a little taller.
In looking at the DVD entitled “The Silverton Train”, by Highball Productions, I could see that the D&SNGRR has stands with and without the lantern on top. Those without the lantern appear to be about 6 feet tall. With the lantern, they may be pushing seven feet. I like the lantern, so I’m building mine a scale seven feet tall.
I puzzled for several days as to what to use for the signal panels, and finally decided on thin pieces of plastic, cut from packaging material. The squares were going to be easy, but the circles, at ¼ inch diameter, were a little tougher proposition. I finally settled on purchasing a hole punch that cut a perfect ¼ inch circle. As a bonus, the clear plastic panel from the front of the package provided enough plastic for a couple of dozen switch stands!
I laid out ¼ inch squares on a flat section of the plastic using a fine tipped permanent marker. The lines don’t show, because I painted these squares green.
I then cut just one of the little squares out with a sharp Exacto knife. I’m leaving the others together so they don’t get lost so easily.
This is the DVD I referred to earlier. The first five minutes of the program, as they prepare to leave the station in Durango, there are half a dozen great shots of the switch stands I am making. By the way, this is one of the most beautiful DVDs I have ever seen of the run from Durango to Silverton. The shots of the line-side scenery are incredible, and I’ll be using this as reference material when I start working on scenery. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a Blu-Ray DVD, when you are looking for detail!
Here are the little ¼ inch circles. They are so small and transparent that you have to be very careful not to loose them!
The other parts from the switch stand kit are not terribly large either, so I decided to keep everything in a zip-lock bag. I won’t be putting these on the layout for quite some time, and this will help me to keep everything together in one place.
Here is the switch stand, rough assembled, as it comes. You can see that even with the lantern on top, it only measures about one and a quarter inches tall, or five O-scale feet. Since I need between six and seven feet of height, I’m not going to use the little wire that comes with the kit.
I still had quite a few of the copper 2 inch eye pins left over from the logging cars project. These provided not only the height that I needed, but a useful handle to hold on to during the rest of the operation. I turned to another product I had on hand, Micro-Engineering’s rail weathering solution to darken the copper wire.
It took a little longer to work on copper than it did on nickel-silver, but it did work.
The copper wire fit perfectly in the bottom of the switch stand, but I had to use my pin vice and drill the hole in the lantern out just a bit.
The next step, after gluing on the lantern with a little CA, was to take a very small brush and paint the insides of the lantern lights, red on two sides, green on the other two sides. You could also illuminate this lantern with a micro-LED, and some small colored beads…..if you were very ambitious. Maybe a project for later on?
Then I put a very small amount of CA on the wire stem and glued on the square and the circular plastic pieces.
Here’s the stand after both signal aspects have been installed and painted. I used Testor’s Gloss Enamel, so that the colors would really stand out. I don’t want my valuable motive power running the wrong way on to a turn-out, and de-railing!
The next step was to cut the copper wire down to seven scale feet. It really helped during construction to have that little extra wire, and the eyelet on there, to hold on to. I’ll save the eyelet to use on the next logging flatcar that I detail.

And finally, here is the stand, as far as I’m going to take it for now. I need to see exactly how it’s going to fit next to my turn-outs on the layout. Caboose industries provides several different linkages to choose from, and I’m not sure which one I need for now. Both the stand and the turnouts are sprung, so this will work for either hand throwing, or with switch machines. I’ll probably brush on a little light gray or beige Bragdon powder eventually, to dull down and bring out the details on the black plastic.

PS.  During the winter of 2010 I had a chance to meet the owner of Caboose Hobbies at a train show in St. Paul.  I showed him my modification to his switch stand and he liked it!

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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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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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