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Archive for the ‘Rolling Stock’ Category

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.

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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. 

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Steam Powered Log Loader

I decided to take a break from track and controls for a week or so.  The lure of the workbench was overwhelming.  I pulled out a kit for a steam powered log loader that I will use at my Cascade Canyon Lumber Company site.

I decided to take a break from track and controls for a week or so. The lure of the workbench was overwhelming. I pulled out a kit for a steam powered log loader that I will use at my Cascade Canyon Lumber Company site.

As you can see from this photo and the one below, these types of devices were sometimes mounted on rails on flatcars.

As you can see from this photo and the one below, these types of devices were sometimes mounted on rails on flatcars.

After they had loaded logs on one flatcar, they could roll backwards to the next empty car, and load logs on to the car they had just left.  They worked their way down the train until all the lfatcars were loaded.

After they had loaded logs on one flatcar, they could roll backwards to the next empty car, and load logs on to the car they had just left. They worked their way down the train until all the flatcars were loaded.

This is the picture that came with the kit.

This is the picture that came with the kit.

I decided to gauge the wheels to match On30 track in case I ever wanted to pose the loader off the flatcar.

I decided to gauge the wheels to match On30 track in case I ever wanted to pose the loader off the flatcar.

Here I am using a short section of track to set the wheel gauge.  The spacer between the wheels is a small piece of heat-shrink tubing that I slipped over the plastic axle.

Here I am using a short section of track to set the wheel gauge. The spacer between the wheels is a small piece of heat-shrink tubing that I slipped over the plastic axle.

After adjusting the axle so that it fit evenly between the axle supports, I trimmed off the extra plastic, and sealed the ends of the supports with a small piece of styrene.  The wheels do rotate.

After adjusting the axle so that it fit evenly between the axle supports, I trimmed off the extra plastic, and sealed the ends of the supports with a small piece of styrene. The wheels do rotate.

Many of the parts of this kit are cast resin.  Here I have base coated them with engine black, a shade which is just a little bit to the gray side of full black.

Many of the parts of this kit are cast resin. Here I have base coated them with engine black, a shade which is just a little bit to the gray side of full black.

As you can see, some of the valves and piping in this kit are very, very tiny.

As you can see, some of the valves and piping in this kit are very, very tiny.

I dry brushed these parts with Model Master Steel colored paint, then brushed on Bragdon Weathering powders rust.

I dry brushed these parts with Model Master Steel colored paint, then brushed on Bragdon Weathering powders rust.

To tone down the rust, I gave the model a light spraying with Testor's Dullcote.

To tone down the rust, I gave the model a light spraying with Testor’s Dullcote.

More of the piping and mechanics are in place here.

More of the piping and mechanics are in place here.

The model comes with three wooden sides which could completely enclose the steam bioler, but I opened up the two long sides so much of the detail would show.

The model comes with three wooden sides which could completely enclose the steam boiler, but I opened up the two long sides so much of the detail would show.

After putting the curved roof on the side walls, I basically have three sub-assemblies.

After putting the curved roof on the side walls, I basically have three sub-assemblies.

The next step in the process was to scratch-build a flatcar to carry the steam log loader.  I've detailed my process for doing this

The next step in the process was to scratch-build a flatcar to carry the steam log loader. The kit does not come with one of these.  I’ve detailed my process for doing this in other places on this site, so I won’t repeat that here.  Note one rail is spiked in place, awaiting the second.

One thing I will mention is that I created a foam cradle for flat car projects like this.  I used a piece of foam from a Bachmann Spectrum box, and carved it with a sharp Exacto knife.  This supports the flat car, minus its trucks, so that no pressure is put on the stirrup steps, the truss rods or the couplers while I work on the top side.

One thing I will mention is that I created a foam cradle for flat car projects like this. I used a piece of foam from a Bachmann Spectrum box, and carved it with a sharp Exacto knife. This supports the flat car, minus its trucks, so that no pressure is put on the stirrup steps, the truss rods or the couplers while I work on the top side.

