No. 61: Ackley Clean Up and a New Project

I’ve been working on the Ackley, Iowa layout for 14 months straight since I began construction on 4th of July, 2016.  Meanwhile a whole lot of freight car projects have been stacking up and there are a lot of models in need of repair and upgrade, so I have decided to take the next 60 days (all of September and October) to complete rolling stock projects.

Cleaning Up

The first thing I did was clean up the layout so it would be presentable.  I had been doing a lot of scenery work and the room and the layout were trashed.  It took a solid 2-3 hours to clean and organize everything.


A funny thing happened when I got the layout all cleaned up.  Instead of getting going on those freight car projects, I kept working on the layout.  It is a great example of my old “playroom” theory I used to explain to my wife.  I have an old theory about kids and playing: When kids go to a clean, organized play room, it’s like putting a blank canvas in front of an artist.  They play and build and create like crazy.  But…if you put a kid into a playroom that’s dirty, disorganized and stuff is all over the place, they won’t play there.  That’s like giving an artist canvas that’s already painted, and telling him to paint over it.  So the same thing happened when I got the layout all cleaned up and organized.  I was motivated to get working on the layout again.

While I’m finishing up freight car projects I’m planning on completing some much-needed detail projects for the layout.  The plan is to finish timber crossings on two of the three road crossings, build crossbucks and finish telephone poles, detail some buildings, and knock out some other things.  Here’s one of the Showcase Miniatures kits I picked up, below.


I am going to try using these wigwag kits to make regular crossbucks.  Dan Kohlberg turned me on to Showcase Miniatures and he was right–they make great stuff.  Hopefully they’ll be at St. Louis RPM next year.  Frankly I don’t think anybody markets a good-looking steel crossbuck.  But these Showcase Miniature kits include a ton of parts and some great-looking graphics that I think will do the trick.  You can check out their website at


Freight Car Projects

There are quite a few freight cars on the shelf that need attention.  About a dozen cars are decaled and need Dullcote, another dozen are built and need paint, another half-dozen need to be built-up, and about 25 are still new kits in the box.  Plus I have about 20 P48 models–about six in some stage of completion.

Below.  This Tangent car needs new trucks and “P88” wheelsets.  How do you weather a white car without it looking terrible?



Above.  A small number of kits that are on the front burner.  Interesting that each kit has a story.  The M-15 and tank car came from my friend Lonnie Bathurst, the NP war emergency car is from Aaron Gjermundson, and the Central box car is from Craig Zeni.  The B&O GP-7 is from my friend Ebay.

Below is an old Sunshine car that was finished two years ago when I still lived in Illinois.  It still needs its roof painted and weathered.


I have 3-4 P48 models that are 90% done and need to be completed too.  Plus about four engines that need work.  And most of the models mentioned need a trip through the sandblaster.  I haven’t used the sandblast since before I moved to Germany (November, 2015) so getting that process going is long overdue.  There’s a lot to do.

Portage Tower

Meanwhile…a good hobby friend of mine, Mike Moore, is building a layout at his home in Albert Lea.  My friends Clark Propst and Bob Gretillat have been traveling up to Mike’s place in Albert Lea every week to help Mike build his layout.  Mike is modeling the CB&Q-CGW-IC line through Portage, Iowa and I offered to build the tower there and some section houses and tool houses for the layout.

Cocoa Beach 06 Photo

Here’s a photo of the Iowa boys—and me—from the 2006 Cocoa Beach RPM.  Standing, from left to right, is Doug Harding, Clark Propst, Stan Rydarowicz, John Greedy, Mike Moore, Me (John Golden), and Ed DeRouin.  Kneeling, left to right, is a fellow I recognize but can’t recall his name at the moment (!!!), Chet French, and Mark Vaughn.  Hard to believe this was 11 years ago already.

Anyway back to the tower.  I was lucky to have just the right things on hand and the tower and tool houses are already under construction.  I was fortunate to have two packages of Evergreen Scale Models Novelty Siding (#4062, .060 spacing, .040-inches thick) on hand here in Germany.  I have enough styrene for the tower and all the tool houses I’ll need for Mike’s layout and my layout.


The tower is an easy build.  I am building the 1960s-era tower; it was apparently re-sheathed sometime in the late 50s that eliminated most of the windows, I believe to make heating and perhaps air conditioning more efficient.  As built it looked like your typical Burlington, steam-era interlocking tower with lots of windows.  Thankfully I didn’t realize it had an interior staircase until I committed to doing the job, otherwise it would’ve taken me forever to build.

I didn’t have dimensions available so I decided on dimensions of 20 x 15, and am modifying some really old Tichy windows I had on hand.  It won’t be perfect but it’ll be close.  As Clark told me “Anything that looks close will be fine.”


Below, the tower is underway.

FullSizeRender (2)

My thanks to the boys on the Yahoo Proto-Layouts list, who rallied to get me all the photos and everything I need to get the project moving.  You guys are the best.

Monon, Orleans, IN.JPG

Hope you all have clear tracks ahead!  – John G

One thought on “No. 61: Ackley Clean Up and a New Project

  1. John some great stuff, really like your model of Ackley Canning. But don’t get too comfortable with the clean surroundings as I found more photos of Ackley Canning today, will be sending to you direct. You may find yourself reworking your model or adding more details. And while you are building towers I found photos of the tower at Ackley, at least three sides visible. I will send them also.


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