plucking the cabeese

I placed all six of the Model Power bay window cabeese into a quart Mason jar full of 91% rubbing alcohol to strip the paint. The silver on the roofs came off with ease, and the blue lettering took a little more coaxing. Surprisingly, Model Power spent the money to paint a yellow plastic caboose yellow, and after the better part of a week, three of the cabeese have yellow paint still on them. I have been taking them out of the alcohol and scrubbing them with a toothbrush. It is amazing how thick the paint is. I am still waiting on my parts order, and I figured out the best way to fill the holes in the roof. I am going to cut the mounting points of the stock roofwalks off and glue them into the holes, then cut, putty and sand the roof smooth. Another idea is to make the entire roof of one smooth to backdate it into a C-40-4…..I just don’t know if I am up to that challenge.


One caboose left in the Mason jar…I am amazed  how thick Model Power paint can be. I had one that was stripped in an hour.

The MOW Horse Car…..part 1

DSC_0424It started just over a year ago, Joe D’Amato at Micro Trains asked me to go to the Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler to shoot a derelict old Maintenance of Way car with three doors on the sides and an end that opened the entire width of the car.

SPMW 5984 was built in 1937 by the St. Louis Car Company and was numbered 7241, and later 4300.

While the real car is an 80 foot car, MTL decided to model it as a 70 foot car. Even though it is ten feet shorter than it should be, the details are there. For me, having a small layout, the missing ten feet is actually a blessing, making it look better on a tighter radius.

I have a Bachmann crane and tender, so I decided that adding in the horse car in it’s beat up, 1980’s MOW look would be perfect for an emergency break down train. While the Bachmann tender is not right, the crane and the horse car tie in well together. The tender is going to be the challenge, but it should be worth it.

I just picked up my horse car, in NYC paint (I know).  The roof pops right off, there is a large weight and “glass” windows inside and the underside holds in the steps/stirrups. Disassembly is easy, getting the stirrups back in, well, I decided that it can wait for the car to be gray….more to come

freight car musings….

So, currently, I have 5 Micro-Trains cars, 2 Fox Valley boxcars, an Intermountain reefer and a BLMA hopper.

Looks wise, the BLMA hopper is an 11 out of 10. When I finally get around to weathering my cars, this might be one that I can’t touch. It looks perfect. When I run it, I would say that it is a 9, the scale wheels look great, it couples well, but if there is a piece of ballast or an issue with a ground throw, it will hit the ties. This does not happen often, but it can.

The IM reefer looks great, I would say a 8.5, runs well, couples well, no complaints. I have not had issues with the axles being warped like other people. My kid did run it off of the layout back in December and broke a stirrup, too bad IM does not make them a separate item like Micro-Trains does. So far, I just turned the car around so it is hidden, but I am leaning towards buying a BLMA stirrup kit…

Micro-Trains, the Cadillac of N Scale…these cars are a 7 to 9.5 in the looks department. Some, like my 40 ft hy-cube just sit too high, while others, like my Golden West bulkhead flatcar have their trucks and couplers painted the same color as the car! I have yet to see a real freight car with blue trucks and couplers. That being said, they couple on the first try and do not derail unless I run them through a closed switch, a total 10 in operation.

That leaves Fox Valley, a 9.5 in the looks dept….etched brass, great graphics, if they had extended coupler boxes, they would be a 10. They track well, they just have one odd issue. they don’t like to couple or uncouple from anything. to couple them, I have to make sure that the couplers are centered, and I have to put a finger on the roof to hold them still. These come factory equipt with Micro-Trains body mounted couplers, the same ones as the BLMA hopper that I love to use. But for some reason, neither one likes to couple to anything, and on both ends….a 5

Track is painted…


Lance Mindheim has built many great layouts. One of his tricks is to paint finely detailed track in lighter colors to highlight the details, and if you are using track with big, over-sized details (like i am with Atlas Code 80), to use darker paint. Well, as you might have read, my supply of Floquil spray paint was not good. Today, I drove down to ACE Hardware and picked up a can of Kryon Camouflage Brown, masked off the ground throws and the switch points, and sprayed the rails. I then let them dry, broke out a Walthers Bright Boy and polished the rails. I am happy with the results. Now I can start ballasting….


track3 track2budget update….$31 left….$500 goes quickly