Saturday, 14 July 2018

A New Industry for the layout

I've been wanting to add an industrial building to the layout...something that would receive covered hopper loads of plastic pellets. We have hundreds of them running around here in Sarnia every day, in and out of the local petrochem plants. I've got a few of these cars for the layout now, and really no place for them to go to. Maybe a company that takes the pellets and turns them into rolls of plastic wrap...something like that for the layout.

I've had two or three false starts trying to figure out how to use this space, but the white building to the left in these pictures is what's underway now. I'll work with this for a while and see things go.

Looks like the spur will be able to hold two 4-bay covered hoppers, maybe three at most, but I'd like to be able to spot a boxcar in there too. I've got a couple of ideas to tweak the building a bit to make it just a little more interesting,  Maybe a covered outdoor dock that would also be used to load that trailer at the right hand end. And I think those storage silos need to be closer to the covered hoppers. 

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Dual Diameter Tank Car

Found this pretty well weathered whalebelly tank car temporarily spotted on the street just outside of the location of my future Midwestern Plastics plant. There must be a switcher working around here someplace, because they wouldn't just leave a tank car out in the street for very long...would they? Oh well, maybe this one's empty anyway because the hazmat placard is blank.

I'm not sure why this type of tank car has disappeared from the railroads. This one is an Atlas model, and I've got another one like it in the storage cabinet, but it's not as weathered as this. I like this one better than the other. I entered this one in a weathering contest 3 or 4 years ago.  Came in 4th out of 7 entries I think. It really should have "shelf couplers" in place of the regular KaDee's, and brake line piping below the tank would really make it look good. Maybe I'll get those couplers one day...I'm less sure about doing the piping.

I've found in the past that getting "rust" to show up the way it should on a black model freight car is not easy. The same thing can happen on brown or boxcar red cars. My solution to this takes quite a bit more time, but is worth it in the end.  All of the rusted areas that I've done on this tank car - tank, walkway, and handrails - were done first with white. Then, once that was thoroughly dried, I went over it again with burnt sienna covering all of the white, and then emphasized heavier corrosion with burnt umber.  The white layer gives the rust shades more "pop" than just burnt sienna over black.

Looks like the switcher is just coming down the street now...

Same car, back at the freight yard.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Balmoral Bulldog

In Point Edward, Ontario, beneath the Bluewaster Bridges, there's an old drinking establishment called the Balmoral Tavern, know locally as "the Bal".  The place has been closed down for quite a few years now, which I think is really too bad even though I was only ever in the place a couple of times - yes, really. It was kind of one of those places that was part of the local fabric.

I used to pass by the back side of "the Bal" on my way to and from work. The rear wall is covered with a sports themed mural.  One day I stopped with my camera and took a picture of the mural. I had kind of an idea to put on the layout.

I printed that picture, with just the bulldog sized to cover the side wall of one of the commercial buildings on the JSSX.  My building is made up of 2 City Classic Iron Front building kits combined, with the lower section of one of them cut away and supported by concrete pillars and footing.  The JSSX passes through it on the way to the auto parts and printing plants. I should add that the City Classics building looks absolutely nothing like the Balmoral.

 I cut out just the bulldog from the picture, and glued it to the side wall of the building ( I used 3M Super 77 spray adhesive).  I did this quite a long time ago, and still have much more work to go on the rest of the building, but here's how it turned out so far:

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Hey, What'd ya get, Jim?

Well, last summer I went online looking for a flatcar that I could letter TrailerTrain, and found it at Pacific Western Rail Systems. I ordered it, and then promptly received an email from the vendor telling me that the item was out-of-stock, but that they could get it in for me from the manufacturer.  As I said, that was last summer, mid-July I think.

Time went by, and I pretty well forgot about it until late January, when I was billed one day and then received a package in the mail shortly after.  Good on PWRS for not billing me before they could supply the item.  Not all online vendors would do that.

From January 'til now, I've just been busy with other projects and stuff, but this project car has finally come up in the rotation, so here we go.

The box is open (finally):

The contents spread out on the workbench. Doesn't look too difficult. The laser-cut wood deck is 3 separate pieces. I've done a couple of wood projects before, so I'm looking forward to this part.

First thing I noticed was that the car really wasn't going to weigh very much. Indeed Intermountain tells you so right in the instruction sheet that the weight is 7/8ths ounces. I put half a dozen inch-and-a half finishing nails in the hollow of the undercarriage spine to try to help with the weight. It didn't help much, but better than nothing. I also planned to use an excavator as a load on the flatcar, so that should really help with the weight.

Another surprise was that the car comes with plastic wheels. Not too impressed by that, but oh well, I can scare up a set of metal ones here someplace.

For the wood deck I first painted it on both sides with Folk Art's Barn Wood colour acrylic craft paint, and then weighted the 3 pieces down flat overnight to prevent them from warping. I then painted random boards with different grey coloured acrylic paints. Finally, I went over the deck with thin washes of India/alcohol mixture to accentuate the lines and the bolt head markings.

All of the plastic parts in the kit fit together real well, and I ran into no trouble whatsoever assembling the flatcar. After it was assembled, I sprayed the model with Railbox Yellow, and then lightened that a little bit by spraying with Craftsmart yellow. The decals are Microscale.

I weathered the sides and steel deck tracks using burnt sienna and burnt umber paints. After they had dried for 2 or 3 days, I added Vallejo's dark grey wash on the tops of the side sills and the 2 steel tracks running down the middle of the deck. I am really pleased with the way the deck turned out.

