Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A Look Back

The old Forbe's Crossing depot now doing service at Holden on a temporary basis. Maybe a little repair work on the roof would be in order.

     While rumaging around my railroad room the other day, I came across a depot I built back in the 1990s. It really wasn't lost as it was sitting at Holden as a place-holder for the real depot to be built sometime in the indefinite future. Originally, the depot served the community of Forbe's Crossing on my Moraga Springs Northern Railway when I lived in California. I built it from a Period Miniatures kit and then detailed the interior. On that MSN, the structure was right up front and it was easy for visitors to look at the interior. Now, it sits back about two feet away from the aisle waiting for a location.
Interior details are by SS Ltd. and others. I think it needs a couple of passengers, maybe an agent.

The depot in its old location of Forbe's Crossing on the Moraga Springs 

I took the time today to take another look at it and snapped these photos. It looks pretty much as I remember it from about 25 years ago. It needs a better home than it has now. The town of Ione on the narrow-gauge Stockton & Ione RR needs a depot. I think that it where it should go. I need to get that part of the railroad operating anyway.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Another Inspection Engine

S&C Number 301 is ready to start serving the superintendent. All it needs now is an engineer and some white flags on the front of the engine.

I like inspection locomotives ( They are a very interesting part of nineteenth century railroading where a division superintendent would take his office out on the road to conduct business on site. They came in various shapes and sizes. Some were rebuilt older engines while others were purpose-built by the prominent manufacturers. Unfortunately, they faded away by the 1920s.
     The particular engine in question is a model of the Lehigh Valley's Dorothy. The prototype was built in the Lehigh's shops in 1884 and appeared somewhat differently than the model. The original loco was involved in an accident and was rebuilt to the appearance modeled. I didn't do much modeling here, though. The basic engine was imported by Red Ball beginning in 1963. I added a rear headlight, whistle and some step details. It was also remotored by a Minebea motor as described in A Tsunami2-Steam2 decoder was added with a small sugar cube speaker. It was all fairly straight-forward except that all the wiring had to be accomplished through a small opening in the bottom of the body. This makes two engines for this superintendent which was two more than the Stockton & Copperopolis ever had. As I said above, though, I like these kinds of engines and I will probably built up a couple more in the future.

Monday, December 7, 2020

The Hutchins Reefers Are Here

The CFT Hutchins can be readily identified by the humped roof and hatches in the center of the running board. 

One of the more interesting things in modeling the nineteenth century is the variety of cars which were produced. This was just the normal trial of different ideas and the better ones had just not risen to the top. One of the cars with a wide variety of ideas was the refrigerator car. The iced car invented by C. B. Hutchins became a moderately popular idea. It was popular enough that much of the fruit transported from California to the east were moved in Hutchins cars under the auspices of the California Fruit Transportation Company. While I have several stand-in CFT cars on the railroad, the opportunity to replace them with true Hutchins cars was much appreciated.
     Several years ago, Art Griffin produced a few resin car kits to complement his decal business. One of these was the Hutchins. I purchased some of these cars and have finally assembled a few. The kit was basically a two-piece model with the car sides/ends/roof cast in one piece with the floor in another. Grabirons and brake gear had to be added. I used Thielson swing motion trucks available from Wiseman Model Services in kit form.
This GARL Hutchins car is interesting due to the advertising of their lard product.
     The identifying features of the prototype, and the model, is that the roof is flat from side to side but humped in the middle in the lengthwise direction. This was due to the Hutchins patent where ice was stored in the roof area similar to the old household "ice box." Some of the known users of these cars were the CFT, Jacob Dold meat packers and the German American Refrigerator Line. My models included CFT and German American Provision cars.
The wood-sided Stanley car shows a 1902 build date  and is easily reworked to become a truss rod car.
     Another interesting car I put together this week was a private car for the Stanley Motor Carriage Company, makers of the famed Stanley Steamer automobile. I particularly liked this car since I have owned two steam cars, both designed and built by the Stanley brothers. This car was offered for sale as a money raiser by the Stanley Museum of Kingfield, Maine ( It is a custom-printed Accurail kit which is very easy to assemble. The cars are available in a 36-foot version and a 40-foot later car with a 1920 build date. Both are availabe for $25 each. You can order one by emailing the museum ( or calling and leaving a phone message at 207-265-2729.
The 36-foot car is a fish-belly design but I added queenposts and reworked it to be a truss rod version more suitable to my 1895 era. Trucks are included but I substituted archbar trucks on my model.
The Stanley automobiles were built into the late 1920s so these cars can be used on later era railroads as well. I should mention that neither of them are based on a prototype Stanley car. To my knowledge, The Stanleys never had their own railroads cars even though their cars were shipped all over the country by rail.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Atlantic & Pacific Fast Freight Lines

