In June, the Bring and Brag subject is "Non-Revenue (incl. cabooses)".
We can't bring any of this stuff in for close inspection, but most of us have access to a digital camera and can share what we've been up to. Bring it on!! Let's see what you've done!!
Nobody ever said a working car had to look pretty and this ex-Santa Fe 2-bay cement hopper is no
exception. The boys in the shop patched it out and from the looks of it were none to careful.
The new reporting marks and numbers are awfully sloppy. Oh well, that's because they just
grabbed a can of white paint and brushed them on. The action takes place on my proto-freelanced
The hopper was built from a Walters kit with metal wheelsets and Kadees added. It was patched out and then heavily weathered turning the bright Santa Fe red rather brownish and dingy...just the way a buffer car should look.
Steel mill rolling stock are some of the dirtiest and most poorly maintained equipment on rails. Sloppy or no paint jobs, high heat, and exposure to corrosive agents are all part of a day's work. Above is Weirton Steel (WSX) caboose #4, a Pennsy N5 originally acquired for its scrap value but converted to slag run service. It was used on the end of slag car trains for the 3-mile run between the blast furnaces and the dump at Standard Slag. The model started out as an O scale undecorated Weaver Northeastern style caboose. I walled over the inner 2 windows to make it look more like an N5, spray painted it Columbia Gas Meter green (the Weirton Steel livery from the 1940s-1980s), applied home-made logo decals and dry transfer numbers, and heavily weathered the body and trucks to reflect years of service and neglect.
I have had two of these Life-Like Proto 2000 cabooses for almost thirty years and never taken
them out of the box. I bought them because models lettered for the P&WV are rare. But I finally
realized that it might be nice to do something with them since they aren't doing me much good
in the boxes.
Before I started this project, I would always drool over these nice models in their semi-assembled state (which was how they came). Doing the simple final assembly of putting the body on the chassis and adding rear handrails wasn't quite as easy as I expected. First, the wheels wouldn't turn because they had copper wipers for lighting and the brake shoes rubbed the wheels. That required removing the wipers and adjusting the separate brakes. That greatly improved the rolling ability.
Secondly, I didn't like the plasticky gray color the interior was molded in, so I painted it a pale green. That was after it took me a long time to break apart the cement joints holding everything together.
Adding knuckle couplers was another project because it came with hook-horn couplers back then. It took a lot of filing and fitting to enlarge the coupler pockets to accept Kadee couplers.
Then, I discovered that the cuppola didn't sit right because the window glass hit the interior wall when you assembled it. More cutting and fitting.
Finally, many of the detail parts are molded in a bright shiny engineering plastic. The grab irons were just too yellowy. So after I got everything together, I sprayed it was a matte clear coat and then tried to tone everything down with chalk and pastel powder weathering. Is it a perfect replica of a P&WV caboose? No, but it's good enough for me and it's not still sitting in the box somewhere.
This is a stock MTH PRR N5c caboose on which the painted roof began to peel. Being one of the staple cabin cars on my layout, I stripped off the paint that was peeling as well as that on the surrounding area. I then dissembled the caboose, airbrushed it with Dullcote, then weathered it with Bragdon's weathering chalks. The trucks were airbrushed with Floquil weathering paint, and then the car was reassembled and was ready to put back in service as seen in the accompanying photograph.
WE Thrall gondola #2760
Used only for "buffer car service" on Crude oil and LNG unit trains. Normally there is a string of 3-5 of these behind an occupied locomotive, to protect the crews.
Custom designed decals and light weathering
My entry is a photograph of the portion of my layout which depicts Port Royal Pennsylvania, about 40 miles northwest of Harrisburg in central Pennsylvania. The scene contains a multitude of scratchbuilt, kitbashed, and weathered commercial structures. The model photograph shows the area as in looked in the early 1960’s, and the inset shows the prototype scene as it appeared a few years earlier in 1959. The station had been taken out of service around 1947 but stood until 1969.
The signature structure of both the prototype and model is the concrete arch bridge built in 1910 which spans the four track mainline of the Middle Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The bridge (which still stands today) is entirely scratch built primarily out of styrene and shows the modifications made in 1937 to allow it to tie into a truss bridge carrying PA Route 75 over the Juniata River out of sight to the left.
