Neat little structure in Roswell, New Mexico to model and more…

I love buildings like this.  Not easy to model, but what character!Roswell

Roswell near Roswell Wool

Roswell near Roswell Wool 4Here you can see where the tracks used to service the structure.

Roswell near Roswell Wool 2

Unfortunately, Rancher’s Supply appears quite closed.

However, for you more modern modelers, next door is a modern gem.  Note the orange and white building next door to the right?

Roswell Wool 2

It is Roswell Wool.  It is still a going concern.

Roswell Wool

Sadly the BNSF no longer a has an active spur to it, but you can see where it once ran and the doors that were possibly used to load boxcars at one point.

Hard to know how long Roswell Wool has been at this location.

warehouse 2

Right down the track to the north are a lot of warehouses that were at one time used for shipping agricultural traffic as well.

warehouse 3

On this map the blue circle depicts those warehouses.  The black circle shows were the old ATSF passenger and freight station once stood (a portion still remains).  The red circle shows where the Rainbo Bakery sat that served as the model of the bakery on the Rails West layout.  You can still see the concrete pad where the flour silos once sat. (The rectangle with the 8 holes, click here for a post on the bakery that once operated in Roswell.)

Like many western towns of any size, Roswell is full of building crying out to be modeled.

Take Artesia just to the south of Roswell for instance…

Oh well, that may be a subject for a future post.


Time for a little operating…

The local came into town pretty light today.  As is often the case, the yard crew in Trinidad did an iffy job of blocking.


Three empties for the C&C RR interchange and two loads for Carrizo Springs.


A couple of recent Rails West projects are featured.  A re-worked Accurail kit to depict a GN double-door boxcar.  I weathered it, cut the ladders down, removed the roofwalk, added lube plate, wheel inspection and ACI decals, replaced trucks, installed grab irons, stirrups, scale wheels and pin lifters and brake hoses.   It was about a 3-month project with many, many breaks.


IMG_2822 (1)


All in all, I’m pretty happy with it.  Not perfect, end ladders clunky, but it is close enough.


I also re-worked an Athearn BN 40 footer.  I did most of what I did to the GN boxcar, but I did not replace the grab irons.  Again, close enough.  I wanted a couple of double door 40 footers to serve as backups when no 50 footers were available for the sawmill on the C&C RR.  They will be rare visitors, but I like the idea of having a few 40-foot boxcars still on the layout.



Again, a bit clunky in a few places, but overall acceptable.  Weathering hides a lot!

Forty footers are fading icons from the rail scene in my era, the late-1970s and early 1980s.


The two work pretty well together.

We might as well check out the rest of the small consist.


Here’s an empty for loading at the sawmill too.


Here is a load of beer for Hernandez Distributing and the CPLT box is a load of plywood for Foxworth Lumber (team track in town).

IMG_2827 (1)_edited-1

And lastly, the venerable CB&Q caboose that frequently makes the trip over from Trinidad.

The crew will make their set outs and grab a bite at Paul’s Mexican Food.  They’ll grab the empties from Western Warehousing and the empty Frisco box from Hernandez Distributing and beat it back to Trinidad hoping to beat the 12-hour clock.



Maps (and planned structures) of the Rails West layout (Conclusion)

In Parts I and II of this series, I shared overall maps and described my structures in place or planned for the east side of Carrizo Springs, the primary town of the layout.  In this post, we’ll explore the west side and outskirts of Carrizo Springs.

Here is a close up of the area we’ll cover–

Layout map Mar 2017 II_carrizo II

Going from east to west (towards the interchange with the Carson & Carrizo RR), I’ll discuss each structure.

Paul’s Mexican Food

This structure is undetermined, but I can share a picture of the inspiration in Carrizozo, NM.


Paul’s Mexican Food, Carrizozo, NM, circa 2007–©photo by C. E. Hunt

This restaurant in the early 1990s had the best red enchiladas and green chili cheese burgers.  It was old school all the way and some of the customers really wore spurs!  It was magnificent in my eyes.  Note the cool swamp cooler out the side of the structure.  Little touches like that give your structure a real regional identity and help create a more authentic sense of place.

