No. 139: Freight Car Modeling, Feb, 2020, Part 2

In December I sold a few models to raise money to buy things for a new layout.  During that time I met online a fellow modeler named Eric Reinert.  Eric asked me if I could finish a few models for him, and sent me a box models all the way from Illinois for some work and weathering.  Here are three of the six cars Eric sent.

First is a completed Tichy NYC rebuilt box car.  Check out the real-life weathering!  The build is good but the model needs a little help.  I’m going to re-detail this car to a minor extent and then sandblast, paint, decal and weather it.

The biggest problem with this model is the builder probably used the plastic grab-iron template to drill the holes on the side of the car.  The template gets the job done fast, but it drills holes that don’t align with the grabs on the ends.  The builder also used the Tichy door, which has details that are a little “heavy”.  It needs a little TLC.


Below.  This model is a Branchline Yardmaster car.  I’ve already applied Dullcote and some basic weathering, and shop and reweigh decals.  I’m going to do salt weathering on the roof; the gray is the undercoat simulating galvanized steel.  Other than a new brakewheel and running board I don’t think I’ll add too many new details.


Below.  Eric also sent this Intermountain box car.  Like the SP car above, this car already has a shot of Dullcote and some additional decals and weathering applied.  I’m going to salt-weather this roof as well, but it’ll be a little more tricky since the roof is permanently attached.  I replaced a few of the grabs on the left side of the car already, and I’ll add a new running board per the prototype.  This car and the two above will get Tahoe Moel works trucks with semi-scale wheelsets.


Meanwhile, I’m happy to report that my friend Fenton Wells is recovering from heart surgery and is already back to modeling.  Fenton’s first “post-surgery” build is this B&O M-59.  Fenton used an Intermountain car as the core model; the doors, ends and lower side sill were resin-cast by Chad Boas.  Fenton did a great job on this model and he motivated me to get going on my own version.

Fenton Wells

Below.  Here’s my completed built prior to sandblasting.  The core kit is a Branchline Blueprint six-foot-door car kit.  I also used the Chad Boas doors and side sill, and used the kit-supplied ends.  The additions to the door track are Evergreen .020 x .030 strip.  The door stops are included in Chad’s casting set and are finely-cast.  Note that prototype photos indicate that there were no door stops used on the left side of the car—I assume because the door could be stopped by the grabs.  Trucks are again by Tahoe.


I used a Kadee Apex running board for my car.  I kept the tabs on the underside of the running board and drilled matching holes in the roof, and just fit the two parts together.  I fixed the running board from underneath, gluing the tabs in place using canopy cement.  The installation took about 15 minutes; the glue took a day to dry.


Here’s a closeup of the end of my M-59.  The air hose and bracket are Hi-Tech parts, the brake step is from Plano, and the stirrups are from Yarmouth.


Here’s another car under construction.  This is the Accurail car core kit included with the Resin Car Works Illinois Central single-sheather box car mini-kit.

I’d like to say that this is a GREAT kit.  It comes with all the parts needed, Tahoe truck sideframes, and a whole lot more.  Frank Hodina has produced a real winner here.  A lot of cutting and shaping is required, but that’s what prototype modelers are supposed to do, right?  Lester Breuer did a blog post for Resin Car Works on his build; that nice article can be found at


Below.  Construction is underway.  I’ve already cut the ends off the Accurail body and removed the cast-on ladders, and am ready to build up the underframe and apply the brake gear.  I worked on this model tonight and the brake gear, coupler pockets and replacement cross-members are installed.  No photos yet…


Below.  The model below is a Sunshine Models Rock Island 53′-6″ flat car.  This is Sunshine kit #45.9.  This models a series of CRI&P flat cars, series 90000-90249, that were spliced together by the railroad from two 40-foot cars.  The cars look unique because of the two large splice plates in the center of the car.


Here’s the prototype of the RI car above, photo courtesy Bob’s Photo.  This was taken at Ft. Bragg, No. Carolina, on 15 Sep 1951 by Col. Chet McCoid.


I’m excited about this build, shown below, which represents a series of Missouri Pacific 50-foot, double-door box cars.  There’s a nice photo in Ted Culotta’s The Postwar Freight Car Fleet book.  I’m using the old MDC model as the starting point.  It requires A LOT of carving and sanding.  The motivation for the build is the recent release of a Speedwitch decal set made specifically for the MoPac prototype.

The biggest problems with this model are the side sheathing (what’s up with those gaps between the boards?!), the poorly-represented door guides along the bottom sill, and all the cast-on parts of course.  Also, the kit-supplied doors are horrible so I’m cutting up doors from an Intermountain 40-foot box car to get something more fine-scale.  Thanks to Elden Gatwood for sending me a big bag full of the right doors so I can cut-and-splice doors that’ll fit.


And finally, here are a few O scale models still on the workbench.  The model below is a Rich Yoder C&O/Nickel Plate car that I bought for a song on eBay.  It had a lot of problems that took quite a while to repair.  I finally applied decals and dullcote in December.  The model still needs some air line work so it is still “in the shop”.  Trucks are Proto 48 fine scale by Protocraft and decals are by Microscale.  Chalk marks are hand-drawn.


Below.  This photo has been seen on the blog before.  The Speedwitch HO scale Wabash automobile box car is in front, and the Rails Unlimited O scale car is in the back.  Cool just got a whole lot bigger!


Below.  As of Valentine’s Day the O scale car now looks like this.  Decals are again by Protocraft.


Here’s one of a series of proto-photos I took back in 2004 in Atlanta, Illinois, that I used to guide the build:


This model had some problems, most notably that the pre-drilled grab iron holes didn’t line up on the sides and ends.  That’s a recurring problem in multiple scales.  I first applied the grabs on the car sides per the photo above and then built the end ladders using Evergreen plastic strip for the stiles.  The brake lever was extremely difficult to find; this was was provided by Jim Leners.


Next for the Wabash car is a shot of Dullcote and then a whole lot of weathering.

