Ore Wagon

The Berkshire Valley ore wagon kit I received for Christmas is finished and on the layout, hauling ore from the Parker’s Peak Mine.

It was fairly easy to assemble after priming, then painting the body and the undercarriage separately before gluing them together. This morning I gave the wheels and body a gentle dusting with some Pan Pastels, using a fine tip paint brush.

Before setting it on the new mine dirt road I added recently, I filled the wagon with some small coarse rock (Woodland Scenics) and dropped some watery white glue on the rocks to fix them in place.

I took one of my Knuckleduster Miniature figures holding a shotgun and placed it in the driver’s seat and moved a pair of horses over from the blacksmith shop corral to give it a sense of operating presence.

Eventually I’ll probably get a pair of Berkshire Valley horses or mules plus a driver, paint them and replace the figures there now. (I think I may also have them coming as a very late Christmas gift. We’ll see.)

Now some may wonder why the ore isn’t all being moved by train as a spur serves the mine. Well, it seems there was a minority shareholder in the mine who declined to pony up funds for building the spur. So the owner said he could remove his share the old-fashioned way — by wagon.

Now, on to the next project. Probably another wagon, either a simply buckboard or perhaps a delivery wagon.

Canvas Top (Weathered)

I carefully positioned my used coffee filter canvas tarp atop the frame I built over the inspection pit in my service yard. I put a few dabs of Canopy glue down on the wood frame and secured the tarp. I then took some Doc O’Brien’s weathering powders and applied them as I thought appropriate, gave it a quick spray of clear lacquer….and here it is.

Now it’s back to the ore wagon assembly.

Ore Wagon and Pit Cover

I broke out the Berkshire Valley ore wagon kit and, per instructions, gave the parts a gentle spray of Tamiya gray primer. The metal castings — the wheels and axles — were washed first in soapy water before priming.

Once dry, I glued together the wagon body components and the undercarriage components separately in preparation for final painting and final assembly.

During the time that the parts were drying after priming, I went over to the layout and took the open structure frame I built to cover the new locomotive inspection pit and stained it with some of the last drips of brown Testors FX stain. I added a few touches of their rust to add a slight orange tinge to the wood. I then added one of my favorite go-to’s: dried, used coffee filter that I cut to size and added it as a makeshift canvas cover for the structure.

I’ll probably do some additional weathering of the canvas and the wood frame at some point. But for now, it will do.

What To Do?

The family was quite kind to me at Christmas, acknowledging my model railroading passion with gifts I had expressed interest in: three wagon kits (Berkshire Valley Models) and one new structure (Wild West).

As you can see these are an ore wagon, buckboard and delivery wagon.

The structure is called “Don’s Dry Goods” but I’m fairly sure that when it gets built and goes on the layout it will get a different name.

And I’m fairly sure the first of these kits that I will built will be the ore wagon, which is desperately needed on the layout over in the renovated mine area.

Eureka Gazette, Jan. 2, 1898

It’s a New Year here in Eureka and the Editor and Publisher and staff of the Gazette want to extend their very best wishes to all the residents of Eureka and South Pass and everyone else gazing upon these pages.

We took New Year’s Day off to let everyone wear off any lingering effects of their celebrations the night before. But we’re back today with a special edition with photographs showing select scenes reflecting on some of our area’s accomplishments in 1897.

Though much of the world was ravaged by a horrid, contagious virus, Eurekans pressed on as these pictures will show.

We scratchbuilt some new rolling stock, like this log flat.

And we recreated some original Densmore tank cars.

And we scratchbuilt these two Maintenance of Way cars.

There were significant upgrades in the service yard of the Eureka and South Pass Railroad right here in the heart of Eureka town, like this renovated turntable.

And we added the nearby ash pit.

And the yard crew of the E&SP began erecting a shelter over the other newly-installed service feature, the inspection pit.

The owners of the Parker’s Peak Mining Company decided to shut down two of their old shafts and to add a tailings dump trestle near those now abandoned mines in hopes of restoring the land to its original features.

They also undertook a regrading of the land to allow overland travel from the mine area directly to Eureka town.

That required moving freelance miners from one side of Calum Creek to the other. They didn’t complain one bit.

Our Basque sheep and goat herders also enjoyed some major improvements to their tiny plot of land: they now have access to a road as well instead of a precipitous descent over a cliff. It was financed by the Parker’s Peak Mining Company which also has use of the road for overland supply movements when the rail spur is not available.

In another upgrade, cattle can now be driven to and from Eureka by road on a new access route that goes past the remains of the Devil’s Den Cafe.

So Happy New Year to one and all! The Cafe may be closed but patrons of Lily’s Pleasure Palace make free use of Eureka’s small green space.

Cheers…and here’s to 1898 and more progress in the weeks and months ahead. We at the Gazette are hearing the E&SP RR may be expanding! So keep in touch.

Inspection Pit

The inspection pit has been installed and weathered and the surrounding terrain restored, completing the updated locomotive service area.

I completed the electrical feed into the pit by again using copper tape on a wooden block set under the front pit rails so when the electrified turntable track touches the block, the circuit is completed, allowing the engine to enter.

So now the service area is complete. The three tracks leading off the turntable feed the Repair-in-Place structure on one track, the ash pit on the second and the inspection pit on the third. Here’s a photo showing all three.

The inspection pit was dug out of the foam insulation with extra width. A piece of heavy cardboard raised the pit, a resin casting, to the appropriate track and surface level. Additional cardboard filled the leftover extra space. I covered that with Sculptamold pre-tinted with a basic earth tone. Once dry, I scattered sand and burnt grass clumps along the sides and secured this with a watered down white glue.

