A Bridge Between: Part 2

I had a chance to sit down and complete my Monroe Models bridge build within the last few days.  I had built the bents in part 1 (Part 1), but I wanted to add nut / bolt / washer castings and stain the wood before doing the final assembly.


Holes were drilled in all the bents and ends to accept nut / bolt / washer castings.

Using a #79 drill bit and my pinvise, I drilled holes in the diagonal bracing on all the bents, creating a location for the NBW castings to attach.  With those completed, I proceeded to paint the Grandt Line castings.  My choice of color for painting the castings was to start with a MicroLux “Rail Brown”, and when that dried, I applied a light wash of Ammo of Mig Jimenez “Light Rust Wash”.


To paint the castings, I set them up in a clamp so I could paint whole sets of castings at once.

Returning to the bents, I started coloring them by using Micro Mark’s “Weather It Easy”.  This product produces a gray tone to the wood, silvering it like wood that is exposed to the weather.  Once that dried, I decided that the color was not deep enough, so I used a “Tie Brown” stain from Hunterline over the top of the gray, which produced a much richer look, that in person (if not in the photos) still shows the gray color of the weathered wood but to my eye looks more like creosoted timbers.


“Weather It Easy” turns the wood somewhat silvery, as wood that is exposed to the elements appears.


A darker “Tie Borwn” stain from Hunterline was used after the “Weather It Easy”, and then the castings were applied.  You can see them standing out from the cross members on all the bents.

After the stains dried, I cut the NBW castings from the sprue, and using canopy glue, inserted one in each of the pre-drilled holes.  (For those counting, there were 12 castings per bent, three bents, plus two ends with 6 castings each, for a total of 48 holes to drill and NBW castings to place).


With all the stains and castings in place and dry, more canopy glue was used to finish the assembly.  I used a flat metal cookie sheet and two 90 degree metal L’s to hold things flat and straight while they dried.

With all the staining and castings in place, I then followed the kit instructions to do the final assembly.


The finished bridge.


Another shot of the finished bridge

This was a fun bridge build.  I still plan to add track on top, but as of yet don’t have a home for this model.  I may simply hand-lay some track on top for fun, and set it aside for possible later use.

Anyone searching for a fun kit that builds in 1 or 2 sittings, I highly recommend securing one of these excellent models from Monroe.

Time to get back to the workbench!


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Where on the Railroad?


A map and some information about Bagby, CA along the Yosemite Valley Railroad (Author’s Collection)

If you’ve read my past posts about track planning and the future of the YV project, you know that I’ve struggled with figuring out what to build, how big to build part of a layout, and what a TOMA concept YV, or Free-Mo YV, or just about any version of portability would look like because I don’t have room for that large layout here. (If you’ve read before, you’re probably going “here we go again”… as am I.)

There are several other factors that limit my layout planning.  Beyond just not currently living in the eventual layout space, there is the consideration that I need space for two layouts, the YV and a Central Vermont layout that my wife is working on equipment for.  Without knowing the “final” space considerations, and with a 78 mile line to plan, it also is hard to know what towns and locations will have to be compressed out or what can be included.

It’s time, however, to build ‘something’ other than rolling stock for the YV.  I narrowed down a few locations earlier in 2017 that would be good candidates in Snelling and National Lead.  They’re still good choices.  The other choices of locations that would be interesting would be Bagby or Merced Falls, as the log trains, the locals, and the passenger trains all passed through or worked at these two locations.

I built benchwork last summer for both Snelling and National Lead.  Now I’m giving the benchwork intended for National Lead over to become either Bagby or Merced Falls.  It’s 14” wide and 8’ long.  That’s plenty of space to build Bagby.  I have the material available to expand the benchwork and make it Merced Falls, with the lumber company, box factory, and a few other structures.

My next step is going to be to lay both towns out on a 1:1 piece of paper and then make the decision on what to build.

Whatever I build, it’ll serve several purposes, allowing me to photograph models, run trains, experiment with scenery materials, and have fun.  After all, that’s the goal and reason for doing any of this.

