Great News for the Woodsboro MD Diorama

I received word yesterday that my Woodsboro MD depot diorama has qualified me for the NMRA’s Achievement Program certificate as a Master Builder-Prototype Models. The judges awarded it 111 out of a possible 125 points. (You only need 87.5 to qualify.)

Woodsboro Diorama

It was a lot of work but enjoyable, keeping me occupied during the winter and the early COVID-19 stay-at-home.

One of my personal favorite portions of the diorama is the Railway Post Office car and the interior I made for it.

The certificate still has to be approved by our regional Achievement Program (AP) chairman. But with this project finished, it’s time to move along to the next model railroading challenge. Looking forward to it, but maybe some golf and grandkids as things open up again for the summer!

Footnote: this project was inspired by my son Brian buying a house within 100 yards of the old depot, which is now home to the Woodsboro Historical Society. My thanks to the Society for its assistance and to Brian, his wife Kelly and their children, Parker, Calum and Wilder, for their support. Thanks also to my NMRA Potomac Division AP chairman Mat Thompson for his advice and support and to his fellow judges, John Paganoni and Pete LaGuardia.

The E&SP RR: New Photos and a Tool

For some time now I have been considering a better, more stable way to take photos and, potentially, videos from the E&SP — possibly for use in a Zoom or similar live teleconference if our NMRA division decides to hold online clinics.

So I invested $29.99 in a tripod that holds my iPhone:

UBeesize 51″ Extendable Tripod Stand with Bluetooth Remote, Heavy Duty Aluminum, Lightweight


As you can see it extends above the level of the layout while resting on the floor on its tripod. And since it has a Bluetooth remote to “click” for you, you don’t have to push the button on the phone itself, risking a twitch or shake.

A couple shots.



The first photo shows my kitbashed Roundhouse Climax (on a Bachmann chassis) pushing two Tichy ore cars. I put two 1/4 ounce weights in each car, covered by ore, to give them better staying power on the tracks.

The second photo just shows the depth of activity at this place on the layout. You have Calum Creek with a gold panner in the creek while his partner waves from outside their shack while tending the pigs and their horse. There are longhorn cattle moving along the right bank and passing under the trestle. In the background is the Parker’s Peak Mine and to its right is a small encampment where a shepherd and his wife live.


There’s been a slight lull in model railroading as I await some supplies and wrap up my duties as Editor of The Potomac Flyer‘s June-July issue, the newsletter of my local Potomac Division branch of the NMRA.

And in this lull, a bit of the past has surfaced: a birthday card I made for my eldest for his 10th birthday (he’s now 39!).


And the inside was his ticket.


We can’t remember what present he received. When we showed him these photos he asked if he received a train. I don’t think that was the gift. I suspect, given his early interests, it was probably something computer-related.

I used to make all sorts of cards like this for the kids and even envelopes for their school lunch money. I still make the occasional card for special occasions.

Well, happy model railroading and whatever else you may do.

Weathered and Done!

I finished the weathering and some other detail touch-ups on the scratch built HO scale flat car and the BTS gondola.  Here are an assortment of photos.




For the weathering, here is what I did: First, a wash of India Ink mix. Then a light brush application of Testers CreateFX Rust#1 and #2 on details, trucks and scattered places on the wood. Then an application of Doc O’Brien’s weathering powder Rusty Brown over the entire car. Finally a light streaking of Pan Pastel similar to Rusty Brown. Of course, the very last piece was a quick light spray of Dullcote.


Now, on to the next scratch build! I’m thinking a similar base structure as the flat car but with gondola sides, perhaps a bit longer so I can add two sets of queen posts with truss rods and turnbuckles.

Flat Car Update

So I made my first scratch built piece of rolling stock: a flat car. Here you see it, pre-weathering, coupled with the BTS Civil War era gondola, basically a flat car with a couple boards to create a contained area on the floorboards.


I used the gondola as a model. The flat car is a tad longer but not much, hence I stuck with the single queen post as on the gondola. Both are running on Fox trucks, unfortunately made of plastic, so the weight of these two cars is really well under what is appropriate to keep them on the track when they pass over switches…unless I take it at slow speed.

I need to add some weight, probably with loads. We’ll see. But first, weathering!

Civil War Era Gondola/Flat

I’ve been impressed with the kits from BTS. You’ve seen the recent builds of the Open Cattle Car and the Conductor Car. Well I saw they had added a gondola, and I had to have it — mainly because I want to start scratchbuilding my own rolling stock for the Eureka and South Pass Railroad. It uses a lot of really old cars as it is set in the 1890s and picking up some beaten Civil War era cars would not be a stretch.

So loosely following the kit structure, plus some scratchbuilding tips from an article in an NMRA newsletter by Potomac Division Superintendent Martin Brechbiel, I started today.

Here’s the undercarriage framing.


And here’s the top with its individually cut boards.


And here’s the BTS model picture from the kit instructions.


You’ll notice there is a single queen post with the truss rods running up toward the bolsters, so no turnbuckle.

There will however be a mess of nut-bolt-washers.

I haven’t decided yet whether to leave my first version as a flat car and then make a second to build as a gondola.

In the meantime, I’ll finish the kit.

Hard Working Saturday At Woodsboro

The freight train has pulled into the siding at Woodsboro to drop off two cars — the first back at N.Z. Cramer’s. Then the engineer will pull up and drop off the front boxcar at the Glade Valley Mill. Looks like there’s stuff to load from the mill dock and from the wagon.


Across the tracks, meanwhile, the mail train has pulled into Woodsboro depot and the station crew has rolled out a wagon with two mailbags and some goldfish canisters to load aboard. (You all remember, of course, that Woodsboro was the leading exporter of goldfish all around the country back in the early 1900s.)


They’ll all have Sunday off.