Have I mentioned that I use Tamiya TS-80 Flat Clear lacquer?  Probably too often, sorry, but I view this product as important to my layout as anything else. Until I gave it a try, I had experimented with acrylic flat clears via air brush: PollyScale/Testors, Badger, Tamiya, True Line Trains, Vallejo.  I had mixed results.  Sometimes I got a model that was flat and looked natural, sometimes I got a model that looked dusty or chalky, even when using the same product.  I couldn’t get a handle on consistency to my satisfaction. I had tried flat lacquer spray from Testors … Continue reading THE KING OF CANS


The working lamps around Fillmore are home made.  My thinking at the time was to achieve something a little finer and more scale-like. Some years ago I saw an article by John Licharson in Model Railroader (June 1994).  Basically, I took the design he offered and made some changes.  The construction is relatively simple as seen below: I use the Miniatronics 12V light bulb and shade assembly (unpainted brass).  I have found that the assembled lights sit deeper inside the shade, as opposed to buying the bulbs and shades separately which don’t fit as well.  When first making the lights … Continue reading HOMEMADE LAMP POSTS


The concrete platforms around Fillmore are fabricated with styrene sheet.  The expansion joints are made with a scriber and straight edge following lines drawn in pencil.  Prior to painting, I scuff all the flat surfaces with 400 or 600 grit paper and wipe down with rubbing alcohol.  This is how I paint concrete… 1. I apply Polly Scale Concrete thinned as usual for painting a model for an opaque finish.  This is usually a couple of drops of distilled water added to the paint in my air brush paint cup to make the liquid a milky appearance.  To gauge this … Continue reading PAINTING CONCRETE


My very good friend Bill Nesbitt works Saturdays at the local train shop (Credit Valley Railway Company).  On occasion he runs trains of his on the impressive store layout.  One such day in September 2015 saw his MTH 20th Century Limited seven-car set headed by Dreyfuss J3a Hudson 5446 making the large circuit.  At some point in time a derailment went unnoticed and when discovered the Dining Car 680 suffered damage.  Bill brought the car along to an operating session here at Fillmore and when he left, he left the car sitting on my work bench.  It sat forlornly for … Continue reading REPAIRING NYC 680


I’m currently reading the Lucius Beebe classic, Trains in Transition.  Now, I do admit that I have a hard time reading his prose;  I often have to go over a sentence a couple of times to get it.  Obviously my vocabulary is not up to scratch.  Where does he find words like: coda, anabases, militated????? I bought this used book for $5 at the local train shop – an excellent value for, in spite of my lack of education, it is a snap shot of railroading in the era of my interest.  I am fascinated with the years 1940-1941.  Originally … Continue reading TRAINS IN TRANSITION


Another service train operation is the delivery of a box car to the rail-height dock at the south-side of the roundhouse. Here we see said box car and U3a Switcher NYC 7815 emerging from the coaling tower on roundhouse inbound track 1… …and rolls through the ash/wash pits… …to the turntable. To get to Garden Track 1, our mini-train gets turned slightly. When aligned for the roundhouse dock, 7815 slowly moves NYC 277010 into position. Three short blasts and our U3a backs away onto the turntable… …and without delay moves off through Ready Track 1 onto her next chore. Continue reading ROUNDHOUSE SERVICE TRAIN PT1


Here is a model of one of the 2500 USRA Single Sheath Box Cars received by the New York Central and its subsidiaries, Michigan Central (1000 cars), Pittsburgh, McKeesport & Youghiogheny (500 cars).  The New York Central proper received the remaining 1000 cars.  They were the only single sheathed box cars on the system, so are fairly distinctive in that respect. This is the Tichy kit and was a lot of fun to build.  In fact, I built it a few years ago in the as-delivered form.  Recently I took this model and upgraded it with Kadee semi-scale 33″ wheels … Continue reading LOT 376-B BOX CAR


The following tool is not an original idea, but I think it is worthwhile mentioning.  Someone I know spent a lot of time building a resin box car (and did a nice job of it) but in a moment of inattention laid it down and crushed the delicate stirrups. I like to use a simple handle, made from a 1/4″ wide brass strip with a hole at each end, for painting car models. It simply attaches where the truck screw holes are… …it keeps fingers well away from airbrush spray…. …and it prevents one from laying the model down on … Continue reading HANDY HANDLE


The tools I ordered from NorthWest Short Lines for dismounting driver wheels/gears and for the proper assembly of those items again (“quartering”) arrived a couple of weeks ago.  This is totally new to me, so in spite of Dave Rygmyr’s detailed and patient e-mail replies to my questions, I did miss a couple of small accessories for the Quarterer 2.  I’ll do a review of the Quarterer 2 in another post.  This post will describe the tools: Puller 1&2, Sensipress+, and The Aligner. I’ve never been good at cutting corners, so I typically spend more and buy the proper tools … Continue reading PULLERS, SENSIPRESS+ & THE ALIGNER


Whenever I get to operate on a switching job, like the Ash Service Train, I’m the Conductor/Brakeman.  I like to use hand signals to direct the train movement.  Obviously, it is of great importance to review the hand signals with the locomotive engineer ahead of time.  This is best done during the briefing prior to commencing ops. To keep things simple, I have five basic hand signals which can be placed into two categories: Movement Control and Movement Direction.  This makes communicating with a new operator as easy as possible.  I always stand at the end of the train where … Continue reading HAND SIGNALS


