Volume 1 No. 5, Passenger Trains: Why “S” May Be For You

The S Scale Journal

The Online Journal of the S Scale SIG
Volume 1 No. 5, February 20, 2012

Passenger Trains:
Why “S” May Be For You

by Dick Karnes

There are cogent reasons to consider a switch to S scale. If you are in a larger scale and face downsizing your living quarters, S may be for you. If you’re in HO or N, are getting older, and your eyesight isn’t what it used to be, S may be for you.

Mike’s story combines both of these. Mike, forty-ish, switched three years ago. He was an O scale NYC fan who wanted two trainsets of the Central’s Southwestern Limited passenger train, a five-car Budd consist as it crosses the Midwest. He began to realize there was no way he could plausibly do this in the limited space he has, so he thought “I need to switch to HO.” But, being a practical man, he projected ahead another 20 years: “I’d have to switch scales again as my eyesight degrades.” Bob McCarthy’s streamlined passenger-car kits marketed under “The Supply Car” brand, pushed Mike over the edge.

Bob McCarthy’s cars can be furnished with Budd, Pullman, and ACF car sides in any prototype window configuration at no extra charge. Can’t find the one you want in Bob’s listing? Send him a plan and it’ll get made. I did that for the 1938 20th Century Limited observation car, and I got exactly what I wanted.

Shown are some of the components in a typical Supply Car passenger-car kit. This particular car is a diner from the NYC’s 1938 20th Century Limited. Shown above are the two sides against a core body, floor below, and some of the underbody details at the bottom. Roof details also come with the kit. The Supply Car will soon have full-width diaphragm kits to go with these.

Commonwealth 43-R triple-bolster roller-bearing trucks were standard on most 1938 20th Century cars, although the Century’s diners and RPO had six-wheel trucks. The 43-R roller-bearing trucks (shown from a 1938 Commonwealth ad) and similar SP-43 plain-bearing trucks are now a committed River Raisin Models project.

The Supply Car
356 Conrad Circle
Columbia, SC 29212
(803) 429-1811

River Raisin Models
6160 Upper Straits Blvd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48324
(248) 366-9621

Volume 1 No. 4, River Raisin Model’s USRA 0-6-0 – First Look

The S Scale Journal

The Online Journal of the S Scale SIG
Volume 1 No. 4, February 12, 2012

River Raisin Model’s USRA 0-6-0
First Look

reviewed by Ed Loizeaux
photos by Dick Karnes

This past weekend I had the opportunity to see and handle River Raisin Model’s newest brass imported steam locomotive – the USRA 0-6-0. When this project was first announced, I expected to see one loco in several different paint schemes. Instead, I saw six different locos and six different tenders in six different paint schemes – plus the painted, but unlettered version as well. To start with, the locos shown in the photos are “production samples” which means the pilot model has already been evaluated and corrections made. These production samples have also been evaluated and corrections made. The production models are expected to be shipped to customers in late February or early March of 2012.

Dan Navarre, sole proprietor of RRM, says he has a few unsold models of some versions. So if any of these look appealing, it would be best to order them promptly. The NYC version is sold out. I learned that one of Dan’s favorite remarks is, “If you wanted that version, you should have ordered it during the reservation period.” The versions seen include the NYC, B&O, UP, NKP, GT and PRR.

The amazing part of this project is that each loco and each tender is designed and built to be “road specific” which means the detailing and features are different for each railroad being modeled. Here are some of the unique features for each version:

1. Builder’s Plates – Each loco has a builder’s plate that is correct for the actual builder. Thus, the Baldwin-built locos have a round builder’s plate; the ALCO locos have a rectangular one and the Altoona Works (PRR) have an oval one. If that was not enough, each builders plate has the exact same number as on the side of the cab. How much accuracy can we tolerate?

2. Most of the smokestacks look similar, but the B&O version is noticeably shorter and fatter. Dan assures me this is not an error, but prototypically correct.

3. Between the six locos, there are five different headlights. Each headlight is correct for the road being modeled. If that were not enough, the number boards and number plates are also correct for the prototype railroad.

4. The NKP version has the unique “front end throttle” used by no other of the six. How many in S-land know the difference between a “front end throttle” and a “dome throttle”? Ask Dan. He can explain it to you.

5. All clear vision tenders are different and each is correct for the road being modeled. The USRA standard tender has a coal pusher included which Dan says has never been done before in any scale.

6. The GT version has a very unique and interesting handrail arrangement on the front. All versions have different handrail arrangements to be correct for the road being modeled. In addition to the handrails, each loco has different piping to be correct for the road being modeled.

7. Each version has a different whistle location to be correct for the road being modeled.

8. The prototype GT version had number plates (made from sheet metal) attached to the cab sides. The RRM GT version has 3-D numbers etched into the cab sides. The thickness of the numbers can be seen and felt. No Optivisor needed.

9. The GT 0-6-0 prototype tenders had different logos for each division. The size and case (upper vs. lower) were unique for each division. RRM got it correct for the road and division being modeled.

10. The GT version has handrails on the cab roof per the prototype.

Features common to all versions are listed below:

A. All versions have working headlights, backup lights and cab lights.

B. The defacto DCC standard 9-pin connector with shorting plug is wired in place.

C. The tender floor looks like Swiss cheese to let the sound out. Customer has to put the sound in.

D. A very high quality MAXON motor was used for high torque at low rpm. Slow switching speeds should be excellent (in theory). Note: I did not operate the locos. This is a visual report only.

E. All drivers have stainless steel drivers. No more nickel-plated brass! Personally, I am very happy to see this become a new standard. Thank you to Boo-Rim (and Dan).

