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Texaco Station diorama

The Texaco Station diorama is mounted on a 1/4″ Masonite base, 11, 1/4″ X 9, 1/4″

I moved the billboard to the left side as it gives more room for the outside work area on the right. Next to the building is an upholstered seat for the local loiterers to sit on, oil can display rack, barrel, tire leak checker tub, old Ford truck, Ford V/8 flat head engine on a pallet, compressed gas bottle, floor jack, air compressor, roll-a-way toolbox, green barrel, silver barrel, couple tires and bottle container.

There is also a bell ringer hose for the island and an air meter with a hose. The pump island also has a trash barrel. There is a hoop sign and fire hydrant on the street side. The new owner may want a fence for the back and sides of the property to frame in the scene, I don’t have any of that right now. There are four sections of fence gates that are included. I take a lot of time to weather a scene and building properly. This is how the Texaco station looked like when it was part of the O’Lary’s module. I cut them apart from each other as the scene would have been too large to ship as a whole unit. The Red Ford sedan is not included as you can buy your own from Mini Metals. The reason for this picture as most of the tall street sign shows up. I will remove this for shipping and you can stick it back on later. Also what you get is the coal box and barrel on the left side in the structure.

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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.

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Resurrection of a Mantua Mikado

This was purchased brand new as a kit about thirty years ago. It was an operational disappointment because the tender brass wheels got dirty with one trip around the layout. Lucky for it, I came across nickel silver wheels for the tender and now it works like a charm. The fake coal load was cut out of the tender so I could fill it with real coal from my Campbell operating coal tower. Three ounces of lead in the rear of the tender improved the wheel to track conductivity. Towing 14 steam era reefer’s is now a piece of cake. Pieces and parts arrived from a company called, yardbird classic trains to trick out this engine like the late John Allen’s engine #42


While I was waiting for some parts to come in, I scratch built a tool rack for the ash pit. Durango Press (JL Innovative Design) makes this as a kit, but I learned to make most of my own parts to build it. The fake cast on piping from the sand dome and “cast on” sand dome was ground away from the boiler. That big tank in front of the boiler was scratch built. Half of the cab window was cut out for the fireman to stick his arm out. The Westinghouse pilot, Berkshire sand dome, whistle, jewel markers, new brass bell, and other piping details have been installed. Most of the parts were from a basic detail kit that includes details for the Mikado “long haul” tender. The foreground track host the ash pit and wash rack. I used the “N” scale 1031 Black cinder, 1151 Basalt ballast, and 1011 Red Cinder ballast mixed for the effect of mining stamp sand at the left-center of the picture. It looked like this for thirty years and ran poorly besides lacking detail.

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JUNKYARD at Cedar Street

A fellow could spend a whole day detailing even a small junkyard like this and down the road, I will. Before this happens, a picture helps to decide how it should be done. This end is reserved for the Hot Rod dream cars that I never had time to build in my younger days. There were only a couple old Fords left to pick from in the junkyards back home and most of the essential parts were stripped off anyway. I think what happened is when the miners left the area during the depression and other long strikes, they migrated to California. My junkyard will have plenty of cars to choose from in a short time. The building is a plaster casting that was built with plaster stones glued together with door and window openings. Mark from A.I.M. made a rubber mould for me and this is a result of the work. Campbell shingles had many of the tabs cut shorter so the rows look very randomly.

One would think that every vehicle in this facility is junk. There are only a couple people that know this, but some of them still run. It’s been rumored that the intelligence community stores some surveillance and “high speed” chase cars here. If you were astute enough to take inventory during the day and then, check back late at night, some of them would be missing. In fact, there are a couple Packards missing right now. This happens frequently as some cars are missing for days, and then reappear again very late at night. A suspicious person can’t let his curiosity betray himself by getting caught with any knowledge of this so you have to remain very discrete.

Like I said, the next morning a couple high speed Packards showed up in the junkyard.