Since Fillmore is “essentially complete” (defined as: all of the trackage is in place and operational, scenery is plausibly detailed, and the operating scheme is working), I find that I can now explore some more finer points of railroad modeling.  One aspect of operations that I was slow to jump on is momentum & braking.  It was something that I was aware of before, but it was not a priority at the time. Two things influenced me to adopt m&b.  The first is a brilliant posting by Riley Triggs, one that very much got me thinking.  In it he describes … Continue reading M&B UPGRADING SWITCHERS


I have always found it interesting to see the space where railroad modellers work.  Here is mine…. My “Backshop” is located in a rather optimistically named room called, by my real estate agent, a Den.  It is 6 feet wide by about 10 feet deep.  I do have a plan for a shadow-box shelf switching layout that could go along the back wall and the one to the right. Front and center is my work table, a kitchen table from IKEA with 2×3 risers under the legs to allow better clearance for my legs when using the drafting chair shown. … Continue reading MY BACKSHOP


Our hobby is unique in many ways.  There are many varied things to learn and one can spend a happy lifetime trying this and that and having a special satisfaction when success comes.  Building scale models is a major part of that joy.  Unlike other scale model builders, our culture is a little different though. Imagine a scale aircraft modeller spending countless hours making that 1/72nd B-17F Flying Fortress.  Neatly built, impressively detailed and perfectly weathered, but once complete he finds that the turbo superchargers were not correctly moulded.  What does he do?  Well I would not be surprised if … Continue reading BACKSHOPPING 5366


One of the many things I like about this hobby is the sense of discovery.  That comes in many ways, although I would say that I am very fond of finding new things by reading.  Last Fall my very good friend Phil Spencer (an NYCS aficionado, among other loves dealing with the iron rail) informed me about a new book on the New York Central Hudson and asked if he could order one for me along with the one he was getting for himself.  Well, I jumped at the chance and am so glad I did.  Thanks Phil!  Know Thy … Continue reading COAL PUSHERS


Model railroading can take one to unexpected places.  I have discovered this because I’m doing things that I really didn’t expect to do or even thought of when I started. I would like to say that I am definitely not a model railroading expert.  I am learning along the way , very much as you are doing too.  This series of posts will document my pursuit of smoother running steam locomotive models….. Last Sunday, I was all set to reveal, in the-then next post, my latest steam locomotive in the Fillmore power pool: NYC Class L3a 4-8-2 Mohawk .  Previously … Continue reading LOCOMOTIVE TUNING PT1

NYC 1740

USRA Light Mikado NYC 1740 (Alco, Sept 1918, originally T&OC 9740, renumbered in 1936) was a member of Class H6a.  The New York Central System received 194 Light Mikes in 1918-19 from Alco (~80%),  Lima (~20%), & Baldwin (some).  They were found mostly on the western parts of the system like the CCC&STL (Big Four) and the Toledo and Ohio Central.  These locomotives had long lives and, surprisingly, were only moderately modified over their 35+ years of service.  1740 belongs to the Toledo and Ohio Central. I have not posted anything for a while because I have spent a lot … Continue reading NYC 1740


We HO scale railroad modellers have so many choices of locomotive and car models with very fine details.  Obviously, these models cost more, but to those of us who like the finer detail, we spend the money.  In almost all cases, though, the packaging is not really meant to store the model it came with as it is not really designed with that in mind.  The packaging is made as inexpensively as possible in order to get the model to our workbench.  Putting the model back into the box, well, isn’t as easy as getting it out (and even at … Continue reading LOCOMOTIVE & CAR STORAGE


The job I usually get to do is the Roundhouse Foreman. Basically, this job is very much like the real one – troubleshooting.  As locomotives are inspected at the pits, I assign the stalls for lubrication via the blackboard.  If a fault is discovered, I assign a repair stall and adjust the expected time to be at the ready track and when the locomotive is called for service.  I stage the Fiddle Yard which is close by.  Of course, I have to be ready whenever we run into a snag.  However, I must say that all of my operators here … Continue reading ROUNDHOUSE FOREMAN


To add a bit of variety, the switching of passenger cars and express cars can be done with an 0-8-0 Switcher.  While generally the operations remain the same, there is one specific operation that is different: turning observation and solarium cars. Unlike performing this operation with an Alco HH6oo, the turntable is not long enough hold a steam switcher and a heavyweight car together.  So a special movement is needed.  Here is how it is made. Above we find Class U3a Heavy Switcher NYC 7821 and Pullman Solarium car “Toronto” on a coach yard lead.  This train crosses-over to another … Continue reading PASSENGER CAR OPS WITH STEAM


I prep for painting flexible plastic parts (delrin plastic) or any plastic part that has a shiny finish by blasting them with baking soda.  This creates a dull/satin finish that allows the paint to “bite” into the surface better. The instrument for applying the media is a Paasche Air Eraser; basically a miniature spray gun the size of an airbrush.  The Air Eraser came with a jar of aluminium oxide which works very well even on metal, but I am personally not comfortable with using this for health reasons.  I use baking soda (Arm & Hammer) instead.  This works very … Continue reading SODA BLASTING