One of the A&P cars plus the ATSF car, both sporting the same herald and coloring scheme.

During the 1800s when railroads were still figuring out how to do business, there evolved a number of fast freight lines. Most of them were run by the railroad and were intended to get your goods through with fewer delays, for a higher price, of course. A friend of mine, Art Hunhausen, has done a considerable amount of research on the various fast freight lines including the the California Fast Freight Lines of which I have several cars. He also found mention of a Santa Fe sponsored line. Both the ATSF and the Atlantic & Pacific Railroads contributed cars for the service. The Frisco also participated but did not contribute any cars. Not too much is known about the equipment. There are mentions of the boxcars in the Official Railway Equipment Register and a couple of mentions in the newspapers of the period. No good photographs have turned up. Basically,  we know that the cars were 28 feet long and were painted yellow with green doors. There was an "X" on the door with red and white cross pieces. 
The Pabst Brewing car plus one of the A&P boxcars.
 Based on this information plus a sign on an A&P ticket office which looked suspiciously like a herald, Art designed the letter for the set. The A&P had two usual configurations of its name, both of which are featured here along with the Santa Fe version.
You can see the "herald" on the right side which inspired the
cars' lettering scheme.

 In addition to these cars, I also found an old photo of a Pabst beer car. The herald looked interesting so I set about designing a lettering scheme. It matches the old photo so I guess it's not too bad. 
     All of the cars were built from a resin Southern Pacific 28-foot boxcar kit which was an extremely limited run. I replaced the doors and, in the case of the refrigerator car, added the hinges, latch, etc.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Wagons and More Wagons

Two Buffalo Brewing Company wagons are loaded for delivery to the brewery in Sacramento. The lettering and buffalo logo was made from photos of  the prototype wagons. The flat car is a 30-foot scratchbuilt flat with 3D printed trucks.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me to print some decals for him for a structure he was building. He wanted a sign for the building plus a sign to fit a Jordan wagon. I did it for him but it got me thinking about some wagons I wanted to build. In the down times waiting for paint to dry on the San Andreas (, I worked up the artwork for a few wagons for the Stockton area. Of the six wagons, four were lettered for the Buffalo Brewery, a Sacramento establishment popular in my era. In addition, I made up art for two Stockton-based companies.
The Stockton Home Bakery was a going concern at the turn of the century and will continue to be on my railroad.

All of the wagons were built from Jordan Delivery Wagons, both the Light and Standard versions. Two of the finished wagons were destined as loads from the Henderson Wagon Factory in Stockton and went on a flat. The others will occupy the streets of Stockton when I get to the point where there are streets in Stockton.
Another Buffalo wagon, this one delivers ice cut from the high Sierras and store in insulated warehouses for summer use. Crown flour was a common brand in the 1800s and its factory will fit into a small area in Stockton.

 Like all projects, it expanded with more paint-drying time involved in two-tone paint schemes but I like the results and that is the best measure in my mind. Jordan kits are getting scarce and prices are high but, fortunately, there are other companies picking up the slack with laser-cut or 3D printed kits. Berkshire Valley Models have several horse-drawn vehicles in both HO and O scale including drivers and horses.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Another New Locomotive for the S&C


The new locomotive San Andreas sits on the Duck Creek Trestle shortly after arrival.

