Friday, December 20, 2013

The Pay Car is Here!

It's payday at Peters and the pay train has just arrived!
"There, just coming around the curve, was a glittering vision of brass and varnish half hidden in a nimbus of smoke and dust. Two short blasts on a whistle greeted the gang, the vision hesitated for a minute, while the section men disappeared in the nimbus and reappeared as suddenly as if they'd been shot out of a gun, and here came this vision gliding up to the platform with bell ringing and pop valve sputtering sotto voce, like a young lady trying to suppress a ticklish cough. It was the pay car.  
   At each joint in the engine jacket was a band of brass 4 inches wide. Dome, sand box, chests and cylinders were encased in brass polished until you could have seen to shave in it. Her front end and her dainty straight stack were rubbed with plumbago until they shone like a small boy's heel. All her brightwork was smooth and spotless and glittering, while all the rest of her surface was striped and curlicued with all the colors the general shops could mix.
   Coupled to the engine was a wheeled palace built on graceful lines in freshly varnished paint which rivaled the brasswork on the engine in brilliance. The plate glass windows were curtained in bright-hued brocade. Not a speck or a flaw was to be seen. Even the wheels bore only so much dust as had been gathered on the day's run."*

Employees at Peters await their turn at the pay window. Yes,
The S&C does employ women telegraph operators.
Unlike the direct deposit "pay checks" of today, getting your monthly wages in the nineteenth century was a big affair. Most railroads dedicated a locomotive and car to the pay service and, on a large line, it spent most of its time running everywhere there was an employee of the railroad. You climbed aboard the car, signed the pay roll and received a stack (it didn't matter that it wasn't that tall) of gold and silver coins representing last month's work.
   I wanted the S&C to have its own pay car. Information on them is not that easy to find. There are a few old articles about the process and some text books advising how many men with rifles, pistols and cutlasses should be on the car but nothing really good for modeling. Most of the photos I saw were older, lighter locomotives  but very well kept up with older, well-kept coaches converted to pay service. Based on these facts, I built my car.

Built from a Bachmann old-time coach, the Aurelia serves as the S&C's pay car.
  The basis of the car was a Bachmann old-time coach. There are several good features of this car. The windows are proportionally good and the roof is well-detailed. The trucks have the right wheelbase and appearance of 1870s-early 1880s trucks. I began by removing the over-large truss rods and end railings. The truss rods were replaced with Grandt Line turnbuckles threaded onto nylon fishing line while new Cal-Scale end railings were used on the platforms. The old cast-on handrails were scraped off and wire was used to form new ones.
   Every once in a while, in a photo of an older car, you see molding arranged in an oval on the side of the car. This was used for the car's name or number. I wanted this effect on my car. The oval piece is from a Grandt Line structure dating set. This set comes with several "shields" on which to place the building date and one of them is an oval of about the right size.
    After painting in the standard S&C scheme, I added decals proclaiming the car's purpose along with its name, Aurelia, which is from the Latin for golden being, of course, what the car carried.
   The locomotive, the C.A. Coscia, is the dedicated engine for the pay train and was discussed in my post on October 31, 2013.

* __________, The Passing of the Pay Car. The Railroad Gazette, New York: July 26, 1907.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Water Tanks and Park

An engineer's view of the new water tank and windmill at the Oakdale depot.
In my scenicking work at Oakdale, I had left the last eight inches on so next to the aisle for last so I wouldn't be continually undoing my work. I've finally gotten to the point where I have been able to work on this area.
The small engine facility here needed a refueling and watering ability so I built one of the typical CP/SP enclosed water tanks along with a small shed
for the storage of firewood. A windmill was also built to pump water into the tank.
   The spout on the tank was a Grandt Line product while the windmill itself was built from an etched-brass kit formerly made by Sheepscot Models. The vane lettering was taken from a period Fairbanks-Morse Eclipse windmill of the turn-of-the-century.
Railroad Park just south of the water tank. Wood posts keep errant wagons from encroaching on the park.
 Adjacent to the prototype water tank at Oakdale was a small park. I have not yet been able to locate photos of this park but railroad drawings seem to indicate just some trees and a large expanse of grass. My version also contains a number of paths and flower bushes to add some interest.