Here's a look at the flatcar with the (Herpa model) Case excavator loaded on.  I used clear parts glue to attach the wood blocking and tie-down chains to the excavator, not to the deck of the flatcar. This way, I can remove the load any time I want, allowing me to use the flat for another load if I felt like it.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Abandoned Warehouse on the JSSX

Back on April 25th, in my "As if I needed more projects..." post, I mentioned that four times I have built (well, kitbashed really) the Walther's REA Transfer Building.  I kept one for my layout, and sold the other 3 at train shows. They seemed very popular.  Here is a look at the the one that I've kept.

I've done a simple kitbash on this, using the back wall - which is identical to the front wall - to double the length of the building.  The rear wall is not visible from anywhere on the layout, so I just put a piece of black cardboard across the back to close it in. All of the windows and doors have been boarded up, and the building is modeled as having been closed down. India ink/alcohol mixture darkens down the brick colour and fills in the mortar lines. Some light airbrushing with grimy black ages the building as well.

I've located my building at the far end of the 3-track JSSX yard, with a single track curving left from the yard to cross the building's loading dock.  The JSSX finds this track to be a good spot for their work train to be stored, or occasionally 2 or 3 freight cars can be held there for a short time if the yard is overcrowded. The maintenance department has a stack of 39 foot rail sections and an equipment storage container located next to the track.

The GT main line runs behind the building. I do think I should add a few trees and bushes at the layout's edge to better set the scene of abandonment.

Although the windows have been boarded over, sometimes the nearby residents do manage to find a way to gain access.  It looks like they've torn some of the plywood off  a second story window.

The weeds have been making progress as they slowly take over the former truck lot at the front of the old warehouse.

Here, we see the short JSSX work train stored in front of the building. 

Saturday, 9 June 2018

SCOX Covered Hopper...well, ex SCOX now.

Friend Brian asked if I'd weather this covered hopper car for him, and then asked if maybe I'd like to re-letter it for him as JSSX.  My shortline has a few covered hopper cars already, although they are the rib-sided type. I thought it might be a nice idea to have one interchanged - permanently - over to Brian's railroad.

I looked on-line for reference photos of these SCOULAR cars, but there weren't many available, so I just free-styled the weathering on this one.

I first dull-coated the car using Testors from the rattle can.  It's either that or wash it with soap and water to prevent the acrylic paints I'm going to use from beading up.

Anyway, after the Dullcote, I sprayed the car with thinned Craftsmart Yellow to fade the original paint and take the shine right down to flat. The top half (roughly) of the car was given a couple more layers of the yellow than the lower half. I figure the upper half would receive more of a beating from sun and rain, and so should be faded a bit more. I also gave two of the hatches on the roof a couple of extra passes with the airbrush to fade them a bit more than the other two.

I dull-coated again to protect the fresh acrylic layer, and then brushed on grime streaks with Winsor and Newton black that I thin down with Micro-Sol. I also went over the walkways with the black.

You can see the grime streaks, but they are not really obvious, and that's just as I intended. They're faint, and kind of subtle. At first you sort of see them without really noticing them.

I patched over the SCOX letters with boxcar red trim film and then I put the JSSX letters on top of that.  I used black letters because in the white letter decal sets I had on-hand, there were no letter "X"s left. The Microscale alphabet sets only give you 3 "X"s in any given size, which is really too bad, because I think it's a pretty common letter used in railroad freight car reporting marks.

On one side I re-painted two panels, again using the boxcar red trim film.  The film went on smooth as could be. I also patched over the lube plates and added new ones.

The wheels and trucks are done too, with my usual "go-to" Krylon Camouflage Brown and then rust and black weathering powders over top of that. A couple of really light passes along the length of the lower portion of the car with weathered black. 

Dullcote (again) finishes everything off. So altogether, that's 3 layers of Dullcote.

Here's the wheels and trucks done, and then the rest of the covered hopper.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

D&H Boxcar...and Ferromex too

I was going to spend a few minutes down at a favourite railfanning area on the JSSX, trying out a new camera. The lighting is good in this area - daylight balanced LED's.

This nicely weathered D&H boxcar was spotted on the spur at the local storage warehouse. In the background happened to be the same Ferromex boxcar that I had featured here back on May 18th. It's sitting out on the street trackage, waiting to be spotted to the same warehouse dock as the D&H car.

Anyway, it dawned on me that I had only shown one side of the Ferromex boxcar. So let's take care of that first. Here's the side not shown before, which has had the graffiti and/or rust painted over, new data markings, and a (blue) replacement uncoupling lever.

And now, here's the D&H boxcar as well. I looked around the interwebs for photos of these cars, but didn't really find any in this paint colour, so I just decided to just wing it on my own. The boxcar started out like this:

I began by spraying a couple of panels on the roof with ModelFlex Primer Grey to give the impression that those panels were replacements. Then I sprayed the boxcar sides with ProtoPaint's Flat Haze, which is a whitish colour, to fade down the red.  I learned of the Flat Haze product from George Dutka over at  and this was my first time trying it out. I didn't want to go too heavy with it, because I figured it might turn the original red too pink. I put between 3 and 4 coats of the Flat Haze on the car, depending on where you're looking. For instance, the area to the right of the door received less fading than other panels did.

Once satisfied with the fading of the red, I set about adding the rust scrapes to the ribs, doors, and door tracks.  I rusted the two panels on the roof, but after looking at it for a few days, I wasn't really satisfied with the roof's appearance. So I masked off the sides of the car, and sprayed the rest of the roof with the primer grey again and then rusted the rest of the roof with burnt sienna and burnt umber paints.

I weathered the wheels and trucks with Krylon Camo Brown. I always mask off the wheel treads before spraying them with the paint.