Freight Car Friday #9…

Well it’s been a bit and I apologize, it’s not for lack of trying. Several things happened on the way to this post.


I got the last set of well cars painted, cut out all the decals and had them sorted per my routine for this type of car. Went to start applying them and because of their age they absolutely would not release from the backing. Got a couple softened up enough that I literally pealed the decal off, but it wouldn’t stick. I checked the PPW/A-line/Arrow hobby website and they still had them available, In fact they are a updated set. They arrived yesterday.

The last set of well cars awaiting decals.

I then decided to try my hand at containers. There are  approximately 18 from Proto Power West that I had bought at the same time as the well cars. I had also picked up decals for them at that time. Painted the containers and went to apply the decals starting with a set of American President lines decals. Guess I liked the big red eagles on the sides. Applied the smaller informational decals first, when I tried to apply the eagles, they disintegrated.

The decal for the APL containers were old and fell apart on application.

I will strip off the decals from the APL containers and try something else. In the meantime I tried a set of Sea Land decals that I had with much better luck.

Completed Sea-Land containers ready for revenue service.

There were enough for eight so I still have another ten or so to go. In addition to the decals for the red well cars I also ordered a set of decals for the stray Gunderson car that I found. I was looking at what I had left from that decal session and found I had used a couple of decals that had not gone on well on the first attempt. Also I picked up some 20 foot containers for variety.

And lastly…

After being stuck in the house for the last six months my wife decided that after 23 years it was time to do a little upgrading around the house. Much like the rest of America. Turns out this means most of our main floor. Most of the rooms will get new paint. A redo of the kitchen (appliances and counter tops as well paint) and a full wall, floor to ceiling shelf system for her dishes (she likes to collect dishes, her hobby). A lot of this will be my doing, obviously not the counter tops. Just everything else.

And that has been what has been consuming my time. No complaints. It’s been awhile since I have had a major project to do and I like doing them. Just like completing something on the layout, finishing these projects is extremely satisfying. And no, that was not put in there in case she reads this.

There will be time in between to get small projects done and as I do I will update you. Looking forward to finishing the well cars and getting back to focusing on the actual layout. Also there are still a bunch of freight cars to be done.

Till later and hopefully not as long as it has been, Happy hobbying…


Wiring for Lights…

The quest for lights in the buildings took a multi prong approach. I have some buildings with regular 12/14 volt lights in them. The 14 volt lights are a preference as they glow a little dimmer and last longer, but I have more 12 volt bulbs. It tends to be whatever is on hand as I do them. Also, I have started to use LED’s that I have scrounged from Christmas tree strings. In addition to these traditional routes I have been buying the Woodland Scenics  Just Plug Lighting System.

The Woodland Scenics System

Here is the collection of Just Plug lighting products I have collected.

Getting all the electrical supplies together for lighting for the Addison scene.
Lighted cars and billboards.
More of the lighting supplies.
Lighting supplies, wire, LED lights, cables, etc.
A couple of cars near the farm scene.

The cars, billboards and street lights make it very easy to get up and running. Although the wire size is extremely small. It does try ones patience when working with them. Also the controllers make adjusting the light levels to a realistic level easy.

The 12 volt supplies

Up until now I have been using 12 volt wall warts as power supplies for everything not track power. Though they work you start ending up with a large hodge podge of different power supplies that really gets confusing as to whats doing what.

My solution was a couple of regulated 12 volt power supplies that will get rid of all the wall warts. The ones I bought are from Micro Mark and are used for LED string light.

The only problem is that I believe they are intended as an internal power supply and the connections for 120 volt power are rather exposed.

Wiring up the power supply. The 120v connections are rather unprotected.
The power supply wired up with the protective cover in place.

As you can see there is a plastic strip that “covers” the wire connections but it would still be easy to accidentally touch the connections. My solution was to make a larger cover out of styrene to cover the whole end.

The covers for the power supplies.
Showing the cover in place.

With the covers made and before installing in the electrical cabinet I checked the output voltage.  Both were a little over 12 volts. They are adjustable, so I hooked up a multi meter and dialed them in to 12 volts.

The power supply dialed into 12 volts.

From there it was time to reinstall them in the cabinet.

The power supplies and block installed. waiting for the second distribution block to arrive.
The fused distribution block.

I also had found a power distribution block on Amazon that was fused for each feed. On the one cover you can see that I labeled it with the information about the power supply so that it was readily available should I need the info. The upper supply is for lighting , while the other will be used for accessories. With these in place I ran a buss wire for the lighting and also a wire from the Woodland Scenics power supply to Addison.

