Thursday, August 21, 2014

Buffalo Bill Rides Again!

John Ott's great artwork resulted in this car built from an MDC passenger car kit. Note the wood blinds in the windows.
One of the many weaknesses I have is for circus advance cars. These are the cars which moved ahead of the circus to plaster the advertising posters over every barn and building side they could find. The cars were usually decorated very gaily since they were a rolling billboard. Way back in the March 1995 issue, Railroad Model Craftsman published an article of mine on how I built cars 1 and 2 for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. The cars themselves were scratchbuilt but used commercial dry transfers. I was able to fiddle with the transfers a bit to get a couple of different colors and I still use them on the railroad.
  Recently I discovered that there was a Car No. 3. John Ott ( had turned up a prototype photo of the car and had made some artwork for the lettering. His car looked fantastic so I asked if I could use the artwork to make a similar car. He generously agreed. The result is my Car No. 3. It is basically a Model Die Casting coach. Very little was done with it other than to replace the truss rods with nylon fishing line and use body-mounted couplers. Intermountain wheels also replaced the kit's plastic ones.
Eager employees of Bill Cody stand before their rolling office.
    The hard part of the car was adapting John's art into a usable decal. While I use an Alps printer for most of my decals, it just doesn't do very well with colors which morph into other colors as are on the lettering. If I used an inkjet, the decal would not be opaque enough and the car color would show through greatly changing the appearing. Some of the decal would disappear altogether. To solve this, I printing a white decal on the Alps and applied it to the car. This provided my opaque undercoat. The colored part of the decal was then printed on inkjet decal paper. Aligning the color decal with the already-applied white one was a little tricky but I think the result was worth it.
   With this done, I am enthusiastic about building new versions of cars 1 and 2. I have new and better artwork for them as well, thanks to John. You should take a look at his website when you get time. He's done some interesting things building cars and structures.


  1. When are you going to publish an article on the construction of the low bed dray wagons? They look great!