No. 128: Russell Tedder…and Progress on Proto48 Models


In 2008 I was bitten by the O scale bug.

That summer I spent three weeks at Little Rock AFB with some Air Force ROTC cadets, and because they couldn’t drink, I didn’t either…so I spent a lot of evenings and weekends building models over in officer billeting.  It was on this trip that I met Russell Tedder, and my friendship with Russell and his crew made it a truly, truly memorable trip.  I’ll write a little more about Russell later.

Anyway, one of Russell’s friends ran a great hobby shop just outside the air base, and in addition to a huge stock of HO gauge stuff he had a bunch of old O scale Intermountain kits in stock.  I bought one and finished it to go along with a similar HO scale model for an SCL Modeler article.  Here’s that O scale car today:


I had so much fun building that car that I bought another, then another, and then another…and today I have about 25 cars for a “someday” Proto48 switching layout.

The lead photo is an old Jim King/Smokey Valley Models Southern flat car kit that I finished earlier this year.  This is a model of one of Southern’s 116850-117349-series 41′-6-inch fishbelly centersill flat cars, most of which were built in 1926.  The model was easy to build but after the model was complete I thought the boards I used for the deck were too thin.  Scaled down, the boards were probably about one inch thick, and the model just didn’t look right.

So I decided to strip the deck off and install a proper deck made of scale styrene of the proper thickness–in this case 2-1/2 inches.  Stripping the deck was very destructive; I had to repaint portions of the model and even re-decal the model in a few places.  But hey—why do things the right way first, when you can do it twice and tear up everything the second time around?

IMG_3349 (3)

Below.  After removing the first deck and tearing the model to pieces, I cut new decl pieces and taped them to cardstock, and then painted them with a variety of shades close to the original carbody color.  Slight variation in the colors was the goal here.  In O scale, this process takes up A Lot of room!


Then I installed the boards one at a time using ACC.  The scale boards, all cut to slightly different widths, looked a lot better and I liked the result.  I think I over-exaggerated the different widths though.  What do you think?


When the new deck was installed, I added a little additional weathering to blend everything together.  I used a fiberglass scraper to add a little more texture.


I repaired the paint and decals on the carbody, and added a little more weathering, and shot the whole model again with Dullcote, and called it good.


The trucks I used, by the way, are amazing–these are Vulcan trucks in Proto48 from Rich Yoder Models.  They are true-to-scale all the way around.


Another car I made progress on in the last month is my Wabash auto car.  As I’ve mentioned previously, there is a prototype remaining in Atlanta, Illinois and I photographed it about 15 years ago.  One of the photos is below.


Here’s the O scale model, below.  This is a uni-body resin kit from Rails Unlimited.  I added all the brake gear, grabs and a few other details, and that was it.


Finishing the ends on the Rails Unlimited kit were difficult.  It took me quite a while to find a replica of the lever brake.  Jim Leners sent me an extra he had on hand–this is a Precision Scale part.  The prototype photo used below is from the Barriger Library online photo collection on Flickr.


Here’s a photo of the car in Atlanta–the B end specifically.  Note after all these years the pump brake is still installed.  This photo and the builder’s photo above helped me place the Precision Scale part.


Here’s a fun photo–the O scale car with my HO scale version from Speedwitch Media in the foreground.


And here’s yet another car I made progress on in the last 45 days.  This is one of the beautiful Rich Yoder C&O hoppers.  Even though it’s brass, it is very delicate.  I bought it second-hand off eBay and I had to do a lot of cleaning before I could paint it.  Trucks are ARA Spring-Plankless from Protocraft.


Below.  Another O vs. HO perspective photo.  The car in the foreground is an Intermountain HO model.


Here’s one last car near completion.  I bought this one from Jim Canter before I left the U.S. in 2015.  Decals are a combination of Protocraft and Tichy.  Trucks are from prototypically-correct PRR type from Rich Yoder.  About all that’s left is a heavy coat of weathering.


More to follow on all these big models in the coming months.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned my friend Russell Tedder.  I read in a recent magazine that Russell passed away a month ago–how sad I was to read the news in a magazine.

Below is a stock image of Russell a few years before his passing.

See the source image

I spent a lot of time with Russell on that long trip to Little Rock.  I went to his house two or three times to run trains on his HO scale layout, and accompanied him to his local railroad club meetings.  Russell was quite a gentleman and had quite a professional railroad career.  Among other things, Russell was president of the Live Oak, Perry and Gulf Railroad and was also President of the American Shortline Railroad Association.  He was sharp, kind, professional.  I last saw him at St. Louis RPM a few years ago, where he was sitting with one of the railroad historical societies, as happy and joyful as ever.

Included below are a few photos that Russell contributed to an SCL Modeler article I wrote in 2009.  The same article, on ACL Gondolas, was later printed in RMC.  Both photos were taken by George Rahilly in 1954.  The photo below shows one of the Lee-Cypress Co.’s wood-burning engines pulling heavy log cars out of the swamps in northwestern Florida.

Lee Tide Cyp cyp logs on cars w-loco Big Cyp Sw 1954

Russell’s most notable photo, in my opinion, is below–this action shot of Lee-Cypress’s diesel-powered Shay.

Lee Tide Cyp dieselized Shay w-empty log cars Big Cyp Sw 1954

About the photos, Russell wrote, I would be happy to let you use my photos of ACL log gondolas for your on-line modeler’s magazine article.  Do you need the actual pictures, or will scans be OK?  Either way you want it is fine with me.  Just let me know, and I’ll get them together. 

By the way, these pictures came from negatives I borrowed from Dr. George T. Rahilly probably 20 or more years ago.  He was a young man back in the 50s when he spent a lot of time out in Big Cypress swamp taking pictures of the cypress logging operations.  I was able to locate him up in Vermont or New Hampshire.  He graciously sent me the negatives packed in a wooden box.  A friend developed them for me. 

I understand that after Dr. Rahilly’s death a few years ago, his negatives went to the California State Railroad Museum.  Although they may claim differently, he definitely loaned me the negatives for my use and that would include the publication in the ACL-SAL HS Lines South a couple of years ago and/or your use as well.  The key is that I did not get them from CSRM, and the fact that I have them is proof that he loaned them to me.  Just mention that for what it is worth.

It was a pleasure having you over, and please know that anytime you are in the area I would be glad for you to come by for a visit.  Thanks for your offer to help, and likewise.  I am working with Tom Holley by providing him information for modeling the South Georgia Railway.  That was quite a colorful shortline, although it did not get the publicity that our LOP&G did. 

Best Regards,


Thanks again, Russell, for sharing a little part of your life with me.

Romans 10:9-13 says Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

One thought on “No. 128: Russell Tedder…and Progress on Proto48 Models

  1. It’s always good to read your blog, John because it often goes way beyond trains and introduces us to people and places.

    Your modeling is wonderful and like all of us illustrates much variety and color. I too have thought about modeling a small short line in O scale but having made the switch from N to HO fifteen years ago I am very happy with HO’s size. I suppose if anything, I likely will do a small N scale railroad, very lite weight which I can hang on the wall in my office when not in use … much like a painting.

    Much like Russell, your railroad friend I would like to find a few young people which would enjoy having me share some of my railroad stories/experiences along with potential distribution of most of my collection of railroad stuff. You were fortunate to find one of the few railroaders who enjoyed sharing his life with you.

    BTW, did you receive my email regarding the Milaukee Road in Farmington, MN?

    Take care,



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