Posted on Leave a comment


Our fleet of city buses was very worn out by the time I was old enough to ride. Russell and I were 7 years old when he suggested we take a ride over to Laurium (3 miles) from our neighbourhood in Calumet. We scrounged up the fifteen cents and a nickel for a transfer if needed to get back home. It was a daring adventure at the time as our parents had no clue what us kids did in the summer roaming around town. We got home an hour later and none knew the difference until we bragged about it. Looking back, I’m glad we did it because the bus service was shut down a year or so after that. The three ladies are going to catch this bus. Sitting on the bench are a couple of old scoffers betting on whither the bus would even make it to this stop. They know this particular unit has a bad right rear axle bearing, a wrist pin knock in the engine and chattering clutch. In the waning days of operation, it’s called “break down maintenance”. And the dog, he’s been caught sneaking on the bus before. This is a people-friendly bus stop with a newspaper dispenser, mailbox, bench and phone booth. If you have a long wait, the diner can provide a quick bite to eat and/or something to drink.

Posted on Leave a comment

A 1950’s scene

I like the looks of masonry structures for my 50’s scenes with only a few wood ones as in reality, most of them burned down by then. This angle of the scene is not appreciated as the viewer would have to lean over the layout to see it this way. The streets are laid out at an angle to the layout edge to avoid those parallel lines that make scenes boring.


Posted on Leave a comment

Where all the trains in the system are at 9:30 AM on any given day on our historic Santa Fe model railroad.

Seligman engine service and Work Train siding
When the “Work Train” is needed, it will be assighned a number by the dispatcher and run as an “Extra”.

Phoenix Junction in Ashfork
Train” #220″ is at the end of its run in Ashfork and is positioning passenger and express cars brought up from Phoenix with Engine #301. These cars must be ready in time for pick up by the East Bound Grand Canyon Limited and East bound Fast Mail.

All the passenger equipment has American Limited operating diaphragms as seen on the express baggage car.

Home of Escalante Harvey House and Santa Fe Freight Station
RDC “Extra” is used to shuttle fresh train crews either East or West to replace any other train crew personal that become “Dead on the Law”. Ashfork is a crew change town anyway for some trains.
The Ashfork yard has been re-graded for “Humping” cars out of Phoenix and other East Bound trains that need to be re-blocked with those trains. West bound trains are never humped here as they just pass through.

Home of the Frey Marcos Harvey House.
Train “#412” East Bound Mixed Freight waiting in the “hole” (inside passing track) for the West Bound Chief.

Grand Canyon Junction at Williams with Gorre & Daphetid “#240”
The Gorre & Daphetid Railway was sub contracted to serve as a tourist line between Williams and Grand Canyon.
A hillside scene will be built where the tunnel portal is to give the illusion that trains actually come from the Grand Canyon

Flagstaff AZ
Train #202 is an East Bound Reefer Express and being “iced” as we speak before it heads out across the High Desert on the Colorado Plateau of Arizona and New Mexico. The conductor is missing paper work on a few cars but they will get iced anyway.

Apache Railroad Junction at Holbrook AZ
Used as a return loop track for any direction just for now. Any train can be parked there and held for staging.

Winslow AZ
La Posada Harvey House
Major fuel stop and crew change town where #4 the East Bound Super Chief is stopped right now. Too bad I don’t have a larger area to model this facility better, but accept the two tracks and move on.

Gallup NM
El Navajo Harvey House
Train meet

123 Grand Canyon Limited West Bound 22 El Capitan East Bound

Yatahey Coal line Junction East of Galup #401 Coal Train West Bound

We created a fictitious “Navajo” railroad engine for for working the mine.

Albuquerque NM
Alvarado Harvey House 10 Fast Mail East Bound. This is a 12 car train headed by F7A-B-A on the main line. A passing track is on the left and used for switching industries.

Trailer Train siding Albuquerque NM#251 Trailer Train will be a West Bound after switching piggy back trailers. The model of the trailer train facility was from “Bridges and Buildings” book from Kalmbach publishing. The article stated that the prototype was a Santa Fe structure in Kansas City The lead unit of the Fast Mail is in the background.

Posted on 2 Comments

Weathering A Few Freight Cars

The same pigments I use for scenery and used for weathering all the structures you have seen on this web-site have now been applied on these freight cars. Call this “The Art of Model Railroading” as I wanted to make my weathering very obvious. Someone made a statement recently on the internet that Athearn’s rolling stock is not selling anymore and gathering dust on the hobby shop shelves. Consider using them for these extreme weathering techniques and I’m sure they will get as much attention as those highly detailed ones at six times the money.

You can’t believe everything printed by the model press. One of their highly endorsed techniques for weathering was to use dirty thinner. The results on plastic were very bad and the models looked horrible. Floquil’s weathering sets don’t cut it either as their to shiny. What you see here is my pigments applied over the tacky paint. Old paint turns to chalk and therefore not glossy looking.
Floquil’s Grime was applied to all these cars and then different combinations of my powder applied.
In some places, Dull Coat lacquer was applied to further distribute the pigment to make it adhere.
Only Dull Coat and black pigment were used on this car.
Care was taken not to hide the car logo’s so you could still read them. A little orange pigment was used to simulate fresh rust right of the door.
A stock car according to the late John Allen, will have a lot of “white” at the bottom to show the user of disinfectants.
Take a good look at the next freight train rolling by and notice the extreme disrepair of some units. I saw a couple up in Flagstaff a while back that were so bad one could hardly believe they were still in service.
Posted on Leave a comment


Spread it out with a bread knife and/or palate knife just like a real concrete finisher would.

Breaking away from that sterile plastic look for streets and sidewalks
This three-building set came in from Downtown Deco last month and I started putting it together lately. An extra plastic building was placed into the scene so there could be an alley in the middle of the block. The street and sidewalks are in place with my #1290 Concrete Paving material. This is my first attempt at having a track in a paved street.

1/8″ Foam core was used for the sidewalk and thin cardboard for the base between the rails. Our paving material powder is mixed into glue (carpenters) and water to a consistency of toothpaste.

The creative part is adding details like the original brick street exposed through the broken pavement.

A similar theme of streets and sidewalks will carry through with the new block of buildings. This requires a jog in the streets that adds interest to the scene. Notice that the scenery is at an angle to the wall and bench work to keep the viewer’s eye from following those straight lines.

The street traffic can keep flowing with this half-block jog worked into the narrow limitations of bench work.


The area at left will be transformed into a representation of my favourite junkyard on Water Works Street.

Posted on Leave a comment

Using Athearn dining cars for sleeper/lounges

Us modellers that started in the seventies used the Athearn streamlined passenger cars and I still do. The problem with this is Athearn never followed through and made any sleeper cars. The Santa Fe “Chief” was an all sleeper car train that included an RPO, Baggage Car, possible Dome car and an Observation car on the tail end. I decided to use Athearn dining cars as sleepers as there were some “Pullman cars” or Double bedroom lounge cars with similar window configurations. You can see an example of this in Kalmbach’s “Classic Trains” Summer 2008 edition on page 59. All I did differently is painted “red” curtains for the sleepers and “green” curtains for the diner. The green would indicate the “turquoise Room” on the Santa Fe. Green curtains for diners and red curtains for double bedroom lounge cars. It’s just an example of squeezing out something extra from toy trains. Ah, but then, all my passenger and mail trains have interior lighting with rechargeable battery packs, most have Centralia Car Shops trucks, Kadee couplers, American limited diaphragms and plenty of lead weight to keep them tracking at 90 miles an hour.