No 179: New Proto48 Builds

Years ago I had dinner with Ted Schnepf. Ted is a former Milwaukee Road track guy and now runs an online and traveling hobby shop called Rails Unlimited ( I explained to Ted that I had an HO layout and was fully-invested in HO scale, but I also enjoy building Proto48 freight car models as a side-hobby.

Ted said, “Oh yeah, you’re what we call a rubber-gauger. That’s a guy that bounces back and forth between a few scales.”

New Proto48 Builds

I’ve lived back in the St. Louis area for a little over four months now, and in that time I’ve focused on building many of the models stashed away in my “someday” box. Included in the someday box is about 15 O scale freight car kits of various types. I’ve built up three of them in the last two months. Here’s a report.

New York Central USRA Hopper

After knocking out 13 HO scale cars this fall I began the build on an Oscale Intermountain USRA hopper kit. It’s a beautiful kit–simple, nicely-detailed and BIG. The prototype for my car is below. Photo courtesy Jay Williams.

I started with the ends on this model. The ends are applied as one piece, which saves a lot of time, but I replaced the plastic grabs with brass and had to bend all the grabs myself.

Below. Here’s an in-progress shot of the ends. The ends are taped on awaiting glue to dry, and I’m adding grabs one by one. The next photo shows some of the work completed. I must say, the work is exactly the same as in HO, but completely different because of the size and the scope of work. I think this experience will help my HO scale building in the future.

I am modeling a modernized car and installed AB brakes on the model. The installation took three or four hours for the brakes alone. I know how to do it now, so I should be able to do it in half the time for the next car.

The coupler face plate was made from styrene and based on a few photos from rebuilt NYC cars. The trucks are San Juan Proto48 Andrews trucks, which have a beautiful cross-section but take yet another hour to build. The wheelsets are by Protocraft–they are exactly 4 ft, 8-1/2 in, not 5 ft, 0 in like standard O scale.

More to follow on this model as it gets sandblasted, painted and decaled. I’m really looking forward to finishing it.

PFE R-40-10

The second car I built up was this Intermountain PFE steel refrigerator car. This is another beautiful Intermountain model from the mid-1980s. The build is straight-forward, but I added replacement brake gear from San Juan, wire grabs, brass air hoses, and a few other details all around.

Below. Here’s my AB brake gear install. I used the San Juan AB brake set, scale chain, a bunch of wire parts, and some leftovers from the Intermountain kit. The trucks are Proto87 scale ARA trucks from Protocraft.

Below. Here’s another completed car view. I made my own running boards from Evergreen styrene, scaled out to 2 x 6 in 1-48 scale. I will model this car with hatches open. I like the variety of having a car here and there with the hatches open, although cars infrequently moved in that configuration. All the detail parts like the hinges, grabs, door locks, and etc. are taped to a piece of cereal box, ready to be painted.

Here’s the prototype for my model, the R-40-10 with Southern Pacific monogram, circa late 1940s. Bob’s Photo. I’m looking forward to having this car done too, and then building up a companion car.

Type 27 Tank Car

This is the O scale car I’m most excited about. I bought it online a few months ago and honestly this is the model that motivated this latest O scale building binge. It’s an ancient Intermountain Type 27 8,000-gal tank car that’s probably been in the box since 1985. I’ve wanted to build a few O scale tank cars for years. There are very few higher-quality O scale tank cars on the market and this one will build up into a beautiful model with a few aftermarket parts and a good paint job.

Here’s a near dead-on prototype for the Intermountain model, below. SHPX 20585 is about as plain-jane as Type 27 cars got. This is a simple petroleum-service car with all the brake components on the same side. The only difference I can discern is the heater pipes, which the Intermountain model doesn’t have. Photo courtesy Pat Wider.

Below. I started the project by building up the underframe and adding aftermarket brake gear. The brake gear set used is the outstanding kit made by San Juan. Interestingly it is cheaper that it’s best HO scale counterpart–the Cal Scale No. 293–but the San Juan kit is infinitely better detailed. An important aftermarket part missing in both HO and O scale is brake hangars; I used brass wire to simulate them as I do when installing HO brake gear.

The SHPX car being modeling had the valve installed above the cylinder. I studied drawings sent to me by Norm Buckhart at Protocraft and a few guys on the Steam Freight Cars list. Later production cars had the valve and cylinder on opposite sides of the center sill.

Below. Here’s the completed underframe with the brake rigging, trucks and additional details installed. Detailing up to this point was fun, and exhausting, and satisfying.

In addition to the brake gear work, the model needs a few additional upgrades to “robustify” it. One of those upgrades is improving the additional tank bands included in the kit. The kit parts just don’t cut it, so I made my own bands and added brass wire and Grandt Line turnbuckles to improve the detail.

Once all four replacement tank bands were in place, I was able to fix the tank body to the frame. Everything looks alright so far. By the way, the trucks I’m using are Protocraft 50-ton Coil-Elliptical freight trucks, which can be found at Few SHPX 8,000-gallon cars had these trucks.

Another item I had to scratchbuild was new side ladders. I made mine out of brass strip and wire I had on hand. First I taped the replacement ladder styles on the workbench using the ladder that came with the kit as a guide. Next, I marked and drilled holes to install the rungs.

Below. I made a little jig to hold the ladder so I could solder the rungs in position.

