Monday, December 13, 2021

Another Saloon ???

The Oriental Palace in a temporary location in Farmington. Its final resting place is to be determined.

It seems that saloons are all that is being constructed on the S&C Railroad. Well, the nineteenth century was known for having a copious number of such establishments in every town. This particular one was built for a couple of reasons. The first was to try out my skills for designing and then assembling my own laser-cut "kit." The second was to try and duplicate a nice structure I saw while watching the movie The War Wagon. 
     The building itself is interesting to me because of the adobe first story surmounted by a frame second story. Also, the suggestion that it is run by a Chinese person indicated by the red and black paint scheme and the faintly oriental style decorations. 
    To design the building, I drew it up to scale in Adobe Illustrator, then included the tabs and notches which make laser kits go together so easily. The windows, frames and balcony decorations were all done in Illustrator as well. The basic wall structure is made from 1/16" thick basswood with the wood siding burnt in by the laser. The Adobe look was made by stippling on some Scale Stucco as supplied by Crescent Creek Models ( This was then painted a fairly revolting color which proves the proprietor has no aesthetic taste. The windows were also cut on the laser with what I thought was a good result for the window muntins. These are made in three pieces (upper sash, lower sash and frame) so that they can be positioned in an opened or closed position.
     The balcony railing shows a little wear probably resulting from a scuffle on the second floor. I wanted a somewhat seedy establishment and I think I accomplished that.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Saturday Night at the California Grand Palace

In my August 21 post (, I described the installation of the finished California Grand Palace and showed a few photographs. Since then, I have make a  video which does a bit better in displaying the details of the structure. The sound track in the video is the same as the one used in the finished saloon. I hope you enjoy "Saturday Night at the Grand Palace."


Friday, September 24, 2021

Yet Another Inspection Locomotive


Inspection Locomotive Number 300 leaving the Stanislaus River bridge and carrying the superintendent to Oakdale.

Inspection locomotives are one of my weaknesses. My last such engine was reported on almost one year ago ( This engine is similar to the previous one in that it is a brass model of the Lehigh Valley's Dorothy. The main difference between this one and the previous loco is this engine represents an earlier version of the locomotive.

 Red Ball imported this piece in the 1960s-70s in both versions. Since this was the earlier version, I decided to add spoked wheels on the pilot and trailing trucks. A Minebea 15mm can motor with a new NWSL worm was installed along with a Tsunami2-Steam2 decoder. 
     In my research, inspection locos never were used west of the Rockies so these would be hard to find on a California railroad but, it's my railroad and I like them. If you are interested in learning more about these fascinating engines, pick up a copy of Railroad History magazine, issue No. 206. It has a very detailed article by Ron Goldfeder which covers about every inspection engine built. 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Mail and Express Wagons

The Wells Fargo Express wagon at the Farmington depot. Noe that the name reads "Wells Fargo and Co's Express." The
plural of "Co." was used on WFCo signage until the company dropped the "'s" in 1898.

I had been wanting for some time to build a small express wagon, the kind with a top but just wire screened sides. I had seen several pictures of such a wagon but there was no kit of one. Jordan had produced such a body but mounted on a 1925 Model T Ford chassis, a bit too new for my needs. Having such a kit at hand gave me the idea of using just the body and making my own wagon underframe. 
     Several months ago, when Jordan ceased production, I had created 3D drawings of their wagon underframe and so I put those on the 3D printer and got  some pieces for my project. Wheels were spares I had from another kit I had assembled. The parts went together easily and so I had the wagon desired. A few decals later and the project was done. Being pleased with the outcome encouraged me to make another wagon, this one for the mail as I had also seen photos of this kind of wagon used in that service.
The U.S. Mail used a similar screened wagon but with a bit fancier lettering scheme.
     In general, I am happy with the outcome, however, the chassis parts are a bit too large having been designed for Jordan's heavier delivery wagons. I think the lighter units made for the light delivery wagon would be much better. To that end, I drew up some more 3D drawings and will have a chance to print those up in the near future.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Finally Done!

An overall view of the saloon. The side nearest the camera and the roof will be clear acrylic so visitors can see into the structure.

 Some projects seem to last forever. My California Grand Palace saloon was one of these ( There was a lot of different things to do and, after adding in the electronics, a lot MORE things to do. It is now, however, ready to be installed on the railroad.
The pool table offers an interesting distraction to patrons. 
Note the spittoon and it surrounding area of "misses." No 
model spittoons were found so I had mine 3D printed.
The bar includes a free lunch counter. Note the beer mugs on
the bar.

As mentioned before, the building is constructed with clear acrylic plastic walls. Evergreen styrene siding is glued to the outside while wallpaper is applied on the inside. In both pieces, cutouts were made for window locations. Using my laser printer simplified this process immensely. The interior was built of styrene with Grandt Line (now San Juan Details) and Tichy trim pieces.
     One of the factors taking a great length of time was the interior detail. There's an awful lot of tables and chairs which had to be assembled and glued down, not to mention the figures. There are 98 of them, all of which had to be painted. Seated figures are a lot harder to come by, it seems, especially ones who are playing cards. I did find enough, though.
A view from the audience's perspective with the ads of local business on the curtain as was the custom in the 1800s.
     Once mounted on the railroad, the saloon will have lights plus a sound track included a featured singing. The curtain will rise and fall when needed.