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.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

A Visitor on the S&C

The Western and Atlantic's General coasts through Farmington.

 Last week, the Stockton & Copperopolis had a nifty new visitor running through town. It was George Bogatiuk's model of the Western & Atlantic's General. As most of you probably know, the General was one of the locomotives which took part in the Andrews Raid of 1862 otherwise known as "The Great Locomotive Chase." George was in town on business and stopped by to show me the locomotive. It ended up running over the railroad from Oakdale to Stockton and back and it is a very nice-running engine. George started with a Bachmann 4-4-0, added new domes, smokestack, headlamp and other modifications to recreate the locomotive's appearance in 1862. Of course, the engine has a Soundtraxx Tsunami2 TSU 1100 decoder in it with a current keeper and it sounds very nice. 
     For those of you who might not know, George works for Soundtraxx and frequently puts on clinics at various model railroad functions such as the Railroad Protoype Modelers' meet in St. Louis last weekend. He has just gotten interested in Civil War-era railroading and the General is a great first locomotive.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

New Power for the Stockton & Copperopolis (?)

Great Northern 363 ABC crosses the Stanislaus River bridge during a test run following decoder programming.

The Stockton & Copperopolis is modernizing its motive power fleet with the acquisition of a used Great Northern ABA set? Is the S&C updating to the early 1950s? No, not really. A friend of mine who models the GN was over today and we were working on the programming of a new decoder in his locomotive. After the programming, we took the engine for a spin around the railroad to test it out. John Breau, the locomotive's owner, has a great GN-based railroad upon which I am privileged to operate now and then. The locomotive just looked so good, the company photographer had to record the event.

Friday, May 7, 2021

A Work in Progress

The California Grand Palace's streetside view and main entrance.

The Oakdale trackside area has had a blank spot in it for far too long. Part of the reason it stayed vacant is because I had not yet decided what might go well in that spot. Several weeks ago, I finally reached a decision had began building a suitable structure. I wanted a large saloon with a detailed interior including a stage for entertainers. This saloon would also include a sound track. As of this point, I have completed the exterior structure of the building but the sound and detailing the interior still needs to be accomplished.


The Long Bar is ready for customers but standup ones only. Tables and chairs are still to be added. The stage curtain is typical of early theaters which put the advertising space to good use. The "kerosene" lamps were made from plastic beads and very small leds. 

The saloon is totally freelanced and not based on any specific structure. To be honest, real saloons were generally  built with a narrow front entrance but a long depth, just enough for the bar and a few tables. The Grand Palace has more in common with the huge edifices often seen in Hollywood western movies. It's not particularly prototypical but it is what I was looking for.

    Construction is with acrylic sides with styrene siding laminated to them. The window and door casings were cut using my laser cutter. Other parts were styrene shapes plus detail parts from Tichy and San Juan Details.

     The interior of the building has a stage with a working curtain and a number of LED lights. There's much more to do but the drinking class of Oakdale seem to be looking forward to completion. 

Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Cemetery at Milton

Funerary services are being held for one of the citizens of Milton. All of the items used in the scene are commercial products readily available.

Wandering through the cemetery at Milton (the prototype, not the model) is an interesting look at the past. Some people died young while others lived into their 80s. It seemed appropriate to provide a cemetery for my model Milton. I was able to put together a small cemetery which was not kept up real well but was still serviceable. The mourners, casket and minister came from a Langley (British) figure set while the tombstones were from Woodland Scenics. The fancy fencing is made by Tichy. The sign over the entrance was cut out using my laser cutter. The hearse is a Jordan product.