That’s it for now.  There are a few more builds on the workbench that I’ll cover next month.  Meanwhile here’s parting shot, courtesy Mike Gruber of Mainline Photos.  This is P&E Train #50, in Urbana, Illinois on April, 1949.  The photo was made by my friend Joe Collias.


On the subject of freight cars…check out the pipe load on that second car back.  Iowa Scaled Engineering now makes corrugated culvert pipe in HO, which can be found at  That is a must-do load!

Have a great week!  – John G




No. 138: Freight Car Modeling, Feb 2020, Part 1

Over President’s Day weekend my wife and one of my daughters and I took a long day trip to the famous city of Colmar, in the Alsace region of France.  Colmar is famous for a lot of reasons; among them, according to tourist sites, is picturesque half-timbered houses, romantic canals, flower-laden windowsills, a labyrinth of cobblestone lanes and delicious food.  

They weren’t kidding.  Colmar is amazing.  Scenes like this are around every corner.  It’s also the capital of Alsatian Wine Country and we’ve resolved to go back this summer for a weekend of wine and cheese and touring.  And train-chasing.  I can’t wait!


In a slightly more modern part of Colmar is the Musee de Jouet, a museum for the history of toys–with the entire top floor devoted to model trains.  My wife read about it online and suggested we check it out.  


Above.  The first floor is full of games and old, fun toys–many French, and some American.  After dueling my daughter in an ancient version of Connect Four and a few other games, I shuffled my way upstairs to see the trains.  Seems like every museum in Europe has a few glass cases devoted to old model trains, and this place is no exception.  They have a very nice collection of mostly French model trains–some going back to the 1920s.  There is also a massive LGB-style layout running all over the place–you can see part of it in the background.

Below.  French-made Lionel look-alikes from the 1930s.


Here’s the ubiquitous HO layout.  During my visit it was the favorite attraction for the men and boys, and plenty of women too.  Unlike in America, model trains are still cool here.


Below.  Here is a beautiful brass model of a British 4-6-2, fully operational and set up on rollers.  Press the button at the bottom and the case lights up, and the drivers and valve gear turn.


I also enjoyed this display, below, which is devoted to French-made tinplate airplanes.  It is fabulous.  There are many more cases of airplanes in the museum, reminding this American that the French have been a pioneer and innovator in aviation since time began.


Back in Ramstein Village…

I’ve been doing a lot of freight car work since Christmas.  The rest of this post and the next post will be devoted to the new work.

The model below is an old Ribside Models car that I bought on eBay.  I rebuilt it with Detail Associates ladders, Yarmouth stirrups, Smokey Valley coupler pockets, Cal Scale brake gear, a bunch of wire details, Tahoe Model Works trucks and a running board made of Evergreen strip.  I painted it with Scalecoat PRR Freight Car Color, which I think makes a good “weathered” Milwaukee Road color.  I don’t have decals yet and am still searching for a manufacturer that makes the appropriate decals.  I’m really happy with the model and am eager to finish it.


Below.  Another recent build is this Proto 2000 Mather stock car kit.  I recall meeting Larry Grubb at Naperville back around 2004 and he showed me the test shots.  I was speechless.  Too bad Life Like only made six or seven freight car models, right?

Anyway, I bought this particular kit at a German train show in 2017 and finally assembled it last December.  Replacement parts include Cal Scale brake gear, Yarmouth stirrups, a new strip-styrene running board, lots of wire grabs, a whole lot of Detail Associates nut-bolt-washer castings.  Trucks by the way are Tahoe Andrews with semi-scale wheelsets.  I had a little difficulty securing the doors and door guides so I glued them and taped them on overnight, and that did the trick.


Below.  Here’s a closeup of the end work.  I placed the grabs in the original grab iron holes, being sure to line them up across the side and end, and simulated the attachments with n-b-w castings.  The grabs are Tichy 18-inch drop-style.  I use these because I think they have the best prototype contour.  The coupler pocket is from Smokey Valley.


Initial weathering included a shot of Testors Dullcote first, followed by a wash of 5% black artist’s oil paint thinned 95% with paint thinner.  The Dullcote protects the decals and lettering from the thinner, and the black paint reside settles into the details.  I love the effect.


I finished the roof using a variety of oil paints and weathering powders.  I’ll get a photo of the completed car uploaded soon.


Below.  This car has been seen before on the blog.  This is the Funaro & Camerlengo B&O N-13 model.  This car is a one-piece casting and is easy to build.  I replaced the kit-supplied ladders with Detail Associates parts, added a lot of wire grabs, and also installed stirrups from A-Line.  The air hose brackets are Hi-Tech Details #6040.  Trucks are Tahoe Andrews with semi-scale wheelsets.


I got a huge set of B&O hopper decals from a friend on the B&O list named Ed Sauers.  The set has one of every marking ever used on a B&O hopper–but only one.  Technically I used the entire set on just this car.  Chalk marks are a mix of Sunshine decals and hand-drawn marks using a white artist’s pencil.  I weathered the model using a mix of Dullcote mixed with about 5% flat black.  I call this a finish coat and I think it blends the decals into the car color nicely.


Below.  This is an old Sunshine Models B&O M-27 box car.  I bought this off Mont Switzer at a St. Louis RPM event 4-5 years ago.  I finished the car, below, but didn’t like the weathering at all…


…so I stripped it and repainted it.  I stripped the paint in my North Coast sandblasting booth–the best money I ever spent–and repainted the model using Scalecoat Oxide Red.  Decals are from a variety of Speedwitch B&O decal sets.  The chalk marks on this model are all hand-drawn with a white artist’s pencil.


Below.  WRNX 249 was an impulse buy at St. Louis RPM 2017.  The Tangent guys were packing up at the end of the meet and I said, aw what the heck!   I relaced the TSM trucks with Tahoe 40-ton trucks and that was it.  I gave the model a light spray of 50% DUllcote-50% Glosscote, and a lighter spray of weathering using Testors Dark Tan, and that was it.  I don’t like to heavily weather colorful cars.


