"Your source for standard gauge modeling in 1:20.3"

F Scale Products

Custom Machining

The Gauge 3 Galleries

The F Gauge Galleries

Dave's Pages



Jim McDaniel Gallery

Jim McDaniel hails from the San Francisco Bay area; and prior to building models in F scale, he has been an avid 1.5" scale live steamer. Jim's outdoor railroad, the Cliffside & Camino, is an Fn3 freelance outdoor line which features a dual gauge interchange with the standard gauge Shasta Falls Railway. But where Jim really shines is his scratchbuilt rolling stock. He has to date built several 36' trussrod flats, 36' gons, a 40' trussrod boxcar, a side-door caboose and a 36' tank car--all in 1:20.3 standard gauge. Jim is at present hard at work upon a 72' standard gauge business car--with fully functional 6-wheel wood frame Pullman trucks. But see for yourself. Jim may be contacted at bulldogjim828@sbcglobal.net

Freight & Passenger Car Trucks:

Archbar Trucks

Jim's long wheelbase (5'-10") archbar tucks are home-made using modified white metal sideframes cast by Steven King originally for 7/8" scale, Maine 2' gauge rolling stock. Cumberland Model Engineering plain steel 33" wheelsets; Hartford Products truck springs; and Jim's own built up brass & wood bolster, spring plank & brake rigging complete each truck. Those shiny wheelsets are the result of taking the CME plain steel wheels (made from "ledloy" carbon steel which if left unpainted rusts like mad) and polishing them on either a lathe (or as Jim does on a drill press) using a 3M scuff pad. Jim paints his trucks engine black. How about that flat car load!!! It must be headed for a wreck somewhere on the Cliffside & El Camino.


6-Wheel Pullman Palace Passenger Trucks 

Jim's 2006-2008 truck project has been to create fully functional (sprung, equalized & with a swing motion bolster) wood frame 6-Wheel Pullman Palace passenger trucks for his 72' standard gauge business car. Drawings came from a turn of the last century Car Builder's Cyclopedia's (see below) as well as actual measurements from a similar bolt-together iron six-wheel truck on an existent passenger car in the California State Railroad Museum.

The trucks are a mixture of brass castings, fabricated components made from wood and brass, and Cumberland Model Engineering 36" plain steel wheelsets. Below are pictures of the casting patterns (soldered up from brass bits and pieces cut either by hand or on my Japax wire EDM--note first picture, top left, for EDM cut patterns). Also pictured are the first round of investment castings made by Dennis Mashburn of K&D castings in Abilene, Texas and the various wooden frame components which Jim cut by hand. And yes, that swing motion bolster actually works! But the leaf springs are fake--the actually springing is done by a Hartford Products coil spring cleverly hidden from view inside each cast leaf spring!

Patterns & Castings


Composite Brass & Wooden Components

Partial Assembly  (Note the functional swing links and suspension!)

The Completed Truck (sans paint)

Standard Gauge Rolling Stock:

40' Trussrod Boxcar

One of Jim's earliest F scale projects was a 40' standard gauge boxcar. The model does not follow a particular prototype, but is typical in design for cars of the period (circa 1900-1918). In some respects it is reminiscent of a Canda design for the Southern Pacific (see drawing below). It is constructed of wood as appropriate and brass or white metal to simulate iron.  Jim began work on the car in September of 2003 and completed it March of 2004.

Side Door Caboose

About the same time that he was working on his 40' boxcar, Jim also began work on a side door (or "drovers") caboose. The prototype ran on the Sierra Railroad in California, plans for which Jim was able to obtain (see pic #1). The model is constructed just like the prototype with a framed inner structure covered with scribed sheathing on the outside and board-by-board construction on the inside. The model features a full interior. Castings are from Ozarks Miniatures.

36' Trussrod Flat Cars

The 36' wooden flat car was the ubiquitous workhorse of the wood car era and lasted well into the steel car era on many logging railroads (several examples in various state of rot exist today, inoperable, at the Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia). Typically, most wooden flats had four trussrods passing through cast iron queenposts, though some high capacity cars could employ 6 or even 8 trussrods. A few cars attained 40' or more feet in length, but 36' and 32' were by far the standard. The plans shown below are for a Ma & Pa 36' flat typical to the era. Jim's models, though not exact copies of the Ma & Pa car, are representative. Jim's cars are built from redwood, and he has loaded them with a variety of objects, including Western Scale Model's 1:20.3 scale twin cylinder mill engine kit. This basic flat also provides the foundation for Jim's low side 36' gondolas. Note also the nail-by-nail construction! Kadee couplers are standard.


36' Gondolas

What's a cheap and dirty way to build a fleet of gondolas? Start with a generic wooden flat car and then add sides! The D&RGW did it on the narrow gauge; Jim on the F scale Cliffside & El Camino--The Astro-Turf Line! Imagine unloading these by hand . . .

36' Tank Car

The earliest tank cars were essentially flat cars with wooden barrels for holding oil mounted atop their decks. Later, iron and then steel tanks mounted longitudinally replaced the wooden barrels, but the idea of a tank car as essentially a flat car frame with a tank mounted atop did not disappear altogether, at least not until well into the steel car era. These early pre-WWI cars rode on archbar or even Fox trucks, though later they would have been updated to cast steel trucks. Below are plans for Jim's 8,000 gallon prototype and pictures of a later, longer car though built along the same lines, now located in Sacramento:

Jim's model is of an early steel car with a heavy steel frame supporting the tank, the former of which is built up from brass channels & flat stock; the latter from a combination of acrylic pipe, styrene, and brass fittings.

The Underframe

The Tank

The Completed Car

72' Business Car

Jim's biggest project to date is a 1:20.3 standard gauge model of a turn-of-the-last century 72' wooden business car--essentially an observation car for the railroad brass. As of April 2007 he has mainly been at work on the six wheel Pullman Palace trucks (see above). But he has also completed patterns and rubber molds for the clerestory ends of the car's roof. This promises to be another 1st by Jim in the world of F scale standard gauge modeling (Jim already holds the record for 1st tank car, 1st gondola and 1st caboose).

The Prototype

The Underframe

The Care Sides & Ends

The Clerestory Roof

The Interior

The Completed Car--TBA


Wedge Snow Plow

Jim's latest project, undertaken concurrently with his passenger car, is a piece of maintenance-of-way equipment: a snow plow.


The Completed Car

Fn3 Idler Car




Jim's Outdoor Railroad:

Last update: 18 September 2009

Hit Counter