B&O M-24 USRA 40′ Boxcar – Achieving a Color Shift on a Rapido Model

B&O M-24a or b “Cement Car”. Paul Dunn Photograph. B&O RR Historical Society Collection.

This is a quick blog post so that others faced with a similar dilemma can see if they can use my techniques to shift the factory applied paint on their Rapido USRA B&O M-24 boxcar. I have several other blog posts and models I am working on, but this was an unexpected issue that came in the mail with my factory ordered model. I expected a brown boxcar to arrive and when time allowed I would change some lettering to reflect a ten year old boxcar on my layout set in 1950.

When the car arrived along with a Midwestern road version that I was really after to serve my milling plant, I took a few minutes at lunch to add some black and gray pin wash to both cars. The finish was glossy enough that I thought the technique could work straight out of the box, no gloss coat required.

The Rapido model is between two other commercially available B&O freight car brown boxcars that are close to the color seen in prototype photographs from the era. The only alterations to the Rapido car are some black pinwash on the simulated metal parts on the sides and ends. The other cars have been sprayed with a clear matte varnish over black and dark gray pastels. The photo was taken under 5000K LED bulb lighting.
The same model photographed in natural sunlight with the same slight weathering.

The pinwash did work and since I was was working near a large window, I had lots of sunlight to assist. This environment made me look closer at the color of the B&O car and I was convinced it was more green than brown. Sort of an US Olive Drab Green. I took some photos. And then when I got home I put it on the layout next to other boxcars of all kinds and to my surprise it looked even more green. I know lots of people have some type of color blindness so I thought that’s what I was seeing. But it was definitely different and didn’t come close to any of the B&O brown boxcars I own, either commercially painted or those I painted myself. I took some more photos on the layout under 5000K LED bulbs and shared them with a few friends who model the B&O and look at colors critically. They agreed that it was green I was seeing. For context, let me add that B&O boxcars of that era were painted a very average brown color until the mid 40s when a much more red freight car red was introduced. That later color is the color many see in color photographs of 50s era B&O boxcars. These changes in color also go along with changes in lettering. These were detailed by Chris Barkan and this information is available on the B&O Railroad Historical Society website. And to make it more difficult to know a true color there are not too many color photographs of the older brown color.

A relatively unweathered B&O boxcar in a 40’s era Jack Delano photograph. Library of Congress Collection.

I should have stated this up front and it is very important to say. I am not, and I repeat not, someone who focuses on exact color matches and original drift cards in my modeling. But, I do expect that when I purchase a well detailed and accurate prototype model that the color be close to the prototype. I don’t know the correct color for every model I buy and I trust the manufacturer of a high end product to get it close. This was not close by my standards for a B&O boxcar, but it may be fine for many others.

So what to do? I am aware that the manufacturer worked with the BORRHS so I assume they did their due diligence, so I wouldn’t expect a refund or a new model. Things happen. I looked at this as an opportunity to learn a little more about the color wheel and see how I could make this model match the other cars in my B&O car fleet. Many of the other cars in my fleet are Rapido, so this is not an indictment of their efforts. I certainly appreciate all the steam era models they have brought to the marketplace and support their efforts as much as I can.

So learning a little more about the color wheel and using techniques shared with me on the Real Steam Freight Cars .IO group, I decided to try to tint a matte overspray with a color that would shift the color of the car closer to what I believe is appropriate for a B&O boxcar painted in the late 30s or early 40s. I assumed this era based on the stenciling recreated on the model. As I detailed in a previous blog post, I now use Winsor and Newton Galeria Matt Varnish (I switched from Dullcote for performance and economic reasons, see previous blog), which is water soluble and can mix with the Vallejo Model Air colors that I choose to use.

I loaded some Matt Varnish in my airbrush and added a few drops of Vallejo Fire Red and less German Red Brown (about 5 to 1). I sprayed it on some white paper to see how much red brown would be applied to the model. I chose a red brown mix as that is opposite green (blue and yellow mixed) on the color wheel and should mute out some of the green in the boxcar’s appearance. It took two coats and the overspray turned the white lettering pink, there was a fair amount of red in the tinted matte varnish.

It might not have been the best solution, but I was trying to save myself from having to repaint and decal the model, so I used a microbrush to quickly wipe off some of the overspray from the lettering while it was still wet. It worked for the most part, but up close (last photo in this post) you can see where the overspray was wiped off of the car body outside of the lettering. Hopefully it’s not too noticeable, but it did cause me to go a little heavy on the weathering. Not inappropriate for a ten year car, I hope.