Below.  I finished this Milwaukee Road car in the fall.  Like many box cars I made my own running board out of strip styrene, but it sagged between the supports (see below), necessitating a replacement.


Here’s the replacement running board made of .020-inch thick Evergreen styrene strip.  The roof was weathered using the “Salt Weathering technique”.  I think it looks pretty good.


Here’s the finished model below.


I wanted to include this closeup because it shows the Speedwitch “Tilted Box” monogram that is included in the Speedwitch Milwaukee Road auto-box set.  Ted did a masterful job on the monogram—it’s the best rendering on the market.  The rest of the decals are from that set, plus a few from Sunshine and Westerfield.  Trucks are Dalman from Tahoe Model Works.


I’ll cover the rest of the new models, and some models under construction, in the next post.

Before closing, I’d like to return to Colmar for a minute.  In addition to the toy museum we also visited the Musee Unterlinden, which is a large archeological and art museum downtown.  I am always interested in Roman artifacts and they also have a nice, well-rounded collection of classical European art.

One of the portraits I found particularly impressive was this, called Jesus in Prison.  I felt the portrait to be wonderful and expressive, especially since it covers a very short time in Christ’s life that is rarely discussed.  The lighting is exquisite.


Matthew 20:18-19 says Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.  

I pray you and your families have a blessed week.  – John G

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.

No. 126: Railfanning at Lesce-Bled, Slovenia…and Finishing a Few Freight Cars

In June I took my family to Slovenia and Croatia for a little get-away after school ended.  We spent a week in Radovljica, Slovenia and then spent a couple of days at a seaside resort in Pula, Croatia.

Radovljica (pronounced Rad-ol-ska) is one of the most beautiful, pleasant places on the Earth.  We love life there.  The people are wonderful, the cost of living is low, and the scenery there–near the magnificent, unspoiled Triglev National Park–is breathtaking.  If I could move there and retire, I think I would.


One morning during our week I went to a nearby mainline railway station, Lesce-Bled–about ten minutes east of Radovljica–to photograph some mainline train action there.  I saw and photographed seven trains in less than an hour—three “scooters” (my term for local passenger trains) and four through electric freight trains.

Below.  Here’s one of the big freight trains, below, entering the siding at Lesce-Bled to wait for a scooter to pass.


Below.  One of several westbound mainline freights passing the Lesce-Bled station.   These heavy electric trains are fast and quiet, and are able to start and stop very quickly. 


Here’s a westbound scooter that appeared later in the morning.  The Lesce-Bled depot is beautiful.  The mountains in Triglav National Park can be seen in the distance.


Nearby the depot is this neat, retired freight house.  There are long loading platforms along each end.   It looks like a lot of buildings that used to line the right-of-way in the U.S….only this one is of course in the former Yugoslavia.


Just east of the depot is the ubiquitous double-slip switch.  They seem to be present everywhere in Europe.


Here is the switch stand for the double-slip.  It is a very simple, interesting arrangement.  Wouldn’t this make an interesting modeling project?


After a week in beautiful Slovenia I took my family to Croatia to spend a few days in Pula, which is an ancient Roman city on the Istrian Pensinsula on the Adriatic Sea.  While there we visited this former Roman coliseum which is remarkably intact.  Pula was alright, but we liked Slovenia a whole lot more.


2019 has been a terribly hectic, frustrating, disappointing year in a lot of ways.  Summer has been tough.  There hasn’t been much time for modeling.  Nevertheless I did finish a few models when I got back from the trip.  Here are a couple of photos.

Great Northern 31456 is an ancient Sunshine Models kit I bought on eBay.  This is an all-time favorite prototype; I have an O scale model of one as well.  I finished the model with Tahoe Model Works Andrews trucks (the prototype had Dalman-Andrews trucks), plenty of wire details, Kadee scale couplers, Miscrscale decals, and Tru Color paint.  I weathered the car with artist’s oil wash that I described in an earlier post, found here at


Here’s another Great Northern car–this one a more familiar double-sheathed prototype.  The model is from Westerfield.  I finished it with Tru Color paint and Microscale decals, and weathered it with the artist’s oil wash and highlighted many of the boards with artist’s pencils.  I used Aim weathering powders on the roof and then gave the whole car a shot of Testors dark tan to grime-up the underbody.


Here’s a better view of the roof weathering.


Finally, I finished my new Rapido NP box car.  I ordered the car online but the guy sent me the wrong paint scheme even though I was very clear about what I wanted.  What a hassle–it would cost me too much to ship it back, so I sandblasted it ordered Microscale decals, and finished it the way I wanted.  Here’s the model I got, below; it’s beautifully finished but the paint is incorrect for my modeling era.


I sandblasted my model, painted it with Tur Color paint, and decaled the car per prototype photos in the RP Cyc series of books.  I replaced the trucks with Tahoe Model Works trucks–and that was it.  The rest of the model is factory-finished.


So, those are the three new cars that joined the fleet in late June.  I’m very much looking forward to seeing the upcoming Rapido USRA models!

I also finished a New York Central RS-2, seen below, which I’ll detail in a later post.  I enjoyed the build and also very much enjoy running the engine, as it has Loksound and DCC installed.  Here’s the finished model with some light weathering and crew installed.


There are many more posts coming in the next week.  I’ve got all the photos but just need time to put the posts together.

I hope you’re all having a great, happy, healthy, prosperous summer.  I send to you abundant blessings from Germany!  – John G

No. 115: Completing the Yarmouth Models ACL O-16B Auto Car

I was fortunate to have an article posted on the Resin Car Works blog recently.  I completed a C&IM USRA-type gondola and wrote about it at


Frank Hodina supplied most of the information and photos and a few parts for the project, and Eric Hansmann did the editing.  Our St. Louis RPM friend and C&IM expert Ryan Crawford also helped with editing and prototype information.  My thanks to them for all the help.

