Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Couple More Heinz Cars

Heinz Vinegar Tank No. 50. waiting in Oakdale for a gigantic salad.
While I was cleaning up after my Heinz car project (, I found two other cars and a couple of photos that prompted me to do another two Heinz cars. The first photo was of a large vinegar tank car. What appealed to me was the pickle cutout mounted on the side of the car. I looked through my decals and found that Art Griffin had made a decal for just that car. He said that the lettering was designed for an AHM wood tank car which I happened to have on hand.
    The car was easily painted and the walk on the side of the car added. The railing is from a Central Valley fence set. I made the cutout by applying the decal to a piece of .020" styrene and then cutting around the decal outline. A roof hatch was made with some tubing and a circular piece of styrene.
Vinegar Tank car No. 203 is a two-compartment tanker kitbashed from two kits.
    The second car was also modeled after an old photo. I had a Northeastern Models Richter Tank Car which I thought I could use except that it was too long and too modern looking. The prototype photo (too poor to reproduce here) looked like a tank mounted on a flat car. I found an old 35-ft. flat car kit in my stock and assembled it according to the instructions. The two tanks on the Northeastern kit were cut down to fit on the car. The end pieces and the letterboard were added along with the filler covers. The artwork for the decals was worked up and printed out and applied. I had to use a lot of decal softener to get the "57" to form around the tank rods.
    Although there are more Heinz cars to be built at some point, I think I will stop for right now. I have too many to have on the railroad at one time and my display case is getting crowded. Time for a different project.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Condiment Cars

Ten new Heinz cars at Oakdale. The two white cars are the earliest paint scheme with the two yellow cars represent the latest scheme. Heinz changed the paint frequently and even had at least one car advertising a different product on each side of the car.
Before I left California to move to Kansas City in 2005, I had started to assemble ten Westerfield kits. All the things associated with moving overcame me, however, and I packed away the kits to be built later. Over the last few weeks, I finally finished them. As you can see, they are all based on cars used by the H. J. Heinz Company.
    Due to variety of car decorations and the products mentioned, I have always like the Heinz cars. Fortunately for modelers, I guess Westerfield did as well since they came up with numerous lettering sets to adorn their kits. Clover House has done so as well as has Art Griffin. The old Heinz Special Interest Group researching and promoting the cars helped as well. The kits are still available if anyone has any leanings toward condiments being advertised on railroad cars.
   The cars appear to be refrigerator cars but they are not. Most of the Heinz "reefers" were built like refrigerator cars but without ice compartments so they were just insulated boxcars. This makes sense as most of the products produced you find right on the grocery store shelves rather than in the cooler. I assembled the cars per the kit instructions. Some of them require swing motion trucks rather than arch bars. I used ones that Westerfield had originally made for these kits and which are not marketed by Wiseman Model Services ( They are fiddly to assemble but do look good.
    When I finally finished the ten-year-old project, I took inventory and found that I still have four more car kits plus enough decals for 15-20 more cars. I doubt that I will build them all but they are fun to look at.

Friday, September 11, 2015

W. S. Bailey

The paint scheme was improvised. I figured that buff was a good color for a car originating in Nevada.
While I was in the mood to build cars, I decided to try another John Canfield/Bob McGlone kit that I have. It was for a 30-foot Tiffany refrigerator car. Tiffany made an early appearance in the refrigerator car field and was used by many railroads. Their main feature was that the ice was carried in bunkers located immediately beneath the roof, hence the roof hatches on top of the car rather than the ends. For some time, I had a copy of such a car which was used on the Southern Pacific. It was lettered for a private owner, a W. S. Bailey in Reno, Nevada. I did a little reading of Reno papers and found that Mr. Bailey was a long-time resident and rancher in Nevada with his ranch located around Churchill. He also had a slaughterhouse on the east side of Reno and used a fleet of refrigerator cars to carry meat to Sacramento, San Francisco and other places. No other information could be found.
The drawing showed the basic outline. Although this car is for a 28-foot model, the kit I had was for a 30-foot variety which I figured was close enough.
  Although the drawing I had did not include lettering styles, it did have the rough lettering diagram. I improvised and designed a plausible lettering set based on similar cars. It was an easily construction and used a pair of Eric Cox's 3D printed Allen trucks which are typical of those used on the SP at the time. Some liberties were taken with the design but I think the car is suitable for one where there are no photos or good information on it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Odds and Ends

