What Have I Gotten Myself Into?


I had some time the other night to work on trains, so I out this wagon kit I got from Wizard Models. This is for my box file project, sure I haven’t started yet (other than starting to print it) but as soon as I get started I’m going to need some rolling stock right?

My plan was to actually start gluing things together but I realized I didn’t know where any of my glue is so it ended up mostly familiarizing myself with the instructions and try to figure out what all the names of things are.

Over all I really like the nature of these kits, American rolling stock kits end to be shake the box hard enough and it might be assembled when you open it so it’s nice to see something that takes a little bit more effort to build.

Tearing things down…


Earlier this week¬† I started tearing down my shelf layout. In short the room that is my home office and train room needs to be re-purposed as a bedroom which means I need to put the closet back in… the one I removed to accommodate the shelf layout.

As I’ve been packing things up I’ve found a lot of started but not finished projects so maybe it’s a good opportunity to try and get some of these projects done before I start thinking about figuring out another layout.

Durango Press Fairmont Speeder Part 1

Project, Trains

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.

WP_20160210_15_08_25_Pro_LI (2).jpg

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.

WP_20160210_15_44_50_Pro_LI (2)

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:

WP_20160213_11_18_05_Pro_LI (2).jpg

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 ūüôā ).

WP_20160215_17_41_57_Pro_LI (2).jpg

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.

WP_20160215_18_11_10_Pro_LI (2).jpg

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).

WP_20160309_18_06_39_Pro_LI (2).jpg

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.


Check us out on facebook at Matt’s Model Railroading

Scratch Built Flat Part 1

Project, Trains

A while back I started a flat car scratch building project I can’t at the moment where I got the plans for it but I’m building a 55’6″ Thrall flat car. I jumped into it several weeks ago but soon got frustrated with my work and I’m finally getting back to it.


As you can probably see my styrene cutting could use some help but I’m trying to not let that get me too much, if nothing else the second one I build should be better right?

Old & New Wood Effects Flat Car

Project, Trains

For Christmas my lovely wife got me this Vallejo Old & New Wood Effects.

WP_20160226_19_35_28_Pro_LI (2).jpg

I can no longer find the video but I got turned on to this through a video that showed turning styrene into realistic weathered wood. Enter this flat car:

WP_20160226_19_35_17_Pro_LI (2).jpg

This is a simple Bachmann 50′ flat car that I’ve had a while. Originally I had repainted it and tried to do a PGR paint scheme and it turned out pretty decent but I never liked the texture of the paint I brushed on. It’s been sitting in my project¬†drawer for quite a while at it was time to do something. Luckily the “wood” platform is removable so I can paint it separately while I decided how to strip and paint the bottom.

The following steps are all in the in the instructions that come with the kit and are by no means complete, just quick summaries of each step. For this flat car I’ve gone with the old wood look. I should find another flat car and do the newer wood look for contrast sometime.

First off is to apply a wood colored primer, for this we are using¬†Surface Primer 70.614. This is IDF Israeli Sand Grey… primer version. There is a regular paint one as well a fact I almost missed. It’s worth noting that the instructions call for airbrushing this on but as I was having troubles with my airbrush at the time I ended up brushing it on to a pretty good effect.

WP_20160228_18_11_11_Pro_LI (2).jpg

After allowing things to dry we apply a base wood color… which ironically is Concrete 71.131. With these pictures it’s kind of hard to tell the difference between the two which I attribute to the lighting and my phone camera. At this point it’s kind of caught me off guard how much a color like Concrete kind of looks like old wood.

WP_20160229_17_59_14_Pro_LI (2).jpg

Next up is highlighting random boards for variation which can use a variatey of colors, I used¬†Light Brown 71.927 and IDF Sand Gray 71.141. The idea here is to mix in newer or more of a color variety for the boards. As it was cold out and I didn’t want to delay the project by waiting till I could use my airbrush I dove in with a small brush. I wasn’t terribly happy with the result so I used a paper towel to wipe off excess paint and try to blend the are in. It didn’t work terribly well but afterwards didn’t look too bad either. I wish had stuck to it for reasons I’ll explain in a bit.

