I wanted to use the Casey Jones pilot (cow catcher) on the front of the 4-6-0, so after some trimming and filing, I glued it to where the Pacifc pilot was removed. A couple of pieces of plastic strip filled in the ends.
The last thing that we’ll be fitting onto the modified plastic Pacific shell is the cab. Before doing this, cut the fake firebox area off the bottom of the cab since it won’t be used on this project. As we considered in the last part of the project, the top of the cab should not be higher than the stack. With the fake firebox gone from the cab, the bottom of the Pacific shell and the bottom of the cab will line up to put the cab at a nice height.
The opening in the front of the cab and the outside diameter of the boiler shell is close, but not the same. To make this connection point a bit stronger, I used a piece of plastic sheet glued to the front of the cab and cut out the inside of this sheet to closely match the boiler opening.
Test fit the cab to the back of the boiler before gluing them together.
On engines without a trailing truck under the cab, as much space as possible was needed for the firebox. In many of the Ten Wheelers the firebox extended all the way to the back of the cab. This was know as a “deckless” cab because the engineer squeezed in between the side of the firebox and the inside wall of the cab with the fireman doing the same on the other side of the boiler, if he had time to sit down at all.
In our case, the Casey Jones cab has an enclosed rear bulkhead with narrow doors for the engineer and fireman. This was a rare style of “all weather cab” popular on many roads operating in cold climates, so we can use it. If the motor doesn’t clear the back of the cab, you can open the center area between the doors, as most deckless cab arrangements were hand fired from the front deck of the tender.
As an alternative, you could also open up the entire back of the cab to clear the motor and then use cab curtains to disguise the motor. Cab curtains were used in cooler weather to enclose the back of the standard cab type to keep the crew warm. These were made of heavy canvas, one on each side of the cab, and arranged on a slide so that they could be tied back at the sides of the cab while not in use or pulled around to enclose the open rear of the cab. I make these out of used dryer sheets glued together and cut to size, then painted an off white or tan color and use them to hide the back of the exposed motor. Install cab curtains (if used) after attaching the cab to the boiler.
Once you’re satisfied by the fit, glue the cab to the boiler. Be careful to keep
everything in alignment, blocking everything into position while the glue sets. It’s a good idea to allow extra time for the glue to set as this is an important structural connection. Once set, I added extra strength by mixing up a little epoxy and spreading it liberally along the joint, then let that set overnight.
Once the cab is on, test fit the complete chassis and do any minor cuts or filing to adjust the fit. If there are any openings between boiler and cab, use some putty the fill these and then file and sand these areas smooth. As with our previous projects use gray primer to check your “body work,” then sand and repaint as necessary.
As I said before, many of the Ten Wheelers had a deckles cab because the firebox extended to the back of the cab. To help disguise the gap between the back of the drivers and the end of the cab, we’ll add this firebox under the cab. I started by adding a piece of plastic strip ¼” wide by 2 1/4” long to the bottom of the cab on each side, front to back. To this I glued a piece of 1/8” wide plastic channel material along the edge closest to the opening under the cab. Once the glue sets I used a ½” wide by 1 7/8” long plastic strip standing on edge to go below the bottom of the cab to block side view of the motor. This makes a “L” shape under the cab on either side. I left the front and back open for clearance when installing the chassis to the shell and to allow wiring to exit below the cab. It will also not interfere with the drawbar to the tender.
A firebox has hundreds of rivet heads appearing on it, so the represent these, I used card stock with “rivets” rolled on with a Ponce wheel. Ponce wheels are hand held tools used in sewing and other craft work. They consist of a small handle with wheel at the end that looks like a tiny saw blade. You place a piece of 1/2”x 1 7/8” card stock on a soft surface such as sheet balsa, rubber, or soft plastic. Then you roll the Ponce wheel along the card stock lengthwise making about four straight lines 1/8” apart. When done, turn the card stock over and you have lines of “rivet heads” sticking out on the other side!
Make a second such sheet for the other side and glue each to the ½” x1 7/8” plastic firebox structure. This makes for an easy and inexpensive firebox under the Ten Wheeler’s cab. When the glue is dry give this a light coat of gray primer.
