Friday, May 26, 2023

The Chalk Creek Toboggan - Part 8

In one of the photos of Buena Vista (taken from the Colorado Midland mainline east of town) I saw what looked like a flanger in the C&S yards. This was after the Romley layout I built in Parker (Part 5) had either been dismantled or was stored but I was still planning my 1/4" scale Buena Vista Romley layout. I kept busy building rolling stock. The flanger was one of those distinctly Chalk Creek items I watched for; spying it in the yard was what compelled me to build the model. I also found the drawing of a similar Denver & Rio Grande flanger by J.C. Benson in the Mar/April 1980 "Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette".

Completed On3 Model of C&S 016 - Poole

There wasn't and still isn't any kit for C&S Flangers (there were 2 standard gauge cars as well) in any scale so far as I know. If I wanted the car I had to scratch build it and that meant the usual challenges with such projects. The biggest issues were detailed plans and how to come up with viable hardware pertaining to the plow and mechanism. I solved the second problem by using a Durango Press kit of a Rio Grande Southern Flanger (01 as I recall). The first problem took a little more diligence. I started with the drawing mentioned above and using the few photos available redrew the differences as far as I needed in a new drawing.

Is the model strictly accurate? No. Some things had to be presumed and some things I know now were not clear then. Overall, however, I believe the model is convincing. It does not look like either the R.G.S. model from which I borrowed parts or the drawing which I used as a starting point. It looks like a Colorado & Southern flanger.

As built by the D.L.& G. in the mid 1880s, all 4 cars used what we call the B Type Union Pacific Swing Beam truck. That was much the standard of the South Park freight roster at the time the flangers were built. When 015 became the Leadville flanger in 1936 it was re-equipped with ASF 4 foot archbar trucks used on the 1902 Type 1 coal cars. By 1936 these would have been surplus as many cars were scrapped at that time. I purchased the Swing Beam trucks from Coronado Scale Models.

Note that there are no brake beams on the front truck as there was no means of connecting to the brake linkage behind the plow. Also note that there is a brake cylinder used to actuate the blade from the locomotive. Therefore, the cars had 2 air lines and 2 glad hands on each end. None of the prototype photos of 016 suggest it had the tool box on the front deck like 014 and probably 013. Other detail differences might be square targets on the "older" cars - 015 & 016 

The following photo essay may be helpful, in a general sense, on how to develop just about any.wood framed or wooden railroad car. .

Commercial scale lumber was cut for frame parts

Wood frame parts assembled in a plastic jig

Single needle beam with 2 truss rods

 Perspective view showing more end construction

Weights added before floor boards were installed

Form-up of the train air line with other detail

The train air line ran exterior of the frame

Plow installed. Grandt Line couplers

 Plastic "square" to plumb handrail stanchions
Special jig to form the side steps from brass strips

Four sill steps ready to install
Top detail of the nearly complete model

Bottom detail
Sheet brass cut for plow wings and final details, paint, lettering and weathering.

In O scale the car is just over 4" long. This packed a rich amount of detail into a very confined space. The car won Second Place in M.O.W at the 9th National Narrow Gauge convention at Durango, CO in 1989. It was also part of the consist of a train that won first Place at the 12th National Narrow Gauge convention at Colorado Springs, CO in 1992..

Spike from RGS Ridgeway yard
016 was part of a C&S work train entry

Friday, May 19, 2023

Tribute - Harry Brunk 3


The other day I was reviewing old emails from Harry and realized a few corrections were in order. There was also more information about some of the subjects that I discussed previously. 

First, the dates the four of us visited Harry were a little earlier than I had remembered. Casual references in email conversation indicates our first visit was in early summer 2006. Our second visit was probably in early summer 2007. Harry and Bob Axsom were old friends and Bob spent his time during visits taking many photos of the Union Central & Northern. After both visits he had accumulated a large number of views that he used to develop the slide program from which most of the layout photos shown came from. The program on the disk he gave to each of us was dated 16 Jan. 2008.

