Tuesday, August 30, 2022

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 36) - Catching Up on House Keeping

I decided to split this off as a seperete blog post, here's some minor projects which are being worked on in the background over the last month or two.

Ground Throws & Remaining Owenyo Switches to Lay

Some followup from last post, SP Jawbone Branch (Part 34), on the ground throw painting.  I decided to also put the ground throw position on the facia of the modules, showing the normal position.  Eventually at a glance I'm sure I'll memorize the position of the throw handles, but until then this will be an easy way to double check them.

Switch 5235 in Normal position for the main, showing green on top

In the normal position, the target color is shown on the side and the aspect on the top, in this case "green".

Switch 5235 in Reversed position for the siding, showing red on top

As the target is primarily visible in the reversed position, likewise the handle is all red in the reversed position.

Owenyo  electrical diagram showing switch numbers.

Each switch on the Jawbone will be identified by a switch number based on the Milepost.  Owenyo straddles MP 523.0, so all switch numbers are just above and below the MP number counting away from the Milepost.

SW 5235

Switch 5235 with N & R and arrow indicating normal handle position

Let's have a quick tour down the facia of the modules.  The eastern most switch is SW 5235 with red target showing it to be the east switch of the siding on the main track.  The SP standards called for siding targets to be Red and other secondary switch targets to be Yellow.

SW 5234 & 5233

Switches 5234 and 5233, both in normal positions

The next two switches are to the house track (5234) and the east side of the wye (5233).  Both targets are going to be Yellow.

Facia notes for SW 5234 & 5233

Notice that the handle positions are opposite relating to how the Caboose Industry ground throws work with the stock throw-bar pins.

SW 5232

Facia of Switch 5232, which is the NG ramp pit switch.

The facia diagram shows the stub which is met end-to-end by the NG on a ramp to climb on top of the standard gauge car.

SW 5232 NG ramp pit switch.

Again, secondary switch, SW 5232 is a Yellow target switch.  I still need to do some wiring under this spur.

SW 5230

SW 5230, the west switch of the wye.

The facia has notes for number of spots on each side of the switch and length of the switches' fouling distance in feet.  The SW 5230 is a secondary switch off the siding, so gets a yellow target.  The 5230 hasn't had the throwbar drilled for Caboose Industries ground throw or mounting holes drilled yet.

SW 5229

SW 5229, the short stub track ending at the conveyor loader off the house track

The SW 5229 target is yellow, lever normal to the left.  The 5229 switch isn't finished yet, closure rails and points still lacking.  As I finish Owenyo #3 module, these incomplete switches will be finished up.

SW 5228

SW 5228, west siding switch

The last switch I have shown on the facia is SW 5228, the west siding switch with a red target.  This switch isn't even started yet, but the position is marked on the top of the module.

SW 5227 & 5226

The SW 5227 and 5226 are the next two switches to the west, which are the west house track switch and the switch to the trestle dump pit on the SG.  They will both have yellow targets.

Owenyo historically is pretty clearly meant to be worked from the "West End" off the mainline to Lone Pine.  So getting Owenyo module #3 done and a good switching lead across the doorway will allow me to actually start switching Owenyo, staging an incoming train, do the day's work and then leave again.  It will also push me to finish the switches at the tail of the wye and around Owenyo so I can turn an engine.

Engine Track Power Cutoff Switch

The left (east) curve of the wye, is where the fuel tanks and engine lay-over spot is located.

For context, I want to have a cutout switch on each wye curve so that I can protect running any engine off the end if I have the wye tail module removed.  I will probably also make a blank to cover and provide a bumper to the two curves of the wye.  However, I still want a power switch to cutout the engine storage track.  This will prevent any movement of an engine stored there.  SP Jawbone Branch (Part 31) - Owenyo Modules Wiring.

Engine Spot Cutout Switch

I connected only the south rail to the cutout switch, this was easier as the south rail was already gapped by the heal of the frog at the east side of the wye.  I'll get into my simple reversing circuit at some point when I get back to finishing the wye tail.  While I could get a DCC reversing circuit board, I think this will work just as well and is as simple as throwing the turnout switch that I plan to eventually have installed.

In Closing

Westerfield B-50-2 coming together as SPMW 2257.

I'm still splitting time on the layout between a couple of the freight car projects, such as the pair of resin boxcars SPMW 2257 and SP 32451 which are nearing completion.

