Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Jupiter Pump & Compressor, Part 5

The only really sizeable industry on my layout is a manufacturer called Jupiter Pump & Compressor, though it isn’t modeled in a large way. It just comprises some flats and a siding which appears to serve a large plant. My most recent post about it, which could be called “Part 4” in my descriptions of it, contained links for the previous descriptions (see that post at: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/02/completing-jupiter-pump-compressor.html ).
     That previous post described preparing the area in front of the Jupiter plant for a new structure. The structure chosen was the AL&W Lines kit for an SP power house, and the building of it was briefly covered in two posts, of which this is the second: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/03/building-al-power-house-part-2.html . In that post, I indicated that the site needed additional work, and that work is the subject of the present post.
    Both to tie the new structure to the surroundings, and also to provide an evident connection of the power house building to the rest of the Jupiter plant, I designed a length of sidewalk. I began by cutting some surplus light cardstock (obviously used previously to mask some airbrushing) to fit the space, as you see here.


     I made the cardboard cutout above to look like a reasonable-size walkway, and it came out to be about 3/4-inch wide. Thus the following step was to use Evergreen no. 4517, “Sidewalk,” in 3/8-inch squares, to match the cardstock cutout, in an integral number of squares. Here is a quick check of the white Evergreen material, cut in a single piece from the no. 4517 sheet.


     This segment of sidewalk was painted a “concrete” color. I tried the Model Master color called “aged concrete” (their no. 4875), and thought it looked good, a warm color as is often seen in concrete made with sand of a warm color.
     After making sure all the alignment was as desired, and that all track clearances were maintained, I glued it to the location on the layout. Then I refined the ground contours to slope smoothly up to the walk.
     I did this with my taxidermists’ paper mache, called Brandt’s Compound, a material with the great advantage that it is very fine-grained and helps create a smooth surface, as I have reported previously (see, for example: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2015/01/pismo-dunes-road-part-2.html ).
     I apply the material mostly with a putty knife, but it is easy and convenient to do final contour adjustment and smoothing with a wet finger. With the painted walkway in place, here is how it looked in a somewhat downward view (not an angle that a layout visitor would have):


     The paper mache will be painted a color to match the surroundings, and then soil and vegetation will be added; but as those are really scenery topics, I will defer them to a later post.
Tony Thompson

Saturday, April 25, 2020

A model cab-forward, Part 2

In the previous post, I described a prototype Southern Pacific cab-forward class, AC-4, for which I had the Broadway Limited (BLI) model in HO scale. I showed appearances of these locomotives in service, and indicated the need to add a backup light to the BLI tender. That post can be found here: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/04/preparing-model-cab-forward-for-use.html . Now I turn to lettering my undecorated model.
     The BLI model was moderately glossy, so I could apply decals directly. I used Microscale set 87-75 for “Southern Pacific Heavy Steam.” It permits selecting correct-size lettering for tender sides and rear, as well as cab sides, front number plate, and number boards. In this lettering, I was guided by the excellent source book, Southern Pacific Painting and Lettering Guide (Locomotives and Passenger Cars), by Jeffrey Cauthen and John Signor (2nd edition, SPH&TS, Upland, CA, 2019.
     I needed to add the tender backup light. I found in my stash of steam locomotive parts a Kemtron part no. 7519, a Pyle National headlight casting. I attached it to the rear of the tender deck with canopy glue and painted its exterior black. I painted the interior of the casting aluminum.


     The cab-front number boards are illuminated, so the Microscale decal set’s inclusion of “indicator numbers” in correct stencil form and with clear rather than white numbers is a nice touch. Lettering the cab sides is an important part of the final appearance. The number plate below the headlight is also numbered. You can see the hole, centered between the windows, where the water cooler was removed. This will be filled and painted.


With these areas completed, one can appreciate the entire locomotive, quite an imposing model, especially for my branch-line layout; but of course, this engine will only operate on the Coast Division main, which does pass through the layout.


     Having already lightly sprayed the engine and tender with flat finish, I was almost prepared for weathering. But first, one anomalous part of the model decoration had to be corrected. Why on earth Broadway Limited chose to paint the cab handrails and ladders silver is beyond me — I have pored through Bob Church’s book, Cab-Forward, without finding a single example of such painting — maybe they thought it “looked nice.” The only possible suggestion I could make is that some prototype photos do show the lower parts of these locomotives a dusty or grayish color, but always these ladders and handrails are a color that matches the rest of the engine in that area.


