Virtual RPM – April 2020

A small band of Pre-Depression Era railroad modelers has been busy during this time of social distancing. We encourage each other and assist with prototype and model questions. This blog post is a virtual RPM with photos and details of their latest works. All models here are HO scale.

Dave Campbell

I’ve been working on a batch of Accurail 36-foot boxcars. So far I’ve completed the following steps.

  • Roofs and ends painted black
  • New decals printed and applied for the end lettering: the NKP road monogram to the right of the door (it was left off the Accurail factory lettering), and new reweigh dates.

Next up I’m making six eye-bolts per car and I look forward to these upcoming steps.

  • Install roof corner grabs
  • brake release levers
  • paint touch up
  • weathering with Pan Pastels

Dave C

Dave Parker

I’ve upgraded a Walthers Proto2000 ACF Type 21 RTR tank car in Mexican Petroleum livery. In 1929, Standard Oil of Indiana absorbed MPLX, and began marketing petroleum products as American (or Amoco) all along the east coast. There is a great prototype photo in the Hendrickson collection in the California State Railroad Museum that inspired this model. 

I converted the brake system hardware from AB to KC, added Carmer levers (cobbed together from the Yarmouth Model Works 404 set) and air hoses (Hi-Tech Details), and swapped in Tahoe Model Works arch-bar trucks (TMW 203). The safety placards are interchangeable, printed on thin Vellum and held in place with miniature magnets.

Dave P

Frank Hicks

This HO scale CB&Q GA-1 is an all-steel drop-bottom gondola following a prototype built 1907. The model started as a RTR Red Caboose GS gondola, now available through Intermountain Railway. I installed custom 3D printed ends, Tichy K brakes and arch bar trucks, brake platform and brake staff details, grab irons, cut levers, and drop levers on the sides. The custom decals were made by Switch Line.

This CRI&P 36-foot stock car is a Rio Grande Models laser kit of a Yosemite Valley prototype. It was built to the instructions, with Kadee arch bar trucks, but leftover Westerfield decals were used to mimic a CRI&P prototype.

This Westerfield Models resin kit was built to reflect an as-built Frisco saw-tooth 40-foot boxcar. The prototypes were built in 1913. Kadee HGC Andrews trucks were modified to resemble the prototype.


Harold Oakhill

I was bit by the mountain climbing bug 2 1/2 years ago and have spent every weekend since in the nearby Catskill Mountains. When I left the basement, I had hit a wall with my Seley hopper project. I had assembled them all and it was time to paint them. Ugh. Arbrushing is my least favorite part of model building. 

Over the last few weeks,l I faced down my dread and put three coats of paint and a coat of gloss on 23 Delaware & Hudson Seley-design hoppers. Next is decaling, which I actually enjoy.  

My goal is to bring these 23 hoppers to the level of the three cars above that I finished a few years ago. Believe it or not, all three were painted the same color at the same time. The car in the middle is completely un-weathered, the other two were given some over spay and then weathered with Pan Pastels. I can vary the intensity of the weathering to get different shades of red.  

Also notice the two different lettering schemes that were in use in my 1924 modeling year. The car in the middle has a new scheme introduced around 1920-1922. And then there are the car numbers. The first order of 2,000 cars in 1906 were given four digit numbers (the car on the left), the second order of 4,000 cars in 1907 were given five digit numbers in a different series.  

While waiting for paint to dry on the hoppers, I pushed a couple of Accurail shorties through the detailing and weathering shops. Thanks to Eric Hansmann, Dave Parker, and Ray Breyer for their blogs, posts, and photo files on detailing these cars.  


Jon Pansius

The pre-WWI NC&StL Fowler boxcars have been on my project list for some time. A photo from the Duke University archives gave an excellent view of the car and its roof. It was a 36-foot car with US-style 4-brace ends and a Hutchins roof. Unusual features were a Z-brace for the left stile of each of the side ladders, Canadian style poling pockets, and single truss Vulcan trucks. 

I started with Westerfield kit 4310, the 1918 production of the Grand Trunk cars for the correct roof and overall car construction. I matched the kit Z-braces as best I could with strip styrene and rivet decals, drilling holes in the appropriate Zs for the ladder grab irons. The photo showed two door stops, but the door was open so the rest of the door stop detail was obscured; I elected to leave the kit version as is. There are no bolster end caps on this car, so that kit detail was omitted.

I disassembled Kadee metal Vulcan trucks and filed the sideframe chords to a narrower cross-section. I added flanges along the top and bottom of each top chord and the bottom of the bottom chord out of strip styrene attached with thick Microbond CA. Careful scraping and sanding conformed the strips to match the rest of the remaining casting. I cemented black styrene behind the springs to lock the truck sideframes. I also cemented brake shoes scavenged from a Tichy arch bar truck kit.

The paint is straight out of the bottle Polly S boxcar red. Decals are the Westerfield NC&StL set with reweigh data updated to fit my 1930 time period. Weathering is pigment sanded off NuPastel artist chalks, applied with a variety of brushes.


Ray Breyer

I’ve been a resin building machine this year, with something like 20 cars I’ve been a resin building machine this year, with something like 20 cars completed so far. (Note – The lead image came from Ray.) Above are a couple of Florida East Coast ventilated boxcars in process. I started with an Ertl USRA double-sheathed boxcar kit and added new ends and a ventilated door from Yuma Car & Foundry. I also added a Tichy door as I had to replace the cast-on door. Behind it is a Westerfield FEC ventilated boxcar kit.

A few Westerfield Pennsy X23 boxcar kits are in-process. These have been assembling smoothly to this point.

A C&NW 40-foot Fowler boxcar Westerfield kit has also been progressing. In the background are five Nickel Plate wood gondolas that were designed and cast by Dave Campbell of the Yuma Car & Foundry.


As we stay at home to social distance, it’s a pleasure to communicate with friends to find a path forward on a model build or to help out someone who is stuck. Many thanks to Dave Campbell, Dave Parker, Frank Hicks, Harold Oakhill, and Ray Breyer for sharing some of their latest model work in this virtual RPM. I hope they inspire you to open a kit box and start building a new model.

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5 thoughts on “Virtual RPM – April 2020”

  1. Great blog post. Although I am a narrow gauge modeler, I found the projects described, as inspiration.
    Well done, guys.

  2. Great inspiration, thanks for posting! It’s encouraging to see all the cool modeling underway. John Golden

  3. All these are great!!

    And when we get to see the roads these cars will operate on (or if–yeah, I’m that way, too!!)–then I’m certain we’ll see some of the most impressive model layouts around.

    And how nice it would be to see them published!!

    Good luck on all!!

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