Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Out of Town Guests

 We were privileged to have a couple of members from our Civil War RRs group visit the W&A, Roger Rossi from TX and Dan Free from NYC. Left to right... Dave Eberhardt, friend since high school days whose layout was my first experience building layout models; Christopher Eldridge who has scratch built several structures on the W&A. It helps that in addition to being an incredible model builder he is also a master carpenter; Dan Free who wrote and published his book  on Japanese RR's; Frank Marticelli from my local model railroad club, and Roger.

Here is the cover of Dan's book. It is a most remarkable work of research!

I have been busy working on a couple of locomotives installing the Tsunami 2 1100 decoder as well as working on my NMRA Achievement Program for structures. Although a fair amount of paperwork, it has helped me become more thoughtful and organized on my approach to building. It has also been a fabulous time having a few NMRA Division members visit as judges. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Adams Express Group Build Project

 About one month ago, Bernie Kempinski posted a suggestion / challenge for a group build of a box / freight car. The purpose is to generate activity and motivation for those who have wanted or perhaps have stalled on a project. It also can inform members and viewers as to the possibilities to increase your railroad fleet. I chose to scratch build the Adams Express car. As far as we know, there are only two ACW era photos. Interesting in that there are three different types reveled in these images shown below...

This first image, taken in Nashville, has long side openings and an exterior door. The truck side frames are unique in that they are braced with two vertical beams to accommodate heavy loads. One can assume that the color was on the lighter side since the lettering and numbers are dark. A cool modeling detail is the calk marks on the sides. Although they could be considered graffiti today, these were either instructions or notations for the handlers.

This next image shows two Adams cars photographed in Chattanooga, circa 1864...

On the left, a distinct difference from the above is that the door runs on the inside and has a curved roof versus peaked. And seeing white lettering, most likely the color is quite dark. Looking at a photo I took at the Sacramento Museum, it could be a bluish green, seen below this photo.

Back to the Nashville photo, the Adams car to the right has other differences which include a shorter height, a boarded up window and what appears to be an even lighter color with dark lettering.  

Here is a sequence of photos of my partially completed version of the car in the Chattanooga photo...

Siding is Northwestern scale lumber, 1/8" scribed siding, but the planks are too wide. I would use the more prototypical 1/16" for others. The roof is card stock and scored to illustrate a metal roof. I will add Panamint HOT82sACW 3D printed trucks and InterMountain metal wheels. I used metal crate castings for weights and have one door open to see in. Look close and there is a waybill attached to one of the crates. On the other end is a 1/4 oz. weight to bring the total weight to about 46 grams. Alexander link and pin couplers are also attached. Grab irons are Detail West .019 brass wire. Grandt Line  #5101 nut/bolt castings also add to the detail. Turnbuckles are by Tichy. Queen posts I believe are Grandt Line. I found these in a drawer, to my joyful surprise, but were loose so the manufacturer is a guess. Lastly will be to create decals or cut individual letters... oh boy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Latest Images of the Atlanta Rolling Mill

Amazing in that five months have passed, I have had the least amount of work and NO POSTS! I decided to at the least share a few photos of the current state of the mill. 

The primary source for the interior detailing comes from this painting by Menzel:

One of the first interior elements were 3D printed by my good friend, and ACWRR member, Gerry Dykstra. He fashioned rollers that are a visual feature for this model.

This is one of many images Gerry sent to me and was the basis for his 3D printed roles:

These are the results of his printer. I add the bracing, stanchions and drive shafts all from brass rod and tubing.

Another massive machine was the steam hammer. Here is another image, compliments to Gerry's research, that was the template for the model I scratch built.

After scrapping the first attempt, due to oversize measuring on my part, this is the final completed model. The horizontal and vertical rods are the truss rods that kept the walls together.

Constructing the Bow Trusses were a tedious process. Here are two photos...

Adding additional details including figures, this is it's current state...
If you look closely, I fabricated aprons on several workers tending the rollers. These were formed with very old toothpaste tubes that used to made from metal. Initially I was using these to create flags, about 40 years ago. 
I attached BTS tongs to figures that just happened to have their arms in the right position. Although I have altered figures arms, etc., I prefer to find figures that are close to or happen to have just the right position. These are a combination of Musket Miniatures, Prieser and Model Power. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020