As far as I’m concerned, these parts have to be painted black to be realistic, and then I can weather. Here is that job completed, along with filling the hole between the windows.


     I decided not to make the locomotive exceedingly dirty. Many railroads in the last days of steam did entirely neglect the appearance of such locomotives, but photos show that SP was not nearly so neglectful. Even at the very end of steam, many locomotives were presentable. Here is the locomotive on the layout, operating cab-hop (as I discussed in an earlier post: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/03/big-locomotives-on-small-layouts_17.html ).


     This is a fine-running engine and I am pleased to have it lettered and lightlyweathered, along with a few details corrected. If there is one locomotive that shouts “Espee,” it has to be the cab-forward.
Tony Thompson

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Freight car graffiti, Part 12: Granite Rock cars

This ongoing series of posts about post-1980 freight car graffiti had its beginning in a post about an article I did for Model Railroad Hobbyist, in the issue of January 2020. That post summarized the method I was using for both decal and paper overlay graffiti (if you wish, you can view that post at this link: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-latest-column-in-mrh.html ). Subsequent posts may be readily found by using “freight car graffiti” as the search term in the search box at right.
     The present post addresses some of the hopper cars owned and operated by the Granite Rock Company, now of Watsonville, California. The company was founded in 1900 and continues today to operate its original quarry at Logan, a little east of Watsonville, and located on the Southern Pacific’s main line of the Coast Division (now Union Pacific). On Wikipedia you can find a fairly complete and informative Granite Rock company history at this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graniterock .
     To show the dramatic paint scheme, here is a model car (a Walthers representation of a Greenville hopper) in its factory paint scheme, and I can testify that the prototype paint scheme really is a reddish orange like this:


These 2300-cubic foot cars have a 100-ton capacity. In the 1990s, there were two groups of these cars, numbered 1001–1095 and 1800–1859. In the present post, I will just cover one of the cars I’ve worked on, and cover it fairly completely, to illustrate the approach. I will show additional cars in subsequent posts, but in a less complete manner.
     I begin work on these cars with the graffiti. On the left side of the car above, I used a piece from Microscale set 87-1536, applied (not coincidentally) to cover the car number.


On the other side, I applied two pieces, one from a piece in Blair set 2262, and at the top of it, again covering the car number, part of a piece in Blair set 2263.


     Why am I covering the car numbers? I wanted to experiment with the kind of “re-lettering” of graffiti-ed cars, in which the car owner or lessee uses a paint patch to replace a car number. I discussed this topic in more detail in a prior post (see that post at: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/02/freight-car-graffiti-part-5-relettering.html ).
     For these cars, I chose to patch with a rectangle of black decal paper. The number chosen, 1807, was one not included in the commercial models. (Note that I did not cover the reporting marks.) Here’s the left side, after the renumber and weathering, plus tagging (I discussed tagging in the previous post in the series; it’s here: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/04/freight-car-graffiti-part-11-tagging.html ).


The other side of course reflects the same weathering approach and renumbering technique, plus tags added afterward. (You can  click on these images to enlarge them if you wish.)


     As you can notice in the above photos of the sides of weathered models, the interiors are more heavily weathered. I especially wanted to get these interiors to look gray and dusty, so when the cars operate empty, they would look realistic. Here’s a view of the interior, of the same car you see above, in what I would call an average amount of interior dirt, among the cars I’m doing:


     Getting these bright-colored cars to look like they really are working in rock service, as well as being targets for graffiti, has been an interesting challenge. I will report on more of these cars in following posts.
Tony Thompson

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Preparing a model cab-forward for use