I started this project in January 2018.  I finished the build in a few weeks but the project stalled while I was rebuilding my sandblaster.  It took me a few months to get it rebuilt, then running, but once it was back in operation—around September—I was able to finish the model pretty quickly. 

I didn’t mention it but my then-11-year-old daughter Kirsten did some of the work.  She’s “crafty” but not a model builder.  From time-to-time if she sees me doing an interesting project she’ll want to take over.  Of all things she thought installing the floor in the C&IM car looked interesting, so she cut the floor and installed it.  How could I say no?

Photo 5 - Kirsten Installing the Floor

ACL 55439

I posted construction comments on this model in New Builds, May, 2018 (Post #97/05-18), found at  The model is of course the relatively new Yarmouth Model Works kit, which can be purchased from at


I have a little bit of love for the old Coast Line.  My father grew up in Ludowici, Georgia alongside the busy, double-track ACL, and—much later, when I was in high school—I railfanned all over the old ACL lines in Savannah.  The old ACL (then SCL) Liberty Street Yards downtown was a favorite place to go.  Liberty Street was an old-style downtown stub-end yard with lots of warehouses everywhere, an old roundhouse, and lots of activity 24/7.

A long branch connected the big ACL main line outside of Savannah to Liberty Street.  Along the branch there were strange warning signs, like the one seen below, on nearly every street crossing.  It was all part of the allure of the old yards.  The signal below was photographed by fellow Savannian Tom Alderman around 1980.  This one guarded Bull Street and Victory Drive.

ACL Bull & Victory July79

Back to the O-16-B model.  Here’s the car, at center, after painting with my ACL color of choice–Scalecoat 2 PRR Freight Car Color.  Also on the drying rack is a roof for a Milwaukee Road car and an O scale PRR hopper.


The photo below shows off some of the cool characteristics of the prototype that are expertly captured by the kit.  The O-16-B is differentiated by different-size panels on each side of the doors.  The ladder-and-grabs combination is a standout feature, along with the inset lower side sill and the stand-out bottom door track. 


The decals included with the kit were a little disappointing.  The unique ACL lettering style and round monogram have rarely been rendered accurately.  I studied drawings and the decals I had on-hand and ended up using parts from three different decal sets to finish my model.  Above, the monogram and the lettering below the monogram are from an old Jerry Glow ACL O-25 decal set.  The monogram is as close as they get, but the lettering style is off.  The smaller lettering is from the YMW kit, but they got the built dates wrong and didn’t include the “Rebuilt” lettering.  See the prototype photo further below.  

Below, I created paint code information (top left) from a C&O hopper set, and used the reporting marks and numbers from a Microscale ACL wood rack set and, again, the Jerry Glow set.  The Automobile lettering is from the YMW set.  I think the combination of the three sets yielded good results.


Here’s the decaled car ready for dullcote.  I used Scalecoat 2 PRR Freight Car Color for the primary coat.  I think it is the best match for late-40s ACL paint.


Here’s the model after a few shots of dullcoat and a “softcoat”.  I seal the decals with a mix of 40% Testors dullcote, 40% Testors glosscoat and 20% thinner applied with an airbrush.  The I add a few drops of the original car color to the dullcoat mix–in this case the Scalecoat PRR FCC, and apply another coat.  This softens and blends all the colors together and tends to provide a little aging effect to the decals.


Above.  I repaired the running board by applying a little canopy sement to the running board supports and turning the car upside down on a flat surface. 

Here’s a prototype O-16-A circa early 1950s.  Note the paint and lettering variations for the model.  Also note the different details—the ladders and panel spacing in particular.  The Prismo stripes were authorized around 1950.

ACL 55439 Apr. 11, 1951

The photo above is dated April 11, 1951 but I don’t have a photographer reference.  When I find it I’ll annotate appropriately.

And just for kicks here’s a couple more view of the old Coast Line in Savannah, this out at Southover Yards on the main line next to Hunter Army Air Field.  These photos are circa 1946.  Love all those old cars in the yard!  I’ll bet there’s an O-16-B hiding in that consist just up a ways…

Southover Yard and Switch Tender.jpg

Southover Yard 2, 1946

Back at Ackley…

Meanwhile, construction on the layout continues.  Over the month I’ve been slowly working on the Sherman Avenue crossing nearby Marshal Canning.  There’s a lot to be done to this scene but the road is looking pretty good.  I used a 1950 Iowa highway department guide to mark the roads. 

I intend on writing a whole post on this area soon.  That crossbuck model needs a lot of help—it looks a little askew.


I have also cut and installed new masonite fascia on about two-thirds of the layout.  I needed fascia for the new bump out and while I was at it I replaced most of the fascia on the rest of the layout.  Below, here’s a view of the new fascia installed but not yet painted.


At the moment of this posting I’m in Austria with the family on one last ski trip for the season.  The fascia is removed for painting and I’m going to get that finished when I get back.  I only have one U.S.-style paint roller, so I’ve gotta get the whole job done at once.  I just need a two-hour block of time with no work, kids, or other things to get in the way…   – John G





No. 114: Proto48 Freight Car Update


Here’s the view out of my third floor train room window.  It is not fit for man nor beast out.  It’s a good time to get some modeling done instead.

We had a big conversation last week on the Groups IO Proto48 list–moderated by master builder Gene Deimling–about the P48 models are people building this winter.  I’ve been working very slowly on a few models with the goal of fully completing four or five models a year.  Here’s an update.

Wabash Auto Car

This is an essential freight car–the Wabash single-sheathed double door auto car.  I bought this model a couple of years ago from Rails Unlimited at a St. Louis RPM event.  I want to completely finish this car and bring it to St. Louis RPM ’19 in July.  I’m pretty close to finishing the build–I just need to finish installing the brake gear and running board and then it’ll be ready for the sandblaster.


A prototype car still exists in Atlanta, Illinois.  I’ve been using the photos I took of the car about 15 years ago to finish my model.

Wab 47194 5



I made a styrene ladder strip and that has worked out well.  The grabs I used, from Tichy, are a little heavy for P48.  They’re .015 inches wide, whereas scale grabs should be about .012.