The past couple of months have been somewhat hectic around the house with little time to work on railroad projects. I have, however, (finally) completed a new locomotive. It is a brass import of unknown manufacture and represents the early class of moguls purchased by the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. Manufactured by Baldwin between 1870 and 1873, the V&T received six identical engines each named for a county or city in the Comstock area. This engine specifically is a model of the first of the run of moguls, the Virginia
     I maintained the look of the prototype including the paint colors but lettered it for the Stockton & Copperopolis as its Number 20, the San Andreas. San Andreas is a small town in the Mother Lode country of California and its citizens would naturally take the S&C for their travels. I installed a Tsunami2-Steam 2 decoder and it makes the engine perform very nicely. What it will be doing I have not yet decided but it will undoubtedly be pulling freight of some sort.
     There may be some who question the shiny newness of my locos. In fact, in my period, when specific engineers were assigned to specific locos, they took a great deal of care of them. This not only applied to passenger engines but freight as well. The following clip from a period newspaper shows what I am talking about.

May 22, 1873 - Gold Hill News

A Handsome Locomotive- The locomotive Esmeralda, attached to a heavy freight train en route for Virginia, to-day halted for a breathing spell at the railroad depot, Gold Hill. With her brasses well burnished and her head lights decorated with wild flowers, she looked as handsome as could be. We don't wonder that Engineer Johnny Elkins is proud of her.

The Esmeralda was one of the sister engines to my engine and was assigned to pull freight trains. My engines, however, don't have the wild flowers. Maybe there's room for more detail?

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

New Motors and a New Buggy

One of my 2-6-0s with the new Minebea motor fitted. The shaft size was even the same as the old Sagami (lower right) so everything pretty much slipped into place. The 15mm square x 18mm long Minebea is at the center. It has a 2.0mm shaft (one-sided only).

The past couple of weeks or so have been a little frustrating for me. To start with, one of my locomotives lost most of its oomph. It could still pull cars but not at the same speed it had previously. After some thinking about the problem, I decided that the old Soundtraxx DSD 090 decoder which had been installed in 1998 had finally reached its lifespan and needed to be changed. It was duly replaced with a new Tsunami2 Steam-2 decoder which did absolutely nothing to cure the problem. More thought and some testing went on and I finally discovered that the motor was getting extraordinarily hot. I removed it and ran a test and it was drawing about .5 amps at 4 volts (normal is about .15 amps and 10 volts. Unfortunately, my stock of Sagami 16x20 motors was depleted. Fortunately, the Repower and Regear group have been talking about some Minebea motors which measured out to be about the same size with similar characteristics. Best of all, they were only about $3.50 each. I ordered a couple and installed it with great results. I haven't run it very much yet (no one to operate with) but I have high hopes.
     I no sooner had gotten that engine done when another similar engine exhibited the same symptoms. I changed both motor and decoder and now have two locos back in service and will probably order a few more of these. 
The new buggy sits on a road in Farmington. Both the horse and driver are figures made by Berkshire Valley. The horse seems to be carrying more heavy-duty harness than would be needed for a small buggy, though.

 Being somewhat tired of locomotive work, I noticed that Berkshire Valley Models ( had a new kit for an HO scale buggy. Since the Jordan buggy has pretty much gone away, I thought I would check this one out. The kit is all laser cut and is easy to assemble. It took me less than two hours to get it all assembled and painted. While I was at it, I purchased one of Berkshire Valley's harnessed horses along with a driver. I was pleased with the results and recommend the kit to any who need a horse-drawn buggy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Union Copper Gets a Shay

The Keystone in its shiny paint a few days after delivery. Let's hope the mining company continues to maintain this finish. Note the construction number of the engine on the sand box.

A long, steep grade leads from the main line down to the Union Copper Company mine in Copperopolis. For some time now, normal locomotives have struggled hauling loaded ore cars up the grade and lowering supply cars down. Now, the mining company has purchased a Shay locomotive fresh from the factory. It will now take over all duties on the mining company spur. Ore destined for the smelter in Stockton will be hauled by the new engine and then Stockton & Copperopolis locomotives will take over and carry the cars down the main line. 