The main support beam for the loading arm is sandwiched between the roof extension and the gear on the deck so that it can pivot.  From any given location, the pick up arm can rotate beyond 180˚ in any direction.

The main support beam for the loading arm is sandwiched between the roof extension and the gear on the deck so that it can pivot. From a given location, the pick up arm can rotate beyond 180˚ in any direction.  The figure is from Railroad Avenue Model Works.

Here is a straight side view of the finished loader on its flat car.

Here is a straight side view of the finished loader on its flat car.

From this angle you can see some of the wood chip clutter on the deck.

From this angle you can see some of the wood chip clutter on the deck.

And here is the other quarter-view.

And here is the other quarter-view.

A close-up of the operator and the piping.

A close-up of the operator and the piping.

Because of the movement of the loader, a standard height brake wheel won't work.  Railroads were very inventive with brake wheels.  I've even seen some that pivot down out of the way.  I created this one with a Grandt Line narrow gauge brake wheel, a brake hanger, also by Grandt, a short piece of music wire, and a small section of scale chain leading to the brake cylinder under the car.

Because of the movement of the loader, a standard height brake wheel won’t work. Railroads were very inventive with brake wheels. I’ve even seen some that pivot down out of the way. I created this one with a Grandt Line narrow gauge brake wheel, a brake hanger-ratchet-and-pawl, also by Grandt, a short piece of music wire, and a small section of scale chain leading to the brake cylinder under the car.

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D&RGW Flanger

A flanger is a specialized piece of MOW equipment designed to clear snow from between the rails, and for a short distance outside each rail.  You can think of it as a kind of snow plow.

A flanger is a specialized piece of MOW equipment designed to clear snow from between the rails, and for a short distance outside each rail. You can think of it as a kind of snow plow.

I had always thought of having one of these on my pike, and i finally saw a kit for sale on eBay that wasn't going to break the bank.

I had always thought of having one of these on my pike, and I finally saw a kit for sale on eBay that wasn’t going to break the bank.  The kit parts were well organized in separate little plastic sleeves, and it looked like there were ample instructions and diagrams.

I had never seen a kit with walnut wood before, but it didn't turn out to be too hard to work with, and it does give the model some added weight.  As it turned out, whoever was selling the kit on eBay had included some extra instructions and diagrams from some other kit.  You would think that would be helpful, but it wasn't.  As I got further into the construction, it became harder and harder to make sense of the kit's instructions, and to identify the parts, or how they were to go together.

I had never seen a kit with walnut wood before, but it didn’t turn out to be too hard to work with, and it does give the model some added weight. As it turned out, however, the seller of the kit on eBay had included some extra instructions and diagrams from some other kit. You would think that would be helpful, but it wasn’t. As I got further into the construction, it became harder and harder to make sense of the kit’s instructions, to identify the parts, or how they were to go together.

I finally gave up trying to follow the directions at all, and started to approach the job as if I were scratchbuilding a flanger, and had some useful parts from the kit.  Many of the parts, like the large blades, had to be cut from sheet brass and curved by hand anyway; I might as well have been scratch-building.

I finally gave up trying to follow the directions at all, and started to approach the job as if I were scratch-building a flanger, and had some useful parts from the kit. Many of the parts, like the large blades, had to be cut from sheet brass and curved by hand anyway; I might as well have been scratch-building.  I also spent a couple of days digging up prototype pictures on the internet.  This proved to be the most helpful, because I was often able to tell where a certain part went from looking at the prototype.

I finally have the model to the point where I'm ready to paint it.  I sort of gauged how close to finishing I was by how many parts I had left to find places for...very similar to putting together a jig saw puzzle.

