Tasha Oates updated January 12, 2011


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  • Superdetailing Icing Platforms: Creative Model Associates HO Scale, or Walthers N Scale

    Model construction by Mike Barry 
    Photos, workmen and reefers by Ken Patterson

    The icing platform kits from Creative Model Associates and Walthers can be painted and detailed to recreate the scenes that were common on nearly every prototype railroad for the first half of the twentieth century. There's an article, beginning on page 57 of this issue, with photographs of prototype icing platforms, including Santa Fe, Pacific Fruit Express and others. An index of previous articles on modeling the refrigeration industry appears on pages 62-63 of this issue.

    The Creative Model Associates icing platform kit is supplied in "modules" so it can be assembled in any length.
    Railmodel Journal - April 2000 - Page 40

    I wanted a realistic icing p atform for my HO scale Santa Fe Railway that is set in the 1930-1940 time period. During the first half of the twentieth century, replenishing ice in refrigerator cars was a major industry. During the 1 930-1940 period I am modeling, the Santa Fe had over 18,000 reefers, so I did feel a need to have some industry that would service those cars. The Creative Model Associates (Box 540, Plainview, NY 11803-0540) icing platform kit had the details I needed. The CMA kit is based on the Pacific Fruit Express drawings, but it is very close to the Santa Fe platforms. I tried to match the photographs that are published in this issue of "The Journal" when I assembled and painted my platform.

    Painting & Weathering the Model

    I found it easier to paint the parts for the icing platform kit while they were still on the spurs. I wanted to be able to access both sides of the parts, including those that would be underneath the platform, to highlight the wood grain and detail the bolts and nails.

    I started with upper deck assemblies.

    Mike Barry installing the modular icing platform components on the 8-foot-log diorama. The kit is easier to paint and weather if the parts are painted and weathered before assembly.The square blocks of ice are included in the Creative Model Associates icing platform kit. The ice on the right is from Sunshine scale models. The fork and gaff tools were made as described in the tex.
    Railmodel Journal - April 2000 - Page 41

    I wanted their appearance to reflect the wear and tear that decking receives after years of use. I masked off the decking on either side of the center ice delivery chain. I painted this area with two light coats of Badger ModelFlex 16-03 Grimy Black. After the paint dried, I masked the center section and painted the remainder of the deck with Badger ModelFlex 16-173 Mud, to begin the weathering process. When this dried, I dabbed various spots of the deck with streaks of rubber cement (from a stationery store). then painted the deck with Badger ModelFlex 16-02 Reefer White. I let this dry overnight. I used a pencil eraser to rub the deck over the now-visible (through the white paint) spots of streaked rubber cement. This allowed streaks of the wood-colored wood (the area painted with Mud color) to show through like worn paint. I then dry-brushed the chain area with rust and light brown to show use and wear.

    The Creative Model Associates icing platform weathered to match a Santa Fe prototype.
    Railmodel Journal - April 2000 - Page 42

    Assembling The Platform

    I test-fitted the parts and gently scraped away the paint at each joint. I used Ambroid ProWeld cement and Creations Unlimited Hobby Products Touch-N-Flow needle applicator to apply the cement just to the joint. The work would progress faster using thickened hobby-type cyanoacrylate cement to cement the painted surfaces together, but I preferred the bond of plastic to plastic. The Creative Model Associates HO scale kit has the ramps or doors that are used to load ice into the cars spaced to match those on a string of HO scale 40-foot reefers. Those on the Walthers kit don't match this spacing, so if you opt for that kit, check the positions of any doors you want to place in an "ice-loading" position and mark the deck so the doors will be positioned properly.

    Assemble all of the truss posts and set them aside to dry. Cement the completed truss posts to the underside of the deck. Once a post was set in its location, a drop of cement was used to attache each leg to the deck. Three deck pieces were then cemented together to form an 18-inch section of platform. My model was constructed in four 18-inch sections to make it easier to transport to and from my diorama.

    Railmodel Journal - April 2000 - Page 43

    The diagonal braces were then cemented to each of the legs. I added pieces of .020 x .060-inch Evergreen styrene strip to provide double diagonal braces to match the photographs of the prototypes I was modeling. With the cross-bracing i n place, the handrails and doors were installed. The doors (the ramps leading from the platform to the roofs of the cars) that were to be installed in the "down" position were drilled with a number 77 drill bit, and a Detail Associates 2203 nut bolt-washer was used to attach a piece of Builders In Scale chain to the post. A Detail Associates 2206 eye bolt was used to attach the chain to the door ends. I cut the chain to the exact length needed so it would be in tension when the doors were lowered into the proper position. I applied a drop of thin cyanoacrylate cement to each chain . The cement will run down the chain to "freeze" it in a straight position so no sag or kinks appear in the chain.

    The six roof sections were assembled and the joint sanded smooth. Carefully sight down the length of the roof as you assemble the sections, to be certain the roof i s perfectly flat.

    Final Painting & Weathering

    When the model was completely assembled, I touched up the visible glue seams with white paint. The complete deck area was drybrushed with powdered burnt umber pastel chalks. The pastel chalks were powdered by simply rubbing them over a piece of fine sandpaper. The burnt umber highlighted the wood grain and subdued the white. I used powdered black pastel chalk to highlight the molded-in nut-bolt-washer details. When complete, I protected the weathering with a light coast of Testors Dullcote.

