The Mad Dog Valley RR

Built by Chris Baker

Chris is a fantastic model maker and has agreed to share some of his work with us.

Chris writes:

My main interest is the Great Western Railway in the late 1920s/early 1930s modelled to precise S4 standards (4mm/ft scale, 18.83mm gauge.) But when a house move a little while back necessitated that I put my S4 layout temporarily into storage, I soon started to suffer from withdrawal symptoms and so I decided in the meantime to build a small shunting layout. I wasn't sure which scale to use nor which prototype to model, however. While searching the web for inspiration I came across the On30Conspiracy Group and was immediately smitten - I know very little about North American railroads but it was clear my ignorance wouldn't be too much of a handicap in the anything goes world of On30.

So I started to build a modified Inglenook layout (5-3-3 configuration but with an extra track for passenger traffic) and began by building some Boulder Valley Models' freight cars. Somewhere along the way I realised just how much I was enjoying myself and I began to day dream about what it might be like to build models for a living. It's still a day dream at this point but I have been testing the waters so to speak by selling some of the locos I've built on eBay. I'm hoping that gradually I might be able to develop a small model making business to keep me active in retirement (which is a little way off but there's nothing wrong with a little forward planning!)

2-6-2 Side Tank Steam Loco

This loco was inspired by a very similar loco built by a member of the Terrapin Narrow Gauge Society.

I used the chassis from a British outline Bachmann 2-6-2 tank loco and married it to a Bachmann Spectrum 2-6-0 Mogul body. With a little rearrangement and the addition of scratch built footplate, side tanks and coal bunker, I soon had a very sweet running loco.

I fitted a speaker behind the backhead and there was plenty of room in the boiler for a SoundTraxx generic stream DCC sound chip.

I painted this loco with Polyscale tarnished grey followed by a light drybrushing with gunmetal paint and then a thin wash of rust enamel along the edges of the raised detail and along likely drip lines.

70-ton Rugged Diesel Loco

This loco was built from a slightly modified Boulder Valley Models kit using a Bachmann 70-ton switcher chassis.

I lengthened the footplate slightly to allow room for a scratchbuilt ladder behind the cab, as well as a small Boulder Valley Models wooden toolbox. The front and rear lights and the prominent air cylinders under the footplate were scratch built from brass tube - I bought a grab bag assortment of metal rod and tube from MicroMark which should last me a lifetime.

The loco was fitted with a SoundTraxx generic diesel DCC sound decoder.

45-ton Steeple Cab Diesel Loco

I've always been very fond of the steeple cab design and after stumbling across details of an electric steeple cab that originated on the University of Michigan Railroad and was subsequently converted to diesel power, I decided to bash a model using the Boulder Valley Models centre cab kit and 44-ton diesel switcher chassis as the basis. Since I planned to sell this loco and since I hoped I might get a commission for another some day, I decided I ought to try my hand at resin casting the hoods.

Looking back the steeple cab hood wasn't a very smart choice for my first attempt at resin casting. The master was easily made from styrene run through my North West Short Line rivet press but the mold was quite complicated. The first mold I made was a two piece mold and although the first casting came out beautifully, subsequent castings gradually damaged the mold as they were being removed and so I had to start again by making a three piece mold. I added rivet detail to the cab using styrene rivets stuck to lengths of styrene angle and strip - a slightly tedious task but well worth the effort. This loco was also fitted with a SoundTraxx generic diesel DCC sound decoder.

0-4-0 Gas Mechanical Crusty Critter

This was my first On30 loco, built from a Backwoods Miniatures dress- up kit for the Bachmann side rod gas mechanical. Not a lot of extra detailing went into this model apart from the scratch built brass ladder behind the cab and the front and rear lights.

I wanted a crusty look to this loco and used the rubber cement method to create the rust patches. I've since experimented with masking fluid and also salt but the masking fluid is a lot more work (because several applications are needed in order to build up enough thickness to make for easy removal) and the salt method is a little too subtle and better suited to chipped rather than rusted through areas of paint. I installed a DCC decoder without sound in this loco.

0-4-0 Crusty Critter

This loco was built from a Boulder Valley Models Mega Midget kit.

I wasn't happy with the look of this loco using the hood from a Bachmann 44-ton switcher so I deviated from the design a little by using the hood from a Bachmann gas mechanical loco, narrowed slightly by cutting in half, carefully trimming the cut edges and then gluing the halves back together again. This loco was also fitted with a DCC decoder without sound.

Ingersoll-Rand Boxcab Loco

This loco was built from a Backwoods Miniatures' kit using the chassis from a Bachmann gas mechanical loco. I really enjoyed weathering this loco - there's so much detail especially on the roof that just cried out to be streaked with rust. There's also a ton of space inside these locos so I easily added a large diameter speaker and a SoundTraxx galloping goose DCC sound decoder.

The extra detail I added to this loco included the front and rear lights scratchbuilt from brass and the safety hooks and chains at each end. The lenses to the lights are made from a blob of epoxy resin glue carefully mixed to minimize bubbles, dropped onto a clear styrene disc of appropriate diameter formed using a hole punch and then left to harden.

Freight Stock

All of the freight stock is made from Boulder Valley Models kits and painted according to the excellent instructions available on the BVM website.

The workboose kit was slightly modified along the lines of a model made by Sam Barbose.

The flatcar is waiting for a tank load to be added primarily as a way of unobtrusively adding some extra weight.

All of the other cars are weighted with 2oz of lead which I find greatly improves track holding.

0-4-0 Passenger Railcar

This railcar was built from a Backwoods Miniatures' inspection car/ railcar kit running on a Bachmann gas mechanical chassis.

I modified this kit slightly by adding front headlights and converting the cab to a 2 door version, mostly because I didn't relish trying to solder 6 hinges in correct alignment on each side!

Unlike all of the other models, I didn't photograph this loco on the Inglenook layout which is still under construction and hasn't yet been fitted with overhead lighting.

Usually this isn't a problem since I live in California and on most days there's enough sunshine and good weather to take the layout outside but an unusually long spell of wet winter weather meant I had to find another solution and so I experimented by photographing the loco on a section of my S4 layout.

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This page updated April 11, 2006
Webpage ©
Larry Rickert
Photographs and text © Chris Baker