Woodland Scenics light hubs on the left, Standard 12V DC on the right.

Then it was just a matter of pulling all the different wires to the blocks.

Wires all connected.

With these in place it’s easy to add more lights as I add to the town. I still have the background buildings to place and wire. I will also be doing the same for the lights in Jackson.

And the final results…
End of the day at the farm.
Two cars passing in the night.
“Why no officer, I wasn’t aware I was going that fast.”
Downtown Addison at night.
Gas station and depot, the Northbound just pulled into town.
Overall shot of Addison.
The depot scene, the order board is showing green.

And there you have it. It’s nice to have this much done. Obviously the next thing here is to add more scenery as only the basics are in. Also, I am starting to work on the background buildings, which will be a whole new bunch of lights to wire up. Also looking at the photos I need to get the rest of the backdrop panels in and close up that really ugly hole. And in case you are wondering if you missed something, the answer is no, I have yet to finish up the town of Jackson on the other side of the peninsula. I just wanted to get the scene you see on entering finished.

That’s what I’ve got for now, till later…




Freight Car Friday #8…

This week I wasn’t able to complete any cars for the layout but I was able to complete some loads for the intermodal cars. I came across four American Limited Models Bulktainers that I had sitting around.

These were 20 ft. tanks used for shipping liquids on intermodal cars. A search on the web will show a variety of such tanks. These make a great addition to the container fleet.

The kits themselves are pretty simple, with a piece count that is relatively low. There is the tank, two ends, a walkway for the top of the car, and an accessory sprue that has a ladder, placards and valves. In addition there is a piece to help align the ends so that the finished tank sits flat. And a decal sheet.

The first step is the ends. They go on with very little clean up and attach easily. The next step is the decals as they need to go on before the upper walkway.

Bulktainers awaiting decals.

One other thing I did before starting the decals was to paint the raised edges on the ends of the tank. As you can see in the photo the end decals are white with a silver border. I didn’t want to try and get these to snug down properly with the raised edge.

Decals for the Bulktainers.
Painted the raised rivets sections silver.
Alternate end of container with paint applied. Yes, I cleaned up the over painted areas.

So I carefully trimmed them down to just the white portion of the decal so they would properly sit within the raised portion.

End decals. Will remove the silver border sections to make application easier.
One decal trimmed of the silver section.

As you will note in the first photo are the black bands for the tank. There is a placement gauge in the instructions for there location on the tank. This is the most time consuming part of the build. Keeping them straight and in alignment is a bit tedious and I know other modelers that have just left them off. With them in place you then add the “BulkTainer” decals over them. The other dimensional/capacity decals then go on.

After the decals are in place and dry (I used solveset to set them, then waited overnight) it’s just a matter of adding the end ladder, placards and valve to the ends.

And BOOM!, just like that they are done..

Like I said they make a great addition and add variety to a container train. Though these are no longer available from American Limited, I have seen them readily available in the hobby stores and may pick up a couple more.

The prodigal well unit returns.

Additionally while searching for unbuilt/unfinished kits on the shelves I came across a Athearn BB diesel engine box in the middle of freight car boxes. Thinking it odd I popped it open and low and behold there it was. One of the reasons I probably missed it before was because as well as the car there were a couple of containers and a bunch of stick on weights. The heft of the box would lead one to believe that there was an engine in the box.

The missing well car unit.
Missing well car unit and it’s company in the wrong box.

With it located I can now finish it off and complete the five unit set.

That’s it for this week, as promised up next is running the wiring for the lights in Addison. And all the drama that was involved.

Stay safe and we’ll see you next week…

Back to the Layout…

With all the kits that I have been doing you may be wondering if I had forgotten about the actual layout. The answer is no, I have been spending time on that also. With the Woodland Scenics kits that I put together I now had a vision for the town of Addison. As the first thing you see when entering the layout room, the bare plywood was bugging me.

First thing was to get the empty space around the outside of the peninsula filled in. You can see it unfinished in this shot.

Looking at the end of the peninsula. Farm on the right and the drive in on the left.

First I had to pull the fascia and paint it. Once back on I filled in with plaster cloth, a coat of plaster and a base coat of paint.

Plaster cloth in place on outer ring.
Other side of peninsula with plaster cloth in place.
Coat of plaster over cloth. Ready for base coat of paint.
Base coat of paint on, ready for base scenery.

After that I started placing the buildings in Addison looking for what looked best.