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Campbell’s kit #353 LCL Freight House

You need one of these on the layout as they were common for Less than Car Load pickups and deliveries. Lots of little building add potential activity to your railroad. I believe the kit comes with those unpainted crates and barrels that I have not detailed yet. One could scratch build this for a couple of bucks, however, I acquired this from Campbell’s when I did some work for the company some years back.

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Downtown Deco

Thanks to Downtown Deco for this kit as it allows an opportunity for modeling urban scenery. I grew up on the streets of Calumet, Michigan, and the downtown buildings had already suffered the effects of the Great Depression. It was a prosperous mining town in its day as the red metal was in abundance and found in its purest form. The copper could be hammered out of the rock and drawn directly into the wire with little smelting. Money from Boston funded the operation as well as influenced the town architecture. In the early 1960s, when I was about twenty years old and planning my future, my father said, “Get out of this town because it’s dead.” The mines closed a few years later, and I have to say, dad was right. The first President, George Bush, declared it a historical district during his last days in office. Now the Feds have taken over the landmark mining company offices of the Calumet and Hecla, and little is being done to restore the town. Whatever negative statements I have made are based on fact, however, home is home, and there are exciting stories to tell with text and modeling.

Sunday morning in the slums, I don’t have anyone in the streets, so it must be Sunday morning. After all, it’s a neighborhood of drunks, dope addicts, and pickpockets. They disappear just like cockroaches in the daylight and won’t come out again until night. Rust stains (#1400) are overly evident on our concrete from the storm sewer drains, and maintenance hole covers made from cardboard.

Bringing life to the scene

Expansion joints were scored with the tip of a razor saw every 12 scale feet. Add joints down the center of the street. Random scores were made to represent cracks in the pavement. Diluted India Ink was seeped into all the scores to help define them. You can see darker black areas in some cracks where the street repair crew squirted tar in them. This was done with a brush and Acrylic paint. Storm sewer grates, utility hole covers, water covers, paper trash, and weathering the pavement bring character to the scene. Trees, people, and vehicles bring the action of life.

#1340 green sand was applied thinly on wet Mars Black acrylic paint for a weathered and worn roof. A clay chimney flue was made from card stock paper and painted orange from our pigment #1410. I was quite pleased the way this model turned out, but then after some time, it seemed dull.

Overdoing a model with signs and junk on the roof is something new to me. The task of building a model just to look like the picture above was always good enough for me in the past. That is a lot of work in its self. Now that the hard work is behind, adding detail is the fun part.

Taxi Pete’s Parking Garage was scratch built to provide personal interest in my first Downtown Deco block. Taxi Pete bought all his new cars (Plymouths and Chryslers) from my father. When dad sold his business after forty years, we rented space from Pete to park our vehicle in his garage during the winter. Pete Sarkisian came from Armenia as a sixteen-year-old orphan after the Turks killed his parents in 1918(?). You could always count on Pete being at the train station meeting the passengers from the daily Milwaukee Road train in Calumet.

The left roof is #1381 ballast for a pitch and gravel roof with openings in the rear wall for scuppers. Weathered tar paper was modeled for the right tent. The roof divider wall was made from plaster stones that I make for projects such as this. Clay flues were made for the chimneys at left. A couple of open windows have curtains blowing out and made from cigarette papers. Now the roofs await further detail.

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Paper Bag Scenery Tutorial

This is a method of creating a “Tough Skin” scenery shell that is lightweight and less messy than plaster. I now use a two-layer process with spray foam in between the back and front paper. The foam allows some density for planting trees, fence post and whatever for stability. Every now and then at the groceries store, I ask to have my purchases bagged in paper bags. Open up the bag at the bottom and cut out pieces that fit your scenery situation. There is a seam in the bag, so I use this for the first layer that won’t be seen. I use Carpenters wood glue for securing the edges in place. Follow the instructions below for a detail of the method. Crumple up a paper shopping bag and then open it up. I cut a section of it to fit the scenery slope at left. It was first glued along the edge of the sub roadbed and allowed to dry. Now the bottom edge is glued in place on the lower bench work. A paper flap was also glued to the edge of the viaduct and allowed to dry. This will later be folded over and glued to the other vertical paper bag. After the photo was taken, more bag material was added at the right until it met the existing scenery. A piece of Styrofoam was glued in place so the paper flap can be folded over and glued in place without collapsing the adjacent paper. You can install cardboard or Styrofoam supports every so often behind this shell system. I do it only when the scenery is at a more gradual slope for strength. The second layer of paper is glued at the bottom edge only because I’m going to start filling in between the layers with spray Foam. That second layer of paper is held open with the tape measure just for the picture. I thought it best to keep all the store brand printing on the backside from the side that will show. One can of foam do about four square feet of scenery shell.