In reality, the new Shay named Keystone for the nearby ravine of that name started out as the pieces to a Model Die Casting Shay kit purchased around 20 years ago. I finally decided to get the thing built. Using a Walker back-dating kit, I installed a new straight boiler with accompanying domes. Northwest Short Line gears were used to upgrade the ones which came with the kit. A Sagami motor completed the drive train. Assembling the Shay mechanism was not particularly difficult but care had to be taken so that the parts will all rotate smoothly. A Soundtraxx Tsunami2 decoder was installed along with a sugar cube speaker.

The painting and lettering scheme was based on builder's photos of various Shays of the 1800's. The number on the sand box is not the engine number but Lima's construction number. Looking at the prototype photos and checking the builder's lists seemed to confirm this supposition. Striping was also based on the prototype photos as was the lettering styles. It was an interesting project and, if you can locate an MDC kit, all the gears and the backdating kit are still available. You'll have to come up with your own motor as the Sagamis are no longer produced.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

A Moving Picture Made on the S&C

From the Oakdale Ledger:

The moving picture crew noted in town last week was identified as being from the Edison Motion Picture Studios. They have produced a several-minute long film made entirely on the railroad in the form of a journey from Oakdale to Copperopolis. The Ledger was able to borrow a copy of the film and it is shown below.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Seen at Milton

Special train found on Milton siding which included a photographer specializing in "moving pictures" along with a special car for his team.
From the Stockton Daily Independent

The photographer with his "camera."
Recently, one of the Independent's correspondents was passing through Milton and noticed a special train sitting on a siding. On the pilot of  the locomotive was strange-looking device mounted on a tripod. The mechanic tending the device said that it made pictures which moved. He declined to answer further questions concerned his plans or his employer's name. While this reporter has heard of experiments in such things being conducted in the East, it is unlikely that this questionable endeavor has spread to California.
     Although no more is known, this emblem was found on a several pieces of paper noted in the possession of this crew. More will follow later.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Farmington is Finally Complete

Finally, the town of Farmington is fairly complete. I say fairly because I still need to add figures and more vehicles but the basic structures and scenery are complete enough that I could clean things up run trains again. I started the scenicking about the middle of April and gradually added dirt, grass and the all the other things which make layouts look realistic. Most of the month of May was lost due to some knee problems but other structures and so on were built do it wasn't a loss.
     Here are some photos of the finished scene.

Entering Farmington from the west, the tracks cross the Stockton and Sonora Road. The bulk of the town as to the east of the tracks while warehouses are on the west. The track at the extreme left serves the depot and the team track.
Looking east on the Sonora Road, the news, tobacco and laundry building is at the left while the town store and hotel and straight over the tracks.
Laundry is done outdoors in California due to a lack of rain. This particular laundry is a franchise run by some of the Chinese citizens. Services include washing, ironing and mending.
The Oakdale Road leads south along more businesses running into the residential area at the far right.
Beyond the Corner Saloon is the small residential area followed by the Long and Owen Agricultural store and a wheat warehouse at the far right.
Long and Owen are at the far left while the Farmers' Co-op Warehouse is in the center. The San Joaquin fruit packing company is at the right with the Farmington Winery behind.

Monday, June 8, 2020

A Photographer for Stockton

The Batchelder building in downtown Stockton.
Benjamin Pierce Batchelder started his photography business in Stockton in 1853. Although he moved his business around the world, he finally settled in Stockton for good in 1872, His business address was less than a block from the main line of the Stockton & Copperopolis. Batchelder died in 1891 but his wife, Nancy, continued to operate the business until at least 1895.
The decals were copied from a Kansas City photographer of the 1890s. The building front was painted
to resemble different types of stone used in its construction.
 My model of the Batchelder enterprise is freelanced. The Batchelder script was taken from an ad in the  Lodi Sentinel. The rest of the lettering actually came from a building of the same period in Kansas City. I liked the KC lettering particularly because of the use of the word "Kodak" as a generic term for camera. This was common in this era due to Eastman Kodak bringing easy photography to the masses for a low price.
      The structure itself is a SLM kit. It is a nice kit with good detail and is easy to assemble. I recommend them if you can fine one. The company is out of business and the kits are hard to find.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Oil Tankers on the Road