I have long owned a couple of brass cab-forward models, and also own both the InterMountain and Broadway Limited models. This post is about prep work for the Broadway Limited (BLI) model.
     The BLI model is an SP Class AC-4, the first of the “modern” single-expansion 4-8-8-2 designs. I won’t go into the history of this or other cab-forward classes, in light of Bob Church’s excellent history, Cab-Forward (Central Valley Railroad Publications, Wilton,  CA, revised edition, 1982).
     But to summarize, the AC-4s were ten of the “flat-front” engines, nos. 4100–4109, and were distinguished among cab-forwards by being the first to have the new 16,000-gallon Vanderbilt tenders.
     When this model was released, I examined one at my Local Hobby Shop (please support yours!), and after looking it over and approving the overall appearance, I decided to buy one. But the factory lettering was, in my view, of poor quality and incomplete. Accordingly, I purchased an undecorated one, with the intent of lettering it myself.
     There are a number of good decal sets available for “SP Heavy Steam,” which certainly describes these engines, from California Locomotive Works, Foothill Model Works, Microscale, and other sources. But note that SP steam locomotives were never lettered in white. Until 1947, it was a paint called “aluminum bronze,” a silvery metallic color, and after that Lettering Gray, a light gray. Beware of SP decal sets with white steam lettering!
     Below is a photo of the right side of one of the AC-4s (a Stan Kistler photo, used with permission). Visible here is the unique spotting feature of the AC-4 class, the raised walkway over the air pumps.Note the staining on the boiler right behind the cab. The lower front of the cab has the post-1946 aluminum band. (You can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish.)


     Shown below is a view of the left side of an AC-4 (Robert F. Collins photo, J&D Studios collection, used with permission). Again, the spillage on the boiler behind the cab is very evident. Visible in both photos is the engine’s number plate, moved from between the front windows to beneath the headlight. Some AC-4s assigned to desert divisions had a water cooler between the front windows (and the BLI model has that too), but most engines across the SP system did not, as is the case for both these engines. I removed the cooler from the BLI model.


Note also in both these photos that the front number boards (the indicators) have been boxed in, so that crews could handle the numbers from inside the cab. The BLI model has this feature, characteristic of engines after about 1950.
     There is good information in Church’s book about lettering appearance on these engines, but for comprehensive data, including sizes of all lettering, it’s essential to consult the Southern Pacific Painting and Lettering Guide (Locomotives and Passenger Cars), by Jeffrey Cauthen and John Signor (2nd edition, SPH&TS, Upland, CA, 2019).
     I decided to number my locomotive as SP 4107, because it operated on the Coast in late steam days. Below is a photo of it at West Oakland, alongside the large sand house there (photographer unknown; print courtesy Alden Armstrong).


This locomotive has a lot of water staining on the boiler, more than one sees in most photos from the late steam era, and so perhaps not representative.
     Before turning to lettering, I examined the BLI model carefully. The first thing one notices, if familiar with SP steam power, is the absence of a backup light on the model tender. 


In the 1930s, SP had replaced the original Oliver backup lights with regular locomotive headlights atop the tender. They looked like the photo below (Stan Kistler photo at Los Angeles).


Obviously adding this backup light is an essential first step in this project.
     At this point, I believed I had all the information needed, and I prepared to letter the BLI model. But I will return to that, along with weathering, in a future post.
Tony Thompson

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Building a PFE Class R-40-24 car

The very last class of refrigerator cars rebuilt by Pacific Fruit Express was Class R-30/40-24. It was all built during 1947–48. The 2610 cars in the class were rebuilt mostly from older R-30-13 and R-40-4 cars. (That's why the term “R-30/40:” cars kept their old underframes, repaired as needed.) Their car numbers ranged from 65921 to 68532. Rebuilding ended with this class primarily because all the rebuildable cars of the old R-30-12, -13 and -14, and R-40-2 and -4, had been already been rebuilt.
     There was also an adverse ruling by the Internal Revenue Service, which reduced the financial attractions of rebuilding, which doubtless mattered, but with practically no more cars to rebuild, the process stopped, as related in the PFE book (Pacific Fruit Express, 2nd edition, A.W. Thompson, R.J. Church and B.H. Jones, Signature Press, Berkeley and Wilton, CA, 2000).
     The 60000-series rebuilds, more than 8000 cars, had received steel superstructure frames but all were wood sheathed, a less expensive sheathing than steel sheet. Extensive details of the history and photos of this rebuilding can be found in the PFE book. One of the interesting features of the -24 class is that the cars were rebuilt with plywood sides, as is well depicted in the photo below (photographer, location and date unknown; Jay Williams collection). If you click to enlarge, you can see the plywood seams.


