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

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What the Glue?

A few years ago I stated using clear bath tub caulk to “glue” passengers into seats. It was great! Once the adhesive cured it was invisible. Plus, taking passengers out of the seats was easy. Just pry them to the side and off they popped. The painted seat wasn’t ruined no was the passenger.

While looking for more bath tub sealant in the hardware store I noticed a slightly different product. DAP has a product called “Kwik Seal”. It comes in bright white or clear. As opposed to the silicone sealant with its vinegar smell as it cures, the DAP product is odorless.

Furthermore, the “Kwik Seal” is miscible with water. This means it can be mixed and diluted with water. If you do dilute "Kwik Seal", use distilled water to reduce the chance of impurities in the water interfering with the curing of the product. The cure time seems to be the same as undiluted “Kwik Seal”.

The clear “Kwik Seal” comes out of the tube white but turns clear when cured. I like this as it easy to see where it is as you place passengers in seats. If too much “Kwik Seal” is used it can be cleaned up immediately with water. It starts curing as soon as it comes out of the tube. If time has passed it’s better to just let the product cure and then cut the excess off with a razor blade.

Since starting to use “Kwik Seal”, I’ve use it as a glue for other uses. It has been used when other glues might cause problems like gluing something to plastic where ACC is not applicable. The constant lighting boards in my models are held in place with “Kwik Seal”. The board can be pried off the styrene with a razor blade.

Diluted, “Kwik Seal” can be used to hold glazing or other “light” objects in place. It can be applied with a brush. BTW – Clean the brush immediately. For glazing if too much is applied wait for the material to cure then remove the excess with a tooth pick.

Besides DAP, Loctite has a generic product called “POLYSEAMSEAL ALL-PURPOSE Adhesive & Caulk in One”.

One item I would not apply it to is any electrical board where exposed “wiring” or connections are soldered. One such board was “glued” to a non-metallic surface metal and a short circuit occurred. When the board was removed the problem was resolved. There is no problem with Dallee’s Adjustable Constant Voltage power Supply board. All the electronic circuits are on one side of the board.



Friday, January 27, 2012

Sunset NSL Silverliners #4 - Interior, Seats, etc.

If any of the post related to the upgrading of the Sunset Silverliners gets too long it may be broken up and appear as 2 or more separate post.

In the prior post you may have noticed there were 2 different prices for the Dallee Adjustable Constant Lighting Unit. The price increased with a new order. Always contact the vendor for up-to-date pricing plus the avilability of products.

Should a vendor (manufacturer) be mentioned of which you are not aware, feel free to contact me for information on how to contact them.

Now is the time for some homework. Before going into this section of rebuilding the interiors of your coaches you need to look at photos of the prototype to refresh your memory regarding colors, the style of the seats, interior windows, plus other interior items.

These are 3 of the NSL cars at IRM. The interior photos will help you in choosing the colors for the interiors of your coaches. The floor on which the seats are mounted will be called the interior floor. If you check your model’s interior floor and seats you should notice your models’ floors and seats don’t match the interiors of the cars at IRM.

To help you in the reassembly processes, before starting take ample photos of the interior floor with the seats and partitions (smoker/non-smoking sections, equipment locker, and lavatory). Don't worry about the bulkheads between the seating and vestibules. They will be coming up next as we proceed with the interior.

One interior floor will be worked on at a time. There are a number of parts and holes in the floors.

First my philosophy about interiors - while getting the interior correct is important; I don't invest a lot of resources (time and money) on them. Once the model is assembled the color of the floor and items below a certain level will not be seen. I place my resources into the exterior where they can be seen and enjoyed.

Floor - From the IRM photos is looks like the center of the flooring in this group of cars was a dark gray. It was a commercial grade flooring with black and other colors mixed in.

The interior floor of the model is brass and longer than the power truck floor. This made the floors hard to remove. After taking off the seats and partitions, 0.020" was file off of each end.

The floor was soaked lacquer thinner to remove the sticky stuff from the bottom. The top side was sanded smooth. The floor was painted with left over gloss dark brown Rust-Oleum spray paint.

These are the before and after photos of the floor.

Seats - They are the wrong style and color. The seats in the model are lost wax brass castings and are the reason the each model is so heavy. Remove the screw holding each seat in place. The seats can be replaced with the correct style seat. Current Line has C-468 and Q-Car has CS-077 (close but not exactly) in soft metal castings. If you want to lessen the weight of your models, Kiel-Line may have the correct seats cast in plastic.

To reuse the seats soak both them and the screws in an organic solvent to remove the gooey substance on them. After soaking and cleaning the seats, a small area was filed off on the top corner edge of the seat back - at a 45 degree angle for the hand hold. Then a 0.020" brass wire was ACC'ed over the sides and top of the seat back to simulate the chrome piece.

The seats were painted a semi-gloss red using Rust-Oleum spray paint. When dry the seat frame and sides were painted black. The brass wire was painted using Floquil Bright Silver to imitate the chrome piece on each seat.