The result of the tinted matte overspray next to a more weathered model shown in the previous photo. This photo is also taken under the same 5000K LED bulbs I use on my layout.
These are the colors I used to tint the matte varnish. The Fire Red was added about 5 drops to 1 drop of the German Red Brown to the paint cup of Matt Varnish.

I added some paint failure spots on the roof with gray paint, blue washes and assorted colored pencils, then weathered it with black pastels to simulate soot and a hard life in the Northeast. The sides were lightly sprayed with a gray/black tinted matt varnish to add some lighter weathering to look softer, but similar to the roof.

The last details I add were new decaled reweigh and repack stencils closer to 1950, some faded chalk marks with sharp colored pencils, and a couple of brighter chalk marks with decals. I added spots of Pledge for a gloss decaling surface where needed for decaling, then after heavy doses of Walters Solvaset, covered the decal spots with matt varnish and some gray chalks to fade them a little. The trucks and wheels were sprayed with Vallejo NATO Black like most cars on my layout. The couplers were replaced with Kadee #158 scale head couplers. I still need to add some rust paint to them.

I hope this provides some helpful information to others and allows them to rescue this model or others using similar techniques. I certainly wasn’t expecting or relishing this challenge, but in the end I learned some new things and ended up with a model that fits my layout well. That’s got to be worth something!

This is the finished model on my layout. The color is very close to the brown freight color I would expect.The model depicts a car painted in the late 30s or early 40s as it might appear in 1950 without a repaint.
And here is a roster shot of the finished model in higher resolution.

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The Northern Central Railway (NCR) Trail. A View from My Bike. Ashland, MD to Parkton, MD.

The view from a bridge right before trail mile marker 6. The river is just to the left in the photo. All photographs by author.

If you have ever worked within the beverage industry you know the fierce rivalry between Coke and Pepsi. I had a summer job at the beach delivering Coca-Cola syrup and I learned the intensity of the rivalry. Like Michigan vs. Ohio State, you don’t ever mention the competitor’s name, let alone give them any credit for anything. I believe the B&O vs. PRR rivalry was similar, at least in my family with my grandfather, father, uncles, cousins, and myself all working for the B&O. We’re talking about back over 100 years to just after the First World War.

I live on the NCR Trail, a rail trail that extends over 40 miles from Ashland, MD (Cockeysville) to York, PA. It follows the right of way of the Northern Central Railway, later a part of the PRR. My wife loves to run so this was the perfect location when we moved back north from North Carolina. A few hundred yards from my house is mile zero on the trail just north about a 1/3 of mile north is railroad mile marker 16 from Baltimore with mile 122 on the other side of the marker.

Across the former tracks at trail marker zero was the Ashland Furnace, chartered in 1844 and by 1850 its annual output was 4,300 tons of pig iron. It was served by a siding on the south side of the line. In 1887 the Pennsylvania Steel Company purchased the works but sold it for scrap value in 1892 when they realized their Sparrows Point Plant was more cost-effective. Some of the original village housing and the original Post Office survive today.

Heading north toward York from trail mile zero, the line crosses Paper Mill Road and the first artifact you come upon is a Lime Kiln built into the side of a hill.

Phoenix, MD is the next town on the right of way and a historical marker show the location and a photo of the Phoenix Cotton Mill. This mill was water powered and was served by the NCR.

The Phoenix Cotton Mill site looks like this today, the parking lot in the foreground serves the trail.

North of Phoenix, on the east side of the old line there appears to an abandoned quarry. You really have to slow down and look for it and it is most visible in the winter. The granite face is still exposed and extends about 100 yards from the line to a steep cliff guarded by a fence at the top. This area is just north of milepost 19/119

At the Quarry, looking south toward Ashland.
Looking east a stone wall is nearest the trail.
Looking east the back wall of the quarry is visble through the trees.
Looking north from the quarry, RR mile marker 119/19 is on the left.

Further north, Sparks, MD is a small village with an impressive stone bank building and access from Sparks Road. There is no sign of a station, but with such an impressive bank, there might have been one in the area at some point.

Sparks, MD Bank about a block east of the former rail crossing.