It’s best to have that much area ready so the entire can will be used up. A second area was readied for foaming so I could use up the entire can of foam. The top paper is glued at the bottom edge and pulled back for the picture. The paper on the other side of the track is also doubled and will be pulled back for foaming. The foam was sprayed in full-length rows starting at the bottom and stacked just short of the top. I quickly raised up the paper and glued it at the top. The foam will expand to twice its size as you can see the bulging of the paper after it cured a couple of hours. I will use some plaster of Paris to fill in the gaps as you see in the photo above. The same was done in this second area also. The carpenters wood glue was used to attach the paper after it was filled with foam. I spray the unruly paper with water to make it softer for laying against the foam underneath. Very important step Immediately after Plaster of Paris was applied to close up the joints, I bushed on a soupy mixture of scenery color and texture. For this, I used Cajon Powder and diluted glue. The mixing bowl and stiff brush are seen in the photo centre. As I worked, the plaster began to harden so the color brushing continued until the white plaster was coloured over. A second coat touch up was done in a few places to tone down the white of the plaster. I don’t want the plaster to come loose and fall off the paper. The glue mixture with powder will create a lasting bond as it somewhat mixes with the fresh plaster. One 11 ounce package of #1200 Cajon Rock Powder was enough to color the scene at left and below. Some of the “white” from the plaster shows through that gives the rock face interesting highlights. Immediately, the rest of the powder was sprinkled over the still wet scenery. Then some “Zip Texturing of #1203 Sand & Gravel, #2 Dead & Alive ground cover, #9 Fine Green Blend Grass and #1205, 1207 Cajon Rip/rap material. End it up by lightly spraying with wetted water and dripping on the diluted glue. Gradual slopes as this hold the loose rock as in nature. The very four ground, back scenery and backdrop painting are not finished yet for this article. When that is ready, I’ll plant many of the trees I’m working on. The next tutorial will cover the topic of preparing this same terrain for the planting of brush and trees.

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Very few industries could afford crushed rock for their driveways and work areas. Junkyards were a prime example of this. Our special blend of rock powder is to represent dirt that would have an accumulation of chemicals and oils churned up in it over a period of time. This is the color used in the scene below.

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Wood Boxcar Freight House

A few months age, I got an Ayres Scale Models “Box Car Freight House” on eBay. This kit dates back to the early ’60s and is all wood like much the models from that era. My Winslow engine service area was a perfect location for this kit as it goes well with a Campbell loading dock that was already there. The scene has become quite congested and taken years to get it that way.

What’s an Ayres kit? Thomas J. Ayres was a 50’s kit builder in California and many of the structures were adapted into the Campbell Scale Models line of products when Leo Campbell bought it from Ayres. Ayres continued to work for Leo for a number of years at least in the capacity as a photographer. He is credited for all those sharp pictures used in the Campbell ads and color catalogs. Looking at this scene, I realized that four other Ayres kits are in it. The Sand House, Coaling Station, Water Tank and Pump House. Kevin Barnett worked for Campbell and designed the Water Treatment Plant at lower right in this photo.

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A while back, I got rid of my plastic Heljan turntable and replaced it with a 14″ Bowser unit. I removed the plywood table top base that comes with the unit as the pit fit perfectly in the hole cut for the old Heljan unit. The motor runs way to fast on 12 volts so I cut the power down to about 6 volts. 

For now, one of the roundhouse doors is operated with a Scale Shops turnout motor. An additional 6 stall roundhouse is being added to the scene with hours of scenery work remaining.