Thursday, June 27, 2019

Mud Wagons and Lightning

Based on drawings of a Henderson mud wagon, Hakan Nilsson's kits are very faithful to the prototype. Mine were lettered for the Ione, Jackson and Sutter Creek run based on a Henderson photo. I still have to harness the horses.
Hakan Nilsson ( is located in Sweden and models California in the 1800s. As a result of his modeling, he has produced several items of that era which should be of interest in anyone modeling the nineteenth century. Besides his website, he has additional items in his Shapeways store (Eight-Wheeler Models).
     A few months ago, he and I exchanged a couple of emails regarding mud wagons. These were the cheaper, yet sturdier, coaches used to transport people all over the country until the advent of the automobile and good roads. While we are all know the familiar Concord coach from countless western movies and TV shows, the mud wagons accounted for about 2/3 of the coaches in use, especially on the rugged roads of the western United States. Hakan then set about producing a laser-cut kit of two styles of these coaches. Last week, I started putting two of them together and, I must say, they were very enjoyable to assemble.The parts fit and the final appearance was excellent. A few years ago, I had made a few mud wagons by kitbashing the Jordan stagecoach. These kits could have saved me a bit of trouble.
This coach was kitbashed from the Jordan kit for the Concord coach also based on a Henderson prototype.
Right in the middle of this project, we had a bit of nasty weather here including a lightning strike which was very close to us. It was close enough to knock out several of our appliances including the dishwasher, telephone/internet modem, clothes dryer, television and so on. It even took out all four of the Digitrax command stations and boosters on the railroad including the fast clock controller. The Digitrax stuff has all been sent off to the company in Florida but they are taking at least two months to repair damage these days. The Stockton and Copperopolis will be out of commission for a while. At least, working on the mud wagons helped to calm me somewhat while waiting for adjusters and repairmen.
     Take a look at Hakan's Railroad Line Forum thread 9 I think you will find it interesting.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Bridges over Troubled Waters

Duck Creek just outside Farmington (in the distance) is now bridged. The plaster cloth is applied right over the existing scenery which will then be blended into the new sction.
Technically, these are not bridges but trestles. For ten years, Duck Creek near Farmington and Mormon Creek near Holden have only had narrow pieces of plywood to bridge the respective bodies of water. Well, considering the railroad is set in California in the summer time, there is little water to bridge, troubled or otherwise, as the creeks are mostly dry then.
     Both trestles were built using basswood scale lumber assembled in a jig I made. Once the trestle was ready, I carefully sawed away the plywood subroadbed while leaving the tracking hanging over the gap. The ties were removed and then Barge cement was applied to the bottom of the rails and was allowed to dry. To install the structure, I placed the trestle beneath the rails and then shimmed up the trestle bents to level the structure. A small iron was placed on the rails which melted the cement and glued them to the bridge. A track gauge was used to make sure that the rails were in the proper alignment.
Mormon Creek is a bit different. The truss bridge is over the main part of the channel with the trestles on slightly higher ground.. Jigs were used to built both the trestle and the bridge. In the background is a deck bridge from my old railroad. Its fate has not yet been decided.
The Howe truss bridge over Mormon creek was built about 25 years ago for my previous railroad in California and was recycled for the S&C. This was quite common in the nineteenth century since it was fairly easy to disassemble a wood bridge, cart the cast iron and wood beams to another location and re-erect it.
     Plaster cloth was then applied around the trestle give the scenery a base. I still need to use some Sculptamold to smooth out the approaches and fill any gaps. Then, I can paint the plaster, apply dirt and maybe even a small trickle of water.