With the boiler modifications complete, we’ll move on the adding a tender.
Tags: Stumpy's Station
We’ve run the “Casey Jones” shell “through the scrap line” and salvaged useful parts. Now it’s time to make few serious cuts to the plastic Pacific shell.
For the major cuts, I use a Dremel Motor Tool with the cut off wheel and then go back and dress up the cuts with a file. Filing to final form allows you better control to make sure parts are straight.
We’ll cut off the Pacific’s pilot (“cow catcher”) along the straight vertical line of the front of this part, the thickness of the front of the pilot, leaving the two wedged shaped area intact to help strengthen the replacement part. The pilot removed from the Casey Jones and the cut line of the Pacific shell should be filed to fit tightly. The pilot of the Casey Jones is a slightly narrower than the Pacific pilot deck, so carefully center the Casey Jones pilot when gluing. We take care of the excess deck on each side later.
The next cut is the important one. We’ll be cutting the cab and firebox of the Pacific away to make room for the Casey Jones cab. Turn the Pacific shell over and locate the rear chassis mounting posts. Mark a line just behind these all the way around the shell because this is where we’ll make the cut to remove the rear portion of the Pacific shell.
You can either cut right on the line, or a little rearward of it to give yourself extra material to work with if you need to. The plan here is for the Casey cab to just cover the back of the motor. There is a slight difference between using a can motor and an original Flyer motor so measure twice and cut once!
Once again, file the cut lines of both the Pacific shell and the Casey Jones cab to fit tightly. I like to use some gray primer in all areas where modifications are to be made since working marks will show up better, and the gray allows you to see how your “body work” is as you build better than the normal black plastic.
At this point I had to turn my attention to how high to mount the cab as well as make sure there was enough length to cover the motor. On an old Ten Wheeler, the stack, domes, headlight, and cab would sit well above the boiler. Those old locos had smaller diameter boilers than later engines so vertical clearances were not as important. However, in our case, we must build the locomotive to fit the S gauge clearances of tunnels and bridges.
In this case, I wanted the top of the stack to about the same or a little taller than the cab roof. I used the stack height I had used on the “Prairie Dog” project since that had been set to clearances for tunnels and bridges, so the stack would be ½” above the top of the boiler. While looking things over
during the planning this project, I decided to just go ahead and use the Prairie’s shell to build the Ten Wheeler! The Casey Jones stack is about a ½” tall anyway! This also let me skip the steps to make a stack and headlight during construction, but I’ll describe them here for you.
I cut the original headlight and stack off the plastic Pacific shell and filed these areas flat. The hole where the headlight was can be filled with plastic rod or wooden dowel and touched up with putty. I like to make a few punch outs of card stock with a paper punch, glue them together in a “stack” of punch outs, and then glue this to the front of the boiler to represent a number plate.
A new headlight will be mounted to the top front of the boiler, typical of older style locomotives. This headlight will be made of a piece of plastic tubing 5/16” inch outside diameter. Cut a round piece of plastic to fit the diameter of the new headlight and glue it on the “back” of the tubing.
Next, drill a 3/16” hole in the top of the boiler as far forward as you can. Then drill another 3/16” hole in the “bottom” of the headlight that aligns with the hole in the top of the boiler.
Leave the inside of the headlight white or paint it silver to reflect the light from the light bulb in the front of the engine. If you can, use the original Flyer headlight lens. A short length of clear plastic rod that fits inside the new headlight will also make a good lens, but a flat piece of plastic cut to fit the “front” of the headlight will work too. Do not install the lens until after the locomotive has been painted so you don’t accidentally get paint on it.
Once the headlight is installed, you can add the Casey Jones stack at it’s full length. This will be a simple and straightforward installation.
Since the bell will be moved, carefully pry the original metal bell out of it’s hole with a small screwdriver. The bell is just pressed in. Fill this hole with some putty.
I wanted to use the Casey Jones safety valve turret to help back date the Ten Wheeler, so I filed off the three safety valves at the back top of the cab. This is where the Casey Jones turret will go. The Casey Jones bell will go right in front of the rearward dome. File the parts to fit tightly and attach.