–      –     –

It’s time once again to resume setting and reviewing goals monthly.  December is a difficult month to set goals for, as one never can quite plan on how much time around holidays and family time there will be.  That said, I’m going to set some relatively easy and reachable goals and we’ll see if I can accomplish them before the New Year.

First, I want to add details to, touch up paint, and assemble my Accurail 36’ car from Trainfest.

Second, I want to build a new sanding block and sand the C&EI boxcar.

Third, I want to have some full-size track planning done.

Fourth, I want to sort my project cars and make sure the build plan for 2018 matches with my overall goals.

Fifth, I want to lay out my overall goals, and share them here as I get ready for 2018

It’s time to get back to modeling!


Posted in Bagby, CA, Goals of the Month, Merced Falls, CA, Uncategorized, Yosemite Valley Railroad | 1 Comment

Small Projects Before the Holidays

With both Trainfest and RPM Chicagoland now in the books for the year, and the crazy of the holiday season ahead, we managed to find some time at the workbench over the weekend.

I’m catching my breath at the moment.  I need to organize built rolling stock, sort parts for upcoming builds, and get some plans made.  There are a few builds that I decided to get some work started on instead of immediately hitting the scheduled builds.


The kit from this year’s RPM Chicagoland.  While the prototype is too “new” for the YV, building the car will give me some practice, I’ll learn some new skills, and it’ll be fun.

The first project up was cleaning flash from the RPM car, a C&EI boxcar, that has resin replacement parts.  I got started on cleaning up resin, and researching how to replace the cast on car ends.  I need to get a new sanding block to sand down the existing end detail, so after cleaning up flash, the car was set aside again until I get the sanding block sorted out.


One of the Trainfest special cars from Accurail hit the bench.  Here you can see me removing parts to carefully remove cast-on details that I’ll replace with wire.

At Trainfest we got our hands on some of the show special 36’ boxcars.  I broke one of those out and started doing some detail upgrades.  I removed some of the cast on details and got holes drilled for replacement grab irons, along with sorting out some of the additional brake parts I want to add to the B end of the car.

Lastly, I did some more “model railroad arts and crafts” and cut out templates for some #6 turnouts so I can do some track planning through December.

There are some neat things coming to the workshop, and some projects to discuss.  I’ll also be making some monthly goal plans again, as I enjoyed doing that, but those got away as the summer wore on.  Back in the swing of modeling season, it’s time to start making plans and accomplishing things again.

Time to get back to the workbench.


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Trainfest 2017

As we close in on the latter-half of November this year, another fantastic Trainfest event is in the books.  Held every year in Milwaukee, WI, the show combines operating modular layouts, vendor booths, product announcements, and a lot of fun.  We typically go for both days of the event, getting to see some of the show on Saturday, and returning on Sunday for a less-busy spin through the vendor booths and time to really look at the layouts.

IMG_7497.jpgOne of the fun layouts to see, from my perspective, was the Model Railroad Hobbyist / Trainmasters TV project layout.  Having watched the series online, I have to say, my opinion was that the layout is more impressive in person than it is in the video series.  I really enjoyed seeing the detail and quality of the work, and it was fun to watch Joe Fugate use the “Protothrottle” to run a train for a few minutes.  The layout is traveling to several other shows, so if you get a chance to see it, take the time to explore the scenes that the MRH crew have created.



We had a chance to visit the North American Prototype Modelers layout in Milwaukee on Saturday night.  This incredible club layout has many scenes that are expertly modeled, and some beautiful equipment.  The stunning passenger station that greets visitors on the way in is simply breathtaking.



Of course, there were operating layouts to see.  From small (as pictured above) to large, there were friendly people at every display I approached.

I made this video of some of the operating layouts. If you have a couple minutes, have a watch.

There were also new products to see.  The most exciting to me was the newly announced Accurail Fowler boxcar that I’ll be looking forward to have a few of.


There were other products show off that are tempting, but what would I do with a GP7, even as nice as the model looks.