I finally have the model to the point where I’m ready to paint it. I sort of judged how close to finishing I was by how many parts I had left to find places for…very similar to putting together a jig saw puzzle.  Some parts I could never figure out what they were, or where they went, so I either put them back in the box, or put them in places on the model where I thought they looked good.  Many of these flangers survive in museums today, and the details on them are all a little different, anyway.

I used several different glues to assemble things...a little carpenter's glue, a lot of CA with Zip Kicker (marvelous stuff), and good old 5-minute epoxy when all else failed.

I used several different glues to assemble things…a little carpenter’s glue, a lot of CA with Zip Kicker (marvelous stuff), and good old 5-minute epoxy when all else failed.  The kit, of course, came with On3 trucks (too big for On30), and no couplers.  I installed Kadee #5 couplers to match my other rolling stock, and a standard pair of Bachmann Arch-Bar trucks.  All of this necessitated modifications to the kit model, but I just kept fiddling with it until it all worked.

Prior to the 1940s, these flangers were painted MOW light gray with black lettering.  Since my layout is set in 1915, and the kit only came with black decals, I'll be doing a paint scheme similar to the one in the first picture in this post.

Prior to the 1940s, these flangers were painted MOW light gray with black lettering. Since my layout is set in 1915, I’ll be doing a paint scheme similar to the one in the first picture in this post.

And here is the flanger after painting and adding decals.  I'll probably still do a little light weathering, so it doesn't look so brand new and clean.

And here is the flanger after painting and adding decals. I’ll probably still do a little light weathering, so it doesn’t look so brand new and clean.

Finding weathered pictures of these things is not easy because most of the surviving examples are in museums, and they wear fresh coats of paint to help preserve them.

Finding weathered pictures of these things is not easy because most of the surviving examples are in museums, and they wear fresh coats of paint to help preserve them.  However, I did find this photo of one that is still working on the Durango & Silverton, of all places.

You'll notice that I've left of the "W" from D&RGW, and that's because in 1915 the railroad was just called the Denver & Rio Grande.

You’ll notice that I’ve left off the “W” from D&RGW, and that’s because in 1915 the railroad was just called the Denver & Rio Grande.

One more view showing the end of the car.  I think the decal on the side that reads "ALA 11-13" means that the most recent servicing was done at Alamosa in November of 1913.

One more view showing the end of the car. I think the decal on the side that reads “ALA 11-13” means that the most recent servicing was done at Alamosa in November of 1913.

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The MOW Caboose for England

This is the first of several research pictures I used to design and build a Maintenance of Way Caboose for a friend of mine in England.  He models On30 Colorado Narrow Gauge, like I do, but considerably further away.

This is the first of several research pictures I used to design and build a Maintenance of Way Caboose for a friend of mine in England. He models On30 Colorado Narrow Gauge, like I do, but considerably further away from Colorado.  The ideas I borrowed from this photo are….taking a caboose body and mounting it on a flat car, and having one end set up as an open-air workshop.

This picture shows a caboose body that has been shortened to provide more flatcar deck work space, and I like that, as well as the fact that it gives the car some unique character.

This picture shows a caboose body that has been shortened to provide more flatcar deck work space, and I like that, as well as the fact that it gives the car a unique character.

Here is an example of a workbench on that open deck.

Here is an example of a workbench on that open deck.

In this instance, both sides of the work area have been lined with tool boxes.  I'll do one side like this, and the other with a work bench.

In this instance, both sides of the work area have been lined with tool boxes. I’ll do one side like this, and the other with a work bench.

Here is the beginning of the actual work on the caboose.

Here is the beginning of the actual work on the caboose.  I shortened the caboose body, eliminating the symmetrical look of it by removing about 7/8 of an inch including the second window.  The bottom of these pieces became the basis for two under-body tool cabinets on my MOW caboose (see earlier post).

I find that a lot of the Bachmann under-frames come from China with a slight warp to them.  This can be eased by snipping the truss rods beyond the point where they are visible, and clamping overnight with the wooden side and end sills glued on with CA adhesive.