Harry's Cinder car 0105 was scratch built for the 1930s

Harry sent the following email on 1 Sept. 2007 (a few months after Bob Axsom, Daryl Leedy, Mike Pine and I visited the second time). Harry wrote;

  "FINALLY... the Rio Grande Ltd. C&S cinder car that Eric Bracher sent me has been finished. As you know, he (like I did with my scratchbuilt car,) used your plans from that slick MR article you did some years ago.(Aug. 1991 MR). Also, as per your recommendation, did some reviewing of how C&S re-lettered cars over the years, and made some changes on the scheme I had on my scratchbuilt version of the same cinder type.
"...You may or may not remember I'd lettered my car (UC&N 0105,) in block lettering to sorta go along with the correctly done type two model I'd scratchbuilt of 0206. You thought the first cinder cars had probably never been re-lettered in block style, and I just recently realized you were seeing a thing or two there that I'd missed... They only lettered or re-lettered in the newer styles they went to when or if, a car series was weathered badly enough to desperately need it. The first 0100 series wouldn't have needed it by block lettering adoption, but much later... mid '20s maybe, they possibly did. So both 0107 (Eric's kit car,) and 0105 got one of those quickie lettering jobs the C&S did in the '30s.. Both these cars do however have the up to date stirrups and hand grabs, as fits an early '30s version of the C&S. So, the block lettering came off my 0105, and both 0105 and 0107 got the UC&N and numbers in Roman on the upper left hand side of the cars. No other stenciling shows, except for end initials and numbers, since the C&S had let all that go on 0206 by that time...
  "Also, instead of just being window dressing on the siding at Forks Creek, my three cinder cars are now in operation. This whole thing was kicked in gear after I rebuilt my cinder pit at Silver Plume, a month or two after you guys paid a visit to the UC&N..."

Berlyn Locomotive Works import

I believe our discussion on the cinder cars began during our last visit when I notice the cars on his layout.

I had long forgotten that Eric produced an HOn3 kit of the cinder car for his Rio Grande Models line. I never solicited anyone to make kits of the cars I researched, however, when it happened  - and it has  many times - it is very satisfying to know others have gotten enjoyment out of  the work such research takes. Theo Berlyn imported an O scale model of the cinder cars as well.

The U.C&N herald had an extra figure and Harry neatly put the "C&" on his coal cars where the "&" in "C&S" was. That would have split nicely in the center of the car sides had he chosen to do so.


C&S 0107 was originally U.P.D&G. coal 3999

UC&N Block scheme on a C&S coal car

"... Regarding my cinder car fleet, I have now taken and filed some photos, and will now attempt to send two of them to you, attached to this email.
 "0105 is my scratchbuilt version that for years incorrectly sported block lettering. 0107 is the built up version of one of Rio Grande
(Models) Ltd's kits. Eric Bracher sent it assembled to help me make exploded drawings for his instruction sheet to be included in the kits. Note the side sill is considerably too deep, but to correct it on the assembled car would have required major surgery, and the car is too well done otherwise, I think. Anyway, the lettering, and the detailing, has been rendered as we think the were in the early 1930s. Right? Hope so".

This email came to me (with the photos of his 3 models) on 3 Oct. 2007. I can't speak to the HO version of the car by RGM since Eric never consulted me on that project. The side sills are not called out in the drawing that appears on pages 86 / 87 of the noted MR issue above. The sills were probably the same size as the Type I (1902 built ) coal cars. The measurement of 4319's sills were 11 7/8" as I recall - having actually measured them one New Years Day. (Cold!!)

Left is the RGM Kit (0107) - 0206 is a Type II car

The following discussion may shed a little light on the topic of reverting the U.C&N to C&S (which it absolutely was except in name). Again this was a discussion that came up during our visit in 2007. The email is dated 28 April 2008. It doesn't actually take into account that part of the discussion I have already related in an earlier post but it does add dimension to the topic (see "Tribute - Harry Brunk 2").

" ... I remember your philosophy about limited grab irons, and how that made me feel better after  suffering through all my boxcars with the full array for the '30s. The same reason you like fewer of them is kin to the reason I hang on to my Union Central & Northern lettering and numbering scheme. Whole lot simpler to only have to decal three car numbers, and I don't have to worry whether a given number for my steel frame boxcar series has to go on a car with narrow or wide ribbed roof, or one of the rare wood covered roofs. Oh, them thar folks are out there that LOVE to point out such things if they can prove it, and catch you with a wrongly numbered car with the roof you modeled. 'Course, you're very familiar with such minor problems like that...
 "...Havin' fun can take so many tracks in this hobby, its too bad more folks don't get the message. Workin' on it."