Tags: Stumpy's Station
One locomotive that I have always wanted in S gauge is the 4-6-0, known as a “Ten Wheeler” because it had six drivers and a four wheel lead truck. As a direct “upgrade” of the common 4-4-0 “American,” the 4-6-0 wheel arrangement gave the superior high speed tracking of the “American” with the four wheel lead or pilot truck to help turn the locomotive, and the tractive effort of six driving wheels. Most “Ten Wheelers” had as big a boiler as the technology of the time and the space available could provide.
Most railroads used 4-6-0’s interchangeably for both passenger and higher speed freight traffic. In later years, these locos avoided scrapping by being downgraded to lesser assignments such as local freight and passenger trains, work trains, and even switching duties. Many 4-6-0 locos could still be found in daily operation to the end of steam on the mainline railroads because they were easy to maintain, and light weight enough to work on the lightly laid rail and light bridges found on branch lines. Short lines and tourist lines loved smaller locomotives like them for the same reasons.
Of course American Flyer never made a 4-6-0. But during the sixties and seventies when S scale guys had little to work with aside from old Flyer, a LOT of custom rebuilt locos appeared and the “Ten Wheeler” was one of them. Generally, these were made from Atlantics by a bit of modifying of the frame and adding a third set of drivers where the trailing truck would be.
A few guys used the Pacific because all you had to do to get the 4-6-0 wheel arrangement was remove the trailing truck. The problem was to somehow cover the long gap under the firebox/cab area or disguise the motor sticking out of the back of the cab in full view of anyone. Few got it right.
I’ve been giving this project some thought for years, and this series will follow my “Ten Wheeler Project” kit bash of a common Flyer plastic Pacific into a 4-6-0.
The biggest problem with this kit bash is to do something about covering up the motor while at the same time shortening the shell enough to look fairly realistic. The only actual chassis work will be taking the trailing truck off and making a longer drawbar to connect the tender. As usual, I made a new drawbar out of craft (popsicle) sticks because they’re durable, an electrical insulator, and easy to work with.
As part of this conversion, I decided to back date the Pacific shell to look like a typical early Twentieth Century loco that had been updated from time to time and worked right up to the end of steam. There are two ways to do this: buy brass castings of various parts, or cut up an old Flyer “Casey Jones” shell.
Castings can quickly become expensive, while a common “Casey Jones” can be had complete and running for about fifteen dollars, a bare shell for one might go for five dollars. You can’t buy detail parts for prices like that!
The Pacific used for most kit bash projects can be pretty scruffy looking because it’s going to get some cosmetic work anyway, just be sure the mounting posts are in good shape. You might consider buying a Pacific shell for customizing if you have a nice Pacific on hand, and you can swap the customized shell onto your nice loco’s chassis.
Another consideration is the tender. A Franklin tender would be perfect to help back date this project. The tender from behind the 0-8-0 would make a nice slightly more modern choice. You also might consider a Marx or even “027” Lionel tender shell on a Flyer tender chassis. In some cases you may have to shorten the chassis to make this work. Yet another option is to get a common Flyer plastic tender (use the one from the “Casey Jones” you buy for the boiler shell) and cut the fuel bunker sides off even with the top of the tender tank. Add a sheet of plastic to cover the remaining hole and build a coal box on top to get that older tender look.
Once you’ve decided what you want to do and gathered the various tid-bits, it’s time to start. I began by salvaging parts from the “Casey Jones” loco shell. Using a Dremel motor tool with a cutting wheel (a hobby saw works well but is just slower,) I cut off the cab, stack, bell, safety valve turret, headlight, and pilot (“cow catcher.”) I also removed the two domes by cutting into the shell rather than cutting the domes. This gives you extra material to work with for this and other possible projects. After all, once you remove the cab, the rest of the shell is pretty much scrap anyway. I keep a number of parts and “junk” boxes for possible future use and therefore a project is less often stalled for lack of parts.
We’ll be using the cab in this project, and one of the ugly things about the “Casey Jones” is solid cab windows. These can be opened up by drilling a series of small holes all around the inside of the windows and then cutting between them to remover the plastic. Dress the windows up with a file.
Next time, we really get started with the project.