Track-side industry was scarce, even rare in the 1850's and through most of the 1860's. Although there may have been more, I have not researched past 1865 being a stickler for this time period. However, when industries can be identified, especially if my intention is to simulate operations, I will find a way to position it. This became so with a mill just outside of Atlanta, the Schofield Rolling Mill. The photo below shows the remains of the mill taken by the photographer who accompanied Gen'l Sherman during the Atlanta Campaign, George Barnard, in 1864. The remains of a whole lot of rail cars plus a couple of locomotives also fill the scene. Atlanta was under siege and General Hood's Army of TN was in retreat. Abandoning Atlanta required abandoning the trains as well because Sherman's army cut off the rail lines. Consequently, the trains were  intentionally torched. The rail cars also just happened to be loaded with munitions! Hence, the mess. 
There are other images of similar rolling mills, however, this is the only photo of Schofield I could find. And as you can see, there are two tracks. Most likely, but uncertain, is that one track is a passing siding and the other a main. 
You may recall the scene in Gone With The Wind where Rhett is leading a carriage with Millie, her new born and Scarlet through the burning cars in the Atlanta rail yard. That was the a depiction of Confederate soldiers needing to burn the cars and inadvertently so went the mill. Matter of fact, Wilbur Kurtz, consultant to the movie, had the prop builders add a sign to one of the buildings that read MILL. You can see this on photo outtakes of the film.

A close proximity to how the Schofield mill looked is this illustration. The caption lists it as Atlanta-Rolling Mill-1871. Serious selective compression will be required. I am modeling the 1863 version which, with poetic license, compression was required. 
Apparently, production output of the mill included mostly rail and canon tubes. One interesting feature of the structure is that it was open along most walls. This makes sense given the hot summers down south and the need for ventilation. Further research, and help from my buddy Gerry Dykstra, surfaced images of how the interior may have looked. 
This following painting is by von-Menzel depicting a mill in Europe. Many conversations later I was able to confirm that the interior was built of wood beams. Gerry indicated that the floor most likely was iron sheets vs. brick or stone as they would have exploded like shrapnel if hot iron hit it. The vertical beams would most likely have  been wrapped with iron sheet as well about 4' from the floor up to protect against flame. 
This next painting is a mill in Toronto. A big difference here is the roof design. This looks to be an A-type. The Atlanta mill roof was curved, similar to those of the Car Sheds in Atlanta and Chattanooga. Bow trusses will be built to accommodate the mill's curved roof. As you can see, there are a plethora of possibilities to be considered for the interior.

To begin,  I had identified a spot for the mill. The layout expansion not only solidified this plan, it also allowed the inclusion of a passing siding and room for a very compressed model of the mill. This will be north of Atlanta. 

However, the real mill was adjacent to two tracks, the Georgia RR and the East Tennessee & Ga. RR. Location was actually west of Atlanta. The diagram below was done by an on-line friend, Zoe, who unfortunately passed away a few years ago. Her plan was to create a virtual W&A. Although not completed, her research was invaluable. The W&A roundhouse is left, northwest of downtown. The tracks along its left side headed south passed the mill.

Speaking with Gerry Dykstra, he sent me a drawing of the floor plan as he would imagine it, as there is no such drawing, at least in my research. Working off this period photo, Gerry was able to draft a floor plan including rollers, furnaces and other essential elements.

The roof will be 3/4 with the open end of course facing the aisle.

Nest step was to build a base. The majority of layout structures are removable. The same is planned for the mill. As I could not find a thick enough styrene, this is a laminate. Quick Grip is THE BEST!
Next was to add the iron plating Gerry mentioned. These were each 5'x7'. It took a few... The gear is from a Faller steam engine model, #180388.
Base done, next was needing to build the roof first because it has a steep curve. Similar to the card shed, the roof is built first then the bow trusses. To built roof a jig was required. The jig is thin sheet metal.
First layer of styrene is little more than paper thin. Roof texture, Evergreen Metal Roofing #4521, is the top layer. 'Bondene' is the adhesive which works GREAT with most styrene, vs. Testors which seems to work only with Evergreen. 

Several sections of the metal roofing were needed to complete the length. Once these were set, next was to add the seems. These metal roofs were made in sections. The material was a tin makeup. The seems represent the soldered sections.

As you can see, MANY of these little buggers were required. Once done I chose a silver metallic spray paint as a base color. Roof was then painted a heavy wash of gray craft paints.

You notice the area where seems stopped. This was to allow the back section of the structure to be attached. The sides were cut from the Dykstra template...

The oval areas were louvers. Once attached as the sides, the roof interior was next. A terrific web site,, offers free images. I was luck enough to find wood that matched what we deduced for the ceiling. A key bit of research came from another friend, Charlie who did the Chattanooga Car Shed... O scale! Charlie had this done to full scale; it came out to about 4'. 

For my HO version, another good friend, Jimmy Judge, scaled the image to HO. As you see, these were cut into strips as I needed to install the cross bracing first because these needed to be glued directly to the ceiling. The paper would have impeded the adhesion. 

The result was gratifying, especially after some gritty weathering.

Of course I did not recognize the need for corbels as this project was learn as you go. These were willed with my Dremel hitched to a vise and used as a lathe.

Roof completed, work on the lean-to section commenced.  