Playing with placement of buildings in Addison.
Alternate view of new block in Addison.

Once I had what I liked I moved on to putting in the foundations in place. As well as the core buildings I also placed the depot and gas station just off the highway that runs along the fascia.

Gluing bases down for depot / gas station.
Plaster in around building foundations.
Ground color down around building foundations.

I also placed the platforms for the depot.

View from the other direction, also showing team track / depot freight track.

I then started adding the buildings.

Overall station scene put in place.
Most of the buildings set in place for trial in Addison.

However, before I could put everything down I had to get everything wired up for lighting. Which is where I’ll leave you for now as that is a story in itself.

Til then…



Woodland Scenics Structures…

Much like the rail cars I have been building and reviewing most of what I present to you was purchased back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. While at a train show during this period my wife picked up for me pretty much the whole selection (at that time) of Woodland Scenics metal structures.

They are: The Pharmacy D221, Gas Station D223, The Dr. Office – Shoe Repair shop D224, Floyd’s Barber Shop M111 and Tommy’s Treehouse M107.

These are great little kits. I just always thought them a bit small  when put next to other HO structures. Not out of scale, just small. And that’s why I never did anything with any of them except the treehouse.

Anyways, I came across them (again) and decided it was time to put them together. Once I did start working on them I figured out exactly where and how to use them. The pharmacy, Dr. Office and shoe repair are basic 4 walls and roof kits. The gas station comes with the outside details and the barber shop comes with both outside and inside details.

I won’t go into great detail on how I assembled them. Basically cleaned the castings. Then using a T bar sander squared up the walls. I used CA to glue them together. Primed and then painted them. I stuck with the advertised colors for the buildings. The barber shop required painting the interior before assembly.

Floyd’s Barber shop.
Interior pieces for the barber shop.
Woodland Scenics pewter metal buildings.
Woodland Scenics gas station.

The barber shop painted and going together.

Woodland Scenics barber shop interior completed.
View thru the front window.
Another view of shop.
Finished shop with lights installed. Ready for layout.

And the pharmacy, Dr. Office and shoe repair.

The woodland Scenic buildings ready for the layout.

The buildings will be going into Addison and form the core of the downtown area of this small town. The structure size does work well with the other buildings in the town. I am in the process of putting together this scene and should have photos soon.

Till then, stay safe and Happy Modeling…


Freight Car Friday #7…

This weeks freight car is another ACF 3 bay hopper. It is from Accurate Finishings Inc. Actually I thought the car itself was from again, Front Range Products, as it was the same as last weeks cars and it had their stampings on the car. I figured Accurate Finishings was like Bev Bel from the late 70’s, early 80’s. Bev Bel would buy undecorated Athearn cars and do limited runs with them.

Started doing a little research so as to give you a little background. Wow, what a rabbit hole that was. Tried googling Acccurate Finishings and all I got back were old kits for sale. Either online stores or Ebay. Tried it again with the mailing address and that where it got confusing and interesting.

With the mailing address I got two things. First was some patent application numbers/dates. The second thing that popped up was Accurail. Thought that it was kind of weird and then I noticed that the mailing addresses were the same. Further research turned up that after Front Range Products went under, Accurail bought a bunch of their molds.

Without contacting Accurail I not sure of the actual connection between Accurate Finishings and Accurail. But, I’m going to go with Accurate Finishings being a division of Accurail doing limited runs of cars and it didn’t work out.

The car itself is just like the cars I talked about last week except that the weight for the car was now a one piece stamped steel plate instead of two smaller ones. With the new one piece weight the car came in at exactly 4 1/2 oz as recommended by the NMRA RP-20.1 weight standard.

The only problem with the kit was the trucks were warped. Not sure if they originally came like this or they warped over time. Fortunately I had a pair of 100 ton trucks on hand to replace them with. Additionally, the supplied scale couplers had to go.

It’s been so long , the trucks have gone bad. Luckily I had replacements on hand.
And the supplied couplers absolutely needed to go.

The models info.

This weeks project.

And the finished car.

The finished car,

If interested, there are a lot of Accurate Finishing cars available. On Ebay there were quite a few different hoppers for smaller roads, private industries and grain Co-ops. Also there are some box cars for again, smaller roads and industries.

Thanks for following along. I’ll see you next week.

Happy Railroading…

Freight Car Friday #6…

This week we have not one but twelve cars. They are Front Range Products ACF 3 bay Grain Cars. Front Range Products were around in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Their demise is something of scandal, but their products had some of the nicest detail at the time.