However, the next week or so will probably be spent doing a fall cleaning of the shop and my work spaces.  Having the better lighting in the shop has made it more pleasant to be in the shop and doing things.  Hopefully installing some tube-lighting to generally light the room will continue the improvements, but doing so will require more maneuvering space in the human zone.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 35) - Cutting Out Owenyo #3 Module

SP "Loading Ramp" showing SP GS gondola for size - PacificNG collection

The main centerpiece of the west end of Owenyo is the Narrow Gauge dump-trestle to transload bulk loads from the NG cars into SG cars.  Finishing up the west end of Owenyo and building a section of the main line to the west will allow me to start operating Owenyo the way it should be done, using the long west end mainline as the lead with all switches in town facing west.

Along the wall, station of Owenyo rendered in CAD.

The Jawbone Branch's far east end has made good progress on the over the last couple months, including: ground throws on the switches, good lighting over the area now, and the first two Owenyo modules wired at least for DC operations.  I still need to find the guts to put everything away again and pull it all down to wire the third and last module of Owenyo to lift out the Mojave staging yard underneath and get it wired and the switches on the two ends spiked down.

However, lacking the motivation to do all of that, I'm instead getting sucked into the idea of attacking the next Owenyo module, which is much more complicated than the last five sections I've built.  This module will get away from the simple sheet and frame, with the whole module making the transition from level right-of-way at Owenyo station to the 1.0-1.25% grade down to the staging yard.  

Closer view of the 'trestle' at the west end of Owenyo, on the third module.

There are also track elements going below grade for the Standard Gauge under the Narrow Gauge "Highline" transloading dump trestle and also a small bridge over a wash to deal with.  These additional elements will mean that I'll eventually have to cut the top sheet of MDF and splice in foam under and around it to form the ground shapes.

Laying Out the Module

The main challenge for building this module is doing the best job of selective compression to fit the big straight trestle into the scene.  Thankfully, I'm not trying to make the NG side functional.  The trick will still be to create a suspension of disbelief about the grade down off the trestle to the left in my scene, while not breaking the scene with the NG track running along the back side of the stock transfer platform just to the left.

Closeup of "SG end" of Owenyo Transfer Trestle - owensvalleyhistory,com - sp_narrow_g37a_sml

From this and the other photos I've been able to find of the trestle, I should be able to work out the height, scaling, etc... but more on that later.  Note, this is the "NG side" of the trestle, which will be on the back-side of my model.  The material from pit that is dug for the SG track is piled to the right between the trestle and the NG mainline.  This will be nice to add something in the back of the scene as the view transitions to the curved backdrop.  I've planned as much as a 30" radius for the curved backdrop.

Red Caboose steel GS gondola posed for the mock-up trestle

For now, I'm just mocking up the rough height and size of the trestle with a pair of 1-2-3 machinist blocks and my yardstick.  I broke out the MicroEngineering Code 55 NG flex track to have on the top of the mock-up.

Looking north from Owenyo From Transfer Trestle - Brandon Collection WM

So this is a great overall shot from the trestle looking into the rest of Owenyo.  This really sets the scene as to how the trestle will fit into the scene.  Note the small 12ft single-span culvert-trestle, this will be a benchmark to tie the trestle into the mainline of the scene.

Mocking up the location of the main track curve and the trestle.

The switches will have to start with the headblock in the sprial easement of the curve transitioning into the tangent.  I've marked in pencil about where the culvert-trestle will be.

Reverse angle... so, question is what angle will work best for the trestle?

My main challenge with working with such a large structure this close to the main line is the selective compression.  The prototype has maybe 30-35 degrees of angle in the mainline splitting off from the original NG tangent.  The trestle should be only slightly off alignment from the rest of Owenyo, as there is a several hundred foot trestle ramp on the prototype, which will be truncated into the wall.

Cutting the Material

Top view of the sketches on the material.

In this view, there are several possible angles for the trestle to be built on.  The main track is only roughly marked.  I didn't have room while material was still in the full sheet to swing the track center for the main track on the 48" radius curve.  As it has already been worked out in the computer, I'm not worried to cut out the module from the sheet and then swing the main track arc from a tripod set up in the room once the module's structure is a bit more stable.

The cutting was quick with a saber saw.  The joint with the rest of Owenyo will also have the top sheet notched back to match for the "washes" going down both sides of the main track and back-filled with pink foam.  This should extend at least as far as the culvert, and possibly all along the front edge of the layout.

Module cut out and clamped into rough position.

At this point, the module's supported by some blocks on the Mojave staging yard and a C-clamped 2x2 post next to the door, there's a lot of sagging happening across the window.

View of the 'trestle' at the west end of Owenyo.