The next step was to start getting to the more detailed work by highlighting the edges and raised grains of the boards wiht IDF Sand Grey 71.141 (not the primer). I jumped into this straight from the previous step as I wasn’t liking the result and I had IDF Sand Grey out and was already working with it. The instructions listed a couple ways to achieve this but they for the most part worn’t working so I was using a paper towl to wipe off excess.

WP_20160301_19_17_03_Pro_LI (2)

At this point I’m getting pretty happy and wondering if I should just call it done, but I’m glad I didn’t. After highlighting the edges it’s time to highlight the lows with a sparingly applied dark wash. Watching this work kind of blew my mind, the kit comes with Dark Grey Wash 517 which is already super thin, and then you dilute it with water 50/50. It was amazing watching it find lows and spread out. The area around my attempted lighter boards was the biggest difference and it was clear I could have used the wash to cleanup some of my concerns. Again here I’m thinking I could probably stop and be happy, but I’m going to go a little bit further.

WP_20160301_19_28_02_Pro_LI (2)

Now it’s back to highlighting random raised areas with a lighter color, this time RAL1001 Elfenbein (don’t ask me what that means.. ok curiosity go the better of me, it’s evidently German for Ivory) 71.075. For some reason I was having trouble getting the effect described in the instructions so I ended up abandoning the attempt and using some of the black wash to blend in what I’d already done. I’ll need to spend some time trying to figure out how to do the grain highlight sometime but I’m going to call this particular project done.

As you may have noticed this transitioned from being a single flat car to being two, one as a refresher is my first kitbash turning a regular Bachmann flat car into a custom DM&IR pulpwood car.

Photo credits on the last three photos to my lovely wife

Check us out on facebook at Matt’s Model Railroading

Shelf Layout Idea

Project, Trains

I’ve been mentally planning a shelf layout project for quite some time and I believe have even alluded to it on this very blog but never described it very much. Chris Mears’ posts on Location and Control are a large inspiration to post about it and hopefully start designing it in earnest.

The major inspiration is Lance Mindheim’s article in the May 2015 Model Railroader, the Los Angeles Junction shelf layout. The track plan is basically the same (some minor modifications and basically mirrored to fit my space).

As with the article layout it will be 12 inches deep (except the corner) and I’m a bit torn but currently leaning towards a backdrop and valance. I’m thinking of using track shelving but using the layout itself to hide them. The shelf itself will have a clean fascia that is stained to match the other trim in the room and will be tall enough to hide the shelving bracket. A bottom panel will be installed to hide the brackets from below and give it a cleaner look.

The valance will be basically the same except house some lighting for the layout. It will also be tall enough to hide the brackets. The tracks will not extend below the shelf or above the valence and between the two they will be obscured by a simple backdrop. I am looking to go with the forced perspective route so the trains are at eye level but since I have kids that would be interested in operating I’ll aim for a level that I can achieve sitting in a stool so it’s more feasible for the kids to see.

The plan with the fascia and valance are an attempt to basically make it more respectable since it’s not just a train room anymore but a regular room that also has some trains in the corner. This also means I won’t be able to dawdle with the scenery like I usually do.

The theme is winter in a somewhat city/industrial setting. I’m looking to achieve the a gray day where you get the feeling snow is imminent. Being Minnesota based and a fan of the DM&IR I’ll probably try to find some inspiration from Duluth. Unless luck is with me it will be a freelance location rather than a specific¬†location.

This post has kind of been a big wall of text with no pictures which is a little different than my usual style. I plan to next start drawing some ideas for how the benchwork will be assembled and then (a little further out) in the future working on little display pieces to test scenery techniques and eventually building it.

One of the other things I want to try is more detailed track laying, I’ve spent far too much time staring at Proto87 track with the tie plates. At least one of my display tests will give it a try.

See more posts about this project here.

Project: Soo 320

Project, Trains

Photo taken by and Copyright Louis Becker. Photo used with permission

Photo taken by and Copyright Louis Becker. Photo used with permission

This has been something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, ever since I saw the above picture. It’s fairly intertwined with the Raging River project as the picture has inspired both projects. When I first set out I hadn’t really anticipated doing Soo 320 but kept an eye out for SW1s just the same as it would be an easy paint job. It’s also an interesting prototype because it’s supposed to be the Soo Line’s first diesel locomotive in 1939 and it’s still in commercial use today, currently for ILSX (Independent Locomotive Service) and at the time of that picture was in use in Minnesota. When the repainted somewhere around 2010 they painted it in it’s delivery paint scheme. This makes it a perfect paint job because if I were modeling the 40s it’d be correct and as I’m modeling modern era it’s currently active (last I heard) in this scheme and is owned by a leasing company so the idea of it showing up just about anywhere is plausible!