A whole lot of amateur soldering work later, I came up with this. I soldered the rungs to the stiles, and also had to solder an additional strip to the styles to I could bend them around the handrail. I’d like to build at least one more of these models and if I can improve my soldering skills I’ll make up a few replacements for this car.

And finally, there is this car, a 1958 cu. ft. ACF covered hopper. I didn’t build it–it’s an Overland brass model that I bought unpainted. I wanted to finish it as a Seaboard Air Line car, but after a little research I found it didn’t match any SAL prototypes. I scoured the RP Cycs looking for a prototype and only came up with two–Southern Pacific and Milwaukee Road. I asked Mike at K4 decals to modify his HO scale covered hopper set so it included the “Complex Tilted Box” monogram and will finish the model as an as-delivered CMStP&P car soon.

Someday in my retirement I’d like to build a Proto48 shelf switching layout. That day is coming pretty fast. When that day comes I’ll have plenty of freight cars ready for action.

I pray you will have God’s Blessing in 2023! – John G

No. 158: O Scale Work, and Central of Georgia Auto Car

I took a few days off of work before Memorial Day and went on three day-trips with the family over a five-day period. The most interesting was a road trip to Belgium and Luxembourg with my son to buy beer.

My son and I went to a neat place in Arlon, Belgium called Mi Ougemi Houblon to buy a variety of craft beers.  It was a cool store and a lot of fun, and the guy working there was very friendly.  We drove to a Del Hayes grocery next to buy a stroop waffles and more beer–this time the easy-to-get stuff from the larger Belgian breweries. Later we went to the Orlan Monastery, where they also happen to make a famous beer called Orlan. We took a tour of the old churches and of course bought some of their rare and excellent brew.

Below. Here’s a view of one of the many shelves at Mi Ougemi Houblan:

My son is an architecture student and during the day we stopped at various towns and small cities to look at the church architecture. Now that my son has some training he was able to explain all the architectural features in some detail. For a 19-year-old his teaching ability is impressive. He would start with the big picture, explaining the type, look and feel of each structure–and we saw many of them. Then he would get into the details. “This is early Gothic, and this is why…”. The Orlan Monestery was Roman architecture and he explained all the difference there too. He would explain how certain features were weight-bearing, and how they became decorative, and how they were used, and what certain features meant, and so on.

Below, and difficult to photograph, is the fantastic Gothic cathedral in Orlan, Belgium.

I could go on…and on…but I won’t. It was a memorable day with my good son.

O Scale Work

Last year I attempted to repair two brass hoppers in my very small O scale collection. Both cars had minor damage and I made things worse trying to fix them. An RPM friend–Brian Strom–came to my rescue. I sent him the cars and he repaired them for me. Not only did Brian repair the cars but he cleaned them up and repainted them perfectly as well. He did an exceptional job.

Here’s a before-and-after picture of the first car, a 35-year-old Precision Scale PRR hopper car that I bought from Jim Canter. My work is on the left, and Brian’s repair work is on the right. Note that he also over-did it, and painted the coupler pocket and weathered up the coupler. RPM friends are really the best friends!

Here’s the completed model at Brian’s shop.

Brian also repaired my Rich Yoder-built C&O H-5 hopper car. Here’s Brian’s before-and-after photo:

Brian fixed my soldering fails, unbent the ends, and re-installed the air hose connection. He used a resistance soldering tool and a whole lot of patience. Now the car looks great. Those Proto48 wheelsets look great too. Below is a photo of both cars on Brian’s workbench. He masterfully refinished both cars.

Central Auto Car

I’ve been concentrating on layout work all of 2021 but took some time in the few weeks to finish painting and building a Speedwitch Central [of Georgia] 50-foot auto car. This model released about 9-10 years ago. I got it in trade from my buddy Craig Zeni (another RPM friend!).

Central received three series of these cars in 1937, 1942 and 1944. The cars were nearly identical except for running boards, hand brakes and a few other parts. I chose to model the second delivery, series 5100-5249, which arrived from ACF in 1942. These cars had a Murphy panel roof, Murphy “W”-corner 4-5 Dreadnaught ends, Barber S-2 trucks, Youngstown-Camel doors (one six-foot and one four-foot), Universal hand brake and Apex running boards.

The Speedwitch model includes a one-piece carbody and just about all the parts needed to complete the model. Here’s the carbody casting, which required a minimum of clean up:

Below. Here’s the completed build. The used Cal Scale brake gear parts, Details West ladders, and Kadee grab irons to improve the model. I used Canopy Glue to fix the running board. The trucks are ARA Double Truss from Tahoe Model Works.

Here’s an end view. The brake gear housing is a Moloco part and the brakewheel and retainer line are from Kadee. The tack board is from National Scale Models, and the air hose and bracket is from A-Line. After the build I sandblasted the car thoroughly. Sandblasting is an absolutely essential step, which preps all the different surfaces–stainless metal, acetal, plastic, and brass and resin parts–for painting.

Above. Here’s a view of the car after paint, decals and Testors Dullcote. I used Scalecoat Oxide Red for my model, with a little red mixed into darken it a little bit. Thanks to the sandblaster there’s no trouble with paint adhesion.

Here’s a prototype view of a car in a post-1951 paint scheme, below. This is my favorite Central paint scheme but it was applied after my modeling era. I included the photo to demonstrate the paint color.