This CAD rendering shows my original "closest" position for the trestle with four 45ft long cars able to fit under the trestle.  However there's basically no room for the approach ramp trestle, especially with the NG track curving into the window between the platform and the trestle.  It feels like too much in too small of an area.

Trestle footprint and rough flextrack mocking up positions.

I'll probably settle on some version with a little more space between the main and the trestle.  This will need to balance against the proximity of the little 12ft culvert trestle and how close it should stay to the west switches for the siding and house track.  It's all a game to find a happy balance of the compression and elements of the scene.

Another view of the mockup.

The other challenge in here is to create the structure to support the module and build in a vertical curve transitioning to a 1.0-1.25% grade.  I'll also have to keep the twist out of the mainline section of roadbed so that when the module transitions to the door-spanning section the track is still cross-level.

Looking north from Owenyo From Transfer Trestle - Brandon Collection WM

Here's the prototype that I'm trying to replicate, notice that the little culvert trestle is actually lining up with the NG's ramp track.  Unfortunately, the model will have to be full height deck at this point because of the main line curve size and the size of the module.

Mocked up same photo as above.

The NG trestle track will actually be about 1/2" lower at this end once the track is set down into the pit, but it gets the idea across.

NG stock spot at left and NG trestle at right.

I removed my 1/2" shim from the east end of the trestle mockup, which brings it to about the height it will be in the completed module.  Note how close the NG track at left goes off the module is to the end of the trestle track where it meets the wall.  

Another higher angle view showing the issues of distance compression.

I don't think I can enlarge this distance very much, so I'll probably have to hide the height problem on the trestle with a well placed tree or two.

Rough joint of Owenyo #2 and #3 modules.

The Owenyo #3 module will need to be cut and slotted for the washes on each side of the mainline, which adds to the challenge of the #3 module's structure.

In Closing

That I think wraps up the mockup Owenyo #3 module for the night, glue bottle is for ballast!

It will be quite the challenge to finish this module and get it working as part of the existing layout. Plus, cutting the SG strip of roadbed out from the sheet and sinking it into the module, forming the pit of the prototype.  All this without compromising the structure of the module.  I think you can see why I've put off starting this section of the layout!  I expect the fully "cookie-cutter" construction of Little Lake will be the only modules that will surpass this one in general complexity, but this one has the additional complexity of the trestle and SG diving under it to consider.

Jason Hill

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Friday, August 19, 2022

Westerfield SP B-50-2 (Part 3) - Paint, Decals, & Weathering

SPMW 2257 after first coat of paint and first pass at decalling.

Time to wrap up the build on the SPMW 2257 Ready Boxcar for the Jawbone Branch.  In this post I'll be finishing up the car, details, painting, decals, & weathering to get the car ready for service.

Painting & Roof "Salt Mask" Weathering

The roof was first painted with a light gray "galvanizing" color.

Experimenting with prepping "Salt Masking" with 70% alcohol this time instead of water.

Roof wetting with alcohol, no salt yet.

Alcohol and salt applied.

Side of SPMW 2257 painted SP FCR with unpainted Andrews trucks.

The car is painted over-all SP FCR to match a car that was repainted after 1931, dropping the black ends and roof.

SP FCR painted over salt, then soaked and brushed off.

I used an old toothbrush and a small plastic bowl of water in the sink to soak and scrub off the painted salt crystal mask from the roof.

Roof is overcoated with Apple Barrel Khaki.

The roof is weathered and toned down a bit with 'dust' applied from this car being assigned to the high-desert and general southern California area.  Now that the roof itself is weathered, I'll be applying the running boards and laterals, which I may pre-paint and weather to avoid damaging the roof weathering that is completed.

Replacement Details

I decided to upgrade this model with Harriman Standard detail parts, which turn out to be the same as used on OwlMtModels' F-50-5 class cars.  The resin roping staples didn't drill out cleanly, so they will have to be replaced by OMM 1010 Roping Staples.  While I was at it, instead of fabricating stirrups, I'm using OMM 1011 Stirrup Steps & Brake Wheel on this car.

Roping staple applied.

Stirrups applied along with roping staple.

Underside of the car with OMM 1010 and 1011 brass castings installed.


I'm testing some new SPMW decals in development with Todd Osterburg on the SPMW 2257.  So some of these decals will be adjusted, possibly even removed and redone on this model.

SPMW 2257 with experimental safety warnings applied... think they're too small.

The B-50-1/2/3/4/5s seem to have used the smaller SP heralds after their very large route slogan heralds were done away with.  However, in the 1930s some early B-50s were shown to be painted with the large basic heralds, so I'm going to put the large version on this model.  The photo of the car with this herald in Thompson Vol 4, is pretty heavily weathered by the 1940s when the photo was taken, so I'll feel pretty comfortable doing some heavier weathering over the herald.