Dick Karnes clicked a few photos on the Bay Area S Scale (BASS) modular layout. They are included here for your visual enjoyment.

As usual, the question for RRM is now: “What’s next, Dan?”

Volume 1 No. 3, The Outhouses from Wild West Scale Model Builders

The S Scale Journal

The Online Journal of the S Scale SIG
Volume 1 No. 3, February 1, 2012

“The Outhouses”

reviewed by Dick Karnes

Kit No. 317, $14.95 MSRP
Wild West Scale Model Builders
P.O. Box 1971
Englewood, CO 80150
(303) 842-6106

The kit builds two typical peaked-roof outhouses. This particular kit is front-gabled; kits for side-gabled and shed-roofed outhouses are also available (Nos. 216 and 218 [HO], No. 316 and 318 [S], same prices). As a Northern New Jersey teen-ager, I spent a fair share of my Boy Scout summer-camp time in outhouses. Even though my camp’s facilities were two-holers, I can tell you that this kit’s one-holers are quite accurate!

This is a well-conceived kit. The experienced modeler will be able to assemble one outhouse per hour, not including painting. The inexperienced modeler will learn a lot about laser-cut kits, will make a couple of mistakes, and yet will produce a model indistinguishable from that of an expert.

The two outhouses are very similar. The only differences are just two: The door of one has a diamond-shaped vent hole, whereas the other has no vent hole. Also, one outhouse has horizontal sheathing, whereas the other has vertical sheathing. Either door can be built with or without “Z” trim, and opening either left or right. You also have the option of using three blank walls or two blank walls plus a windowed wall.

A sixteenth-inch thick scribed fret contains the floor, sides, rear, front, and roof decking. Two more thirty-second-inch thick frets contain most of the rest of the laser-cut parts. Additionally, there is ample laser-cut rustic shingle material plus wood angle stock for corner caps.

Before cutting the parts from the frets, I brush-painted the parts with Floquil BN Green for the walls, door, and window sash, and Floquil Southern Green for the trim. I left the toilet seat and floor in their natural wood color.

I followed the instructions for my first outhouse. The instructions suggest installing the window sash and frame on the side, and the door frame on the front before assembling the four walls and floor. Based on my experience, I deviated from the instructions for the second outhouse. I waited until the four walls and floor were assembled before gluing the door frame in place. The reason is that you are nearly certain to break the front wall, which means that you’d also break the door frame in the process. Let me explain.

The front wall is U-shaped because of the door cut-out. As such, it is much weaker than the robust side and rear pieces, which are solid or nearly so. Furthermore, the interlocking edges of the adjacent wall sections that form the vertical corners of the structure are extremely tight – So much so that dry-fitting is not possible. You just can’t force the parts together. The solution is to use a slippery adhesive like a water-soluble white glue. I prefer Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue because it begins to set up rapidly while still allowing some adjustment, and it dries clear and non-shiny.

You will need to force-fit the adjacent wall sections together. This goes well for the rear and two sides. I was unable to get the front wall in place on either of my outhouses without breakage. The best approach is to assume it will break. Slice the front wall into two pieces before attempting to attach it. With your modeling knife, cut the front wall along the pre-scribed line nearest to one of the upper corners of the door opening, because that’s where the part will break anyway. This allows you to fit each side of the front wall to its adjacent sidewall independently. Then work a little glue into the butt joint where you made your cut to separate the front wall into two pieces.

Finally, glue the door frame in place. This piece, flimsy as it is by itself, will stiffen the front wall once it is glued in place. Then glue the floor, with toilet seat already installed on it, into the bottom of the entire wall assembly. This will “square” the building and trap the bottom of the front wall so it won’t go anywhere. Be sure to do this before the glue sets up permanently (about 20-30 minutes).

I contacted Wild West’s Mike Pyne to discuss this fit-up problem. Here is what he said:

“I started producing kits with a very calculated offset that would allow for assembly of the model without glue for a “dry-fit” as you mentioned. This allowed me a way to build a prototype structure without permanently gluing any parts so that I could change them if I needed to. It takes a lot of time to adjust all of the tabs, rather than just making the male and female parts the same in the drawing file. [This is because] when the laser cuts the parts, it burns away part of that line that it cuts, so if there is no planned offset, the pieces will fit very loosely.)

“It sounds like I might need to revisit the outhouses and check on their tab offsets! The kit should be able to have a “dry-fit” assembly, and, as you mentioned that it was not possible, there must be something wrong that I need to look at.

“On two of my upcoming not-yet-released S scale kits, I have modified the offsets just slightly. I hope this helps with the problem you describe.“

You will need to be careful with the corner-cap angle material because the four lengths are just enough for both outhouses. Instead of pre-cutting the lengths in half, I glued each uncut angle cap to the outhouse corners, flush with the bottom of the floor. Then, with a new No. 11 X-acto blade, I carefully cut the excess angle off, even with the slope of the roof. Then I did exactly the same with the second outhouse. You may have to try the angles in different corners to get sufficient length against the slanted side. The resulting shavings are miniscule.

The rustic shingle material is beautifully done. I applied mine with Aleene’s glue, which required me to be patient. This is because the last two tiers of shingle need to be trimmed at the ridge, which requires the glue to set up first. Alternatively, I could have used a thickened version of CA glue for much faster curing. Two ridge cap strips are included in the kit. I folded and glued the ridge cap in place on one outhouse. For the second, I chose to cut the individual cap shingles apart and apply them individually.

Construction of each outhouse should take about an hour for an experienced laser-cut wood kit builder, two or three times as long for a neophyte. If you are new to laser kits, this one’s the one for you. You will probably make mistakes, you will be able to recover, and you’ll get an automatic second chance to do better. And you won’t spend much money for the experience!