Sand Fork Shifter

Sand Fork Shifter
MOXE 962 heads east through Big Chimney with a work train.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Go west, young man!

While filling out waybills for cars heading west via various connections with the CWE, it became apparent that there was a real dearth of western road cars on the railroad. An article by Bob Rivard in the July 2014 edition of Model Railroad Hobbyist ( provided the inspiration to correct this problem. I had purchased two of the ExactRail Gunderson 50 foot double door boxcars which were decorated for the Frisco. However, a little research revealed that the Frisco never owned these cars. I set them aside with the plan to strip them and paint them for the home road some day.

Then Bob Rivard's article appeared in MRH. I have long been a big fan of Bob's modeling and, in particular, his freight car modeling. He has written many articles over the years and they have always been a source of inspiration for me. So armed with his article and the two SLSF boxcars, I got to work.

First up is BN 318572. Basically, I just followed all of the instructions in Bob's article on this one. The only difference is that I drew the weld seams directly onto the car with a number 2 pencil versus first drawing them on clear decal paper and then applying the decals.

Next up is SP&S 319179. I struggled a bit with the doors on this one as I couldn't find any Superior doors that didn't have cast-on tack boards. The door on the left side doesn't have them so I either had to try and remove them from a couple of doors or scratch build them. I chose the latter route and used Evergreen styrene strips to make the doors. I also painted the yellow band on the left hand door versus using Micro Scale trim film as Bob did on his model. The photo below shows the car after I painted the yellow band. There are several places where I need to touch up the green paint prior to weathering the car.

And to round out this first group of western road cars, I picked up couple of the new BLMA Models ATSF Bx-166 double door 60' boxcars. These cars are absolutely beautiful- the detail and prototypical accuracy is just amazing. These cars were new in July of 1974 so I weathered them lightly to reflect how they might have looked after several years of service. The bottom of the car and the trucks were sprayed with Rust-Oleum camouflage brown.Then the entire car was sprayed with a highly diluted coat of Vallejo Model Air aged white. After the aged white had dried, I applied a light coat of Dullcote. Next, I applied a thin wash of artist's acrylic ivory black mixed with a small amount of burnt umber. This wash helps bring out the details. The trucks and wheels were weathered using gouache and weathering powders.

The BN and SP&S cars are the first two boxcar projects in a long while where I took the time to carve off ladders, change the doors, etc. in order to model a specific prototype. This has long been one of my favorite parts of the hobby and it was a lot of fun working on these two cars. And now that all of John Miller's freight cars are stored away in boxes, I have to add cars to my fleet the old fashioned way- by actually building them myself rather than "borrowing" them from John.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Continuing Adventures of FRC- Part 2

Yesterday, FRC (Free Range Chicken) finally made it onto the Pennsylvania & Western. He had last been spotted on the Deepwater Distrcit of the Virginian back in May. While we're not sure where he stayed over the summer, it's good to have him back in our neck of the woods.

Some sharp-eyed railfan caught FRC as he arrived in Annville Yard.

Later in the day, he was spotted at the caboose service track on the west end of Annville Yard. 

Toward the end of the day, he was spotted over in Lebanon at Quality Meat Packers. He was obviously concerned with the subtle advertising he found there and was last seen chasing a westbound freight.

While we wish he could have stayed longer, we're looking forward to more pictures of his adventures. Because as we all know, if you're a free range chicken...

Friday, September 18, 2015

So What's On the Workbench- 1

Now that the summer is over, I'm knee deep in a number of different projects. It feels great to be making progress on the layout again.

First up is the roundhouse at North Pierce. Little has been done in this area since I built the diesel fuel tank back in March of 2012. It appeared in an article in MRH and here's a link to it: Over the last month or so, I've toyed with the idea of replacing the roundhouse with a two stall board and batten engine house similar to the one at Cane Fork Yard on the C&O. The existing turntable is too short to turn a set of 4-axle diesels coupled together, so to get two locomotives into a single stall, they would have to be removed from a consist. This just isn't something that's going to happen during a operating session so the two stall engine house seemed to be a good solution. However, after reviewing the plans of the Cane Fork facility that Bill Ford sent me, it became apparent that it was just too big. Even a scaled down version would have required a new turnout and the removal of the turntable. But then it struck me- the radial track aligned with the track leading to the turntable is long enough for two 4-axle diesels. And the turntable and lead track could hold another two 4-axle units. So the turntable and roundhouse stay and I've now started working on the radial tracks and roundhouse. The photo below shows progress so far.