I picked up this Walthers SW1 in GN paint off eBay a year or two ago with the intention of at sometime in the future putting a decoder in it at minimum and maybe repainting it. My original plan was to pick up a decoder this month but my a replacement airbrush took up my hobby money for the month so instead I’ve started prepping for paint.

First up is new hand rails, the set that came with it was not in the best condition and upon closer inspection of the prototype picture I realized they were quite a bit simpler.


This is the cap side grab for comparison, having brass (and styrene for that matter) on hand is very handy! The front grab is very similar, just a little bigger.


With the front and back done and test fitted, these will be painted white and I’ll reuse the original plastic end rails which are white and black. I’m not entirely sure I’ve got the geometry I like so I might see how how it looks painted to see if I try to readjust or remake them.

Check for more posts on this project here

Boxcar Improvements

Project, Trains

I have a couple of Accurail boxcars that I built from kits from early in my hobby that while nothing special are still pretty decent pieces. However as I learned more about railroad history they kind of fell out of favor since their roof walks dated them before my era. Incidentally they are from a phase I went through where I was collecting a boxcar for each railroad that was taken over by the UP. This is as far as I got.


As I was digging through my parts/project box the other day I found them and decided to take a stab at updating them to a more modern era by removing their roofwalks. I figure worse case scenario I start with broken cars and end up with unusable salvage attempts. Best case scenario I get some more operable boxcars. As you can see from the picture they are already in a bit of a sorry state, wheels, couplers, and sometimes trucks were given homes on other more modern pieces.


It appears the MKT box is going to be a little bit more work because of the larger holes and molding around them. As the CNW is a little more local and I have friends that model it I’m starting with that one.


After I the holes plugged the next step is going to be broken stirrup steps (get it, next step is steps ūüôā ) as two of them are missing one or more.


Paired Airslide project

Project, Trains


I’ve actually had this model for a while, way¬†back in 2013 (More hoppers and a switcher) and after initial build they’ve just been sitting in a box.

The short back story is I picked up what I thought was two cement hoppers but ended up being a paired set which was two hoppers connect with a drawbar. I built it right away but it needed better couplers, metal wheels, and the drawbar made putting things on the rails a real pain so it went back in the box to be improved “later”.

I had the fortune Tuesday to have the my lovely wife and kids run some errands just before I got home from work so I was home alone for a while so I ran down to the train room to find something to do. I started by touching up some of the hoppers I was painting/weathering the trucks on. Basically there were some fiddly parts that were loose. While glue was drying I started digging through the my parts/projects boxes and decided to take a stab at it.

I stole some metal wheels and couplers from some worse off projects (not getting finished anytime soon type projects). Then I took some dummy couplers I had laying around and replaced the drawbar.


This brought them a little closer which I think looks a little bit better and most importantly it means they can be put on the rail independently. Next steps will be weathering and painting the trucks, wheels, and dummy couplers but that will have to wait for a new airbrush.

Check for more posts on this project here

Jordan Spreader project

Project, Trains

I’ve been wanting to build a Jordan spreader for a while now, a couple of years ago I came across a Walthers kit and passed on it and I’ve sort of regretted it ever since. I’ve kept an eye out for them at shows and online auctions for a while and when I had seen them they were way more than I wanted to spend. In the mean time I discovered that the DM&IR had four, one of which is pretty close to the Walthers kit DMIR W-198¬†(as modeled by Milt Spanton).

I’m torn between kit-bashing W-198 or building it as the kit comes as a hypothetical W-197 or W-202 which matches the Walthers kit and save the kit-bashing idea for another day (my main thinking here is if I decided to do the kit-bash now it will sit in a box for a while needing supplies)

In the mean time here is what I have


I’m thinking I’ll spray the parts yellow before I start assembly so I don’t have any weird angles to try to hit after assembly

Check for more posts on this project here