Out of the box review: N scale 60-foot Harriman baggage cars from Wheels of Time

Modeler's Moment - Supports must support something

Saloon model

When you build a structure with visible supports, make sure that the supports actually connect to and support something. This saloon model was entered in the model contest at the MWR convention in Waupaca last April. If you look closely at the image, you'll see that the support poles at the far right and far left on the porch don't actually support the roof over it. A mistake like this takes points off construction, which is the largest emphasis in NMRA's AP judging criteria, unless you can show documentary proof that the supports on the prototype structure also didn't actually support the roof.

Modeler's Moment - Former grade crossings create instant history

Former grade crossing

Modeler's Moment - Painting plastic people

N scale figures on their sprue.

When you get down to the smaller scales, it can become quite difficult to hold onto a figure and paint it at the same time. In N scale, especially, trying to hand-hold a figure while painting it will often end up with painted fingers instead of figures. The solution to this problem is a simple one. Paint the figures while they're still attached to the sprue; then after you cut them from the sprue, a quick drop of paint at the connection point finishes the project.

Modeler's Moment - ONT 92065

ONT 92065 in Hearst, Ontario, 2005

Forty foot long boxcars are getting harder to find on the prototype. They're still out there, but just not used anywhere near as often as their longer 50' or 60' brethren. So, whenever I see one, I make sure to get a photo of it. This car, ONT 92065, is one that I saw while on vacation in Northern Ontario in 2003 (yes, with a much smaller camera than I have now). Notice the rust patterns on the car side and how they differ between the left and right sides of the door. On the right, where the door slides, there are horizontal rust streaks from the door scraping the car side (the side sometimes bulges from the load pushing on the wall), while we see a much more scattered rust pattern to the left of the door.

DM&E flag falls

DM&E locomotives at Davis Junction

A weathering study: CEFX 14464

CEFX 14464

As model railroaders, many of us are trying to duplicate the real world in miniature. The ready-to-run rolling stock that we purchase at the hobby shop is better than ever, but then it's up to the modeler to make it really look real. We have to have a firm understanding of what kind of weathering occurs to freight cars, both what it looks like and how it occurs, to know what we need to add to a car to make it look less like it's straight out of the paint shop. Let's take a closer look at one specific covered hopper car that I found today to see what we need to duplicate on our models.

Modeler's Moment - Complex bridge supports

Modeler's Moment - Use leased power

DPGX 2000 in Janesville

Want to add a little variety into your locomotive fleet but still keep with a prototype modeling scheme? Try adding a leased locomotive to your roster. Leased locomotives will often be painted in the colors of another railroad, sometimes still wearing the livery of a fallen flag. In this photo, we see DPGX 2000 at the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad locomotive facility in Janesville a few years ago; this locomotive is painted in an early scheme of Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad.

Modeler's Moment - Track planning with masking tape

Using masking tape for track planning

Okay, so you're probably like the rest of us where we start building benchwork without a definite plan for where the track will go on the layout. Or maybe you have a track plan and want to see how it will work in something more closely approaching the model's full size. In some of the more common scales, you can use masking tape to quickly lay out your track plan and more easily locate potential trouble spots. In N scale, like this photo (from a layout tour during the 2007 Midwest Region convention in Muncie, Indiana) shows, the standard 1 inch size of masking tape is a close approximation to the width of the track; in HO, 2 inch tape will work well. Once you've got the tape down, you can even put some rolling stock on it to see how it fits and "operate" it by hand before you cut any track. You can also set out any structures that you've already built or create mockups to see how they will fit into the scene too.

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