Twin Whistle Sign & Kit Co: Whistlestop Diner Build-a-thon

MaxSouthOz posted:

Thanks, TR.

I gleaned from an earlier post that you are a musician, as well.

I've just retired as the double bass player with the Cherry Pickers.

Jam Grass 2 - Copy

Ring any bells?


That's fabulous!  As they say on Spinal Tap "More Bottom!". I have just spent a very pleasant evening tapping my toes to your band's You Tube videos!  You have a great sound!  I hope that you will keep playing even after your retirement, if that's something that you'd like to do.  Truly wonderful choice of tunes and the audiences loved you!

Coincidentally,  I was a bass player, too -- mostly classic rock and some big band jazz, a few weddings.  It was something of a novelty to be a female electric bass player way back when.  When I moved to the boonies after college, I played Country and Western because that was what "played" out in the wilds of Central Massachusetts.  I also played acoustic mandolin and more recently got  a 5-string electric mandolin.  Mostly folk, country, or jazz.  No bluegrass.

Then, after about twenty-five years of bass player head bobbing in the background of the band, and who knows how much hearing loss standing next to the cymbals, I switched to electric guitar so that I could concentrate on lead vocals and some simple melodic leads.  (Unlike Sting and Paul McCartney, I couldn't play bass and sing well at the same time.  It was one or the other.)  I sort of semi-retired after some injuries, performing mostly low key stuff with friends at my church.  Now, I have zero time to play or sing.  I must say that I really miss performing.  Hopefully, some day I can get back to it. I'm even thinking of picking up the dobro if/when I retire.  Anyway, enough about me!  It's a long winded way to say that I enjoyed listening to your tunes and it brought back fine memories.

Train Mention 

And to keep this thread "on track" for our equally fine moderators, I listen to a local bluegrass-jazz radio station every Tuesday night on my drive home from work.  They play the best TRAIN songs!!  Bluegrass is just overflowing with them!  Who knew there were so many awesome train songs?

Thanks for sharing this fabulous tidbit and another one of your many talents, Max.  Most impressive.

Tomlinson Run Railroad 

Thank you for your kind words, TR.

Sadly I shredded my rotator cuff and two other tendons in my right shoulder and now I can't play for more than a few minutes at a time.  Plus, we were offered some tours and as I have a 30 year start on the other guys, I'm really over being away from home. 

You sound like you are still right into it. 

Here's a shot of us performing at Shottesbrooke Winery, near to home.

I'm singing Chug-a-lug or something.


You can see that the boys are very impressed. 


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Wow.  I'm very sorry to read about the right shoulder, Max. Mine was the left RC, twice, but nothing that bad. Since then, a guitar or mandolin strap is not the greatest thing to have hanging off it.  Hopefully, you aren't limited in your modeling.  Such nice photos (good publicist?), but I can see how the travel would lose its appeal.

Across all New England today we are due for a Mother's Day drencher, so I can't finish the remaining wood priming.  After church, (where I will atone for my wanton yet somehow surprisingly wholesome musician days) I will try and write-up why using the diner model's supplied inside and outside trim forces you to pay special attention to the window detailing.  And, for which in my opinion, they don't provide an adequate solution.  It seems that the challenge of this kit keeps coming back to "window treatments"!  

Perhaps I'll close with a word or two about my attempts at mass producing O scale diner china.  Then it's back to the dissertation chapter for the rainy remainder.

How about a new title for this post: The Tin Whistle Stop Diner?   Stay tuned as I fiddle around some more ...


The gels that Don sent arrived last week.  They are much thinner than I expected and the colors really "pop".  They have great potential, especially due to their thinness, and I look forward to experimenting with them as time allows. (Unfortunately, I have lots of school work to do.  Here are some ponderings from last week when I was home sick and so could goof off guilt free.) 

Before moving forward with the stained glass windows, I must determine whether to add inside and possibly outside trim to the windows.  It seems like I will have to and I think that picking up some bass wood will be the way to go versus painting plastic or cardboard that is cut to size.  That means buying some wood (or snagging some coffee stirrers ).

