Last time, we cut out the balsa sheet walls for our Outhouse Caboose. Our next task is to make door and window “frames” from 1/8” wide strips of card stocks and glue these to the walls. Make the vertical “frame boards” The length of the sides of the door or window openings and glue them on. The horizontal “frame boards” should be longer in order to overlap the side boards and create a square border around the windows and door.
While the frames are drying, cut four strips of 1/8×1/8” strip wood 1” long. These will be glued to the vertical edges of the side walls on the “inside” to brace the walls as they are glued together. You’ll recall that we already added this sort of bracing to the floor.
Glue one wall at a time to the floor, blocking the floor and wall into a square right angle until the glue sets. The bottom of each wall will be even with the bottom of the floor. I started on the door wall and worked my way around the car. With the walls and floor assembled, it’s time to make two roof haves. Each of these will be 2” long by 1” wide. The scribed boards run long ways.
Before you mount the roof, paint the interior of the car black. Once the paint dries, cut out two 3/4×3/4” pieces of clear plastic for window “glass.” Glue these to the inside of the car. I use the “free” plastic cut from “blister packs” that many products come on cardboard display cards.
Next, we’ll have to install the door. Here’s where I discovered a trick a long time ago that you might want to try. Glue a piece of card stock to the back (unscribed side) of the door 1 ¼” high by 5/8” wide. Glue this so that the card stock does not go beyond the bottom of the door and interfere with the floor to wall bracing. Paint the card stock black around the edges of the door.
Next paint the walls and the door itself the color of the finished car. Work carefully around the edges of the door itself. When you glue the door/card stock to the inside of the wall, you’ll notice that the edges of the door will stand out visually, giving an enhanced impression of a working door.
Once the door is in, we’ll go back to the roof. Cut two pieces of 1/8×1/8” strip wood to brace the roof halves. Glue these to the unscribed side of each roof half along the edge that will be the center of the roof. Once the glue is set, place these in position and notice that you’ll have to file away a bit of the these braced to get the two roof halves to fit together at the roof’s peak.
We’ll mount the roof and other items next time.
Tags: Stumpy's Station
While Skeleton log cars were unique to the timber industry, many logging railroads used common flat cars for hauling the logs or equipment needed into the woods. The flat car was more versatile and could be had used from mainline railroads very reasonably.
Most of these cars were used with long stakes in the standard stake pockets to keep the timber aboard. A few had log bunks mounted on them.
While many loggers used steam “donkey engines” with winches and cables at a forest “load out” location. Other companies mounted light rail on the flat cars and used moving cranes running on these rails to load the cars. These could run the length of the empty cars and load the train one car at a time until they worked their way to the end. Other loggers stationed rail cranes at locations until the area was “logged out” and then moved them to the next site.
The flat car is a common car and instead of build one here, you can simply buy a well used American Flyer car inexpensively and put scribed balsa decking on it. Add some weathering and you’re set. If you want to build a car from scratch, allow me to direct you to my “Easy S Scratch Building Rolling Stock Guide” to be found elsewhere here on My Flyer Trains.
One of the cars that was especially unique and characteristic to industrial railroads was the “Outhouse” caboose. Basically this was a shack on a single four wheel truck in many cases, although some larger, purpose built four wheel cars were made which were known on regular railroads as a “Bobber” caboose.
The outhouse car was a tiny office for the foreman at the “load out,” carried train crew, or transported tools. Usually only larger operations had enough railroad to use a conductor on a train, but a place for brakemen to ride was needed if the locomotive cab was too crowded.
The tiny four wheeled car looked somewhat like the infamous “restroom” of the day, hence the nickname “Outhouse” for these cars (although I can’t find reference to them having a “facility” inside.) Today we might call them “Porta Potty” cabooses!
Our “Outhouse Caboose” starts with a single truck of any brand that you wish. Since the caboose was the last car in a train, only a single coupler is required. Since trucks and couplers usually come in pairs, you might make two of these tiny cars or save the extra for another project.
The “floor” will be a piece of scribed balsa sheet with 1/8” “boards.” We’ll use this same material for the sides and roof as well. The floor will be 1 ¾” long by 1 5/8” wide. Run the boards end to end for the car and they’ll be on the bottom.