The far siding is for the Stockton Agricultural plant while the middle one is for the future Standard Oil distribution center. A copper smelter will occupy the area adjacent to the ore cars. The cars themselves were built after similar cars used by the Virginia & Truckee Railroad for hauling ore.
When I am waiting for parts to arrive, I generally find some smaller projects to myself busy. That is what has happened over the past few weeks. Over in the Stockton area, there were three rail-served industries that had not had track laid to them, mainly because I hadn't decided just how the structures would be arranged.
   The first industry was the Stockton Agricultural and Manufacturing Company. The prototype made all sorts of things from plows to harvesters to steam traction engines. It was a large complex occupying several buildings. There was no way I could accommodate all of the buildings so I had to selectively compress what was there. Using an 1895 Sanborn insurance map, I decided which ones best represented the buildings and laid them out on the plywood sub-roadbed. This location pretty much defined where the Standard Oil Distribution facility would go. The only problem left was where to put the copper smelter.
    Stockton, in the 1890s, did not have a copper smelter. Any ore sent down from Copperopolis was shipped to smelters outside of California. The trouble (for me) was that I had a nice set of 4-wheel ore jimmies that I wanted to use. The only logical way to use them was to carry the ore to a smelter and the only logical place for that smelter was in Stockton. After evaluating every other option I could think of, I decided to install a diamond crossing in the siding tracks. Since the siding that would be crossed was on a curve, a special diamond needed to be built. I laid out the curve simply by taping a piece of paper over the track and making a rubbing of the rails on the paper. The location of the other track was marked in the same way. Using that as a guide, I soldered up the diamond on PC board ties. It was not as difficult as I had thought it might be. The resulting siding is just long enough to hold the string of empty ore cars as well as the full ones which will replace them.
The Canfield-McGlone kit is a good model of the prototype and is easy to assemble. Note the end doors.
Another of the small projects was assembling a kit of a car I had been wanting to build for several years. Photos of the Standard Wagon Co. car of the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad have been around for years. Irv Schulz, Clover House, Art Griffin and even MDC had made cars or lettering sets for it. A couple of years ago, John Canfield and Bob McGlone developed a kit for the car which simplified my work immensely. 
The prototype car was built without air brakes and is pictured here around 1890.
The car is interesting in that it was built on an old flat car. The stake pockets are clearly visible along the bottom of the car. The car siding is horizontal which is consistent with it being attached to long vertical stakes. The Official Railway Equipment Registers specifically call out this car as being only for buggies (i.e. relatively light loads) and should not be loaded with heavy freight. The end doors make it interesting. They were typical for carriage and buggy cars. Maybe I will have to build some end platforms on my team tracks.
   Unfortunately, the car kits were a limited run and are no longer available. They should not be too hard to build, however, using the information from the ORER and the photo.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Another Town Finished and a Long Caboose