The car has a reweigh date of September 1952 at Tucson, likely when it was repainted into the 1952 paint scheme shown.
     PFE recognized that plywood sheathing would be far less labor-intensive to apply, and they hoped the same would be true for maintenance. Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be true, and by the mid-1950s, failure at the seams and edges of plywood sheets led to replacement, using long-standard and dependable sheathing of tongue-and-groove boards.
     But I model 1953, so I should have the -24 cars mostly in plywood. In previous years these were straightforward to model. There was once a Sunshine Models kit for plywood cars of this class, as well as a kit from Stan Rydarowicz.
     I failed to acquire either of these kits, primarily because I already had a set of parts to build such a car (more on that below). The parts had been sent to me by Frank Hodina, who made the PFE reefer patterns for Sunshine; I believe the gift was in recognition of the help I had provided with PFE prototype information. That was back in the early 1990s.
     Before continuing, I should observe that one can approximate the plywood appearance with an Athearn steel reefer, by shaving off the rivet rows at the edge of side sheets, and carefully preserving the raised line that Athearn used to indicate sheet edges. If one does this, the door hinges have to be replaced with a “long strap” type as PFE used on wood sides (see prototype photo above). I showed my model made this way in an earlier post (see it here: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2016/05/that-bad-decal-project-part-2.html ).


There are several shortcomings to this model, one of which is that the prototype -24 side sheets were not five equal-width sheets, as on the steel car, but four full-width sheets and a narrower sheet at each end, about two feet wide.That is visible in the photo of PFE 67046 at the top of the present post.
     For the Hodina parts, I mentioned in a previous post that I had thought through how I might best assemble these parts (you can see that post at: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2013/07/keeping-those-projects-on-track.html ). I thought further about this after examining these parts, and decided that I would do the as-rebuilt paint scheme on my model.
     One reason, though you can’t see it in the parts bag in the photo below, is that the model fan shaft and door hinges are molded in black plastic, so adding them after painting the side orange will obviate the need to do that fussy painting. I will, however, still have to hand-paint the door latching bar. The roof that you see here is styrene, but all the other major car parts are resin.


Note that I have already attached the bolsters and center sill to the floor, and had to make shims (white styrene, right at the center sill) for the bolster ends to locate properly.
     I mentioned that I want to eventually decorate this car for the paint scheme in use when it was rebuilt. That is shown below, in a Charles Wales photo of PFE 65966, taken at Washington D.C. on April 3, 1948, shortly after it had been rebuilt in February of 1948. (This photo is from the Richard Hendrickson collection.)


The plan here is to pre-paint the undetailed sides (as you see them above) with PFE orange, and the ends boxcar red, before joining them together at the corners, so that no masking will be needed. Once joined, details can be added to the basic “box” of the car body..
     The model I am building isn’t really a kit, more of set of parts, with some additions, such as grab irons, ladders and brake gear to be supplied by the builder, but I will refer to it as a kit nevertheless. Work on this kit is continuing, and I will report on progress as it happens. I haven’t built a resin kit for a house car for a few years, so it will be fun to get back into the process.
Tony Thompson

Monday, April 13, 2020

Freight car graffiti, Part 11: tagging

As you can detect from the fact that this is Part 11 of a series, I am in the process of posting a fair amount of information about graffiti application on post-1980 freight cars. You can easily find all of the preceding parts by using “freight car graffiti” as the search term in the search box at right.
     One very significant component of the kinds of graffiti we see on buildings, freight cars (and other places) is what is called “tagging.” Sometimes this term is used as a synonym for graffiti generally, but those closer to the subject would restrict it to simple line art, often words or initials or slogans, sometimes including simple drawings, and very quickly done. An example is shown below, with drawings among all the other tags. Note that although black is the predominant color, as is usual, there are certainly other colors used for some tags.


This image is repeated from my article on graffiti in Model Railroad Hobbyist, in the issue for January 2020; more about it can be found here: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-latest-column-in-mrh.html .
     (If you would like to know more about the history and terminology of graffiti relating to railroad freight cars, I strongly recommend the excellent book, Freight Train Graffiti, by Roger Gastman, Darin Rowland, and Ian Sattler [Abrams Books, New York, 2006], which contains over 1000 images of graffiti on freight cars.)
     It is especially true for graffiti on buildings, but somewhat also true for freight cars, that lots of taggers add their marks on top of existing graffiti, even on large, complex and colorful pieces. One may or may not wish to try and reproduce something like the image below, also repeated from my MRH article.


     One more example, showing these kinds of tagging on a freight car: this is an AC&F “Center Flow” covered hopper, photographed in 2019, and to the right of the large graffiti piece in blue can be seen numerous tags, and even a few atop the large piece. (You can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish.)