These are the seats from my lead coach after being painted red.

One alternate to adding the brass the wire is to place a narrow aluminum decal strip over the sides and top of the seat back. This can be done whether or not the 45 degree notch is filed out. Another alternative is to paint the top and sides of the seat back with an aluminum paint stick. These contain aluminum paint in a ball point like pen.

The seats can be reassembled on the interior floor. The same screws were used to reattach the seats to the floor. Once the alignment of the seats is checked they were ACC'ed to the floor.

Interior Partitions - They can be reused if you want. The brass partition is for the heater equipment locker in the smoking part and the lavatory is in the regular coach section of the car. You probably noticed the wiring went through the heater locker. Both the heater locker and lavatory need doors. If you're reusing the brass partition it needs to be straighten out plus the window between the smoker and the coach needs to be cut in. Photos of the interiors of NSL coaches are readly available on the internet and in books.

In my cars the lavatory/heater locker partition was made of styrene. The lavatory and heater locker are combined into 1 larger space for wiring and the location of a Dallee Adjustable Constant Voltage board. For this reason I didn't make any doors in the interior partition for the equipment room or the lavatory. The partition was painted with Floquil’s acrylic paint Aged White. The inside of the bulkheads will be painted the same color.

Passengers - YUCK! Toss them out. The paint job is terrible. They do not look like humans! Use any passengers you want. Don't forget to place a passenger in the "Railfan's seat" in the first seat by the window for the 1st car of the train. Along with the passengers include a trainman - conductor and trainman. The attendent for 415 will be mentioned in the posts on 415.

I usually place single passengers randomly without any thought of a prearranged pattern. Seeing a model with passengers placed this way seems to give the idea of a filled car. I've seen some pairs of passengers in models but this didn't give the impression of a filled car. My exception to the random seating is to place a child with a female passenger. The thought being a child would most likely be with his or her mother or aunt on the train.

This is a comparison photo of before and after. The interior is complete including passenger and trainman.

A spacer for between the interior and power truck floors was made from 0.100" x 0.250" styrene strips. (A thicker spacer was required for my models due to the older style of power trucks.) It was glued on using ACC to the power truck floor. Leave space for wires.

Some fitting and cutting was required. There are the screws holding the seats in place plus the power truck mounting. A Dermal tool with a cut off wheel helped to gouge out the styrene.

Here is a photo of the power truck floor with the styrene spacer plus the passenger floor to be placed on top. The brass spots on some of the seats are the tip of a 00-90 screw used to hold the seat in place. Not all of the screws holding the seats in place could be loosened. The head was cut off with a cut off wheel in a Dermel tool.

To screw the 2 floors together, the interior floor has 2 metric nuts soldered on it. These nuts were easy to pull loose from the floor. I switched to 2-56 screws, washers, and nuts. With the soldered on metric nuts out of the way, additional styrene was added to support the passenger floor at the point of attachment; the ends and in the center of the floor.

On my cars the interior floor was not square with the power truck floor if the predrilled holes were used. The holes required some filing to enlarge them. This process is important. If the assembly of the interior floor to the power truck floor is square, the final assembly will go smoother.

I tried to slip the coach body over the floor. The fit was very tight plus the small body tabs to hold the floor to the body interfered. Now is the time to round off the corners of these tabs with a file. Remember to protect the finish of both the exterior and interior. The body was not tried on the floor(s) again. I didn't want to risk damaging the paint.

Next comes the bulkheads and cab interiors.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sunset NSL Silverliners #3 - Lighting Thoughts

Modeling Hint -
In O scale 0.017" = 1.0" prototype. Rounding 0.017 off; 0.020" = 1". This means a scale 2" x 4" is 0.040" x 0.080". Some measurements are right on. For example, a 6" x 12" is 0.125" x 0.250".

When working on your O scale model always think in increments of 0.020" when selecting material for your model.

How and with which products the lighting will be upgraded needs to be covered. This information will have an impact on how some of the upgrading will be done. Re-building or upgrading the Sunset Silverliners is much like scratch building a model. You have to proceed in an orderly fashion taking care of one part of the model at a time but at the same time keep in mind the entire model. As the model is being scratch built the need to take it apart and/or remove part of the model to accommodate an overlooked feature can ruin the model or take excessive time. Since lighting is often left to the last minute, it can be this type of problem.

The LED constant lighting supplied by Sunset seems to be too intense and uneven. Separate power units provide constant voltage to the headlights on each coach. I plan to replace the constant lighting stick with its internal power supply and at the same time use the Sunset supplied headlight with its power supply on the lead car only. How I intend to handle the headlight on the rear car will be left to a future posting. With this in mind, here are my pros and cons on some commercially available constant lighting products/methods.