Tanks full of oil destined for the gold mills in the mountains. The railroad's tank car unloading trestle can be seen in the background.
In the hills above Milton during the 1890s, there was an oil-powered gold processing mill. Obviously, the oil had to get to the mill, so oil-powered Holt steam tractors were used to haul tanks of oil from the rail-served oil storage tank. In my last post, I showed the Rio Grande Models kit of the steam tractor. RGM also made Holt 3-wheel trailers to be used for hauling whatever the owner needed. In this case, the Mountain Traction Company needed to move oil.
The prototype tanks being filled at Milton at the turn of the century.
The chassis for the tanks was the RGM kit. The tanks were made using PVC pipe with Precision Scale Models tank car domes. The ends were cut out of acrylic and glued to the ends of the pipe. Thanks to Rio Grande Models, I was able to easily model this aspect of what was happening on the railroad in my time period.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Some Progress Made But Not Too Much

Downtown Farmington with most of the new structures in places. The roll of paper on the right protects the train order signal from errant spray painters.
The road past Farmington leads down to the agricultural implement dealer and the winery. Static grass has been installed in most of the areas but a few trees, a boardwalk and some other details still need to be added.
By now, I thought I would have Farmington's scenery completed. Unfortunately, my left knee developed some sort of problem which left me sitting around putting ice on it for a couple of weeks. By then, the doc had figured out what needed to be done, gave me some pain pills and, at least, I could sit and do some modeling. Now I'm pretty much back in shape and able to move on. The last few weeks were not totally non-productive, though.
The George Fowler Son & Co. car is an old MDC car while the flat car is a Rio Grande Models kit of a 24-foot Virginia & Truckee car.
 By May 1, I had scenicked the rearmost portions of Farmington so the town is starting to look a little more like a town. Since then, I found some neat decals for a refrigerator car and built that up using an old MDC reefer kit. Following that, I found an old kit I had forgotten about and was able to assemble two 24-foot flat cars.
The prototype Holt Tractor, a complicated bit of machinery run by steam and
powered by oil
One of my goals for this railroad was to show the distinctive steam traction engine which were made in California in the 1890s. Fortunately for me, the Holt Tractor (made in Stockton) was represented in a kit by Rio Grande Models. I built one of these up to haul oil from the Milton oil storage tank to the mines in the mountains. The tractor kit went together fine even though there were quite a few pieces. The prototype used small three-wheeled trailers with tanks mounted on them to move the oil. Rio Grande Models also made the trailer kits which have been assembled but the tanks have yet to be built. More on those when they are finished.
My model of a Holt tractor. It still needs to have some trailers finished to haul the oil but this is a start. The kit is composed of all white metal castings.
 Now to think up something else to do while the knee finishes healing.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Plaster, Cardboard, Painting and a Couple of Cabooses

Since the ground around the real Farmington is pretty flat, there is not much to put on a backdrop so I contented myself with low rolling hills and distant mountains. The Sculptamold will eventually be painted and covered with dirt.
After some family activities which occupied about a week of time which could have been spent on the railroad, I finally got back to it this week.It seems that all of the necessary buildings for Farmington have been constructed and so it was necessary to get on with the scenery. Cork sheets helped to build up the structures so they would be even with the roadbed. Sculptamold was then used to even out some of sharp edges created by chunks of plywood and cork. When covered with dirt and vegetation, the landscape will look fairly realistic. Cardboard strips were laid down to mark where roads will eventually reside. When the Sculptamold is dry, it will be painted the same bland color the rest of the area is painted.
     This morning, I went down to the basement to see what I could do about a backdrop. I have never made claims to being an artist and I only aspire to my backdrops providing the suggestion that there is something beyond the railroad. They don't have to be perfect. After all, I hope the visitors are looking at the trains and structures more than the backdrop. In any case, I managed to get the job done and am reasonably satisfied with the work.
Farmington is at the end of an aisle behind the photographer, or will be. Now it's strung out all along the railroad. Once the scenery is done here, there will be a long stretch of track with no unscenicked sections.
After deciding where each structure was going to be placed, I removed them and stacked them on other parts of the railroad. I had no idea that they would take up as much space as they do.
     A few weeks ago, I had finished a grain warehouse but wanted rolled roofing to complete the project. My normal supplier was suffering, as everyone else is, with being confined to his house. It took a few weeks to get the material but it was finished this week and that structure is now ready for placement.
Two S&I cabooses awaiting a train for Ione. Now all I have to do is get a couple of working locomotives.
While waiting for roofing and things to dry, I took a quick break and built up a couple of narrow gauge caboose kits for the Stockton & Ione. These were Grandt Line C&S kits I had had for a while. One of them was built per the kit with a cupola. The other I decided to represent as an old car which had yet to be fitted for a cupola. Both were readily assembled even though some of the kit parts are very tiny.
     At least the world situation has allowed me to get some work done and clutter up the railroad while I do it.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Keeping the Dust Settled