One of the best things about Trainfest is the opportunity to get together with, spend some time talking and laughing, as well as reconnecting with friends from around the Midwest and the country, in person.  This year was no different.  Beyond the layouts, vendors, products, and other things, the friends we have in the hobby are important, and a chance to see people who might only be connected with online for most of the year makes Trainfest an event we have come to love.

It’s time to get back to the workbench!


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A Bridge Between


With RPM Chicagoland over, and a little time between that event and Trainfest, I decided not to launch straight into more freight cars or something “complicated”, built from plans or otherwise.  Still, wanting to build things, I pulled a Monroe Models laser cut bridge kit out of my stash to have some fun.


The kit is really not complicated.  The cutting is nice, and the small size is manageable in a couple of sittings.  I got stared by cleaning up the cut-marks and following the simple instructions for assembly.  While doing the easy work there, I decided to enhance the model, and quickly orders some Grandt Line nut/bolt/washer castings in order to add detail to the structure.  I also decided to hand-lay track on it, so I’ll be using some scale tie-plates and code 70 rail I have in my stash to finish off the structure.  I managed to assemble all the support structure, but set things aside to wait for the castings.  Once I add those, I’ll weather the bridge, do the final assembly, and lay the track.  I figure it’ll probably take a few more enjoyable hours to finish off.


While the bridge parts were drying, I pulled out a small brick structure that I was given by someone.  The kit is an older plaster model, and came with a cardboard roof piece.  Once I had cleaned up and glued the walls together, I replaced the cardboard roof with a piece of wood to increase the strength of the finished building.  I then also replaced the original chimney casting that came with the kit with a new one that I got years ago in a grab-bag of parts.  After drying, the little building is now ready for paint and details.  I don’t have a use on the YV for this, but it was fun to build, and I’m sure I’ll find it a good home.

Even though neither of these structures will wind up on my YV, I’ve learned things, practiced skills, and had fun.  Between events, with time to unwind, sometimes those kinds of projects, stuff you just want to build, for no particular reason, is a nice way to let off steam.

After Trainfest, it’ll be time to focus on a new project.  Painting is over for the year, here, as the cold weather comes in, so it’s time to get as much built as I can while we hide inside and wait for Spring.

Time to get back to the workbench!


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RPM Chicagoland 2017


My small corner of the RPM.  24 cars, on display.

RPM Chicagoland 2017 was last week (October 26-28).  As has come to be my expectation of this event, it was fantastic.  The modeling on display was amazing, the friends seen, made, and met in person were wonderful, and the size of the event seems to be bigger every year.

I blew my own roster out of the water, even before I gave my presentation by buying new kits for my fleet from Yarmouth Model Works, Owl Mountain Models, and Resin Car Works.  Even so, my presentation appeared to be well received.

There is always something new to learn at these events.  The clinics themselves are a gold mine of information, but the networking and information sharing among those who attend is as valuable if not more so.  It once again proves the old saying that it’s not what you know, but sometimes it’s who you know.

I put together a Flicker album of some of the photos I took this year.  You can access it here:  https://flic.kr/s/aHsm8bNvkE RPM Chicagoland 2017

I will once again be looking forward to this RPM in 2018!

It’s time to get back to the workshop!


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“Developing A Fleet” My Clinic for RPM Chicagoland, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 7.34.39 PM

The cover slide for my presentation.

My clinic for RPM Chicagoland, 2017, is the culmination of the work I did to present previous posts on the YV Freight Car Fleet.  “Developing A Fleet” in clinic form will discuss the process in developing my methods for arriving at a believable freight car roster for August, 1939.

Included here is the ‘handout’ for the presentation.  It includes a selected reference list that I used in my research and preparation, as well as a current, October 2017, freight car roster for my projects.

RPM 2017 Clinic Handout

I hope to have met you at the event in Lisle, IL.  If not, I hope you’ll explore other posts here.

I will probably keep this presentation updated, and hope to present it again in the future.

It’s time to get back to the conference!


Posted in Model Trains, Modeling Update, RPM CHICAGOLAND, Uncategorized, Yosemite Valley Railroad | Leave a comment