Before going into potential lighting I have to voice my major gripe about traction models. In prototype interurbans and trolleys the front vestibule where the motorman in located is never lighted! This portion of the car should have a dark interior. All the other vestibules in the car or train should have lighting in them. Passengers and crew members need to see where they are going! Although many railways do not allow passengers to load or depart from the last vestibule of a train, the last vestibule is keep lighted. The trolley pole of the rear car may have to be replaced on the wire plus the rear car's lighted vestibule is easier to see at night by an approaching train. The message is: In models place lighting where it has to be including the vestibules!

Home Made Light Stick - This is a piece of wood or styrene of appropriate size with 1.5 v bulbs placed in it. For power a bridge rectifier and voltage drop "electronics" are installed either on the stick or somewhere on or in the model. Costs can vary depending upon your source of materials. Depending upon the electrical skill of the modeler the lights can flicker and have other electrical gremlins.

Miniatronics - I've used this vendor’s product in my 3-car CRT train. The LEDs are in fixed places. There is no LED at the end of the stick where the power supply is located. You will not have lighting in one of the model's vestibules. The stick can be cut shorter and the cut off LEDs reattached with wires soldered between the stick and the cut-off portion. The intensity of the lighting is too bright for my taste. Yellow or amber paint intended for painting glass can be used to paint over the LEDs to soften the lighting effect. If 1.5 v bulbs are attached to the stick, some burn out rapidly. Here is a URL for the product -

Micro Tronics - I have not used this product. From the info on the web this product looks interesting. It has LEDs fore and aft of the power supply while the balance of the LEDs can be moved. There are 2 "intensities" of LEDs. If you pick this product check both "intensities". The bright may be too bright. The power can be adjusted by you. I don't know if 1.5 v bulbs can be added or if LEDs can be located off the stick using wires. Here is the URL for the product: -

Dallee - This manufacturer is listed twice because there are 2 different products to consider. I have not used the Dallee LED light stick although I have some for another installation. This product is used by a professional model painter who lives in the Chicago area. The 10" long stick, which is appropiate in size for most trolleys or interrbans, has no LED at the end of the stick where the power supply is located. You will not have lighting in one of the model's vestibules. The stick can be cut shorter and the cut off LEDs reattached with wires soldered between the stick and the cut-off portion. The power can be adjusted by you. I don't know if 1.5 v bulbs can be added to the stick Here is the URL for the product: -
Dallee Information Sheet

Don't buy the "Cool" lighting. It is far too bright for any railway modeling applications. I've been told they are so bright, the light can be seen through painted plastic! Choose either the "Warm" for modern applications or the "Amber" for old time applications.

BTW - the Ultra miniature connectors shown above in the Dallee information sheet are the same connectors used for the power unit (The power unit comes with the 2 sets of wiring shown.) just in case you need more connectors. They come in packages of 5.

Dallee - This is a constant voltage source small enough to be hidden in almost any location in the model. I have used this product with great success. The output voltage can be adjusted from 1.25 v on up. With this voltage regulator you are free to construct your own light stick with lights where you want them. The home built light stick can contain both bulbs and LEDs. Here is the URL for the product:
Dallee Information Sheet

I plan on using the Dallee Adjustable Regulated Power Supply module and make my own light sticks. There are 3 reasons for this decision.
1. The rear markers use 1.5 bulbs. I don't know if any of the premade constant lighting sticks with LED's can be used.
2. The lead car has a headlight with its own small power unit. It should be easy to attach the small power unit to track voltage.
3. 415 has an unusual floor plan. Making my own light stick with 1.5 bulbs gives me the best flexibility. When it comes time to make the light sticks and install the voltage unit, I'll explain more about how to diffuse the light and installation of the voltage control unit.

Dallee Instruction Sheet

The Adjustable Regulated Power Unit Supply module is small enough to be hidden almost anywhere in or under a model. I use 1.5 v bulbs with the module set at 1.25 v with great results. I'm so pleased with this unit I'm contemplating retrofitting some models with it.
Lighting, wiring, and making the light sticks will be covered when the models are re-assembled.

An outline of the postings of the work done to upgrade the Sunset models has been completed. The postings will be:
  1. Introduction
  2. Parts & Trucks
  3. Lighting Thoughts
  4. Interior, Seats, etc.
  5. Bulkheads & Cabs
  6. Couplers, Underbody & Steps
  7. The Roof
  8. Ends & Sides
  9. Lighting & Assembly of Coaches
  10. Introduction to 415
  11. Trucks, Underbody & Interior of 415
  12. Roof of 415
  13. Lighting & Assembly of 415
  14. Final Exterior Work
  15. Prologue
The interior floor with seats and partition are next.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sunset NSL Silverliners #2 - Parts & Trucks

Modeling Hints –
  • When you take your models apart, place all the parts in separate labeled containers with lids. Used plastic prescription vials are good for this.
  • When using ACC, the parts will stay together almost immediately. However, up to 12 hours may be required for the adhesive to completely cure giving the best results.
  • What’s great about working with styrene with either liquid adhesive from a bottle or out of a tube the parts are stuck together. More parts can be added immediately and work progresses rapidly. However, for the parts to be completely bound to one another up to 24 hours may be required.

