No. 104: Modeling Projects, Fall 2018

It’s been a busy couple of weeks at work and at home.  I took a new job and have been working about 50 hours a week, and the kids–12, 14 and 16–are going 100 mph with school, sports and active social lives.  There hasn’t been much time for modeling lately–maybe an hour a week.

Meanwhile, over the Columbus Day holiday weekend, I took the family on a short trip to Belgium and the Netherlands to relax in one of our favorite European cities, Maastricht.  When we arrived on Friday evening I took my son’s Boosted Board–it’s an electric-powered skateboard–for a long ride, and after riding a mile came upon this bridge over the Albert Canal into Holland.  


The battle-scarred bunker, I discovered, was a Belgian army stronghold and marks the site of the initial German assault into Belgium in 1940.  There’s an extensive war museum underneath the bridge, and just a few miles south of this spot are the remains of Fort Eben-Emael.

We also visited the Netherlands American cemetery north of Maastricht, where the remains of over 8,000 U.S. World War II dead are buried and another 1,700 missing are immortalized.  It was a beautiful day to visit our troops.  The official website is here if you’re interested in reading more:


On to the Modeling

Despite the busy family schedule and weekend travel there are things that bear reporting.

L&M Gondola

The first update is about Ted Culotta of Speedwitch Media.  Ted provided the Litchfield and Madison gondola kitbash project at the 2018 St. Louis RPM meet, which included an awesome clinic about the prototype and model, an undecorated Intermountain kit, custom-built resin parts, and decals–all for free. 

Here’s Ted’s finished model, and it’s a beauty:


Ted and I have been friends for a long time, going all the way back when we lived near each other in California.  He’s one of the most talented modelers in the world and his research has inspired thousands.  He is also one of the most generous fellows you’ll ever meet.  I’m so grateful for what he does at St. Louis and for the modeling community at large.

Of particular interest to me is the underframe on his L&M car, as I am currently building a C&IM model circa 1950 and don’t have any photos of the brake gear installation.  Assuming the C&IM cars retained operational drop doors, the AB brake gear must be jammed into a tight space in the center of the car.  Ted provided this photo of his L&M car as an example:

Ted's GOn Underframe

Here’s a link to the last post on Ted’s site, which covers underframe construction and finishing.  Ted as always did a breathtaking job with the model:  Ted’s site is always interesting and is one of my favorites.

New Etched Ladders by Plano

In May I got word that Keith Hapes of Plano Model Products was producing an HO scale etched ladder set for box cars.  I e-mailed Keith and he sent me a set to try out.  Here’s the pre-release kit below which included 7-rung ladders and an Apex brake stand for the Intermountain 1937 box car. 


Below.  I quickly bent up a set with my ham-hands and here’s the result.  There is room for NBW detail on the top of the stiles if desired.  These ladders assemble more quickly and are more durable than the brass etched ladders on the market.  As far as I know, however, they only come in one size…so far…


Keith was selling the ladders at St. Louis RPM and I was fortunate to get a few more sets for future projects.  They’re #12121 in case you want to order a few from Keith, who can be reached at  


Carver Elevator Project

The Carver elevator project is moving forward slowly.  Last time you saw this thing it looked like this:


The next step was to sheath the building in plastic strip.  I used Evergreen #145, .040 x .100 strip, painted in a variety of brown colors to sheath the model.  I had the idea to paint the building barn red and vary the colors of the sheathing slightly, but barn red turned out to be way too red.  Obviously, right?  Besides, period photos indicate that most red elevators faded to something like box car red or maroon so I decided to paint the sheathing with a variety of box car reds and darker browns to give the sheathing some variety.


Below.  As of today I’ve applied the sheathing to about half the model.  It doesn’t look quite like I imagined, but I’ve still got a long way to go. 


Replacing the Bump Out

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to replace the “bump out” on my layout.  I’m going to devote an entire post on it, but for now here’s what’s going on.  I easily removed the bump-out in about 15 minutes, then spent another 15 minutes to tear out the track.   



Another half hour later, I had shaped the foam subroadbed and laid down cork roadbed measured to a 24-inch radius curve.  The Micro Engineering Code 55 track has been placed to test clearances.  The purpose of this project is to tighten the curve to 24-inch radius and increase the depth of the bump-out to make room for two rail-served customers.  More to follow on this project later.  


iPhone 10 Camera

My son has numerous part-time jobs and used some of his “monies” to buy himself a new iPhone 10.  The camera–combined with the photo-editing features built-in to the device–is unbelievable.  Here’s a quick snapshot I took of the layout, below.  The depth of field is much better than my iPhone 6, and I understand the depth of field can be adjusted digitally so I plan to do a lot more experimenting.  I told him if he doesn’t like me using his phone for train pictures then he can start paying rent. 


Freight Car Models

The M&StL 2-6-0 project is moving along nicely.  I finally hooked up my North Coast sandblasting booth and blasted ten of 20 projects in need of work.  Here’s the little Mogul, below.  It still needs a whole lot of work, but winter is coming!


Also blasted was this old Sunshine Models CB&Q XM-31.  This is a favorite prototype, but I really messed up the roof during the weathering process.  I blasted the roof a couple of evenings ago and now it looks like this.  At this point I’m willing to do anything to save the decals, so I’m going to re-weather the roof and use my artist oil wash technique to add some depth to the sides and ends.  Again, stay tuned–I think this one will turn out to be a winner.


Jeff Kubler’s L&N Layout

I’ve been working on a post to cover Jeff Kuebler’s L&N layout for about two months.  Jeff is a great guy and is part of our St. Louis RPM team, and has a neat L&N coal-hauling layout packed into a few rooms of his basement.

Jeff’s layout is nowhere near finished but benchwork and track are complete and he’s been hosting ops sessions for a few years, and lately he’s really been moving fast on scenery application.  The photo below shows Jeff’s Red River scene.  It looks great, and he’s modeling specific tree types which I’ll cover in a future post. 


Shoot…for a guy that hasn’t done much modeling in the last month, I’ve gotten a lot done!

Time to get off the computer and finish a couple of these projects.   – John G

One thought on “No. 104: Modeling Projects, Fall 2018

  1. John
    The IPhone X is incredible. It is my first Apple save for an iPod that United Airlines gave me many hours of uncomfortable seats and rude cabin personnel. After two weeks I am a convert to the “Dark Side”
    Ted is very impressive modeler!



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