Glencoe Road is the next crossing. A building called Glencoe Station was torn down in either 2017 or 2018. Some work to restore it seemed to have started and then it was torn down. The station must have served the Oldfields School, a girl’s boarding school, just west on Glencoe Road. The road crosses the Little Gunpowder River on a temporary metal one lane bridge. On the east side of the trail is a well preserved old structure that was reported to be a resort in the early 1900s for folks wanting to get out of the city heat in the summer. Just north of here the line starts a climb that extends to just past Monkton Station.

Former resort at Glencoe Road.

Corbett is a small village with a several buildings, one close to the line may have served the railroad. Possibly there was an local agent of the railroad in the structure, this was not uncommon in small farming communities in Maryland. Pure conjecture on my part as I don’t see remnants of a station, but rail is still intact near the crossing at Corbett Road.

Corbett, MD

Monkton Station is a well preserved station at Monkton Road just about a mile north of Corbett. There are several other buildings in the crossing area, though the town of Monkton now incorporates a much larger area and is easily accessible from York Road by a modern road. That is not the usual case for roads that cross this lower part of the NCR Trail. Some are now part of the park lands that encompass the river that feeds the Loch Raven Reservoir, part of the City of Baltimore water system. These park lands allow me to live within blocks of busy York Road, while being able to go a few blocks in the other direction to access the trail and the river that is stocked with trout in spring for fly-fishing.

On the north side of the Monkton Road crossing sits the Monkton Hotel still in use as a coffee shop and residences.
Headed south toward Monkton Station.
A little closer, headed south toward Monkton Station. The Monkton Hotel can be seen on the left.

North and down the hill from Monkton is a small two-story stone building that looks like part of a larger installation. It is rumored to have been a home for a track maintenance person. That does not seem likely as railroads in the east didn’t often provide housing for track maintenance employees and this is very close to Monkton Station, with other private homes nearby and available for use by employees.

Unidentified structure north of Monkton Station.

Heading north from the Monkton, after the stone building ruins, the line ascends slightly and there a siding on a deck girder bridge branches off the mainline. This is after railroad mile marker 24/114, mile 8 on the modern trail mile markers. I have never followed this siding, but it seems to head northwest to a quarry.

Deck girder bridge for a former siding.

The first road crossing north of Monkton is Bluemont Road, up the hill from the grade crossing is a beautiful farm house.

View northwest from Bluemont Road crossing.

After trail marker 10 and an ascent, the trail enters White Hall and flattens out. This small village has a post office and a gas station. It, like many towns along the line had sturdy bank building, now sitting in somewhat disrepair. In the town, the old gas station is on the to the north end and past what might have been railroad station location and what appears to have been a coal dump.

White Hall has a trail maintenance building and a parking lot, it looks like it would have been the location of a station at one time. This shot is looking north.
White Hall Bank as seen from the trail.
This sure looks like it was a gas station at some point in the past.
I don’t have a track chart of confirm this, bit this looks like a former coal dump.
A tributary going under the right of way in White Hall.

The trail, and the old rail line, heading up to Parkton follows the river closely and crosses tributaries. At some points the valley is narrow and in other places if widens out and the river runs smoothly south and east.

The river along the right of way north of White Hall.

When the right of way arrives near Parkton, MD, there are two grade crossings, the first being Frederick Road and the second being Dairy Road. Between these two roads State Park signage indicates there were sidings used for maintenance and a wye to turn locomotives.

The sign and the area nearby is easily accessible by walking south from the former Dairy Road crossing.

From Parkton it is about 7 miles to the Pennsylvania line and a little beyond that is New Freedom, PA. I will add another post with photos and some information about that part of the line in the future.

Post-publishing edit: I forgot about a video i shot a few years ago while traversing the 40 miles of the NCR trail from Ashland, MD to York, PA. This video was taken north of New Freedom, PA where the excursion train is based as the Northern Central Railway of York.

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My Basic Scenery Techniques: Adding Figures

The one thing I have noticed that is absent from model railroad blogs is painting and modifying HO scale figures. I never paid much attention to them and then I realized from photos of other’s layouts that they add an important dimension. Scale. Nothing makes a steam locomotive look larger than than life in HO scale, then a ground level photo with a figure being dwarfed by the driving wheels.

Some HO scale figures from various sources on a foam painting block.

When modeling a figure for my layout, the first thing I do is add a piece of very stiff K&N .015 steel music wire into one of the figure’s feet. I drill a hole and use ACC glue to add a short piece to make it easy to stick the figure into a block of rigid foam board insulation for painting and when complete, into the layout scenery. The steel wire is sturdy enough to push through many scenery materials to allow the figures to be repositioned when desired.