A partial parts list includes the following Bronze Key items:
  • NSB-13 Roof Mats, 2/car for a total of 6
  • NSB-14 Roof Junction Box, 1/car for a total of 3
  • ELB-11 Peter Smith Stove Vent, 1 for 415
  • Number for Silverliner 1 package is sufficient (You will need at least 2 sets of numbers for the number board area in back of the motorman's cab for each car.)

You'll have to contact Eric Bronsky directly via email. Eric has made this comment regarding the ordering of parts. He has in stock some of the parts required to upgrade your models. However, if he runs out, you may have to wait for a long time until sufficient orders are received before he can have more casted.

From other sources you will need -
  • Globe Vent 12", 1 for 415
  • Utility Exhaust Vent, 1 for 415
  • Streamline Exhaust Vent, 2 for each coach and 3 for 415 for a total of 7 (These are more like the vents found on the roofs of streamline passenger cars. The NSL used them exclusively on the Silverliners and the Liner. I call them "Darth Vader" vents due to their looking like the helments worn by Darth Vader and his henchmen.)

Before anything was taken apart one of the coaches was placed on the layout. The car ran very well and smoothly with the power and trail trucks supplied by Sunset. Do the same with your coaches. Next take a look at how each car sits either on your track or a flat surface. The car sits up higher at the power truck end than the trail truck end. This is true for both powered coaches.

Start taking your coaches apart. Taking the floor out of the coach requires the removal of a few screws. You'll be taking out a separate interior floor along with the floor the power truck is mounted on. I noticed the outer floor (let's call it the power truck floor) the trucks are mounted on is a tight fit into the body. Some of the cross bracing extends out beyond the sides of the power truck floor. Both sides of the power truck floor were filed flat to remove the excess material.

There's a lot of wiring inside of each car. I removed all the wiring. We'll get into wiring the models when the models are re-assembled. Interior lighting will also be covered in the future.

The Sunset Baldwin trucks were designed for the 3-rail market and are over size. Also, some parts are missing like the leaf springs and the top cross piece of the end frame. Here are 2 photos for comparison between a Sunset trail truck on the left and a Q-Car truck on the right. Since my Silverliners will not be operated as a 2-rail model, the Sunset truck has been modified for all rail pick-up. When you compare the 2 trucks; the Sunset truck is at least a scale 6" wider than the Q-Car truck.

The other "problem" is the wheel width of the Sunset wheels. They are 0.172" - the old standard O scale wheel. Today most O scale models have a 0.145" wide wheel. Interurbans and streetcars utilize a 0.135" wheel. The new fellas on the block, the Proto 48 modelers use a 0.115" wide wheel.

To up-date old Wagner trucks with 0.172” wide wheels I have either narrowed the width of the wheels down to about 0.140” wide in a lathe or replaced the wheels with NWSL 0.0135” wheels. Neither of these processes do I like to do. A minor slip-up can ruin the power truck.

All of the above got me into a tizzy! I wanted to replace all the trucks on the models! Talking to Greg King calmed me down. Since it would cost more than $300.00 to purchase either Q-Car or Current Lines replacement trucks, Greg convinced me to replace only the trucks under 415, the tavern-lounge car. The trucks under 415 were chosen due to the lack of 3rd rail beams. The 3rd rail beams on the trucks under the coaches help to hide the absence of the leaf springs. This is a major decision you have to make.

Back to the rebuilding - part of the wiring includes a slide switch to change between trolley and 2-rail operation. Since my Silverliners will be a trolley only operation, the switch was removed and the power trucks revamped for trolley only operation. Since the wires attached to can motors have a tendency to work their way loose, they were secured to the frame of the power truck. Notice the excess thread still attached. Besides tying a surgeons knot in the thread a drop of ACC helps. Holding the red and black wires together is a short piece of heat shrink tubing. The wires are short, but a connector will be added later as part of the rewiring of the models. Save all the connectors you come across in taking your models apart. You might need them later.

To level out the power truck floor, the washer between the power truck and its floor was removed. When the power truck is re-assembled to the floor, the floor should be level.

The next task is to remove one of the tanks on the underbody. It is the tank in the middle of the underbody close to the trail truck. This tank blocks the swing of the trail truck. The white end of the pointer is at the location of where the tank was. The other task is to file the hole where the switch for changing between trolley and 2-rail was into an oval. It's through this oval hole the wires from the power truck will pass during re-construction and re-assembly.

Some of you may have seen the old movie “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Form”. Something did happen to me during this part of upgrading the models but not like in the movie. While getting some tools and parts out, I uncovered 2 new, unused, old Wagner power and trail trucks hidden away for future use. A little voice in the back of my brain asked, "What are you saving these old Wagner trucks for?" I could not recall; so guess what?

