Railfanning in Sanderson, 1968 Part II

By B, Smith

The railfan outing continues.  First thing, the locomotive, empty scoria hopper, and the caboose back down to the scoria load and couple to it.  I was right, that scoria load is on today’s outbound train.

unnamed (6)Then everything backs down the spur track.  Looks like the three cars on the spur are also on the outbound train.

unnamedEverything is pulled out of the spur.  unnamed (1)The engine runs around its train, couples into the gon, and takes on fuel oil.unnamed (3)After fueling up, the train pulls down to the scoria loader to spot the empty.unnamed (4)The empty is spotted.unnamed (5)And the local leaves town with one load, three empties.unnamed (7)Time to go eat lunch as I await the locals return.

Until Part III…

LCN logo 7 with n tighter


Railfanning in Sanderson, 1968 Part I

By B. Smith

I arrived early this morning in Sanderson before any activity was occurring on the LCN.  No car spotted at Safeway or Western Wool.


I climbed the water tank to get this photo.  The Limpia Canyon Northern owner is a steam fan.  Still runs one steam locomotive in 1968!  Going to get steam action today!
unnamed (1)
The tender of the steam engine is spotted next to the water plug so water can be added when needed while the engine sits between runs.
unnamed (2)
Three cars on the spur track.
unnamed (3)
A load is down under the scoria loader, that will probably be on the outbound train today.
unnamed (5)
I see the crew arriving so should see some action soon!
The action will continue in Part II.
LCN logo 6 Primary

Trashing up the joint

An interesting aspect of modeling the mid-1970s, is a chance to evoke the era by bringing back some of the old brands to their former prominence.  Many of us recall the ubiquitous aqua colored Sears vans roaming the land.  We can do that by attempting to use the correct logos for the era.  Many brands, such as Taco Bell, Sears, Jack-in-the-Boxes, McDonalds and Western Autos, all had distinctive logos from the 1970s just to name a very few.

While I was grocery shopping the other day, I came across this bag.


I thought now if I could shrink that down, I’d have some nice 1970s trash for the layout.  What better way to evoke the 1970s than a little 70s trash lying about.  That is how we got that epic ad with the American Indian tearfully regarding the American landscape anyway.

So I poked around the internet and found other examples–some are not as high of resolution, but they are fun to think about.



Of course, there are many types of recognizable trash so I expect some creativity from the RailsWest readers and look forward to photos being shared.

Just as a quick proof of concept, I experimented.


This is quick and dirty stuff.  At some point, I’ll print it on photo paper to get better resolution.  However, I think this could be fun and helpful to evoke the 1970s.



Not too bad.  Ernie and Pablo, the warehousemen at the distributorship, need to police their trash a bit better!

Have fun trashing your joint.





Christmas Eve run on the Rails West layout


It’s Christmas eve and the guys are glad they have a light local today–just a couple of loads for the warehouse, a load of Falstaff and Hamms and a couple of loads of lumber for the team track.


A C&O load of auto parts and a CB&Q load of appliances for the warehouse.


An MP box of Falstaff out of St. Louis and a load of Hamms out of Saint Paul, MN.


A couple of BN (one has GN reporting marks) flats of lumber for the local lumber dealer.

The pick ups are light too–just an empty covered hopper from Ponderosa Feeds and an empty car at the bakery.



A piece of cake today–just spot the warehouse and beer loads and position the caboose for the departure.


Crew eases down the warehouse and beer distributor siding.  The yard crew did a great job blocking the short train.



The beer loads are spotted then the C&O and CB&Q boxcars.  Miraculously, the CB&Q car was in the right position for door #4.




All is well at Hernandez Distributing.  The beer folks have knocked off, but will be unloading December 26 to get ready for the New Years rush.


Just a matter of backing down the line to make up the short train to head back to town.  First, the crew will back down the bakery spur to retrieve the empties and then ease down the beer spur the retrieve the caboose.


The short train now heads back to Trinidad.  The crew hopes to be home in plenty of time to join their family for Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas from Rails West.



Yet another nice late 1960s-1970s flat car

By B. Smith

Another load of lumber from the northwest came to Sanderson originating on the Northern Pacific.

Both cars are Exactrail.  Car on left built 12-67, cushion underframe, metal rail along end of deck boards, car on right built 10-65, no cushion underframe, end of deck boards exposed.


Note difference between edges of deck.


I cut down through the ends of the American Model Builders wood deck boards with a razor saw on the 10-65 car so the boards appear to be individual. I weathered both cars just with powder since I have had problems with wood warping when I used a weathering wash.

I need to add ACI plates, at least to the newer car since ACI plates came out in 1967, so it was probably delivered with one.

LCN logo 7 with n tighter

A nice late 1960s – 1970s flat car

By B. Smith

Since completing my Wheels of Time lumber load I decided I needed another 50’ flatcar. Exactrail has a nice car except that the deck doesn’t come up flush with the steel casting and that flaw is very noticeable. I discovered that American Model Builders makes a laser cut wood deck for the Exactrail cars with 42’ truck centers and hoped it would correct the flaw. And it did!


The small squares on the ends didn’t need the Exactrail deck under them but the big center piece needed the very thin Exactrail deck under the American Model Builders deck. The other thing I changed was the placement of the air hoses, which Exactrail had way too far from the coupler housing. I cut them off and moved them closer. The car rode just a bit high on the trucks that came with it so I filed off a bit of the truck centers and it’s good to go.

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.10.28 PM


Evoking the 1970s with cars and trucks.

Many times I see a great model railroad scene marred by bad vehicles.   Some of us slave over our freight roster only to have the vehicles on our layout sorely detract from them.  Cars and trucks are really worth our close attention as well.  They can make or really break a scene.


Here are a few of my higher quality “foreground” models.  I have rougher vehicles I can park in the background.


This scene would not be nearly as good if I had low-quality models with no rear view mirrors, license plates or wrong era cars.  All of these cars are late-1960s to mid-1970s models which fits my era of mid to late-1970s (1975 and 1979) very well.  I have a dual era layout.  (Those damn yellow dots!  As appropriate, I only put the wheel inspection dots and newer COTS on just one side of my freight cars.)


Your tractors need license plates too.  Don’t want them to get stopped on the road!


Noone can look at my layout and think it is modern.


These cars scream out 1970s!  Which is exactly what I want.


Cars and trucks need to be carefully weathered as well.


I apply a very thin wash of grimy black and roof brown thinned with alcohol with occasional dips of the brush in rust and black powder.


Attention to detail on your cars and trucks will pay off as you photograph your layout.  You want them adding to the scene and era versus being a distraction.