Yucca Bar and Grill

This place is the fuzziest in my mind.  I absolutely love this structure (also) in Carrizozo, NM.  I am not sure I’ll do this place, but I’d like to.  It is still a question.  It will involve serious scratch building.  Here is the real structure–


Yucca Bar and Grill, Carrizozo, NM, circa1993–©photo by C. E. Hunt

Above is how the place looked in the early 1990s.  Note iconic sign still there!


Yucca Bar and Grill, Carrizozo, NM, circa 2007–©photo by C. E. Hunt

This photo and the next two were taken around 2007.


Yucca Bar and Grill, Carrizozo, NM, circa 2007–©photo by C. E. Hunt


Yucca Bar and Grill, Carrizozo, NM, circa 2007–©photo by C. E. Hunt

This place screams out to be modeled!  When I did a post on this building in 2015, a reader gave me a great comment–

This was my grandpa’s bar back in the hey day. I worked there when I was a youngster cleaning tables, sweeping and when there was dances or bands I got to serve beer. WOW try that now!!!!–J. Ortiz

We’ll see if I model it, but I know I should try.

The next three are a little easier and almost guaranteed to be quite good because they are Monster Model Works kits by one of my favorite craftsmen kit producers, Jimmy Simmons.  His kits are AWESOME and yield very good results.

Feller’s Garage


Gibson’s Body Shop


Abandoned store (with sign a swinging)


I know it is a little cookie cutter on the last three, but why not embrace excellence and take it easy sometimes?

The infrastructure at the piggyback ramp will be minimal, just a ramp, a couple of trailers and a few tumbleweeds.

At the far western end of the layout, there won’t be much.  My goal is to subtly suggest a change in ecotype as the country begins a transition into the foothills of the Carson Mountains.  A few trees will begin to appear and signage may indicate the boundary of the National Forest.


The IMC mine is still under conceptualization right now.

There you have it on the current and future Rails West layout.  I gotta go, I have a lot of work to do!




Maps (and planned structures) of the Rails West layout (Part II)

In the last Rails West post, I shared a couple of key maps and a little history.  (Click here to see Part I.)

In this post, I’ll share some details on structures and planned structures.  As a refresher, the modeled area is shown again below.

Layout map Mar 2017 II

OK, let’s drill down into the east side of Carrizo Springs.

Layout map Mar 2017 II_ Carrizo I

Taking the structures from east to west:

Agri-West Farm Supply — see this post from 2016 for more.  (See part II here.)img_2506

Hernandez and Sons Distributor (Click here for more, again it was a two-part series.)img_2416

Rainbo Bakery (Much more here, multi-part series.)img_2579

Agri-West Lube and Specialty Oil (under development)

This will be based on a variety of influences, but mostly a combination of former dealers in Marfa, TX along a former SP main line. (now UP).DSC_7570DSC_756816176 Russell410 E El Paso 3 Likely the subject of a post in the near future.

Western Warehousing  (Click here to see the first of a two-part series on this structure.)IMG_2272

Ponderosa Feeds (Click here for more.)img_2657

Carrizo Valley Wool and Mohair (under development)

For a post on an active wool and mohair shipper in Alpine, TX in the late-1970s, click here.

This non-rail serviced structure will be based on multiple influences of a few structures in Texas.

wmohmertzonwmohballinger5478c0b1ae95c.imageunnamed (2)Big Bend Wool and Mohair with two cars spotted in August, 1977–©B. Smith photo

In the next post, we’ll venture towards the western end of the layout.





Maps (and planned structures) of the Rails West layout (Part I)

BN 1743 Three Forks MT Apr 14 1984 Jim Herold Low Res

BN 1743 Three Forks MT, April 14, 1984 by Jim Herold –©photo C. E. Hunt Collection

The above photo taken in Three Forks, MT in 1980s captures much of what the Rails West layout is all about–short trains in lonely, beautiful country evoking many of my favorite places and scenes across the American West.

To somehow give a larger narrative to the layout and give it context, I have developed a fictitious map of the region.

