Monday, February 16, 2015

Golden Spike - #2

Continuing the Journey

The six cars that are required for the Rolling Stock (Motive Power & Cars) section of the Golden Spike Award are finally finished. In this post, I’ll review the cars that I will be showing to the AP (Achievement Program) Coordinator for evaluation.

Car #1 – Ralston Purina Reefer Car

As seen in the last post this car has been updated with new grab irons, ladders, stirrup steps, roof walk, body mounted couplers, new trucks, metal wheels and weathering.


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Car #2 – Milwaukee Road TOFC Car

The car began life as a standard Blue Box Athearn 50’ flatcar. Additions to this included new metal wheels, couplers, side guard rails, collapsible trailer hitch, bridge plates, Milwaukee Road 40’ trailer and weathering.





Car #3 – Milwaukee Road Snow Plow

This car started out as an International Hobby Corporation Snow Plow. I changed the the horn hook talgo trucks with regular trucks with metal wheels and body mounted Kadee couplers. In addition to the weathering, I added an LED to the headlight controlled by a switch and battery hidden under the concrete weights.





Car #4 – Milwaukee Road Stock Car

I have written about this car in a previous post. Not much was done to this car except the addition of metal wheels and heavy weathering. The previous post can be viewed by clicking this link:





Car #5 – Great Northern Caboose

This caboose was a project started many years ago when the only decent looking inexpensive Great Northern caboose came from Athearn. Your choices were either brass or craftsman kits from companies like Silver Streak or Northeastern. My abilities at that time did not justify either kit and my wallet could not justify brass. The Blue Box kit seemed like the best alternative at the time. I changed things on the caboose to try and match Great Northern prototypes as best I could. The list includes sanding the roof to remove the rivets represent the tar paper roofs the GN used. The running boards were replaced as they represent the Santa Fe design that the original model takes after. New ladders were fashion from stock material to emulate the standard GN practice. Molded on grab irons were removed and replaced by wire grabs including new roof grabs made from lift rings and wire. The brake stands were replaced with a more appropriate style and end railings were replaced with GN style gates with logos and stripes. Additional reflective square decals were added along with lanterns for the rear end. New couplers and metal wheels were changed out. Window glass was added to the interior. Finally came time for weathering to give the caboose its proper well loved look.





Car #6 – Milwaukee Road Log Car

This car began as an Athearn Blue Box 40’ flat car. Extensive modification has taken place to the body of the car. The floor was chopped out and replaced with shorter end pieces. a new cover over the center sill placed as well as angle stringers finished out the flooring. Piping for the brake rigging was added to the molded on brake pieces in the under frame. While not completely correct it does get the idea across. Additional steel weights were cut to size and glued into the center sill spaces. The stake pockets on the side of the car were removed and filled in with putty. The molded on grab irons were removed and new wire grabs were added. The log bunks are from Details West. Painting was done using a rattle can of Krylon red primer. Microscale decals for a box car were the closest I could find that match the prototype. The usual metal wheels, Kadee couplers and weathering completed the model. The simulated logs are branches from trees in my yard.








Sunday, February 1, 2015

Golden Spike - #1

A New Year’s Resolution (Challenge)


I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions. I’ve broken more than I’ve kept. This year will hopefully be different. No more losing weight, drinking less, exercising more or any other of the usual resolutions that hear about this time of year. This year is about a challenge that I will make to myself. To be a better modeler!  Now that sounds like something that I should be able to accomplish. The other types of resolutions can take a great deal of time and commitment to complete and that sounds like something that is more work than fun. I have to work to live, but I don’t have to live to work.
So what is my challenge for 2015? To begin the journey on the path for the Achievement Program as outlined by the NMRA. Will I ever become a Master Model Railroader? Who knows? Frankly, who cares? The idea is to challenge myself to become a better artisan at my craft. The title that goes with the ultimate goal does not mean that much to me. It is the journey to get there that means more. After reviewing the guidelines for the initial step for the Golden Spike Award, I spent some time reviewing my layout and rolling stock. So what are the qualifications for achieving the Golden Spike?

  • Rolling Stock (Motive Power & Cars):
    • Display six units of rolling stock either scratchbuilt, craftsman kits or detailed commercial kits.
  • Model Railroad Setting (Structures & Scenery):
    • Construct a minimum of eight square feet of layout including scenery.
    • Construct five structures either scratchbuilt, craftsman kits or detailed commercial kits.  If a module has less than five structures, additional structures separate from the scene may be presented.
  • Engineering (Civil & Electrical):
    • Three types of trackage required (e.g. turnout, crossing, crossover, etc.).  All must be properly ballasted and installed on proper roadbed.  Commercial trackage may be used.
    • All installed trackage must be properly wired so that two trains can be operated simultaneously (e.g. double track main, single track main with sidings, and block or command control).
    • Provide one additional electrical feature such as power operated turnouts, signaling, turnout indication, lighted buildings, etc.

