East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad


Module Rolling Stock

I am working on a few freight cars for the JRD module group’s Atlantic & Danville Railroad

The cars are lettered with custom decals from
Shawmut Car Shops. They are weathered with Doctor Ben’s Weathering Pigments that I bought at the NNGC in Hickory last year. This is the first chance I have had to try them out.

These coal hoppers will be hauling freight at the
MER Convention at Suffolk, Virginia in a few weeks.

Cow Field Module - 2

I knew if I was going to have cattle on my module, I would need to build a fence.

I used HO scale Campbell crossties as fenceposts, stained in much the same way I stained the crossties I used to handlay track on my layout.

To represent a wire fence, I spray painted bridal tulle with rust colored primer. Then I attached it to the fenceposts with white glue, using styrene strips to prevent the clamps from being glued to the fenceposts as well.

The corners of the fence were reinforced with diagonal braces, and I knocked together a gate for the corner nearest the road.

With the fence up I could safely release my cattle on the module.

The tractor received a very heavy coat of rottenstone and Rustall to beat back the bright green enamel paint and yellow plastic wheels.

The track worker turned farmer made a nice focal point on the corner of the module with his ancient tractor and his dog.

Module Mogul - 5

Once the decals were set, I removed the masking from the headlight, whistle, and windows.

I sprayed the locomotive and tender shells with matte finish fixative. Once that was dry, I began to apply Bragdon weathering powders. I had no experience working with the powders, and experimented with applying them wet, dry, with brushes and Q-tips, and cosmetic sponges. The weathering effect ended up being heavier than I anticipated. Going back over areas with a light coat of black weathering powder toned the colors down.

I sprayed the locomotive wheels and running gear with matte finish fixative, and applied Bragdon powders lightly. With the boiler off the mechanism, I was able to turn the drivers, which was absolutely necessary. The running gear, wheels, and tender trucks got a wash of ScaleCoat Mud, Dirt, and Rust. I reassembled the locomotive and tender, and gave everything a thin wash of Tamiya Buff and Deck Tan, applied wet on wet. This final wash bleached and blended the colors, and added highlights to details. I repeated the Buff washes until I was happy with the effect.

I found a black craft foam sheet that had an adhesive backing. I have no idea where it came from, but I cut a piece to a tight fit inside the coal boards and between the tool boxes.

I removed the backing to expose the adhesive, and sifted coal directly onto it. The craft foam’s tight fit between the tool boxes holds the coal load in place. It can easily be removed to access the decoder underneath.

I installed a Firebox pilot, and made the electrical connections between the tender and locomotive. Surprisingly, she still ran!

Several coats of matte finish fixative did not completely dull the acrylic gloss clear coat. The boiler still has a little shine.

Module Mogul - 4

After all the electrical and electronic revisions were made to my Bachmann 2-6-0, I reassembled the locomotive and tender for a test run.

The JRD On30 Module Group participated in a Greenberg Train Show in the Richmond area, and there the Mogul ran fine.

When reassembled, the Tsunami sound decoder rides very high in the tender. I installed boards around the coal bunker in order to more easily hide the decoder under a coal load. I used card stock to determine how high the boards would have to be.

Coal bunker boards in front and around the perimeter of the coal pile were integrated with a pair of tool boxes.

I decided to only attempt very basic detail revisions to the locomotive. I removed the pilot, the airtank that sat on top of the boiler, and the marker lights from near the headlight. I also cut the handrail back to the first supports on the smokebox.

The generator from a Bachmann On30 Shay was installed directly behind the headlight. Then I spraypainted the locomotive and tender with dark gray auto primer after masking the whistle, windows, and headlight. After the primer dried, I sprayed them with a coat of clear acrylic gloss.

Custom decals were printed for the JRD On30 Modular Group by Jeff Damerst at Shawmut Car Shops. The decals were easy to apply on the gloss clear coat.

Gold decal sheets were set up for locomotives and passenger cars, white decals for freight cars and cabooses.

BVM Hopper Cars - 2

Once my Boulder Valley hoppers were primed, I lettered them.