Next, you can make a “bolster” from 2 pieces of 1/8×1/2” strip wood, each ½” long. Glue these one on top of the other. While the glue is setting on these, drill a 1/16” pilot hole in the center of the floor.
Once the glue of the bolster pieces are set, glue them to the center of the bottom of the car. Since the bolster on this car does not have to allow for swing, the bolster will mount the truck and coupler solidly with a small screw. With the glue set between bolster and floor, drill a 1/16” pilot hole through the bolster, using the hole in the floor as a guide.
Wall braces must be made for the upper side of the floor. These will be made of 1/8×1/8” strip wood, 2 are 1 ¾” long, and 2 will be 1 3/8” long. The longer ones go atop the edges of the floor the length of the car, and the shorter ones between them at the end edges.
Now we’ll do some careful cutting on the 1/8” scribed sheet balsa to make walls with a door and windows. Balsa cuts easily with a sharp hobby knife, so all you have to do is mark the area carefully and cut slowly with several even strokes of the knife.
The side walls of the Outhouse caboose will be the same sheet balsa used for the floor and the boards will run vertical. These walls will be 1 ¾” high by
1 ¾” wide. On one side wall, carefully cut out the door opening which will be
1 1/8” vertically by 7/16” wide and the bottom of the door opening will be 1/8” up from the bottom of the side wall. Save the piece removed as it will be the door. Use a slice of small dowel or a sliver of balsa for a “door handle.”
The end walls will start as a piece of balsa sheet cut 1 7/8” high (remember the boards go vertical) and 1 ¾” wide. This extra width will allow for the end walls to overlap the side walls.
Once you have these pieces cut out, mark the center of what will be the top of each end wall. Then measure 1/8” down each side of the end walls and mark that. Draw a line from the side marks to the center mark to show what needs to be cut away to create the shallow roof pitch on both end walls.
Now mark and cut the windows. The windows will be 1/2×1/2” square. Each will be centered on the wall with the bottom of the window 1” from the bottom of the wall.
Tags: Stumpy's Station
Your log car is built and now it’s time for details and painting. Last time we were going to “forge” iron parts. But we’ll use card stock. The first parts are straps or “bands” to hold the center beam together. They are made of 1/8” wide strips 15/16” long. Into the first ¼” of each end, use a ballpoint pen to press a pair of “bolt heads” into the bands. Two bolts of each side of the car. Once pressed, carefully bend the card stock around the center beam (there will be no strap across the car bottom.) When you glue each band on, it should appear as if the bolts go through the beams to the far side, thereby holding the beams together. And remember the pressed “bolt heads” face out!
Bands will go around the beam at each end, beside each log bunk on both sides, and the last few equally spaced along the beam between the bunks. Again, with so many variations in the real cars, it’s hard to get the spacing “incorrect.”
Some Skeleton log cars had additional strap iron from the center beam to the top of the middle part of each log bunk. This not only strengthen the bunks connection to the center beam, but allowed logs to slide up these onto the bunk without catching on the sides of it. This is an option you might consider which will be just four more 1/8” wide strips of card stock per log bunk.
Next, you’ll need to make iron straps for the ends of the log bunks to hold stakes. These will be made the same way, to the same length as the center beam bands. You’ll need two straps for each bunk, one at each end. Make sure there is a 1/8×1/8” opening to insert a stake (which you’ll do later.)
Some loggers trimmed down and “jammed” stakes into place, while others preferred to run a long bolt through the log bunk end to “pin” the stakes in place. This can be represented by a tiny drop of glue to form a “bolt head” on each side of the bunk ends. Others used triangular wedges that could slide in the open center of the log bunks to adjust position for the logs. You can make wedges of 1/8×1/4” strip wood cut diagonally. In the case of using wedges, strong chains held the logs both together and securely to the car.
For a brand new car from one of the major Car Builders, the wood and iron parts were universally painted to the customer’s color specifications, usually gray or black, but other colors were used. In later years “Safety” yellow or orange became popular. For a car fresh out of the logger’s shop, the wood can be left unpainted, but the iron bands and straps will need to be painted black.
As cars aged, the paint became faded and chipped and the metal hardware got rusty. Creating the “aged” wood look is difficult, so I paint the wood a light gray, often using a light “wash” of darker gray or even a little black.
Hardware gets a wash or coat of “Rust” color or a dull light brown over the iron black paint. Sometimes one band could be left black to show that it has been replaced or just hasn’t started to rust as fast as the others.