     For modeling these kinds of tagging events, a fine pen will suffice. The “Micron” pens from Sakura in Japan have a range of tip sizes, expressed in fractional millimeters (such as 0.1 mm) and in both colors and in black. The ink is permanent, and is not affected by an overspray of flat finish. This is a blue Micron with an 0.2 mm tip.


Shown below is one model covered hopper that was tagged with a Micron pen after graffiti application and weathering (including rust patches; see my post at: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/01/freight-car-graffiti-part-2.html ). These tags can be anything that occurs to you, but note that many seen on the prototype are written with a kind of angular letters.


     For another example, here is one of the relatively new cars in the group to which I recently applied graffiti, and it has tags only (see my description at: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/04/freight-car-graffiti-part-10-newer-cars.html ). As is usually observed, these are all along the lower edge of the car. (You can enlarge the image with a click if you wish.)


    I don’t mean to suggest that only Micron pens are suitable for tagging. I also use artists’ colored pencils, thereby easily obtaining a range of color for tags, and of course the degree of sharpness of the pencil permits a range of line thickness. A wider pencil tip usually makes a less than sharp line, which actually does look like spray can work.
     Experience with a number of brands of these pencils has convinced me that the Prismacolor brand works best for writing on freight car models. I use the same pencil brand (in white, light gray, and yellow) for creating chalk marks on freight cars for my 1953-era layout.
     I should perhaps mention again that my modeling of freight car graffiti does not constitute an endorsement. Graffiti application is vandalism and a crime. But like it or not, it’s reality on freight cars since 1980. As with weathering, you can choose whether or not you want to model reality.
     For the 1999-era layout for which I’m adding graffiti to freight cars, tagging needs to be part of the result. Adding tags to any graffiti application is realistic and easy, and I believe adds to the overall effect that can be achieved for modern freight cars.
Tony Thompson

Friday, April 10, 2020

More about “whaleback” tenders

Some time back, I posted a description of the Southern Pacific’s distinctive “whaleback” tenders, or as the SP classified them, “semi-cylindrical” tenders, to differentiate them from true cylindrical tenders of Vanderbilt design. You can find that post here: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2018/07/sps-whaleback-tenders.html .
     In that previous post, I showed a photo of SP Consolidation 2601, showing its right side. The image is from Bakersfield in 1950, taken by Francis Smith. Here is a repeat of that view:


As it happens, I have a Guy Dunscomb 1952 photo of the other side of SP 2601, a print supplied to me by Guy years ago.


Both shots are good images of the 73-SC-1 tender (7300 gallons) then assigned to this locomotive (a diagram for that tender class was included in the previous post — a link to which is provided in the first paragraph of the present post). Both photos also show the distinctive slanted steam chests of small Harriman steam power.
     When locomotives like this were relegated to yard switching in late steam days, they often had their small boiler-tube pilot removed from between the footboards, and the indicators (number boxes) were removed from the upper smokebox. Here is an example, a Sacramento photo of SP 2590 from my own collection (photographer unknown). Note that the fireman has lost control of adding water to the tender.


     I wanted to extend my upgrade of the newer of my examples of SP Consolidation models with whaleback tenders, SP 2575, shown in the previous post. Accordingly, I completed the tender lettering. In that previous post, you could have seen that it was not complete, but of particular concern is that the locomotive number had not been applied to the rear of the tender. I corrected that, along with adding the engine number to the number plate beneath the headlight and “extra” (“X” prefix) numbers to the indicators. I then added a coat of flat finish and some acrylic weathering.
     Next came a cab crew. I had some assorted HO scale engine crew figures, for most of which I don’t know the origin. Since the seat boxes are often too high in model brass engines, crew figures many times will need a little “surgery” to fit correctly in their positions. One figure I did recognize was an engineer from Weston, acquired years ago. He was “shortened” and installed with canopy glue.


I don’t recall the maker of the fireman, but he too had to be shortened, and installed with canopy glue. This view also portrays the finished front of the locomotive.