    I wanted to simulate a tarpaper-covered roof. I first painted with acrylic water-base black paint. Working down the roof in two or three-inch sections, I used a short stiff-bristle brush to work a single layer of facial tissue into the still-wet black paint. The tissue was pre-cut into scale 3-foot x 100-foot pieces. As the tissue was stuck into the paint, I covered i t with a second light coat of black. I overlapped each section of tissue down the length of the roof, a scale 6 inches. The first strip was laid along the lower edge of the roof so the second strip would overlap the top of the first. After the paint dried, I applied a dusting of flesh-colored powdered pastel chalk in a random pattern to simulate bird droppings.

    Ice House Construction

    I did not copy any specific ice house for this platform. I used a "generic" brick-walled ice house. The prototype ice houses were built with two walls between 12 and 24 inches thick with a hollow space between the inner and outer layers of brick to provide insulation. Thus, the doors and windows were recessed a scale foot or more. The typical ice house had wagon-level loading doors so the icemen could pick up their loads for delivery to homes and businesses. The ice house had doors not he second floor at a height to allow the ice to be loaded onto the ice platform's deck and conveyor. I used a variety of Design Preservation Models modular wall sections for the ice house. I painted the assembled model white and weathered it with a dilute mix of back acrylic paint. Before applying the paint, I dabbed on small spots of rubber cement so the whie could be removed (as it was for the icing platform deck) to reveal bare brick beneath the peeled and worn white paint.

    The Workmen, Their Tools and The Ice

    By Ken Patterson

    I used prototype photographs of Santa Fe icing platforms that were included with Sunshine Models "Ice" (they're also reprinted on pages 57, 58, and 59 of this issue of "The Journal") to establish the positions and postures of the workmen that would be loading ice. I used an assortment of Preiser workmen (and one policeman) as the basis for the ice-loading crew. I did have to dismember each of the figures to move their arms into the positions to match those of the workmen in the prototype photograph. I used flush-cut diagonal cutters to remove the arms and cemented them back in place with thickened hobby-type cyanoacrylate cement. I used spots of automobile body putty to fill in any gaps around the shoulders. In some cases, I removed the head from one figure and replaced it with a head from another figure to obtain the hat I wanted.

    The Sunshine MOdels ice, cut into smaller pieces and covered with a single layer of facial tissue. The tissue is painted to match burlap to recreate the covering used to keep the ice from melting before it can be shoved into the reefer's roof hatches. This Preiser workman was converted with a cowboy head. The tool was made from .010-inch brass wire and solder as described in text. The workmen are replicas of the people that loaded ice into the Santa Fe reefers. The prototype photos that inspired them appear on pages 57-61 of this issue. Sunshine Modles, Box 4997, Springfield MO 65808-4997 offers ready-to-use HO scale "ice". This clear cast-resin "ice" is enough to serif 4 to 6 cars and sells for $30.00 plus $4.00 shipping and handling. The workmen are made by "converting" Preiser figures by removing arms or heads and repositioning them to match the workmen in the prototype photos.
    Railmodel Journal - April 2000 - Page 44

    I scratchbuilt two tools, a U-shaped fork and a gaff hook. I applied a dab of solder to a piece of .010-inch brass wire and slowly lifted the hot tip of the soldering gun to produce an icicle-like hook. I tried several until I obtained just the size I wanted. I then cut the .010-inch wire into a scale 6-foot handle length. I bent the U-shaped hook from .010-inch wire and soldered it to the end of a second piece of .010-inch wire. I drilled .012-inch holes in the worker's hands to accept the .010-inch wire tool handles.

    I used Sunshine Models (Box 4997, Springfield, MO 65808-4997) "Ice." This clear cast-resin "ice" is enough to service 4 to 6 cars and sells for $30.00 plus $4.00 shipping and handling. It includes both large blocks and broken pieces. I positioned the ice carefully, including some dropped onto the ground, to match the prototype photos. Small "puddles" of clear artist's gloss medium were used to hold the ice and to reproduce water puddles. Some of the blocks of ice were covered with a single layer of facial tissue, held in place with the artist's gloss medium, then painted with a mixture of Mud and Black to simulate the ice that was covered with burlap to keep it from melting.

    The Reefers

    I used InterMountain Santa Fe reefers for the diorama. The cars were modified with open roof hatches as shown in the photographs. I replaced the wheel sets with InterMountain's couplers. The reefers were weathered by airbrush ing the underframe and lower portions of the sides with a dirty mixture of Floquil Roof Brown, Black and Concrete thinned about 75 percent. This was streaked before it dried completely, with a one-inch-wide brush dipped with turpentine. Pull the brush straight down the side of the car. This creates the effect of rain-washed dust. The roofs were dry brushed with Floquil Silver and Burnt Umber.

    The Icing Platform Diorama

    The icing platforms and ice house were mounted on a 2 x 8-foot piece of 3/4-inch thick Foamcore (from an artist's supply store). The track is Micro Engineering code 70 ballasted with Woodland Scenics Black Cinders and real dirt. The entire diorama was airbrushed with a dilute mix of Floquil Black to tone down the colors.


    Article Details

    • Original Author Mike Barry & Ken Patterson
    • Source Railmodel Journal
    • Publication Date April 2000

    Article Album (1 photo)

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  • Rick Phipps
    Rick Phipps Thanks for the article, Tasha. I have no clue why I have been calling you Teresa instead of what your name is. Maybe been hit in the head one too many times with a railroad tie! LOL
    January 12, 2011
  • Tasha Oates
    Tasha Oates No biggie!
    January 12, 2011
  • Rick Phipps
    Rick Phipps I guess I have been getting you and Paul W.'s wife confused. Something about both of your names starting with T. I guess the mind goes all downhill after 50. LOL Still, thanks for the great postings. They have been very helpful.
    January 12, 2011
  • Albert Stump
    Albert Stump This has to be on my project list, I should live long enough.
    March 20, 2011