Here's why I think trim will be needed:

#1 The full diner wall with the windows is 1/16" thick. This version of Whistlestop's model adds a 1/16" thick interior panel that fits just under the windows.  The instructions are faint, hence the faint scan.  Try and enlarge it if possible:

An aside: This extra layer means that the stove and refrigerator in the kitchen at the end without the door won't fit unless I cut the inside trim as indicated with the red line.  I'm OK with that. The kitchen area often has renovations that ruin the diner's original interior.  I could skip adding the wall, but I think that using the inside wood will make it easier to paint simplified simulated tile trim that I am planning to go around the interior walls' edges. Plus, the supplied wood is a bit smoother for painting than the larger windowed wall.  More about those painting plans later.

#2 The model also has an outside sign that goes the full length of the diner side, and the full height, up to the bottom of the windows.  It also is 1/16" thick:

I could just skip the outside sign but if I don't, what all of this translates to is that the 1/16" window frames and their posts are now sandwiched in between 1/16" boards on each side.  I'm afraid they will visually get lost.  Also, the instructions just to say glue the "glass" in above the inside wall.  Well, what's the point of having a nice painted interior wall with some bare plastic pasted above it?  Yuk.  That would defeat the nice interior detailing like the tiled counter and chalk board menu that are included in the kit.  So, it looks like window trim is needed to hide the plastic and to build up the windows to match the width of inside "wall".  Window trim on the outside might be less critical/important but it may still be necessary depending on how I address the stained glass window sashes. And, keep in mind that I haven't a clue what I'm doing .

Here are links to MELGAR's diner post that show how the model has changed from his earlier kit to mine (unless you made some additions of your own, MG) and also a post by Dave C. The latter post shows the outside windows. Here, the outside gap doesn't look so bad, but Dave's used larger corner trim (for example) than the awfully thin 1/32" trim supplied in my kit. Great models, guys!:

Here are some interior shots of a diner near me, the Moran Square Diner, Fitchburg, Mass.  (taken from the web via their FB page and RoadsideArch?). They just scream "Yo! Architect! Window trim is required (ya lazy bum).":

The next photo is my own outside pix.  Note how the windows seamlessly blend with the enamel side panels.  No, 1/16" gap there ... well, then again ... maybe there is!  It's 1:1 scale after all! .  In addition to its great preservation and fine food, the nice thing about this diner is that the outside trim looks easier to model than the other example that I posted:

And, just for fun, here's a parting shot -- an "art shot" that I took on the same day.  It's got three different architectural styles captured in a single frame:

Tomlinson Run Railroad


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Last night it was really hot, thundering, and not great for sleeping so I started to create some Fudgcicle stick paint "swatches" starting with the Golden Artist Color acrylics my company gave us one holiday.  Because the Fudgcicle stick wood (Linden?) is similar to birch/bass, creating these little paint sticks gave me a real sense of how the paints would spread on the model's wood.  These paints are really, really nice!  They go on smoothly and retain their color when diluted with water.  This AM, I continued this effort and made a paint stick swatch with a Rustoleum's American Accents example that I picked up in the craft section of my hardware store.

What a difference!  The Rustoleum, which is made for craft projects, didn't adhere to the wooden stick as well, which weakened the color.  I was surprised because this latex paint is designed for crafts, usually, I assumed involving wood as the label shows.  I don't know whether the difference is between acrylic vs. latex or if these artist paints are just superior.  They do like to spoil us at work, so I'm banking on the superior part.  I don't have photos yet, so I'll close with a little post from Chef Chuck Wagon.  When you're feeling like you need a little pick-me-up, try Chef's Ginger Hot Chocolate:

0. Preheat some water. For ambiance, use a diner-themed mug. This is from the Littleton, NH diner.

1. Take some fresh ginger and mince up so much of it that you think it's too much. Put it in the mug to steep.

2. Add a packet of good hot chocolate mix. Don't forget to save the packet so that you can use the silver inside lining for a modeling project.

3, Stir and enjoy!  Chef says "It's wicked good" and as you can see he stands by his work:

And, now off to my work!