For this post, I’ll talk about the first one; Rolling Stock (Motive Power & Cars). After reviewing all of my rolling stock, I came up with five pieces that easily fit into this category with minimal work. The rolling stock I chose, do not have to be in a contest or reach a certain score to be used for the Golden Spike. They just have to show that I did more than open the box and place it on the track. Things such as adding knuckle couplers and making sure they are properly adjusted, adding metal wheels, new paint and/or decals, weathering or any other small changes that you make to the model. Things we do all the time when preparing a model to be added to the layout or for display.

As for the sixth one, I decided that it should be something that would challenge me. At the November 2014 meeting I won a raffle for a Tyco Ralston Purina reefer car. Some would say, “Big deal! It’s a cheap toy car that comes with toy train sets.” I looked at it and said to myself, “How can I take this ‘Toy’ and make it into model to be proud of?” This is where the challenge for the New Year begins. My plan is to maintain the “essence” of the car while adding body mounted Kadee couplers, new trucks with metal wheels, details and weathering. Something I hope I will be proud of and not hide in box under the layout.

In future posts I will talk more about this “journey” towards the Golden Spike Award and hopefully inspire some of you to challenge yourself in 2015.




Sunday, January 25, 2015

Past Layouts - #1

The Apartment Railway
Since there has not been much going on with the current layout (Holiday celebrations, work, NMRA Division newsletter and life in general) I thought it might be fun to visit
the past and show some of the layouts that have preceded the Northern Montana Line.

During the early 80’s, I got married, accepted a job transfer to Utah and began a new era in my life. We lived in apartments for to many years. I was anxious to build a layout. At the time I had a small stash of HO gauge equipment that I had collected while a member of the Great Falls Model Railroad club in Montana during my high school years. We finally moved into an apartment with a spare bedroom with enough space for a layout. The only problem is the bedroom was not big enough for an HO layout. The solution was to try and build something I had never attempted before. N SCALE! Now this was a big change for me. Early N scale was something that needed a lot of work, but I was determined that I WAS going to have a layout. So a small 2’x4’ portable layout was started to hone my basic model railroading skills. This was a simple folded loop with a town on each side. Not much to operate, but I was finally building something! Below are some of the only photos I took of the layout. I wish I had taken more. All this was pre- Kadee, DCC and the highly detailed models you can get today!








Sunday, November 23, 2014

Snapshot Sunday - #32

The first train into Lewistown, Montana on the old “Jawbone” Railroad in 1903. The Montana Railroad (Jawbone) was acquired by the Milwaukee Road in 1908 to help complete it’s transcontinental line.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Layout Update - #30

Heath USG Gypsum Plant
After spending a lot of time working on the Denton area, it is now beginning work on the building in the Lewistown area of the layout. It has been several years since I built the Heath Gypsum plant from a Life Like Supply House kit. There was still many things I could do to improve the overall look of this building.


An overall view from late September 2014


(Left Photo) Since this is a major industry in the area the building needed a signage that reflected its importance. This sign is approximately 4’x8’ scale size and faces the crossing leading into the parking area behind the building.

(Right Photo) One of the car setouts for the plant is a chemical tank car unloading area at the farthest end of the structure. The chemical holding tank is from a DPM Inks kit that I had decided to cannibalize for use on other parts of the layout. The fence is from the Walthers chain link fence kit. The small pump shed is from Branchline Trains shed laser-art kit. When this photo was taken the pump hose had not yet been attached to the shed. You can see the hose in one of the photos below.


At the front of the structure is the receiving area for the incoming gypsum in covered hoppers. To create the unloading grate under the rails, to get started, I removed several ties from the track. Then used other ties to build a box for the grate to sit on. The ties were then painted a concrete color and the inside of the box was painted flat black to give the illusion of depth. After the paint had dried, I cut down a side grille for an F unit upgrade from Detail Associates to the proper length and glued to the top of the box. To move the gypsum from the unloading bin into the plant, I went to my scrap box and constructed a box from the bin to building. The cover for the box is an extra hatch from a covered hopper for servicing access.


(Left Photo) The last piece that was needed for the gypsum unloading area is the access stairs from the building to the unloading bin area. This was a simple construction of Plastruct shapes and diamond pattern sheet. The hand railing is bent wire glued to uprights. The stairs are from the extremely valuable scrap parts bin that everyone should keep on hand.

(Right Photo) To help keep the water supply constant for the plant, I used the Plastruct tank kit. The kit is pretty much built as is except for the hatch at the bottom left of the tank. To give it a more industrial look, I bought some small head sewing pins and drilled holes in the access cover. The pins were cut short and inserted in the hatch at regularly spaced intervals.


(Left Photo) The rear trackside door needed a platform or at least a stair case. I had considered a rail car loading platform, but decided that it would interfere with the chemical unloading area. So I decided on a simple platform that would be additional outside storage of barrels. A lone red barrel  at the bottom of the platform will eventually be a mini-scene built around a hazmat crew. More to come on that later.

(Right Photo) The final enhancements to the gypsum plant was the addition of pallets and other junk to side of the main loading area. Every business has excess piles of unused items lying around waiting for a specific use or disposal.


Sunday, October 26, 2014