Here’s another view.  This is a beautiful model although it has a few molded-on parts that are irritating, such as the door guides and the tack boards.

Southern Flat Car

This one of the old Smokey Mountain Model Works kits offered probably 15 years ago by Jim King.  Jim is a master pattern- and kit-maker.  His latest O scale offering, the 70-ton flat, is exquisite.  Jim is currently finishing a Southern low-side gondola that I’m sure will be the best of the lot.


I bought this kit from a little hobby shop in Iowa back in 2015.  It was an easy build.  I painted the car with Scalecoat Box Car Red #1 and applied the decals that came with the kit.  I made a new deck from individual pieces of styrene, each painted and applied separately.  The trucks are Proto48 width from Rich Yoder and the couplers are Kadee “scale” couplers in Protocraft scale-width draft gear. 


I recall that SMMW made an HO scale version of the Southern flat which retailed for $50.  That was a whole lot for a flat car model 15 years ago.  I balked, but now I wish I had one.

Western Pacific Double-Sheathed Box Car

This is an everybody’s-gotta-have-one O scale car produced by San Juan Car Company.  I built the model per the kit instructions, added a mountain of after-market parts, and painted it with Tru-Color Western Pacific Freight Car Red.  Decals are from Rick Leach.  It is a favorite prototype and the model is beautiful.


This model took me—on-and-off—about five months to complete.  The plastic is quite soft and I had a lot of trouble with it, especially when it came to drilling holes from grabs and other details.  Nevertheless after a lot of work it made a beautiful model.  

Speaking of grabs, it looks like I still need to add that grab on the bottom of the door.  Amazing what you can find in photos–even your own.


Seaboard AF-3 Auto Car

My Seaboard AF-3 is an Intermountain kit painted with Scalecoat 2 Box Car Red and finished with Protocraft decals.  The build was easy, and I used aftermarket parts from Protocraft and Chooch to raise the level of detail.  Trucks are P48 AAR by Protocraft.


I have another double-door car on hand that I’d like to finish as a M&StL auto car.  M&StL had similar cars with superior doors and a raised, Viking roof.  Scratchbuilding the doors would be easy, and Intermountain makes a replacement Viking roof that’ll work great.  I think that would be a cool and slightly unusual project.  Protocraft makes appropriate decals.


I have another double-door car in the works.  Below is my version of a Central of Georgia 1-1/2-door car.  I got the second door from Gene Deimling some time ago, and rebuilt an Intermountain single door model as seen here.  Most of the detail work is done but I want to add quite a few rivets at the ladder attachments and in other places.  


Pennsylvania GLA Hopper

My PRR GLA can be seen below on the paint rack with a few HO scale models.  I’ve had this car for three years and finally gave up looking for appropriate decals, and just last week tore apart a Tichy GLD set and a Protocraft X29 set to get the car lettered.


I sandblasted the car last month and painted it with Scalecoat 1 PRR Freight Car Color.  Then I tore apart both decal sets and applied everything letter-by-letter.  Here’s the decaling in progress.  The carbody still needs a little brake gear detailing and a few other things, but I wanted to get it decaled and dullcoated as soon as possible.


Here’s the GLA, getting’ in line with some HO scale stuff.  More to follow on this car when it gets done.

Why am I doing all this?  Someday I’d like to build a Proto48 switching layout, and when that day comes I’d like to have cars ready for the layout.  In the meantime I’ll keep building. 

I hope you guys all have a productive modeling weekend.  – John G




No. 113: Salt Weathering

The boys on the Proto-Layouts list on IO were asking about salt weathering, so I thought I’d whip up a quick post on using the technique to weather freight car roofs.

I’ve used the technique successfully on a few models.  Here’s one example:



The model above is a Sunshine Models 80-series kit of the Missouri Pacific 90000-series single sheathed box car.  Here’s a link to the Sunshine Models flyer on Jim Hayes’ Sunshine Models website:  Man, I wish I had a couple of those Sunshine Frisco cars right about now…

I recently applied salt weathering on a Sunshine Milwaukee Road box car that’s still under construction.  

MILW 714759 2

Here’s how to do it.

1 – First, paint the roof with the underlying rust or galvanized color.  This is the color  you want to “show through”.  Usually this is a rust or galvanized color, or sometimes black.  My choice for this car was a galvanized color; my homemade mix was about 80% white and 20% silver.

2 – Let the paint dry completely.  Meanwhile, gather salt and rubbing alcohol.  I use two kinds of salt (fine table salt, and coarse sea salt).  I use a sprayer to apply the rubbing alcohol.  


3 – Next, spray the roof with the rubbing alcohol.  I understand most guys use water but I had a problem with surface tension and tried rubbing alcohol, and it was very effective.  I put the roof in an old baking pan to contain the mess.   

Note.  I didn’t mask off the running board but it would’ve been smart to do that.


4 – While it’s wet, sprinkle on salt.  I use two kinds of salt—tables salt (small granules) and Sea Salt (large chunks).


Here’s how it’ll look.  Again, masking off the running board would’ve been smart.


5 – Let the whole mess dry completely.

6 – Once dry, carefully airbrush the roof with the original car color (such as Box Car Red, or black).  Yes, some of the salt will come off if you’re not careful when handling the roof. 

7 – After painting, this is how it’ll look.  Let it dry completely.  



8 – When the paint is dry, rub off the salt.  The color underneath will show up when the salt is removed.  I didn’t take any photos of that process because it was too hard to do while holding a camera.  Here’s how it looked, below, when all the salt was removed.


9 – Above.  Next, go back over the running boards and seam caps with the original car color.  This will provide a nice contrast between the weathered roof and the painted seam caps and running boards.

10 – Here’s how it’ll look–splotchy and irregular.  That’s perfect.  Next, you may want to go back over some areas with the original galvanized color and fill in a few spaces and gaps to blend everything together a little better.  I used the little yellow brush to blend in the colors.


