Monday, January 20, 2020


After checking out and commenting on some of fellow modeler Rodney Walker's efforts on Flickr, he suggested I join The Weathering Shop's Rustbucket forum. Tons of great inspiration and examples of all kinds of weathering techniques. Just for fun and "street cred" (hopefully...), I added this photo of IMRL 232, completed in 2013 by CMPS and eventually sold off on Ebay. I'm really, really regretting that decision.

The unit was an undecorated Athearn/RPP shell that I assembled per prototype photos. The cut levers were custom formed out of brass wire, probably .012", to suit my own pedantic requirements. She was painted using Polly Scale UP colors and weathered with the standard chalk/Dullcote method, all the white ensuring that the windows stayed squeaky clean. A simple NCE decoder was then installed for maximum operating ability and lighting control. 

If the headlight and ditch lights look a little odd, that's because I used inset smd LED's set into the housings for maximum brightness and output. Running all the wires can get a little tedious, especially when putting the shell back onto the frame, but the results are worth it. 

Friday, January 3, 2020


I can't decide on a posting schedule so I said "self, just do it when you feel like it".

Amtrak train #369 putting along southbound towards Clemens. Scene loosely inspired by the Dubuque Tunnel.

Astute observers will note the odd combination of a locomotive and NPCU on the head-end, also Amtrak jargon for "non-powered-control unit". This will be totally SHOCKING, but this is due to a bad ordered m/u cable in the train set. The crew will have to run around the equipment before going north on their next tour of duty, which I'm sure they're very happy about doing! I might rename this the "Algonquin" since I forgot about that name until I looked at my older photos. Those Rapido units still need to receive some road grime and battle scars to really look the part, and I might also try and upgrade the LEDs to make them brighter since they do seem a bit dim out of the box. Yes, I have looked at the CV values using the Lokprogrammer...

 Amtrak train #359, the "Algonquin"

The first layout I built in our new home was short lived and N scale too, so these photos are a few years old. I made too many mistakes during the planning and construction (built too low, bad lighting, scenery too deep, etc) so it got torn down. 

"Bluffs, IL"

AMTK 396 leads train #359 into Bluffs, IL

The decision pushed me to sell off most of my N-scale equipment to fund a move to HO scale. The amount of detail parts and accessories, plus the DCC sound/lighting opportunities were just too much to pass up. Giving up the sort of space available in N scale was tough, but I've gotten used to it now. It seems like less is more, plus the time that can now go into detailing individual scenes and structures (still large enough to get noticed) in HO scale more than makes up for it.
That lone Superliner is over 1300 scale feet from the head end.

That's about it for now and since I did save most of this Amtrak equipment, maybe there is hope again for another N scale layout in the future...

Wednesday, January 1, 2020


Happy New Year, etc...

Within the past few days I completed a small project that's been on my mind for a little bit, so here we have two trench boxes that I cobbled together from some scrap styrene sheet (.060"?) and rod. 

I should have taken more in-progress photos, but they're relatively simple to figure out. I gathered some dimensions from a company that sells these out in the "real world". They were finished with some chains and lifting lugs from that leftover 18awg wire, then weathered with a combination of acrylic paint and weathering powders mixed up with very dilute Mod Podge. 
The weathering technique was very similar to how I modeled some steel ingots last year. For that project, I simply used some flat clear acrylic and weathering powders and brushed it on. Athearn provided the parts from some of my old Blue Box projects...