Kitbashing Lakes Bennett, Teslin and Tagish in HO

by Jeff Hohlstein: In the last report, I promised more on body construction and the “Lead Sled.” Hang on, let’s go!

The configuration of these three coaches is the same, so the project started with this drawing. As with Lake Linderman, I had to cut the Model Power bodies off the chassis.

The roof defines the exact body footprint; therefore the roof mating is critical. To make sure the finished body will mate properly with both the chassis and the roof, I printed the PowerPoint design onto card stock, cut it out, assembled it with masking tape and verified the fit before cutting plastic. When using a cardboard mockup, remember to take into account the thickness of the plastic sandwich walls.

I cut the parts in batches for the three coaches. This saved set-up time in the fabrication process. To avoid having to individually cut replacements for parts damaged in assembly, and to insure uniformity of all parts, I cut extra pieces of each part configuration. I assembled the sides and ends and mated them as shown.

Then I painted them. Since both inside and out would be visible, it was easier to paint them in two assembly sections than it would have been to paint them as a completed body assembly. Then I assembled them into complete bodies and finished the end corners with quarter-round molding. The body color, now standard for my coaches, is PS GN Empire Green. It appears to very accurately match the Olive Drab that the prototypes use.

Next came the “Lead Sled.” After being less than satisfied with the initial interior of Lake Linderman, I decided that a better solution would be to build a box, that could be filled with pourable lead much like I had done with the flatcars. This would be thin enough to stay below the window line, heavy enough to weight the coach, and would encapsulate the lead. Here, the sleds have been filled with A-Line .080” pourable lead and are ready to be covered. Regarding lead safety, it may be worth it to review the cautions in my flat cars article.

Here is the completed Lead Sled, ready for installation into Lake Teslin. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t heavy enough. If you look closely, there are two black weights mounted side by side at the latrine end of the coach. The latrine window hides them on that side and on the other side there aren’t supposed to be seats anyway. At the other end, the first two rows of seats have been shortened to accommodate two weights mounted in tandem. The shortened seats stand out when observed from above, but when observing them through the coach windows, the aspect angle is much flatter and the illusion works.

Here, the Lead Sled and tinted windows have been installed. For window tinting, I used Tamiya Color X-19 Smoke, which is a translucent paint. The purpose is to mask the inside just enough to make the interior illusion work. It’s easy to get the windows too dark. To know whether the tint is correct, put the windows in place and put the roof on, or at least cover the top of the coach so that the only light getting in comes through the windows. Then see how it looks on the layout. It would also be good to shoot an image or two to see how the interior will photograph. About four light coats of paint were sufficient for my needs.

The roof ends of these three coaches are straight, rather than sloping down. I achieved this by filing the ends flat. This removed a triangular chunk of material from the roof end. I replaced this with .020 sheet stock, cut to fit. It was a bit tricky. In this image, the bottom roof is unmodified. The top shot of the center roof shows the installed fillers. The bottom side of the (then) unpainted fillers can be seen.

Here is Lake Bennett, ready to go. The stove stack was hand made per the instructions on the PowerPoint drawing. It was painted PS GN Empire Green.

A word about decals. I have settled in on Rail Graphics decals. In my article on Kitbashing GE #81, I described how to create original art and hold the cost down on Rail Graphics decals. Here’s the striking evidence. Lake Linderman has decals from an unnamed source and you can tell they’re decals. Lake Teslin has Rail Graphics decals. They are tough, easy to apply and it’s almost impossible to tell that they are decals except at a perfect light angle. And look at the richness.

To make the drawing set complete, here is a list of standard colors that I have adopted.

Here’s the group. The upper image is the same as the last image in the Lakes Spirit and Linderman article. I have since redone all but Lake Bennett using the reverse weathering technique described in that article. The lower image shows the striking result. I now have roofs that look very real in both color and variability.

This will probably be my last article for about a year. We have decided to move to Jacksonville, FL. The house needs a bit of work (understatement) to prepare for sale, so that is my priority project a while. I’ll pick up with the hobby once the move is accomplished. The skills I’ve learned in this hobby will be very valuable in home fix-up.

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