     It has been fun to do the final work to complete this locomotive, adding the missing lettering and cab crew, and applying some light weathering. The locomotive can now join the other Harriman Consolidations in my fleet, and can take on assignments on my layout.
Tony Thompson

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

More “freight car guy” stuff

Awhile back I offered a broad-brush commentary on freight car modeling, in particular the rewards (and burdens) of being a specialist in that modeling area. I referred to this as being a “freight car guy” (you can read that prior post here: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2019/10/whats-freight-car-guy.html ). This post continues some of those thoughts.
     In that previous post, I mentioned “correcting” some of the freight cars on my friend Bill Kaufman’s layout, so that their car bodies and paint schemes (at least) would be consistent with his 1944 modeling era. Bill has firmly said that he is not interested in individual freight cars necessarily having any intense prototype accuracy, so reasonable stand-ins, reflecting 1944, are fine with him.
     A good example of a freight car needing to be “corrected” is the Model Die Casting “Old Time” refrigerator car shown below. I have no information as to whether or not the Houston & Texas Central had any green reefers (I strongly suspect they did not). But in any case, they certainly had no reefers much past 1906, when Pacific Fruit Express was formed and took over all reefer needs of SP and its subsidiaries. Moreover, the H&TC reporting mark became obsolete in 1927, when all Texas & New Orleans constituents, including H&TC, began to replace their former reporting marks with T&NO. Thus by 1944 this car is totally anachronistic, even if the model is nicely weathered.


     Here’s another example, a car purporting to be a member of Santa Fe Class RR-N. The lettering scheme and car number are in fact taken from an AC&F 1905 builder photo (included on page 57 of the Santa Fe Railway Rolling Stock Volume 2, Refrigerator Cars, by C. Keith Jordan, Richard H. Hendrickson, John B. Moore and A. Dean Hale, SFMO, 1994). But in fact Class RR-N comprised 40-foot cars, so the 36-foot model is not correct; and for any period after World War I, the paint scheme shown was obsolete (reefers were repainted fairly frequently). And in any case, the Santa Fe’s truss-rod reefers were nearly all gone by 1940. Again, for a 1944 layout, this model car really can’t be used as is.


     My first step was to spray these models with light gray primer. This greatly decreases the contrast between existing lettering and body color. When that was well dried, I sprayed the sides with yellow (I used Testor’s Gloss Yellow, color no. 1214). I didn’t mask for this step. The goal is simply getting the sides yellow, and so overspray onto ends, roof and underbody should not matter. Once the yellow dried thoroughly, I masked the sides carefully, mostly using the very reliable Tamiya Masking Tape (an excellent product I reviewed it awhile back: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2018/08/a-shout-out-for-tamiya-products.html ), and then sprayed roof and ends with Tamiya “Red Brown,” color TS-1.


This model here is supported on “shop trucks,” used only during painting exercises. These will not be included in the final version of the model.
     So what can this model become? It would be obsolete as an ordinary produce reefer, with its 36-foot length, or very close to obsolete, in 1944. But meat reefers continued in that length well into the 1950s. What about the truss-rod underframe? If of wood construction (other than the truss rods themselves), this would have been banned in 1928, well before 1944. But many owners (including Santa Fe, incidentally) simply upgraded with steel center sills to keep such cars in service.
     This model as built had no such sills, but they are easy to add with lengths of styrene strip. I used Evergreen no. 155, 0.080 x 0.125-inch strip. It need not be exactly on the center line, as its purpose is to visually suggest a center sill in a side view. Here is how it looked (trucks removed), including new KC brake gear:


Next I painted the new additions, and any underbody overspray from previous painting, dark gray.
     I mentioned meat reefers above as one possible use for this model, and decided for one of these cars to use a decal set for one of North American Car Corporation’s wood-sheathed meat cars, Tichy set 10289. This contains  decals for a couple of different lettering schemes. Either one could be a car leased to Hormel. Here’s the one that I chose, NADX 13522 (you can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish).


Above you see the car as lettered. It still needs to be well weathered, but this post is not about weathering. Information is available about my acrylic-wash method (for detailed description, see the archived pages located at: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/p/a-few-years-ago-richard-hendrickson-and.html ).
     It has been fun to focus my prototype knowledge on 1944 instead of my own modeling year of 1953, and try and find reasonable options to make better cars for Bill Kaufman’s layout. I’m sure there are more “problematic” cars lurking in his staging areas — the freight car guy says with a cackle — I just have to find them — heh, heh . . . more later.
Tony Thompson

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Freight car graffiti, Part 10: newer cars

In previous posts in this series, I had depicted a range of degrees of graffiti application and weathering, in part to reflect the fact that different cars have different histories, and even if originally identical, can look quite different from each other after years in service. (To find the previous parts, you can use “freight car graffiti” as the search term in the search box at right.) In the present post, I want to consider relatively new cars.
     The owner of these models, Seth Neumann, models the UP in 1999, but has a few cars which were actually built a little later. He asked me to go ahead and add some graffiti and suitable weathering. I began with cars like this one with a Union Pacific reporting mark, with a single, small graffiti application from Dave’s Decals, set 6028:


Notice also above, the small tag to the left of the colored graffiti, taken from Microscale set 87-1536. The right side of the car, shown below, has a small “throw-up” (simple initials) also from set 87-1536.