11 – Above.  I also added a little black to simulate soot/dirt.  I use AIM Powders applied with a small brush.  


11 – Finally, to keep any delicate paint and especially the AIM powders in their place, I sealed the roof with a shot of Testors Dullcote.  

And that’s it!  If you’re going to try this, I recommend you practice on a few models first.  The first time I tried salt weathering I finished three roofs–one was good, and two were “fails”.  However, I learned how much salt to add, and where to add it, and that was really helpful for later attempts.

I’m still working on the rest of the car, as seen above, but should have it done this week.  Meanwhile, below, I am also finishing up my Yarmouth ACL O-16-A auto car.  Weathering is underway.  This is a lovely model and I’ll post more on this later this week or next. 


I’m also finishing up an antagonist to the ACL auto car above.  Below, I have repainted my old Kadee SAL B-10 box car and decaled it with the new Speedwitch SAL B-10/AF-4 set.  The decals are spectacular.  The car needs a Superior door though, and that’s the next scratchbuilding project.  I’ll post more on this car when I get the new doors built, painted and installed.  


Enjoy your week!  – John G

No. 112: Modeling Northern Pacific War Emergency Box Cars

First: Cars for Matt

img_2580 (2)

I was finally able to complete and ship Matt Herman’s cylindrical hoppers to him last week.  Matt installed sound in one of my M&StL RS-1s a few years ago and I offered to pay him plus weather a few models in return.  I won’t tell you how long it took me to get these cars completed.  Let’s just say it was a long time.

The models certainly aren’t masterpieces from The Weathering Shop, but I’m happy with them. 

img_2581 (2)

img_2578 (2)

The white car was the toughest to complete.  Weathering white models isn’t easy.  I sandblasted some of the paint off to fade it, then applied several coats of off-white colors with a brush to fade and weather the model.  I also used some AIM white powder on this car until I was happy. 

Also last week, I spent some time trying to talk Bob Chapman into coming to St. Louis RPM in 2019 and giving a clinic.  Bob declined, but we traded a few model photos–one of which is included below.  This is an old Sunshine B&O auto car, and it is magnificently built and finished.  What an inspiration.  Thanks for sharing, Bob!


NP War Emergency Box Car

My “finish a couple of freight cars project”—the project that began in Thanksgiving and was supposed to last a few weeks—is still underway.  One project that I really wanted to finish was the one below, the NP War Emergency box car from the NP Historical Society.


This is a beautiful kit with all the fixin’s included.  The instructions, below, include over 20 pages of model and prototype views, guidance, decal placement instructions, and a whole lot more.  It’s a neat document and a keeper.


This kit has a one piece body and the build was a breeze.  The hardest part was adding the brake gear to the underframe, and even that wasn’t all that hard.  I didn’t take any under construction photos but I do have this photo of the completed car after the first coat of paint was applied–that was the black paint on the roof, ends and underframe.   I used gloss black paint from Testors, which went on a little heavy.


Here’s the car after being masked and painted with the body color.  I used Tru Color TCP-193   Northern Pacific 1935-45 Freight Car Brown.  This color has a nice rich red tone.


I mentioned in an earlier post that the decals for this model have to be ordered from the NP Historical Society.  The cost: $18 for a sheet.  For some reason the society sells a sheet that can decal nine cars.  At $50 or $60 a pop, I don’t see a lot of guys getting their money’s worth out of this set.  I’d prefer to pay a lot less for two sets, for example.  I sent half the set to my friend Bill Welch so he can finish his three cars.  

Cost notwithstanding, I must say the decal set is one of the most comprehensive I’ve ever used.  There are even chalk marks included–that’s a nice touch.  Unfortunately I found the decals were a little troublesome to apply.  Using Microscale products I was not able to get the decals to settle properly.  After repeated applications of settling solution I had to cut them, and when I cut them some of the decals broke apart over the sheathing. 


To repair the decals, I used the old “double-decal” technique and also filled in some gaps with a touch of white paint.  After dullcote things looked better.  Here’s the car with decals applied, but prior to dullcote.


Below is a photo after a couple of shots of dullcote.  I used my usual solution, consisting of 40% dullcote, 40% glosscote and 20% thinner. 


I weathered the car very lightly.  I did not stress the roof and left it completely black.  I lightly airbrushed the underframe, trucks and lower third of the car with a light overspray of Testors Dark Earth, applied a few hand-written chalk marks with a white artist’s pencil, and then added AIM weathering powders to the car ends and couplers, and finally sealed everything with one more light shot of dullcote.  I want to leave this car nice and clean.

Here’s the lead shot again on my Ackley layout.


I’ve got a bunch of other cars on the workbench this week–here are a few being painted.  The hopper is an old Precision Scale O scale model.  The car in th emiddle is the ACL auto car offering from Yarmouth.  The roof is the front is having “salt weathering” applied…more to follow on that later.  


Future Plans

Another thing I’m exploring is building another layout or two.  This view below shows the south staging yard along the wall, and my thoughts on rebuilding it and turning it into the room.  The idea is to build a small peninsula and curve the staging yard tracks onto one side of the peninsula, and on the other side build another small layout.  

I also have a ridiculous desire to build a 4 or 5 x 6 layout, British style, with super-detailed track and an interchange and a coal mine, or a quarry, or something else small.  ANd of course it would be a loop.

There won’t be a lot of room for a second layout.  The maximum it can be in this configuration is about nine feet by 18 inches wide.  I’m thinking an industrial layout, or perhaps a small town based on a Seaboard Air Line or Milwaukee Road prototype.


Hope you all have a great week!  – John G

No. 111: Modeling N&W Low-Side Gons and NYC USRA Single-Sheathed Box Cars

It has been over a month since my last modeling post.  Work, Christmas celebrations and a ski trip to Austria the week before Christmas kept me busy, plus I spent a lot of spare time finishing up a freight car project for Frank Hodina’s Resin Car Works blog.   Look for that article soon at

Meanwhile my buddy Jeff Kuebler sent a photo of some of Union Pacific’s engines at the old Missouri Pacific yard at Dupo, Illinois, which is right across the river from south St. Louis.  They were on the way back from special duty moving President Bush’s funeral train to Texas.