There are only a few railroad figures available that are a good fit for my summer 1950 era layout. The main change I am making to the figures available is to the hat, nothing says eastern railroader like a blue-striped cap with a blue band and bill, though individual style was always important and variation abounded. Clothing colors were lighter than one might have expected in some cases, so dark blue denim overalls are not always the only choice. And I find it helps to emphasize shadows on the figure’s clothing if I give them a thin wash of Tamiya 87131 Panel Line Accent Color Black or 87199 Dark Gray depending on the clothing color.

The Engineer on the 1952 Old Main Line Way Freight, Herbert E. Johnson, poses in front of his Q-7f that was normally assigned to this job. B&ORRHS Sentinel Cover January/February 1992.
Unknown Transition Era B&O Engineer or Fireman inspecting and oiling his locomotive. Source Unknown.

While some railroad specific figures come with hats that look appropriate, others do not. This one’s hat looks like it belongs on a fishing boat in the Mediterranean, not the look I want. So I am using a little Vallejo Plastic Putty 70.401. It is acrylic and a little thinner than Squadron Green Putty. It is also meant for thin coats, so don’t put it too thick or it won’t dry. After a little shaping with a sanding stick and paint, he is ready to help an engineer couple to a string of boxcars.

Fisherman hat.
A new hat and new flesh tone. I might go back and add some putty to his overalls so they come up higher in the front.
A few touch-ups to a Preiser Figure and a Dark Gray Wash with Tamiya Panel Line Accent. Note the steel wire used for mounting on the painting block and for adding to the layout.

I call this guy lunchbox guy. Is he done for the day or just starting? I don’t have a visible terminal on my layout so I needed to repurpose him and his twin. One quick change was to add a flag made of thin brass sheet and rod to allow him to become the Way Freight’s flagman setting off from the caboose to protect the rear of the train and enjoy the coffee in his thermos lunchbox.

A good look at the flag, though his face is out of focus.
The flagman is coming back to the caboose, just before they get ready to head east.

Another modification I have made is with standardizing my Caucasian flesh tone. I like Vallejo Model Color Basic Flesh Tone 70.815 for a base and will lighten and darken it for shadows. I tried using a pin wash of dark gray but it was too dark, I got better results doing the wash first and then using several thin layers of the flesh tone overtop. It also helps if the figure is well sculpted, as seen in the photo of the guy leaning on the truck. This Preiser figure has excellent facial features that can be highlighted with thin washes of color.

One final figure project. I found this rotund gentlemen with a tie, that could be a stand-in for the Station Agent in the photo below, though he needs the straw hat.

A Preiser figure that I thought might work for a Station Agent stand-in.
Station Agent at Ilchester Station.

To build a straw hat for the Station Agent I used some hole punches and some thin brass sheet to create a hat brim.

Cutting a hat brim from brass sheet.
Hat brim added with some ACC.
Vallejo Putty added to create the crown of the hat, next is a little shaping for a sanding stick.
The Station Agent getting ready to inspect the passing eastbound train for defects.

In larger scales military modelers have created techniques to paint more realistic faces on their figures. I may try that in the future, but for now, these few basic upgrades allow me to add a few figures to the layout and give casual viewer a better sense of the scale of the models.

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Ilchester, Lees, and a Little Beyond; The Big Picture(s) of Progress, Part Two

The two track DCA yard is behind Tracks 1 and 2 of the Old Main Line just east of Ellicott City, Maryland. The short bamboo sticks on the right side of the photo are a mock-up for tree locations. The can take a beating and will let me know if they will be in the way when operating the layout.

The last time I gave a photo tour of the first two modules in July, 2019 (link to previous post) there was a lot of plywood showing, no fascia, a little backdrop, and no construction on the next three modules leading into the return loop.

This is where we left off, the fascia needs to be added to give the station a little more real estate .
And this is the same area in January 2022. Still some scenery to complete and a photo backdrop to add.

The Patapsco River in the first photo is dry, the station isn’t complete, and no fascia has been added. Since then I have finished the river, realized the Woodland Scenics Realistic Water material is a very thick fluid, even when “cured”, and is very, very slowly spilling over the edge of the layout. That will be a new project. The station is complete and mounted on a “concrete” foundation like the prototype after a later 40’s reconstruction project. I have started on the adjacent small freight house, I need to complete the roofing and the boards enclosing the raised platform. I will add a short blog on building that structure in the future.