   Last night, I painted about ten new figures for the railroad. I find that figure painting is very relaxing for me and I use mostly Preiser old-time figures.   The gentleman on the left is standing slightly away from the  rest of the traveling public since he is reading a rather racy periodical of the time, the Police Gazette. You could always identify the Gazette since it was printed on pink paper to make it stand out.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Combination Boxcars

An early photo of the SP system's 34-foot combination boxcar.
AHM/IHC's version of the combination boxcar.
The term "combination" as applied to boxcars meant a universal car to the folks at the Central/Southern Pacific. It came equipped with various barred openings in the sides and ends which could be closed by internal sliding doors. Close the doors and you have a secure and weather-tight car. Open the doors in various combinations and you had a stock car, a ventilated fruit or produce car or a car suitable for carrying flammable liquids. In the latter case, the lower doors allowed any vapors from leakage to be blown out of the car rather than accumulate.
   The SP system had hundreds of these cars starting with the outside-braced cars of the 1870s (kits made by Rio Grande Models) to 28-foot cars (no kits) to the 34-foot cars which are the subject of this post. The 34-footers made their first appearance in 1891 and were distributed around the SP system for accounting purposes. This resulted in reporting marks for the SP, CP, O&C, SP of Arizona, SP of New Mexico and others. See Tony Thompson's Southern Pacific Freight Cars, Volume 4 for more details.The combination cars were replaced by iced refrigerator cars and most were off the roster by 1900 but there were still many around in 1895
The reworked AHM cars.
 I chose to model four cars for my railroad, one each lettered for the Southern Pacific, Central Pacific, Oregon & California and California Pacific. Fortunately, AHM and, later, IHC produced plastic cars based on this prototype. The cars are generally crude and do not have the end doors so some modification was needed.
End doors were cut and barred. This car represents one with
the openings closed by the inner solid doors.
To make my cars, I removed the truss rods, molded-in brake staff/chain and cut three square holes in each end of the car. The bars on these openings were made from .020" styrene rod. Nylon fishing line truss rods with Grandt turnbuckles were installed along with Cal-Scale brake wheels. The grab irons were 23" and 18" preformed pieces made by Westerfield. In this period, the SP used a one-piece grab-iron which wrapped around the end of the car to form both the side and end irons. I used the Westerfield irons installed with Art and Adrian Hundhausen's ( method to try and get the proper appearance. Intermountain wheels replaced the plastic wheels which came with the car although the truck frames were used. The end result is not an exact copy of the prototype but it works for me at least for now.
   In 1895, there were few of the 34-foot cars compared to the 28-foot cars. Although Mantua/Tyco made a car similar to them, my version, when I get around to making them, will have to be scratchbuilt. Another project for another time.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Locomotive

The C.A. Coscia stands at the Oakdale depot awaiting an assignment. The striping is based on the prototype C.P.Huntington at the California Railroad Museum.
I've been wanting to get this little engine running for some time now. One reason is that I just happen to like single-driver locomotives and another was to see if I could get sound into it. For those of you who might not recognize the engine, it is a model of the Southern Pacific's No. 1 (formerly Central Pacific No. 3), the C. P. Huntington which still exists in the California Railroad Museum. The model was imported in brass by Key in the 1980s.
The woodpile in the tank area almost entirely hides the speaker glued to the underside of the roof. The decoder is located in the cab. The prototype Huntington once sported a rear headlight such as this one.
To get it running, I had to modify the rear end beam. The original was just a brass casting with a simulated link-and-pin drawhead. I drilled that out and substituted a Kadee 711 coupler. A number plate was added to the smokebox cover as well as a light for backing moves. The rest of the engine was left stock.
The Zimo 8x11 mm speaker with sound chamber puts out a great amount of
sound despite its tiny size.
A Loksound Select Mini decoder was used for the sound along with a Zimo 8x11 mm "sugar cube" speaker. The decoder barely fit into the cab with the speaker glued under the roof.
   These little engines won't run reliably unless extra electrical pickups are added. A wiper made from .010" phosphor bronze was attached to run on the insulated driver and track sliders were attached to both the left and right side pickups. I would like to have added more but the size of the engine made that difficult.
  All in all, the loco runs pretty well and can pull two or three freight cars. Since that's all the prototype could do, I am happy. My intention is to use this engine to pull the pay car once I get one built. More about that operation later.

