The O scale Kings website really belongs to all O scalers, so tell us what’s on your workbench! This page is dedicated to sharing what modelers are doing and what can be done. There are those that know how to get things done and those that need a little encouragement and or knowledge as to how to begin. Maybe this workbench series will help us help you in your modeling. Please share with us what you are doing on your workbench. Send us an Email with a few good quality pictures and description

The American Orient Express

Bob Lavezzi

A long-term project for me, with my wife Karen’s encouragement, is an 18 car train, the American Orient Express, on which we took 5 trips throughout the US and Canada. I started accumulating cars from some rejects from K-Line, but the majority of my cars are Boxcar Ken passenger cars in which the windows were not cut out. The correct window configurations were put on these cars by OK Streamline.

I wanted to do these cars right, which meant full interiors in the observation car, the club car – with its grand piano, & the 2 dining cars, which were placed back-to back on the consist, where my wife enjoyed the opulence of the past (which got her on these trips) – being served 5-star gourmet meals and wines with white glove service.

Next came the sleeping cars. This was a challenge… trying to recall all the different configurations of these cars from Presidential Suites to regular Pullman compartments. I am still working on these interiors. At most times, there were 158 passengers sleeping on this train, plus the crew, with a porter for each individual sleeping car, who brought us whatever we needed to start the day, and kept us supplied throughout, with whatever we needed.

My next project will be the Superdome, where Karen & I spent many romantic nights watching the stars go by throughout the US and Canada. Then will come the crew cars, and of course, the baggage cars.

Pulling this consist will be 2 Genesis locomotives. More to come…

John Wubbel

Back in the day, that is before the Internet, it may have been challenging to quickly find information on a topic. Case in point, I wanted to learn about gears, how they work, how to calculate the engineering aspects around speed, rpm, torque etc. It just so happens on my work bench I was playing around with a gear box design that probably came from the model race car guys to adapt it for powering a locomotive.

So wouldn’t you know it, I found the files to 3D Print the basic parts. In fact, I thought I could improvement upon it. The lure to this design was to provision the motor higher up I the engine body while the drive shaft could align and power the trucks out both ends of the box.

With lightening speed I jumped across the Internet to to read about gears, reduction ratio calculations and counting teeth. The size of the gear box was just about perfect for O Scale. To improve the gear box, I wanted to use a Pittman motor and perhaps use ball bearing on pinion and main shaft. For now as proof of concept, I settled for cutting some brass tubing and printed the pillow blocks to get to a run time test faster.

The parts in the photos below illustrate the CAD model above.

If installed on a race car the rpm would be very high given the type motor used. For a switch engine application I would want the gear ratio to be able to drive the engine at slow speeds. Additional work needs to be done and bench or stress test this before using it in a locomotive. Files for the gear box are located at:

And that is what is on my work bench today.

David Vaughn

What is on my workbench now is a look backward and a look forward: I have two Weaver RS-3 “Demonstrators.” When Weaver launched its RS-3 model, the Company used its very accomplished screen painters to prepare two in demonstrator paint and numbered them 1 and 2. The practice mimicked prototype manufacturers publicizing new models by sending them on barn-storming tours. I don’t know if Weaver actually sent the demonstrators around to clubs or conventions, but it did use the units in advertising.
I don’t know how many RS-3s Weaver sold over the years, but it has to have been a large number. After Weaver closed its doors in 2017, Bob Lavezzi and I purchased a lot of the pieces and parts, including the spare parts for brass locomotives. Among the other pieces I picked up was one of the two RS-3 Demonstrators, which was on display in Weaver owner Joe Hayter’s office. I picked up several other pieces of Weaver memorabilia, including the original painting pictured in one of the photographs. It was also used by Weaver in advertising.

I knew there had been two RS-3s painted as demonstrators, and I wondered what had happened to the second one. Weaver did not have it. Forward to March Meet 2020. Dave Dillingham (I think), the fellow sitting at Table A-2, next to me, had a Weaver Demonstrator sitting on his table: the missing Number 2. It was covered with dust. I asked him where he got it and he said he had purchased it years before but could not recall from where. He did not think it was anything special. I bought it ($100?), brought it back home, cleaned it up and coupled it to Number 1. The team was back together.
I hope to use the Weaver RS-3 demonstrators to take around to different clubs and private layouts, in commemoration of Weaver. But how to configure the units when some layouts are DC, some DCC and somc DSC or other non-standard control systems? Answer: dead rail. Place a battery in the units or a trailing car, install a radio receiver and control the units with a radio throttle. To be sure, this is not my first brush with dead rail: in advance of the 2004 DC area Scale O National Convention, and fearing that my DCC-equipped layout would shut down from some electronic glitch with a layout-full of visitors, I had solicited help from Pat Mitchell and wired a NKP berkshire (779, a USH model) with both DCC and dead rail receivers (with batteries in the tender) and an A/B switch to toggle to either mode. I never had to use the berk battery mode – thank goodness – and remain a dead rail newby.