By the way, “rust” is not always the same color! Different alloys of metals oxidize to different shades of red, orange, or brown, and the age of the rust seems to darken the color of the rust, especially on heavy cast iron. If you want to start an argument among model railroaders get a group of them together to tell you what color “rust” is!
You may want to weather and/or “rust” the trucks and couplers for log cars as well. Equipment used in the timber industry was rarely well maintained, at least cosmetically, with the occasional exception of the locomotives or other steam machinery.
Skeleton Log cars were seldom lettered for the company they were owned by because they didn’t leave company rails! Not all cars were numbered either and those which were had their numbers “touched up” or replaced by hand painted numbers, usually not too neatly. This “hand painting” can be done by carefully using a toothpick dipped in paint to hand apply numbers.
When logs or cut lumber were shipped off line, they generally used regular railroad flat cars, but for our purposes, Skeleton cars can be used anywhere.
After you have detailed, painted, and assembled the Skeleton car, the last thing to do is put long stakes in each end of the log bunks. I use 1/8×1/8” strip wood ¾” long for stakes. ½” of each stake is above the log bunk to hold the lower logs from rolling off the car. These are left natural bare wood color because they were broken often and replaced quickly and cheaply. I sand or carve with a hobby knife some rounded edges on the portion of the stake extending above the log bunk to depict the wear of constant loading and unloading.
Skeleton cars were also made in all steel, but by this time many logging operations were moving to trucks and heavy equipment. Rail based operations were in decline and usually opted to buy used rolling stock and locomotives to hang on until they could change operations to the road.
More “Out of the Woods” next time.
Tags: Stumpy's Station
We’ll get started by building those unique wood based Skeleton Log Cars. Two lengths will be built, the 22 foot “shorty” cars and the more common 36 foot cars. All will be of the basic style using lots of wood with trucks and hardware made or iron or steel. Not only did the Car Building companies build them this way, but they supplied trucks, couplers, and assembly hardware to timber outfits to build their own cars as well.
An interesting note here is that many log cars had no brakes. When parked, the wheels had to be chocked to keep them from rolling. Those with brakes often had the brake staff and wheel removable to clear logs, or had these parts moved to the side of the car for clearance. For logging operations in the days of steam machinery, safety was often given only a passing thought! Even today, it remains a dangerous occupation.
The basic design will be the same for both 22’ and 36’ cars, only center beam dimensions will differ. The long “bunks” which actually hold the logs in place across the car will be of the same dimensions for both cars, as will the “bolsters” where trucks are mounted to the car.
You’ll need two pieces of 1/8×1/4 inch strip wood or balsa 1 ¾ inches long and a piece of 1/8×1/8” wood 1 ½” long for EACH bunk. The 1/8×1/8” will be glued between the two 1/8×1/4” pieces to form a “U” shape if seen from the end. All three pieces are 1/8” wide, but the center must be lower than the two outside ones and 1/8” shorter at each end.
The 22 foot Skeleton Car will need two bunks, and the 36 foot car will need four bunks.
The center beams for the Skeleton Log Cars will be made of three pieces of 1/8×1/4” strip wood or balsa glued together side by side standing on edge. For the 22’ car, cut these 4 3/16” long. For the 36’ car cut them 7” long. This will make a heavy center beam that will act as the car’s “frame.” You might score the edges of each board the enhance the appearance of being separate timbers.
Once the center beam glue is dry, you can add the “bolsters” which are made of two pieces of 1/8x 3/8” strip wood cut ½” long for each bolster. (Do NOT drill holes for the mounting screw yet!) The bolsters will be glued to what will be the “bottom” of the center beam. The beam is 3/8” wide, so the half inch length of the bolster will be along the beam, not across it.
In the case of trucks with couplers mounted on them (such as SHS) you’ll want to round off the end of the bolster facing the end of the car for clearance
of swing. From the end of the beam to the bolster’s rounded end will be 9/16”. Do this measuring from both ends. Only after the glue attaching bolsters to the beam has completely set will you drill a 1/16” pilot hole through the bolster and into the center beam. The hole will be in the center of the bolster (¼” from the ends and 1/8” from the sides.) The reason for drilling after gluing is to limit possible splitting of the wood of the bolster.
