Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Rockets defy discontinuance

Almost a year ago I decided to try something different.  Instead of using Amtrak for some passenger service I wanted something that looked a little more Rock Island-ish if you'll have it.

Since Rock Island never jumped onboard with the Amtrak plan and I wanted some sort of passenger service as well as more Pig trains I decided to combine the two wants.  I also wanted to recreate the ambiance of the road, that is the deferred maintenance.  

Seeing how the layout is set in 1983 and passenger was long gone by the late 60's, I came up with the idea that with the revitalization of the line, the need for some sort of mail and passenger service might have been called for and that any chance to make a little extra money would have been a good thing.  So they decided to add a bit of service to see if it was worth the effort or not.

I figured that the passenger equipment would have been drug out from long term storage to fulfill that need without seeing a wash rack in decades, they would have looked a little bedraggled and weatherworn.

I tried not to go overboard with the weathering as I didn't want to wind up with rustbuckets, I just wanted something on the dirty side that was still in useable condition,

So I started off by striping the cars down and adding some homemade decals. Three of the cars I acquired from Steven J. and his Rock Island Sands layout since he retired his cars: The Ottawa Pullman coach, The La Salle coach and an unlettered baggage car.  

Along with his cars I also scrounged up two more KATO coaches that I named Little Rock and El Dorado. His baggage car I renumbered 858.  The other cars were factory painted for the Rock Island that I found from several sources.  These were two Wheels of Time Express baggage cars and one Walthers Smoothside baggage.  The last car was a custom resin casting for an REA boxcar made by Skytop Models.

It's basically a copy of the MTL Troop cars that he added a sliding door and plated over the windows.

After getting the decals applied and sealed with a coat of Dull Coat, I started on the weathering. Never having worked on any passengers car before I was a little hesitant on how and what to use for the weathering mediums?  

So I dug out my stash of Bragdon powders.  I grabbed three: Soot, Grimy Gray and Weathered Brown.  The Soot was used for the roofs, the Grimy Gray was used to tone down the Soot if it got too heavy and also to reduce the shine of the car sides and give them a dull look.  The Weathered Brown was used for a few spots that I thought might see a bit of rust.

For the undercarriages and trucks I used some of my new Pan Pastels as it sticks much better than the Bragdon powders and I wanted the these areas very dirty.

Maybe someday if they begin to make a little extra dough for the road, just maybe they'll see a wash rack?


Several weeks after first seeing the passenger cars sitting in El Dorado I caught them on a shakedown run, then a few days later I seen some of them on the in service on the Southbound mail train.


Now with this side project finished, it's time to get back to the track realignment I started a few months ago...


  1. That looks great Allen! Good to see the Illinois Division cars are still rolling.

    1. Thanks Steven! Appreciate the purchase of them.
      They all seemed to be in good condition, they should serve the Little Rock well.