A last photo of the new car, below, this time from above.

As I studied this photo I became more interested in the track than the car. One of the things I did to the flextrack was cut the ends the web off the underside of the ties and space the ties out. That’s a pretty common thing to do these days. Another thing I did was trim the ends off of some of the ties to give them an even more irregular look. I think the effect was achieved nicely.

I hope you enjoyed the post. There’s a lot more coming. I’m way behind thanks to changing jobs, family, travel, and summer outside-time.

By the way…my son said something interesting about the Medieval churches on our trip. I raised him in the frugal Southern Baptist church, where even a chandelier or a bell tower is frowned upon. We’re supposed to spend all our money on those in need. But Jacob said, paraphrasing, “These guys worked for hundreds of years to build a lasting tribute to God. They accomplished it. Just being in these churches inspires a better understanding of the awesomeness of God. Just the awesomeness of it all.” Five or six hundred years later, these churches still help bring the awesomeness of God to man. Thankfully, the awesomeness of God is still alive in my good son.

Blessings to you and your families! – John G

No. 149: Display Cabinets for the Train Room

Over the recent Labor Day weekend–when covid restrictions were relaxed and travel to France was still possible–I took a day of leave and went to Verdun, France, site of the tremendous, 11-month-long German army assault during World War I.  I visited the excellent War Museum there, three vast graveyards, many of the battlefields, the Ossuary, and Ft. Douaumont.  It was a beautiful day but a very sobering learning experience.  It’s hard to believe it was real.


Above.  Some of the trench lines still exist.  They can be found all over the place.  This one, near Ft. Douaumont, has been preserved to a certain extent.

Incredibly, all the land in the area still looks like this, below–completely chewed up by a year of constant artillery fire.  Deep in the newly-planted forests, the land is still pock-marked.  They said 130,000 bodies are still out there somewhere.  Again, it is hard to believe it was real.


There is one German cemetery nearby, with over 5,000 dead, and a monument to ten thousand more…


The Battle of Verdun Museum is clean and modern and very well done.  An English language site can be found here: Mémorial de Verdun. A museum and a memorial to the Battle of Verdun (  Among the fascinating displays are helmets and equipment found on the battlefield with bullet holes shot through them.  This change purse, carried into battle by a French soldier, was gifted to the museum.


Near the trench lines is the Ossuary, the big building in the background, which is the largest monument to the French army and their sacrifice.  In front is the largest of the French war cemeteries.  Many of these graves have the remains of multiple men.


The Ossuary is famous as the repository of human remains found on the battlefield.  Since the end of the war, remains have been dug up by salvage crews and souvenir hunters, and if the remains can’t be identified they are brought to the Ossuary for internment.  The basement of the entire building is full of these small rooms, seen below, each holding scattered remains.  I really didn’t want to look in the basements, but felt like I had to.  Here is a photo of one of the many rooms below.


Well, you didn’t visit the blog to see bones, so let’s get to the modeling stuff.

Back in August, after my son left for college, I determined that I had nothing to show my modeling to visitors.  I embarked on a small program to build displays and a small switching layout.  It had been a year since I moved from Albersbach and dismantled the Ackley layout for parts, and there was no place to showcase my work.  

The first project was to build two wall-mounted display cases, a small one for eight pieces of HO rolling stock to fit in a specific place on a wall, and a larger O scale display that holds ten pieces of rolling stock, designed to fit on a wall on the stairwell to the train room.  The small HO display is below.   I made it from 2-1/2-inch-wide specialty wood and painted it the same color I used for the Ackley layout fascia.  I’m able to use the “Wood Shop” at Ramstein Air Base so I have access to all kinds of woodworking equipment. 


I also built two small “display shelves”.  I saw a similar design online on a Japanese modeling site, and modified that design to produce an HO scale and an O scale display track.  Each display has track, ballast, and static grass on a finished display with a small fascia around all four sides.  The HO display was finished first.  The O scale display was built to Proto48 fine-scale standards and all the track had to be completely handlaid, including laying down scale ties, tie plates, rail and the works.

Here is the HO scale display shelf under construction, below.  This isn’t the best photo, but it’ll give you an idea what it looked like before I installed track.  I used a piece of 3/4-inch plywood leftover from a bed-making project, and attached a short Masonite fascia around all four sides.


I installed N scale roadbed, then Micro Engineering Code 55 flex track.  I painted the rail, ballasted the track and added static grass.


The finished display is below.  The lighting is poor, but you get the idea.  Now I have a small, weathered, model display track that I can put anywhere in the room, or I can even hang it on shelf brackets.


The Proto48 display was a lot more involved.  The concept started the same: A heavy piece of plywood, sanded and painted, and dressed on all four sides with very short Masonite fascia.  Below, I have made a roadbed from low-profile cork from the craft store, and am laying O scale ties.  The initial coat of paint used on the ties was Testors Rubber.


Here are the ties.  I used Grandt Line parts for all the track details, and Right-o-Way Code 100 rail.


Below.  Here’s the old man himself, installing ballast on both the HO and O scale displays.  I ballasted both displays using dirt I brought over from the site of the PRR roundhouse in Richmond, Indiana. 


Below, I have added static grass and also added a little Woodland Scenics foam on top.  Next comes the hard part!