I’ve been able to build four more modules and get the layout moved against the wall to allow the Ilchester Tunnel to reach staging in the unfinished part of the basement. One of the new modules is inline with the first two and the next three are set perpendicular to create the return loop that will take my Old Main Line back behind the backdrop to two modeled areas and then into the remote staging location and its return loop. This will allow continuous running.

You can see light at the start of the Ilchester Tunnel which is the staging in the unfinished portion of the basement.
This January, 2019 photo appeared in my previous Pictures of Progress Blog. Only two modulars are built.
This is the visible return loop at the Doughnut Corporation of America plant and will divide the layout into two halves.
This is a view underneath the layout from the same end of the return loop. The original three modules appear at the far end.
An Updated Layout Sketch. Sykesville has moved behind the backdrop and the Doughnut Corp. of America is no longer a hidden industry it is now a large, visible structure.

I was able to add fascia to about 40% of the layout. I used 1/8″ masonite as it can be bent to fit the curves of the layout. The layout is designed to follow the curving Patapsco River, just like the Old Main Line that was laid out to follow the river through gaps in the hills and mountains west of Baltimore. I wanted a smooth finish so I used Bondo Glazing and Spot Putty, it is a one-part product, don’t use the two-part product that is too hard to sand similarly to the masonite and is too thick for thin gap filling (two part glazing putty has a resin and a hardener like an epoxy, not great for this application). The Spot and Glazing Putty product works great on wood trim for the house also, it is red and hard to cover with paint, but doesn’t shrink over time and crack.

A joint in the hardboard fascia with Bondo Glazing and Spot Putty applied to create a smooth transition.
After painting, the joint disappears and similar joints on the layout have gone through several season changes with no cracking.

I intend to build the very large Doughnut Corporation of America milling and manufacturing plant using an ITLA modular building system. I developed a mock up of the building that is less than 50% of the actual size, but it is large enough to portray the imposing size of the building. And it substantiates the need for a two track yard to serve it and the two track siding within the plant. It will be the primary operating feature for the 1950 Way Freight as it heads west every other day. And I presume it was serviced on all days, so it may be switched on the opposite, every other day east bound trip of the Way Freight. It was a priority customer over time, so it might have even rated a special train from Baltimore when needed. I need to find some more contemporary operations sources.

The mock-up of DCA using ITLA actual-size paper templates.
Laying the mainline tracks headed into the curve past DCA that heads into Ellicott City, MD on the prototype.
The mainline tracks are to the right, with the two tracks on the left serving the DCA plant.
Switching west of the DCA plant in 1952. At the top right of the photo, one can see the bridge leading into DCA. The left two tracks are the mainline, the two on the right are the small yard serving DCA.

Behind the backdrop of my peninsula layout is the second half of the visible layout of the Old Main Line. Beside Ilchester, my favorite layout element is Sykesville, Maryland. I was based from the old passenger station in Sykesville when I worked on the track gang during summers in college. The base for the Life-Lke Main Line station injection molded plastic kit is seen in the photo below in an approximate location. It was modeled after the Sykesville Station and I bought one when it was released many years ago, knowing I would have a spot on a layout someday. I haven’t planned out the entire area and need more information about Sykesville in 1950. I need to build the station next and would love to have a color photo of the station from the 40s or 50s, if anyone knows of any, please drop me a message.

The visible layout behind the backdrop. Sykesville will in the first location on this side of the peninsula, further along before going through the wall into staging will be Gaither Tower and passing siding.

Finally, I decided to “brand’ my layout by developing a name for the layout, calling it “the Original Old Main Line” referencing it’s setting on the B&Os Old Main Line, the original part of the United States’ first common carrier railroad.

“The Original Old Main Line” logo. Developed using the B&O’s “Linking Thirteen States” logo and matching the unusual lettering style. Bruce D. Griffin Artwork.
A short video overview the layout progress.
Getting closer to the photo below, needing a backdrop with trees and some 3D trees on the granite above the tunnel portal.
The station has been abandoned in this 1960’s era photo. Bill Hopkins Photograph.

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Rebuilding a Brass B&O E-27 Consolidation and Adding DCC and Sound.