The county sprinkler wagon is ready to start settling the dust. The nozzles at the rear of the wagon distribute the water. The tank can be filled through the hatch at the driver's rear or from a hydrant using a hose connected to the water connection just behind the driver.
As summer approaches, the dirt roads of central California turn to dust. Any slight wind or moving carriage will pick up this dust and transfer to such destinations as your clothes, lungs, the wash drying on a clothesline and tonight's dinner. The folks in the nineteenth century were well aware of this problem and had a solution: the sprinkler wagon.
     While there were several companies making this wooden wonder, Studebaker was by far the leader in sales. Always the maker of quality wagons, the Studebaker folks followed through with the sprinkler wagon. Water from the tank would flow by gravity to nozzles just off the ground which would distribute flow in wide fans to cover as much width as possible. On especially hot days, the slow-moving water fans also attracted small children.
The main pieces were the chassis, tank, seat and nozzle system. Other parts like the brakes were added with styrene. Wheels and axles are from a Jordan kit.
 I have wanted to make one of these interesting wagons for some time but just how to get a good representation eluded me until I acquired my 3D printer. The model of the Studebaker wagon was based mostly on a prototype found in Angel's Camp, California. For details of the mechanisms, Studebaker catalogs were consulted as were drawings available online. I drew up the components in the Fusion 360 program to get them ready for the printer. After printing and some cleanup, I added a few more details made from styrene and brass wire. The wheels from a Jordan beer wagon kit were used but SS Ltd makes wheels of the correct size as do some folks on Shapeways. I painted it the standard yellow with a red frame and wheels. The end decal was copied from a prototype wagon.
 Now, the dust is held down on the roads adjacent to the S&C which makes everyone a lot happier.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Last Structure (I hope) for Farmington

This side of the building faces the main Farmington road. For some reason the prototype wall was angled about 20 degrees from the road. No picture of this side of the building could be found so I imagined how it might appear.
I really do enjoy building structures but doing them in the concentrated fashion that I have been the last few weeks makes me want to do something else. In any case, the last planned structure for Farmington is now completed, the Farmington Warehouse. The prototype of this building was built in 1874 as an assembly hall for the town but was quickly turned into a grain warehouse. The building survived into the 1990s or so. When I finally visited Farmington in the late '90s, it had already been razed with the only left being a foundation wall and some piers. I did have a couple of photos and dimensions from a couple of insurance maps so that would have to be enough.
The warehouse will eventually be raised onto a cork base to make it even with the track serving it. In the background are the rest of the buildings destined for this town.
The basic structure for the building is .040" styrene sheet reinforced with 1/8" x 1/4" styrene strips. N Scale Architect brick siding was then glued on these sides with caulk. I 3D printed the warehouse doors while the front doors were Tichy or Grandt Line doors. I figured that, since the building was supposed to be a hall, they would have a bit nicer front doors. After I had gotten everything assembled, I found a distant photo showing more windows in one side. I wish I had seen them early but I was not going to add them at this point.
The trackside had two loading doors with small platforms. It does look better than the cardboard box which was here.
 The roofing paper was made by Minuteman Models. I enjoyed making this structure and it will sure look better on the railroad than the cardboard box I was using as a stand-in. The next step is to start scenicking the area to look like there is actually a town here.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Small Structure From a Photo

