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Frederic Testard

Premium Member

Posted - 11/20/2008 :  5:30:56 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
One of the members of the french forum "Forum US" dedicated to modelling american trains (mainly USA and Canada) has recently posted an amazing series of images describing his scratchbuilt machinery, which he does for a living, as an "independent artist". His name is Christophe Le Corre, he is 37. He allowed me to post on RR-Line these pictures and translate the most important elements of his messages, in particular the description of his construction techniques. He started this job four years ago, his goal was to provide some material to populate industrial areas that he found too empty on many layouts.

Among the documents he uses to do his work are :

- the 1941 US railroad encyclopedia, which last pages describe the layout of machines in a loco shop ;
- photos he took for instance at Strasburg on the East Broad Top, or when he visited shops in Germany, or that he simply downloaded on the web ;
- concerning the building of lathes, a very documented internet site at http://www.lathes.co.uk .

His first topic was devoted to machinery found in machine shops.

Although he is perfectly aware of the availability of excellent material such as Western Scale Models line of machines, he was after some more modern looking models.

He describes his modelling strategy this way :

1. You must understand how the machine you want to build works.
2. You must gather as many parts as possible, from the most various sources (military kits, gears, lighter striker wheel, lots of styrene - he must be one of the best customers of Evergreen..., brake wheels, small electric wires, 0.02" diameter brass rod).

Then it's time to build and with the help of the gathered documentation - and of a steady hand - , one obtains this kind of thing.

The picture features a lathe (a small one : a loco shop would feature more huge machines, able to handle the turning of loco wheels), a mill, a drill press, a grinder and an arc welder on a cart.

Then comes the time to paint the models. The basic color is an industrial green : ref. Humbrol Mat 120. After spraying a first coat, the paint is allowed to dry for 24 hours, then a weathering wash is applied, and after this one has dried, a final coat of metallic color is drybrushed. The result looks like this.

Don't forget to sprinkle some metallic shavings in front of the machines to add realism to the scenes.

Country: France | Posts: 17652

Frederic Testard

Premium Member

Posted - 11/20/2008 :  5:32:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Chris's posts feature many more machines. Before giving more explanations, here is a small gallery of what he has done.

Country: France | Posts: 17652 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 11/20/2008 :  5:34:30 PM  Show Profile  Visit Peterpools's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Simply fantasic work !!!!!!

Country: USA | Posts: 12335 Go to Top of Page

Don Brimmer

Posted - 11/20/2008 :  5:43:42 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Fabulous, real museum class models!!

Country: USA | Posts: 1874 Go to Top of Page

Frederic Testard

Premium Member

Posted - 11/20/2008 :  5:50:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Here is a sample of Chris's production. The machines are based upon real ones manufactured from 1920 to 1960. Apart from the sources quoted above, Chris mentions the catalog of the 1939 Leipzig machines fair.
Almost all the models featured below have been sold, to customers from many countries (Switzerland, UK, USA, Australia, Germany, Belgium,...)

Country: France | Posts: 17652 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 11/20/2008 :  5:53:03 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Now, that is some beautiful modeling! Thanks for posting the photos and translating the text, Frederic!

What scale are these models?

Country: USA | Posts: 21584 Go to Top of Page

Frederic Testard

Premium Member

Posted - 11/20/2008 :  6:16:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the comments, guys. I'll forward them to Chris.
Mike, this material is O scale (although Chris is currently working on a huge project of coking plant in 3/8 scale : the whole model is 12' long by 8' wide...)

This post will describe some heavier pieces of machinery. A machine shop where big engines are being maintained needs some powerful tools.

First the wheel lathe. Here is a link to a video of an old William Sellers lathe slowly turning a wheel in an East Broad Top shop.


Chris' models are more modern. For instance this Niles :

The axle runs with the mandrel, like in the video.

This kind of lathe seems to belong to every shop in the USA (those maintaining cars as well as those maintaining locos).

(Note the shavings in this shot). Along with some of these lathes there was a jib crane which function was to properly install the axle.

Second the planer. Another essential machine in the shop. It was used to machine metallic profiles, in particular to rework turnout parts or loco rods.

Here is a link to a video : http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=MiBG-Hpd1ZU

The model was built aind painted using the techniques described in the first post.

Another, more modern, model built around 1940/50 by the Philadelphia Planner Co.

Other machines (there are hundreds of kinds, and hundreds of manufacturers, among who one can quote for instance BETTS, NILES, BRIDGEPORT, AJAX).

Vertical wheel lathe and mill boring machine : perfectly suitable for machining tyres.

Radial mill :

Huron precision boring / drilling machine

Country: France | Posts: 17652 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 11/20/2008 :  6:38:01 PM  Show Profile  Visit dougcoffey1950's Homepage  Send dougcoffey1950 a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Scratchbuilt no less. WOW! I think this might be one of the most amazing model displays I have ever seen. I may be biased as I own a machine shop. However, as a machine shop owner, I can really appreciate the accurate use of color and weathering on expertly built machine models. Incredible!


Country: Canada | Posts: 1009 Go to Top of Page

Engine Wiper

Posted - 11/20/2008 :  8:05:28 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Now that is truly some wonderful art! I would love to see some of that in real life as we all know they just look better in real life.

Country: USA | Posts: 358 Go to Top of Page

Crew Chief

Posted - 11/20/2008 :  8:37:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for posting..I am speechless...all I can say is WOW

Country: USA | Posts: 634 Go to Top of Page

George D

Premium Member

Posted - 11/20/2008 :  9:05:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That work is unbelievable. Thanks for sharing these fine photos with us, Frederic.


Fly Army

Country: USA | Posts: 16949 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 11/20/2008 :  9:22:56 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for sharing Frederic

Those are simply stunning.

In memory of Mike Chambers

Country: USA | Posts: 2972 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 11/20/2008 :  10:04:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Frederic, thanks for showing Christophes' work. All I can say is Wow! what a craftsmen!.Bravo!

Country: Canada | Posts: 9163 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 11/21/2008 :  02:41:31 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Many thanks for posting those pictures and the translations.. his work is so superb it deserves to be seen by everyone in here. I am very much looking forward to seeing how he puts them together!



Country: USA | Posts: 5866 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 11/21/2008 :  07:43:42 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Frederic, the machines are simply stunning could you ask your friend how he finishing them so well, painting weathering.
Also once he builds the masters are the others then cast from molds? or does he build each one? Excellent. Pat

Country: USA | Posts: 4503 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 11/21/2008 :  08:45:14 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That is some 'eye popping' modeling. Thanks for sharing, Frederic.


Country: USA | Posts: 33536 Go to Top of Page
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