Friday, September 29, 2023

Modeling potpourri

A few months back, there was a collective gnashing of teeth over the discontinuation of Future/Pledge floor polish. I have a little less than half a bottle of Future and thought I had a reserve bottle of the Pledge product (the same thing as Future but rebranded by S C Johnson.) Alas, I did not. I have been using Future for over 20 years as a gloss coat and also to make clear parts (windows, canopies, etc.) appear clearer and in the process look thinner (yes, it has that effect!) I set about finding a replacement. The internet of military modelers had determined that Quick Shine was a good alternative. It was in stock at my local hardware store. I have tried it and can report that not only is it as good, it may even be better for two reasons: it seems thinner out of the bottle and does not have that subtle yellow cast that Future did. It brushes nicely and airbrushes perfectly with no additional thinning. Recommended!

For years, I have been using 240-grit aluminum oxide as the medium for blasting my models prior to painting. Honestly, I had never given it a second thought. However, some discussions online got me to revisit the subject. I ordered some 600-grit aluminum oxide and I can report that it delivers the same "tooth" to metal, engineering plastic, etc., surfaces with a little more finesse (more gentle) and it seems to be more efficient, too, meaning I used less of it for the same jobs. I will continue to stay with the 600-grit on future projects.

Lastly, I tried AMMO Mig acrylic paints for the first time. Like Vallejo, they come in the 17ml dropper bottles. They also have a wide range of colors, including many flavors of oxides/reds/browns that are useful for freight cars. They airbrushed flawlessly. I did thin with their thinner (which is my general habit as these things seemed to be engineered to work together and I don't like risking ill effects because I skimped on thinner.) The finish was something close to satin so I did apply gloss prior to decaling (using the Quick Shine mentioned above.) They are available in numerous military modeling shops.

I hope these things are useful to your efforts. Happy modeling!

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Phoenix Rising, or new Speedwitch kits


CNW Riveted PS-1 Auto Car pilot model

While I will create individual posts for the new kits as I launch them, I do want to provide some context in advance of what I assume will generate a kerfuffle, albeit a small one (I hope!) As many noticed through the magic of others' photos from MARPM 2023, there are some new offerings coming from Speedwitch. The most immediate are as follows: CNW riveted PS-1 auto car, SP A-50-11 50' single sheathed steel auto car, Milwaukee 50' single sheathed auto car, Pullman-Standard Southeastern roads' 10'0" IH Emergency box car, and Santa Fe Bx-34 Duryea underframe parts set. The first four are complete kits with one-piece resin bodies. The Bx-34 includes a floor and underframe parts plus other details including ladders and placard and route card boards. There are other cars that will follow quickly upon the heels of these offerings.

B end of CNW PS-1 Auto car

The reason for this post is not necessarily to discuss these releases, but to share some information about the prices and how the kits will be released. First, a note about prices. These kits will be expensive relative to all other HO scale kits. That may be a dealbreaker for some and I completely understand. What I hope is that those who find them too expensive will respect my reasons and they are as follows. For years, my pricing philosophy was to always charge the least I felt that I could, given that resin kits already command a high price. However, I am not in a business where I have runs of 50,000 items and can secure profits through volume. I am in a highly specialized and niche market where ~100 of a car might be the entirety of sales. I am investing a lot of time in pattern creation and prep for production, decal artwork and decal printing with the acknowledged industry leader, etching artwork and processing, plus adding other items as will be described in the following paragraph. In other words, I am providing a premium product to replicate interesting prototypes as closely to the prototype as the scale and medium allows. I need to do this at a price that provides value to me and my suppliers for my efforts.

CNW PS-1 Auto car underframe

As alluded to, I am adding additional items that will allow for highly detailed replicas, down to the smallest details. All decals (except one instance where the decals were printed years ago) are printed by Cartograf, the finest provider in the industry. Even the smallest lettering is clear and legible and large decals, such as emblems and medallions are not "thick" and difficult to make conform to surface features. I am including trucks with 0.088" wheelsets where feasible, including working with providers on some trucks that have not been available in HO scale previously, except in poorly rendered brass or metal offerings, if at all. These will increase the accuracy of several kits. I am providing more etchings than anyone has in past to replicate details in the most accurate way possible. Kits feature the best details and parts that I can source such as parts from Kadee, Tangent, Tahoe, Moloco, Tichy, and others, where appropriate. I am set to provide everything necessary to complete the models except paint, weathering media, and things like chain, which will be called out should the modeler wish to add these details. 