Below.  Adding tie plates and 39-foot sections of Code 100 rail.  I pre-painted the tie plates and rail with Tamiya Medium Brown.


Below.  With the rail spiked down, I tested the gauge with a pair of Rich Yoder trucks.  Works good!


Here’s a snap of the display track all finished and on top of some bookcases.


Models look nice on display here.  This is a modified Intermountain car kit.


I also built a Proto48 display cabinet for the stairwell leading to my third floor train room.  Again I used specialty lumber from the local German do-it-yourself store, Hornbach.  It turned out well.


Both displays turned out very well and I finally have some nice displays so show off some models on those nights when the boys come over for a beer.

The last display I mentioned is construction of a small switching layout.  I tried for months to design a switching layout around the Milwaukee Road’s Mason City, Iowa freight house, but I couldn’t design something satisfactory in the space available. 

I also tried to design a very small, Midwestern-themed, end-of-the-line layout.  I wanted to model the Milwaukee Road at Preston, Minnesota but again I couldn’t fit everything I wanted into the space available.  Below, the Milwaukee Road station at Preston, Minnesota, circa 1965.  Photo courtesy the Midwestern States Archive.


Finally, after I decided to go back to my Seaboard Air Line roots and build a very generic, “composite” layout based on the switching district located next to SAL’s former Hermitage Yard in Richmond, Virginia.  

Below.  Here is SAL’s small Hermitage Yard in Richmond.  Photo is looking north.  Just behind the diesel engine house in the background is the switching area being modeled.  Photo circa 1964 by Bill McCoy. 

SAL 1474 Hermitage Yd., Richmond, VA 12-57

That layout is well underway and I’ll post some information on it very soon.  I’m building the layout in the British cameo-style and so far I love the results.  


Merry Christmas!  May God bless you and your families this Holy-Day season!  – John

No. 146: Freight Car Builds, Oct 2020

Over the long Columbus Day weekend I took my wife and daughters to Mykonos, Greece for a long Columbus Day weekend. We went with another family–a friend of mine’s who’s an Army colonel and pathologist–and we had a wonderful weekend together. Here’s the view from our rented house.

Even in October the weather was still 75 to 80 degrees, and calm, and we spent every day on the lovely, secluded northside beaches. Mykonos is known as a party island, but we stayed away from all that stuff and hung out mostly on the north end. Below is the famous Fokos Beach. Looks a little like Haunama Bay…

Like many other place in the Mediterranean, the people were very friendly and everyone spoke proper British. A number of people pulled me aside and told me how much they loved and appreciated Americans. The average guy here seems especially appreciative of American servicemen. That was encouraging.

Below. Here are our kids walking through the markets one evening.

We had a lot of wonderful dinners too. Lots of seafood! Every night was capped with a little drink. This one was an ice cold cinnamon liquor–very nice.

Over the last few months the blog has been slowed down considerably due to events mostly out of my control. First, I got a new job–my fourth since transferring to Germany–and I’ve been working longer hours than usual.

Second, my son left for college in the U.S. in August. It’s quite an undertaking sending a child to college on another continent. It was heartbreaking to send him away, but he’s doing wonderfully.

Third, with my son away, the family dynamic changed considerably, and my wife and I spent some time making some parenting adjustments. We have sort of updated our relationships with our growing daughters and that has taken a lot of time away from hobbies and rightfully so. A little bit of family travel over the summer—10 days in Slovenia, a short week in Austria and another short week in Greece—didn’t leave much time for modeling or blogging.

Another factor slowing down the blog was WordPress. They changed the functionality of my blog and website, and I haven’t taken the time to sit around and figure out how to use the new formats. Why tech companies make radical software changes overnight is beyond me.

Despite all the mayhem I actually did get some modeling done, and I wrote two articles for the Resin Car Works blog. The first article covered my build of RCW’s Illinois Central single-sheathed box car, which can be found at

The second article covered the Salt Weathering process, which has been seen on this blog twice. The article I wrote for Frank can be viewed at

I promised Frank an article on RCW’s Great Northern ARA box car kit, which I haven’t even started yet. As they say, so many models, so little time!

Meanwhile my buddy Fenton Wells has greatly outpaced me, building a spectacular ACL Auto-Box car (seen below). I don’t want to give away too many details on Fenton’s car in case he writes his own article sometime soon, but here are a few pictures of his good work.

Fenton e-mailed, writing My ACL O-24 started life as a P2K 50-foot, single door Southern Pacific boxcar kit. I cut the sides out and removed 6″ from the top of each end, bringing the car down to the correct height. I built new sides from Evergreen .030 plastic and scribed panel lines and added Archer rivets. I scratchbuilt the seven-panel Superior doors as I couldn’t find the right kind for a 10′-1″ IH car. I used K4 decals. I have had ‘silvering’ issues with these decals, so this time I tried a light overspray of gloss first, then Dullcote, and I don’t se any silvering so maybe that solved the problem. I didn’t weather the model too much although with a 1943 build date it would have ten years of dirt on my railroad.

Here’s where Fenton’s masterpiece began:

And here’s another view of the finished work. All I can say is WOW!

Fenton’s work is inspiring. I wrote like a madman in Greece, trying to put some finishing touches on six blog posts I’ve started but never capped off. One of them will explain this just-finished Missouri Pacific auto car build.