I find that a lot of the Bachmann under-frames come from China with a slight warp to them. They are probably removed from the mold too soon, as Bachmann has had similar problems with the plastic gears in their Shay locomotives…they shrink and crack as the plastic sets.  This warping can be eased by snipping the truss rods beyond the point where they are visible, and clamping the frame overnight to a flat surface as soon as the wooden side and end sills are glued on with CA adhesive.  It is amazing how much force these little plastic truss rods actually exert on the frame.  They do the same thing as the real ones, only more.

I didn't use the interior details from the Bachmann caboose on my caboose, because they would have blocked the windows, and the interior lighting.  This caboose has fewer windows, and the body is designed for these details, so I used them here.

I didn’t use the interior details from the Bachmann caboose on my Mount Blue Models caboose, because they would have blocked the windows, and the interior lighting. This caboose has fewer, smaller windows, and the body is designed for these details, so I used them here.

I decided not to use the roof walks for two reasons.  On one end of the caboose body, you couldn't steps across to the next car, anyway.  Roof walks were for brakemen to get to the brakes on boxcars, which were mounted above the roof line; the brake here is accessible on the back platform.

I decided not to use the roof walks for two reasons. On one end of the caboose body, you couldn’t step across to the next car, anyway. Roof walks were designed for brakemen to get to the brake wheels on boxcars, which were mounted above the roof line; the brake wheel here will be accessible on the back platform.  I filled the holes left by the removal of the roof walks with Squadron Green Putty, and sanded it smooth.

here is the project after some preliminary paint work, and the instaltion of the smoke jack,

Here is the project after some preliminary paint and stain work, and the installation of the smoke jack.

Here is the end with the work bench and tool boxes.  To get an idea of how small those laser-cut tools are....the whole work bench is a little less than two inches long.

Here is the end with the work bench and tool boxes. To get an idea of how small those laser-cut tools are….the whole work bench is a little less than two inches long.

This is the finished caboose.  I think I'll add some hand grabs at the corners of the caboose body to assist in getting up with

This is the finished caboose. I think I’ll add some hand grabs at the corners of the caboose body so climbing up from the stirrup steps is easier.

The work bench end, showing the tool boxes.  The air hose for the brake system should actually come out under the side sill, but i didn't model the under-frame brake line, so there was no where to attach it.

The work bench end, showing the tool boxes. The air hose for the brake system should actually come out from under the end sill, but I didn’t model the under-frame brake line, so there was no prototypical place to attach it.

This shows the prototype location of the air hose.

This shows the prototype location of the air hose.

The other end of the car has the brake wheel, hanger, ratchet and pawl, and the coupler cut lever, and the other air hose.

The other end of the car has the brake wheel, hanger, ratchet and pawl, the coupler cut lever, and the other air hose.  There should be a chain running from the small hole in the coupler cut lever over the coupler to the top of the coupler itself, but it might interfere with the operation of the coupler on the model.

You can see the function of that chain better on this prototype photo.

You can see the function of that chain better on this prototype photo.  Raising the handle for the coupler cut lever (not visible to the left in this photo) pulls up on the chain attached to the coupler pin, allowing the coupler to open.

Here's another view of the work bench side of this end.

Here’s another view of the work bench side of this end.  In addition to various detail castings, I painted black embroidery thread from Michael’s for the coil of rope.

My English friend wanted these letters and numbers on the side of the caboose.  I used Micro-Scale water-slide decals, because they are much easier to apply than dry transfers.

My English friend wanted these letters and numbers on the side of the caboose. I used Microscale water-slide decals, because they are much easier to apply than dry transfers.  Microscale’s suggestion for weathering the decals is to scrape them with a pink eraser before application, and apply another coat of Microscale Liquid Decal Film, but I think some careful dry-brushing achieves the same result with a lot less work.