Harry was one of the nicest guys you could meet - I've always sorta taken his comment; " 'Course, you're very familiar with such minor problems like that" as a polite little jab back at me because I had upon occasion pointed out things concerning C&S-esque model freight cars that were contrary to the prototypes. Not about roofs, as I recall, but more fundamental issues such as, when cars were built and the frame technology that dictated the car building activity of this railroad.
He references my long standing penchant for modeling the pre ICC regulations that more than doubled the number of grab irons on freight cars after 1911. That isn't the only reason I like the earlier periods. I do loath the tedious task of installing grab irons. Harry is relating my impatience with grab irons to his
impatience (I gather) of applying decals - one digit at a time - characteristic of lettering sets for freight cars. Fewer numerals, fewer grab irons - yeah. I get that. But imagine the task of re lettering every model to match the prototype should one try to change a layout as advanced as Harry's.

In the following post, dated 30 May 2008. Harry responded to a few of the thoughts I shared with him about the world of Fine Art and its treatment of artists. His remarks reveal a little bit of insight into his own experiences as a working artist.
 " ...Too many years spent learning the hard way that even supposedly sure fire ways of doing it, weren't a sure thing at all. One truth stands out, and it works for Vegas gamblers and artists, and any salesmen... the more money you have already... the less you NEED the next move to succeed... the more likely you WILL succeed, and win big. A relatively well off bank president, who was a good friend was a case in point. He ALWAYS won big in our poker sessions. 'Course they weren't serious money games, but you get the drift. Saw the same thing amoung the artists that I showed with. One of the more successful was asked by a friend and fellow artist, just how you went about getting into one of the major big league art shows, as he had. Not being smartass about it, he said he noticed they actually came to him, after his own personal sales were doing so well he no longer really needed help.
   "In my case, supposedly having your art on magazine covers was a fast track item. Yeah, well with 11 Quarter Horse Journal covers, one Western Horseman cover, and a good western history book cover along with some lesser publications, I admit in some circles it helped the sales of my paintings. But getting in front or into those circles with any regularity wasn't a done deal. Made some big shows, and good sales, but the economy beat me up in between. Never got the war chest built up to the point that the next one didn't matter too much. I got close, but the bottom for the up and comers fell out just as things seemed to be coming together. Close, but no cigar...

I'll not burden you with much of what I said to Harry. What I will say is that the artist - who does all the work - gets very little return compared to the industrializers of art. Unless, of course the artist is an industrializer himself - like Thomas Kinkade. True art is contrary to commercialism because it is a language not a product. Anyway, I have sold a few pieces - and never saw them again! They are like children you send off to school; and never come home again. My walls are filled with some of them. I get more enjoyment out of them than what ever I might do with the money.
There is an excellent article on the Union Central & Northern in the May 1989 Model Railroader that includes a layout plan before it moved into "Little Colorado". That issue has a beautiful cover photo of U.C&N no. 65 at Idaho Springs. If you can obtain or have a copy, it is well worth reviewing for more of an overview of the layout and philosophy the went into creating the Union Central & Northern.
Next time we will talk about the Sn3 box car Harry lettered U.C&N for me. .

Friday, May 12, 2023

The Technical Files - More on Scale Coat Paint

Scalecoat from the 1970s

The Iron Horse introduced "Iron Horse Paint" in June, 1967 according to their ad in Model Railroader that month. It needed no primer and would not chip or scratch. The original formula was tough; an enamel that was to be baked at about 200 degrees. In fact, I've baked the paint at over 300 degrees and I regularly solder to brass models that I've already painted - out of necessity - with no real damage to the surrounding pant. The formula included both Xylene and Toluene therefore it was not meant for plastic models. However in 1967 model railroad world, plastic models needing paint were not so common.  The primary purpose of the paint was to cover model locomotives of zamac and brass and other models made of wood..   

The ad announced 15 colors (including 3 "Locomotive" colors); Locomotive Black, Oxide Red, Graphite & Oil, and Black, White, Tuscan Red, Caboose Red, Reefer Yellow, Reefer Orange, Pullman Green,  Coach Olive,  Southern Green, M & W Gray and Roof Brown. A 2oz bottle sold for a Dollar and you could get a bottle of thinner of the same size for 4 bits.

Nov. 1967

In less than 6 months the name of the paint was changed to Scalecoat and the company was rename Scalecoat Model Railroad Paint (SMRP). The first ad had invited dealer inquiries and apparently M.K. Walthers took the Que. The Nov. MR announced their exclusive distributorship of the product. From then on the paint was always distributed by Walthers.