I’m proud of the MP car but it has some major flaws. “Rookie Mistakes” as I like to say around the office. I’m also just about finished with this car, below, which is an O scale–no, Proto48–Central of Georgia Auto-Box. It started out as an Intermountain 1937 ARA box car kit I got from Rob Adams in 2014. I’m weathering it this weekend.

To display the car above, I built a Proto48 display track, which I’ll show later as well…

Finally, and most importantly, I need to add that our Brother Mike Moore passed away last month. Clark Propst, the guy at center, sent the news. I last saw Mike in 2015 at Lisle RPM, when he and I and all the Iowa boys had a grand time, laughing and drinking beer and talking about trains and loving life. Mike was sick then and slowly faded away over the years.

It’s been a terrible year or two, with so many of our modeling friends passing away. Mike was special–he was a good man, friendly, hilarious, always encouraging, ever joyful even as his life slipped away. Here is Mike, at far left, at Cocoa Beach in 2009.

Ephesians 2:8 says For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.

May you all have a blessed week, and be ever grateful for everything God has given us. – 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. 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. 82: What’s in a Name?

Juliet said this about roses, meaning it doesn’t matter what you call roses…they’ll still be beautiful. 

I could say the same thing about box cars.  They’re beautiful no matter what you call them. Maybe I should re-name this post What’s in a name Color?


One of the most enjoyable things about modeling the late steam era is the wide variety of house cars–the different types and sizes of cars. Another thing to consider is the wide variety of car colors.  Getting the car color right is just as important as everything else and luckily the paints are out there that let us model color accurately.

The cars above each have a different color matched as accurately as possible to their prototypes. I used Tru-Color TCP-204 Western Pacific 1940-60’s Frt. Car Red on the WP car and Tru-Color TCP-221 New York Central 1945-60’s Frt. Car Red on the NYC car.  I used Scalecoat II Box Car Red No. 1 on the SAL AF-1 Auto Car.  On the ACL vent, I used a 50%-50% mix of Scalecoat II Box Car Red No. 1 and Scalecoat II Oxide Red.

Scalecoat is now produced and marketed by Minuteman Scale Models at  Minuteman will be at St. Louis RPM this year (20-21 July) and Shawn is bringing along five tables of new Scalecoat paint…so there’s another incentive to come to St. Louis.  Get it while it’s hot!

A list of Tru-Color paint can be found online at 


Above.  The WP car with decals complete, ready for dullcote and weathering.  Below.  the re-attack on the HO scale NYC hopper (a Kadee model) using Resin Car Works decals.  Paint used on both the NYC hoppers is the same as that used on the USRA box car above–Tru-Color TCP-221 New York Central 1945-60’s Frt. Car Red.


A Nice–and Cheap–New Tool

After 40 years of building models I finally got around to buying a good tool for mixing paint.


I got 100 of these pipettes on Amazon for six bucks.  There are a million options on Amazon; I got the ones from Karter Scientific (that sounds sketchy, doesn’t it???) called Transfer Pipette, 3.0 ml, Graduated, Large Bulb, 155mm, Karter Scientific 206H3, pack of 100.

These things are great!  I use this thing to grab paint and thinner out of bottles for mixing, and for applying water to decals. I’ve been using the same one for 60 days for everything.  I expected it to melt when I stuck it into lacquer thinner, but no. It’s great and I highly recommend using them.  100 will last me a lifetime.

Above, an old photo I took back in 2003 at the Illinois Railroad Museum–added just for fun
Have a wonderful week!  – John G.

No. 81: Progress on Freight Cars – Mar, 2018


My family and I spent the weekend in London at a high school swim meet.  The meet was held at the London 2012 Olympic pool, which was really neat, and we also spent a couple of days sightseeing in the city and elsewhere.

My son photographed the sign above at a very deep subway (“Tube”) station in central London.  At one point we had to change trains and we had to take a winding staircase about 12 flights down to one of the deepest stations on the system.  Way down at the bottom there was this sign on the wall.  Pretty cool, eh?  Just wish I could remember what station it was.

While we were there I visited the Ian Allen bookstore on a recommendation from Marty McGuirk.  It was cool and I enjoyed looking at the huge variety of British modeling equipment, almost all of which was 1/87, 1/76 or narrow gauge.  And all British of course.


We spent a second day in Dover, on the Channel coast across from Calais, France.  We walked around town and spent a few hours touring the amazing Dover Castle, which has about 2,000 years of “history piled on top of history”.

There are monuments to British courage everywhere in Dover.  This one contains a piece of steel sheet cut from a German coastal artillery gun that was emplaced in Calais during World War II.  You remember this was the narrow section of the channel where British and German artillery (i.e. battleship guns) fired over the channel at each other, and also at each other’s shipping.  Apparently the crew of one of the German guns recorded every round fired at the port and city of Dover.  Most of those heavy guns were rail-mounted, by the way…IMG_7932

In More Peaceful Times…

…progress on freight cars continues in preparation for this summer’s St. Louis RPM meet.  I was on a roll getting cars painted and decaled and thought “why stop now”?

Western Pacific Double-Sheathed Box Car

Thanks to a friend on the Proto-48 list on IO Groups I was able to procure a hard-to-find Rick Leach decal set for my San Juan Models Western Pacific single-sheathed box car.  While the decals were enroute I painted the car with Tru Color Western Pacific Box Car Red (as seen below).  What a nice, rich color it is.