An overview of Burnett's with the corral, general store and warehouses.
The scenicking around Burnett's is pretty much complete now. There are still some vehicles and figures which need to be added but I'm happy with how things turned out. The Gilmer & Martin Warehouse is for grain and is a big shipper for the railroad while the Golden State Box Company turns out crates for the area's fruit and produce packaging industry.
The Gilmer & Martin warehouse is to the left while the depot and storage room
are at the right.
The G&M building is scratchbuilt based on plans found in SP station plats plus some insurance diagrams (no photos found yet). The GS Box building is a Walthers shed to which I added a platform and did some weathering so it would like a little unkempt. The interesting part of the area is that it was not an agency station but it had both a depot building and a storage facility. These are modeled full size. In 1871, the depot building was a saloon but, by 1895, it was a depot so I modeled an enclosed waiting room. The other building was called a barn or just storage. Again, no photos of either so I put together a sort of baggage/storage building and painted it the railroad's color scheme.
Looking down the county road into the crossroads of Burnett's shows the general store plus the grain warehouse.
The stock pens were also there so I used a Walthers stockyard kit to make these. Some day, I'm going to have to build up some stock cars. Ziegenhorn's General Merchandise stores rounds out the crossroads area. I may yet add a local blacksmith shop but I need to do some other things first.
The S&C's Long Caboose could seat around 32 people plus the train crew so it could take a load off a regular passenger train.
While waiting for things to dry, I started a project I had been looking forward to: a Central Pacific Long Caboose. While some folks would call it a drovers' caboose, the CP just labeled it a "long caboose" so that is what the S&C will call it as well. It was obviously designed to carry a few passengers so I may have to convert one of my trains into a mixed. Drawings show the car as being 52 feet long over the end beams. My car was scratchbuilt using styrene with Grandt Line windows. The trucks were an odd size (6-ft. wheelbase) but I found just what I needed on the Shapeways site.
   What's next? Well, Burnett's was a flag stop but just exactly how did a prospective passenger flag a train? It turns out that several companies made small signals just for this purpose and that will be my next project.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tank Wagons for the Petroleum Distributor

Custom decals were used on the wagon side. The cans on the side rack are from the Jordan Model AA tank truck.
Once the kerosenes, oils, etc. had arrived at the distribution plant, they had to be conveyed to the customer. The innovative move at the time was the tank wagon. It would fill up with mostly kerosene plus some of the other products and then go door to door with the distributor's commercial customers who would take, in bulk, what they needed. If you did not need a whole barrel of a product, you could buy 10 or 20 gallons to suit your needs.
This Continental Oil tank wagon is typical of the era although many different
styles were used.
My model of a typical wagon was made from parts of several Jordan wagon kits. The tank came from their Model A Ford tank truck, the undercarriage is from a Standard Wagon Kit and the top is from the Buggy kit. The tank was assembled and glued to a couple of styrene channels. The front and rear wheel assemblies attached to this. A small block of plastic was attached to the front of the tank and shaped to form a seat rest. The seat itself was left over from another kit which I don't remember but it could be formed from some styrene.
Standard Oil had fleets of these vehicles running through the streets distributing their product. 
The Foothill Oil wagon is used for the oil depot I built in Oakdale while the Standard Oil wagon will be used for a yet-to-be-built distributor in Stockton.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Oil Distributor and Hay Dealer