They are of the DC-70 LL design. Rich Wagner's etched building date on the truck bolster read "5/78". They are 33 years old. These have 0.172" wide wheels. I thought about cutting them down but with so many things to do to the models the answer was, "No!"

Digging into my parts bin produced the 3rd rail beams and the wheel guards. Q-Car dummy traction motors were added to the trail trucks. The dummy motors add weight to the trail truck. This helps to balance the weight of the car helping the model to track better. The dummy motors/axels were lubed with Neolube. Look at the rust on the thread of the wheels on the trail truck! This will wear off with running.

As you look at the power truck you may notice the wiring. Wagner built the power truck with the truck grounded. I altered the wiring so all of it was to one side of the motor for clearance purposes. You’ll see more regarding the wiring when the models are assembled.

With the old open frame Pitman motor and the power truck floor held at the same distance from the top of the rail, the power truck will protrude into the car about 0.100". The models came with 0.075" spacers between the power truck floor and the interior floor. This means my interior floor will be 0.025" higher (scale 1 19/64").

Before the 3rd rail beams and wheel guards were installed, the gear boxes were packed with Graphogen. This is a graphite paste. The power trucks were then run for an hour, 30 minutes in each direction. The graphite lubes the gears and has a property of adhering to the metal(s) of the gear box. Graphite cannot be completely cleaned out and provides lifelong lubrication.

Other materials can be used to lap and break in the gears. If you decide to use auto body rubbing compound, be sure to clean all of it out of the gear box afterwards. After the hour run time, the gear boxes were cleaned with lacquer thinner. Labelle 106 plastic compatible lubricating Grease with PTFE (a Teflon powder) was used to re-grease the gear boxes.

I like to install power and trail trucks in a model to be operated with another model in a way so each model is insulated from any electrical charge. In other words, the models are electrically neutral. This prevents electrical problems in the future. To accomplish this, the power truck will be held away from the model's frame using styrene blocks. Nylon 2-56 screws will be used in the final assembly. (In any photos you see now, brass screws are used.)

For the trail trucks a styrene insert is used. An 1/8" styrene tubing was glued to a 0.125" thick round styrene spacer. The styrene insert was glued into the frame where the original truck screw was located using ACC. If you use this method allow 24 hours to pass after gluing before attempting to make 3-48 threads inside the tubing. You want all the adhesive material to cure before any stress is placed on the assembly.

Newer power trucks using can motors should be easier to install. That is, you should not have to cut into the 0.040" thick brass floor. Here is a photo of one of the floors awaiting repainting with Floquil' s Grimy Black paint. The model comes with the under frame painted a dark brown with a hint of red color. The off black color is preferred by me.

The assembled power truck floors with both trucks were placed on my special small radius test layout to test radius clearance. Both assemblies went around 12" radius curves without problems.

Finally the assembled floor with trucks was placed in the body and placed on a test track. The body is level. For the prototype the distance from the top of the rail to the top of the metal anticlimber (not the wooden piece attached where individuals would walk between cars) is about 3' 10" or so. My model is 3' 11".

Check you trucks for truck swing. Mine were a little tight so the brass end cross pieces were files down at about a 45 degree angle.

Set you power truck floor aside, the next posting will be an lighting.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sunset NSL Silverliners #1 - Introduction

Please Note - My comments are limited to the 2-rail/trolley Silverliner models and not the Greenliners. I haven't had to chance to see and look over the Greenliners or any 3-rail models to see where there maybe any problems and/or corrections needed.

Words for modelers to live by:
· Measure thrice; cut once!
· 30 g of prevention is worth 454 g of cure!
· Murphy was an optimist and fecal material happens!

The history of the North Shore Line (NSL) Electroliners and Silverliners can be read in the C.E.R.A. Bulletins #106 and 107. What most traction fans didn't know is, once per week 1 of the 2 Liners (common Chicago traction fan name for the Electroliner) underwent a bi-weekly maintenance at the Harrison St. shops. This process was alternated between the 2 Liners.

For the day the Liner was shopped, the NSL replaced the Liner with a 3-car train consisting of 2 of the newest series coaches plus 415, originally a diner rebuilt into a tavern-lounge. When passenger equipment was rebuilt into Silverliners, so was the 415. Henceforth, the replacement Liner was a Silverliner train.
                                                   W. Jansen photo, J. Terrell Colson Collection

I always wanted a model of the 3-car replacement Liner train painted in the Silverliner paint scheme. To me the Electroliner was the ultimate in interurban passenger service. The 3-car replacement Liner Silverliner train was the epitome in standard interurban passenger service - high speed transportation while being able to enjoy a meal or just a drink under trolley wire.

When I heard Sunset was planning on making O scale models of the 3-car set in the Silverliner paint scheme my heart jumped for joy. The announcement included the price plus the possible release date for the models. As time went on, it started to look like the entire project was placed on hold due to lack of interest (reservations). Down deep I knew the longer the time from the announcement with a fixed price to actual release of the final models, with the value of the dollar doing down, the value (parts, items, etc.) found in the final model would be less. More regarding this at the end of this series of postings.