Once the bolsters are secure, turn the center beam over to mount the log bunks. In the case of both lengths of cars, glue the bunks 11/16” from the beam ends. This will put them over the drilled holes. The bunks should be glued on with the middle 1/8×1/8” piece against the center beam. This leaves the “open center” side up.
In the case of the longer car, you’ll be mounting two more bunks to the center beam. Each of these will be mounted 1 ½” from the end bunks. You may wish to move these two “middle” bunks to make either the look of equal spacing or make them be a bit closer to the end bunks. Some loggers added a fifth bunk, while others used only three bunks instead of four, so there is some latitude in being realistic.
Okay, the basic car is now ready for trucks and couplers, and this simple design allows for either Hi-Rail or scale mounting. Scale modelers may want to use a spacer between the bottom of the center beam and the coupler box to get correct height. The threaded portion of the truck screw can usually be up to 1/8” in diameter without causing splitting problems. Smaller screws are better. Use a small washer between the bolster and the truck. If your screws are too long, uses washers between the screw head and the under side of the truck but beware of rail clearance.
Now take the screws, trucks, (and Hi-Rail couplers) off. You’re going to do some work in the model Blacksmith Shop now to make the various hardware that is supposed to hold the car together. Fortunately, you don’t have to fire up a forge to heat iron because we’re going to use card stock! More about these details next time.
For cars like these, you may find it a good plan to build a few at the same time, almost like an assembly line way.
Tags: Stumpy's Station
One of the more neglected layout themes in S gauge is logging. Few have done extensive logging sections on their layout, or at least a portion of a large layout. This is partly because it is not a widely known theme in S, and partly because everyone equates logging with geared locomotives such as the Shay, Climax, or Heisler engines. These were available only in brass some time ago and quite expensive.
The geared locomotives were very popular in the timber industry during the steam era due to their high power to size ratio, ability to take sharp curves, and operate on poor track. They could be found from the Sierras to the mountains of West Virginia trundling long trains of Skeleton log cars or flatcars converted for timbering uses.
The vision is well known and accepted by most people as the way logging was. Without a Shay and a string of brass log cars, most folks feel that they can’t do logging on a portion of their layout, let alone develop a whole layout around such a theme. But that is just plain wrong!
There were several logging operations that used side rod locomotives to get timber out of the woods. Probably the best known of these was the Rayonier Company which used large (for short lines) 2-6-6-2 articulated locomotives and low drivered 2-8-2 Mikados. There were several other “side rod loggers,” and these used steam well into the diesel age. In fact, these side rod logging engines survived to go on to second (or third or fourth) careers on tourist railroads and in motion pictures, including lots of screen time in “Emperor of the North.”
Where distance and terrain made geared engines much too slow, side rod steam locomotives ruled! And they weren’t always big engines. Locomotives as small as the 8 ton Porter 0-4-0 tank loco found use in smaller operations. And the Porter Locomotive Company built a huge number of side rod type locos for the logging industry, many tank engines and heavy 2-6-2 and 2-8-2 tender types with very small diameter driving wheels for power and traction. Many lower budget loggers snatched up whatever used motive power they could buy from mainline railroads.
The second problem most folks run up against to portray logging is the lack of log cars, particularly the Skeleton Log cars, so named because they are a center beam with cross arms at 90 degrees to the center line. They take their name from their look of a human back bone and ribs.
Skeleton Cars were built in length as little as 22 feet long to 36 and 40 feet. The numerous Car Builders not only made complete cars, but supplied trucks, couplers, and various other parts to logging outfits who built their own cars. Generally the earlier cars were wood, and timber companies saw little reason to change when they could build as many cars as they needed from wood they already were cutting!
Another way to get log cars was for these companies to buy used mainline flatcars and convert them for their own use. There were hundreds of well worn 36 foot wood cars on logging roads all over America. In later years companies bought the sturdier steel frame 40’ flat cars.
Flat cars were often modified with Log Bunks near both ends and evenly spaced in the middle. In this way, odd shaped logs could ride without having to be loaded flat to the car’s deck. These could be removed to use the car for other purposes such as hauling various supplies, or equipment like a “Donkey Engine” (a steam powered winch on skids) so named because they replaced animals for dragging logs to the railhead.
