The two Kaslo Shops Cabooses are now complete, just in time for the new year.  This last week saw application of weathering and installation of glazing and couplers.


Weathering was a simple wash of thinned Tamiya German Grey applied mostly to the yellow areas to tone them down.   Black Bragdon weathering powder was then dusted over the model with heavier applications on trucks and underframe and some subtle vertical streaking applied to the body.     A spray of Dullcote was applied to seal all the weathering before glazing and final assembly.

Glazing was formed from clear plastic (I used an inlay from a Micro Trains freight car box) glued inside the body using CA glue.    I then filled the window openings from the outside with several applications of acrylic floor polish.   I used Pascoes Long Life brand but in North America I would have gone for Future Floor Wax.   The Pascoes polish goes on milky white but dries clear and helps impart a more glass like reflection on the clear plastic glazing.

Microscale short shank body mount couplers were installed using CA glue.   Small mounting screws are provided but they would need to be trimmed to avoid sticking through the floors of the end verandas.   I chose to just glue the couplers in place.   I am aware that brittle CA may not be suitable for holding couplers in place over the long term but we will see.   If not I will use a two-part epoxy for a stronger bond,

It is important to add weight to these models as they are very light.  I added two 1/4 oz peel and stick weights to the car body floor before the cupola and roof sections were glued in place.

Overall I am very happy with the appearance of the final models.    This is not an easy kit to build and I was quite surprised how long they took to complete.   The advantage of operating a small layout is that these two cabooses will be sufficient for most train movements.  I also have a Briggs PGE caboose kit that will provide for some extra trains once it is completed.

For now 1851 and 1886 look very much at home under the wide open skies at Fort St John.


Largely complete BCR 1851 at Fort St John

Work has continued steadily on the two Kaslo Shops BCR cabooses (or ‘Vans’ as BCR called them).  It has been quite a time consuming build but with painting and decals now complete they are almost finished.  Smoke jacks are not included with the kit so I used Miniatures by Eric CPR Caboose Stack (NS3) which I fortunately had in my parts box.    I imagine it would be possible to scratch build these parts from strip styrene if you were sufficiently patient.

After careful masking, the cabooses were brush painted using True Line Trains BCR/PGE Light Green and Dark Green.  Handrails and end steps were painted in Humbrol enamel yellow,  Window frames were carefully picked out using a Humbrol silver enamel.  Various photos consulted show the window frames to appear as either silver or light green (highly variable by road number and date).  I just think the silver framing looks better so went with that.

Basic painting complete 

Microscale has an excellent decal set for BCR cabooses with the full time span from PGE to BC Rail colour schemes covered (Microscale 60-931).   The white striping was a bit of a challenge especially on the caboose ends and some of the fine car data is incredibly tiny and requires a steady hand and use of a magnifier to place.  I applied a gloss coat before and after applying the decals in order to minimize the appearance of the decal film.

Decals complete (including some tiny car data labels that require a magnifying glass to read)

Road numbers assigned were 1851 and 1866.   1851 was chosen based on a photograph showing that van at Beatton River, a notable north end subdivision division point, in September 1978 (my modelling year).

Next steps are to correct a few fit and finish issues and then apply Dullcoat before and after final weathering. Window glazing needs to be added and the roof sections and cupola need to be glued on permanently.  Weight will need to be added because currently these are extremely lightweight.   Couplers will then be installed and these two vans can be put into service.

20191201_112312Basic assembly complete..   Handrails were extremely challenging.

I have started building a pair of the distinctive BCR wide vision cabooses as they will be a key item for BCR trains of this era.

The cabooses are Kaslo Shops resin kits which I have had in my kit stash for many many years.  They should still be available from Central Hobbies in Vancouver.   Atlas did at one time make a N scale cupola caboose in BCR colours but it really is not prototypically correct even in the basic dimensions.

This particular Kaslo kit are is complicated and requires quite a bit of skill.  I have lots of experience building plastic kits of all types but I find resin can be tricky.   The kit is a series of flat parts (i.e body shell is not ready formed). CA glue (which does not bond instantly) needs to be used and the parts are quite brittle.

Kit instructions however are pretty good and if you take it step by step over a series of evenings it can be quite and enjoyable build.  The handrails however are not for the faint of heart….  More on that later.

The kit does not include trucks so I used some Micro Trains (1001) Bettendorf Trucks I had in my parts bin.    They are not exactly correct so they will likely be swapped out for something better in the future.  Body mount couplers will also be installed.

Before starting the kit assembly I sprayed the under frame piece with flat black.  Remainder of the body assembly proceeded as per kit instructions and progressed quite quickly.


Basic car body complete

Next step was installing handrails.   I really struggled with this part and wish that the kit had come with an etched fret.  Wire is not provided so I sourced some fine wire from my parts bin. Instruction includes templates for bending each piece.  Some were relatively easy L shaped bends but the caboose has distinctive curved handrails on the sides that were a real pain to shape properly.

The end handrail stanchions required drilling four #80 holes through very thin resin.  I first created the stanchion as an inverted  U shaped wire and then fed up two straight wires to form the two centre railings.   Even after all this incredibly tedious work they still do not look quite right so I really wish the kit had come with parts for the end railings.

Handrail assembly took essentially a week of evenings (and some strong language at times) and is probably the biggest issue with this kit.    Even now it is complete I am still not particularly happy with the end handrail stanchions but it really is the best I could achieve.   Hopefully some weathering will distract the eye.

Basic assembly and handrails completed.  Project should move a bit faster now.

The next steps are installation of a few detail parts and preparation for painting.


