Random Shots Around Eureka

Well, there hasn’t been much happening in terms of modeling in recent days. So with nothing significant to report, I decided to take a few random photos of scenes currently on the layout.


The two “Golden Spike” 4-4-0s are doing duty in the yard.

The “Rail and Tie” car has been shunted off on the track leading to the turntable.

The “Wheel and Tie” car is already set on one of the storage tracks coming off the turntable.

And meanwhile, up at the Lincoln Lumber Company in South Pass, it looks like the old Climax there in the background has just delivered a load of big logs.

And that’s what’s happening today, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 1897.

Whenever Possible…

…I try to support local hobby shops. And this is especially true when they value you as a regular customer. Such is the case with a store here in Rockville called Hobby Works. I signed up for their buyer’s program some time back (no charge) and every year they send me a coupon on my birthday for $5. This year they also sent me another coupon worth $10 because I had spent a certain amount ($300) over the years purchasing paint, stripwood, glue and other stuff.

Since the two coupons were going to expire in a matter of weeks, I went to the store today and picked up some supplies.

I wanted the brown weathering stain for when I get around to building that vintage kit for Drake’s oil well and so I thought I’d try this product (left). I did not have any glue specifically for styrene and although I have no immediate plans to use it, I figured it’s best to have this Plastruct product (center) on hand. I bought the small bottle of Model Color acrylic paint in “London Gray” (right) because…well I thought I might need it when painting the metal detail parts for the Drake’s Well project.

So I used the coupons and tossed in a couple bucks to make up the difference. Good deal.

Support local hobby stores. My other go-to is Engine House Hobbies in nearby Gaithersburg. One nice thing about it is that they are exclusively a train store and they have someone who actually can repair engines. Another plus: they’re located right on some train tracks that are still in use!

Firewood Load (Real, not Plastic)

For a long time I’ve wanted to replace or cover over the grotesque plastic firewood in the back of my Bachmann “Jupiter” 4-4-0 — much as I did way back when to the AT&SF 4-4-0.

On that project, I actually ripped out the plastic from the tender. This time I decided to cover over the plastic.

I started by assembling wood I had cut from tiny branches from my yard that I had previously baked to ensure no molds or bugs or whatnot survived.

Then I took some basic acrylic black and brown paint and painted the plastic wood to give it a darker base look.

After the paint dried, I smeared on some Woodland Scenics “Scenic Accents Glue” — and after it set, I painstakingly applied the “real” firewood, piece-by-piece with tweezers.

And placed Jupiter back on the tracks.

It looked pretty darn good. So I hitched up my BTS Open Cattle Car and took it for a ride, with one critter poking his horns out the open door.

I also took time to add some sorely needed weight to that feather-light car. I took two pair of the small lead weights I have on hand and painted them a dark brown, roughly matching the car’s color. I then slipped one pair inside at each end, the original silver weight color no longer glaringly visible.

I think the steer is looking to hop out and join his pals down below along the stream (visible in the previous photo).

It’s fun getting back to work on the layout. It’s not the goal-oriented work required for tackling an NMRA Achievement Program certificate. But it sure is satisfying. And there’s always something to work on.

Overnight on the Sawmill Siding

With the layout getting back into full swing, I decided to take some photos last night with the lighting I installed on several structures turned on. I had run my kitbashed Climax up into the hills to South Pass pulling my scratchbuilt flat car carrying big logs. I parked it by the sawmill, where the log crane will lift the logs off in preparation for the mill’s reopening in the morning. The workers have gone to bed and so has the engine’s crew in the nearby bunkhouse.

Back On Track

OK. Where was I? Ah. Yes. New Tahoe Model Works arch bar trucks.

I dragged the new storage boxes out and removed my best rolling stock to check how well the cars rolled on the newly-cleaned track. I knew I had several cars that had difficulty staying on track, partly because of track issues and partly because of truck problems.

And then there were the two narrow gauge D&RGW Maintenance of Way cars that I scratchbuilt that I really wanted to see on my standard gauge HO layout.

So… to work.

The “Rail and Tie” car (above left) got the first set of new trucks and the “Wheel and Tie” car (right) received the second.

Then the cars with issues, including the Bitter Creek 25′ CPRR box car and the BTS low-sided gondola. (Those bundles in the gondola are small lead weights that I wrapped with used coffee filter material.)

And the fifth set of Tahoe arch bar trucks went on the BTS Conductor car, into which I also slipped two sets of those weights, which come with adhesive patches on the bottom. I just pushed them through the open door and slid them down, one at each end, out of sight.

I ran all these cars (and several others, including the two Westerfield box cars), pulled by my Bachmann 4-4-0s and my Climax, just to make sure they ran smoothly. I also did some test runs through that problem switch I have that leads to the Flack Mine. I think I fixed the problem, which may have been as small an issue as a trapped piece of ballast. I may still replace the switch.

A good start on reviving the layout! At some point I will want to weather these shiny new trucks. Stay tuned.

Storage Solution

In my last post I mentioned it was time to get my cars and engines out of their storage boxes. What I didn’t tell you was my story about those boxes.

When I removed everything to clean the layout, I put my rolling stock in some spare boxes from the basement that I lined with wrapping paper with some bubble wrap cushioning. But it got me to thinking that I needed a longer-term solution for storing cars that was more suitable.