Usually, cabooses were not used on log trains due to the lack of switching and little real need for them. However, some operators built shacks on flat cars and there were others built on a four wheel frame called “Outhouse” cabooses because of their similar appearance to that well known “facility” of the day.
In this series, we’re going to build log cars and an Outhouse caboose to depict the timber industry in S gauge. For motive power, you could use a 2-6-2 Prairie similar to the one we recently built in STUMPY’S STATION, or a Gilbert 0-8-0, a Flyonel 2-8-2 or Docksider, the SHS 2-8-0, or any of the older “hood unit” diesel switchers, to bring the timber out of the woods and to the sawmill.
You don’t even need a huge sawmill or a thousand trees. I built a 34×48 inch S gauge Mini layout with 15” radius curves several years ago that depicted a logging line in between the actual tree felling area in the woods and the sawmill. I used only a few smaller “new growth” sized trees and several tree stumps because the line would naturally pass through areas where the timber had all been cut! The few structures were small wooden ones. A Putt Trains 0-4-0 Dockside, and 2-4-4 Suburban worked the line pulling scratch built Skeleton cars.
In this series we won’t “break the bank” to bring timber “out of the woods!”
Tags: Stumpy's Station
I have no idea how many of their regular center cupola caboose (a.k.a. “Northeastern Style Caboose”) American Flyer made, but there have to be THOUSANDS of them! The same shell was made in different colors and road names in later years, but American Flyer Lines was by FAR most common. These cars are dirt cheap in battered condition, and not too much higher in good enough shape for bashing.
Really nice ones with lights even sell relatively inexpensively, and working “operating” cabooses with brakeman in this style are usually higher, but not out of line financially. I got two complete #930 lighted cabooses at the last Spree for ten bucks each. The vendor GAVE me a junker for parts as well! One caboose had a broken step and the other a chipped roof walk end, but the lights in both of them worked. Therefore, these are an excellent customizing project.
I started, as always, with disassembly. These two cabooses had the body mounted by pins in each corner which must carefully be pried loose and then pulled out with needle nose pliers. The body then almost falls off. Inside, there are a couple of sheets of what was probably white paper at one time, to “diffuse” the light from the single center light bulb. (Actually, the paper looks better from the outside in its aged color than new white paper, so I saved it to use again!)
The window “glass” is thin, clear plastic cards attached to the body, which most also be removed. They are glued onto the body, but age and heat has made the glue less than secure and you can carefully peal the windows off.
The brass end railings/ladders are held by two bent tabs (top and bottom) at each end of the body. Just straighten the tabs and the end parts will pull off.
Other than clean the wheels and electrical pick up tabs, the chassis was set aside to concentrate on the body.
These are fairly plain cars, so you can make a lot of visual impact with a few easy changes. I’ll start with the roof. You might have noticed that there are no roof walk platforms on opposite corners where the brakeman would climb from the ladder to the roof walk itself. I made these out of 1/8” scribed balsa sheet, which is about 1/16” thick with lines scribed 1/8” apart. This is very close to the roof walk plank spacing. I cut the pieces ¼” wide by 5/8” long with the planks,
running the same direction as the roof walk itself. They were then glued into position above the ladder at each end of the car.
I then decided to add roof ribs on the plain roof to give it some texture. These were made out of strips of card stock a little less than 1/8” wide and 13/16” long. They were spaced from each the end of the roof 9/16” apart toward the cupola.
Something I debated, but didn’t do, was lay ¾” wide masking tape on the roof to give the texture of roll roofing.
The last roof top modification was the steel pin stack. This needs a top on it to stop rain from going right down the stack and put out the fire in the conductor’s stove! I used a small piece of brass tubing to create a “T” top for the stack. Small diameter plastic tubing will work too.
On the sides of the car, I made window shades out of 1/8×1/8” strip wood, filed to a triangular cross section and glued above each window. On the cupola, I used a single shade for both side windows. There were no shades for end windows.
Setting these modifications aside, I moved to the stamped end railings/ladder parts. These appeared to be stamped brass, and might have looked really good polished up, but I fought the urge to do that. Unlike very expensive locomotives or flashy passenger cars, cabooses were often rated as barely above freight cars by the railroads. In the era when cabooses were assigned to crews permanently, the men sometimes dressed up “their” cars though.