The decals included with the kit are very good, but the feather in the Western Pacific monogram should be black and white, not red.  The kit’s decals have a red feather.  The monogram in the Rick Leach set is correctly black and white.

Below, the decals have been applied and the model is ready for Dullcote.  However, there’s a problem.  The Microscale decal set has left behind a white, chalky substance between the wooed sheathing.  I don’t think the decal decomposed–check out the close-up on bottom.  Do you guys have any idea what could have caused this?  My only thought is the bottle of Microscale decal set I’m using is probably 20 years old, or perhaps older.



Central of Georgia Flat Car

Before leaving for London I began the weathering process on the Central of Georgia “Fix-the-Flat” model I got from the Central Historical Society.  First I gave the car a good coat of Testors Dullcote.  Next I began the weathering process by first giving the entire model—top to bottom—a wash made of about 20% black artist oil paint and 80% paint thinner.  I’ll explain the whole process in a later post.  When the solution dries, the black pigment in the wash collects in the corners and between the boards where dirt and soot and grime tends to gather on the prototype.  I think the effect is quite realistic.


Below, this is what the wash does–it gathers in the corners and in spaces and like on the prototype.


Next I used various shades of brown to distress and highlight the individual boards on the flat car deck.  The idea here is to use a very light application to provide some contrast between boards, and blend it all together later with a final finish coat.


Below.  A little black on top is okay; I applied it very lightly because I don’t want the boards to look black–just a little darkened to provide some contrast.


After painting the deck with various shades of brown and black, I went over some of the boards with a distresser–this one made of fiberglass –to roughen up the surface a little bit.  I got this thing online at MicroMark.  I deliberately distressed the boards hard enough to bring some of the gray kit-color out, but it took off all the paint around it, making it look new and not very weathered or realistic.


See below.  I took off too much paint trying to get some gray to show through…


After a little more color and some blending, the deck looked like this (below).  It still needs a lot more work.  More to follow as I get the car weathered and wheels polished, and couplers installed, and in service on the layout.


CB&Q 75084


I gave my new CB&Q gondola car a wash with the artist oil black-thinner mixture mentioned above.  It turned out pretty nice but I probably should’ve gone a little heavier on the black.  I’ll devote an entire post on the black-wash process real soon.

Tichy Tank Car

I mentioned to my friend Steve Hile that I was finishing a Tichy tank car model, and he was kind enough to send me an old Model Railroader article that discussed prototypes for the model.  In case you’re looking for it, the article was in Paint Shop in the May 1988 MR.

The article explains that the Tichy model is almost an exact match for 500 cars built for Canadian General Transit Company in 1948.  The authors recommend a few changes to the model, but since mine was already built and painted I chose to omit the modifications.

Anyway, years ago—on Richard Hendrickson’s recommendation—I bought a CGTX decal set from Al Ferguson at Black Cat Decals, and I had them on hand to use on this car.  This is a beautiful decal set and interestingly the decal set includes reporting marks for CGTX 1635…which is the exact car featured in the MR article.

You can see a few blemishes on the car below; most of them are exaggerated due to light glare.  I can’t wait to get this car weathered up and on the railroad.


Flying Box Car

No, I’m not talking about the old Air Force C-119.  You may recall I’m finishing up about six other freight cars, one of which is an old Sunshine Models M&StL single-sheathed box car.

I finished applying all the decals and was holding the car out of a three-story window, spraying on the first coat of Dullcote.  The car was all wet with Dullcote when POP!  The forceps I was using to hold the car popped open and the car went flying down into the garden below.  The model was unharmed, but the garden was wet after a rainfall, and the car—with wet Dullcote—got covered with sticky water.

I went down and retrieved the model and took this picture so you can see how wet it got, and how far it fell.  I dried it off right away but as you know, Dullcoat and moisture don’t mix.  The car is now covered with white splotches.


This wouldn’t be a big deal if I could get more decals.  Unfortunately there are no more decals…so I’ve gotta figure out a way to save the finish.  And while I’m at it, how to save the finish on the WP car too.

Model Railroading is Fun.  – John

No. 65: Progress on Freight Cars, Oct 2017

A quick post on progress of freight car model construction and also construction of the Portage Tower models for Mike Moore’s layout.

Proto 48 Models


I was able to finish a lot of small projects this week and also contemplate a few new ones.  First I finished installing the running board for an Intermountain 1937 double-door box car that will be finished as an SAL AF-3.  I scratchbuilt the latitudinal running board supports and am not terribly happy with them, but they are much better than the kit-supplied parts.  The running board is an aftermarket part from Protocraft.  The car is finished with detail parts mostly taken from the excellent Chooch detail sets.  Here’s the car below, ready for sandblasting.


I also finally finished the build for the Western Pacific double-sheathed box car.  I had to fashion a number of parts because I clumsily broke them off during construction, but in my defense I found the plastic to be brittle and I felt it broke easily.  I added a number of aftermarket detail parts, mostly from Chooch, to upgrade or repair the model.  The nut-bolt-washer castings are from MacLeod Western.


I’m happy with the WP car and the future SAL AF-3.  Next Stop: The sandblaster.  I have not used the sandblaster in exactly two years–heresy, I know!  However I’m taking this opportunity to clean and rebuilt it completely so it won’t be ready for action for another week or maybe two.

