Friday, November 24, 2017

Weathering a hopper

After having weathered the trucks of the BN hopper it was time to have a go at the car itself. Once again I started by following a tip of Jeremy St. Peter - his dry brush fading technique ( This is a way of fading the original color. You start by applying a generous coat of white oil color, and then successively remove it until just a tad remains, as shown below.

I used titanium white for the fading, since that was what I had at hand, although Jeremy says that zinc white is better since the titanium tends to give the car a blueish hue. And as you can see below he was perfectly correct (I have since bought some zinc white to use on the next car).

I then used some acrylics and weathering powders to add grime and rust effects. I am not all happy with the result, even if it looks better IRL than on the photos. Judge for yourself.

I added ACI labels, since that would be appropriate for my era (late 1970s). For that purpose I had bought myself a decal set (Microscales 48-650). I thought it would be cool if at least part of the identification number coded on the label would match the actual car number, so I did some digging into ACI labels. 

The first part of the bar sequence is an owner identification. I managed to find a list of such identification codes (, prepared by Eric A. Neubauer. The list showed that a BN owned car should be coded starting with 0076. The list also shows how numbers are translated into bars. Prepared with this information I managed to actually find some plates on the decal set that started with 0076 for BN. But what I also found at that point was that the ACI plates on the decal set are all wrong! An ACI plate shall have 13 bars, including start, stop and check bars, but the Microscales plates have only 12. No big deal really (who would notice or  even care?), but when having managed to gather all this info I thought it would be even cooler to make my own labels, actually matching both the owner road and the car number in question. The result is what you see in the picture below. Believe it or not, but the bars really translate to BN 450661.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Weathering a truck

Today I weathered one of the trucks of one of my hoppers. I more or less followed the advice of Jeremy St. Peter at the Weathering Shop (

I wanted to paint and weather the wheels as well. The only way to get at the wheel sides is to disassemble the complete truck. So that is what I did. In the picture below you can see all the parts. Before proceeding I took the opportunity to wash the parts in alcohol. I also masked the wheel threads and stuck the bearing caps to the ends of some tooth picks for easier handling.

I spray painted the wheels with Tamiya red brown, followed by a dusting of AIM light rust weathering powder.

The truck parts were sprayed with Vallejo black surface primer. The truck was then reassembled. The painted and weathered wheels were also fitted again. I then hit some parts of the truck, such as the visible part of the bolster and the springs, with some acrylic raw umber. Last the trucks were dusted with AIM dark rust, medium earth and medium gray powder. The dark rust was applied around the same areas that got the sienna, the medium earth mainly along the lower part of the truck, and the medium gray all over the truck.

The picture below shows the finished truck to the right, and for comparison an original Atlas truck (with P48 profile) wheels to the left.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Making bushes

Nothing has happened on the layout for a long time, but a few days ago I felt like making a few bushes. Here is how.

I bent the ends of short pieces of wire into a loop (or something almost a loop). I then dabbed the ends in white glue and sprinkled some static grass fibers over them, while gently rotating the wire between my fingers. The wires were then set aside for the glue to set

When the glue had set I sprayed the fibres with hair spray (but any spray adhesive would of course do) and sprinkled on Noch 2.5 mm Scatter Grass. For some bushes I used "Forest Floor" and for others i used "Meadow". Some got a combination of both.

The pictures below shows the procedure .

I then planted the bushes at various locations around the layout.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Engine couplers

I built a front coupler box for my SD-40, from pieces of styrene. A little askew, but you get the idea 😁

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Coupler boxes, part 4

I have finished the coupler install for the hoppers, also adding a few details such as cut levers and air hoses, and wrapping it up with some weathering.

I have also begun thinking about how to install Clouser couplers on the engine. SO far I have made some tests to figure out how to get the proper height.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Coupler boxes, part 3

The coupler boxes have now been painted and installed on the cars. My local hobby shop did not carry any colors that were matches to the car ATSF and BN colors. I took some colors I think will do once the boxes have been weathered. Coupler box colors are not always the same as the car, and if they are tend to be rather rusty and dirty anyway.

Instead of starting on the weathering I could not resist first trying to create a cut lever and test it out. I bent some music wire according to the instructions that came with the Protocraft couplers. Here is a short video.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Coupler boxes, part 2

After having test fitted one of the coupler boxes on a car it was time to figure out how the couplers should be installed in the boxes.

For starters, I inserted a shim at the top inside of the box. This would not only lower the coupler to the correct height but would also make the coupler shank clear the upper "lip" at the box opening, As a bonus the shim, which was made out of .75 mm styrene, also added to the thickness of the top part of the box. Which would be good for the screw threads to come. Here are two of the boxes and the styrene shims to be glued in place inside the boxes. The shims could be no longer than that, or they would foul one of the box mounting screws. In the picture below the boxes are upside down, so the shim would go at the "bottom" in the picture.

Next I drilled and tapped a hole in the box for the coupler mounting screw (the smaller hole in the picture below). I also drilled a matching hole in the coupler shank, and shortened the shank. The latter so that I would get sufficient coupler swing inside the box, although the mounting screw is offset towards one end of the shank.

And here the coupler is in place in the box (and still everything is upside down in the picture).

As can be seen the coupler is no longer in its pristine brass state. This since it has been "blackened" in vinegar. I searched the net for ways of blackening brass, and found acetic acid, better known as vinegar. Since vinegar is easy enough to obtain I decided to try it. It did the job, but it was not a fast process. I think the coupler sat in the vinegar for 10 days or a fortnight, but eventually it changed color.

Here the complete assembly has been test fitted on one of the cars.

And last, the compulsory comparison to the stock coupler.

Next is painting and weathering. Stay tuned.