I decided to match the ends to the rest of the car and paint the railings and ladders a more realistic “Safety Yellow.” The brake wheels were left black, and since the curved area of the railing next the brake wheels are actually supposed to be chains, I painted this area black too. This area could be cut out and scale chain placed where it is supposed to be.
The platform and roof tabs on these parts were painted black as well to match my color scheme for the car.
On this one, I decided that my version of a Baltimore and Ohio red car with black roof and platforms would be nice. No, not all of B&O cabooses wore this paint job, but it was very common in the forties and fifties. Handrails on these cabooses were “Safety Yellow” making for a colorful, yet traditional looking “Little Red Caboose.”
The finished paint job was decaled and then given a coat of Testors “Gloss” before re-assembly. The car looks like it is fresh from a shop rebuild (which it is!)
Compared to the original Flyer 930 caboose, the differences are striking!
Tags: Stumpy's Station
Well, our project is into the later stages now. It’s time to paint the loco and tender shells. Obviously, the basic color will be black as was traditional from the late 1880’s onward, except for special passenger train and streamlined locomotives. This trend was started by Vanderbilt on the New York Central to cut cleaning costs required by the earlier, fancier locomotives.
The cab roof and tender deck (behind the coal bunker) was painted Pennsylvania Tuscan red. Actually, The Pennsy did this for rust prevention when putting locomotives into storage. They just left the Tuscan alone when the loco went back into service. Other roads started using it as an appearance thing.
The smokebox was painted gray to give a dull graphite look. Paint burned off areas where the boiler was not covered with insulation and jacketing; the smokebox and firebox. Therefore spreading graphite on these areas protected them. Depending upon how the graphite was mixed, applied, and how long the engine had been in the weather, the graphite could range from a nice silver to gray to a dirty white color, this last being either engines long stored or neglected. Many roads also mixed carbon black with graphite to make the boiler a uniform black color.
The running board edges and lead truck rims were painted white to match the “wide white wall” driver tires. White driver tires were a maintenance habit to help crews spot cracks in the tires.
To “back date” the loco, the railings along the sides of the boiler, the lens ring around the headlight lens, and the number plate in the center of the smokebox front were painted “brass” color. The headlight itself is black, mostly to make it show up against the gray.
After all painting was done, and the locomotive’s number decaled onto the tender sides, everything got a coat of Testors “Gloss” to protect paint and decals. It was then set aside overnight to fully dry.
The next day, the locomotive was reassembled and photographed.
This was the first time I saw the two wheel lead truck on the assembled engine, and I had feared that the spacing between cylinders and front driver would look ridiculous. But comparing photos of real 2-6-2 Prairie Locomotives and the “Prairie Dog,” I think it looks passable, and makes the typical Pacific look a bit different.
But then a problem cropped up. The two wheel lead truck worked fine in testing, but when I started to run it on my portable layout at Christmas, it began derailing! After close observation, I noticed that the truck was lifting off the rails on a switch, slid over to one side, and turned all the way around! This cannot easily happen with the full four wheel lead truck, but is a hazard I hadn’t foreseen with the two wheel “half truck.” Inspection of the switch produced no problem with it.
After careful consideration I decided to limit the side to side travel of the “half truck.” Now that this is no longer a four wheel truck, the pivot point doesn’t have to slide sideways nearly as far! Limiting sideways movement was accomplished by drilling out the rivet that holds the truck to it’s stamped metal “valve gear” frame and replacing it with a small bolt and nut. Since I started with a bit longer bolt than was necessary, I added washers until I got just the correct up and down movement. These washers must go “above” the metal frame so that the nut won’t be below the rail heads to clear switches and crossings.
Next I added a large diameter washer to limit side to side travel on the slide by the washer bumping into the screw posts. This would limit the truck swing to almost a pure “pivot point” as normal for two wheel lead trucks on most model locomotives. While I was modifying the truck pivot, I added a 1/2×1/2” square of 1/16” thick sheet lead weight to the truck just to “hedge my bet.” The whole process took about twenty minutes of trial and error to sort out the modification, less glue drying of the weight.
This worked out fine and ran through Christmas without problem. My nearly four year old grandnephew was down to visit several times and the “Prairie Dog” fascinated him with choo-choo and smoke. Even his six year old sister watched the train go round and round! Well, at least until the wife called a halt to the fun when the smoke alarm went off!