There’s a bit more touch-up work that needs to be done. But we’re ending 2020 on a high note, I’d say.

I now have seven required track features on my layout to meet the requirement of the NMRA Civil Engineer certificate: an ash pit, an inspection pit, a working turntable, the new stone dump trestle, several spurs, a simple yard and elevation with some trackage rising 4″ off the base. I’ve also completed a required track plan showing radius and turnout sizes plus an additional plan for my expansion that adds two other requirements (needed only for the plan, not the actual layout), a passing track and an additional siding.

Which means I can embark on a New Year’s project of hand-laying three track features — a switch, a crossover and a crossing — to complete the Civil Engineer requirements. The Civil certificate would be my sixth, leaving me just one more to attain the status of Master Model Railroader. That seventh and final certificate will be for Volunteer and I should have sufficient points for that in June 2021 based mainly on my service as editor of our local NMRA Division newsletter.

Mine Dump and Abandoned Mines

I can report more progress in the renovation of the Eureka and South Pass Railroad layout: the rock and mine tailings dump area has been basically finished.

The additional work needed involves re-ballasting the track leading to the scratchbuilt dump trestle, adding some Pan Pastel weathering to the trestle, and tossing in a bit more sparse vegetation. I may also put in old ties outside the mine entrances to resemble the former track used by miners to push out their carts. I may also more clearly define the path/road used by the miners and ore wagons to haul ore over to the town of Eureka before the mine spur was built and the new Parker’s Peak mine opened.

I liked the shadows cast by the LED floor lamp I used to illuminate the area for these photos.

In the background you can see the two old mine entries I created and then boarded up. Here are two close-ups of those entries. First the one on the right.

And here’s a close-up of the one on the left.

And here’s the full scene showing the spur and the Parker’s Peak mine (which is still in operation here in 1897.)

So, on we go. Next up will be finishing the installation of the inspection pit over in the E&SP’s service yard on the other side of the layout and then completing the electrical contacts to that siding and the other one for the ash pit.

Progress and More Work Ahead

OK. We’re now past Christmas and hopefully with things quieting down I can resume work on the E&SP RR layout.

My inspection pit from Scale-Structures arrived on Christmas Eve so I can start excavating the foam insulation in the service yard to install it.

The other project will involve mixing up a batch or two of Sculptamold to start resurfacing the area over by the Parker’s Peak mine where I have installed a scratchbuilt rock dump trestle and the entrances to two old and now abandoned mines.

I did manage to squeeze in a couple hours on Christmas Eve to build supports for the trestle, stain it and test fit it in place at the end of the mine siding. I even ran the scratchbuilt gondola I made earlier this year out onto the trestle with a load of stones.

Christmas did bring me some additional modeling gifts: three wagons from Berkshire Valley Models, including a ore wagon, and another old West building from Wild West Scale Models.

I’m stocked up for the winter with projects! Can’t wait.

Stone Dump Christmas Eve Update

I was able to harness a few hours on the eve of Christmas Eve to do some scratchbuilding of the stone dump trestle.

It’s provisionally sitting on some dowels I cut. These are not permanent. Putting the trestle in place for good will have to await repairs of the ground it sits on, specifically spreading some Sculptamold.

But I did also do some advance planning in keeping with the fictional idea of reclaiming old mine areas. Behind the trestle, up against the rock wall, I dug out two holes in the foam insulation and fashioned a provisional mine entry for both.

The mine entries will eventually be brutalized to indicate abandonment. I’ll probably fasten boards over both to at least partially close them.

Here are a couple close-ups.

You can see where I have torn and cut away old painted plaster wrap, exposing the bare foam insulation. That’s what needs to be recovered with Sculptamold and re-painted.

I’m also planning the remnants of an old abandoned road that in the past was used to haul ore by mule and wagon from these two old mines over towards the town of Eureka. That’s before the railroad added a spur to the Parker’s Peak Mine which lies to the right of these photos. It’s that spur that will run onto the stone dump trestle.

Merry Christmas, happy related holidays and my best wishes for a vastly improved New Year for all of us.

A Pause & A New Project

While I await the arrival of the inspection pit (Scale-Structures) to go on the other siding off the turntable, I’ve decided to embark on another layout renovation project. This one involves cutting away some of the original mountainous terrain to make room for a dump track — not for coal but for stones.

This is over by the Parker’s Peak mine. My plan is to scratchbuild a short trestle like those used for dumping coal, but to use it to dump large stones excavated in mining. (My fictional intent is to say those large rocks were being used as landfill as the owners of Parker’s Peak mine are environmentally conscious and want to restore the land originally dug away for the mining process. Let’s say for the purposes of this fiction that the area being filled was once the location of an old mine borehole.)

Here’s a mock up of the stone dump.

I found a plan for the kind of trestle used for coal dumping in Model Railroader. I’ll adapt it for my purposes. Two of the ore cars I have (Tichy) have bottom dumping mechanisms (non-working) that could be used to simulate dropping rocks through the tracks to the area below the trestle.

One reason I’ve opted for this is that the optional requirements for the NMRA Achievement Program certificate for Civil Engineer include a dump trestle and say it can be for anything, not just coal.

You need a minimum of six track requirements on your layout among other steps needed for your certificate. With the dump trestle, I’ll have seven. The others are: ash pit, inspection pit, turntable, siding, elevation and a simple yard ladder.

The other steps are fairly straightforward. You also have to prepare a track plan, most of which will be based on your actual layout but which can include additional trackage that doesn’t exist anywhere but on paper.

The final step is to actually hand lay some track. Again there are three minimum requirements. For the three, I’ll be making a switch, a crossover and a crossing.