I ended up settling on a system sold by A-Line Arrow Hobby and purchased their four “high” containers package. They’re made of heavy duty corrugated cardboard, with interior cardboard dividers, foam lining and a top. They need to be assembled.

Each “high” box is 27” long, 7” wide, 3” deep on the inside and can hold up to 16 40’ HO scale box cars. The cars sit upright, which I think is a plus. The “high” box allows you to store oversized height cars. 

There are a few other suppliers of similar containers. One is Axian. Another is Feldherr, a German firm based in Berlin, which makes a pricey rigid plastic carrying case with foam lining.

Now back to work on the layout! 


OK. I did it. I dusted the layout today. I used a soft brush to sweep clouds of dust off each and every structure, fixture, detail and what-not.

Like Eureka Depot. And all those little details, people, bags, carts, were swept off (on to the track. Whoa!)

On to my clean track, by the way. Track was the first thing I cleaned, then rolling stock and then lubricating locomotives. So dusting was what was left. And long avoided.

So now what? Oops. Forgot one.

There. That’s the bakery. Want to make sure it’s sparkling clean.

Now, where was I? Ah yes. What’s next? Well, I think getting the rolling stock back out of their storage boxes would be first, and then finding the cars that need those new Tahoe Model Works arch bar trucks.

Let’s go!


I know. I said I was going to start cleaning the structures and scenery on my layout. But I’ve been diverted.

That’s a batch of Tahoe Model Works arch bar trucks spilling out across the keyboard of my Mac. I used them this past year on the two Westerfield kits I made for my Woodsboro diorama, an early era PRR box car and vegetable car, and thought they were terrific.

So in packing away my other cars to clean the layout, I realized I should order more to repair some of my rolling stock that has been having problems on the track.

And with their metal wheel sets, these ought to do the trick.

No promises on when I might start installing them. But hey, the order I placed (from Westerfield) came in quickly. And I can be easily distracted from what are, shall we say, less desirable chores… like layout dusting.

We’ll see. There are needs and there are wants. What’s it gonna be?

Cleaning, Phase Two

With the track clean, it was time to turn to lubricating and cleaning my locomotives. First up, running all the engines on my Woodland Scenics “Tidy Track Roto Wheel Cleaner.”

Done. All three Bachmann 4-4-0s, the newest locos, ran smoothly and left little dirt behind. Then, shown above, my PFM United 25-ton Shay, old, tired and rarely run. But after a little lubrication, it ran just fine!

My Ken Kidder 4-4-0, another oldie, benefited from wheel cleaning but really rose to the occasion after getting a few dabs of LaBelle 106 grease and 108 light oil.

My first brass purchase from the 1960s and custom lettered for the E&SP is a United PFM 0-6-0 and it hasn’t been working at all. But it sputtered on the track cleaning device and, after some lubrication, ran a bit but not reliably. I think I need to open her up (if I can figure out just how to do that. She may need a new motor and could be a candidate for an upgrade to DCC. I’ll need some serious guidance from model railroading pals before trying that.)

The biggest disappointment was the brass Westside PRR D-16sb that I picked up off eBay back when I thought it might be a good fit on my Woodsboro MD depot diorama. (I ended up using the Ken Kidder for that project.) The Westside never ran for me and when I set it up today on the wheel roto cleaner and then gave it some oil and grease, it still remained stationary. A close examination suggested to me that the rear drivers are locked. Hmmm. (It’s another candidate for opening up to see what’s inside that may be causing the problem. But like the 0-6-0, I’ll need help.)

While I was at it, I dug out another old engine, a Proto-2000 BL-2 lettered for the Bangor and Aroostook. I can’t remember why I bought it. It certainly doesn’t fit an 1890s old west operation. I think I just thought it looked cool.

But out of storage and onto the track and the BL-2 ran just fine. So I put it on the wheel cleaner, then removed the body and lubricated the chassis. And it runs great. What am I going to do with it? Maybe I’ll take it to the next “white elephant” sale at an NMRA regional conference, assuming we can ever have one again.

So, track clean. Locos cleaned, too. Next up: maybe some dusting of structures and scenery. Then back to working on the layout. Expansion? We’ll see.

Cleaning, Day One

The long-delayed maintenance operation got under way today on the Eureka and South Pass Railroad.

First up, removing all the rolling stock and engines and putting them aside, safely.

Which left a pretty abandoned-looking Eureka town with its small yard. (At least the people are still there, though I spotted some laying down.)

And then began the hard work. First, an overall track rubdown with a Bright Boy. Then I got out the Woodland Scenics track cleaning kit I have. The initial work involved running the heavy maintenance pads over the entire track.

That was followed by using the cleaning pads soaked in track cleaning liquid and, lastly, a rubdown of all the track work with the felt drying pads.

When that was all over, I got out my engines and tested them on all the track, including each spur and siding, one at a time. The Climax went first, followed by the two DCC Bachmann Transcontinental 4-4-0s and, finally, the non-DCC 4-4-0, an older Bachmann.

They ran the full length of the track without stalling or sputtering and managed the two steep elevation climbs easily. I still have one problem turnout, the one leading to the Flack Mine siding. I think I am going to have to rip out that switch and install another — someday.

Next up: cleaning and lubricating the locomotives… and after that, I have a handful of cars that need new trucks.

But at least this work, deferred by my NMRA Achievement Program efforts in making the Woodsboro depot prototype diorama and scratchbuilding rolling stock, is at last under way.

Break time!