And so, that brings the “Prairie Dog” project to a close. Next time, we’ll look into a bit of customizing the common Flyer “Northeastern” caboose.
Tags: Stumpy's Station
Older locos had taller stacks because boiler diameters were generally smaller and there was the need to raise the smoke above the cab. Later locomotives had larger diameter boilers to increase power, so to fit the clearances of tunnels and low bridges, the stack got shorter.
To raise the stack, we’ll use a piece of plastic tubing to match the outside diameter of the original smoke stack, just a tad smaller than 1/2inch. (You can always file the diameter the small amount to match the original stack diameter.) We’re adding just 1/8” to the stack, so you’ll be carefully cutting a “ring” from the plastic tubing. Glue this to the top of the stack.
Another thing that was a hallmark of many old locos is a pronounced flange around the top of the stack, called a “capped stack.” This can be made in two ways; 1. Use very thin model auto pinstripe tape wrapped around the stack until a ring is easily visible (about three rounds.) 2. Get a small rubber O-ring from the home supply or auto parts store with a slightly smaller diameter than ½” and stretch this over the top edge of the stack. Mine came from the NAPA Auto Parts and is 3/8” Inside diameter and 1/16” thick. I dabbed glue on the stack extension and stretched the o-ring on. Once the glue is set, paint with a couple coats of gray primer to “seal” the work.
There is an alternative to making these “back dating” parts. Find a Casey Jones loco shell and cut off the headlight, stack, number plate, even the bell and cowcatcher for parts to graft onto the “Prairie Dog.”
The Casey Jones, like the F-9 diesel, are examples of a failing American Flyer going “on the cheap” to survive. Both are poor running and poor looking locomotives (particularly the F-9), a sad farce of the quality and semi-scale fidelity American Flyer had been known for.
The common Casey Jones can be had from parts boxes under tables at train shows, or whole, running locos and tenders can be bought for $10. to $25. Paying more is robbery. The exception is the better #21168 Southern version which had smoke and reasonably correct side and main rods. These often demand $70. to $120. depending on condition. Cutting one of the Southern Casey Jones up for parts will have lynching parties of collectors at your door.
It seems a shame to “waste” a locomotive, no matter how poor, but there is always something else you can make out of “parts.” For instance, you have a plastic tender for customizing or up dating a Franklin project.
The boiler without stack, headlight, bell, cowcatcher, boiler front, domes, and cab can be reworked with a few internal pieces made from card stock and a good coating of “rust” colored paint to be a “scrap boiler” beside an engine house, or as a flat car load.
Even the chassis can be stripped of the drivers so they can be used parts or scrap too. Keep that pilot truck for other uses too, like a track “Speeder” chassis topped by a card stock or plastic body. Again it’s scenery detail you might pay good money for that you can build yourself far cheaper.
One of the things I like to do on all my locomotives is to put an engineer at the throttle. This icon of the steam age, arm on the window, watching the track ahead, brings “life” to your locomotives.
On the Flyer Pacific, it will be necessary to remove the bar in the center of the cab window to get a figure in there. I like to use figures by “Fun n’ Games” miniatures. Their website is: http://scalefigures.com/ . I like their S scale numbers S223 or SA005 Engineers. It may be necessary to bend or cut off a leg to get them in and still clear the motor, depending on if you’re using the Flyer motor or a DC can motor.
I have used a number of the Fun n’ Games figures in three scales and they are nice. The standing figures have a pin cast into one foot so that you can mount them anywhere on the layout and they remain standing. If you don’t want to use the pin, it pulls right out with a firm tug with needle nose pliers.
You can also place a fireman on the other side of the cab by the same process. On stoker fed boilers, the fireman spent more time on his seat watching gauges, for signals on his side of the boiler, and attended to feeding the fuel and water to the boiler by use of hand controls.
On non-stoker equipped locomotives, he would spend a lot of his time hand shoveling coal into the firebox. Depending on how much steam the engineer, load, and schedule demanded, he would get little “seat time!”
Tags: Stumpy's Station
I recently took a cruise to the British Isles, and one evening at dinner met a delightful fellow whose hobby was restoring Erector Sets. The next day, I ran into Rich Hooper again at an excursion to The Falkirk Wheel, which is a very interesting tourist destination in Scotland. I mentioned to Rich that a Falkirk Wheel that moved train cars instead of boats, might be a fun build. Rich has built a model from his Erector sets that certainly displays the idea behind the real thing. (I have yet to make my train car mover accessory version, maybe later!)