A side note. Most of the Front Range cars that I have are “inherited”. I was working with a guy back in the early 90’s who was “in search of a hobby”. After talking to me and another coworker about model railroading he thought it might be for him. Doing some research he decided on the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range. He bought a bunch of engines and cars. I helped him finish off some space in his basement for a small layout and work bench.

One day he walks up to me and tells me he’s getting out of the hobby. It’s just not for him. He was able to return some of the stuff to the LHS. Sold some of it off. And he gave me a bunch for helping him out. Thus, “inherited”.

Anyways, I pulled one of the boxes out from the “to be built” shelf. It was a Southern grain car. No Instructions in the box. Although the only thing I really needed to know was the correct placement of the triple valve and the brake actuator. Remembering that I had seen some more FRP cars down in the “completed” section (I keep the cars grouped pretty much by manufacturer) I went and looked. Turns out there were a dozen cars there. Going through the boxes I found that they were in various stages of disarray. A couple were not assembled, some were OK and others had various things broken off.

And so the construction and repair began. FRP used pins to hold the trucks on. My friend used super glue to hold the friction pins in place. Most were either too tight or not tight enough. He also used super glue to secure the draft gear boxes. Some of the couplers were glued in place.  I assembled the cars that weren’t put together, the one Southern car, a Chicago & Northwestern car and a CanCarb car. On these I tapped out the truck mounting hole and used 2-56 screws to hold them in place. The draft gear boxes I went with the friction fit covers and if they were a bit loose I used canopy glue on them. Canopy glue is great, it’s tacky and sets fast, dries clear and you can remove the part without damage if you need to.

The rest were handled on a case by case basis. All had the truck pins removed (ie. broken off) and then I drilled and tapped the hole and mounted the trucks with screws. The couplers that were free moving I left alone at this time. The ones that were frozen (glued) in place or didn’t move freely were handled like the trucks. I broke the cover off and then drilled and tapped for a screw.

The broken truck mounting pin.
Holes tapped for the 2-56 screws, ready to assemble.
Trucks and one of the draft gear boxes done.
Both trucks and both draft gear boxes.
Trucks done, the draft gear boxes are using the push in plates to hold the couplers.

As it turned out, the Southern car was one of a six car set. Each had it’s own separate reporting number. There was one car I tossed. The weights inside had come loose and he had glued the car together. So no fixing it. It was also missing a bunch of parts. So rather than having it sit around, away it went.

And I present to you the cars…

The Front Range Products fleet of ACF grain cars.
The Southern set of grain cars.
The miscellaneous grain cars.
And that’s not all…

Rather than a separate post, I’ll just include them here. I came across another bunch of center beams. It’s a three car set from Walthers. Same as the others, I added a load and secured it using thread to simulate cabling holding the load in place. Because the cars were a lighter paint color, I painted the spool of the ratchet black so that it looks like more cabling is wrapped around it. The single thread stood out as just that, a single thread stuck to the side of the spool. It looks pretty good painted.

The latest found set of center beams.
Painted the spool of the tie down ratchet so that the thread by itself doesn’t look weird.

Have a great weekend, I’ll see you next week. Till then…

Freight Car Friday #5…

This weeks freight car Friday is a bit late, sorry, small family emergency.

This week I have a Con-Cor PS-2 covered hopper from 1989. Grabbed it off of the shelf thinking it would be one of those quick builds. Turns out back in the 1980’s the cars had pin mounted trucks with the coupler as part of the truck. It’s my understanding that these cars were originally from AHM and that Con-Cor had bought the molds.

The truck mounted couplers for the Con-Cor hopper. They had to go.

Didn’t want truck mounted couplers and the trucks themselves were horribly out of scale.

The first step was to drill out the pin hole and put in a new styrene post. Once the glue had hardened I made a spacer out of .060 sheet styrene. This gave me the correct height for the thickness of the new trucks to be mounted.

.060 cutting spacer in place.

It was then just a matter of cutting off the excess post.

Cutting down the truck mount pin.
Cut down truck mount ready for the drill and tap.

I then drilled out the post and tapped it for the 2-56 screw. In the photo you can see the shim for the coupler mount. The styrene for the shim was included in the kit. Con-Cor had not yet started to change over the kits to body mounted couplers. They did offer very basic instructions for mounting Kadee #5 couplers and boxes. In the instructions they wanted you to cut off the coupler mounting portion of the truck. That would have made an ugly truck just that much more ugly. That’s why I replaced them.