Big Map II

Only a small portion of this map is modeled on the layout.  (See yellow box.)  Two of my favorite western roads come together in Trinidad and have a shared line out to Carrizo Springs.  I think of it as sort of a “Camas Prairie” arrangement like the BN and UP had in Idaho.  For a detailed history of the lines see my earlier post.  For the most part, the map of above tracks pretty closely with that history with a few tweaks.

Most notable on this map is the richer detail of the short line that goes to Carson State University.  The Carson & Carrizo Railroad operates a line that the SP sold before the 1970 BN merger.  Carson State University bought the line to ensure continued service to the campus.  Coal and food shipments predominate the traffic to the university, but the line also hosts a fair amount of sawmill-related traffic since one of the old sawmills on the line reopened after the C&C RR took over.

Carson State University’s football team, the Cougars, draws a big crowd during the season and the Unversity has thought about running passenger specials to Trinidad so perhaps a little passenger action may take place in the future.  The scenery of Carson National Forest could be a draw as well in the future. The line traverses numerous picturesque gorges and creeks on the way to Carson.

Layout map Mar 2017 II

The map above portrays the modeled portion.  At this time only the track and a few of the structures are in place.  However, it is enough to permit me to have interesting operation sessions and there are enough structures to give my operations a sense of purpose.

In the next post, I will provide details on some of the structures in place and those to come.

A safety reminder since the oilfield is hopping on the LCN RR

By B. Smith


Sand, mud and chemical traffic is booming on the LCN RR. West Texas Oil Field Fluids is to the right where the tank cars are spotted.

The 1990 oil boom is creating a lot of traffic on the LCN RR.  Rumors are the FRA may visit any day now, and with a regional chemical supply dealer taking over the local dealer in Pecos, the LCN’s Operations Manager felt it was a good time to refresh the LCN train crew’s awareness of handling placarded hazardous material shipments in a train.  West Texas Oil Field Fluids has indicated that it will be receiving numerous sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid tank car loads in the coming months spurred on by the increased drilling activity in the Pecos area.

So let’s assume a car load of hydrochloric acid has just been delivered to the LCN interchange track and West Texas Oil Field Fluids wants that car ASAP.  The LCN railroad wants to keep on good terms with their new customer so it dispatches an engine and a crew to deliver that car.
We see the train departing for Pecos.

unnamedThe crew was on the ball and picked up five empty LCN hoppers to serve as buffer cars (sometimes called spacer or cover cars) to place between the engine and the hazmat car.  But this run often includes an occupied caboose.unnamed-1Putting the caboose on the end would violate FRA rules as the caboose needs it own buffer cars.  If they were no additional buffer cars available, the tank car would have needed to be placed in the middle of the train to protect both the engine and the caboose.  A business car on the end of the train is treated as a caboose.unnamed-2Now if the crew of our train picked up a flat cat loaded with steel beams and placed it next to the placarded tank car, the FRA would get ready to issue the LCN a fine.  Putting the flat car ahead of one of the empty hoppers would work, as long as the flat car is not next to the engine where its shifting load could endanger the crew in the event of an accident.unnamed-3Now placing a reefer with an operating temperature control unit or internal combustion engine will bring out the FRA’s fine book too.  The train crew needs to separate the tank car and the reefer with one of the empty hoppers.unnamed-4An open top car (including bulkhead flats) when any of the contents protrude beyond the car ends are not to be placed next to a placarded car, or engine, or occupied caboose/business car.

These are some things to be aware of if your railroad handles placarded cars.  Make sure your crews are aware of the regulations.
(Editor’s note: Knowing the rules can make a small to medium layout more entertaining.  It is not always as simple as just stringing a train together and moving out.)

My Gurus


A frequent contributor to Rails West, B. Smith’s LCN RR.

