Got Wood?



This has been a project that’s taken small amounts of time over several days, this was done with the Vallejo Old & New Wood Effects I did earlier this year (post here). In that case I followed the old wood instructions, for some variety this time I tried the newer wood set of instructions. This should be enough to get my thrall flat car decked (and some extra) when the time comes for that.

You might be thinking, you’d think that’d be a bit tedius painting them individually… and I won’t disagree but it did make it a little easier to get a color variation between planks so it was probably worth it.

More small bits



This afternoon I was able to finish the last of the small bits with the addition of stirrups and brake wheel. Aside from the decking this is probably the last details I’m going to add for now at least. I’ve been looking at the magnetic brake hoses so that might happen further down the road.


With the details I definitely want to airbrush this but with a cold front upon us and not much free weekend time I don’t for see it happening anytime soon (since I’d need to try and heat up my garage with a space heater) but on the flip side it’s only the 5th and I’ve knocked off two items from my goal list so rather than stalling on projects I should just focus on other things like getting some track running or getting the SW1 switcher running. Wouldn’t that be a great goal update picture… flat car tasks finished, switcher tasks finished, and running on powered track 🙂


One last note, on my other blog that isn’t train related Newmans Model Building my oldest son and I have started assembly on our GMC Pickup project. If you are interested in following along that post can be found here: Building an Engine Part 1

Weekend Update 23

Trains, Weekend Update


With my goals defining what I was going to focus on this month I decided to stock up on the supplies I’d need for the months projects so I took the two older boys up to Scale Model Supplies. I ended up getting some Details West brake gear as my attempt to hand create them didn’t go well, some extra planking for the deck, and some ties for the shelf layout. Today I had a little time to escape to my workbench and got started on the brake gear and started gluing in the grab irons on the brake end.

I’m trying to decide how to handle painting the car and the decking, I want to do the Vallejo Old and New Wood I did on a earlier flat car projects but I’m not sure I want to paint each board individually… or on the flip side do the complex masking after it’s been glued down.

Coupler Boxes


While the kids were tearing around before bed this evening I started cleaning up the layout a little bit (as it is one of my goals) and generally a task that is safe to do with the kids running around (as opposed to trying to position itty bitty tie plates before the glue dries). This unconvered quite a few projects actually (and I didn’t even get close to finishing cleaning so who knows what else I’ll find) and at one point I had most of the parts and tools I’d need to install coupler boxes on the flat car and I was already getting tired of cleaning so I thought what the heck why not do that.. it’s even on my goal list!


Right now it’s just a screw holding the whole box in place, after I’ve painted the car I’ll glue the top half in place (so I don’t have to mask it or worry about paint interfering with the coupler motion).


This is also a Kadee #5 (in the first picture you can just barely see the centering spring), I’ll replace it with Kadee #158s which have the smaller knuckle and whisker springs… though I have been tempted to try Sergent Couplers for a while so maybe I’ll just try to track some of them down instead.

I’ve found lately I’m taking really close shots of stuff because I’m working on small detail bits and sometimes the scale is lost to readers, especially if they aren’t model railroaders and don’t know how big say a Kadee #5 is for example. And I usually don’t think about puting an item in for scale until I’ve put stuff away, but tonight I remembered at the last minute and used a dime to show scale (and as Lionel Strang says, add value to the picture). For my readers outside of the US that don’t know how big an American dime is, it’s our smallest coin and is 17.91mm in diameter and 1.35mm thick.


Scratch Built Flat Starting Grab Irons



The other day I had some solo time after the kids went to bed and I was feeling pretty lazy but wanted to do something modeling since I haven’t been doing too much lately so I grabbed my BLMA Grab Iron Drill Template, some grab irons and my pin vice parked myself on a table in front of netflix and started drilling holes. I got all of the end grab holes drilled and started on the side grabs before I got tired. I also seem to recall buying stirrup steps but those have for the time being proved elusive.

None of this is glued yet as I have to trim the lengths and do some filler and sanding yet but it’s very rewarding after fiddling about with the drill template and pin vice and doing a test fit. The pictures not terribly great because I was tired but I was fiddling about in Photoshop and had to resist the urge to clean up the rough edges of the model itself.

I also keep going back and forth on how I want to paint it, I’ve thought about doing the CNW mow scheme (grey with red ends), a yellow like a TTX yellow or CNW yellow or even a CNW green. I know the CNW had a thrall 53’6″ in the grey and red and I plan to scratch build one of them next so I’ll probably opt out of that. I don’t know if there is a prototype for the yellows or CNW green. I might just do a Boxcar red as a color test for my DMIR ore cars that need painting and either finding a prototype or just go full freelance on the lettering. I’m also open to suggestions if anyone has any interesting prototype information.

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.

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.

Making Bridge Beams


I was able to make a little progress on the flat car project today. I’ve got the main beams attached to the sill plates (so it’s starting to look like a flat car) so the next step was bridge beams.


The trouble with the bridge beams is you need to compensate for a slight height difference between the inner beams and the outer beams. It’s about a 2 scale inch difference (which is a bit more than half a millimeter). So my task was to make a 4 scale foot long beam and angle the bottom so one side is full height and the other 2 scale inches shorter. My first attempt was cutting it. This ended up being more of an exercise in carving and sanding smooth. It worked but was kind of a mess so I ended up doing it a new way.

First I put a small notch in one end of the beam


Then I sanded it trying to keep the un-notched end unchanged


That was a slightly awkward picture to take. It didn’t take much sanding to get what I wanted, definitely faster than trying to cut it.


Then it’s just installing them, it’s a little fiddly but if you have a slower glue it’s not too hard to make sure they are in position


This project has gotten more and more fun for me, it’s almost relaxing to come fiddle with little bits . I’ve got some ideas for paint scheme and lettering but I’m quite a way out from that so that’ll be a future topic 🙂

Scratch Built Flat Part 1… Attempt 2


In “Scratch Built Flat Part 1” from a couple weeks ago I showed four beams cut, I even made it a couple steps further before I realized that my 55ft beams was a little short of 54ft.


Missed it by that much

I decided to take another stab at it but waited until I got some more xacto blades which came with a warning that was more puzzling than useful.


How exactly are you supposed to keep safety goggles on your fingers? But I soldiered on without any safety googles for my fingers and actually broke a blade which a first for me.


Finally I had four new beams of allegedly the correct length. These I found were much easier to cut because I’d had practice and new blades to use. I’m happier with the angles but there is still room for improvement. I’m calling it good enough on this car as holding out for perfection will probably just killing the desire and I’ll never finish it.


Here they are a couple steps further along I made a bit of a mistake on the center beam, the horizontal piece on the bottom profile is ofset the wrong way so there’s almost no gap in the middle. Unfortunate but for my first one I’m just going to go with it. You won’t be able to see it while it’s on the track anyway in theory.


If anyone is looking to take this on I’d recommend getting extra styrene (as I did) so you can try again if you make a mistake (as I did) without the pressure of feeling like you are going to run out if you make a mistake. I also found on the second attempt at these beams I was able to take a much more laid back approach which made it more fun (this is a hobby after all) and when I was more relaxed I did a lot better job. I was also posting picks as I went to my blog’s Facebook page. I’ll probably do that again as the mood strikes because it was rather fun so if you use Facebook (and there are a number of great modelers on Facebook) it’s something to look out for as I probably wouldn’t post things that short on WordPress.

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?