I have one more immediate Proto48 job on the ready track.  I need to repair or replace the decals on this Intermountain 1937 box car, this one finished for Nickel Plate.  I finished this car before I left the U.S. but when I decaled the car, the decals disintegrated.  The decals are by Protocrft but this is in no way a condemnation of Norm’s product line.  I probably killed the decals with too much setting solution.  Anyway this model has been on the RIP track for two years and it’s time to get it done.


Progress on HO Scale Models


Rock Island 141107 pictured above is an old Sunshine Models Rock Island single-sheathed car that I initially built probably around 2006.  This time around I added Hi Tech air hoses, Tahoe Model Works Dalman trucks with semi-scale, “proto-88” wheelsets, and some new blended weathering.  I also added new couplers.  This is a favorite car and was one of a series of single-sheathed cars put out by Sunshine in the mid-2000s.  That was a great series of cars and I think I have most or all of them.


GN 24968 is an older Westerfield flat kit I got from Richard Hendrickson back when I was editor of the SCL Modeler magazine.  We did a big series of articles on the  Durham & Southern and I intended to model this car as a D&S car with scratchbuilt ends.  Unfortunately I bought everything including a few neat, steam era decals sets but never finished the project.  Instead, around 2012 or so, I built this car.  I am very happy with it and used Westerfield decals to finish the job.  I added Hi Tech air hoses to the model and updated weathering on the roof, and that was it. 

I would like to pick up a few more of these Westerfield cars and finish one as a M&StL car—that’s an essential M&StL car—and one as a Wabash car–again, another essential freight car.


CB&Q 194468 pictured above is another old, almost-finished project that I finally got around to wrapping up.  I completely rebuilt a decorated Proto 2000 kit with all the wire details and everything about a year ago and last week finally added the last few wire details and air hoses, plus touched up the paint.  I am very happy with this car and want to do the same to my C&IM stock car. 

I must tell you that I got the motivation to rebuild this car after seeing Jerry Hamsmith’s beautiful CB&Q cars at the 2015 Naperville RPM.  Jerry’s work is very inspirational.  Here is one of Jerry’s cars, below, rebuilt from an old blue box Athearn car.  What a neat model from such a simple kit!   



So here is another view of the rebuilt Proto car above.  The appearance of the new grabs and details is a great improvement over the factory details, which can be seen on this C&IM car below.  Viewed close-up, the Proto details are ghastly.  These cars, spearheaded by Mike Gruber at Life Like, are still state-of-the-art—15 or more years after introduction—but the details need an update.


I am very pleased with the weathering on this C&IM car, which I purchased as a built-up model.  It needs to be rebuilt like the CB&Q car…or maybe I’ll just sell it and try to find a few kits on EBay and try again.  

Portage Tower Progress

I made some good progress on my Portage Tower models, which I am building for Mike Moore’s 1960s-era layout.  I got the basic assembly complete on the tool houses and the tower and as of this writing everything is ready for paint.  


Above.  I made the roof by measuring the footprint of the model as a guide.  I cut out one large single piece of styrene and built the peaked roof on top of it.  With no plans or drawings, and few photos, I just did the best I could with the time I had available.

Below.  Next I cut an identical piece of styrene to match the roof footprint and cut it in half.  



Below.  Then I trimmed the two styrene pieces, and glued them together, forming the peak.      


Above.  Last I added the two sides, just pieces of .020 styrene, with Tamiya liquid cement.  I let it dry overnight and then trimmed and sanded everything square.  You can see the complete roof section in the photo below.    

Below, here are the basic buildings for Mike’s layout, ready for painting and detailing.  At far left is the tool house, at center is the tower and the coal house, and at far right is a second and somewhat smaller tool house.  


Finally, Brothers, I’ll leave you with Philippians 4:8, which gives me strength in times of despair.  There seems to be plenty of despair going around in the news this week, which is why I usually make an effort to avoid the mainstream media.  Philippians reminds us Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!  – John G


No. 63: Freight Car Modeling, Sep 2017

Progress on model construction has gone very well in the first two weeks of September thanks mostly to a work trip to Stuttgart. I spent four nights in Stuttgart last week and was able to get a few hours of work done every night.


The first car I built up while away was an HO scale Tichy flat car from the Central of Georgia Historical Society.  I bought it at the last St. Louis RPM directly from the society table there. The model is part of the society’s “Fix The Flat” program.  Proceeds from the sale of the model are going to restore the society’s rescued TC&I-built Central 1925 flat car.  You can read more about the car and the rebuild program at the Central’s website at

Aftermarket details added include Hi-Tech rubber air hoses with brass fittings and Tahoe Andrews trucks. Pre-1948 cars were painted black; post-1948 cars were painted freight car red. I still haven’t figured out which way to go, but I’ll probably model a red car to keep it from looking like an ACL P-11.


The second car I began building was a kit offered by the NP Historical Society in 2015. This is a magnificent model and was cast by Aaron Gjermundson.  I don’t know who made the masters.  The kit is fantastic and contains everything you need to get the job done.  The only parts I had to add were Hi Tech air hoses and attachments and Kadee grabs on the car ends, and I used HO scale 2 x 6s for running boards.