Tomlinson Run Railroad


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MaxSouthOz posted:

Andre, you're right.

It reads like a Carter Brown. 

So what you're saying, Max, is that these posts are either a "crime" or a "mystery".  And, if this model ever gets build, people will be asking, "Who done it?". Right? 

But, honestly, I had to look up Mr. Brown .  I don't get out much, so thank goodness for Wikipedia!

Perhaps we'll end up with a final post along the lines of "Whistlestop Diner:  The Graphic Novel". If Chef Wagon has anything to say about it, it'll be a "cereal". :-)

Thanks, Max.



Max, you had me laughing out loud! :-} 

Well, the weekend is here and that means that it's time to play "Dissertation versus Distractions"!  So to get those distractions out of my system and get some writing done, here are a couple of updates, and then it's "nose to the grindstone" for me ...  Hope you enjoy the pretty colors!

De Colores

Forgoing sleep last night (who needs it? sleep is for sissies), I finished creating the color stick swatches from the acrylic artist and acrylic and latex crafts paints that I have on hand.  Here they are all lined up in a row. "Pretty" impressive, huh?:

The color swatches are grouped so that the centered sticks are the Golden Artist acrylics that I raved about in a previous post.  I am still raving ... (OK, no wisecracks, guys!).  The sticks that extend to the left in the top photo and extend upward in the bottom photo are Model Master acrylics.  The sticks that extend to the right/downward are Rustoleum American Accents (oh, gosh, "American accents", like I have?).

This was a really worthwhile exercise.  I learned a lot, and I now have test colors on wood that I can use without having to haul out the actual paints or make a less useful paper chart.  Two of the Golden Artist paints were extra thick, which is good to know if I use them in the future (the mfr even lists that kind of data on the tubes). Otherwise, with these paints, it was one coat and you are done!  Luscious, vivid colors and with only light brush lines visible (except for the thick red).  Clean-up was a breeze.

I purchased the Model Master acrylics a while ago for an HO-scale house that I (shock, surprise) never finished.  These paints separated out over the years.  All of them were a disgusting runny grey until I remixed them.  Fortunately, they remixed fairly well, with the color being consistent and evenly distributed after stirring.  However, there was some clumping at the bottom of the jars.  As I recall, these paints worked well for the small brick and slate walkway details that I was painting on a Patel plastic house model.   But this exercise is all about how the paints work on wood with a grain that's similar to bass wood, and they were OK.

The American Accents latex paints continued to disappoint me.  As you can see in the 9th sample from the left, coverage was poor on wood.  But the worst thing was that the paint dried too quickly or something -- it was evening three of a heat wave.  So, the paint brush or the paint brushed on the Fudgcicle stick would have a rubbery clump of paint stuck on it that would then get dragged around with each brush stroke.  That was not good.  By the way, the right-most stick is a silver metallic paint.  The photo doesn't do it justice.  It's actually decent if you are careful to prevent the clumping problem.  I've used it to suggest mirrors for scale trucks and autos that had the body color where the mirrors should have been.  Not great but not bad. Lastly, the "just cleans up with soap and water" was misleading.  I was covered in the stuff that wouldn't come off with soap and water, and my counter top still has some tiny specks that was Comet bleach resistant (!).

Now let's see this stuff in action!

Previously, I worked out how I want to paint the tile on the resin counter that was included in the Whistlestop Diner kit.  On two sides there are nicely inscribed lines for the tiles.  In a notebook, I drew a grid that represented the actual number of etched "tiles" on both surfaces. Using the Airport Diner's black, white, and salmon tile as a model (see here), I determined exactly what color each tile would be to end up with a visually balanced pattern.  I hope to actually paint it this weekend, but for now, use your "Squint-O-Vision" to anticipate the finished product:

From top-to-bottom, the front of the counter will have a white row, two rows that create a black and white checkerboard, a middle section that will have two centered crosses created out of the light blue -- with perhaps a Titan Buff center, more white, and then the bottom two rows will be black.