565 and 571 largely complete, awaiting a few final details

The last couple of weeks have seen completion of the decal application for 565 and 571.  The Microscale decal set (60-783 British Columbia Diesels 1972-1984) was used.  I applied a Tamiya gloss coat before and after the decals and then sealed the completed shells with a spray can Tamiya flat coat before weathering.

The white lining was quite challenging to apply and needed to be cut and positioned carefully using a small paint brush, but the final result is very pleasing.

Weathering was done by applying an initial wash of Tamiya German grey which was then repeated several times on the yellow handrails and pilots.   A secondary wash of thinned acrylic black was then applied with a focus on the roof, carbody filters and underframes.   Bragdon black weathering powders were then used heavily on the roof and underframe with a lighter overall application to the rest of the models.  A final application of Tamiya flat coat from a spray can seals the weathering.

I went heavy with the weathering to match prototype photos from the late 1970s which show many RS-3s in quite a dirty condition with the yellow handrails and pilots being almost completely obscured by grime.

Next steps are a bit more targeted weathering of the fuel tank and trucks and the installation of a few small detail parts coming in from overseas.    Cab glazing needs to be added also, but for now they are largely complete.


The distinctive two-tone green colour scheme was finalized this week.   Careful masking was needed in preparation for painting the dark green which forms the lower half of the hood and the cab sides and roof.

True Line Trains BCR / PGE Dark Green #7 (TLT 010037) was used and brush painted on in 4 coats over a weekend.   Removal of masking tape revealed nice crisp paint lines which was very pleasing.   Next steps are decals.

Road numbers selected are 565 and 571 both in British Columbia Railway lettering.  These units were seen at Fort St John in the late 1970s.

Initial paint.  The yellow handrails will be blackened with grime and dirt soon!

The two RS-3s are progressing nicely and this week saw the initial paint application.    A base coat of  PGR/BCR light green was applied to all the bodyshell parts, while handrails were finished in yellow and the underframe in a dark grey.   Specific paints used were:

True Light Trains BCR/PGE light green #6 (TLT010036) acrylic for the body (4 coats applied over several days)

Tamiya XF-63 German Grey for the underframe.   This my go-to ‘N scale black’ colour as I very rarely use a true black due to the scaling effect of colour with distance

Humbrol Matt 154 yellow was used for the handrails.   This is an enamel paint which isn’t my preference, but it is the right shade (yellow with a slight orange tint) and was available.  In New Zealand you learn to make do with whatever is available.

Purists may be horrified to learn that I still brush paint ….in 2019.   There are various reasons for this, mostly to do with the mess and annoyance and expense of airbrush painting and the fact that I actually enjoy brush painting.  In my opinion a spray can finish of dullcote (which I always use) produces a smooth airbrushed look anyway.

The Kiwi ‘make do approach’  Only the BCR green is prototype specific.  The others are hobby shop finds

Some additional details applied before painting were strip styrene under the pilots to simulate the distinctive BCR pilot style.  This was chosen over replacing the entire pilot with detail parts.    Horizontal railings along the side of the long hood air intake were added from the very thinnest strip styrene I could find (Evergreen #100 0.25 x 0.5mm strip)


I am not overly concerned with how ‘chunky’ and over-scale the handrails currently appear.  I plan to heavily weather these units as per the prototype, so only a hint of yellow will be visible when the units are completed as prototype photos often show the handrails being virtually black from grime and dirt.

Next step is to mask the body shells and apply BCR dark green along the lower half to complete the distinctive and very attractive BCR two tone green scheme.

Work on the RS-3 conversion project is continuing with the addition of a second unit.  As mentioned in Part 1, I am following an excellent build thread on the Railwire forum during my conversion project.

There are some steps I have modified and other steps I am skipping over.    After a few attempts at trying to create hand grabs out of fine wire I have elected to skip that step.  They are just too small and frustrating to create and install.  I have nothing but admiration for the people who can install such tiny detail parts on N scale models, but I’ll pass for now!

For the large circular radiator fan I also used an old trick of using self-adhesive textured fabric repair material to get the appearance of a fine mesh.  I had previously used it on rectangular fans on the side of a CRS-20 conversion but it works just as well on the circular fan.  It just needs to be trimmed very precisely with a new sharp blade.

Primary body shell modifications underway 

I still have a few fit issues with the shells.   On one unit the long hood was sitting too high so I created a thin strip styrene skirt to fill the gap between the bottom of the shell and the top of the walkway section.  The second unit needs a bit of attention on the short hood end, probably including filing some material of the metal frame to get a better fit of the short hood and cab.  I’ll do any frame filing when I get to the decoder installation stage of the project.

Detail variations in horn arrangement and long hood headlight housing will make for fun when choosing the correct prototype road numbers

Side window shades were installed using etched parts from a suitably generic locomotive detail parts set.     Horns are Minatures by Eric parts that (fortunately) I had lying around in my parts box.   As is noted in the Railwire build thread and in other sources, the RS-3s had a bewildering array of minor variations between units with the horn cluster being one of them.   I elected to install a 3-forward horn arrangement on one unit and a 2-forward-one-back horn arrangement on the other.

The core of a good 1970s BCR fleet – 2 RS-11s and 2-RS-3s

The Railwire build thread describes a process to remove the Atlas pilots (by very careful sanding) and installing BCR correct parts.   I haven’t decided whether or not to do this step as I feel a simple styrene ‘shelf’ along the bottom of the Atlas pilot would give the same appearance with considerably less work.   Other than that the basic conversion is largely complete.

Not sure if I will proceed to the decoder installation and painting stage right away or switch to building some freight car kits.    As the New Zealand spring approaches I am more in the mood for small kit building projects that can be done over a few hours each week.