About 4 years transpired between the initial announcement to final release of the model. During this time at least one modeler from the Chicago area John Marton had sent information to Sunset on the Silverliner coaches and 415. Then just as the set of models were to go into production Greg King, a diehard NSL fan from Australia, sent additional information especially regarding the 415.

Initial info on potential production models was less than uplifting. For example, the Silverliner coaches were painted orange!
                                             Greg King Collection

Corrections were made, the production models made, packaged, and shipped. After a long boat trip the models were here for modelers' eyes to finally see. My initial impression was mixed!

When the models were packaged both of the coaches had the same car number. This was easily resolved by finding another modeler with cars with the other number and swapping one coach.

The models ran well but the sideframes on the trucks were a tad oversize with no leaf springs. Each coach had a headlight firmly attached to the model. The headlight was on no matter which direction the train was going. The couplers were Kadee's mounted in a fixed location, etc., etc., etc. ad nauseum. That said, the Sunset models are extremely well made. The models are heavy. They are made of 0.040" thick brass.

You might ask, why if Sunset made the Electroliner models just a few years ago and did a great job; what happened to the Silverliner models. The answer is simple. The Liner has a sleek body shell. Once the contours of the ends are taken care of, the rest of the model is easy. Not true with the old standard cars of any interurban. There is more detail and more items to be on the watch for - all the horns, grab irons, roof mats, hooks, poles, roof boards, steps, stair wells, and on and on. There are more "things" to go wrong with any old car model than a new one. We all know this is true! BTW - I'm the fella who wrote the review of the Sunset Electroliner appearing in Issue No. 176 of 48/ft O Scale News.

Having spent the money and seeing the models were so well built, the only thing to do is to correct the problems. I stated making a list. After typing 3 pages of a Microsoft Word document I stopped! Then, I started the re-building!

Before going too far into the re-building, my philosophy towards building O scale models is very basic. If you see it on the prototype it should be on the model. Also, there is a point at which no matter how much more you try to add to a model, the "WOW factor" has been met. Additional detail will have no effect to enhance the "WOW factor".

In building traction models I haven't gotten into DCC operation yet. For some models I like LED lighting, for others I like the old fashion light bulb with a constant voltage lighting unit. There is a reason for each. More on this in future postings in the blog.

Over the past several weeks I have been working on the Sunset models and sharing my work via email to a few chosen friends. There are a number of "things" to be done. Everything cannot be covered in 1, 2, 3, or more postings in this blog. From time to time info on non-related material will be inserted. However, the 3-car train will be completed as the new and improved Halstead Car Company version of the Silverliner Replacement Electroliner.

I once worked with a fella who would walk around saying, "Give credit where credit is due!" I've been building models long enough to realize there is no one way of doing things. I will tell you my way of changing something on the Sunset models. If need be, my reasoning will be included. If I have been told of another way of doing the same process, I'll pass the info along to you. The fella who gave me the info will be given credit for his work.

Most of the photos in this blog are mine. My friends have supplied other photos. Please take note of the comments at the bottom of this page regarding the intellectual propriety of others.

In some of the photos you'll notice I work on plate glass. The surface is hard, smooth and "flat". Almost nothing sticks to the glass. The exclusion to the sticking is ACC. One time a part stuck to the glass thanks to ACC. A portion of glass remained stuck to the part when the part was removed. The "gouge" in the glass was the focal point for a crack when stress was placed on the glass. Be careful! I'm now working on a replacement for the original glass.

You need at least 3 books beside the 2 C.E.R.A. Bulletins 106 and 107. These include:
  • Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railway In Color Volume 1: Streetcars & Electroburgers by Geoffrey H. Doughty
  • Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railway In Color Volume 2: Point of No Return
  • by Geoffrey H. Doughty
  • North Shore South Shore by Russ Porter

These books are rich in color photos. The newest series of coaches the North Shore had were the 1928 Pullman Car Company #737 - 751 and 1930 Standard Car Company #752-776. Most of the coaches converted to Silverliners were from this series of cars. From what I can tell the Sunset Silverliner coaches are numbered 738 and 739. This means the models are of the series of cars made by Pullman.

There is a problem with the trolley bases of the trolley poles. The models come with 4-spring vertical trolley bases. The Pullman coaches as delivered to the North Shore came with 4-spring horizontal trolley bases. The NSL never changed the trolley bases on these cars. At some point in time the trolley poles on the models have to be changed. Don’t forget to paint the aluminum “sox” at both ends of the pole. The NSL used the aluminum paint to reduce rusting thus making it easier to change poles from the trolley base or the trolley shoe.

Get your books and start looking at all the photos of the Silverliners you can find. Using a straight edge, go from one corner or edge of the photo to the opposite corner or edge noting all the details on the car. The list you make is a good start for the parts you will need.