The list of colors began to expand after Walthers took distributorship. In 1968 SMRP added 3 colors per the Oct ad; Santa Fe Blue, Union Pacific Yellow, Sliver. In April '68 they added the "Glacier Park" Green for Great Northern and included it as one of the 5 locomotive colors - along with Southern Green.

The line then looked like this; Locomotive Black, Oxide Red, Graphite & Oil, Southern Green, Great Northern Green, and Black, White, Tuscan Red, Caboose Red, Box Car Red, Reefer Yellow, Reefer Orange, Pullman Green,  Coach Olive, M & W Gray, Roof Brown, Santa Fe Blue, Union Pacific Yellow, Silver.  They offered a new 8oz size of Thinner. Up to this point only a standard 2oz bottle was available.

October 1968


April 1969
The final additions by the SMRP were the Flat and Gloss Glazes. The Nov. 1969 ad was the last version by that company. There may have been repeats of this ad in the Jan. or Feb. 1970 magazine issues - there are no Scalecoat ads in those issues of Railroad Model Craftsman - but I don't have the other magazines to verify.


Nov. 1969

When Quality Craft Models (QCM) obtained SMRP sometime between Nov. 1969 and April 1970 the paint line consisted of  20 colors. This included 5 locomotive colors; Locomotive Black, Oxide Red, Graphite & Oil, Southern Green, G.N. Green and Black, White, Tuscan Red, Caboose Red, Box Car Red, Reefer Yellow, Reefer Orange, Pullman Green,  Coach Olive, M & W Gray, Roof Brown, Santa Fe Blue, Union Pacific Yellow, Silver, Santa Fe Red.

April 1970







April 1970 MR was the first advertised notice that I've been able to find where Scalecoat had been obtained by QCM. Quality Craft Models immediately issued a color chart and instruction card for using the paint.

Quality Craft Models was established in May or June 1965. Their business was finely milled basswood craftsman kits in . Their ad in June 1966 MR announced the company's first anniversary with a big sale. At that point their address was a P.O. box in Villa Vista, Pennsylvania. Quality Craft Models often advertised Scalecoat Paint as a Subdivision of QCM in their ads but when Scalecoat published an ad (about every other month) they rarely made mention of QCM. Both were owned by the Weavers from 156 Wheatley Road, Northampton, PA and they would own Scalecoat for the next 45 years.

By the end of 1970 QCM added 12 new colors plus a sanding sealer. After all, their business was primarily wooden kits. Presumably they also offered the thinner for the Sanding Sealer at that time..

This was the line up; Locomotive Black, Oxide Red, Graphite & Oil, Black, White, Tuscan Red, Caboose Red, Box Car Red, Reefer Yellow, Reefer Orange, Pullman Green,  Coach Olive,  Southern Green, M & W Gray, Roof Brown, Santa Fe Blue, Union Pacific Yellow, Sliver, Great Northern Green, Santa Fe Red, Illinois Central Orange, SP Dark Gray, SP Scarlet, SP Daylight Orange, SP Daylight Red, UP Harbor Mist Gray, UP Dark Gray, PC Green, CNW Yellow, CNW Green, Baltimore & Ohio Royal Blue, Burlington Northern Green.

Toluene was part of the formula



It appears Toluol (Toluene) was part of the reducer formula through most of the '70s. The bottle on the right - visible in the top photo was not yet part of the product line in 1970.

Undoubtedly, government regulations were part of the reason it was finally omitted but even though the paint continued to be advertised for brass and wood only the removal of Toluene helped make it more usable on plastics. Of course baking as part of the process was not comparable with plastic models. 

After 1970 ads for Scalecoat became more infrequent  Next time we will attempt to determine when the colors began to be number and  when other auxiliary product were introduced..


Wednesday, May 3, 2023

The Chalk Creek Toboggan - Part 7

 "One day this week the flanger, being used by the C&S to clear the rails of ice and snow, became detached from the train, owing to a defective coupling, at the St.Elmo water tank and started off down grade. The car kept to the rails for about 2 miles and is estimated to have gained a speed of at least 75 miles (ph). On a sharp curve, it jumped the track and plunged into the bank, completely clearing the right of way and did not injure the track one bit."
- Chaffee County Republican, 5 February 1916

This would have been flanger 016 which was permanently assigned to the Buena Vista Romley run. The C&S had 4 narrow gauge flangers; 013 - 016. They were very heavy cars. By comparison the heaviest n.g. freight cars were 6 big reefers built in 1898. They weighed nearly 31,000lbs but they were also 30' long. The flangers were 17' over the end sills and weighed 18,300lbs. Considering their purpose and shortness they had to be heavy. 