Weaver RS-3 Demonstrators handle a Reefer hotshot at Photographers curve on David Vaughn’s restored Canandaigua Southern, as a CS coal drag passes on the other main.

So I am puzzling over how to configure the units. I bought some Tam Valley components. I can put a receiver in one, wire the motors of the two units together and try to save room for batteries in the second unit. I would like to avoid having to hide batteries in a trailing car. Other than my 2004 engine, I have no dead rail experience.
So the famous Weaver Demonstrators, 1 and 2, are still sitting on my workbench, waiting conversion (the photos on my layout which might look like they are operating are for scenic effect only!). Thoughts and suggestions from OS2R modelers on how best to proceed will be appreciated. Thanks.

Milwaukee NW2 Project work progress
Rich Randall

I bought a General Models NW2 switcher, painted black, with a very nice drive mechanism, but no lighting or couplers.

Image 1 below is the bare switcher.


Image 2 below shows the excellent drive mechanism, the real reason I bought it.

So my project is to make it look like a Milwaukee Road switcher like those working out west in the 70s. I will add a DCC sound decoder, speaker, LED lights, a partial cab interior, and crew.

Images 3 and 4 below shows a couple of the Milwaukee NW2s. More to follow!

A Lightbulb Moment
By Bruce B. Blackwood, June, 2020

Yes I know it’s been a while, and it’s not that I have anything on my workbench. I certainly have had maybe too much on my workbench. But I had a problem and this is how I solved it.

My basement is sort of Z-shaped and I have three light switches at the top of the stairs, one for each section of layout lighting. I freely admit that I’m forgetful enough that I don’t want to leave power on in the basement and have that random soldering iron burn down the railroad and the house above it for that matter. I will often go down and just turn the lights on in the section that I am going to be working in. But then if I need to go grab something from the other section it’s dark.

So I have a lightbulb moment and said luck, why don’t you just install one or two lights in each of the outside rooms and run a switch leg down so that if you need something in a dark room you can just turn on the light Bob or two without having to go all the way back up the stairs. I’m sure some of you can relate to that challenge. So I did and it’s very nice.

However my forgetfulness would often lead to leaving those lights on. Another lightbulb moment I thought said hey why not run a piece of fiber optic to The top of the stairs as an indicator that I had left lights on. I don’t know a lot about fiber optic so I asked the Gettysburg group for advice. Got some great feedback including one suggestion of just running a line over to the steps and plugging a 15 W Bob. But hey it’s 2020 and I like to learn things so I did some Internet searching on a circuit for an LED. I then found that you could just go on Amazon and have 120 V LEDs delivered to your door as soon as the next day. I jumped on it. They were delivered the next day and surprisingly inexpensive.

I drilled three holes into a plastic wall plate and mounted them up soldered some new leads onto the back of the LEDs and ran them to the cables Mount at the box underneath one of the stair Lipps stair treads and guess what when I head up the steps The indicator light might be on which just tells me I have to go turn the lights up. No I know this might seem just plain silly to a lot of you and it is. But I enjoy projects like this, and I learned a few things.

Thanks Bruce in Mount airy Maryland

Colorado Midland’s Leslie Plow
Andrew Dodge, MMR

The rotary snowplow was probably the most important piece of maintenance equipment a railroad needed during winters in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. In 1887 the Colorado Midland Railway began operations, and the following year they purchased rotary snowplow from the Leslie Brothers Company of Paterson, New Jersey. The brass hats in the main office realized that after the first year they could not rely solely upon what would become known as the “Midland Snowbirds,” hand shovelers to remove the snow. The plow had a nine-foot rotary blade with a shroud extending out an additional foot on each side. At 11 feet across, the machine would clear a path wide enough for any Midland equipment. The original Leslie design of the body resembled a “greenhouse” with large windows along both sides and in the operator’s area just behind the rotary and impeller blades. No doubt the windows provided the operating and steam engine crews with plenty of light and a nice panoramic view of the mountains in the winter, but of little practical value. One can only imagine all the broken glass that had to be repaired each winter.