UP4141_Support troops_3.4 (2).JPG

Jeff wrote, “Merry Christmas!  Union Pacific sent me an early present this year as #4141 and #1943 paused in Dupo, Ill for two days this week.  I stopped by the yard on the way home from work on Friday and was allowed in to make a couple of photos.  I searched for them again this morning, but they had moved on to fill other stockings.  Happy holidays and hope to see you in the new year!” – Jeff K

Nice photo, Jeff, thanks for sending!

Back at the shops north of Ramstein Air Base, I was able to finish a bunch of freight car models after returning from ski week at Kitzbuhel.  I’ll cover them all, but for now here are two of my favorites.  Both are old Sunshine Models kits that I’ve been working on slowly for some time.

N&W 90547


N&W 90547 is an early Sunshine Models kit, #12B, issued in the early 1990s.  These were unique cars at 46 feet interior length, three feet interior height, and nine feet, ten inches wide.  N&W built 1,500 cars total in two series—99000 to 99999, delivered in 1937, and 90500-90999, delivered in 1941.  All 1,500 cars were placed in class G-1 by the railroad.

The G-1s were built with drop doors for carrying coal and other commodities, but were designed to carry steel and other manufactured items that were 40 feet long or longer.  Neighbor Virginian like them and built 100 copies in their own shops.

I assembled the model per the instructions.  I used a number of aftermarket detail parts, including Tahoe Model Works Double-Truss trucks with semi-scale wheelsets, a Cal Scale brake gear set, a Kadee brake wheel, and A-Line stirrups. 

I built the car in early 2016 and didn’t get around to sandblasting and painting the model for another year.  I primed it with Testors Light Gull Gray and then added a light finish coat of Testors Gloss Black.  Why Testors?  It’s all I had on hand, and paint is extremely difficult to get here in Germany.

Here, below, is a photo of the car painted and ready for decals.


I bought the kit on eBay and it did not include decals.  Instead I used decals from Westerfield—their N&W H-1 hopper decal set—and added a few Sunshine Models chalk marks and a shop date from Mt. Vernon N&W H-2 hopper decal set.  The finished car is below.


I gave the car a couple of light coats of my special dullcote mix (40% Testors Dullcote, 40% Testors Glosscote, and 20% thinner).  Then I added a few drops of Testors Gloss Black—the original car color—the the dullcote mix and gave it another complete coating.  I call this last coat a “softcoat” because it tends to blend all the finishes, tone down stark white decals, and provide a soft weathering effect.  The model below is after the softcoat was applied.


Here’s another view of the car finish after the softcoat.


The model is hard at work now on my Ackley, Iowa layout.  Before it went on the layout I added Kadee “scale” couplers, polished the wheelsets, and checked the coupler height to complete the operations check.  Here’s the model being picked up by the local below.

Yeah, that’s a PRR GP-7…and this looks more like a scene from central Illinois than Iowa.  But there’s that G-1 being hauled away, along with the subject of our next feature, NYC 194679.


NYC 194679


NYC 194679 is another Sunshine Models car, kit #93.1, which was issued in the later 1990s.

The prototype cars were built as low-interior-height Michigan Central autocars in 1922 in lots 440-B, 464-B and 465-B.  MCRR rebuilt them in 1932 with an additional 18-inches of height, along with new doors and modified ends.  This car represents one of over 1,300 cars that were further modified in 1943 with Youngstown doors and a straight panel roof.  In the year I’m modeling, 1950, NYC still claimed over 1,250 in revenue service.  

This build was about as straightforward as you can get.  Like the N&W gon above, I built this car per the kit instructions and added some improved parts, like a Cal Scale brake gear set, Hi Tech #6040 air hoses with brass brackets, Tahoe Barber trucks with semi-scale wheelsets, Smokey Valley Model Works coupler pockets, and a running board and latitudinal running boards made from Evergreen styrene strip.


Here, below, is a photo of the completed underframe and running board installation in progress.


Track testing…


…and now paint.  I painted the car with Tru Color NYC Freight Car Red.  That brand goes on great and dries fast–within an hour.


I applied the decals that came with the kit.  I also used a couple of decals from the Speedwitch NYC Box Car set, specifically the shop and repack dates.  The old Sunshine decals went on without any problems.


Like the N&W gondola above, I gave this model a couple of light coats of my special dullcote mix (again–40% Testors Dullcote, 40% Testors Glosscote, and 20% thinner).  Then I combined, in a separate container, a few drops of the Tru-Color paint and lacquer thinner and mixed that up well, and then blended that solution to the dullcote solutions.  I then airbrushed the model with this mixture to provide the “softcoat”.  The photo below shows the finish after the softcoat was applied.  Everything looks nice and smooth.


I finished the model by applying a little weathering along the bottom of the car and a little AIM weathering power (Soot Black) on the roof.  I also applied some hand-written chalk marks like I did with the N&W gondola.  Then I added the couplers—Kadee #78s—and the trucks, and polished up the wheelsets, and that finished up the project.

This photo came out a little dark, but let’s just say this photo was taken in the evening.


Here’s the above photo converted to black and white.  It looks better! 


Hope you fellas had a great weekend!  – John G


No. 109: Modeling the SAL AF-1 Box Car

One of Seaboard Air Line’s most famous and most-recognizable freight cars was the AF-1 and AF-2 class “turtleback” auto car.  Sunshine Models released an HO scale car kit in the early 2000s and I was fortunate to acquire one and finish it this year.

Wilbur C. Whittaker photo, Dunsmuir, CA 5 Aug 51

Above.  Wilbur C. Whittaker photo, Dunsmuir, Cal, 05 August, 1951.  Courtesy Richard Hendrickson.

