To paraphrase Vane Jones, "Knowledge is of little value until shared with others."

Thursday, January 18, 2018

2018 National O Scale Convention

It's coming - The 2018 National O Scale Convention to be held in the Washington DC area. For information - location, hotel, dates, etc. go to the Convention's web site.

If you have any questions or problems feel free to contact the fellas in change of the Convention.

If you're planning on attending, make your room reservations now. The Convention sponsors have been able to have the special room rates for a few days before and after the Convention for sightseeing.

My wife and I have tried to go to the O Scale Conventions in even numbered years. Don't ask me why, but for some unknown reason we've found these years to be the best for us.

What's more important is your chance to see and experience vendors you may have not seen before. There will be a number of local vendors who don't attend other O Scale Conventions.

You'll have a chance to meet other O Scale modelers. There is a lot of information to be gained. It's difficult to name all the unique experiences I've had to National Conventions.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Sources of Parts etc. for the Portable Substation (PSS) or Any Model

These are the potential sources of parts for the model. Since you are reading this on the internet you should be able to look-up the catalogues of the vendors the same way. I am not suggesting the purchase of all the parts direct from the vendor. You can use your local hobby shop and/or the vendor. Remember keeping your local hobby shop in business may be an asset you cannot do without.

Northeastern Scale Lumber Co. URL =
Evergreen Scale Models URL =
Grandt Line URL =

A number of Grandt Line castings were developed for On3.These castings can be used on standard gauge models without any problems.

PSC has their O scale product line broken into 3 different catalogues - steam locomotives, diesel locomotives, and freight/passenger cars. Some items are repeated in all the catalogues while others are only in a specific catalogue. Be sure you look in all of the catalogues.

For that matter be sure to look at the entire web site and/or catalogues of all the vendors.  When it comes to scratch building you must become completely familiar with what parts are available from various sources!

There are other sources for parts both plastic and brass. These include Des Plaines Hobbies and P&D Hobby Shop. Both have a web site and appear at major O Scale Meets throughout the year. Although, it's best to contact them by phone for the availability of parts and to place your order.

Des Plaines Hobbies URL =
Ron and Sue purchased the exceptional line of "Custom Finishes by Bob Rzasa" brass detail parts. Des Plaines calls them "O Scale America" Detail Parts.  In this product line are handholds (grab irons) and other unique parts. You need to see these to understand how unique these parts are. Of course the store has other hobby items.

P&D Hobby Shop URL =
Pat purchased the Kemtron GP7 and RS3 brass kits. P&D has had these kits originally in brass and now in plastic. P&D has also had a F7/9 kit in plastic. Over the years detail parts and a drive to power the kits have been developed. It's the detail parts and power drive in which you will be most interested.  And, of course the store has other hobby parts.

Another old time source is Bowser-Trains  URL=
If you "click" on the "O Gauge" button at the top of the page and then on "Cal Scale", you will find the Cal Scale line of lost wax brass parts. I've used the windshield wipers, horns, and other parts for many years on my trolley models. 

Three other vendors with small parts applicable to scratch building are:
American Scale Models
Wiseman Model Services
Scale City Designs

Each of these have a number of detail parts. While castings from the many vendors may be more expensive than parts you can make yourself,  the castings will give you uniformity and often save you time.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Photos of My Completed Portable Substation (PSS) Model

As the prior Post was being prepared, The advertisements in the right column of MR page 51 were noticed. Northeastern Scale Models is still in existence. The model of the PSS can be built from scale lumber (basswood) available from Northeastern. Northwest Short Line (NWSL) is also still in existence. Of the O scale suppliers listed only Walthers (with a changed product line) and Kentron as Precision Scale Models are still in existence. 

There's 2 sets of photos to see. The 1st set is the completed model prior to painting.
Grandt Line products were used for some of the details. Grandt is in the process of changing the color of its plastic castings from black to a wood color. Grandt Line roof saddles, door details, nut-bolt-washer (NBW), and steps were used.

 A number of Precision Scale Models (PSC) were used. There are the brass metal items. Brass wire of 0.020" diameter was used from a different source.

I decided to install all the hand brake detail which was easy to do. My placement of the truss rods was not the best. PSC couplers were installed. The castings were easy to clean-up and make working. PSC has daft gear with springs in them like Kadee couplers.

Prior to painting and while work was being done on the model, pieces of card stock and tape were used to protect the small plastic door guides and stops castings. These are "Z" shape. The card stock was placed in the opening of the casting to keep the casting from being squashed against body during handling. Tape was used to hold the card stock in place.

The 2nd set is the finished model after painting and installation of the high tension electric equipment.
 The 3-phase high tension equipment was installed after the model was painted. More will be mentioned when the Post(s) about painting and installation of the model are written.

 The windows of the PSS are frosted glass. The decals were homemade with the exception of some decals left over from older models. The red square is the outlet for the 600 v trolley electricity.

This end of the car is where the high tension electricity is converted to 600 v trolley electricity. The end of the prototype car had to be removable to access the equipment. 

We'll get more into the making of the model in the next Post(s).


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Scratchbuilding a Portable Substation

The following 4-page article about a portable substation (PSS) appeared in a 1961 issue of Model Railroader. Since this was 57 years ago I think MR will allow me to share the article with you.

BTW - the best thing to do with you old issues of modeling magazines is to tear them apart and save the articles you like. Toss out and/or recycle the parts you don't need. You'll have a much lesser pile of stuff you'll need to file away for future use.

At one end of my layout was a loop which would be constructed out in a forest preserve next to a zoo. The lack of buildings and other scenery bothered me. Thinking about it, the idea of a PSS seemed like a natural for me. 