After playing around with the concrete color for the base of the roundhouse, it finally occurred to me that nothing inside the building will ever be seen by anyone. All of the neat little touches that I had planned, like painting the interior walls as though they had been whitewashed and painting the lower portion of the roof support beams in safety yellow, would be a big waste of time. I have no interest in making a removable roof so none of this stuff would be visible. I'll spend some extra time making sure the exterior looks good, but for now I plan to skip the interior detail.

In addition to the Kadee covered hopper car that I weathered in a previous post, I also painted and letter an Atlas covered hopper for the home road. This is another one of the kits I picked up used at Tim's Trains and Hobbies in Covington, KY. The detail on this car is really impressive.

I used the same techniques on this car that I used on the Kadee car but I went a little bit lighter on the overall weathering.

Along with the two covered hopper cars, I also painted and lettered two tank cars. The UTLX car will be in diesel fuel service in much the same fashion as a large number of similar UTLX cars on the L&N. These two cars are now in the paint shop awaiting weathering.

In addition to the two tank cars, I've been kit-bashing a couple of Gunderson double door boxcars as outlined in Bob Rivard's article in the July 2014 edition of MRH. Here's a link to the article: The side ladders w were removed and new ones made from Details Associated ladders. The doors on the SP&S car were cut off and new ones were scratch-built. This seemed easier than trying to remove the tack boards that were on the Superior doors I had in the scrap box. The photo below shows the BN car in the decal shop along with a couple more coal cars.

The next photo shows the progress on the SP&S car. I'm waiting for the door hardware to arrive and the cut levers still have to be added.

It's been a long time since I kit-bashed a car like this and it has been a blast. I'd forgotten how much fun and how rewarding projects like this can be.

And last up, I'm finally getting around to finishing the caboose service tracks at North Pierce. The shot below shows what I believe will be the final placement of the old coal storage shed, the trailer and the fuel oil tank. Other details such as line poles, lights, ladders, etc. are currently under construction. I plan to finish the scenery in this area of the yard as well.

And the last shot shows the coal shed after its trip through the paint shop this morning. It was scratch-built according to standard C&O plans. I had one here previously but it ended up next to BA Cabin at the west end of the yard at Nelsonville.

As long as the Evergreen board and batten siding is out, I may as well build the tool shed that will be located at Nelsonville. But that's a topic for another post.

Monday, September 14, 2015

West End of Nelsonville

The scenery around the west end of Nelsonville is finally complete. Well, almost. There's still a little work to be done around the pulpwood unloading area, but for the most part, the scenery work here is finished. In the photo below, you can see the signals that are now controlling the west end of Nelsonville Yard.

Signal are now operational from here to Petersburg Junction west of Big Chimney. In the next photo, we see the Summit Springs Shifter as it begins the climb up the two percent grade to Summit Springs.

Last up, we catch a glimpse of the cab on the back end of COXL 351 as it heads up the hill toward Summit Springs.

If you take a look at the free layout tour of the Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie on TrainMasters.TV (, you can see all of the structures and scenery that has been added since the video was shot. It's fun sometimes to look back and see what progress has been made.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Back at it- Part 2

The first part of this post dealt with weathering the sides of CWE 62827 and can be found here: Now it's time to weather the top and apply some more weathering to the ends, bottom and trucks.

I used the same brushes and paint for these next steps as I did to weather the sides. Below is a picture of the brushes and the paint.

For the top, I mixed the same Liquitex Ivory Black and Titanium-zinc Everwhite oils with a little bit of Winsor & Newton burnt sienna. I thinned this into a wash with odorless turpenoid and the applied it to half of the roof with the brush on the left above. I made sure to get the wash under the running board and around the sides of the hatches. Next, I took the brush on the right above and began stippling the wash. As the brush accumulated paint, I would wipe it on a paper tower. Every so often, I would dip the brush into turpenoid and then wipe it almost dry on the paper towel. The photos below show the results.

The most important part of this step is to soften any sharp edges by continuing to stipple the wash very gently. It takes a bit of time but the results are worth it. Adding a very little bit of turpenoid to the brush can help loosen any of the wash that has begun to set up. Also, be sure to stipple the areas around the base of the hatches. The wash tends to accumulate here and needs to be softened up.

To add some additional color to the roof, I mixed some more of the burnt sienna into the wash and then gently stippled this on around the roof hatches to represent additional grime and rust. This wash was also applied to the running board at this time. The photo below shows the results.