About one passenger car is the limit for this locomotive but this is all that would be required to pull the pay car.
The worst part about the single-driver models is that any little defect in the trackwork can affect the engine. Most engines have at least one other pair of drivers to push them over rough trackage but the singles do not. The drivers spin and nothing happens, sort of like getting one of your rear car wheels in a mud puddle. It spins fast but the car goes nowhere. The good side of this is that you now have an engine to inspect the track so you can repair it.
   The engine that pulled the pay car was kept in excellent condition as it represented the fiscal solvency of the railroad and upper management. I've tried to get that feeling into this one. It's named the C. A. Coscia after a good friend and supporter of the S&C.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bridges, Narrow Gauge and Building Flats

The last month has again been a hectic one. I had a spurt of energy that resulted in progress in three areas on the railroad. The first was my entrance to staging at the south end of Oakdale. It just went around a corner and into very visible staging tracks. I wanted to hide those a bit and give the illusion that the tracks were actually going somewhere. To that end, I set up a low view block and painted it a sky blue color. This shielded the bulk of the tracks but then I constructed some building flats that straddled the track and gives the impression that the trains are going between the buildings as they leave town.
The original tracks leaving Oakdale show cars lined up on supposedly hidden trackage.

The view block extends back to the opening in the wall for the staging tracks. The foreground area will eventually
be filled up with a roundhouse and turntable.
The finished flats with authentic Oakdale industries. Why doesn't the S&C have sidings to these plants? They were
served by the Santa Fe when it came to town around the turn of the century. Oh, well. They have interesting names.

   The second area of work centered around the future narrow gauge Stockton & Ione branch. I had to build a ramp for a quilt show in which my wife is involved so I designed it short enough so that there was enough plywood left over to provided benchwork for the S&I. While waiting for paint to dry on the background flats, I attached some supports, cut the plywood and temporarily installed it along the intended route of the line. Then I came to a pause when I realized the track layout I wanted was not really practical in the area I had.
The S&I takes off near the swinging gate on the right and proceeds over the sink toward the left. There will be a passing
siding near the right side of the photo.

After crossing the sink, the line reaches Ione City with its coal mine and depot.
Just past Ione will be the turntable and a small engine house. It will be a short run but should add some interest.
While I was mulling over the solution to that little problem, I decided to do some basic scenery around the Stanislaus River crossing. I started cutting cardboard strips and filling in the river valley with an outline. The model trestle will not be quite as long as the prototype (it will be two bents shorter) but it will a respectable length with approach trestling and two deck Howe truss bridges over the river itself. Just upstream of the railroad bridge will be a road bridge which I think looks really neat.
The prototype bridge at low water. This photo was taken from the road bridge. Oakdale is to the left.

Looking toward Oakdale, the light wood blocks will support the trestle bents. The temporary track support in the middle is about where the pier between the two deck trusses will be. The road bridge will be to the left of the railroad bridge.
Built in 1888, this bridge lasted well into the 20th century. I'm planning on using Central Valley bridge parts to make the structure.
I'm not sure how long my momentum will be kept up but I'm pleased with the progress I have made in a relatively short time.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Soda Pop Comes to Oakdale

Open for business! The small building to the right is the factory and offices while the building on the left is the warehouse.
Thirsty Oakdale citizens can now rejoice as the A. W. Moulton Soda Works is now open for business! In small town throughout the country during the nineteenth century, soda manufacturing was as ubiquitous as the brewery. Although the standard drink for men was beer or whiskey, the younger set, and the teetotalers, needed refreshment as well. The carbonation process was simple and many of these soda plants lasted into the 1930s until the competition from Coca Cola, Pepsi and other big manufacturers put them out of business.
Barrels of sulfuric acid and limestone as well as flats of finished pop are stored on the loading dock.
 The Moulton works lasted into the 1890s after which the building disappeared from maps, presumably from fire. The Oakdale Soda Works filled the vacuum shortly thereafter and lasted in the 20th century. While I had building dimensions from both railroad and insurance map sources, there were no photos available so the Moulton works is the right size but not necessarily the right appearance. The prototype was rail-served and provides opportunities for shipping in quantities of limestone, sulfuric acid (yes, those were was part of the process) and glass bottles. Cases of delicious soda, pop, or just coke, depending on what you want to call it, would be the outbound products.
Although the main part of the building faces the railroad spur, the building is at the end of a peninsula and can be seen from both sides. This would be the street side with a road that will eventually run in from of the factory.
The end of the building proclaims some of the products offered by Moulton. The
double doors open onto a small stable for the horse which pulls the delivery wagon
(yet to be built).
The building is constructed of styrene with Minuteman Scale Models shingles and rolled roofing. The lettering was printed on an Alps printer from my artwork. The barrels, bottle flats and bottles are from Preiser.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Some Progress Made on Stockton & Ione