Tags: Stumpy's Station
The windows are in, the door installed and the roof is ready to go on if you’ve filed the braces to shape. Go ahead and glue it on, allowing a bit of overhang on each end and the sides.
Obviously, the roof had to be covered to keep it from leaking. This was often done by applying tarred canvas, and later with regular roll roofing material. The roof was covered in the same manner as any other building. To depict either of these in texture, common ¾” mashing tape will stand in.
Start at the bottom edges of the roof and overlap the next layer slightly as you move to the top of the roof. Wrap the ends of the tape over the edges of the roof at each end of the car and trim off the excess. Also trim off any excess tape when you reach the roof peak. Cut a 3/8” inch wide strip and apply it to equal width along the center of the roof peak to overlap the tape on both sides of the roof. This keeps rain from getting under the roll roofing at the peak.
If you wish to give your Outhouse Caboose a “worn” look, you might wrinkle the tape as you apply it or tear pieces of it as if the roofing was coming loose with age. When done, paint the roofing black. Under the roof, paint the underside of the roof overhang the car’s color.
Many of these tiny cars has a small wood stove inside for winter heating, so we need to add a stack of some kind. This can be as simple as drilling a hole in the roof and using a piece of brass or plastic tubing. To keep rain out, use a paper punch to pop out a disc of card stock and add it to the top of the stack.
An alternative is to use a small diameter flexible alcoholic beverage stir straw to have the stove pipe come out an end wall, turn 90 degrees and go up the side of the car. A regular “flexi-straw” is really too big in diameter, but could be used. Stove pipes would be black, maybe with a little rust.
How does anyone get into the car? Well, next we’ll put handrails on either side of the door. I like to use “mechanic’s” or “farmer’s” tie wire. This is a very flexible mild steel wire less than 1/16” thick. Cut two pieces of tie wire 1 3/8” long and make a 90 degree bend in each end with about ¼” “legs.” These legs will go into holes drilled in the side of the car either side of the door frame. To attach them, put a drop of glue in each hole and carefully place each end of the handrail in the hole, leaving a gap of about 1/8” between the railing and the car side.
Often, anyone entering the door would grab a handrail and use the truck as a step to get into the car. However, some companies used a ladder of some kind, usually made somewhat like a strap step, while others preferred wooden steps on iron hangers.
To make the wooden with iron hanger style steps, all you need do is cut seven pieces of 1/16×1/8” strip wood ½” long, or cut these parts out of left over scribed balsa sheet. Two of these will represent vertical “iron hangers,” one will be the horizontal brace across the “back” of these “hangers” at their upper ends. The other three will be the evenly spaced “steps,” one at the bottom, one halfway up the hangers, and one just below the top of the hangers.
Once the gluing is done. Glue the “brace” end to the car floor directly below the door and handrails. The “hangers” could be painted black, the rest the car’s color, or the entire part could be the same.
An addition to this car could be a small red flag sticking out of the opposite end of the car from the coupler. A length of “cable” might be hanging on the side or rear of the car. This might be just string painted gray, black, or “rust” color. The paint drying stiffens the string and makes it easy to glue to the car body. A detail casting of a lantern and a few “waybills” or “notices” tacked to the car side would make a nice addition as well.
Since Outhouse Cabooses tended to “get no respect” you might try your skills at “weathering” the paint job, very suitable if you have made the “roll roofing” look damaged.
The construction methods you have learned will also allow you to try building wooden “house cars” (box cars, reefers, etc.) and if you leave off the truck, coupler, hand railings and steps off, you have a nice model of a small trackside shack.
This completes the series on logging. These cars seldom saw mainline use, but the theme of a small logging line would be excellent for layout builders with limited space. As I said at the beginning, this would be a good use for the AF 0-8-0 switcher or 4-4-0 Casey Jones, the SHS 2-8-0, the Flyonel 0-6-0 “Docksider” tank loco, or in more modern eras, diesel switchers or road switchers like the “Geeps.”
For scenery, just buy up a bunch of model trees, some small footprint buildings, and a few ragged old trucks. You might even find researching logging railroads and operations a lot of fun too.
Tags: Stumpy's Station
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