BLI USRA Light Mikado to Replicate B&O USRA Light “Mike” Class Q-3 #4522 – Part One – Replacing the Model’s Drive, DCC, and Sound.

B&O Class Q-3 #4522, 1956, Baltimore. North East Rails Collection, Baltimore & Ohio (B & O) Steam Roster

With this post I am going to try something new. Sharing a blog post about an incomplete individual model. It’s something I don’t usually do because I was used to writing and editing for the B&O Modeler. Most articles were stand alone and if we ran a two part, it was usually because of space limitations, not that the model wasn’t finished. I like the style of successful and very informative modeling blogs like Rick De Candido’s and Eric Hansmann’s, as they share smaller bite sized posts. They keep my interest in modeling high, especially during the summer with so many more leisure activities available.

One of my first sound equipped HO locomotives in the early 2000’s was a Broadway Limited Imports (BLI) USRA Light Mikado. It would run under the Christmas tree on my small, circular HO layout for hours under DC power. I later added a BLI “black box” that connected to the layout wiring to let me control the basic sounds. I was hooked on sound and knew DCC with sound, though expensive at the time, was in my future.

The B&O had the first USRA Light Mikado, #4500, and it still exists at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore. It was unique from later builds in a few ways including the cab shape and cab size. The BLI model is a more generic USRA “common build” model. The B&O changed many things on their USRA Light Mikados (Mikes in B&O parlance) over the years and classed these locomotives, Class Q-3. The most visible changes to their USRA Mikes included; adding an extended cab on the fireman’s side to accommodate a seat for the headend brakeman (this was done on many B&O Mikes), a twelve bolt smokebox front, a high mounted headlight, number plate or B&O Capitol Dome in the smokebox center, and the bell moved from the smokebox to behind the sand dome. There are more and I will add them to the conversation as I add detail parts to the model.

All B&O Mikados or Mikes were in the Q-series of locomotives. A great source of information on this B&O series of locomotives is Q The Definitive History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company’s Q-Class Mikado Locomotives by by Howard N. Barr (Author), William A. Barringer (Author), Harry C. Eck (Contributor), Charles S. Roberts (Contributor). It offers multiple pages on each class with information about they arrived new and how they changed over the years while in company service. It was published in 1978 and is long out of print, but often availble on Amazon and other used book seller sites. I saw five availble from $30 today.

My 1950 Old Main Line (OML) layout needed a Mike for the local or peddler freight. Most of the time a Q-7f was assigned to this duty. Modeling this engine is difficult as it has only been produced as a brass HO model by Precision Scale a number of years ago. They now sell for well over $700. I have one now that I am modifying to look like #4844, which was photographed leading the peddler in my era. B&O Q-4 Mike locomotives were photographed in my era as replacements for #4844 and it seems reasonable that a B&O Q-3 Mikado may have also been assigned to this service when needed. My trusty old Broadway Limited Imports (BLI) USRA Light Mikado was one of the first Mikes to pull the peddler freight on my layout version the OML and has served well. This locomotive has been the main test engine for my layout, if it could make it through a turnout or curve, I hoped everything else could also. Most of my steam for my Old Main Line layout will be Mikes, mostly brass Q-4 and Q-7f models as that what was present in 1950. Through freights will also sometimes be handled by early diesels.

With this BLI model getting older, the drivers slipped out of the track a lot due to sideplay, so it was a good test for bad track work. And I ran it many times through new turnouts, curves, and testing operations, in fact, after it recently derailed through a new crossover, I took it to the work bench to look underneath. The plating has worn off a driver or two, the springs appear to have disintegrated, and the bearings are loose enough to allow a lot of sideplay on the main driver. Fortunately, these models are available on the secondary market and for less than $200 I was able to replace the entire drivetrain. The stock decoder had some glitches and my JMRI programming track couldn’t overcome them after repeated resets. So, while I was at it, I took the opportunity to replace the stock DCC and sound equipment with a Soundtraxx Tsunami2 TSU-2200 Steam 2, a Soundtraxx 810140 CurrentKeeper, and upgrade the speaker to a Scale Sound System (SSS) Force Full Range speaker. I chose the SSS 12mmx25mmx25mm, FFST -1225-RC1 to get the biggest speaker box possible into the tender.

The tender body is a press fit, making it easy to remove and put it back in place to make sure the parts fit. The blue and yellow wires will power the tender’s rear light when connected to an LED.

I was apprehensive about touching the DCC and sound in this model as while it is not the greatest DCC sound decoder available today, it never failed to at least run in over 20 years of service. But all that running took its toll on the model and probably the electronics, so maybe it was time for an upgrade. The drivetrain seems to be relatively universal to any similarly aged version of this BLI model, so I sought one on the second hand market, hoping to just switch the drivetrain on my B&O detailed boiler shell and possibly using the same tender.

The second hand locomotive I purchased was about the same vintage and decorated for the Texas and Pacific (T&P). It was advertised as having DCC/Sound, but when it arrived, the tender only had a set up for DC, no decoder or speakers. The seller refunded me some funds to purchase speakers and I figured I was eventually going to update the decoder, so no time like the present.

I always knew I would update the DCC/Sound unit someday, along with other detail upgrades. This was a future project that became a “now” project as I wanted to have a simple, reliable locomotive to test my growing layout. And when you start taking things apart, it is hard not to upgrade them to your vision of “good enough”. But I will share the detail upgrades in future Part Two post.