This roof would be where the chimneys from the furnaces and boilers protruded. The chimneys came out to be the featured element.

Using another paper, each chimney required 8 pieces to achieve the look of the period photo.

After many conversations with different construction friends and Mr Dykstra, copper flashing was deduced.

Stay tuned. In another couple of weeks I will have completed adding the bow truss rods, boilers, furnaces, steam engine and steam hammer.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Member's Bin Busy!

Over the last several weeks, as we have been honoring the "stay home" recommendations, I have been hearing from several friends and members about their respective projects. This post is to give y'all an idea on what folks are doing, from masters to beginners. There are four, most of whom you have seen before. First up, Charlie Taylor's M&C, Memphis and Charleston. He is currently further detailing the area in and around Memphis. Charlie is one of us 'crazy' modelers. In addition to hand carving tunnel entryways as limestone block, Charlie just finished carving this cobblestone street. 
This is the area planned for the cobblestones, around the M&C Depot. 
He uses a sheet of bass wood for carving the stones.

And here are two photos with final results...

Next we have a relatively new modeler, Paul Ciesmelewski. I met Paul through a local hobby shop, Hobby Masters, which unfortunately is no longer. However, Paul is one of those other rare modelers focusing on civil war and coincidentally, the Western & Atlantic. He has already scratch built the Chattanooga Car Shed and a church. His next project is the premier hotel of this dirt water town, at the time, the Crutchfield House. It was located within a short walking distance from the shed, or passenger depot. 
He has a unique approach in that he is building the shell to be able to be removed from the interior structure. 

Paul is dividing the interior into three floors and about 16 rooms. 
Main structure complete, he is adding this roof. Eventually Paul plans to add basic interiors, wall paper and home made furniture items. His 'crazy', however,... adding lights to the fireplaces! His layout will also depict the battle of Mission or Missionary Ridge in 1863. 
Someone known to most ACWRRHS members and perhaps in the model railroad community, LeBron Mathews, is DE-constructing his W&A with a reno plan to allow more options to run his railroad, operations and, as important given his inventory, storage. As he has begun to remove structures and dismantle track, to counter balance the remorse of tear-down he is also upgrading structures with finer details, if you can imagine that for LeBron. The LOC (library of Congress) is his primary source. 
Most of LeBron's work is scratch building. One example of his upgrading is the Atlanta Hotel. A photo prior to the changes below.
His rebuild shows a completely different roof trim, sign with yellow trim, balcony spindles removed for a solid wall and red shutters. What other changes can you see?
How does he know this? There are a couple of sources. One is the LOC where TIFF files reveal slight variations of color as well as details otherwise undetected. Second source is information about structure building at that time. As an example, two primary colors were used for trim and shudders. Generally speaking, green was primarily used on residential and small businesses. Red would be found on the more high end establishments such as the Atlanta Hotel, one of a few in Atlanta.

In addition to his scratch building, LeBron also uses kits. One of the most similar looking period structures is made my DPM, Design Preservation Models. Here he changed out the roof from flat to tin.
His coloring and weathering is off the charts! George Selios would be proud!
Next up is the Delaware Central RR. Our good friend, and co-founder of the American Civil War RR Historical Society, DC Cebula is beginning his foray building a layout. After MUCH re-configuring... no not the layout plan although that is always a process, he is revamping his basement first! Already with new lighting, outlets, relocating his "stuff" and having purchased lumber, here is his latest track plan. Grids are 1' so this will be a 4'x12', however I believe he mentioned he is working to extend it to 18' . The red line is the backdrop, narrow side for staging. However, please do take a ride to and into his new BLOG! 

One fella you may have heard about in one conversation of another as only a few of us know is Rhett Tyler. He certainly has the right name for our era. Rhett has been nt only modeling but has built some of thee most detailed accurate models of locomotives. He did one for me based on a photo from Chattanooga, #50, a USMRR 4-4-0. That was when I was planning to have Union forces in Chattanooga and Confederate in Atlanta. However, after he built this gorgeous model I soon after dropped the Union idea. It is now being reconfigured as the Tennessee, a Georgia RR loco. Check out the piping and the prototypical cross head guide. 
Decals are compliments to John Ott, another master who we quite honored to have in our midst and joined us for the Gettysburg meet in 2015.

Rhett is modeling the New York Central & Hudson River RR. His bridge is scratch built. And these are just a few of his collection of locomotives. I believe he has close to 14. His knowledge of locomotives is extraordinary as well as rolling stock of the era. I have called him on many occasions when uncertain about a design element when doing my own rebuilds.

As you can see, and perhaps you as well, we are channeling our energies that can uplift us when the news can be quite disturbing. In one way we intend that these posts and photos will be a contribution to you, as an inspiration or at very least an enjoyable read. Very Best!