Adding the coupler mounting draft gear (the box the coupler goes into) was very easy. The shim was the proper height so it was just a matter of drilling a hole and then tapping it for the mounting screw. Once mounted I gave it a quick coat of Green Zinc Chromate paint as it was the closest to BN green that I had.

Coupler box installed and painted. The truck bolster is drilled out and tapped.

After that it was ading the trucks along with 1 1/4 ounces of weight to get it to NMRA standards.

Finished Con-Cor hopper.

Con-Cor is still selling HO scale cars, however the PS-2 hopper are not currently something they offer. And the couplers are now body mounted. It really is a rather nice basic car and will be a nice addition to the road.

Thanks for stopping by and we’ll see you next week. Stay safe and Happy Railroading…


Intermodal Update #2…

In a couple week, something of a marathon session I have gotten all painted intemodal cars decaled. The process got off to a slow start as I tried to figure out how to keep track and apply so many different, small decals to each car. With the first unit it was locating and identifying each small decal on the sheet. Then cutting out and applying the decal. Time consuming and tedious. Plus I had to use a magnifying lens to read most of the decals.

After doing only one side of one car I figured there had to be a better way. My solution was to grid off a sheet of paper. Then each square was labeled with each decals text, large enough to read.

Decals for the Gunderson Twin Stacks cut out and labeled. Makes application go quicker then cutting out each one as needed.

Once this was done I then selected the needed decals for the car side I was working on and laid them out as they would go on the car. This sped up the process greatly. I would do a side, hit them with Solvaset and while they dried lay out the decals for the other side. With this method I was able to get a couple cars done in an evening.

Side note, the decals are from Proto Power West / A-line and I bought them at the same time as the cars. For their age I had very few problems. I had considered buying new except that PPW/Aline was only selling off what they had left and I figured what they had left might be as old as what I was using.

After each car was decaled it then moved to the paint booth for a coat of Dullcoat.

The first problem…

One thing that did slow me down for a night was that I found one of the SeaLand mid unit cars was missing the brake piping along the side. I had to add the brake piping, piping protectors and then paint that side of the car. After letting it dry for a day it was then ready for decals.

Some how missed the extra detail on one of the cars and had to add after painting, before decals.

After the cars were all Dullcoated it was time to add the wheel sets. The wheel sets on the ends of the 5 unit set are 33″. The wheel sets on the shared bolsters are 36″. I had use a  spacer washer on the 33″ trucks to get the cars to set level.

And then the second problem…

As part of the construction process I ran a drill through all the holes in the metal parts that act as bolsters or car connectors. I then tapped any hole that would be receiving a screw. And that was working perfectly till I was screwing on the last (why is it always the last) truck. The screw got stuck. I could not screw it in and when I tried to back it out it broke off. I removed the bolster from the car with the thought that I would try and grab the screw with a pliers and turn it out. There wasn’t enough to grab onto. My thought then was to drill it out. The problem there is that the screw is harder metal then the bolster.

The casting with the broken screw. Tried to drill out, but the screw is harder then the surrounding metal.

The bolster was toast. So I built a new one out of styrene. And I believe that it turned out rather well. For your consideration.

Because it’s the way it always goes. Screw broke off in casting. Had to make a new one out of available styrene.
Replacement in place ready for paint.
Replacement painted and ready for service.

Anyways, the Sealand cars:

The SeaLand set done and ready to hit the table.Next up the cars in TTX yellow.

And the BN Gunderson set:

The second set of Gunderson TwinStacks decaled and ready for the layout.

And finally the Thrall well cars:

Alternate / better view of the Thrall well cars.

I still have the set to be painted, but I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment getting these done after all these years.

Maybe next time I’ll have the last set done. Till then, take care…


Danny, This One is for You…

About a week ago, I was contacted by a gentleman who was building a Quality Craft Model of the GATX #96500 whale belly tank car. He was having trouble deciphering the drawings/instructions for mounting the bolsters to the tank. He asked for some pictures of the bolsters. I have tried emailing these to him but have had the emails returned.

So, Danny, if you stop by again here are the photos that you requested. I will try again to email them to you also.

GATX 96500 bolster detail 1.
GATX 96500 bolster detail 2.
GATX 96500 bolster detail 3.
GATX 96500 bolster detail 4.
GATX 96500 truck detail.

And to everyone else. If you have questions, need clarification, additional photos or my opinion on something, I”l be happy to help you out.

Till later…


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