Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad
Dressing Up Commercial Large Scale Rolling Stock

Commercial large scale rolling stock leaves a lot to be desired if you want to be faithful to the idea of the DSP&P. A few locomotives were manufactued that are  reasonable representations, but most other rolling stock is generic.
This page illustrates a few of the things that can be  done to commercial products to make them more like the original and to make them unique to my railroad. To see what DSP&P rolling stock should look like, see my DSP&P Rolling Stock page, where accurate models in various scales are portrayed.

The Rocky Mountain House, Leaverite and Northern Railway has many interesting and unusual items on its roster. As the long forgotton Canadian subsiduary of the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad, most of the equipmennt is borrowed or leased from the DSP&P.

Accurate large scale models of DSP&P locomotives and rolling stock are rare and mine are no exception. Using commercial large scale models, I have accepted some "as is", kitbashed others, and relettered others to obtain variety and colour,  giving an impression of what it might have been like in the 1879 to 1889 era. Some were modified by other modelers and purchased from eBay, then further adapted by me. Weathering varies from slight to really grubby, depending on age and class of service. The MOW cars are the most interesting, but the open loads and reefers are pretty nice too.


Touch Up The Details
Minor upgrades by painting cast-in detail or modifying ladders also adds variety and realism. Lengthening the brake staff is the most important modification to make the cars look like they really belong on narrow gauge track. My wife, Sonja, does the fine detail paint jobs, sometimes with a single-hair brush. I do the rough weathering and mechanical work.

Cast in door hooks on LGB reefer touched with black paint (lower right on left-hand image). In the right-hand image, all hardware, brake staff, and truss rods were painted black, with ice hatches removed, air vent and ladders added, and a new road number inscribed, making the LGB reefer closer to the 1880 prototype. Steel wheels painted rusty brown look well used compared to the black plastic originals. Knuckle couples (USA Trains are the right size) painted grubby brown fix up the end view. I know body mount link and pin would be more authentic and look better but my curves won't permit this.

Just correcting the road number on a car can be satisfying. A little research and some press-on dry transfers lead to more accurate models.

Back-date A Commercial Car To Your Era
In my case, I wanted an 1880's double-board roof on my house cars to replace the 1920's metal roof on the original product..

The Murphy patented "outside" metal roof didn't arrrive until 1905 so no DSP&P car could have carried one until well along in C&S service. Converting the poorly rendered Murphy metal roof on the LGB, Delton, and USA Trains reefers and boxcars to a simulated wood roof makes a huge difference. The cure is to purchase some well used Bachman 933xx series boxcars at auction and snap off the roof - it is simulated wood, and the only one available in large scale. It needs to be shortened a bit in a miter saw to replace the Delton and USA Trains roof, and shortened even more for the LGB cars, then it just snaps into place. Doesn't it look nice!.

Add Parts and Details for Unique Models
Many commercial models are incomplete or have features that are not quite right for the model's era or purpose. The examples below show some typical situations.

The original USA Trains rotary was freelanced into DSP&P  Rotary O2.. To improve visibility in blowing snow, a cupola has been added. A roof and backhead were added at the rear using Hartland parts, as were a bell and whistle on the roof. The tender is from an LGB Mogul with sound added.

Wedge plow O3 sitting in the yard during a summer respite. This is also my track cleaning car, with emery cloth under the plow blade and a scrubbing pad under the body. It was kitbashed from an Aristocraft plow, shortened by 3 inches, with a Hartland headlamp added to backdate the original modern headlight.

Headshot of DSP&P wedge plow O3 showing rusting plow blade before it gets scoured clean and shiny by the icy snow next winter.

An old-timer with modern headlights just won't do. I added Hartland headlights to help the
 locomotive fit in better.

More Elaborate Kit-Bashes
Making completely unique equipmentr or performing significant modifications to existing commercial products is called kit-bashing. Lots of fun can be had while doing the work, and observers will notice the special effort.

Steam Shovel O4 can be brought forward to clear the line of avalances and rock falls, or to widen a cut or clean up a ditch. The enclosed cab is a real comfort to the crew in the minus 40 temperatures of the Northern winters. This is kitbashed from an LGB flatcar and a JS Woodcrafts steam shovel with the track assembly removed.

Add a diesel powered shovel for a more modern ditcher.

Starting with steam shovel parts and some Ozark Miniatures pulley blocks,
a wrecking crane appears, loosely following a DSP&P folio drawing.

The wrecking crane tender/boom car includes lots of tools, parts,
rope, chains, junk, and a guard goat.

The pile driver uses the same stwan hoist with a free lanced mast holding
the pile driver's hammer.

Swap the boiler for a locomotive with a different paint job, add a
 snow plow and you have a unique engine on your roster.

Open Loads Provide Eye-Opening Interest
Whether on a flat car or in a gondola or coal car, a load is a must. Few cars run empty for very long.

Machinery appropriate for the era makes a dull flatcar into a detailed model.
All you need is some scale chain and a bit of glue.



Four more of the open loads on my large scale outdoor railway.


Painting and Lettering for Variety
Making it uniquely yours.

The right paint, people in the seats, and the car name plaque give a realistic,
even if somewhat inaccurate, model.

If you can see inside, there should be something inside to see.

See Also: Snow Fighting Trains    • Work Trains  for more kit-bashing examples.