The new Stockton & Ione locomotive is now in the yard at Holden.
Although the narrow gauge Stockton & Ione Railroad is not a major part of the S&C project, I would like to make some progress on that part of the layout. Last month, when my wife and I were in Durango, Colorado, I visited Soundtraxx where they showed me their new quasi-1890s locomotive. It's based on their C-19 locos but somewhat backdated with a diamond stack, era-correct smokebox cover and Russian iron boiler jacket. It's not truly correct but they have been testing the waters for older equipment and have found the market receptive. It's really a nice smooth-running engine with a lot of possibilities so I bought one for the S&I.
   My plans for the loco are to shorten the smokebox, remove the dynamo, relocate the air pump and tender air cylinder. I may possibly add an older cab and more rivet detail on the stack. The S&I only had two locos in its short life and neither were 2-8-0s but neither did it get all the way to Ione.

Using this and another original Mason drawing should help recreate the S&I locomotive Amador.
 Speaking of S&I locos, I also managed to locate two original drawings for the S&I engine Amador. It was an 0-6-4T Mason bogie. This was a great find as I don't have any photos of this loco as the Amador and the boiler is a bit different than what I thought it would be.
Code 40 and 55 flex track is being amassed adjacent to the almost-abandoned S&I grade east of Holden. 
   The National Narrow Gauge Convention is going to be here in Kansas City in 2014 and the committee asked to have my railroad on the layout tours. I agreed and decided that I should get at least some operating narrow gauge on the layout so, as the Stockton Daily Independent said "Rails and ties are being stockpiled at the S&I junction switch east of Holden. It looks like the narrow gauge project may still have some life in it."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

J Street Buildings

These new structures are all patterned after Oakdale businesses of the 1880s-90s.
J street was the southernmost street in Oakdale and there really weren't many business down there. The railroad, however, had a gap which just had to be filled. I delved into my supply of kits and came up with a couple of good ones. They are all patterned after businesses that were in Oakdale during the 1880s and 1890s. The first structure, the Tuolumne Cheap Cash store was covered before in my post of August 12, 2012. The next in line is Barkis's Dry Goods and Grocery store. The lettering was copied from a photo of the prototype structure and the building did indeed have the fancy Old English style font. That business and the adjacent Hubbell's Sample Room were from Main Street Heritage kits. The final structure is a Woodland Scenics building which translated into a Chinese laundry.

The second floor of the Barkis building is occupied by the Barkis family plus a single lady, Lotta Kerr who is a dressmaker. Yes, Miss Kerr was a dressmaker in Oakdale.

The two signs on the porch posts advertise Boca Beer, a very popular California brew in the 1890s which was sold by Mr. Hubbell. The Chinese characters do proclaim the building a laundry. They came from a sheet of Chinese signs which  wording I had verified by a Chinese gentleman with whom I worked.
   In the nineteenth century, another euphenism for a bar was a sample room. The name, I suppose, added some gentility to the occupation. There is a photo in my collection of Mr. Hubbell standing outside of his establishment adjacent to two Boca Beer signs similar to those on the model. The laundry is freelanced.

A Dempster windmill pumps water to the small tank which supplies the needs of the residents on this block.
Since windmills show up everywhere in photos and on insurance maps, I had to add a few. This one was built from a Vista kit to which I added the Dempster lettering based on the prototype Dempster mills. My research has led me to looking into windmill manufacturers. They all had their own colorful designs with their names painted on the vane. The railroad will include a number of different manufacturers as I continue to build them.
   More oak trees need to be made and planted. That will be the next project. After all, there was a reason the town was named Oakdale.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Operator Aids - Station Plats