The station is a stock Atlas structure with added details and weathering. The stairway leading from the bridge to the station was kitbashed from a British model which has been marketed in the US under a variety of different brand names. It can be seen in the prototype photo as well. The orange brick platforms were made by laminating Noch embossed brick material onto an MDF core. A light coating of green ground foam was added to simulate the weedy appearance of the platforms years after the station was closed.
The structure with the rose colored roof is a Weaver structure based on a City Classics company house. A scratch built raised seam metal roof was substituted for the stock shingled roof. To its right is a white frame structure with green trim typical of those found even today in small towns in the area. Various details were added, and the wooden exterior was heavily distressed to resemble peeling paint.
The brick structure to its right is a MTH model which was completely reworked. The entire structure was disassembled, and all parts were individually painted. Because it has large windows on both sides facing the streets, a scratch built interior was created that represented a pharmacy. This includes shelves stocked with medication and medical supplies, a counter with a cash register and a pharmacist, and a woman with her daughter picking up a prescription at the counter.
The final touch are the signature PRR line poles. Due to the extra height needed on both the prototype and layout to pass over the bridge approach, extra tall poles had to be substituted for those that came with the Weaver line pole kit. They were made out of dowel rods which were prototypically tapered using a rasp, then stained with an appropriate color of Minwax.
My love of accumulating locos and rolling stock far exceeds my layout's capacity. Years ago I built pull-out under layout storage drawers which quickly filled-up. Several months ago while still cooped-up, I hit upon a solution using materials already on-hand... a used wooden wall cabinet in excellent condition from a kitchen remodel, left over 1/2" homasote and used flex track. The three shelf cabinet measures 36" wide, 30" high and 12" deep. Each shelf contains five tracks laid on 2 1/4" wide strips of homasote. The strips in turn are mounted on homasote risers stepped up in 1/2" increments to allow for easy viewing and access. Each shelf has a stiff cardstock "guard rail" in front to prevent models from accidental falls to the floor. Depending on their length, the cabinet holds 60-75 freight cars. Cutting the homasote with a utility knife was tedious, but better than creating rough edges and mountains of dust using a saw. Since all materials were leftovers from previous projects, the total cost of this cabinet was literally zero. I love repurposing!
This is my 3D backdrop of HO houses along Highland Avenue in Steubenville, Ohio. It is a work-in-progress. When completed it will provide forced perspective for the O scale layout below it. Clockwise from the top left: 2020 Google Earth photo of Highland Avenue; a cross-section plan of the hillside from the siding to the crest; the second house on the street (a Walthers 933-3789 Tillman Farm House) in its 1950’s coloring; a 2010 photo of the first house on the street; a photo showing the test-fitting of the houses against the backdrop; the first house on the street in its 1950s color-scheme (a Walthers 933-3786 Two Story Frame House). The house models have been cut down to an appropriate depth, painted, and weathered. Curtains have been installed and their first floors are lighted.
Penn Central / PRR Eastbound Signals at Cresson, Pa. in 1973.
Wheeling & Lake Erie Tunnel motor 5391 leads an eastbound coke train out of Rook yard, bound for Monessen PA. The boxcar and tankers will continue east to interchange with the SWP at Owensdale PA. WE 253, and ex NS GP 38-2 waits, its destination is the Union railroad yard in West Mifflin PA.
This is what happens when you discover a set of unusual decals. So I just had to build one. It took two Tichy small-dome tank car kits plus four additional domes. Since the domes are short and flat-topped I used my belt sander to cut them down to size. Then I added styrene discs followed by washers for the hatches. Nut/bolt/washer castings added additional detail. Brass wire and 00-90 washers formed the vents. The decal sheet said that these cars were not painted black, so I mixed a dark charcoal gray with Scalecoat black and white paints.