In 1895 the Midland decided to rebuild the body of the plow. The railway’s shop converted the body of the machine to a more conventional and durable design, which included a minimal number of windows and a larger work space for both crews in the machine. The plow served the railroad well as its sole snow removal machine until the terrible winter in early 1899. The winter snow was so bad that the Midland had to rent a Jull machine from the Santa Fe and another rotary from the Rock Island. In 1900 the Midland bought a larger 11-foot bladed machine from the Schenectady Locomotive Company. The Leslie plow was renamed from “08” to “Rotary A” and the new machine was designated “Rotary B.” Both machines survived until abandonment of the line in 1918. The Midland Terminal Railway bought the Leslie machine in 1921, and it served that railroad until its demise in 1949.

The model is based on post-1895 rebuilt machine. The design and layout information follows photographs and specification information published in Morris Cafky’s and Dan Abbott’s books. It is totally scratch built to Proto48 standards with a few castings such as side frames for the trucks, some of the machinery castings inside, and the water hatch on the tender. Everything works and when powered up, the impeller blades create a breeze out the exhaust chute.


Painted Floor Joists Black
By Bruce B. Blackwood, April, 2019

I’d like to start out this month by asking each of you to tell us what’s on your workbench. When I suggested this “column” if you will, I did not intend it to be a clearinghouse of my projects. I’m sure there’s many of you out there that are doing some very interesting things on your workbench. Please send us an write up / article of what you’re doing! It does not have to be fancy and if it’s not even well-written that’s okay too. I am certainly no great author. Include a couple of snapshots. But please share share, share ?

So as this is the end of March, I decided I would send out another write up for April. One of the good things about our website, is that we do not have page restrictions or time restrictions. What I mean by that is if you have something going on your workbench and write it up, send it in to our webmaster Dan. He can put it up immediately. Mine doesn’t have to be up for a month. I think we are moving along nicely with membership and therefore would like to see us have a new what’s on your workbench every two weeks or so. So again, please share!

We can all learn from each other. Yours may even be a great motivational article to another. So as for me, I decided to take on a project that keeps me off my workbench. I have decided to use that old “painted floor joists black” trick to help all that stuff disappear.

I have included a before and after picture of a small area. I’d like to tell you a few things I’ve learned from this project. Number one: I went out and bought myself one of those hand held electric “Wagner” type paint sprayers. I quickly learned that to get this type of sprayer to work you had the thin latex paint so far that you could not get decent coverage with one coat. I also found that because of its feed through a tube in the attached container, it was virtually worthless at most of the angles overhead.

The super thin paint would drip everywhere. Fortunately, I had invested in several cheap plastic drop cloths. So, my second effort became a 2-inch brush (which of course, is all you really need according to one famous painter — Maybe that was just for happy trees?) Anyway, this resulted in much better coverage with the latex paint because it was no longer thinned, but man did it take forever and was still somewhat of a messy job.

Trying to get into all the little cavities and such that existed and honestly, exposed wiring was a real pain. So, for my recent birthday my sweet wife bought me a airless paint sprayer. After watching several YouTube videos, I was sure that this was going to be the absolute. I can tell you that out of all the methods I’ve tried this is the best. However, the amount of prep time is significantly increased. And the amount of cleanup time is greatly increased.

This has not been without learning experiences, like not forgetting to use a pair of wrenches to make sure all the connections on the hose are tight. This device is basically a motor that is used with a propeller to pull the paint up out of the bucket and send it through the hose to the sprayer at high pressure, so that no air is involved. For a rough work like just covering floor joists, it is very quick and much easier.

I even bought a 2-inch extension to the nozzle so that I can just stand on the floor and get right up in there. There is also a steep learning curve on how fast to go to apply a good coat of paint and not have runs appear on things like the HVAC ducts and so forth. Cheap plastic drops clothes are your friend. Cover everything! A fine mist will coat anything you do not want black. I am now done with probably 1/3 third of my basement and will continue to use this method.