The Foothill Oil Company is an independent firm buying its product from Standard, Union and Pacific Coast Oil companies.
The north end of Oakdale has had a siding which served two industries, an oil distributor and a hay dealer. I never really liked how I had arranged the siding as it did not allow enough room for either industry. The situation finally nagged on me enough that I realigned the siding to give me some more room between it and the main line for some structures.
The Grandt Line Petroleum Distributor kit provided most of the tanks and structures needed. Note the Standard Oil blue barrel on the dock.
At the end of the siding is the Foothill Oil Company. This is the third name change for this spot. At first, I thought it was a Continental Oil company site but later found out that Continental had been absorbed by Standard of Iowa in the 1880s. Some more research showed that a distributorship had not even shown up in Oakdale until early in the 20th century. For several years I had been switching cars there so I wasn't going to take it out so I created a fictional distributor.
   The tanks are a conglomeration of Grandt Line and Bar Mills tanks. I used a small office from an Atlas Lumber Yard and the pump house and distributing valves from the Grandt kit. The Grandt tank was cut down to a shorter version and the "concrete" supports cut down as well. The supports received a covering of styrene brick sheet to reflect an older construction period.
Barrels of headlight oil, Red Crown Gasoline and Fireproof Oil are stacked for
delivery to a client.
One of the things I did want to have, though, was the omnipresent blue barrels of the Standard Oil Company. Oil barrels are a specific size and most commercial barrels are too big or too small. I finally found a beer barrel in a Preiser kit which was about as close as I could get. I painted the barrels blue with the white tops of the prototype. Using the internet, I located images of old Standard Oil brands, reduced them to size and made decals for the top labels. Some of the labels came from black and white photos and had to be colorized slightly.
   While I didn't have room for a warehouse, I had almost enough room for the warehouse dock so I am making do with that. The dock itself overhangs the fascia somewhat but it gives a little credence that there is some more distributor in the aisle area. All I need now is a horse-drawn oil tank wagon to deliver bulk product to the Oakdale customers. That's up next on the project list.
The A. L. Gilbert Company is a hay distributor and stores its product in the warehouse and in open-sided sheds.
When horses were the main motie power, hay was a ubiquitous commodity. The animals had to be fed so growing and shipping hay was big business. The A. L. Gilbert Company represents a local concern which purchases the hay from local farmers and then sends it by rail to its customers.
   Some time ago, I had built a small building for the Gilbert hay warehouse. Looking at it now makes it seems rather small. Hay was usually stored in open shed rather than inside so I decided to add a couple of these to the scene. The track arrangement forces both sheds to be oddly shaped but they were easily constructed of stripwood. The hay bales themselves were pieces of balsa strip stock cut to length. I stacked them up resemble hay warehouses I had seen and then colored them with yellow ochre paint streaked with green. I guess I'll need a couple of wagons now bringing hay to Gilbert's.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New Turntable at Stockton Wharf

The Stockton Wharf turntable serves two tracks plus the lead. A small figure at one end of the table acts as a reference market for alignment. The two bright metal T-nuts support the motor assembly. This entire area will eventually be scenicked as a marsh.
The turntable at Stockton Wharf is fairly far away from the view of the operator and, as such, the rails have been difficult to align. A step stool and a mirror have been the best tools so far and those are a bit crude. The best solution would have been an indexing system like that made by New York Railway Supply but I thought that was a bit pricey for just three tracks to the turntable. Finally, I have found a lower cost system which seems to solve the problem.
A stepper motor is supported by a piece of aluminum and two lengths of all-thread rod hung by the T-nuts in the photo above. A machined coupling connects the turntable shaft with the motor shaft. The long rod extending from the coupling is an index to zero the table's initial position with the sensor at the left of the support bar.
 Last year I found a video on the internet which showed a small system being developed by a Scottish electronics company. I followed up with the company who then produced a circuit board kit which can be programmed by the user. The product is limited in that only six positions can be programmed. This means that two positions are used just to turn an engine (one for each end of the table). It's only good for those end-of-the-line turning situations with few or no tracks. I only used four positions for the Stockton table to serve a lead and two roundhouse tracks. 
A simple controller handles the position. The button and knobs along the bottom
are for programming. 
A system was duly bought and assembled (it's a kit), the additional parts (motor, switches, etc.) purchased and the mechanical end designed and built. Once it is installed, it is easy to program and can be reprogrammed just as easily. The motor used is a stepper motor which means that the hardware retains the motor's position so it always returns to the same place. The nice part is that it works. My only criticism is that the table's lowest rotational speed is too fast for my taste. I've spoken to the company and they said they would lower the speed. I'm now awaiting a new board to see how that works.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Small Plaster Store