C&Sng 016 O scale model of the Chalk Creek Toboggan - Poole

Snow battles were a fact of railroading in the Colorado Rockies and the railroads developed a number of "weapons" with which to do battle. The largest machines were the steam driven snow plows but there were several lesser devices as well. These included the Priest flangers that were attached to the pilot truck of the locomotives and pilot plows of various styles and sizes. The medium equipment consisted of the flanger cars.

Likely 013 Note toolbox - round targets. Como late '20s

The blades of the flanger's plow were equipped with knives that cut the ice away from the inside of each rail heads. But these were located behind the leading truck of the cars. Therefore, only the weight of the car would keep it on track when running thru solid ice; which often covered the rails.

The weight of 016 and speed it may have reached leaves little doubt that the main was "cleared" of ice and snow. That it stayed on track for two miles may be phenomenal but being such a heavy weight maybe not so much. In recollection of another version of the "Chalk Creek Toboggan" story (which I have yet to find again) the car never derailed and coasted to a stop along the relatively level stretch between Mt. Princeton and Nathrop. That does sound more like a wood-stove yarn as there were plenty of severe curves along perhaps 15 miles. The printed record is certainly believable.

08 would become 014 by September 1909 - Scott

The St. Elmo water station (an unusually small tank of just 8'x14') was almost 1600 feet down grade from the St. Elmo depot but 4 miles above the Fisher (Alpine) depot.The flanger left the track well before it could whistle past - or into - that station. 

Flangers on South Park trains were often placed behind the lead engine. This practice seems to have been problematic as several wrecks were blamed upon them. The more practical location was to put it ahead of the lead engine which must have been the case in this instance; lest it not be able to escape. Photos of 016 ahead of the engine are shown in several pictorial volumes.

 013 without plow for idler service by April '36 - Kelly

Very likely, in the 30 plus years the railroad had been using such cars, this wasn't the first time a flanger got away. This is simply the only time I am aware of that such an event was recorded. It is an interesting part of this  car's story and historical account. 


02 or 03 (1890 Snow Plow trials) round targets no tool box.

The Denver South Park & Pacific built 2 flangers in 1885 and numbered them 5 & 6. They built 7 & 8 in 1887. In 1894 the Denver Leadville & Gunnison renumbered  5 & 6 as 02 & 03 and 7 & 8 as 07 & 08. In 1899 the Colorado & Southern changed 02 & 03 to 09 & 010 and assigned the vacated numbers to the Jull and Cooke snow plows (01 was already assigned to the first Rotary). The flangers were renumbered again as 013 - 016 between April 1908 and September 1909. That means 013 above was originally built in 1887 and 015 was originally built in 1885. 

The 2 builds were very similar and photographically there were only a few detail differences. All of the cars were built when the South Park was under Union Pacific control and new cars were equipped with what we call the Type B swing beam truck. Except for 015, all of the cars appeared with these trucks. But by 1936 there was a surplus of modern trucks as hundreds of type 1 coal and flat cars were being scrapped. The Leadville car, 015, appears in 1936 with a set of the ASF 4' archbar trucks from the scrapped cars. 

The two 1887 cars seem to have had round targets; indicators to the engine crew when the ice blades were engaged. An air cylinder controlled by the cab would raise the blade when passing thru switches and other possible obstructions. The 1885 cars had rectangular targets. Also, both 013 and 014 seem to have had the front end tool box at one time or another but the box has never been seen on an identifiable 1885 car.

The last Flanger, late 1930s, Leadville - Kelly

 015 & 016 had no box. Rectangular targets, 4-'36 - Kelly


By 1911, 014 was off the roster. Some time between 1934 and early 1936, 013 was stripped of her blades and used as an idler car for moving mixed gauge cars together. It was retired in 1936 but was reinstated in 1940 for use on the Leadville Climax run. The Leadville Mineral Belt consisted of many miles of dual gauge track. By 1938 this was the only portion of the narrow gauge left after the majority of the South Park system had been abandoned and removed in 1937. Then in 1942 the run was completely standard gauged and the two flangers were disposed of  by 1943.