Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Recovered Mullet River Construction Tips

Mullet River Model Works, owned by Glenn Guerra, once had a great modeling resource on how to help build his kits.  I located the pages, took screenshots, and compiled them.

There were three sections, as well as some customer models that I thought were helpful.  Not sure how many modelers are still looking to build these kits, but I've created four PDF's using the screenshots I took, and staged them all in one zip file that can be downloaded here off Google Drive:

Google Drive Link to Zip File with Mullet River Construction Tip PDF's

Hopefully its useful to someone besides myself.  I plan to use them at a later date when I have time to drop 40+ hours into one of these kits.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

O-scale Super Detailing Parts and Decal Sourcing

I was replying to a rare O-Scale post on one of Southern Railway Modeling Groups I'm on and realized I should probably write up what I primarily use for parts when modeling locomotives and rolling stock.  This isn't an exhaustive list and there are many other mom and pop shops or other sources on eBay and elsewhere that may have something I need, but this is a general Peking order of where I look to first...

Detail Parts:

  1. Precision Scale carries many things in its many catalogs.  The catalogs are located here: 
    1. I have downloaded their 3 O-Scale PDF's and keep them handy as I do projects. It's a little bit of work to look for what I'm looking for.  Sometimes I get lazy and search on eBay something like "precison XYZ" and there is a reseller who has many of PSC's parts on there, but not all.  No, they are not associated with PSC, but PSC is aware of their existence.  I can always order direct from PSC if I need something not carried by either eBay, P&D Hobby Shop, or Des Plaines Hobbies.
  2. P&D Hobby Shop.  RIP Pat Mucci, but I read his son will be carrying on the shop.  Not only does he carry many parts, but they also have specific P&D parts that were made over the years, including upgrades to Weaver trains and their own line of F units.
  3. Des Plaines Hobbies is the brainchild of Ron Sebastian, also unfortunately deceased, but Ron was having his own parts made and also bought the Custom Finishes line from Bob Rzasa.  I usually go here when they make something specific I can't get elsewhere. Look for DPO or OSA parts (OScale America), which are the special parts for O scale. The website is a little lacking in photos, so I also google the part and sometimes get to see another image of it from the former custom finishes line.  For Southern-specific items, they are good for firecracker antennas, ATC shoes, and the style of brakewheel needed for SOU cabooses.
  4. Scale City Designs - They took over the Keil Line parts and have added some of their own parts as well.  I usually look to them for passenger car related items, but they also have a lot of other stuff in white metal.
  5. Protocraft - Norm at Protocraft makes killer decals and occasionally has useful detail parts (extras) from the brass cars he brings in from overseas.
  6. American Scale Models - Run by Bill Davis; he also imports brass cars like Protocraft does, but carries an extensive parts line of what appears to be mostly extra stock from Overland Model production runs.
  7. Bowser Cal-Scale - I primarily use them for the brass horn kits they sell, including Nathan M3, M5, P3, and P5.
  8. Occasionally I look at AtlasO's part department if they have something I could repurpose, but this is very rare.
Beyond that, for extremely specific items, I have drawn items up in CAD and had them 3D printed using Shapeways.  Shapeways machines allow me to print at better tolerances than I can do with a home machine.  Sure its costly, but with a little cleanup, you have near-precision parts. I am exploring other options for printing that require less cleanup.


I am lucky enough that I still have enough pollyscale sealed and kept at cold temperatures that I should be good for the near future, but I wouldn't have any issues shooting badger, tru-scale, or anyone else as long as I follow their requirements for airbrushing.  For brush-painting handrails and any translucent paint, I use the XF series from Tamiya in colors like White, Yellow, Black, and translucent red, blue, and orange.


  1. Obviously there is Microscale if they make something you need.  If you need something custom, they are not really the place you go unless you have deep pockets.  Also I got burned a few years back on a re-release of 48-328 decals.  They somehow screwed up the lettering between the old and new releases and then basically went radio silent on the situation when I brought it to their attention.  So I'll take that as an FU to me and go elsewhere for decals or roll my own.
  2. Protocraft - Yes they use Microscale to print, but Norm has quite a selection and we appreciate him providing us these decals from his and other leading modeler's artwork.
  3. K4 Decals - No idea where this gent came from, but I've seen his stuff used and it looks great. He carries a wide line of items.
  4. Custom decals - I know how to use CorelDraw enough to roll my own and send them off to one of three printers whom I trust.  I do not know if Tichy decals have gotten better since I wrote about them years ago, but I have not gone back.  
    1. The most known of the custom decal printers I use is

Sunday, December 6, 2020

2019 Visit to the RMCA

 I had been waiting to publicly release these two videos of the Railroad Model Club of Atlanta, in order to help traffic to their web presence, but with their website down, and time a ticking, I got the highball to go ahead and post these.  I will add their web presence once they figure out what they'd like to do.