The safety warnings on the door seem to be too small in this version of the decal artwork.  Hopefully, I'll be replacing them with the corrected decals soon!

A-end lettering SPMW 2257 applied to left corner to clear of end-door guides.

Hmmm, I seem to have forgotten to installed the endsill grab irons.  I'm also missed the lower later rung grabs on the side.  So those will be added, and the lower side details will be touched up with SP FCR before weathering happens.

End Details

I'm planning to make the newer MW numbers "restencilled" over a 'fresh patch' of FCR paint, while I weather the rest of the car side around the reporting marks, as this car was retired to MW service in 1940, about 10-15 years before my modeling era.  I may use the solid reporting marks for "SP" on the other side to simulate the left over reporting marks, with only the MW 2257 and weights patching over the revenue lettering and car number.

Getting SPMW 2257 painted, detailed and finished up.

Tichy handbrake platform installed on the B-end of the car.  Next will come the vertical staff hand brake and soldering the OMM brake wheel onto the top.

In Closing

Wrapping up this post for now.

I'll be updating some of the decals with newer versions of the artwork.  Also the car still needs to have all the brake rigging fabricated and installed.  The hand brake staff and brake wheel will be installed at the very end of construction and painting.  The roof walk still needs to be painted and installed as well.

Jason Hill

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Friday, August 12, 2022

SP 24864 (Part 1) - Kitbashing B-50-10 from Accurail 40ft Boxcar

In my previous blog post "Modeling SP B-50-series Boxcars (Part 3) - Plastic Options for B-50-8, -10, & -11" we looked at what options are for modeling early SP outside braced, single-sheathed boxcars with the Accurail 4100-series kits.

The SP 24864 at the end of this blog, one of SP's older B-50-10 class boxcars.

For this kitbash, I'm starting with an Accurail 40ft out-side braced, wood-door, wood-end boxcar. 
SP ordered 1000 cars in B-50-8 split between SP and T&NO Lines.    There were 1900 cars built between B-50-10 and B-50-11 classes in 1916.

Accurail 4100-series kit as the starting point for this SP B-50-8 class car, shown with T-section trucks.

B-50-8 - Standard Steel Car Co. 1913 - Murphy roof, Barber T-Section Trucks
    SP 24250-24749 (500 cars) - Only 8 remaining by 1950
    GH&SA 37860-38359 (500 cars) - All the T&NO cars were gone by 1950.
        Total 1000 cars

B-50-10 - Haskell & Barker Car Co. 1916 - Murphy XLA Flexible roof, Vulcan Trucks
    SP 24850-25839 (990 cars) - 67 with wood ends in 1950 including the B-50-11s, 52 rebuilt with steel ends without end-doors.
    CP 17682, 17741, 18252 (3 cars) - Replacement cars
    CP 18255, 18481, 18789 (3 cars) - Replacement cars, SP 18481 is still in service in 1950, looks like there are a total of 6 other 18000-series cars still in service.
    SP 18828, 24312, 24534 (3 cars) - Replacement cars
    PE 2525 (1 car)
        Totals 1000 cars

B-50-11 - Ralston Steel Car Co. 1916 - Murphy XLA Flexible roof, Vulcan Trucks
    SP 25840-26339 (500 cars) - See notes on B-50-10 above for 1950 ORER roster.
    NWP 2160-2259 (100 cars)
    T&NO 38760-39057 (298 cars)
    GH&SA 38210, 38371 (2 cars) - Replacement cars
           Totals 900 cars

Modeling a B-50-10

Before I just randomly grab a car number to letter the revenue car for I want to look at the roster data that I can check.

Late known conversions of B-50-8/10/11s to SPMW service.
    Last B-50-8 in 1952; SP 24361 - (other preceding cars converted during early 1940s during WWII.)
    B-50-10 in 1952; SP 25550, 25777, 25922 (B-50-11), 
    B-50-10 in 1953; SP 25663, 25632, 25759

Most showing in the 1956 SPMW Roster were converted before 1952 and only about 10% of the larger group of B-50-10/11 fleet were still in service in 1950 according to Thompson's analysis of the ORERs of the period.

The car that I've decided to model is a typical B-50-10.  I was forced to choose a "typical" car, based on what historical information I could gather from the 1950 ORER as to which cars were still in service.  The SP 24864 as of 1950, was one of 67 cars of the class still in service with wood ends.  The B-50-10s used Vulcan trucks, so for this project I'll need to get a new Kadee set of Vulcans.  For now I'll use a spare set of Accurail AAR U-section trucks under the car.