My lettering scheme is very simple ... just a number on each side and on each end. I use laser cut stencils and acrylic craft paint to letter my rolling stock. My intention is for the numbers to appear to be hand painted by shop personnel, but not too messy or illegible. I stippled the paint through the stencil with a small, dry brush. Once the paint was dry, I removed the stencil and touched up as needed.

The primed and lettered cars were then sprayed with a heavy application of Testor’s Dullcoat lacquer, and immediately dropped in a box containing rottenstone and soapstone dust. The box was closed up and shaken to assure complete coverage. The cars were removed and allowed to sit for about an hour.

The loose dirt was knocked off the cars, then they were cleaned up with a relatively stiff synthetic paint brush and a can of compressed air.

I applied Bar Mills rust and weathering powders with a small brush, alternating between the rust powders, then going over the same area with grimy black to kill some of the brightness in the rust colors.

The car on the left has had the rust and black powders applied. The car to the right has had the powders applied and also received an alcohol and black ink wash. Very little ink is necessary in the wash, as the powders provide most of the toning.

Very little of the Bar Mills powder is necessary. Very light touches of color will show up pretty intensely on the model. The alcohol wash will blend and knock back the colors to a degree. The alcohol also attacks the Dullcote varnish, causing it to randomly haze and cloud.

After the alcohol and ink wash, I sprayed the cars with fixative and repeated the dust application. Less dust sticks to the cars when they are sprayed with fixative than with Dullcote.

After cleaning, enough dust remains on the cars to blend the coloring and highlight the details.

I tapped and drilled the underframes for Kadee number 58 couplers. The coupler boxes fit nicely into the pockets once the “ears” are trimmed off.

This view shows the enclosures under the slope sheets that contain the buckshot, and the brake wheels applied.

The cars are ready for service on the P&EBR. I used BVM trucks and wheelsets which track very well and put the couplers at precisely the correct height.

In hindsight, the weathering procedure I used on these cars was messy, and probably should have been done outdoors. I had quite a mess to clean up at my modeling bench after these cars were completed.

These were my first resin kits. BVM’s parts were precise and clean and the instructions were excellent, making these cars a good project for a beginner.

A Procedure for Painting

I wanted to come up with a relatively simple, repeatable process for painting, lettering, and weathering my rolling stock. I purchased a supply of Bachmann ready to run boxcars and flatcars to practice on.

My goal was to give my freight cars a worn, but not worn out, look. The Bachmann cars were all factory painted oxide red. Basic black strikes me as being both more "eastern" and "industrial" looking than red, which always brings to my mind the Colorado narrow gauge lines.

I wanted to try to get acceptable results using cheap spray paint. I bought cans of Rustoleum rust colored, gray, and black primer.

I used gray primer to spray down on the top of the cars. I did not worry about overspray getting on the sides or ends.

Once the gray was dry, I flipped the car over and painted the bottom, sides, and ends black. I sprayed a light coat, not being too concerned about complete coverage.

The trucks got sprayed with rust colored primer, then touched up around the journal boxes and springs with grimy black.

The wheels got a bath in Blacken-It.

The decks of flatcars got brush painted with a variety of neutral colored acrylic washes. The roofs of boxcars got the roofwalk masked off, and then were sprayed again with light coats of rust and black.

The cars were lettered using stencils cut for me by Chris Jessee of KingMill Enterprises. Chris was able to cut such fine detail in the stencils that I actually had trouble getting paint to go through the tiny holes.

After trying several techniques, I settled on drybrushing antique white craft acrylic paint with an 0/10 brush. This yields a somewhat rough, "hand painted" look that took me a while to warm up to.

Once lettered, the cars were sprayed with a heavy coat of matte finish fixative.

While still wet and tacky, the car and trucks were dumped into soapstone powder and completely coated. I originally used rottenstone for this dusting technique. Rottenstone is actually better suited for it, but soapstone powder works reasonably well. My soapstone dust is very old and I collected it from the floor of an abandoned mill, so it is full of foreign material ... more "character"!

I used a stiff brush to knock almost all the soapstone powder off the car, then reassembled the model. Rust colored washes were brushed on the metal details, and the entire car got an alcohol and ink wash.

Over time, this procedure will get refined and revised, but for now I think it serves the purpose of giving a fleet of freight cars an acceptable appearance with minimal effort.