We all have been influenced by others at some point in our pursuit of model railroading. This post focusses on the folks who have profoundly influenced and inspired me.  You may know some of them, others may be new to you.

gil-freitag  I have to start out with the original influence–Gil Freitag.  As a fourth grader, my trips down the street to see Gil’s Stoney Creek & Western layout were just about all a 11-year old boy could handle.  Gil was very generous with me and let me borrow a lot of resources to help me learn all about the hobby.  I seriously doubt I’d be in the hobby today if it weren’t for my neighbor Gil.  He lived about 6 houses down the street from me in Houston, TX.  Click here for youtube of his layout


Gil Freitag’s masterpiece, the Stoney Creek & Western.

hpim0690  Next up is B. Smith, proprietor of the LCN RR.  He is a retired railroader among many other great pursuits.  He too has been very patient and nurturing as I have grown in the hobby.  He taught me a great deal about prototypical operations and how to make your layout function in a realistic manner.  He taught me how slow, realistic operations can really be rewarding–think about setting the brake, how the brakeman is going to get back in the cab, closing derails, etc.


One of the lonely stretches on B. Smith’s LCN RR.

B. Smith also exposed me to the virtues of isolated, generally peaceful and slow western operations.  There is something really special about railroading in the isolated West.  His work is featured often on this site.

61wslltik6l-_ux250_ Next up is Lance Mindheim.  Lance has inspired me to embrace right-sized layouts and also appreciate slow, realistic operations.  He is certainly among the very top modelers today, particularly in terms of creative approaches, blazing new paths, discovering compelling prototypes to model and realistic scenery.  For more on his outstanding work, click here. (His Los Angeles Junction Railway layout is featured above in cover photo.)


One of Lance’s previous layouts, East Rail.  –©photo by Lance Mindheim

01-weathering-confalone-intro-thumb Lastly, in terms of my gurus, is Mike Confalone.  Unlike the other three gentlemen featured above, I have never met Mike.  Nevertheless, I have drawn inspiration from him and find his work extremely impressive.  His Allagash Railway is amazing.  Click here to see more.


The Allagash Railway–©photo Mike Confalone.


The Allagash Railway–©photo Mike Confalone. The weathering is just superb.

These four people have had the most impact on my work.  The hobby is so lucky to have these guys.


There are many other folks whose work I find very compelling and would definitely belong on the “All-Star” team.  Here are just a few–

Filename: MRR-FE1113_02.psd Pelle Søeborg is one of the top modelers in the world today.  His depiction of modern western railroader is top notch.


Pelle’s layout–©photo Pelle Søeborg. A modern masterpiece.

maxresdefault Gary Christensen is truly a rockstar.  His weathering and diorama compositions are breathtaking.  For more of his work click here.


Breathtaking. Gary’s work is the best.–©photo Gary Christensen


img_4038_mrh Jimmy Simmons is a master model maker.  His Monster Model Works produces some of the finest models for layouts available today.  They build out very well and are not fussy like some wooden kits.  I have a few of his kits on the layout.  Click here for his site.


Jimmy’s work is spot on.–©photo Jimmy Simmons.


Jimmy is quite the modeler himself as well as a great producer of models.–©photo Jimmy Simmons.


One of Jimmy’s kits on my Rails West layout.

20244985620_a3b893bb39_b Butch Eyler is another weathering master.  I have had the pleasure of meeting Butch and watching him work at the Mid-Atlantic RPM each year. (The meet has been cancelled in 2017, but will likely be back in 2018.  Thanks to Norman Wolf, who is quite a modeler himself, it is a great meet each year.  Click here to see his operation.)


Butch is another master weatherer. –©photo Butch Eyler.


The rust is perfect! –©photo Butch Eyler.

His work looks just as good up close.

gsrpm-1 Ralph DeBlasi does great work modeling the Lehigh Valley.  His layout is beautiful and features an awesome fleet of Lehigh Valley locomotives.  I have seen Ralph’s work up close also at the Mid-Atlantic RPM.


Ralph is passionate about the Lehigh Valley and it shows!


His fleet of Lehigh Valley diesels are beaitiful.

I could go on and on, but I’ll share just one more…

“Mountain Goat” Greg has a nice website on his Northwest-themed modules.  He does some of the nicest interiors of any modelers I’ve seen.  Below is a rework of a Monster Model Works kits.  The results are very nice.  Click here to visit his site.


Mountain Goat Greg is an excellent builder of structures.


A master interior!

Again, there are many others, but these are the ones that come to mind right now.

Enjoy the links to these fine artists.  They are doing amazing work enriching our hobby and providing inspiration.  My thanks to all of them!