Intermountain Cylindrical Covered Hopper Kit

What does an Intermountain cylindrical covered hopper kit consist of?

Kits have long been the mainstay of the model railroad hobby, only evolving into ready to run train cars in the past 2 decades.  So what really comes in a kit?  This is a short photo demonstration if an Intermountain cylindrical covered hopper.

Building an HO Scale Asplundh Weed Train Sprayer Control Car

Semi-scratch built weed train sprayer control car

Building an Asplundh Weed Train Sprayer Control Car
Part 1- Collecting needed parts
Part 2- Making the basic shell
Part 3- Scratch built details
Part 4- Assembly
Part 5- Last details
Part 6- Extra details
Part 7- Decals

Open car load: Material Handler

I'm planning to compile a neat list of some open car load ideas I've been tossing around recently.  Some are common ideas, some are slightly more uncommon.  The cars of mine are HO scale, but I'm sure most can be copied in N.

First up, to begin this article we have a flat car loaded with GHQ Material Handlers.  They are unpainted, and incomplete (missing a part from the kit!), and the flat car will most likely be replaced by a 60' version from Intermountain.

Note, these are cast white metal kits.  Due to this, they'll actually double as a way to add weight to flat cars.  Make sure you verify the loaded weight before securing the material handlers.

©2007/2020, Josh Baakko,

 Don’t Write it Off Just Yet: Salvaging Warped Kits

By Frank Wells



Personally, I enjoy modeling projects that require going the extra mile to create something unique. Whether it be one of a kind locomotive or a freight car not commonly found on the market, I’m all for doing it myself, rather than wait on a major manufacturer to produce it. This is what drove to my create my latest creation, the BNSF Circle Bi-level Autorack. While this particular car has been done by Walthers previously, it was done quite a few years ago and few exist commonly on the market today. Seeing as I was set to create multiples of this autorack, I also saw it as an opportunity to accrue funds for future projects, which quickly progressed the project start. In my case, I ended up using a new-old stock of Walthers Autorack kits as the base, Arrowhead Wheels, Kadee Couplers, and custom decals from Switchline Decals. I chose the Walthers kits because they were readily available from a friend of mine, who had nine he was looking to sell. Eight of those nine would be completely fine, the car bodies free of warp. I did not discover my “problem” car until I was ready to paint the bodies at a friend’s house, finally breaking the sealer wrap to find the side of the autorack not facing outward had severely warped on one end. I worried that the severity of the warp would force me to write it off, but I was hit by an idea. I recalled I had a heat gun at home. So, after deciding to paint it regardless of the warp, I would take it home and give the heat gun a try.

Husky Stack 53' Well Cars Scratchbuild

General Wheel Size Info

A General List of Wheel Sizes for Your Rolling Stock.

I often get the questions, "What size wheels does this car need? Does it have 70 Ton or 100 Ton trucks?"  I made this simple guide to help answer that question for the most part.  There are anomalies, but this should cover 95% of freight cars.

As a basic sense:
33in up to 77t
36in 78-100t
38in above 100t

However, we're modelers, what does this mean?  I asked around, and this is the guide I was given.

Maxi-Stack I Well Cars Scratchbuild

HO Scale Wheel Tread

HO scale has 3 general tread sizes.

Each code translates to the width of the wheel in inches.  The chart below shows you what's available.

Code Inches Represents
110 .110" Standard RP25 tread
88 .088" Semi-Scale aka Fine Scale
64 .064" Proto 87
aka Scale

©2008/2020, Josh Baakko,

Coal Car Loads from Scratch

A simple method to make loads of cheap coal loads for your coal cars.

Rather than buy imitation coal loads for my Walthers Bethgons, I made my own using a very simple method anyone can do.

The only tools you will require are:
1. a sharp knife to cut foam
2. a rasp or coarse sand paper instead
3. a spray bottle with water / rubbing alcohol 90/10 mix
4. a piece of 1" thick blue foam board, the quantity depends on how many loads you require you will require
5. PVA glue, both full strength and some diluted with water about 75/25 mix
6. a bag of fine coal or imitation coal such as the grit used in sand blasting cabinets

Tank Car Data Upgrade

Published in the December 2011 email newsletter, with updated material in 2012.

Recently I was working on a few Walthers 16,000 Gallon Funnel Flow tank cars, decorated for Procor-Sulphur, blue with UTLX reporting marks. These tanks cars are numbered randomly in the UTLX roster. After a considerable amount of searching, I came across a few, though not the same numbers Walthers used on the 3 cars I have.

UTLX 66373:
UTLX 71651:

I noticed that both cars had the emergency call placards, and the more recent photo of #66373 showed the new tank car testing placard. Though very hard to see, but present was the appearance of reporting marks on the top of the car, required on tank cars now.

I set to work, updating the data on my cars. To begin, add the emergency placard, from Microscale set 87-1236. Look closely, as there are placards in French on the sheet as well, I used the English, 800 number version.

I then added the top reporting marks, using Microscale 87-1320, stencil lettering. The last decals, the testing data placards, come from Highball Graphics, #F-163. I used the white version, but the sheet also includes black, which I used on an Atlas ACFX Kaolin tank car I'm working on at the same time.