On the short side of the counter, the patterns from the front will wrap around to the side.  But because of the narrow width and thus fewer rows on the side, the traditional tile cross won't fit.  (It can't be centered.)  Instead, there will be a centered square whose opposing quarters will be blue and buff or blue and that darker tan.  Both represent a classic diner color combination.  Usually, it can be hard to find modern materials that match 1930s and 1940s tile colors, but I think that these paints are perfect.  These will be out-of-the-tube colors because the choices are so great. 

The rear will be a light tan suggesting wood. I hope to draw a simulated series of shelves with plates or coffee pots or something on them to glue to the back side.  The top will simulate pink marble with brown lines, so I'll have to do some mixing when the time comes.  And, speaking of time ...

Distractions: 1 Dissertation: 0

(Unless you count the purple 5x7" index card in the photo that has dissertation notes on the other side ... )

Tomlinson Run Railroad


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MELGAR posted:


You are amazingly systematic. Keep going but don't put off the dissertation work. I know from experience how stressful it is to write one. Model trains and diners are a good diversion...



Thanks for the encouragement.  It's always nice to hear from someone who's been through the experience.  Congratulations!  (And, in what subject, if I may ask?)  Yes, trains and diners are the perfect diversion. 


I got a chuckle out of your "weapon of choice" wisecrack and, yes, I have a page written.  In fact, I have three chapters of seven done, and "bits and bobs" here and there of others.  Unfortunately I have to discard one because the thesis topic shifted.  It's all part of payin' the dues, I suppose.

Diner Update:

While taking a typing break, I painted the tile on the kit's resin counter.  To my surprise, the black paint bled when applied on top of the white wash that I placed over the grey primer.  Perhaps the white paint wasn't as dry as it looked?  Regardless, the incised lines didn't hold the paint in place as hoped.  This feature will definitely require two coats, and perhaps I'll need to switch to a toothpick with a filed, angled edge or perhaps a nail.  Having the paint bleed with a super small brush was NOT what I expected. 

I also painted the scale refrigerator white and fortunately it came out well.  I'll add the secondary colors (chrome and grey) and other small details like manufacturers "lettering" tomorrow.  Photos when completed.

Distractions: 1  Dissertation: .75 and counting

Tomlinson Run Railroad

And one last post for the evening:  A couple of posts back, Chef Chuck Wagon shared his recipe for ginger-flavored hot chocolate.  The mug it was prepared in was from the Littleton Diner in Littleton, New Hampshire.  Here's a photo that I took of that diner some years' ago. (The mansard roof isn't original, but you knew that :-):

The Littleton  Diner was manufactured by the Sterling Company (1940?).  That's the same manufacturer that brought us the "streamliner" diners that looked like moderne-style trains, like this one in Rhode Island (my photo):

I mention the Littleton Diner because if you look at the pinstripe and etc. detailing on the enamel panels in the top photo, you'll see similarities with laser detailing that has been added to the windows in the newer version of this diner kit.  The primer kind of hides it, so look closely:

Although, like paper, the bass wood seems to have a "side" to it, I suppose that if you don't like the laser lines, that you can flip the wall over and use the detailed side as the inside wall -- in fact, that might add a nice interior touch.

As part of my color exploration this weekend, I have decided to make the outside of the diner an old-fashioned green as shown above.  The prototype building, which still exists, is mostly white with red accents.  That's a bit too 1950's for me for the architectural era represented by this model.  Instead, I'm going with traditional muted colors from the 1930s and 1940s -- including the black, white, and salmon tiling in the actual Airport Diner photos referenced previously.

Lastly, here is Roxie, the roller skating waitress, demonstrating the use of a color wheel.  Roxie shows us that by combining equal parts orange and yellow and then adding white to tint it, a nice shade of salmon will result.  Sorry, Roxie, that's salmon as in the color, not the fish.  (Chef says to just stick to burgers and fries for now.) 