Next, holding one of the models in your hand, look at a photo of that car or series of car. What do you see that is the same or different. Write these down. Don’t try to remember things in your mind. There are 3 cars and lots of details.

Decide what your budget is. You can do all the changes I’ll mention. However, you may decide not to do all of them. You may decide to do some now and more later. This is up to you.

The 2 coaches will be done 1st followed by the Tavern-Lounge car 415. However, there will come a time when all 3 cars will be worked on at the same time.

What is important is to protect the painting of the side and ends of each car. What makes the models unique is the Silverliner paint scheme. Don't damage it unless you are a professional painter or know of one who can repair any damage. You'll find me wrapping cars in foam cushions available from Bowser, cloth towels or other soft cloths. Do not get any tape on the gray shadow decal. Many fellas laughed at the white cotton gloves packed in with the models - the paint scheme is important! It's the only reason I purchased the models!

I damaged the decals on my models. An email has been sent to Sunset to see if replacement decals are available. More on decals will appear in future postings.

The C.E.R.A. Bulletin 107, Route of the Electroliners has plans for the Silverliner coaches plus info on the 415 as a tavern/lounge car. Make multiple scale photo copies of these.

The Morning Sun Books Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railway In Color Volume 1: Streetcars & Electroburgers and Volume 2: Point of No Return have numerous color photos of the cars. Find and bookmark the pages containing photos of Silverliner cars plus the 415.

One major thing to notice is the end doors on your models. They are painted all red without Silverliner paint/corrugations. This means they are of a later vintage - perhaps after 1957 or later. To save money the NSL started painting the end doors all red about this time. As we get to talk about painting and/or touch-up of your models you will be given the name of the manufacturer of the red paint plus the color to use.

When the 415 is started you will be shown photos and drawings of the interior and roof of the tavern/lounge car for your use in upgrading this model.

There is a great photo of 738 on page 31 of a book titled North Shore South Shore by Russ Porter. This photo was taken in 1960 when 738 was just released from the paint shop - never run on either the shop spur from North Chicago to Highwood or on the main line. The most surprising thing is the lack of the small skirts on the sides between the passenger steps and the truck cut-outs. Here's your chance to individualize your Sunset models. I might cut off the small skirts on my 738!

In the same photo, since 738 was never run on the "road", all of the white or silver "striping" on the steps can be seen. You'll not find the "striping" in any photo of a car once it has been run up to Milwaukee from Chicago and back. Once the car has been on the road the steps are a dark brown-black color of the underbody

More to ponder includes each time a car would be shopped for routine annual overhaul; the dimensions, curvatures, plumbing, electrical, etc. would be altered. Or, another way of say this is, the car would start to deviate from what the manufactured specifications were (are).

If you are pondering ordering replacement trucks, hold off. Replacement trucks are an important topic. I'll make some suggestions and then show you what I did in the next posting.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Available CNS&M Models in Kit or Other Forms

The list of North Shore models turned out to be the most troublesome for multiple reasons. The NSL may be the most followed of all the trolley lines. It is probably the interurban with the most models available in O scale.

During the 1980's and 90's I paid little attention to new traction models for sale. It was during this time many new models of the NSL were available. In the 1990's a number of brass models were produced by either The Car Works or MTS Imports. Some of the batches of car series imported had problems with the way the roof of the cars looked. To save the importer money this batch of models were repackaged in blue boxes and sold under the name Chicago Traction Special. Since I was not paying attention to the modeling scene and now without a source of good information, my list of NSL models may not be complete. I tried to contact the importers for information but never received any replies.

To tell the truth it's hard to look at the curvature of the roof of one of the Chicago Traction Specials models and know the curvature is not 100% correct.

This is the list I expect to get the most number of comments about. If you have any corrections or additons contact me.

Because a model is listed does not mean an endorsement from me. Some items listed are fantastic while other may be very basic in nature. However, even very basic models with proper finishing can be extremely well done model!

Here's the NSL list -


Explanation of descriptions used for models:

brass body – unpainted built-up brass body without trucks
brass body w/trucks (non-powered) – unpainted built-up with non-powered trucks
powered brass body – unpainted built-up brass body with powered trucks (RTR)
wood body - unpainted built-up wood body without trucks
urethane body – unpainted built-up urethane body without trucks
“zinc” metal castings kit – a kit composed of “pot” or zinc alloy metal castings without trucks
various materials kit – a kit composed of metal stampings or castings, wood, etc. material
soft metal body – unpainted built-up “lead” based alloy body without trucks
epoxy body – unpainted built-up epoxy body without trucks
painted, complete powered model - a ready to run model
(Some knowledge of the manufacturer and/or importer of the model is helpful as they tended to provide all of their models in the same condition.)


