Saturday, December 2, 2017

Mud spatter

After yet another tip from a fellow modeler I went along to add some earth/mud spatter to the car ends and the bays near the wheels. The tip was to apply this by 'flicking' mud colored washes onto the car by running a finger over a toothbrush.

Since I had never used this technique before I first practiced on a piece of paper. First with water and then with a wash. When I thought I had the hang of it I turned to the car. That was a total disaster! The car looked like it had the measles or something. Way to much of the wash was released, although I thought I knew how to control it. But maneuvering the toothbrush as far in as possible into the end cage at the same time was not that easy.

Fortunately I had had sense enough to seal all the previous weathering with dull-core before attempting the splatter trick, so it was easy enough to wash the spatter away under the water tap.

The second try was more successful. Still a little too much spatter, but I got rid of the excess using a few cotton swabs. In the end I'm quite satisfied, and I learned a new technique along the way!

Here are a few pics of the, now finished, car.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wheel spit

I added rusting caused by wheel spit to the ends and the bays of the BN hopper, as suggested by a TRW member.

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.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Coupler boxes

I got in contact with the guy who had designed the Berwick coupler boxes mentioned above and on sale at Shapeways. I asked him if he thought those boxes would fit my PS-4427 hoppers. He said no, but kindly (and totally surprising for me offered to design some that would). I guess he could use some for himself, and not did this out of kindness only. But who knows? Anyway, I am very grateful. We exchanged some proto and model photos, along with some model measurements, and he came up with this beautiful design:

The box is not specifically designed for the Protocraft Clouser coupler, since he wanted a more generic design. But I think I'll be able to come up with some way of mounting such a coupler in the box.

I have bought a six-pack of the coupler boxes and they arrived a few days ago, and in IRL they look like this:

Very good, don't you think?

The boxes are easily attached to the cars, using the original mounting screws and holes. They only need to be countersunk for the screws to not later interfere with the coupler shank. Here is one of the boxes test fitted on one of the cars.

Friday, March 24, 2017

An old battered shed

There is not much room on the layout for any structures, but I wanted at least one building of some kind. I settled for a battered old shed or barn, in the far corner. It serves, and has not served, any rail purpose but just happens to sit close to the tracks. Here is what I came up with.

Come along if you want to see how I built it.

I started with a Masonite base painted black and a frame of scale lumber. All lumber, throughout the build, was cut to length and stained in a bath of India ink before assembly. For size comparison, an O scale figure is seated beside.

Next I cut wall boards from .4 mm plywood and glued in place.

I also added some doors, broken and hanging askew.

Next was the roof frame, and the upper part of the gables.

Now for an extra fun part. Fun because I had never done anything like it before: Metal corrugated roof panels, etched in ferric chloride to get a worn and rusty look. The warning in the how-to-pamphlet that came with the roof panels was true - it is easy to etch the panels to oblivion.

As seen I also added door hinges, made from styrene. The green is supposed to be mildew or fungus of some kind, but I not too happy with the result. I later tried to tone it down.

If you look carefully you can also remnants of batten on the side wall. I added a few of those to indicate that the shed originally had a board-and-batten siding.

Last, some more pictures of the shed in its final scene on the layout.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Assembling couplers

The type "E" couplers i ordered from Protocraft arrived a few days ago, and today I assembled them. As advertised, it took some filing and drilling to get the parts ready for assembly, but it was a fairly straightforward process given the detailed instructions that Norm at Protocraft sent along. So I now have one set of couplers for each of the hoppers, and one set for the engine.

Here is what (six of them) looked before assembly. Three parts each - body and shank, knuckle and lift pin.

Actually, there was a fourth part also. A small spike acting as the knuckle hinge, referred to as the "escutcheon", a word I never heard of before,

And here are the first two I assembled. The hinge spike will later be trimmed to length.

Since I do not yet have any coupler boxes I am unable to install them and cannot make any live tests. But they seem to couple and uncouple as they should when doing a simple test by hand.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Asphalt strip and growing dandelions

The dandelions I made were meant to grow along the asphalt strip I wanted along the spur. And now, when the flowers had been done, it was time to make the asphalt strip.

I made the asphalt strip using putty. When the putty was dry I created cracks in it by pressing on it, making the putty and the foam beneath give way.

I then painted the putty a gray color, using black, diluted to gray, from an ordinary children's watercolor set. And then it was time the plant the dandelions and add other weeds and grass. Here are few pictures of the result.