     Another car worked on was this CRDX car, with the left side shown below. This graffiti piece, “SICK156,” is one of my paper overlays, taken from  the excellent book, Freight Train Graffiti, by Roger Gastman, Darin Rowland, and Ian Sattler (Abrams Books, New York, 2006), page 137. I described my paper overlay process in moderate detail in a prior post (see it at: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-latest-column-in-mrh.html ).


     The other side of the car again has just a single, small piece, in this case from T2 Decals (you can visit their site at: T2Decals.ecrater.com ).


     Last in this group of three “new” cars was this TILX example, a very plain lettering scheme as is often seen today. I decided that this car would receive no graffiti. If you look in yards today, the considerable majority of cars do carry graffiti, but some (not always the newest ones) do not.


     The plan was to weather all these pretty lightly, given that they are relatively new, but to add tags to all of them. I want to discuss tagging in more detail in a future post, but essentially these are simple initials, words, or small line drawings. Shown below is the TILX car, illustrating these features (you can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish).


     These newer cars have certainly received some attention from the graffiti “writers,” but only modest amounts. This is one pattern among many, as you can readily see if you keep an eye on yards or passing trains today.
Tony Thompson

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Adding an off-line industry

Most modelers naturally concentrate their industrial building choices for rail-served industries, and supply one or more sidings to serve those industries. But it is natural that there are other industries, large and small, that don’t have rail sidings, and may either work via team tracks for rail service, or perhaps not handle any rail shipping at all.
     The present post is about creating another off-line industry for my layout, small enough not to rate a rail siding. It’s a variation on the old layout classic, the junk yard, though in fact prototype junk and scrap dealers exhibit a wide gamut of size and sophistication. Here’s how I know.
     When I lived in Pittsburgh, PA and was a member of the Pittsburgh Model Railroad Club, one member’s mother worked for a scrap broker, and accordingly I learned a lot about grades of scrap sold for recycling. In particular, I learned that the classic model railroader’s load of scrap, with everything from steam locomotive air pumps to 55-gallon drums to junk automobile bodies, is in fact most unlikely. This kind of mixed scrap is the very lowest value category, and even the lowliest junk yard in fact would sort its scrap.
     With that in mind, I set out to model a scrap operation that worked with a limited range of materials. I would mostly have space for it between some of my trackage, and the backdrop, so needed to figure a small footprint. The obvious approach was a scrap pile or two, and a bounding fence.
     I began with cutting an oval piece of 1/16-inch styrene. On top of that I formed a shallow pile of Sculptamold paper mache. The photo below shows the pile, with a penny for scale.


The next step was to spray the pile flat black, so that any scrap glued onto it would have no white showing in the inevitable gaps between pieces.
     I have a substantial accumulation of discarded or unneeded parts from old kits (who knows why stuff like this gets saved?), so decided to start gluing these parts to the black-painted pile. I used canopy glue in the first group of parts additions, then added some more individual items until the surface was pretty well covered. I then dusted the pile with Tamiya “Red Brown,” color TS-1.
     Below is shown the pile at this point. You can see that the majority of added parts are old horn-hook couplers. (These are often referred to as “NMRA couplers,” though the design was never adopted or even promoted by the NMRA. It’s true that an NMRA committee came up with the design, but the NMRA rejected it as even a recommended practice.)


I also similarly painted additional scrap couplers so they could be added loose on the ground in the scrap yard.
     The scrap yard “industry” was chosen to comprise merely the parts pile shown above, as touched up with Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna to emphasize a rusty look, and a wood fence around the small yard. An old paper-built building was re-purposed as the office. I also made a business sign to identify what it does.


Yes, the business name is “Hohrn & Hooke.”
     This small industry fills in an empty part of the layout, and adds some interest in that area. I guess I should also add, “Happy April First.”
Tony Thompson