Some Fall Cleaning

I’m afraid this is another post without pictures (sorry about that). Life has been slowly encroaching on the model railroad room for a while. This has caused some cleaning and organizing which has been good but slow. Push came to shove so to speak recently and as a result I’ve had to do some additional purging which is for the good but not neccesarily easy as I’ve started dismantling my free-mo modules. Deep down I expected I’d do this but part of me was holding on to the idea that I might resurrect it one day. I have been able to salvage some parts (mostly rail and turnouts) so it’s not a full loss.

On a more positive side I’ve been able to link some of my cleaning efforts with paint stripping efforts (as I’ve previously mentioned). This has moved a big stack of my projects from the someday maybe column to the “This has started happening” column which is good. As a preview I’ve got a flat car project (not the scratch build, a cheapish Bachmann RTR) that I have already painted the deck for. It just needs a new paint job and as I’ve just stripped off the old paint job it seems prime for doing. I decided this one will have some whimsey and become a free-lance railroad or leasing company paint scheme.

I’ve also got some hoppers that will be likely be painted up in BN green and ATSF dark red to mimic the hoppers that are commonly found delivering bentonite to the DMIR for pellet making. While tearing apart an old project for the scrap heap is never fun, freeing up some space and focusing on fun projects does help a little.

Some interesting paint stripping results

As a fun side note the original title was “an interesting experience with a stripper” but thought that might imply something less appropriate.

Stripping paint of a model has always been something that I’ve been scared to try and accrued a collection of failed painting projects. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago I had my first stripping project of my speeder project. This emboldened me to try some other projects which has led to some interesting results as all of these were done using Purple Power degreaser.

Accurail box car I had painted part of it and tried and failed to weather returned to basically out of box condition. With the exception of a few hard to access nooks and crannies my paint is all gone including weathering but the CNW yellow is all there and I couldn’t even srub the decals off. I guess the plus side here is that I can just restart from where I started last time.

Bachmann gondola (cheapish one from trainset). This was a very early painting project when I got back into model railroading as an adult. I used cheap craft quality acrylics and it looked pretty good from a few feet a way but needed a change. It was originally BN and I just painted over decals. When pulled it out of the stripper you could clearly see a clean BN logo in green surrounded by the acrylic paint I had used. Basically the decals came off and took the acrylic with it like a mask. Some scrubbing with an old toothbrush and it cleaned right up to it’s original green with no decals

Bachmann flat car (silver series line) this one was painted the same as the gondola, but even with scrubbing some of the decals stayed.

At this point I found it interesting that the Accurail and newer Bachmann decals were quite a bit tougher than the earlier Bachmann decals. But what’s really interesting is what’s next…

Three identical Athearn blue box hoppers from the same era with the same paints scheme walk into a bar… I mean tub of stripper… and one comes out completely different. They were all three in for the exact same amount of time but two came out in the grey they went in as but the decals had gone monochrome and most of them scrubbed off pretty easily. Number three came out as raw black plastic.

I can only assume there is some difference in the life of this item that caused this result as all three were in the same tub but it made me chuckle a little! Another way to look at it I’ve got some up coming painting projects. I’ve been working on my airbrushing technique and I think I’m getting closer to being a little more consistant so hopefully some posts on that will be coming up soon.

Durango Press Fairmont Speeder Part 1

I have a bit of a history with white metal kits, well I started one and did not make it very far and every once in a while I come across the box… one day…

Anyway I needed a Speeder for my Speeder Shed diorama, I also grew up 10 miles from Fairmont Minnesota, home of Fairmont Railway Motors so if I’m going to do a speeder it might as well be a Fairmont. Enter the Durango Press DP-37 white metal kit.

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I was hesitant at first to do another white metal kit but decided a speeder car should be a more simple starter kit, compared to the complex Custom Finishing Models kit I had originally tried.

Basic Prep

This is a fairly simple model without too many parts, first I put them into some little re-sealable ziploc style bags for better storage between steps. Then I started cleaning up any flashing which was mostly windows.

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Paint or Assembly

I took some time to try and decided which to do first, paint or assemble. assembly first might make it harder to paint tighter to get to areas and harder to do some of the more detail things (like the lights). I ended up going with partial assembly and then paint… in large part because I found myself with this:

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Any further and I figured it’d just be harder to paint in part because I’m going to try using a Testors rattle can (because I have it, and I still haven’t fixed my airbrush… and don’t want to wait🙂 ).

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I took a bit of scrap particle board as a painting surface and some masking tape to hold down the small parts and started spraying away. It’s not the most precise rattle can (the Duplicolor automotive rattle can spray paints are actually pretty good for control and spray… it’d be nice if Testors used the same technology). If figured if it was bad enough I’d scrape it off and start over or just go heavy on the weathering.

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Things didn’t get to a great start (though the lighting in my garage doesn’t really help) so I kept applying light coats… or as light as this rattle can could do to try and give it a smooth finish. and then the rattle can went dry. And by dry I mean leaked a bunch of paint out on my hand and made a big puddle next to the nozzle.. but didn’t spray any of it. Since there wasn’t enough coverage to call it good so out came some matching testors paint and a brush slowly building up paint.

The wheeles were looking good though so I pulled out a Model Masters “steel” color and painted the treads (well half done in this picture).

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I really don’t like the regular testors paint (which is too bad as it’s so easy to find and cheap), the model masters stuff isn’t bad but I’ve fallen in love with the thin Vallejo acrylics but I’ve already started and have it on hand so on I continue.