The store in its approximate location at Burnett's. The Crown Mills sign was taken from the side of another store in Fillmore, California.
The last few days I've been working on a C. C. Crow kit which I had picked up many years ago at a swap meet. It appealed to me because I distinctly remember the prototype which inspired the kit. It was an 1850s building located in Shingle Springs, California. I had been by it many times and had photographed in the 1980s. The Crow kit is not an exact replica as he admits patterning the kit by memory but it's pretty close.
I had no names of actual businesses in Burnett's so I named the store after a friend of mine who is an excellent modeler.
It is a plaster kit which is easy to work with but there is a chance of the seams showing in the stone work. I used heavily thinned colors to stain the walls after sealing them with clear spray. After the assembly, I added some signs and posters to advertise some of products sold by this small country store. The posters were found on the internet and just printed on photo paper which gives a slight glossy finish which hopefully looks like porcelain.
   The cigar store Indian in the photo was from a now-forgotten line of figures while the scale is the one discussed in my last post ( Since then I found that the kit was missing the legend above the dial advertising your "Exact Weight - One Cent." I added that and sent a photo to the manufacturer who agreed to add the decal to his kit.
The Shingle Springs building in the 1980s.
The shop doors and second story door was also an addition made by cutting down some Grandt Line doors.
   The only disappointment was when I learned that the prototype had been torn down a few years ago. It's interesting that there is always enough money to bulldoze a building and cart off the stone but never enough money to repair it.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Weighty Matter

Residents of Oakdale can now get weighed on East Railroad Avenue with the new penny scale outside the dry goods store and the cyclery.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a visit from Mat Thompson of Virginia, also a modeler. We got to talking and he mentioned a model company of which I had never heard. It was Mok River Models ( in Woodbridge, California. I looked at their webpage and they have several items of interest to period modelers. I loved the 1913 Stanley Mountain Wagon but it's way too late for the S&C. I ended up buying the Penny Scale kit.
   It is not a lot to the kit. The scale body is made in one piece by 3D printing but you do have to paint several places and apply the decal for the scale face. Sidewalk scales used to be more common than they are today and many times, I have paid my penny to see my weight and, maybe, get a fortune as well. A nice addition to a street scene. Thanks, Mat, for the tip.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Another New Locomotive Arrives

The S&C's new American at the head of Train No. 6 ready to depart from Oakdale. The passenger cars are brass imports by Beaver Creek.
The local passenger trains are on the S&C are made up of brass imported cars which are very heavy. Although my smaller 4-4-0s can pull four of these cars, it's about all they can do. I wanted to come up with a slightly heavier, more modern engine which can pull a little more. My choice was the Bachmann Spectrum Richmond 4-4-0. As manufactured, it represents a loco of about 1910 where I wanted one a little older.

The tender is from the Bachmann Baldwin 4-4-0 which looks better for the time period of the railroad.
 I began my conversion by removing the stack, domes and generator. The domes were replaced with Precision Scale domes which are more of a Baldwin style. The stack was replaced with a capped stack just because I like capped stacks. All of my locos use oil headlamps so this was replaced and, of course, the dynamo was no longer needed. I swapped the original tender out with the tender from the Spectrum Baldwin 4-4-0 and removed the DCC decoder with which it was equipped. This was replaced with a Tsunami TSU-750 and a sugar cube speaker. The engine was then painted and lettered to suit the railroad's management receiving the name San Joaquin in the process. San Joaquin is the California county in which most of the railroad runs.
The engineer, appropriately attired with a derby hat and 20-past-8 mustache appears competent enough with a husky fireman keeping up the steam. The engine crew is from Musket Miniatures.
Overall, the conversion was not too bad. The loco comes apart easily and is readily modified as long as one is willing to do a bit of filing and drilling here and there.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Burnett's Station

A station plat book maintained by the railroad's superintendent supplied the details above.
On the north side of the Stanislaus River lies the small community of Burnett's. During the era of my S&C Railroad, there was a siding with a grain warehouse and a corral. The main wagon road to Oakdale crossed the tracks here heading upstream to the county bridge. Later on, when the wheat farms were being broken down into smaller ranches for produce and fruit, there was reportedly a small factory for making the crates used in the field.
The Dakin map shows sizes and building construction.
 The earliest record of the arrangement of buildings appears in a notebook of station plats maintained in the 1874-1888 period. I copied the information and developed my own sketch for modeling purposes. Later on, I discovered the Dakin maps showing several of the warehouses along the S&C. The Burnett's map show additional building details which will aid in its construction. 
  My model of Burnett's will include both the grain warehouse and the crate/box factory along with the corral. There was no agent at Burnett's but the drawings show some sort of waiting shelter along with a small building for freight. The absence of photos requires me to freelance everything but all will be in accordance with similar buildings.
The Golden State Box Company. The ground around the building will obviously have to be reworked to properly settle the building. Peeling paint and fading signs show that regular maintenance is not a priority with the proprietors.
 My first structure is the box factory. I had a Walthers "Shed on Piles" which seemed to be about right. I wanted the factory to be an older building, possibly a former grain warehouse, which was cheaply whitewashed a few years ago and not repainted. I achieved this effect by painting the structure with a light gray primer followed by white. A small wire brush was used to remove random sections of the paint to allow the gray to show through. The stock roof was covered with Minuteman Scale Models rolled roofing and a small loading dock was added.
An overall view of the Burnett's area shows the future locations of the structures. The temporary signs are used to identify switching locations during operating sessions.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wagon Bridge Completed!