Back in 2019, I had the pleasure of being allowed to visit the Railroad Model Club of Atlanta.  They've been written upon in magazines, but it was cool to see the actual layout, some of it dating back to 1937.

With me, I brought something they had never done before, a GoPro on a flatcar that allows for "cab ride" views.  I also attempted to take other videos, but we were all on short time, so I was only able to take one other video worth publishing.


Thanks to the club for having my friend I that warm summer day!

2019 RMCA O-Scale Layout Cab Ride

Great Southern Passenger Train Pauses Briefly on the RMCA

Below are just handful of images I took while I was there:

The Entrance

 View of the layout as you first come up the steps.

A view of the mountain as you continue into the layout area.

My GoPro car ready for its maiden voyage.

View from the mountain back toward the entrance.

Nicely detailed industries.

More industry.

Old school DC controls here.

Ground-level view of the roundhouse.

Some freight getting spotted.

Nicely-detailed industries lay tucked in the back corner of the layout.

Panoramic shot from the back of the layout.

Very nicely done log mill ramp.

View from the roundhouse area over the rest of the layout.

Amazing detailing on the station.

Waiting for the highball.

SAL action

Yet another view of this amazing station.

Overhead view of the roundhouse area.

View of the entire layout from the engineer's perch.

Home of the Great Southern Lines

Sunday, June 28, 2020

2R O-scale Southern F3A by Sunset Models/3rd Rail Review

SOU Black Tux F3A Units
SOU Black Tuxedo F3A Units

Sunset Models/3rd Rail just dropped their new F3's last week, which came in several phases and many paint schemes.  From my units and everything I've seen online, these turned out to the be just as good as any other project Scott has ever done.  Kudo's to Scott. Just superb.

I ended up getting four F3A units in Southern's Black Tuxedo paint scheme to bolster my locomotive roster and support Sunset Models's projects that align with my modeling era.  The 2R units came with QSI Titan Decoders.  While some look at these models and compare the cost to Lionel or MTH, I personally think the that these and the other roadnames, with specific phase-specific and road-specific detailing, along with smooth running characteristics and great support (if you even need it - I've only ever had one minor issue) make these well worth the price of admission.

Here's the original ad for reference:
3rd Rail EMD F3 Final Offering

Scott asked me to research and review the artwork and detailing of both the Southern Green and Black Tux units.  After many hours over about a month and several back-and-forth revisions later, I provided the factory with my best effort of artwork/detailing review and road number choices.  The lady that does the artwork is really talented and she is able to figure anything out with enough clues. Choosing road numbers was tough.  The green units had two numbers that differed from the four numbers used on the black tux units. For both color schemes, it was important to choose numbers that reflected units that had the same level of detailing.  The factory doesn't do one-offs for detailing, only per paint scheme. For the black tux units, I also tried to choose numbers that in addition to the same detailing, survived the longest and/or kept their steam generator equipment the longest.  Research was done using both books from my library and online resources.

Some details may not match the prototype due to tooling, such as the reverse light.  My research showed me these didn't have them, but it was already in the tool.  Also, Southern, like many other roads, were quick to remove the fuel tank skirting to make it easier to find problems and access things in and around the fuel tank.  The green units might get away with the skirts, though I've seen photos without them. The black tux units most definitely would need to be modified to correct this.  The chosen F3A black tux units also were interesting in that the typical battery box configuration was replaced with a full height cover (except for 6706). Easier to model IMHO and different from F7A's.

Otherwise, I took a second glance at the final set of artwork and everything I had asked to be fixed, appears to be fixed and the black tux units came out beautifully.  I haven't seen how the green units came out, but hope their owners are pleased with the effort that went into them. 