At this point, I sealed the weathering on the roof with a light coating of Dullcote. Once this had time to dry, I started on the ends and outlets.

The first step on the ends was to make up a wash similar in color to the one used in the second step on the roof. I stippled this very lightly on each to represent the grime that gets thrown up from the wheels. Next, I stippled the same wash on the bottom of the hopper bays on each end where the wheels would throw up grime. Lastly, I stippled this wash randomly to the sides of the outlets. The photo below shows the results.

After another application of Dullcote, I started on the trucks. I mixed up the same wash used on the sides and applied it to the side frames using the brush on the right in the first picture above. I wiped the brush almost dry on a paper towel and then stippled the side frames. Once this had dried, I added some AIM weathered black powder around the journal boxes. Next, I mixed up some artist's acrylic ivory black and Windex and added some AIM weathered black powder. This was applied to the wheel faces and the coupler trip pin.

The last step will be to add some more rust/grime around the coupler boxes and inner wheel faces and axles. I'll also hit the coupler with some weathering. Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


This past January, I stopped over at Matt Snell's house to drop off some parts for the bicentennial unit he was building for the railroad ( He showed me a business car that he was working on and asked if the CWE could use one. After thinking about the offer for about a nano second, I said sure. I told him that a business car was another one of those projects that I had thought about from time to time and had planned to do one day, but there were so many other pressing projects that it may never happen if it was left to me to do it.

It was another month or so before I heard from Matt again about the business car. He asked if I had thought about a paint scheme for it. After some back and forth on possible schemes and my initial ill conceived idea of something in Pullman Green and UP Armor Yellow, I decided on the same basic color that NS uses today for its executive train.

Fast forward to this past April. Matt brought CWE 1 to the GLA operating session on Jim Rollwage's Denver Pacific. The photo below shows the car heading east through Henderson, CO to be delivered to the CWE. Matt developed the paint scheme, detailed the car, and then painted and lettered it before releasing it the railroad. 

During an op session in May, we catch CWE 1 on the back end of MTNM-6 as it heads east through Summit Springs.

Later in the summer, the car was captured at Hollister Yard in North Pirece, WV. The shot below shows all of the detail on the roof and the observation platform of the car.
What you can't see in any of these shots is the incredible interior detail that Matt added. 

And in the last shot below, we catch CWE 1 as it heads west out of North Pierce.

This car is absolutely beautiful in every respect and is another testament to Matt Snell's creativity, craftmanship and generosity. Thanks again, Matt. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Back at it

Well, it's the middle of August and the summer is winding down. The trips to Michigan are over. Now it's time to get back at it. 

There are a number of projects currently in the works, many of which were put on hold when the summer first began. One of these is a Kadee covered hopper car that I painted for the home road this past spring. It's been sitting in the paint shop awaiting weathering ever since. I've been studying two photos of C&O 1327 taken by Carl Geffchen in 1973. Here's a link to the photos on George Elwood's Fallen Flags website: and Notice the darker streaks on the sides that have been created by the rain as it washes dirt and grime down the sides. This was the look I wanted to capture on the first coat of weathering and it finally struck me as to how to go about it.

First, I mixed up a light grey color using Liquitex Ivory Black and Titanium-zinc Everwhite artist's oils with a little bit of Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna added. I thinned this into a wash with odorless turpenoid. The photo below shows the grey color along with the three brushes I used.

Next, I took the brush on the left above and applied the wash to several panels on the side of the car. Once the wash had begun to set, I took the brush in the middle and started pulling it down the side from top to bottom. The middle brush has an extremely rough edge and this helped produce the individual streaks. I also used a block of wood held against the car side as a guide in order to get straight vertical lines. As the brush with the rough edge accumulated some of the wash, I wiped it clean on a paper towel. I was careful to keep this brush as dry as possible in order to avoid smearing the streaks. The photos below show the results.

After completing several panels, I went back and took a cosmetic sponge wet slightly with turpenoid and removed the wash from the ribs.

Next, I applied the same wash to the ends and bottom of the car using the third brush from the left in the picture above. Once the wash was on, I cleaned the brush and then went back and stippled the wash in order to remove some of color and soften the edges. The shot below shows the effect.

The photo above shows several areas where the wash could be softened up a bit more. I'll address that with the next coat of weathering. But for now, I'll spray the car with Dullcote in order to seal this layer of weathering. Once the Dullcote has dried, I'll start on the roof. More to follow on this project.