I am always looking on eBay for a bargain Q-1 or Q-4 Mikado to back-up the Q-7f that most often will run the Old Main Line Peddler on my layout. Recently I found an older PFM/United B&O E-27 Consolidation at a great price. It was tarnished and tired looking, but the drivers looked good, so I took a chance. This locomotive type was not often seen on the Old Main Line in the late 40s and early 50s but it would provide a great learning platform and test bed for me. I need to add DCC and sound to my brass Q-7f that is well painted and runs great. I am already adding sound and DCC to a pair of Life-Like Proto 2000 FA-2s as a test bed for future upgrades to my Kato and BLI F-units. That experience has shown me that “practice makes better” as I have already gained a lot of knowledge from mistakes made.

Photo of the model on eBay.

With a little bit of research I realized the tarnished boiler was not a big problem and I could media blast it with my $20 baking soda media blaster to smooth out the finish.

The eBay photo of the tender.

I disassembled the model, but left the drivers and running gear connected as I did not want to mess them up too badly by my lack of experience. After getting the major body parts away from the running gear, I blasted them with baking soda, gave them a hour bath in dilute vinegar, and then after dry, hit them with Tamiya red primer from a can. The frame and running gear was spared this abuse and cleaned with WD-40 300554 Specialist Contact Cleaner Spray, the same polar solvent I use to keep my track clean. It is a good solvent and supports clean conductive surfaces. It cleaned the grease and dust from the running mechanism and left it dry and easy moving. I little Labelle #108 light oil was used to re-oil the bearings and joints on the mechanism. I did this before painting to insure the joints were well oiled and as they are mostly hidden I did not worry about great paint adhesion.

I started with the boiler and cab assembly, the difference is striking.
The red primer looks garish, but it is a good base color for a black finish coat and the Tamiya primer gives a very fine finish compared to other spray can primers.
The mechanism rolls very freely after being cleaned well and lightly oiled.

I wasn’t sure if there was a lacquer coating or gold paint on the model, so I tested the base of the tender overnight in a paint remover and found no change. The vinegar bath did dissolve some type of topcoat as the solder joints became more visible. I have read that some modelers soak in a vinegar and water bath overnight, I used about a 25% solution for an hour and like the results. The metal is smooth and accepted the primer well for a very smooth undercoat.

The tender received the same treatment. The black circle is a Soundtraxx speaker mount I am testing for size.

The tender will receive the bulk of the DCC and sound updates and there is enough room to add a capacitor to keep the locomotive running over any gaps on my layout track.

The one area that is least familiar to me is upgrading the motor, tuning the gearbox, and making sure the mechanism is as smooth as a Swiss watch. Other smaller challenges to the locomotive/boiler include adding lighting, a working front coupler, and possibly changing the air pump (I didn’t make this change). Knowing my weakness I put a request for help on the B&O listserve. The results were fantastic, more on that later.

When I am unsure, I start with the more familiar and for me that is now painting with my airbrush, speaker installation, and DCC wiring. All new skills but more familiar than motor and gearbox work. For this project, like my P2K FA-2s, I felt I had room for a large speaker and all the DCC tools I wanted in the tender. This probably won’t be the case for my Q-7f Mike, but I am learning while having fun!

A mock up without springs on the driver axles to see how the wiring harness will line up. An opening will have to be cut in the tender and vertical plate behind the cab to make room for the harness. Can’t wait for black paint.

With all of the DCC and sound in the tender, I started to work there. First decision, where to mount the speaker. The coal bunker is already a flat piece, ready for a shallow coal load so no need create a false bottom as recommended by Soundtraxx for a tender speaker install. Soundtraxx has become my decoder of choice, based primarily on local availability and support from my local hobby shop, Pro Custom Hobbies. I had already purchased the latest Tsunami2 Steam2 decoder for my Q-7f, so I diverted its installation to the E-27. I used a large 28mm speaker because I had one on hand and the bigger the better with speakers, for the most part. Using the Soundtrax enclosure for that speaker allowed me to be less concerned about sealing the tender joints to create an air-tight speaker enclosure. The enclosure kit has a mount which I used as a template to drill and tap two 2-56 holes from the top so I could secure it from below. I also drilled some holes for the speaker. As long as it is a sealed unit and securely mounted I don’t need to worry about a gasket for tight mounting or sealing the openings in the tender for quality sound. I used the same setup in my FA-2s and the sound is pretty close to full range and booming.