I've seen photos of PSS and remember a PSS installed next to the South Shore Line tracks some years ago. Some of the PSS like the permanently installed substations had an "electric equipment farm" as part of the substation. This was the part of the PSS I did not desire to build due to time constraints. I wanted to build a "building on wheels". This is where the article in MR came in handy .

Print out the page with the drawings. Then enlarge the drawings for O scale (1/4" scale) and you'll be ready to start.

See you next time! Cheers,

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 Happy New Year

2018 Happy New Year to All!

Merry Christmas to all. May we have a peaceful year to come which also brings us happiness.

It's been a time since my last Post and many things have happened since the last one. Toward the start of August my wife and I went on a vacation to the Canadian Rockies. The trip was on the Rocky Mountaineer Railroad (RM) which is a privately owned tour company RM utilizes Canadian National Railroad (CN) owned tracks.

The majority of the Canadian Rockies are in British Columbia (BC). Freight service on the CN tracks in BC is provided by the BC Railroad. RM has its own passenger cars and diesels. RM service is strictly for tourists and the passenger service is not local.

The vacation was fabulous. But, we were warned ahead of time about the forest fires and the smoke. I took about 100+ photos per day. There were 11 vacation days to give you an idea of the number of photos taken. The effect of the smoke on some of the photos can be seen.

Eventually we were left the smoke filled, affected area. The most striking photo (actually set of photos) was taken in the morning at Lake Louise from our hotel window.
The window frame was left in the picture so you can tell this is a photo and not a painting or reproduction. The red things in the center are red painted canoes. A set of photos were taken about 5 minutes apart starting about 6 am local time. Each photo has a slightly different color and emphasis on the scenery.

As for my layout and track building and overhead wire, trolleys do run on it. Scenery is slowly being applied. 

One major problem with the below 0F temperatures we have been having is the effect the outside temperature has on the interior of the area where the layout is located. The room has a sliding patio door which faces north. The winter wind blows from the north. The location of the patio door plus another odd problem in the room makes for a cold north end of the layout. It's not fun to work on this end of the layout!!

We refuse to cover or do anything else with the patio door due to the amount of light we get through the door plus the beautiful outside scene outside. We plan to have the window re-worked when the temperature is more reasonable.

Let's see if I can keep the typing up to do another Post to show you some of my work on the layout including an unusual model.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Some Info You Might be Interested In

Before the next Post on the using the Right O'Way Street Turnout Point/Mate castings. If you are using or plan on using these castings you should take a look at Terry Gaskin's Blog  He is building street turnouts using the ROW castings.

Next, Jay Criswell the new owner of ROW has rewritten the instructions which come with the Street Turnout Paint/Mate castings. The instructions are easier to read and understand.

Since Jay is the new owner of the Proto48 products, he gave me authorization to publish the instruction sheet which came with the Protocraft turnout castings. You may find the information of the location of the overhead wire frog on the bottom of page one interesting. On page 2 is an interesting drawing with measurements. Both of these pieces of information will help you in building your layout.
 The drawing in the lower left shows where the overhead wire frog should be located.

Note the measurements included in the drawing at the top of the page.

More in the next Post. Cheers,

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What to Do 1st When You Obtain Your Street Turnout Point and Mate Castings Before You Mount Them

When you open the package of the street point and mate turnout castings there will be 4 castings plus a sheet of instructions. The 4 castings are the:
  • point holding casting,
  • the mate casting,
  • the turnout point, and
  • cover plate.
If you have a right hand turnout, the point holding casting is mounted on the right side with the small square opening on the inside of the turnout. For the left hand turnout, the point holding casting is mounted on the left. The small square opening is again on the inside. Do not mix up the castings as the right hand mate is different from the left hand mate!

Test fit the cover plate. Examine the turnout point to see if the casting is broken. Put both of them aside where you will not forget they are. Next read and re-read the instructions, You'll be using the instructions soon.

The se are the bottom view of the point and mate of a right hand turnout. The 2 separate point castings are shown at the top of the photo. These are a top and bottom view. Only 1 of these point castings comes with a turnout.

Pick-up one of the 2 larger castings. Run your finger over the casting. Remove any excess metal on the casting. This includes the sprue or small beads of metal.
Blue Oval = DLW for David L. Waddington the master modeler who made the original pattern.
Red Arrows = areas to clean with a file or cut-off tool. Sometimes a sprue is still attached on the bottom at the left side of the photo.
Green Arrow = do not touch or alter!

Next test the piece for square-ness using the metal ruler from a machinist square. Place the metal ruler along the sides, top and bottom of the casting.

The most common problem with the castings is the code 125 rails attached to the castings. If one or more of the pieces of rail need to be bent to the side or up or down, use a pair of pliers with wide jaws. Grip the piece of rail where the piece joins the main casting. Bend the rail then again test for square-ness.
Red Ellipse = short piece of rail needs to be bent to the side.

Blue Circle = short piece of rail needs to be bent up.

Normally I work on a 1/4" piece of plate glass. The plate glass is FLAT. When you are truing or squaring the casting place it on something absolutely flat. The casting must rest FLAT and not rock back and forth. Light should not show under the casting. The straight rails must straight through the entire length of the casting.

When you are satisfied with this casting place it aside and do the same with the other casting. Next the casting can be installed. If you are making a street turnout most modelers mount the 2 castings on PC board ties available from Clover House .

Some trolley lines if mounting a turnout in open track will use the street turnout castings for the turnout. I plan to show you this in a later Post.