After this the speeder set on my workbench a while, aside from the wheels I just wasn’t satisfied with out how the paint looked. Actually not satisfied doesn’t even start to describe how disappointed I was with it. I was so frustrated it basically ended up on the shelf most of the summer. This was supposed to be a smallish project that’d be done relatively quickly so rather than a stream of posts I’d just maintain an unpublished post until it was done. Fast forward a couple months and I finally got down to the business of stripping off the old paint.

Based on advise recieved as comments on this blog and searching around the web I ended up with a big container of “Purple Power” and some plastic gloves. It worked so well virtually all the paint had separated from the metal after about 24 hours. In fact even the glue had separated from the model as well so I got to build it again. This time I’m using Vallejo acyrlics not enamel and tonight I started with some primer. This was a chance to test out some airbrush equpiment changes as well. This was going to be one post to the end but I’m thinking it’ll be 2 parts, with final paint and weathering being a separate post.


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Scratch Built Flat Part 4

Since my last update I’ve been slowly pottering on with the scratch build. I’m building off instructions that were part of a four part series of clinics on building a flat car on the Lonestar Region of the NMRA ( the four parts labeled Flat Car Clinic but not Wood Flat Car Clinic). I was provided the PDFs and didn’t realize till now that they were publically accessible.

Anyway I came to the conclusion that while the instructions are probably right, there is probably a better way for *me* to build it. I’ve already got some good ideas on ordering would help reduce the mistakes I made. An example would be the horizontal bit on the bottom profile of the four beams. The instructions have them installed right away and then bits are tucked underneath but trimmed to fit first (like the bridge beams). But I’m thinking if that horizontal bit isn’t there they can be installed untrimmed and then trimmed on the model to be the right height. I’m just trying to work out how best to document it. I’ll probably have a series of posts on it with lots of pictures but I’m thinking it might be helpful to learn a little CAD to aid in creating represntations and made some videos too.

But none of that has anything to do with the current build which is starting to make some actual progress. I managed to get some “good enough” bolsters carved out (literally) and installed. I’ve also got all the stake pockets installed. I need to do some putty work on some gaps (naturally my model putty has disappeared at the moment) and then installing brake wheel, grab irons, wheels, and then paint. I suppose I’ll also have to figure out some weight as well either on the bottom of the car or in the load. Sorry for the lousy pics, it was late when I finished up and wrote up this post.



It’s hard to believe I’ve actually made it this far in about 2 months. This does bring me to a new dilema in that I have never done real decals (aside from sticker style that you find in entry level model car kits) and painting isn’t a skill I have a lot of confidence in so I’ll have to work to get through the mental barrier as well.

Monday Motivational 5

Monday Inspirational Modeling is out, and the more alliterative and catching Monday Motivational is in. This weeks motivational isn’t modeling, it’s the photography website It’s not specific to railroading at all but has some great railroad pictures like this and this. These photos are all licensed under the Creative Commons Zero license which means you can copy, modify, distribute, and use the photos free for any purpose without permission or attribution required.

Weekend Update 20

When I was last at the hobby shop I found a Walthers Heavy Duty Front End Loader kit (#933-3162 but not in the Walthers catalog, it appears Kibri #405-10756 is an updated version, the Walthers kit appears to be a rebranded Kibri kit anyway). I passed on it but thought it’d make a good flat car load. Once I got home I decided to find more details on it and found it wasn’t terribly easy find anymore (this was before I discovered it was available under the Kibri name now) so I picked one up online and put it together this weekend.


It was a fun build, probably took me about an hour of casual building time and is fairly well detailed. I’d definitely build this one again if I come across another at a good price.

I’ve been fairly busy lately, including preparing for a bunch of family to visit this week. This has required some heavy cleaning of the garage which has the positive advantage of cleaning my garage workbench off so once the family visit is done it’ll be clean enough to use it to try and get my airbrush working again.

I’ve also been doing some thinking on my scratch build flat car project, I think I have some ideas on improving the build process for the next one I build. I’ll probably have a post on that… when I have time to write it.

Scratch Built Flat Part 3

I’m kind of behind in posting updates on my flat car build, things have been slowly chugging along. I was able to get the longitudinal and then secondary cross braces installed.


After that I got the sub deck installed (you can see my markings for stake pockets).


And in the most recent pictures I have the stake pockets cut out of the subdeck.


I’m currently working on the bolsters which has been to put it some what dramatically a nightmare. It’s kind of become a carving exercise to get them close enough as it’s fairly tricky cuts. I’m trying to figure out a way to do it better for the next one. A couple ideas include using a Silhoute Cameo machine to score some sheets of styrene (and then layering them to get the right thickness) or 3D printing. Definitely open to suggestions.

I was short a few supplies to finish (not counting paint or decals) so a trip to the hobby store was in order. I ended up picking up some brass wire (I’m not doing brake lines on the bottom but going to use it for brake wheel and cut levers), stirrups (already have plenty of grab irons), trucks, and deck wood. I’m not sure what paint scheme I want to go with, I’m currently leaning toward the grey and red CNW scheme.

The trucks I found are pretty cool, the scratch building instructions I have included a prototype photo which seem to be S-2 Barber trucks. I was about to purchase some Kadees when a set of Kato trucks grabbed my attention. Not only where they cheaper they have rotating bearing caps which is super cool. I put one cap on just for a demonstration video.