I’m sure it’s just going become easier and easier as I learn the little nuances of airless spraying. The real lesson learned is that I should’ve done this first! I definitely will if I ever get the opportunity to start over and build another layout in another house. I will empty the basement and spray everything above black then put up my backdrops before any bench work is started. (that’s my plan if ?. Easy to say now) So tell us, do you do a black-out or have you installed a drop ceiling? thanks, Bruce.

Painting Wheels

By Bruce B. Blackwood, February 14, 2019

Bruce Blackwood Hello and welcome, so I know spring is a long way away, but my spring cleaning has begun!

Last segment I talked about a finishing a coupler job …. Update … Talked to MNP at the Amherst show. They may design a coupler pocket for “kadee” couplers. Tells me we can and should tell the O scale manufactures what we would like to see … they want and need our input.

A few days ago, I went down and looked at my workbench and realized that I had probably a half dozen projects running, creating a situation where I had really no room to do anything. I had purchased another copy of ITLA’s 1st full O scale building kit at the Amherst show, after drooling over their display models. Nick reports sales are going well on this limited-edition kit, so don’t delay if you are thinking about one. So, I need space to work on the kit. I also have been working on the layout space for the building. And thus, Spring cleaning begins!

This is somewhat of a tale of how one project leads to others, let me explain. I have an IMRC or maybe a Red Caboose reefer kit sitting on the side of my work bench that had one truck missing. So, I looked all over the workbench and of course could not find it. So, I went to my box of wheels and trucks, pulled out a set of Intermountain metal wheels and a pair of their sprung trucks in kit form. I assembled the trucks and yes, I use the needle and thread method to contain the springs during assembly. I will freely admit that the coordination in my left hand is not what it used to be before the stroke. Thus, using the needle to run the thread thru the spring to act as keeper works well and serves well to keep me off the floor searching for what ultimately becomes a smashed or flat spring.

What I like to do is polish the treads of the wheels. I’ve seen this on a couple of the models that some of the well-known professionals have produced. I’m not sure how they do it. My method is typically a wire brush in a Dremel tool with the wheelset in my hand and slowly rotating the wheelset against the spinning metal brush. So, the obvious thing here I hope, is to wear eye protection — and not just a pair of eyeglasses! Something that will offer real protection. I will also suggest to you that buying better quality wire brushes is money well spent. Don’t know where or when I got them, but I bought a batch of wire brushes that have no information such as part number or manufacture or anything like that. They don’t last even one tread! The wire bristles just fly out. And of course, right toward my eyes. I don’t seem to have that problem with the ones that are higher-quality like Dremel. Your experiences of what brands you like, and dislike would be a tip well worth passing on to other modelers. I will tell you that putting a cheap wire brush in the chuck and having it basically come apart instantly can be very discouraging.

So, another method I’ve tried is putting a felt polishing wheel in the chuck and repeating the above procedure. I would like you all to look at the attached photo of three wheelsets. The way they come from Intermountain is on the left, one in the middle is the felt wheel and the one on the right is done with a wire brush. Do you see a difference? Also, please tell me if you think it’s worth the trouble? At this point I’m not so sure. Maybe there’s a better way of doing this? I would welcome your comments and tips.

I mentioned that this project led to another project. After I polish the tread, I like to paint the center of the wheel. this was becoming frustrating as I typically just push the wheel set into a piece of soft Styrofoam. Not being one of my better days for dexterity, they keep getting knocked off and on to the bench and into the drawers and all that type of stuff. So, I decided it was time to build a wheel holder to paint the centers. Here is a photo of my quickie wheel holder made from some scrap scale lumber on hand. It took a couple of tries as I forgot that I had to have clearance for the wheel not getting paint to slide on. Thus, I went from straight legs to angled legs. This allows the wheels to be flat and keeps the paint on the wheel, instead of running off if vertical. Here’s something else and I would like to know. If you know, please pass it on. You should notice that not only is the tread polished, but the actual side of the tread is also polished. I’ve noticed this on the one foot to the foot scale cars. I don’t really know how that area gets polished. A proto 48 guy I met explained it to me at Amherst, but I forgot to lock it into my memory. So, after the center of the wheels are painted, I reinstall the polished wheel sets into the truck and give the truck a little bit of light weathering. Usually by dry brushing and applying some weathering powders to the truck.

So that’s the latest installment of what’s on my workbench. How about you? What’s on your bench? How about writing up a short article and a couple of photos? The Webmaster would love it.