The completed County bridge over the Stanislaus with a Moraga Springs Northern fruit train passing over the railroad bridge. In the distance is the small hamlet of Burnett's.
The new iron wagon bridge across the Stanislaus River has finally been completed. The bridge was constructed entirely from Evergreen styrene sheets and shapes. At the same time, the scenery around the river area was completed. The river is depicted in a low-water stage. California could suffer droughts for several years and the water level would drop.
Although the river is down, a young couple still finds it attractive enough for
Then, the snow pack in the Sierras would deepen due to a heavy winter and then the river would rise almost to the bottom of the trusses. I have photos of the bridges in both states, quite a difference in the water levels.
The spindly trusses were made from styrene angle,flat stock and round rod.
    A couple of sandbars were put in the river with their attendant buildup of grasses and driftwood. The water itself was made by pouring Magic Water into the river area. Along with the river valley, I built a road going from the new bridge back to Oakdale and scenicked the countryside between the two areas.
   The trees in the scene were made using sagebrush armatures covered with Woodland Scenics polyfiber and sprinkling on a mix of various leaf colors. Before I left California several years ago, I took a trip to Nevada to gather the sagebrush. Upon returning home, I found that the same sagebrush grew within a few miles from my house. Fortunately, I was going to Nevada anyway for a Virginia & Truckee Historical Society meeting.
Looking back from the bridge, Oakdale is just on the other side of the backdrop.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

County Bridge Under Construction

This photograph was taken in 1888 when the bridge was five years old. This view looks south across the river into Oakdale. Enough detail could be obtained from this view to reasonably scale the model.
In 1883, the supervisors of Stanislaus County decided to spend $14,739 for a new iron bridge across the Stanislaus River just north of Oakdale. It was a spindly structure but apparently carried wagon, then auto traffic across the river well into the 20th century. Since the bridge is just upstream from the S&C railroad bridge, I felt that it had to be included in my model.
With the piers in place, the river valley can now be scenicked. The road runs along the top of the right-hand hill toward the bridge. In the left distance, bridge approaches will take the road just to the right of the freight cars spotted on the siding.
 Since I only had one good picture of the bridge, I had to estimate the dimensions and adjust them for the room I had on the railroad. The final length of each truss ended up at 76 scale feet and the roadway is 16 scale feet wide. Styrene shapes coupled with Central Valley bridge girders were used in the construction.
The cardboard hill had to be extended a bit to shape it properly for the bridge. Plaster cloth needs to be applied yet along with the rest of the scenery. The roadway also has to be attached to the top deck of the bridge.
The prototype supports for the bridge consisted of iron cassion piers filled with concrete. According to bridge pictures I found on line, these caissons were formed of sheet iron riveted into tubular sections running about four feet long. These were then riveted together to form the length of the pier needed. Sheets of iron were placed between the piers for stability and to prevent debris from catching on the piers. These were also formed of styrene parts. Archer rivet decals were used for the rivets and Bragdon weathering powder give the piers a slightly rusty appearance.
   Obviously, the bridge is not yet completed but enough is done so that the river valley can be scenicked. Once that is done, the bridge approaches will be built and everything installed.