So tonight I get an email from Rich, announcing his Falkirk Wheel model, which is displayed in his photo album on this website. I suggest you take a look at Rich’s photo album, and in particular his photos of his Falkirk Wheel, and then you might want to Google Falkirk Wheel and take a look at this engineering marvel.
Thanks for sharing Rich!
Tags: Main Line
If you have built last year’s “Project Atlantic” you will find much of the following to be old news. We’re going to move some details around to give the locomotive a different look.
We’ll start by removing the cast metal bell from the plastic shell. These are pressed in, not glued, so you can pull them out. Work carefully so as not to damage them. A little firm prying with a screwdriver is better than the crushing grip of vice grips!
Next, we’ll remove the bell mounting bracket by carefully cutting it of with a hobby saw. File and sand the remaining area smooth to make it look like there was never a bracket there. This will destroy the bolt detail, so you’ll have to “make” replacement bolts. This step will be better done after the headlight is removed.
Next, remove the headlight lens (you can often just place a small screwdriver behind it inside the shell and pop it out) and cut the headlight and bracket off. Fill the headlight hole with a piece of plastic rod, wooden dowel, or putty, and sand smooth. For all such “body work,” use gray primer to bring out the surface to check your work. Sand/paint/sand/paint as necessary until smooth just as auto body shops do to make car body surfaces smooth.
Stand the shell up so that the boiler front is flat and use a toothpick to place small dots of white glue in place of the missing bolt heads. This takes a steady hand and patience. Start small, allow to dry completely, and build up the glue dots until they are about the same size as the original ones. Use gray primer to check the placement and size each time and also to seal the white glue.
With the shell standing on end, you may also want to place a “number plate” in the center of the boiler front. You can buy these as detail parts or make your own quite easily and cheaply. I use a common paper punch and punch-out three to five circles of cardstock (3×5” file card, available at office supply or craft stores very inexpensively.) I glue these together in a “stack” and then glue this “number plate disc” to the center of the boiler front. Paint with gray primer to “seal” the part.
Next, drill a 1/16 inch hole atop the boiler between the domes for the bell, but don’t glue it in until all painting is done.
By the way, Duco Cement from the home supply store, or Walther’s Goo from the hobby shop work well for adding such details.
To back date the engine somewhat, we’re going to mount a headlight on top of the boiler. Up until the Turn of the Century, placement of the headlight high up was in vogue because they were kerosene fueled. The need to get as much light as possible on the tracks ahead pretty much required such a high mounting.
However, with the use of electric lights, powered by a steam generator, some railroads began mounting the headlight on the upper smokebox front or in the center of the boiler. Therefore, a headlight mounted high atop the boiler gives the engine’s profile an older appearance.
Quite possibly an early 2-6-2 would have a square headlight atop the boiler. However, since we’re representing our “Prairie Dog” as it would be later on, after years of upgrades, we’ll use a cylindrical headlight.
So that we can use light from the regular headlight bulb, drill a 1/16” pilot hole in the exact center of the top of the boiler shell about a quarter inch behind the boiler front. To get this right, it is easier to measure and work from the inside of the boiler shell. In this way, you don’t drill into the thickness of the plastic of the boiler front and block some of the light off.
The actual finished light accessing hole would then be drilled to a “loose” 1/8,” and no more than 3/16” inch.
We’ll make our more modern headlight from a piece of 5/16” outside diameter plastic tubing, about the same diameter as the cut off headlight and big enough to put the original lens in. This plastic tubing should be 1/2“ long.
Drill a hole in what will be the “bottom” of the headlight tubing so that with the headlight protruding slightly in front of the boiler front, the hole lines up with the hole in the top of the boiler shell. This will allow the light to enter the headlight and be channeled through the plastic lens like a crude form of fiber optics. The inside of the headlight tubing should be white to further help the light on it’s way by reflection.
Cut a piece of flat material (plastic, wood, even cardstock) to the back of the headlight, or putty the back of the headlight tube closed. File the “bottom” of the headlight tube slightly flat and glue it into position on the top of the boiler.
When the glue is set, paint the headlight and entire smokebox with gray primer. You will insert the lens later after all painting is done.
Tags: Stumpy's Station