The Woods Cigar and Newspaper agency taken around the turn of the 20th century.
A couple of weeks ago, while browsing through Facebook, I ran across the above photo of a small Cigar and News shop. These small businesses once thrived through the cities and towns of America and the somewhat fancy signage intrigued me enough that I wanted to model it. Although the photos seems to indicate that the shop was part of a larger building, I modeled it as a stand-along frame structure.
My model of the store. The interior photo is not very visible in this view but it suggests that the building is more than just an empty shell.
 My model was built from Evergreen styrene sheets and strips. Estimating from the photo gave me a structure of about 15 feet wide. I modeled it to be about 25 feet long. the interesting parts of the model included the deep-set window with the "Magazine and Papers" sign and the "Laundry" sign protruding from the face of the building. Of course, the main sign seemed, perhaps, a bit fancy for a small business but also added to its appeal for me.
     Construction was straight-forward using Tichy doors and corbels. The molding below the window was half-round stock. Decals were made using Adobe Illustrator and printed on an Alps printer. Since it is such a large window, I located a photo of a typical newstand and sized it to fit inside the building to give it an appropriate interior. While this small building cannot hold both magazines and the steamy atmosphere of washing clothes, many Chinese laundries were outside establishments and will eventually show up behind the shop. This little project was a nice respite from building larger warehouse and other structures for Farmington. Next, I will be constructing another grain warehouse, this one made from brick.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Long and Owen Agricultural

Ready to install on the railroad, Long and Owen will be a nice replacement for what has been just a label for the industry.
One of the industries in Farmington is Long and Owen. They sell farm implements as well as seed, feed and fertilizer, all of which, of course, is delivered by rail. Initially, I was thinking of scratchbuilding this industry but then found a commercial kit which looked pretty much like what I was thinking of. It was the Laser Art Structures George Nickel's Supply company. It turned out to be a fairly easy construction with laser-cut peel-and-stick parts. It went together quickly and was painted, lettered and ready for the railroad in about two days.If the rest of their line is like this one, I highly recommend these as good-luck easy-to-assemble structures which would look good on anyone's railroad.
     It looks like I have two more structures to build for Farmington before I can permanently lay out the city and start scenicking the area. Both are grain warehouses, one frame and the other, brick. Starting the frame building will be today's project.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Another Saloon

A small local saloon with no entertainment other than a mediocre piano player. The multi-colored cable at the distant left of the photo is  what connects the building with the electronics for the sound and lighting.
Some Farmington citizens are a little concerned that a second saloon has worked its way into the life of the town. The place is small, though, with only three tables and the bar. There's only a piano player for entertainment with the room upstairs is occupied by only the owner. It looks like it might be a quiet place for a fellow to have a beer and visit with friends.
     With the Coronavirus isolation, there was plenty of time to work on models. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been assembling an old Master Creations saloon kit. This pile of laser-cut parts was from the early '90s when you had to assemble windows from a bunch of tiny objects you hoped you could find on the parts sheet. It was tedious work but interior details were provided and a sound system with "realistic" saloon sounds plus lighting. I finally finished the thing today and am very ready for something else to work on.
The long bar at the Corner Saloon. Note the beer mugs
on the bar and behind the bartender.
Working on the interior was the most fun for me. The wide front windows should allow most of it to be seen when the lights are on. I meant to take photos of it before I glued the building down but, in my haste, forgot it. I did manage to get a few shots through the windows, though, which are featured here.
     Some bottle-shape castings were provided in the kit which were duly painted and installed on the bar but, in my opinion, the nicest pieces were the beer mugs made by Busch. These scale mugs come in both clear (for empty mugs) and amber (for full ones). A touch of white on the top of the amber mugs put a realistic "head" on the brew. A bunch of these were scattered around on the tables and bar.
     1.5 volt light bulbs are installed in the bar, under the eaves, over the signs and in the upstairs room. These are controlled by the electronics. I have yet to see them work but they are supposed to come on in some sequence. It will be interesting to get it all operating.
     A large speaker is mounted in the building to provide the sound effects which seem to be rather dated and cut as opposed to what might actually have been heard in a bar. I think a better scheme could be developed with the more modern devices now available. I will try that in a future project.
Another shot looking through the front door at the piano on the right and bar
on the left. Note the mug on the piano for tips.