In building the NP car I was reminded of the shortcomings of building prototype railroad models in HO scale. Here is my short list of parts that are badly in need of a 21st century upgrade:

– Running Boards in a variety of sizes and flavors, including a correct running board for the Milwaukee ribside series which has never been offered by any manufacturer (see RP Cyc, boys)
– Latitudinal boards and grabs
– Framework and attachments for Latitudinals
– Coupler pockets–SCALE coupler pockets
– Ladders
– Trust Plates

I ordered a large selection of Pierre Oliver’s parts on Friday for new builds and to retrofit a few older models.  Pierre is a friend and an outstanding modeler, and he offers a high quality line of parts through his company Yarmouth Model Works.  The eyebolts alone are worth the money–60 for $3.00 (not $5-6 for a dozen as offered by DA).  Some modelers have reported some difficulty constructing the Yarmouth ladders but I’ll reserve comment until I try them myself.  I have discussed the subject of ladders with my German friend Peter Aue and he is sure I will be happy with Pierre’s ladders.  I used plastic ladders from Branchline on the NP car and after 20-25 minutes of work on them with a soft file I think they will work nicely.

If you haven’t seem Pierre’s site, you can check out his complete line at  Pierre is another St. Louis RPM vendor and therefore he is a preferred customer.  I am very much looking forward to his new ACL O-16!

Many previously-finished models are in need of repair and renewal.  Here’s a few photos of models that were repaired and upgraded this week.

Georgia Railroad “War Emergency” Box Car

This is an all-time favorite model, and I wrote an article about it in an old issue of the Seaboard-Coast Line Modeler magazine.  This is a Sunshine Models kit with an Intermountain roof and a Kadee running board attached.  I replaced the Kadee trip pins with Hi Tech Details air hoses.  A simple job.  I like simple.


Rock Island Single Sheathed Box Car

Here’s another old Sunshine car that needed a little repair work and a new pair of Tahoe Dalman trucks.  I don’t recall what color I used on the model but it is not very “RI Maroon”.  Tru Color Illinois Central Box Car Red was used to get the new trucks close to the carbody color.  A little weathering to blend everything in and it’ll be back on the rails.

If you haven’t figured it out by now I’m a big fan of single sheathed cars.


Sunshine Milwaukee Road Single Sheathed Box Car

This project went from great to bad in about a minute.  I sprayed Dullcote on the car last weekend and quickly realized that I did not set the decals properly.  The result: Bad Decals.  I’m going to try and repair it but I have not had much success doing this in the past.  If you guys know of a good replacement decal set please give me a shout.


Above.  A nice model with decals gone bad.  Below.  A ghastly closeup.  What a rookie mistake.

I AM NOT taking responsibility for that 5 being offset though.  That’s frickin’ refrickulous.  After seeing this closeup I think a new decal set is the only way to go.  Maybe something from Westerfield?


San Juan Car Co. P48 WP Double Sheathed Box Car Build


You may recall I had a lot of difficulty with this build because the side grabs did not line up with the ends grabs, so I removed and replaced all those parts. I really beat up the model in the process, breaking off detail parts and in one case breaking the corner off one of the bottom side sills. I had to fill a whole lot of holes.

I was able to replace the corner with small piece of styrene and then I added new NBW castings all around, and a whole lot of Tichy .020 rivets. The rivets were added to places that were appropriate, such as simulating tack board attachments for example, and were also added in other places where the rivets were damaged during repair work.


This is a cool model but man, it is brittle.  I haven’t even mentioned that I tore up the floor so bad that I had to have the manufacturer send me a new one.  Hopefully a good sandblast will clean it up prior to primer.

M&StL Single Sheathed Box Car

IMG_7357Above.  This is a Sunshine M&StL box car, one of three that will run on the railroad.  The build on this model was started last November and it was completed tonight.   I have two more of these models; one is complete and one is already built-up and is awaiting a trip into the sandblaster.   The first car I built has some construction problems that were able to be corrected in the latter two cars.

Below is my original car, which I finished back around 2010.  I replaced the running board and a few minor details this week.  At bottom is another car that was built up last November.



Broadway 6,000-gallon Insulated Tank Car


The Broadway 6,000-gal insulated tank car is a troublesome rebuild. Upon close inspection I did not replace any parts except the brake cylinder, and the trucks of course.  I planned on replacing all kinds of parts with brass parts, including new handrails and handrail stanchions. I didn’t replace the handrail stanchions because I think that work will ruin the finish on the tank.  The factory trucks had to go; they were replaced by Tahoe Model Works 40-ton trucks.

The rest of the factory detail parts…well, they look okay.  I’m going to leave almost everything as is, and when something big breaks I’ll do the full rebuild then.  The paint and lettering on this model is excellent.


Sunshine SAL “GF&A” Box Car


I repaired several cars, including this old Sunshine SAL “GF&A” car. The underframe fell off the car and I needed to re-attach it.  Not a problem–it’s back in service today.  At some point I will need to replace the running board on this car as well.  When I built the car I used something like .010 for the running board and it has been damaged over the years.  Should be an easy fix.


No work on Portage Tower or the tool houses last week, and none this week. I’m putting a priority on finishing up the NP box car build and the P48 WP car build, and a few more minor car projects, and then I’m heading back to Portage.

See you guys next Saturday after another good week of production.  – John G