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Modeling 'The Gilpin Tram' - pt.II
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 Posted: Sun Jan 10th, 2021 08:05 pm
571st Post
Keith Pashina

Joined: Sun Nov 4th, 2012
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Posts: 798

I made similar signs for my HOn30 model railroad.

I printed the signage on paper,
and glued it with ACC on top repainted railroad crossing signs (or cross bucks).

I used Vallejo white and black to paint some surplus metal signs I had picked up at a flea market.
I like these signs because they are unusual, and look nice next to the harp switch stands.

I put another similarly painted crossing sign,
down near the Clear Creek Supply Company crossing in Black Hawk.

Here is a close-up of the above.

These signs stand out out due to their atypical appearance.
I made 4 at one time, so I have 2 more crossings I can install these signs on.

Why were these signs white lettering on black, where most others were black lettering on white?
And, surviving painting standards from C&S and others always seem to show black lettering on white. 

On the C&SNG thread one of the posters guessed,
this coloring may have been easier to spot on a  snow-covered road.
I don't know if this is the real reason, but it seems plausible.

'til next time,


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 Posted: Mon Jan 25th, 2021 02:16 am
572nd Post
Keith Pashina

Joined: Sun Nov 4th, 2012
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Posts: 798

Well actually, the title above is about as long as the extension!

One wall of my layout room is 96" long.
My current model railroad is built of modular "artists boards",
which are 1/8" thick hardboard on a plywood cradle frame 1 1/2" tall.
The sizes I purchased left an 8" unused segment along the wall.

I decided to extend the track, by adding a 9" long section.

A few years ago I built a test layout with the sections to see how they worked.
I had a now-surplus 9" board, originally part of a curved end of the modular layout.

I trimmed the ends of the recycled 9" section,
so the end profiles matched the standardized end of the adjacent style section.

I temporarily stripped off the trees, and cut off some of the painted foam rocks.
I re-attached the foam rocks into the now cut-down scenery near the two ends,
added colored Sculptamold for ground fill, and matching ground foams and textures.

The former curved track through this section was removed,
a new 9" straight section added. 

Several years ago, I wrote an article on the Gilpin Tram water tanks,
published in Light Iron Digest magazine.

At that time, I made  a master and cast 4 tanks in resin.
I placed one of the cast water tanks on this section.

This new section gives me a longer switching lead at the end of the layout,
a place to water locomotives, and makes a nice end to the layout along this wall. 

In the future, the track at right will lead to my staging area.
I am not certain which direction I will go.

On one of my previous model layouts, I used a pivoting sector table with 4 tracks.
That worked fine, but I may try just having a platform and take cassettes on and off.

After all, my HOn30 trains are short, usually only 12" - 18" in length,
so a cassette would not weigh much.

More to ponder on this.

Over the past couple of years, I finished acquiring and kitbashing a couple of locomotives.
One of these was a bit wider than the Shay I had been using, and got hung up,
passing a couple of wooden cribbing walls at the James Henry and the Woods mines.

I found that a partially-built resin model of a Sandy River & Rangely Lakes RR plow
(a resin kit from Kennebunk Models purchased about 20 years ago)
was the widest piece of equipment of rolling stock I had.

If this plow didn't hit the scenery, nothing else would.

To remedy the tight clearances, I had to move the wood cribbed wall back about 1/8".
This was easy to do, I cut a slot behind the wood cribbing,
and dug out a strip of the foam scenery base, and sprayed the area with water.

This softened the PVA (white Elmers glue) sufficiently,
so everyone could be gently pushed away from the track.

A few wood members fell out of alignment and need to be glued back into place.

I had a similar issue at the wood cribbing wall alongside the Woods Mine,
and make the same modification.

The white material is styrofoam I inserted and glued into the slot cut behind the cribbed wall.
I will paint it, and glue replacement rock covering at the top of the wall and base of the wall.

While doing these repairs,
I spotted a few other glitches in the model layout that I will need to modify.
I will post about those as soon as I get them done.

'til next time


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 Posted: Mon Jan 25th, 2021 03:13 am
573rd Post
Michael M

Joined: Thu Jan 26th, 2017
Location: San Bernardino, California USA
Posts: 1935

With a recently completed mail/baggage car,
I encountered the same clearance problem. 

In my case I had to move a transfer dock over about a 1/4"

Clearance is an issue that even the best of us sometimes forget. 
Check, check, and check again. 


