Category: rolling stock

Calico Mountain Ore Cars | Calico Mt Pt 13


It’s back to Calico Mountain this week to build a string of rustic On18 ore cars inspired by the Knott’s Berry Farm original! These cars take advantage of some commercially available 3-D printed HOn30 frames, and some laser cut parts of my own design, to model credible recreations of the classic Calico Mine Ride “ore cars.”

Thanks for watching, amigos!

3-D Printed Car Frames:

Grandt Line Hardware:

Micro-Trains Wheels and Couplers:

Customize a Bachmann Rail Truck with TWO Different Car Bodies


Here’s a build video that gives you two for the price of one! Follow along as I customize an On30 Bachmann RGS Rail Truck with not one, but two freight car bodies – One for use on the Thunder Mesa Layout, and the other for my spooky themed Gruesome Gulch project. I use two totally different techniques to create these two very different car bodies. Both are scratchbuilt, but one uses printed CG textures for high quality graphics, while the other relies on laser-cut precision to replicate Victorian era details. The Galumphing Goat lives!

Thanks for watching, amigos!

On30 Excursion Cars for Gruesome Gulch – GGRR Part 3


My Gruesome Gulch mini-layout will need a train of excursion cars for victims - er - guests to ride those haunted rails. In this episode, I build the first car for my ghost train: a 19' excursion coach that utilizes laser cut parts and bits and pieces from a classic HO Roundhouse kit. More to come!

Thanks for watching, amigos! Dave

On18 Bobber Caboose


Let’s build a tiny bobber caboose for my On18 Big Thunder & Calico mining tram! On18 uses N scale mechanisms and other components to model this common industrial railway gauge in 1:48, O scale. The results of this scale/gauge mashup can often be rather whimsical and filled with unique character. For this project, I use a readily available Bachmann N scale “shorty” caboose as a starting point for an original design, inspired by the homebuilt logging and mining bobbers of the late 19th century. I demonstrate my methods for a road-worn, weathered paint finish, along with wood construction and car roofing techniques.

Thanks for watching, amigos!

On30 Short Caboose


In this week's build video, the On30 Thunder Mesa Mining Company model railroad gets a new 4-wheel bobber style short caboose! Follow along as I build caboose No. 94 using elements from a Full Circle Models short caboose kit and printed CG textures.

Thanks for watching, amigos!

Download a PDF of products available from Full Circle Models

Realistic CG textures:

Building an On30 20′ Passenger Coach


This week I'm bashing a stock On30 Bachmann passenger coach into a fun little 20' car with no shortage of personality. This is a build I started way back in 2016 and have finally got around to finishing. What took me so long? Hope you all enjoy as I take you through the project step by step.

Thanks for watching, amigos!

Thunder Mesa No. 8 ~ The R. H. Gurr

The Bob

Thunder Mesa's newest locomotive is a trusty and reliable 14-ton Stearns-Heisler, circa 1895. The repainted and detailed Bachmann model is named in honor of Disney Imagineering legend, Bob Gurr. It has always been Thunder Mesa's practice to name its locomotives in honor of Disney artists and Imagineers, and If you're not familiar with Bob Gurr, you should be. He designed just about everything with wheels in the early days of Disneyland, including the Monorail, Autopia cars, and Main Street vehicles. On the Thunder Mesa layout, the R. H. Gurr wears the number 8, and has the distinction of being the first geared locomotive used on the line. Lacking a third truck, #8 has something of a short, squished appearance, and that has earned it the nickname of "The Bob" with the Thunder Mesa crews.

Heisler History

Thunder Mesa's R.H. Gurr locomotive is based upon a small, 14-ton version of Charles L. Heisler's 1892 patented design. Heisler's design featured two cylinders canted inward at a 45º angle, with power transferred via a center mounted longitudinal drive shaft connecting enclosed gearboxes between the truck frames. Outside connecting rods then distributed power between the wheels. This was a variant similar to the Climax design where the cylinders are canted at an angle but mounted inline with the locomotive boiler.

The Stearns Manufacturing Company of Erie, Pennsylvania built Heislers from 1894 to 1907, when they reorganized as the Heisler Locomotive works and continued producing the design until 1941. As befitting a locomotive name in honor of Bob Gurr, Stearns claimed that the Heisler was the fastest of the geared locomotive designs, but with the same low-speed hauling ability as a Shay or Climax.

Though a later model, Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad's Stearns-Heisler #2, the Tuolumne, inspired some of the color and design choices on TMMC's #8. The Tuolumne originally belonged to the fabled West Side Lumber Company where it wore the number 3.


The Bachmann Stearns-Heisler

Bachmann's On30 version of the 14-ton Stearns-Heisler is an accurately detailed and fine running model without any of the split gear issues that plagued their Climax and Shay offerings. Mine has become the reliable workhorse of the TMMC and you can see it earning its keep at most Open Studio days. I look forward to adding another to the roster at some point in the future.

For this model, I replaced the original cab with a Banta Modelworks cab kit and stained the wood cherry red. Then I stripped the factory paint and decals off of the tender and repainted it with a gloss Hunter Green, painting the cab window trim to match. I replaced the headlight with a backdated box-style headlight salvaged from an old Bachmann Porter, then built up a new load for the tender from real Utah Juniper twigs, split and stacked as cordwood. The pilots and running boards were all repainted to add realism and dull the shine. Custom water-slide gold decals where printed for me by Stan Cedarleaf, and the crew is a pair of repainted Arttista figures. The tools and details are white metal castings from Wiseman Model Services.

A Trip Through Thunder Mesa Country with the R. H. Gurr

Sit back, relax, and enjoy this video tour of the layout and some insight into the building of the R.H. Gurr.


I hope Bob will forgive me for naming a slow, geared locomotive after him. He would probably prefer something sleek, fast, and candy-apple red!

Thanks for checking in, amigos. Adios for now!