Tuscarora Railroad

The Tuscarora Railroad is a 1:20.3 garden railroad located in suburban Denver, Colorado. The railroad is based on the East Broad Top RR which still operates today as a tourist line in Orbisonia, PA (south-central PA). Be sure to check out Garden Railway Basics , Kevin's book on building and maintaining garden railroads for information on how the TRR was built.

Location: Denver, CO

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Caboose #1

A lot of what I do on the Tuscarora RR begins as a challenge, either something that I want to try to do to see if I can do it, or something I want to do in order to prove something can be done. This project started out as the latter. I was given a Bachmann 8-wheel caboose by a friend of mine to see what I could do with it. The stock caboose is a pretty good 1:22.5 model of the East Broad Top's steel-frame caboose.

The challenge was to take this caboose and see if I could make it into a workable 1:20.3 model. I knew right off the bat the body of the caboose was too low for a 1:20.3 figure, but I wasn't sure how that would affect the rest of the process. The 8-window look wasn't right for this caboose in 1:20.3, though, so I went looking for inspiration. I found it on the Tionesta Valley Railway, which ran in northwest Pennsylvania.

I really liked the side door on this caboose. I wasn't out to build a model specifically of this caboose, just draw inspiration from it. (I wasn't about to cut new windows into the end of the caboose.

I kept the length and width the same as the original Bachmann caboose. It scaled to around 7', which is perfectly plausible for a 3' narrow gauge caboose. I ended up adding about 3/8" to the height, allowing me to put a proper 6' door on the end. The roof is pretty much stock, including the cupola. The walls are Evergreen styrene's V-groove siding, 3/16" spacing. This is glued to the outside of the Bachmann car, which had 3/8" extensions glued along the top edge to support the roof. The windows and doors were laser-cut for me. 

The interior is a mix of new wall partitions and some of the original Bachmann interior

The lanterns are LED Christmas bulbs. The base is the base of the Christmas light. I found some globes at the dollhouse store I thought would work, but it turned out they were glass and I couldn't drill out the bottoms as I had wanted to. So there are as yet no globes on the lights. Timetables and papers are actual EBT timetables which I shrank and printed out. 

The other end of the caboose has the stove and a desk for the conductor. 

My first attempt at weathering the caboose was very rushed, and didn't turn out near as well as I had hoped. (I started this project in 2015). That's largely the reason why it hasn't made my blog until now. I hated the weathering, and wanted to re-do it. I thought about repainting and starting over, but it was January when the bug bit to redo this car, and that's too cold to do any significant painting. So I decided just to build new weathering on top of what was there. The result is a caboose that looks like it's been a long while since it saw a bath. However, I've seen photos of the EBT's cabooses looking pretty dingy themselves (caked in coal dust), so--while heavy--isn't remotely out of sorts.

The lettering on the caboose is actually a blend of things. I used lettering this caboose as fodder for one of my Garden Railway Basics columns in Garden Railways on using vinyl lettering. This logo is a vinyl sticker applied on top of the paint. On the opposite side, I used the vinyl as a mask. I also used the vinyl as a stencil (car numbers). Of all the techniques, probably using it as a sticker and as a stencil for painting is the most effective. Using it as a mask and peeling it off to reveal the paint underneath didn't give me the results I wanted.

Weathering is a mix of mediums. I started with a wash of grimy black acrylic paint. (Black and brown paints mixed in varying degrees, and washed with more or less water depending on how thick I wanted the effect. The "chipped" paint was simulated using dry brushed acrylic paint and colored pencils.

Weathering powders and dust then coat the window sills. You can use paint or matte medium as an adhesive for the dust in these cases.

The roof was done with aluminum duct tape cut into small strips. The damage to the roof is actual damage from a run in with a branch or something out on the railroad. Instead of repairing it, I just added some rust-colored paint and voila!

The other side of the caboose. Like the prototype, the large door was only on one side, which I also liked. Visual variety as the train runs around the railroad.

In the end, I can't really say the "challenge" of upscaling a Bachmann 1:22.5 caboose to 1:20.3 was actually truly met. Essentially I just used the frame and roof of the original Bachmann car, and simply used the stock walls as a core over which I built the new caboose body. I love the proportions of the finished car, though, so in that regard, I'll take it as a victory. 


Blogger Great Northwestern Railway said...

Nice work, Kevin!

April 18, 2020 at 6:41 AM  
Blogger J. Cairns said...

Great job weathering! Looks like that was a lot of fun!

April 18, 2020 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger rgolding said...

Great work, Kevin! You did Bachmann proud.

August 19, 2020 at 7:10 AM  

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