Nye, Inyo & Esmeralda Railroad
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 Posted: Mon Jan 25th, 2021 02:00 pm
574th Post
Ken C

Joined: Tue Jun 16th, 2015
Location:  Calgary, Alberta Canada
Posts: 1095

Prototype railways had similar problems.

The K&S Rly. had to widen rock cuts and move track to the outer edge of a couple of bridges,
to allow clearance when they purchased ex RGS 31 Rotary and a OF 2-8-0 in 1897.

My model of the Rotary is my clearance guide for scenery etc.

Ken Clark

Kaslo & Slocan Railway
International Navigation & Trading Co
Kootenay Railway & Navigation Co.
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 Posted: Mon Jan 25th, 2021 03:24 pm
575th Post
Michael M

Joined: Thu Jan 26th, 2017
Location: San Bernardino, California USA
Posts: 1935
Even the prototype has clearance issues:

Nye, Inyo & Esmeralda Railroad
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 Posted: Wed Apr 7th, 2021 04:41 am
576th Post
Gregory Hiley

Joined: Fri May 17th, 2013
Posts: 25
I wish to pose a few questions about the Gilpin engine house.

1 - I know a water tank was in the roof,
     was it able to fill the Shay tanks on all 3 tracks, 
     or just the last track that the large Shays used ?

2 - What was in the upper part of the split level of the engine house ?
     Did they have a forge and lathe in there ?

3 - Was the lower level of the split level used only for storage,
     or was there an office in there ?


Greg Hiley

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 Posted: Thu Apr 8th, 2021 02:47 am
577th Post
Keith Pashina

Joined: Sun Nov 4th, 2012
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Posts: 798
Greg, those are some interesting questions about the Gilpin Tram "Roundhouse"
(they called it that, even though it was more like a rectangular barn).

First, about the water tank in the roof - there is really nothing known about it,
other than a newspaper mention of it that Dan Abbott found in his research.

Where in the roof was it?  How were the locos watered?
I have never seen a photo of it.

Perhaps, since it was high in the roof,
simple piping and hoses could have been used, but that is my speculation.

Second, about the interior,
there is only speculation as to what was on the first and second floors.
There is no floor plan, interior photos, etc.

There may be some hints of what was there, however, in some of the photos. 

In the photo above when looking in the left-hand stall door,
there is some light discoloration seen.

Assuming this is not a flaw on the camera's negative,
maybe we are looking at doors or windows on the back wall?
So, maybe the interior was not excessively cluttered with "stuff". 

Another well-known photo shows the left side of the enginehouse,
the one with the mainline trestle next to it.
The bottom level door seems to show another window on the back wall.

My assumptions, and that is all they are,
was that since this building started out as a horse barn,
there must have been two levels.

The building is set onto sloping, rocky ground,
so it would have been a lot of work to excavate the lower level into the rock,
and maybe it was only a partial lower level.

If you go back to the 531st Post in this Thread (March 21, 2020),
you can see my model build of the enginehouse,
and my speculations on how the interior may have looked.

My friend Lind Wickersham built an On2 model of the GT enginehouse,
and also with a full interior.

His interior is different from mine,
but he based his model on what he interpreted from the photos, too.

So, if you are building a model of the GT enginehouse,
I would say do whatever looks right to you, as long as it seems plausible.

This is an enlargement of a well-known photo,
that may be of similar vintage as the previous photo.

The stacks and vents on the roof may give some clues as to what was inside.
We know there were some level of repairs and maintenance inside,
so there was some machinery inside.

I think the stacks centered over the stalls were likely smoke vents for the locos.
The stacks differ because the stalls were constructed at different times.

There was a stove for heating inside the enginehouse.

We know this because there is an 1888 newspaper story,
describing how someone was thawing dynamite on the stove one wintry day,
and the inevitable happened!  No one was killed,
but the newspaper said the enginehouse was "shook up". I'll bet it was!

And there is a C&S "Authority to Purchase" document
(copied from the Colorado Railroad Museum Collection) dated September 29, 1911,
giving authorization for purchase of "one SH 16" lathe" and one "SH drill press",
and installing them in the "Gilpin Shop at Black Hawk."

What are the other stacks? 
We don't know for sure, but my guesses are:

  • Brick chimney is lower left hand corner of roof: a stove, or maybe a small forge.
  • Tallest metal stack: my guess is a boiler stack.
  • Perhaps for a boiler to power a steam engine to power a belt drive.
  • I think there probably was a boiler as there was a whistle in front of the big stack.