Positioned next to the fast clock and shelf, the plat can help visiting operators find the industries they want.
The Stockton & Copperopolis has been operating now for over four years with minimal on-layout help for operators. I had made up some tent cards and placed them at industrial sidings but the crews still had to search to find the right siding (Unfortunately, those cards will remain until the industry they represent is built). A couple of years ago, I printed out portions of my layout plan and placed them at switching locations to give operators a better view of things but blue masking tape holding up copy paper didn't really look that great. I wanted something that looked professional but could be easily changed if I added a siding or industry.While operating on Dave Acheson's layout last weekend, I noticed the signs he had and asked him about them. They looked good and met my requirements so I decided to incorporate them on the S&C.
Acrylic picture frames are the foundation of the S&C's station plats. The rear stand must be removed so that the frame can lay flat on the fascia.
   The basis of the station plats (so the prototype called these small maps) is a series of acrylic picture frames made by Green Tree Gallery. I bought mine at the local Hobby Lobby ( They come in several sizes and orientations. I used the 5 x 3-1/2, the 6 x 4 and the 7 x 5 frames. This one-piece frame has a built-in stand which is not need so I sawed it off using my table saw. This gave me a flat frame which was then attached to the layout fascia with double-sided tape. Using Adobe Illustrator, I drew up some better-looking plats sized to fit the frames and am quite pleased with the results. In my eyes anyway, they add to the railroad and, hopefully, the ease of its operation.
The finished plat gives the relative location of the industries at each switching location. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Stanislaus Milling & Faire Coal

From left to right, the mill is made of the boiler house, mill building and warehouse. Stanislaus flour was popular in the area. See my post of August 6, 2012 for a picture of one of their advertising signs.
Two prototype businesses in Oakdale were A. Faire who was a coal dealer and the Stanislaus Milling and Power Company. In reality, Faire was at the south end of Oakdale while Stanislaus was at the north end. To fit everything in on the model, I made some compromises and moved the industries around.

The Faire coal yard is across C Street from the Stanislaus Mill.
 I did not have any information on Faire beyond knowing of his existence so his coal yard is completely freelanced based on other photos I had of nineteenth century coal yards. On the other hand, I had two photos of Stanislaus, one from each side. Of course, the higher resolution shot was on the side that faced away from the aisle. With the help of insurance maps, though, I was able to build a full-size model of the company and fit it in on the siding.

 The Stanislaus building is entirely constructed of styrene except for the roof which is Campbell's corrugated aluminum. This was correct according to the photos and insurance map. Although corrugated iron was just beginning to be widely used, it had been around in California since the 1870s when the Central Pacific started making it in their Sacramento shops. Building the structure in three pieces (warehouse, mill and boiler room) made it a bit easier to put together and certainly to carry around.
The coal yard consists of piles of various grades of coal, a small coal shed and an office adjacent to the scale.
 Faire's coal yard did not have much to do. I had a Walthers stock yard shelter left over from the stock yard project. I put a fourth wall on the building along with some loading doors and it looked just like some coal sheds I had photographed in Massachusetts. Some Walthers fencing around the property and an office building made by someone I have forgotten completed the scene or so I thought. I looked closer at one of my photos and saw a small sign on the office noting the manufacturer of the scale.
Mr. Faire waves goodbye to one of his customers after checking his weight
on the Howe Scale. Although you can't see it in this photo, the Howe sign
is posted next to the office door.
Of course! Coal was sold by the ton and there had to be some means of weighing the wagons before and after loading. Now, what does a nineteenth century wagon scale look like? Some internet research yielded several photos including ads with dimensions. I opted for a Howe Scale measuring 8x14 feet and built that up with some scribed wood and styrene. The actual scale mechanism would be in the office so it is not seen. I found out that a great number of them were outside in waterproof boxes which would make a great model for the future.
   When I started scenicking the scene, it became obvious that more structures, residential this time, were needed. The north end of Oakdale was sparsely settled with few dwellings so I am copying that on the model. It also saves on structure building time. The two smaller homes were built from Grandt Line kits and the larger building was also kit-built but I don't recall whose. It was constructed quite a while ago and was just waiting for a place to be sited.
Living across from a coal yard is not the best location in the world but neither
is the house the best. Even small houses had a modicum of decoration in the
Another not-so-prime location but small houses were the norm at this end
of town.
The milling superintendent's house is across E. Railroad Avenue from the
mill so it's an easy commute to work.
 There's one more signature structure to be done: the Mouton Soda Company. There was actually soda water and soft drinks made here and the building was rail-served.