Southern Pacific A-50-11 body casting

All kit offerings will follow a limited release plan, meaning that once they are gone, I will not re-release them again in future. Kit runs will be in the range of 100 kits (plus or minus depending upon subject and interest.) I realize this might be difficult for some, but I have determined from past experience that I can be more efficient if I produce an item, sell it, and move on to the next project.

Milwaukee Road single sheathed auto car body casting

Given the nature of limited runs, I will be introducing a subscription plan for those who are interested. There will be no upfront payments or deposits required. It will be non-binding, meaning you can opt out at any time or can opt out of specific individual offerings. When a new kit is released, it will be announced to subscribers first and those individuals will have 72 hours to decline. The remaining kits will be added to inventory and/or sold at meets and events. Should subscription interest outpace the ~100 kit number, I will reevaluate and likely increase the number of kits produced for that project, up to the maximum quantity of items such as decals and etchings that closely "match" the maximum number, roughly a cap of 150. [Please refrain from contacting me about subscriptions at present; I will provide details in the near future.] The CNW riveted PS-1 auto car will not be part of the subscription plan.

"Board-by-board" detail on Milwaukee Road auto car

Circling back to the cost, kits will be in the $75 to $90 range depending upon complexity and details necessary to complete the kit. Again, before lambasting me for the cost, please give some time to see what the offerings look like and what value is present. My intention is to provide a premium product that results in one of the finest models in your fleet, not just another car in the fleet. Watch for the release of the CNW riveted PS-1 auto car in the coming days...

Thank you for reading. As always, comments are welcome. Cheers, Ted

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Mid-Atlantic RPM 2023

Tom Devenny redetailed, renumbered and weathered an Accurail hopper

I attended the Mid-Atlantic RPM on Friday and Saturday, September 15-16 in Hunt Valley, Maryland. As usual, the crew put together a great schedule of clinics at a top rate venue. Modelers obliged by bringing a bunch of fine models to display. I snapped photos of a few to share. Enjoy the fine work! [note that Jim Dufour also captured some of the work displayed and uploaded it to his flickr site.]

One of the hosts Shannon Crabtree had a train of RF&P hoppers on display

Jim Dufour brought a train's worth of finely detailed and weathered freight cars

Fenton Wells presented a clinic about kitbashing and displayed several of the subject cars, including this DT&I rebuild (Tichy base model) and the Norfolk Southern auto car shown below, kitbashed from an old McKean kit

Mike Pulaski displayed this finely weathered car

Randy Hamill displayed several passenger and headend cars with a high level of detailing 

Bill Schultheiss showed off a scratchbuilt (in-progress) B&M sand house

Toss Hermann had a few Ironton subjects for display including this caboose

Plate C had several 3D printed kits for sale, all well rendered

David Olsen had this Southern waffle side car to show

Louis Papineau used a Tichy car as the basis for the SCL stump car

Ramon Rhodes had a few models on display, including this nicely finished BNSF power

Not limited to resin freight cars, Bob Cronin showed off his vehicle modeling chops

John Flanigan IV lettered and weathered this WM Jordan spreader

Tom Potthast carried the S scale torch and had a lrge number of models to show

Eric Thur has been a one-man marketing department for MultiScale Digital and their amazing line of 3D printed loads

Eric also had some cars without visible loads, including this Proto2000 tank car with decals applied

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

PFE Presentation file from MARPM


Presumed to be the work of Bob Carlson; image from my slide files

My presentation about the PFE early 1950s fleet has been uploaded for reference (to be transparent, it is indistinguishable from what I presented at RPM East in March) The link to this and many of my other presentation files may be found here.