As brass steam engines often rely on pickup from the tender wheels for one pole and the locomotive for the other pole, stalling is a possible concern. I am adding a Soundtraxx 810140 CurrentKeeper to hopefully help the short model traverse rough spots. It fits neatly into the upper, rear fireman’s side corner of the tender and does not interfere with other parts of the DCC and sound install. It comes with a plug that goes directly into the Soundtraxx decoder, so an easy add. Some high quality 3M double sided tape will secure it to the underside of the tender deck.

The coal load covers the speaker so it has to be fairly sound transparent. A tried and true is method is black foam. I got a piece from a box and trimmed it fit. It doesn’t look bad plain, but an application of thinned white glue and some Woodland Scenics coal and I have a great looking, sound translucent coal load over the speaker.

Black foam without coal.
Black foam with a coal load. The rectangular piece was an experiment to see how the white glue worked on the foam. It does.
Soundtraxx DBX-9000 Locomotive-to-Tender Wiring Kit installed on insulated plate and through new opening in front side of tender. I covered this with tape while painting.

The next step for the tender was a coat of Vallejo Model Air 71.157 Black. I taped off the loco to tender connector and a previously soldered spot on the tender base to keep them paint free for better soldering later. I painted the two pieces separately, along with the trucks.

Next I brush painted some Pledge Floor Finish on the tender sides and rear to be decaled and added decals from Ed Sauers’ excellent set (available from Bill Hanley, email him at wmhanley at verizon dot net). This included the main lettering on the side, engine number on the tender beam, capacity data on the tender rear, along with the tender frame number centered on the lower side of the frame. I chose to do this before adding the DCC parts to allow me to add two coats of Testors DullCote. I wanted the clear layer in place to protect the finish, as I was soldering wires and adding parts to the interior. I also brush painted Vallejo Train Color 73.003 Steel in the tender light opening. This was repeated for the locomotive light.

Tender capacity and locomotive number decals on the back side of the tender.
As seen on the diagram and in the prototype photo, the tender is identified as a #10. The decal sheet has 2” letters for this and I verified it on a prototype photo, so I added it. Not something I have noticed before.

The next big step is putting the electronics in the tender. It is a tight fit as a chose a big speaker, important for excellent sound. I am using a Soundtraxx 810153 28mm (1″) Round Speaker with the 810110 28mm Baffle Kit. In the photo you see the Soundtraxx 810140 Sound CurrentKeeper on the bottom left. It is plugged into the decoder which is opposite, in the top left of the photograph. I first added a micro LED for the rear light with a 1k ohm resister on one leg. I tested it with a 9 volt battery to make sure it is still working after being installed. It has one the black wire which goes from the rear of the tender (left) to the Tsunami 2200 yellow wire which is the rear light negative. The common positive for lights is the blue wire which is T-spliced with the gray rear light LED wire and then connected to the locomotive female side of the connector (Soundtraxx DBX-9000). The black left side track pickup is soldered to the base of the tender.I repeatedly checked the continuity from the wheel treads to the frame to insure good pickup from the track.

Testing the LED lights often is good idea before things are buttoned up. The resistor is soldered in place before the test.

The DBX-9000 female connector is soldered to the wires from the decoder. I marked there location on a diagram and the photograph below that will be stored in the engine’s box. On the connector that is part of the locomotive I labeled the wires with there decoder wire colors to help with final installation. They are all black wires so marking them is important for installation and any future maintenance.

Things are coming together and the mechanism was cleaned with contact cleaner to remove old grease and to make sure there is minimal resistance in the rotating parts. With NWSL on temporary hold for motors, I was very fortunate to have a fellow B&O modeler offer me a Mashima flat can motor from his private stock. He also gave me three inches of thick walled tubing for the motor to gearbox coupling. Thanks Ed.

This mock up look like I am on the right track. The gearbox will change when the driver springs are added and I can adjust the motor mount to match.

The motor had a small mount on it and I was able to add it to the plastic, insulated side of the motor and it lined up well with original gearbox. The negative wire is attached to the bottom of the motor and seen in the photo below. After adding a new 2-56 threaded hole in the original mount between the frame rails the new motor mounted firmly. Capton tape will be added the motor case to insure contact between the case and the frame do not cause a possible short. The tubing was cut to length and holds the gearbox firmly in place in both directions. So far it runs like a dream on the test track with leads connected directly to the motor. I am also constantly checking the continuity of the pick wheels on the locomotive and the tender to insure they are solid when I connect the decoder.