If I use the supplied interior "walls" then I will paint them salmon with a band of black tile and maybe some centered black tile crosses. Those will match the motif that I just added (ever so sloppily) to the resin counter.  I want to experiment with using calligraphy pens on scrap wood for creating straight lines for the wall tile without having to resort to masking tape, but that's an experiment for another time -- after I dig out my pens.

Have a great rest of the weekend.

Tomlinson Run Railroad





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MaxSouthOz posted:

You did a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, Mel?

Respect, man. 

Yes, very impressive, MELGAR.  I work with two aerospace engineering PhDs, and too many physicists to count -- both amazing backgrounds to have.  Both fields seem to instill a particular way of thinking and responding to the world that translates well for problem solving in software.


It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Tina, the CFO at the Tomlinson Run Railroad, really likes the scale "Fiestaware" from  While the price is reasonable for the detail and quality, Tina was concerned about the cost of ordering enough to add to the diner model.  Eventually, my plan is to take what's learned in this wood project and translate it to building up the railroad's MTH Madison PRR dining car kitchen and dining room.  That project would include stacks of dishes in the kitchen, as well as place settings.  (The seller offers a quantity discount but the threshold may be higher than is needed.)

As head of engineering, I was tasked with finding an inexpensive solution.   The Fiestaware dinner plates are about 1/4" in diameter.  The salad plates are a bit larger than 1/8".   I happen to have two paper punches: one is 1/8", the other is 1/4" diameter. 

In keeping with the theme of repurposing food-related materials, I started with the bottom of a plastic tofu container as a test material to simulate plates.  I punched a series of 1/8" holes in the plastic.  My idea was to place and glue the plastic with the holes in it over another sheet of a contrasting color.  By centering the 1/4" punch over the 1/8" hole, I can create scale plates with a raised and colored rim.  Either the rim or the center of the plate can be a color, or both.  In these tests, I just simulated a white rim and colored background -- I didn't bother with gluing on a backing sheet.  Perhaps, I should have as that would add thickness.

Here's Tina holding the purse strings, while Roxie is floored by the thought of handling such fancy china while on roller skates.  The fancy unpainted Fiestaware is in the lower right corner:

The two plates in the bottom center give an idea of what I was trying to do. They have white rims and a colored center.  The plates to the left of them were created to give an "impression" (literally and figuratively) of an indent but without the color.  They were created by only applying enough pressure with the 1/8" punch to create an indent in the plastic.  Then the 1/4" punch was used to punch out the plate around the centered indent:

The two paper circles in the upper center in the photo were created with a regular 3-hole punch and are too large.  But, they might pass for a serving platter or charger plate.  Just above Roxie's tray, you can see two holes with red centering lines drawn on them.  Unfortunately, the lengths to the centers of the punches differ, so it is tricky to eye-ball centering the larger punch over the smaller hole. Because of this difference, you can't rely on the body of the punch itself when placed against the edge of the plastic to stop at the right place.  Even after measuring the difference, it is still an imprecise manual process to line the two holes up.  The fact that the punches have clear covers helps.  You can see that I managed to center one out of two.  The foodie-rocker Meatloaf would tell us that "Two outa three ain't bad."  So, hopefully, lining up the top punch will improve with practice.  Although characteristically out-of-focus, you can also see a bit of the (5) solid plates with the indents here:

This experiment wasn't a success but it wasn't a total failure, either.  For example, I tried stacking the plastic punched plates. It will be tricky but possible with glue.  In that scenario, I will only have to create an indent on the top plate in each stack of dishes.  I see stacked dishes like these working better in the dining rail car kitchen than in the diner model, which has even more limited space.

Lastly, an update: This weekend I created a 1.75 x 7" "tile" floor pattern by scan a security envelope pattern and then sizing it to match the bass wood floor's dimensions.  I will need to reduce the pattern by 6 scale inches or so to experiment with adding a tile border around the four sides.  I still need to detail the refrigerator and I am still trying to improve the painting of the tile counter.  I've experimented with a "tool" that I created for paining individual tiles.  I will post those results when done.  Chef was hungry, so I started to paint a black headed sheep ... (not to worry, it's just for milk for cheese :-). 

Tomlinson Run Railroad


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