The Prototype

SAL received a total of 1,200 turtleback auto cars in two series the 1940s.  The first series of 700 cars were delivered from Pullman (Bessemer, Ala.) in March, 1940, PS-Lot #5617.  The cars featured 10’ 6” IH, Pullman “Turtleback” roof, Apex running board and brake step, Youngstown doors (12’ 6” door opening), proprietary corrugated Pullman ends, AB brakes, Ajax handbrake, and AAR spring-plank type trucks.  The cars were painted Dupont Tufcoat Metallic Brown (entire car, including trucks) and received white stencils with the train slogan Route of the Orange Blossom Special.  Car numbers were 1100-11699 and were placed in SAL car class AF-1.

The second series, car numbers 11700-11999 and 22000-22199, came in 1942.  These cars also came from P-S Bessemer, and were identical except for the use of Blaw-Knox running boards and brake steps on 22000-22199, and paint.  These cars were placed in SAL car class AF-2 and were painted with Sherwin Williams Metallic Brown (entire car, including trucks), and as delivered featured the slogan Route of the Robert E. Lee on all cars.

The Model

Much has been written about SAL car classes and paint schemes so I won’t go into all the details again here.  I wanted to model a car in original paint and lettering, circa 1949, so that is what will be described here.

I got this AF-1 kit from my friend Gerry Fitzgerald in 2014.  I reciprocated by sending Gerry a finished car as a way of saying thanks.  I sent him a car I considered a “keeper”–a very-much rebuilt Atlas 1932 ARA box car, shown below.  I milled the frame for Kadee #78 couplers, replaced the trucks with prototypically-correct coil-elliptical trucks from Tahoe Model Works, installed a new running board, and added a lot of decals and TLC to this model.  I loved it, but Gerry sent me a one-of-a-kind kit and knowing he was a C&O fan I sent this car to him as a way of saying thanks.  


A few weeks later Gerry told me he entered the model in a model contest at a local NMRA event near his home in Richmond, Virginia.  That’s C&O country.  It was a “sure winner” he told me…but it won second.  We both had a good laugh!

Back to the AF-1


My new AF-1 model was built per the kit’s instructions.  The kit includes typical resin box car kit parts—two sides, two ends, two doors, an underframe and a roof.  Thankfully the roof casting was perfectly flat and square.  I built up the basic carbody and added all the additional parts, like ladders, wire grab irons, and the Apex running board included with the kit.  I secured the running board with canpoy glue.  The finished build is seen above.

I added a number of aftermarket parts, such as a Cal Scale brake gear set, Smokey Valley coupler pockets with Kadee #78 “scale” couplers, Kadee ARA trucks with Kadee semi-scale wheelsets, and a Kadee Apex brake wheel, among other parts.  When the build was complete I sandblasted the model to etch the surface and prepare it for painting.


After sandblasting I painted the entire carbody, underframe and trucks with ScaleCoat 2 Box Car Red #1.  I think this natural brown color best matches Seaboard’s freight car color circa 1949 or 1950.  The shot below shows the painted car ready for decal application.


I used the outstanding Speedwitch SAL Box and Auto Cars decal set D103, SAL 40′ Steel Box & Auto Cars, found on the Speedwitch Media site at  I applied them per the manufacturer’s instructions and used Microscale Decal Set to settle the decals down. 

After the decals were dry I cleaned the car off with a soft, wet towel to get all the decal residue off the model, then I shot it with several light coats of Testors Dullcote.  Testors Dullcote is my preferred dull coating solution, but I dilute it.  I use about 40% Dullcote, 40% Glosscote, and 20% or more thinner.  That keeps it thin, and not too flat.


After a couple shots of Dullcote, I sprayed the car with a second Dullcote-Glosscote-Thinner mix with a few drops of the Scalecoat 2 Box Car Red added.  This tends to kill any remaining decal gloss, hide decal ends, and blend all the car colors together nicely. 


Below.  Here’s the car after the last shot of Dullcote-Paint mix.  Looks good.


I used Smokey Valley coupler pockets on this model.  I fixed these to the underframe per the kit instructions.  You can order these parts online at


After applying the Dullcote I used a white artist’s pencil to apply a few chalk marks and scribblings, then sealed the finish again with another light shot of Dullcote. I also applied a little AIM Soot Black weathering powder to the roof, and sealed that again with another very light shot of Dullcote. Finally I sprayed the underframe, including the trucks and couplers, and the lower portion of the car sides and ends, with Testors Earth to simulate a little road grime. 


Below.  Here’s one more view of the mostly-completed model before chalk marks and final lettering were added.  Notice anything missing?  I didn’t…


And finally, here’s an in-service photo that was taken back in June.  



I brought the model to display at the St. Louis RPM meet in July of this year.  I wrapped up the model in foam sheet, like the stuff you get out of a computer box, and put that in a heavy cardboard box in my suitcase.  The model made it to St. Louis in one piece, but on the trip back it got smashed.  The ground crew on my jet must’ve previously worked for ACL.  Anyway the underframe broke off and got smashed up inside the superstructure.


I was able to carefully pull the underframe back out of the car, clean up the edges of the underframe and interior edges of the superstructure, and then re-glue the floor into the car body.  It took a couple of tries to get it perfectly placed. Also broken was one of the Smokey Valley draft gear boxes so I had to replace that too.

I tested the balance of the car in an unusual way.  I used my iPhone “level” feature and placed it as flat as possible on top of the model.  It’s not the most accurate way to check the side-to-side and front-to-back balancing, but it’s kinda fun.


I touched up all the new parts and cleaned up surfaces with the original paint, Scalecoat 2 Box Car Red #1, hit the newly-painted surfaces with a shot of Testors Dullcote, and then weathered them with AIM Weathering powders “Delta Dirt”.  I reapplied the trucks and the model was ready for service.


The things I forgot to add in the original build were shop dates and a route card holder.  I added those decals and parts, and added a few more chalk marks, and called it complete…again.  Here are a few back-in-service photos with the Ackley layout dressed up in a southwest Georgia setting.  



I hope you’re all enjoying a safe and wonderful December!  – John G