Author: Jeff Faust

Jeff Faust is a professional woodworker by day, and an intractable model railroader by night.

Mennonite boxcars are a thing. Who knew?

I picked this one up at a show last spring, new in the box and unassembled, for $6. After I finished building it, I did a little Googling around and discovered the surprisingly complex history of Mennonite Central Committee boxcar models. I wonder if I could persuade Quakers into doing something like this.

Travels With Windlenook

The Windlenook layout, unfinished as it is, has been out to a number of different places this year: a few library shows, an NMRA-sponsored 4H event, and even a birthday party. The electronics haven’t changed since last winter, but I have made progress on structures.

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It Followed Me Home

This bobber caboose—I think it’s Tyco, but I’m not sure—was in a train-show vendor’s dollar box, for good reason. It had apparently taken a hard drop to the floor, and suffered damage to the steps, undercarriage, and roof overhang. One chunk of step was completely broken off, and dangling by the end rail. A coupler was busted, too. For a few bucks more, I could’ve had a similar caboose in mint condition, but I went with this one.

It got a new Kadee, naturally. A Number 27 was a perfect fit. I’ve been addressing body and chassis damage with bits of styrene, and some Squadron green putty here and there. I’ve got a little more sanding and shaping to do before it’s ready to paint, but the hard work is done now.

It ought to look cute with the Dockside, don’t you think?

The Joy of Cheap, Gaudy Boxcars

I overpaid for this ’80s-vintage Model Power boxcar at the train show in Cicero last December. I mean, look at it: crude, heavy molded-in detail, exposed assembly tabs, graphics printed directly on raw plastic. I paid $5. It’s not worth a nickel over $3. But still, that color! Oh, the color! Glorious, gaudy traffic-cone-orange plastic! It practically glows in the dark. Just what I need for the Windlenook project.

So I handed over the whole $5, took it home, pried off the shell and the horn-hooks, and proceeded to spend way too much time installing Kadee couplers. I had to do a surprising amount of surgery to both the underframe and the shell to get everything to fit properly, but it’s back together now. It’s prone to wobbling, however, and I’ll probably spend way too much time fixing that.

But the color!

Windlenook Gets Its Joystick Throttle

When I took the Windlenook project on its very first outing to the Maker Faire last November, I had to hook it up to an old MRC power pack. I’d attempted to get an Arduino-based joystick throttle working at the last minute, and couldn’t get it to respond. I finally revisited the throttle circuit after New Year’s, and discovered that it was just a few code errors away from working. Oh, well. (more…)

Cute

“Cute.” How I hated to hear that word used to describe trains, as I was growing up. Trains weren’t cute. They were big. They were grimy and smoky. They made noise. They hauled thousands of tons across the countryside. (Or, in my world, they were models that represented such things.) But I picked up a vintage Varney Dockside at the RIT show last month, and it’s… (more…)

Attempting to Relax With Kit Assembly, and Succeeding

Remember me saying how kit assembly brings out the perfectionist in me? How my anxieties bubble to the surface whenever I put tools to plastic? Well, I still haven’t finished that Erie Station kit yet (let alone the Bickles project), but I have discovered model kits that bring me joy, relaxation, fulfillment, and just enough challenge. You’d never guess what.

Vintage HO scale boxcar kits! Really! (more…)