I was able to reuse the wiring harness and traced every wire back to its origin in the boiler and made the connections in the tender electronics through the original wiring harness. I did add a short piece of black shrink tube first to make the tender to locomotive connection look like a black pipe, possibly representing the stoker. The key to the easy installation was having the right parts. They all fit easily onto the tender base. I made a raised platform from styrene about 3/8” high on the rear of the tender base behind the speaker to mount the decoder and capacitor to avoid fouling the original connections to the trucks. The main purpose is to allow easier access for future maintenance. I’m sure I’ll have to replace or adjust something in the future if I keep running the engine, which is the goal!

One of the big obstacles to recreating a later era B&O Q-3 is the addition of front end brakeman’s seat on the fireman’s side of the cab. I want to mention that I am working with a fellow modeler to create a printed or resin cab to fit the BLI USRA MIke. The cab is a friction fit and I was able to replace mine with a resin part that has not been available for many years. Hopefully a new part will be available soon if you are thinking about a BLI USRA B&O Mike for your collection. Let me know if you have interest and I will pass that along to the gentleman working on the drawing.

I will end this post with a short video of the Mike in its half finished state, but with its sound system complete. I believe the SSS speaker and Soundtraxx sound decoder make a big difference that is audible in this iPhone SE video. I hope you agree!

The less than detailed BLI USRA MIke with its new Soundtraxx Decoder and Scale Sounds Systems basic speaker.

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Ilchester, Maryland, Part Five; The Railroad Infrastructure. The Freight House.

The Freight House

This part of the Ilchester railroad infrastructure seems to be fairly short-lived, it was around in my era of 1950, and very camera shy. It appears in parts in only a few photos I can find after years of searching. It is the raised Freight House on the left side of the photo, railroad east of the station. The B&O always ran east to west and always had a north side and south side of the tracks, regardless of what a compass indicated. On the B&O, Washington, DC was not south of Baltimore, but west.

August, 1952 photo of Ilchester Station and Freight House, B&ORRHS Photo Collection.

This might be the best picture that exists and it appears to be from August 1952 according to one caption. The board and batten siding and peaked roof are not things found on many eastern B&O structures.

My guess is that this station, its freight house, and coal trestle were originally built to serve the local community. Baltimore had some of the earliest “suburbs” in the nation. Areas like Roland Park were built in the 1890s and even had one of the first shopping centers. It was served by street cars and I suspect it served as a model for future possibilities. Pure conjecture, but early photos of Ilchester show long wood passenger platforms on both sides of the rail along with the coal trestle that could serve local coal deliveries. I wonder if the B&O thought Ilchester could become the next suburb served by passenger trains into the city? The station and infrastructure were built after the 1903-05 realignment, maybe adding the station was hoped to serve more than the boarding school or convent on the top the hill behind the station. The history of this area is not well documented and the effort of several modelers have served to add to the knowledge base. County historians look to fellow B&O modeler John Teichmoeller for definitive information about this community.

Photograph origin unknown.

How to model this elusive freight structure? Photos show board and batten siding and the building on a raised platform. The overhead view shows a peaked roof structure about 1/4 the length of the station and half its width. Their are standard B&O plans for a 16’x 20′ freight house, so maybe that size is appropriate. I know modelers build on less information and this may be all I ever find, so that’s what I am going with. On the up side, as soon as I complete the structure we all know a new photo will turn up. If so, at least the historical record can be set straight and I’ll have another structure to build.

There is a similar freight house at Dickerson, MD on the Metropolitan Subdivision and I used photos of it to supplement the photos of Illchester I found.

Dickerson Freight House and Station on the Metropolitan Branch. Underwood Photograph, Barriger Collecion.

Using the rough dimensions from the overhead photo, I constructed the 15’ x 24’ raised wood platform from an old plastic kit from an unknown manufacturer. It was very close to the construction and dimensions of the platform in the standard B&O plans book available from the B&O Railroad Historical Society. The plastic kit was supplemented with scale Evergreen “lumber” to enclose the lower part of the structure which was painted a dark grey/black brown.

The platform from a very old kit, and Evergreen dimensional “boards” to enclose the platform.

The steps were from an old Campbell kit, but these are easy to replicate with styrene or scale lumber. They were painted the same color as the platform.

For the structure, I found another very old kit at a train show that had lots of board and batten sided parts along with a bunch of windows and doors for future projects. It took a while, but it’s always good to have something inexpensive to find at a train show or new hobby shop.

I cut the siding pieces to create 23’ x 12’ structure with a 8’ x 8’ opening for the door. I used scribed siding for the door. The doors is Evergreen scribed siding and matched the roof pitch on the Station building. The trim boards are Evergreen strip.

The roof is .060 styrene with the edges painted black to represent the trim boards.

The roof was covered with faded black construction paper to simulate tar paper roofing.

I used the same paint colors as those on the station for my rendition of the Cream and Black colors I remember seeing on old structures painted in this combination. It also matches favorably the Cream color shown on a 1939 paint chip card I received in an email some years ago. To match it, I airbrushed Vallejo Model Air 71.270 White (it is not a pure white) mixed with 10 drops of Vallejo Model Air 71.244 Sand Beige added to the almost full bottle. For the Black trim I used Vallejo Model Air 71.251NATO Black, it is a weathered flat black that has a slight brown hue that matches my recollection of the color.

Looking across the mainline tracks at Ilchester from the north.
The back of Ilchester Station and Freight House looking north from the parking lot.
I added the freight agent as he appeared in the first photo of this post. Detailing figure was covered in an earlier post.

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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 is a siding to the west on a deck girder bridge that 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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