The enginehouse was also modern back in the day.
There are newspaper references describing there was a phone in the enginehouse by 1890.
Maybe this suggests there was an office, too!

That's all for now.



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 Posted: Thu Apr 8th, 2021 09:36 am
578th Post
Gregory Hiley

Joined: Fri May 17th, 2013
Posts: 25
Hi Keith

Thanks for your reply and added information.
Some sort of gelled with what I thought.

I am in the process of getting back into Gilpin modelling after a long lay off,
and am building an On30 version of the engine house.

My original, which photos were posted on these pages,
was sold off and dismantled.


Greg Hiley

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 Posted: Fri Aug 6th, 2021 04:36 am
579th Post
Keith Pashina

Joined: Sun Nov 4th, 2012
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Posts: 798
It's been a while since I have posted !

I have not real good reason for this,
other than summer has been very busy with "real" work, family events,
and just making the best of the warm weather while it lasts
(I live in the frozen north called Minnesota).


Within my Black Hawk scene,
I had previously built a small scene depicting a residential area.

This small area was about 16' wide and maybe 6" deep.
I placed 2 homes, both kit bashes.

The two-story was from a Sylvan Models resin kit,
the smaller one, kit based RR maintenance sheds, from AM Models.

Although the scene turned out okay,
I was not all that pleased with it.

What I had in mind for this area was something akin to the image above.

This is the Swedetown area of Black Hawk,
and I like how the homes are crowded together in Clear Creek Canyon.

The homes are "stepped" into the hill, being supported on flat areas,
built up on the hillside held in place with stone retaining walls.

I like how there is a variety of styles, all crowded together. 

So, I set out to rebuild this area,
trying to recreate some of the key features in the area shown above.

So, I tore out the previous scene and built replacements.

This was easy to do, since the scenery base is carved styrofoam
(extruded polystyrene board insulation)
and scenery materials are held down with diluted PVA 'Elmers' glue.

When dry, this glue can be rewetted and it is easy to remove.

The new scene was built on a small section of styrofoam board,
carved and colored to match my other scenery.

The three buildings replace the former two,
and are set on small leveled areas of dirt,
held in place with small stone retaining walls.

The buildings are all shallow relief, and abut the backdrop,
so that they are at most about 3" deep.

The building at the far right is kitbashed,
from one of the Grandt Line Reese Street buildings.

This styrene kit is readily adaptable to different configurations,
and the kit includes a variety of architectural trim. 

The center building is a Grandt Line "No Problem Joes",
another styrene kit of a "T"-shaped residence.

This one is also easy to kit bash.

The other residence was scratchbuilt from styrene,
but this isn't that hard, since it is a shallow flat against the backdrop.

If it looks familiar,
I patterned it after the "American Gothic" painting, by Grant Wood.

The fence is from an old Atlas kit.  

The lady in the rocking chair was fun to add.

She sits on a resin-printed rocking chair,
and it is animated to rock back and forth.

This little kit from Inter-Action Hobbies, runs on 3x 1.5v batteries.
I think their kit is based on a servo, with some added laser-cut parts. 

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 Posted: Fri Aug 6th, 2021 04:44 am
580th Post
Keith Pashina

Joined: Sun Nov 4th, 2012
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Posts: 798

Here is the completed scene,
after blending the new residential foam board into existing scenery.

I added some details, such as chairs, brooms, etc. on the porches,
and yard details such as flowering shrubs.

These were made from little bits of foam shrubs,
with colored foam for the flowers glued on.

Each building was lit with 3v LEDs, and simple interiors added.
I added some paper curtains, figures, and basic furniture inside.

You can't see much inside,
but there is enough there to hint at activity inside.

On the road in front of the homes,
I added a 4-horse team pulling an empty ore wagon.

The ore wagon would have been leaving,
the adjacent Chamberlain Sampling Works.

The ore wagon is from Berkshire Valley,
I like the double teamster figure offered by them.

The two people are molded realistically,
and actually fit on the wagon seat.

This wagon also has a lantern hanging on its right side,
and a 2.7v LED inside the custom 3D-printed lantern,
created by John Niemeyer. 

I was pleased with how the overall rebuilt scene turned out,
and glad I revamped this area.

The Black Hawk scene flows together better as a result.

'Til next time,


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