The starting point for this car was an early 1990's Walthers kit of a basic BN flatcar. After setting on a shelf unbuilt for 30 years, I decided several months ago to turn it into a steel hauling car for my railroad. After assembling the basic kit, scale stirrups were added, the bulkheads were scratch built from styrene and airbrushed matching green. The original reporting marks and numbers were patched-out, replaced with my own and the car weathered with powders. The steel plate loads were scratch built with styrene (airbrushed dark gray), strip wood and chart tape before light rust colored weathering was applied.
Details: A former D&RGW coal bathtub gondola was spotted on the Union Railroad, serving out It's last years of life in
scrap metal service.
Model: Roundhouse kit
What I did: I weathered by a combination of weathering powders, and the "hairspray method" using Badger "rust". I also designed and 3D Printed a removable load. The Same weathering methods were applied to it.
It's 1976, and a freshly-painted Cambria & Indiana Bicentennial hopper car is spotted at the Montour #10 mine in Library, on the Montour Railroad. The carbody of the model is a RTR S Helper Service model; all the modeling was done on the running gear. The deep-flange wheels and American Flyer-compatible couplers were discarded. Notice the immense improvement to the end of the car by weathering the trucks and axles, buffing the wheel treads with a wire wheel, adding and painting a Kadee coupler and removing the shiny gladhand, and adding and weathering a rubber air hose by San Juan Car Company. The Montour tipple, built by another modeler, appears as I photographed it the 1970s when it was briefly returned to service by Consol.
About 30+ years ago I came across this old AHM flat car in a closeout store for a dollar or two. Being a NH fan I had to buy it. I have no idea who made it, it just says "AHM, Made in Taiwan." What intrigued me though was how it was apparently warped from being in the sun somewhere. Since it was plain black plastic, I did my best to paint the deck to simulate old weathered decking. I replaced the trucks with Kadee trucks and added a brake wheel. It's by no means a prototypical work of art, but I still love it and it's been on my layouts ever since.
This is a Weaver flat car to which I made many improvements. The car came with a plastic wooden deck painted in an unrealistic shade of orange. I started by masking off individual boards on the deck, and spraying them with various tones of gray and khaki. Next, I weathered the deck with weathering chalks which made it look like aged wooden planks. I then weathered the carbody with chalks, and the frame and trucks with paint. Wooden stakes were made of strip wood weathered with various hues of Hunterline stain and inserted in the stake pockets. The final touch was to glue the rusty chains to the deck. These represent the chains used to lash loads to the flat car.
This O scale scratch-built ingot car or "buggy" was completely constructed from styrene sheet and shapes; only the wheels and couplers have been added. It is one of 9 and is based on a prototype used by Weirton Steel in their Open Hearth mill during the 1950s-1980s. The cars were then rusted and weathered to resemble the heavily worn real ones. The ingot molds were made by carving a positive out of wood, using it to create a rubber mold, and then casting over 30 replicas in resin. After painting with a rust-colored primer, they were dusted with white weathering powder to simulate the ground limestone used as a release agent in the prototype steel-making process. The tops were then painted an orangish hue to simulate the super-hot ingot. You can almost see the heat waves shimmering off the tops of the molds!
2 Athearn 16-wheel heavy duty flat cars with generator (Erie) and transformer (Westinghouse) loads. 1 Bachman New York Central 6 axle depressed center flat car with high voltage circuit breaker load made by Multiscale Digital.
This brass PRR Atlantic 4-4-2 was sold as an E5 by Alco Models.
I made several modifications to convert it to more closely match E3sd number 2999.
First, the Delta type trailing truck went into the junk drawer and replaced by a scratch built frame with a spoked wheel. The original pilot was the usual Pennsy style with horizontal slats, but I found detailed plans in a book for the earlier wooden pilot shown in the prototype photo. I then constructed the pilot in styrene, and had it cast by a dental laboratory, using a non-precious alloy.
The driver axles weren’t square to the frame, so that had to be fixed by adding shim brass to the bearing slots and some judicious filing to even things out.
An upgraded can motor and as much weight that could be shoehorned into the boiler were added, and I then airbrushed the model with Scalecoat paint, followed by Champ decals.
This oldie was built from a Mantua HO kit in 1960 by me, then a 13 year old, with guidance and support from my Dad.
As it turns out, it is the only steam locomotive kit I ever built as my interest turned mostly to diesels.