Type                                                   Manufacturer

Early Interurban and Streetcar Passenger Cars
#129-137 Jewett Car Company Wooden Passenger Coach
            Midwestern Train Hobby – wooden body

#200 series Jewett Car Company Wooden Combination Baggage-Coach
            MTS Imports – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#300 series Jewett Car Company Wooden Passenger Coach
            Gryzna Models – “zinc” metal castings kit (17/64 scale)
            MTS Imports – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#400 series Jewett Car Company Wooden Parlor-Buffet Car
            MTS Imports – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#316 series Single Truck Birney
            Ken Kidder – brass body
            Precision Brass – powered brass body

#351 series St. Louis Car Company Streetcar
            Greg King – epoxy kit

#500 series Deck Roof Streetcar, either 1-man or 2-man
            Ken Kidder – brass body

#510-511 Cincinnati Car Company Lightweight Passenger Coach
            Bronze Key Models – urethane body

Steel Interurban Passenger Cars
#150 series Brill Car Company Passenger Coach
            William J. Clouser – epoxy body
            Bronze Key Models – urethane body
            MTS Imports – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#165 series Jewett Car Company Passenger Coach
            William J. Clouser – epoxy body
            Bronze Key Models – urethane body
            MTS Imports – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#170 series Cincinnati Car Company Passenger Coach
            MTS Imports – brass body w/trucks (non-powered) – 2 versions powered or trailer coach

#250 series Jewett Car Company Combination Baggage-Coach
            Walthers – various materials kit
            William J. Clouser – epoxy body
            Bronze Key Models – urethane body
            MTS Imports – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#404-406 Jewett Car Company Dining Car
            MTS Imports – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)
            Bronze Key Models – urethane body

#409 & 414 Cincinnati Car Company Dining Car
            MTS Imports – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)
            Chicago Traction Special – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#410-413 Cincinnati Car Company Observation Car (original version)
            Walthers – various materials kit
            The Car Works – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#410-413 Cincinnati Car Company Passenger Coach (as rebuilt from an observation)
            Walthers – various materials kit
            The Car Works – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#418-419 Pullman Car Company Dining Car
            Walthers – various materials kit
            The Car Works – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#420 Pullman Car Company Observation Car (original version)
            Walthers – various materials kit
            The Car Works – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#420 Pullman Car Company Passenger Coach (as rebuilt from an observation)
            Walthers – various materials kit
            The Car Works – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#700 series Cincinnati Car Company Passenger Coach
            The Car Works – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#737 series Pullman Car Company Passenger Coach
MTS Imports – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)
Chicago Traction Special – brass body

#752 series Standard Car Company Passenger Coach
            Walthers – various materials kit
            All Nation Hobby Shop – brass body
            The Car Works – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)
Chicago Traction Special – brass body
            MTS Imports – brass body w/trucks (non-powered) – 3 versions - original, modified roof,
or Silverliner

#801 series St. Louis Car Company Electroliner
            Ken Kidder – brass body (painted and non-painted)
Locomotive Workshop – brass and soft metal kit
The Car Works – painted brass body w/power trucks
3rd-Rail/Sunset Models Inc. – painted brass body w/power trucks

Replacement Electroliner - 3-car train made up of 2 coaches and a “diner series” car
           3rd Rail/Sunset Models Inc. – painted brass bodies w/power trucks
                        Greenliner paint scheme – 2 coaches numbers unknown and 415 diner
                        Silverliner paint scheme – coaches 738 and 739 plus 415 tavern-lounge

Service and Freight Cars
#202 series Merchandise Dispatch Car
All Nation Hobby Shop-Traction Ted Cars – various materials kit
Ashland Car Works – various materials kit

#215 series Merchandise Dispatch Car
            Walthers – various materials kit
All Nation Hobby Shop-Traction Ted Cars – various materials kit
Ashland Car Works – various materials kit

#240 series Merchandise Dispatch Refrigerator Trailer
            Ashland Car Works – various materials kit

#450-451 GE 40-ton Steeple Cab Locomotive (curved top cab side window)
            William S. Flatt – brass kit or built-up brass body
            Models by Miller – soft metal body
            The Car Works – brass body w/trucks (non-powered)

#452-454 & 457 GE 40-ton Steeple Cab Locomotive (square cab side window)
            William S. Flatt – brass kit or built-up brass body
            Q Car Company – epoxy body
            Ken Kidder – Brass body

#455-456 GE-Alco 80-ton Storage Battery Steeple Cab Locomotive
            Ken Kiddder – brass body

#458 ex-OE 4-truck Long Cab Locomotive
            Ashland Car Works – painted, complete powered model

#459 ex-OE 4-truck Steeple Cab locomotive
            Ken Kidder – brass body

#21 McGuire-Cummings Double Truck Snow Sweeper
            Midwestern Train Hobby – wooden body

#603 Sprinkler Car
            Current Line Models – painted, complete powered model

#604 Line Car
            Current Line Models – painted, complete powered model

#606 Line Car
           Current Line Models – painted, complete powered model

#607 Crane Car
           Current Line Models – painted, complete powered model

#608 McGuire-Cummings Single Truck Snow Sweeper
            Midwestern Train Hobby – wooden body