This is the most detailed car I have ever scratch-built, but I think the extra effort was worth it.  When I get my other cars out of storage, I'm going to super-detail them, too.

This is the most detailed car I have ever scratch-built, but I think the extra effort was worth it. When I get my other cars out of storage, I’m going to super-detail them, too.

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I’m making a Maintenance of Way caboose for my friend in England that will look somewhat like this one, and I’m using some of the parts from the Bachmann Spectrum narrow gauge short caboose.

Here is the disassembled caboose. Since the MOW caboose will have a longer car body, I decided to build one of Blue Mountain Models bay window cabooses for myself. This kit is designed to fit on the short car body of the Bachmann caboose which I will not be using for the one going to England.

Here is the instruction sheet for the model, showing the finished caboose. I have assembled the end and side walls into two sub-assemblies which will form the caboose body.

Here are the side walls with the roof supports added, and the body test-fitted to the underframe.

This photo shows the roof assembled, painted and glued on. The roof walk boards were also stained and added.  I later decided to do the roof a darker color, so there wasn’t so much contrast with the roof walk.

This caboose has nice big windows, so I didn’t want all the Bachmann interior details blocking them. After removing everything but the stove and the benches that are molded into the floor, I had to do something with the floor itself.

I cut an old piece of N scale scribed siding to fit over the floor, and stained it with a tan color made from leather dye and isopropyl alcohol.

The walls are finished and the trucks mounted. The hand rails come from the Bachmann caboose, and Blue Mountain has pre-drilled holes for an exact fit. They include a nice little brass nail to use for a door handle.

The smoke jack, as it is called, also comes from the Bachmann caboose.

Several steps later, here is the finished caboose on a photo set-up.  The roof is now a nice grimy black. I lettered the caboose for the Denver, Durango & Silverton with Woodland Scenics dry transfers.  I would have preferred to use water-slide decals, but they didn’t have any at the hobby store.  Dry transfers are hard to align, as you can see.

A close-up three-quarter view that shows the weathering with Bragdon Powders. The color is called Dust Bowl Brown.

Sometimes cabooses had tool boxes mounted under the bodies and between the trucks. When I shortened the original Bachmann body (see next post) I had two pieces of scribed siding that were the perfect size. Grandt Line contributed the hinges, and the handles were made from a bit of Ophir Depot roof trim.

The Bachmann caboose had a lighted interior, powered through axle wipers on the trucks, so I kept this feature for my bay window caboose. I created “night” with some blue theatre gel over the camera lens.

The light works in the daytime, too. If I want to get fancy, I can install a DCC decoder in the caboose to control when the light is on and off.

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Another Rail & Tie Car

Today I completed another rail and tie car for a client in England. I changed a few little things from my original version of this car. I felt my spike kegs were a touch too large, so I ordered some new castings that were supposed to be actual spike kegs, not just generic barrels. They may be the correct size, but when they arrived, they just looked too small, so I settled for some other barrels I had on hand that were midway in size between the two.  I’m sure the small size of the castings I ordered has to do with how much a keg would weigh when filled with spikes, but I gave preference to the visual aspects.  I had also ordered spike mauls and pry bars, but again, they just didn’t show up much when placed in the car because of their small size, so I just made ones to match those I have in my car. They may be a little over-sized, but they look good as the car rolls along.

Another small change was the inclusion of grab-irons on all four corners of the car.

I decided it might be easier to brake the car if the brake wheel could be operated from the raised car bed, so I extended the brake staff. I left the ratchet and pawl down on the car’s deck, because there is no place for them up in the air, so the MOW help will still have to release the brake from below.

Another shot of the brake end of the car.

Here is the side profile of the car. It can’t really be seen because of the shadows, but the trucks on this car, which came from a Bachmann Lumber Camp car, were already weathered with a fine dusty black spray. I decided not to paint over this spray, but just to apply the usual rust colored powder.

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