Due to the B-50-10s down to only 3 cars by 1952 which were the last of the class converted to SPMW service, I'm going to model the 24864, which in 1950 was the lowest numebred car still in service.  As the SP seemed to be planning that all of the B-50-10s would be out of service before the end of K-brakes in interchange service in 1953, I'll be modeling the 24864 with spare OMM F-50-series K-brake set.


The car has basically been painted with Star Brand SP/UP Freight Car Red.

Prisma Pencil mark weathering started on right side

Mostly the boards are pre-weathered like the ATSF 129782, with grays and various brown shades.

Prisma Pencil weathering started on left side.

One one side I went with a long board that has shed its paint, while most of the rest of the paint damage on the boards is scattered around.  

I then started doing additional weathering into the wood grain detail of the Accurail car with Apple Barrel Khaki, Territorial Beige, & Pavement acrylic paint washes.  High gloss clear coat is applied to the body before decaling.

Mixing Decals

SP & bar decals from MicroScale 87-911, see comments below.

MicroScale 87-911 is useful on B-50-13/14 class cars for SP, T&NO, PE, and SPdeM, however the set is for a mix of eras that aren't too helpful for this set outside of the capacity data, railroad initials and heralds that fit between the Z-bracing.  Todd Osterburg has been working on artwork for SPMW boxcars cars, I've been reviewing samples of his work, so am using some bits from that set, such as the car number here.

Partially applied decals. Tare data and repack locations are repainted with Zinc Chromate color paint.

I purposely cut away the last three digits from LD LMT and LT WT lines, which will be replaced with newly applied stencil weights.

Mixing More Weathering & Decals

This is one of the cars which I experimented with Salt-Mask Weathering (Part 1) on the roof.  I started with an undecorated Accurail 4100-series boxcar kit.

Accurail undec 4100-series boxcar, painted SP/UP FCR with MW Gray roof (galvanized).

The car was painted Star Brand SP/UP FCR and MW Gray roof to simulate the galvanized panels.

Wet salt-mask.

Water applied to the roof, and salt sprinkled on to form the mask.

Dried salt-mask

Once the salt-mask is dried, I can knock off areas of excessive salt pile to reduce the masked areas.

Painted and scrubbed clean.

The salt-mask is painted with freight car color or roof color and allowed to dry for a day or so.  Then soaked in water and scrubbed off with an old tooth brush.

Additional roof weathering.

I applied some dust weathering along the stepped edges of the roof and over the top of the salt-weathered roof.  This car ended up with much more subtle salt-weathering.  A running board was then attached to the supports in the roof.  A quick pass with dust and a wash of dark gray/black to accent between the running boards.  Then I came back with a piece of scrap plastic 1x4 dipped in dirt colored paint to apply the dirt/mud boot prints along the roof.

Final pre-weathering on left side of car.

These two shots show the car with the most of my weathering applied now.  The car still needs the dimensional and class data applied below the herald.  The weight and dimensional data decals are coming from 87-911 decal set as well.  The tare data and repack stencil are OwlMtModels F-50-series Era-D set.

Final pre-weathering on right side of car.

I decided to put white/light dirt color stains along the floor of the car, leaking out under the sideboards and around the door lock.  This car will probably be regularly assigned to rough freight, which on the Owenyo Branch can include bulk-hand loaded soapstone blocks.  Bagged goods off the SPNG probably would have required boxcars of B-rating, which wouldn't have exposed nail heads or other damaged interior, which could tear the bags.

Backdating the Brakes

AB Brakes removed from Accurail UF, new (old) OMM K-Brake and rod installed.

The spare K-brake that I'm applying to the SP 24864 came from my building of other OwlMtModels F-50-flatcars result in spare AB or K-Brake depending on which brakes are used on the flatcar.  The Accurail mounting pad for the brake cylinder works well for the OMM brake cylinder.  An additional brace will need to be fabricated to support the reservoir end of the K-brake.

In Part 2, I'll be adding some brake lever and rod details to the underframe.

In Closing

Here's the car as it stands at the end of this part.

I still need to apply the end number decals.  I may choose to do some clerk chalk marks. Once all the underbody work is finished, I'll be installing the brake staff and wheel.

Jason Hill

Modeling SP B-50-12 class from Tichy USRA Boxcar

Modeling B-50-13 & B-50-14 classes with Accurail Boxcars

Salt-Mask Weathering (Part 1) - First experimenting with salt-masking for roof galvanized weathering.