After their initial lap around my layout, I've found I will need to do the following beyond simple lighting/sound/motor adjustments with the QSI Programmer to make my units more prototypical and fix a few mechanical issues:

  1. Fix front Kadee coupler height. Either needs a shim or the pilot isn't level. Coupler too high.
  2. Swap out 806 Short Kadee's for 745 Medium Prototype Head Kadee couplers. (805 replacement)
  3. Repaint the cab interior light gray. Possibly replace the figures with better looking figures.
  4. Tint the bright white LED's to make them warmer.
  5. Eliminate light bleed by using liquid electrical tape and paint the back of the LED's for the headlight, reverse light, and cab light.
  6. De-skirt and detail the fuel tanks appropriately per prototype. Might be possible with just styrene, or there is a guy on Shapeways that has a proper fuel tank, that may be able to supply adjusted parts to match the 3rd Rail measurements.
  7. Investigate adding carry iron to rear along with cut levers. Parts exist on Shapeways and/or Scale City designs.
  8. Use Microscale decals to add MU box on nose.
  9. Add 4-hose air hoses to front of units. Possibly swap out the ones on back with magnets for connecting consists.
  10. Might paint colored wires visible through grills dark gray.
  11. Weather.

Enough talk, right? Onto the photo essay of opening night with the locomotives.  

The four shipper boxes.

Manual Part 1.
These are found in the shipper and not inside the black/yellow box.

Manual Part 2.
Yes, I cropped out Scott's email on purpose.

Wrapped in the Box.

Spare parts in the bag.

Rooftop Tanks, Nathan M-5 horn, and firecracker antenna were well protected.

3/4 View - Fireman's Side.
Correct builders plate. Original Artwork had the other EMD emblem.

3/4 View - Engineer's Side.

Fireman's Side View.
I was surprised to see that the journals don't move vertically. I guess its less important on 2 axle trucks.

Engineer's Side View.
Look at the maintenance grab details.

Front View.
Plan to add MU hatch by headlight and air hoses on pilot.

Rear View.
Plan to attempt to add the carry iron, coupler lift bars, and probably redo the oversized air hoses.

Top View.

Rooftop detailing.
Air tanks, equalizing bar, Nathan M-5 horn, and Firecracker Antenna.
Note the correct high-shroud radiator fans, and 48" DB fan housing.
Piping between tanks was one of two configurations.

48" DB Fan Hatch held on with magnets that conceal the reset controls.

Bottom View.
Really nicely detailed fuel tank.
Notice the Kadee 806 short couplers. Not sure why they used these, as they don't extended nor swing as well as 805's.  Maybe Scott can raise the price a dollar or two and move to Kadee 745's in future projects. 😀

Road Numbers 1-4, L to R

My attempt at being artistic.

Spacing Between Units.

Elephant Style.

...Back-to-Back Style?

If you own a PSX, make sure you tune the overload Ampage higher than the 1.27A or you'll be on notch 3 and your engine(s) cuts off. Oops.

Starting Position up top. Ending position after ~30 feet.
Looks like I have some motor CV's to adjust.

Had one of my locomotives break away from the rest after being coupled together.  Noticed there was a height issue on all of the front coupler and that all of the 'air hoses' were bent too far forward, hitting the pilot.

Rear Coupler is fine.
Also notice the "air hose" on the engine is way too forward. It was preventing me from coupling my A units elephant style as this would hit he front pilot of the previous unit.

Front Coupler needs to be adjusted or maybe the pilot is angled upward somehow.
Looks easily fixable.

Extreme light bleed from the reversing light. 
Will be fixing with black liquid electrical tape from Lowes after tinting.

Cab interior is wrong color, but really nicely detailed. 
Will most likely replace figures with better looking ones.

This is the engine compartment.
The cab light bleed. Easily fixed with black liquid electrical tape from Lowes.

The headlight bleeds into the cab.
Also easily fixed with liquid electrical tape.


All video shot on an iPhone XR. Its hard to stabilize a phone and use a throttle, so I bought a tripod mount for my phone that'll be coming soon, but for now, sorry for the slightly wobbly video.

Below is the inaugural run of the units after I tweaked the decoder settings in each unit to configure direction, lighting, and sound to make the A-A--A-A consist work in that exact order. Was too lazy to figure out consisting and renumber the engine addresses, etc.

Below is another video showing me put one unit through its paces from speed 0 to 99 using my Digitrax throttle.