Mantua began releasing basic generic steam locomotive kits in the late 1940's,
long before imported highly detailed brass hit the market.
These kits had few details, but that didn't matter to me at the time.
I brush painted it with 410M model railroad paint and lettered it with Champ decals.
That's about as good as it got for a kid back then.
Oh, by the way. It's been stored in its original box for decades, but I just put it on the track to photograph and viola...it ran! It's shaky and needs lubed, but the old timer still has it.
Model Description: Here is a photograph of a PRR Class J Texas speeding through the farmland of central Pennsylvania. The work I did on this engine was to prime the smoke unit with loads of smoke fluid and allow it to heat up while the engine was motionless. In the meantime, I set up the picture, then used command control to put the engine in the forward running mode but without turning up the speed control. This caused the immediate release of extremely large amounts of smoke at which time I took the time exposure picture to maximize the amount of smoke in the photograph.
Double-headed O Scale Decapods work hard dragging a long ore train across the Panhandle bridge. The Pennsy's I1s steam locomotive was the largest class of 2-10-0 "Decapods" in the US with 598 built 1916–1923. They were the dominant freight locomotive on the system until World War II, and they remained in service until the end of PRR steam in 1957. Their power was undeniable, with one author describing them as "the holy terror of the PRR"".
U28 #2808, SW1500 #1563 and GP38 #2056 make-up a typical 1980's P&LE consist in HO. The GE is from Stewart and both EMD's are from Athearn. The 2056 started life as an undec blue box which I re-motored, painted and lettered. All three have added details and are weathered - from light to very heavy. The above photo was taken in the yard on my layout as the units awaited their next assignment.
The U-Boat certainly is heavily covered in reddish dirt and grime. That's how it looked on March 7, 1981 when Kevin N. Tomasic photographed it in the McKees Rocks Yard. That photo appears on page 12 in Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad in Color, Volume 1 by Richard C. Borkowski (Morning Sun). I used that photo as a guide when doing the weathering.
Here is a Milwaukee Road SD10 that I kitbashed out of a Proto 2000 SD7. This is the first time that I've ever attempted kitbashing a locomotive and is also the first time that I've ever used printed parts on a model. I started this project with taking off the original high short hood and cab. The instructions in the Lines West kit said that the original cab and short hood just pop right off. Well, on the early kits (which naturally I had) were glued on. Once I got the stock parts off it was a fairly straightforward process to put the new cab and hood on. I needed to sand the cab a bit on the roof to get rid of the printing lines. I'm not particularly crazy with how the hood and cab fit on the original base but are the best that I could do without wrecking the original base. The clips that hold everything together are very fragile and break easily. I found that out multiple times. I added the rest of the stock details to the shell such as eye bolts, fans and assorted piping and ladders and railings.
The Lines West kit contained the air cleaner, cab, low nose, headlight/numberboard inserts and cab windows. I couldn't get the headlights or numberboard inserts to fit so I made new ones out off Testors Clear Window Maker. I started the paint with a white primer followed by many light coats of ICG orange, finishing off with Engine Black. I then added Microscale Decals and gave the entire shell a couple of coats of Dullcoat.
Once I had the shell fairly well done I started on the chassis. I had to remove a big chunk of the weight ahead of and over the front truck to let the low hood sit on the chassis. I also had to cut away half the original fuel tank as the SD10 only has half the tank the stock SD7 has. I also added the dual air tanks ahead of the fuel tank, these were included in the kit. After the weight and the chassis were modified (which also meant that I got to figure out how to use my drill press as a milling machine) I added a DCC decoder and LED lighting. Kadee #5 couplers were also added. I've yet to figure out a good way to have window glass, I didn't like what the kit supplied so that part remains unfinished for now.
I learned a lot from doing this unit. As frequently the case there are always more things that you learn about a subject when you attempt an accurate model.
Pictured above is a reworked Williams (now Bachman) E-7 which I purchased many years ago. Williams was a manufacturer of low end O scale equipment which was often toy like in appearance, but their E-7 along with a few of their other locomotives were scale sized engines that were reasonably accurate. Their PRR E-7 had particularly good graphics, and the only major error for the PRR was the inclusion of a Mars light. Having no other options for an E-7 at the time, I purchased the model and added command control and detailed it to improve its appearance.