     The circuit boards are quite large and will be mounted under the layout. Wires for the speaker and lights will come to the model through a hole beneath it.
     The Corner Saloon was named after the Corner Bar in Virginia City, Nevada at the corner (appropriate enough) of B and Union Streets. The original has been in the same spot since 1875 when Piper's Opera House, in which building it resides, was built. Although there were several years of vacancy in the 20th century, it is back in business. Drop by both Piper's and the Corner Bar the next time you're in Virginia City.

The oversized electronics are on the left with one board sequencing the lights while the other provides the timing and substance for the sound.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Even More Structures

Three new businesses have arisen in the last several days, and yes, I have been graciously given a portion of my wife's quilting room for a workspace.
Farmington keeps growing. Three more businesses have been constructed in the last couple of weeks and the main street is filling up.
     There are not a lot of photos showing the various businesses in Farmington. Most of them are livery stables it seems. The three just completed are all kits I had on hand but seemed to suit the area and are typical of the occupancies you would find in a small town.
     The one of the left is known as Becky's CafĂ©. Next door to it is a small office/store area which is currently "For Rent." This structure is a Main Street Heritage kit based after a store in Silver Plume, Colorado. The paint scheme is based on the colors in use on the prototype. The real estate and surveyor's shop was built from an old Dyna Models kit from the 1950s-60s. The false front of the kit was very plain and didn't look right to me so I added a small cornice with some Tichy corbels. The last building is also a Main Street Heritage building which looked right for a small professional office, in this case an attorney's firm.
     The boardwalks in front of the buildings may look like a typical kit, not extending any further than the building itself. According to the photos, though, this is the way many places were. The builder took care of what he thought was important and left the rest of the street to his neighbors. If the town had the money, it would complete the walk throughout but this was not universal. I may add some more walkway when I get to my final installation depending on the locations of each structure.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

More Structures

Both new structures will find a place on a street in Farmington.
Two more merchants have decided to move into the growing town of Farmington. L. Miller, a dealer in dry goods and notions, has moved into a gold rush era stone building while the McCormick brothers have established their butcher shop next door in a brick structure.
     Both structures were constructed with Main Street Heritage kits. The Miller building is a combination of two Weekly Record kits, one stacked upon the other. The balcony railing is a Grandt Line product. Typical of gold rush buildings, I added iron shutters on the front doors. They are Model Die Casting parts made long ago for some of their structure kits. Over the years I have amassed several sets of these and am glad to have a place to use them. Their initial purpose was for fire protection but most were retained for security reasons. Today, if you visit California's Mother Lode country, you can still see many of the old buildings with their iron shutter.
     The brick building was from another Main Street Heritage product called Billy's Place. While intended for a small bar, I thought it the right size for a butcher shop.
"What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar" so spake Thomas Marshall, Vice-President under Woodrow Wilson. The sign is roughly full-sized.
The Coca Cola decal was made from a sign found on the side of a building in southern Missouri while Owl cigar sign was found on a building in Jacksonville, Oregon. The Coke sign was printed on my Alps printer while the Owl sign was printed on an inkjet printer on Testors inkjet white-backed decal paper. The Testors system is nice. The decal film has to be sprayed with a protective layer which protects the decal when it is immersed in water. In spite of the spray, the film is thin and is easy to work with. I recommend it.
     Main Street Heritage made several small resin-cast structures which are nicely done and easy to assemble. I recommend them highly. It is a bit of a shame, though, in that they appear to have gone out of business. I checked their website earlier this month and it has disappeared. If anyone knows if they are out permanently, please let me know. In any case, you can still find kits on ebay or in stock at some hobby shops.