With the most of the electronics in the tender, the connector will have five wires used in the locomotive. I added a rectangular slot in the vertical plate behind the cab (photo below).

Painting and weathering is another comfort zone for me to fallback on when the modeling gets difficult. I wanted to experiment with a well weathered smokebox, so I gave is a shot of Vallejo ModelAir 71.050 light gray paint and then gave it several washes of Tamiya 87131 Black Panel Line Accent Color.

If this works out I will use a similar technique on the firebox .
We’ll see how this looks after the boiler gets a coat of black paint .

The firebox was painted the same grey and then along with the smokebox taped over with Tamiya thin masking tape. This tape makes a nice edge, sticks well, and it’s thin width helps seal off small areas. I think I cut fifty small pieces to go over and under pipes and railings.

Not sure all the taping was worth it but here is the initial result. I used a fine brush to touch up the pipes with black paint.

Ready to go!

Something I have noticed in black and white photos of steam locomotives compared to color is the finish. In many color photos the whole locomotive looks black, one color, b&w photography seems to catch or show tones of black. Maybe tone isn’t the correct word, but the boiler looks a different color than the cab and tender, I am guessing this is related to temperature of the metal or how heat affects the paint. Either way, I want to see if I can capture this with paint. After spraying the smokebox and firebox with gray to represent the graphite finish on these hot areas, I sprayed the rest of the engine with black. But to finish, I am overspraying the cab to match the rather “cooler” tender with a gloss coat and then Testors dullcote. The boiler, after masking off the cab, will get a gray flat over finish to attempt to capture the variation seen in b&w photos. it may not make a difference, but this a platform for experimentation.

The front coupler on brass locomotives always seems to be a challenge. The dummy coupler was removed from the detailed brass coupler pocket on the pilot beam with some heat from a soldering iron. I used wet paper towels to keep the surrounding surfaces cool while heating up the pin that held it in place. After removal I had a well detailed coupler pocket that I could add a cut-off Kadee coupler by using the same technique as it came with, a shortened shank with a pin through it, marginally functional. I chose to add a full Kadee #178 coupler and pocket instead. I felt it would provide better operation to a locomotive that will be used in switching. Using a cutoff wheel in my Dremel, I trimmed out a wider opening in the pilot beam all the way up the bottom of the pilot deck. This left a little bit of the prototype looking draft gear in place. I shimmed the underside of the pilot deck with styrene to allow me to screw the #178 draft gear in place and provide a mechanically strong connection. I didn’t want to try to drill and tap a blind hole into the pilot deck. The styrene was epoxied in place and tapped for a 1-80 screw to attach the Kadee draft gear.

It is centered, though the photo angle makes it appear otherwise. I had to file the back end of the draft gear to help clear the pilot truck. The pilot truck was also trimmed a little to help with clearance.
The top of the original coupler pocket is still in place and adds a little extra detail to the installation.
The coupler hits the Kadee gage well within my specs.

Lighting is always something I want add to my locomotive fleet though I have learned the B&O didn’t require the use of a light during daylight operations in 1950. For the tender I used an LED from Woodland Scenics as size wasn’t extremely important as the light is mounted into the tender body. A Details Associates 14 1/2 inch headlight lens is the finishing touch for the rear light. One was used on the headlight also.

Final Tender details included adding a Kadee scale coupler and Hi Tech Details brake hose to the back of the tender.

Weathering is light with an undesrpray of light gray-grime.

Here is the sound…

Which prototype to follow? One of the reasons I bought this locomotive as a test bed was my experience on John King’s prototype operating layout of the B&O Branchline to Winchester, VA. I wanted to commemorate that great experience. I got to run an E-27 on the local through the layout with the help of an experienced conductor. I have never been interested in layout operations, but this experience changed my perspective. I was also very lucky as the other operators on that day were very experienced, one literally wrote the book, and they were all gracious and encouraging.

I asked John which E-27 could have possibly run on the Old Main Line. He gave me a quick lesson on the E-27 and how many had their cabs shortened thus limiting the prototypes for the model I possessed, unless I wanted to do some major rebuilding. He offered photos of 2712 which had the longer cab. Some other details don’t match, but I am proceeding with this number as it was in Brunswick and might have traveled down the OML, maybe on a work train or for some other plausible reason. Thanks John, this one model that is more than a replica of a former prototype, it is a memory of a great day.

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