The cosmetic upgrades consisted of adding a PRR roof antenna, lift rings on the nose, a gap filler between the swinging pilot and the frame, and painting the stainless steel kick plates below the doors. Since the fuel tank was grossly undersized, I scratchbuilt replacements which were close to scale size. Even by current standards, the upgraded engine holds up well to contemporary models of the E-7 and remains in my fleet.
The "newest" Carload Express locomotive, SD60M #6001 waits to head west.
- Walthers SD60M with dcc and sound
- Airbrushed Badger maroon for the body,
- Railbox yellow,
- Badger black
- CMR Carload express SD60M Smokebox Graphics for the reflective tape.
- Details West ditch lights,
- Horizon Hobbies PTC board,
- Details West MU cables,
- Walthers SD60M handrail set,
- Glosscote only, due to delivery appearance.
Seen from the Ohio side, the modeler's PRR Panhandle bridge spans the 8' wide river. The river area is over 2400 square inches, 3/8" deep, and consumed 40 boxes of Woodland Scenics Deep Pour Murky Water. The 11'9" bridge model is double-tracked, super-detailed and the piers feature working pier navigation lights.
Early Morning At The Produce Yard
As the businessman heads to the platform to catch the first commuter train into Pittsburgh, there's plenty of activity going on behind him. He may think he's an early-bird, but the day began at 2AM for the produce yard and will be over by noon. The action is taking place on my proto-freelanced HO layout and of course at this hour, I'm just waking up.
Amtrak 159 leads a very late Pennsylvanian past a very unique traffic incident, after a record snowstorm. Woodland scenic snowflake, the trailer roof is tinfoil. Scratchbuilt trestle.
I built this a few years ago for a friend who wanted a model similar to what Lance Mindheim built for one of his layouts. It's two long Pikestuff kits kitbashed to make one very long model. It took a lot of cutting, filing and fitting since the models are from their "Kitbasher" which really do require a lot of kitbashing. I also scratchbuilt a number of items like the concrete dock and stairs, the vending machines, The light above the door, a diamond tread ramp and shelving inside the open door (not visible in the photo). I was pleased with how it turned out even though it was much more work than I expected.
This is a model of a concrete "T-Beam" bridge which I recently completed and is now permanently installed on my layout. This type of bridge was built from the late 1930's through the 1950's, and a few may still be found in service today. They were built in place by erecting wooden forms into which concrete was poured around pre-placed rebar. They were not pre-stressed and did not hold up well due to the use of deicing salts which came into common use in the post war era.
The bulk of the model was built from just two pieces of wood. The piers and concrete beams were all ripped from a single six foot long clear 1" X 8" board. The deck was made out of MDF which scaled out at 9" thick which is close to scale for a prototype bridge deck. The parapets were made from a piece of 1 1/4" lath and the architectural details were made from various pieces of strip wood.
The finished model was then painted a light khaki color and weathered with chalks. Architectural grooving appears to be three dimensional, but is actually drawn on using pencil and a fine tip white marker.
These units were built for a friend who used to get cab rides on them when they were assigned to the Wildwood Switcher or P&W Helper on weekends. For a number of years they and the 6605 worked the PaTrain between Pittsburgh and Versailles during the week.
The models are based on the old Athearn bluebox GP9 which is actually a GP7. Most of the GP7 identifying features were removed along with the dynamic brake and winterization hatch, cast on grab irons, and pilot footboards. Many detail parts were added along with scratch built parts and handrails bent from finer wire and soldered together. There are over 230 parts on each locomotive.
I got an email asking for information on the "Plummy" that included a link. That started my researching information and maps available online and using GIS software to put it all together. USGS, County, Hopkins, Mine, Orthophotos, and other maps where found. I was able to accurately locate the PRR Plum Creek Branch and the three locations for the Plum Creek Mine operated by the New York and Cleveland Gas Coal Comapny over the years. I also found some useful information on the "Plummy" and how the PRR connected with the Unity Railway and the B&LE.