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A citrus train for the garden railroad

By Bill Barnwell | May 4, 2022

Use cast-off or broken parts to model an interesting scene

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Front of grover’s caboose citrus train model

I thought it would be fun to make a citrus train for the garden railroad. I like to reuse broken hobby items from my junk box, and I had several pieces to build my train inexpensively.

Front of grover’s caboose citrus train model
The author used parts of a Bachmann boxcar to build the caboose. Note the distressed “wood” and uneven floorboards. Photos by Bill Barnwell

Certain livestock trains had a car — usually a converted long caboose — called a drover’s caboose for the drovers (cowboys) to ride in while transporting animals. I made a car for my citrus pickers to ride in and out of the groves, calling it a “grover’s caboose.”

I started with a Hartland Locomotive Works short dump car and removed the dump. Using broken parts from a Bachmann boxcar, I built a small shed on top of the dump car’s base. Here and there, I added “holes” in the siding. I cut the strap rivet detail in a few places and repositioned pieces to add additional wear.

On the floor, I cut and distressed the boards with a hobby knife. I made the tin roof from Evergreen corrugated styrene sheet and ladders purchased from Plastruct. I painted and weathered the caboose and added stick-on letters for the “Orange River Fruit Co.” I repainted figures I had on hand.

Back of grover’s caboose citrus train model
The corrugated roof is made from Evergreen corrugated styrene sheet, painted to resemble metal.

To model the fruit, I bought craft lava beads, which have a nice, rough texture. The oranges measure 2-milimeters, and the grapefruits are 4-milimeters. Florida citrus oranges aren’t a “pretty” orange like the ones you see in stores, and are a mix of orange, yellow, and green in color.

Figures in a grover’s caboose citrus train model
The author repainted figures he had on hand to resemble citrus workers.

I put the beans in a cut-apart empty milk jug and spray painted them. After the paint dried, I shook the jug a bit and added paint in another color. I used three paint colors (orange, yellow, and avocado green). The bead holes looked like stems after painting and are pretty believable.

A citrus train for the garden railroad
The ORF train returns from picking up a load at the citrus grove. The fruit is spray-painted lava beads from a craft store.

I cut a piece of Styrofoam to fit inside my LGB side-dump gondola cars and glued the fruit on top of the foam to simulate a load. I added my kitbashed 0-4-4 LGB 2020 Forney to complete the train.

Model produce store on a garden railroad
UD’s Produce Store welcomes deliveries of fresh fruit.

I had fun with this project, and the train ties into other elements on my railway. I’ve built a produce store called UD’s Produce and am planning to build an orange-packing plant from a broken PIKO America garage.

One thought on “A citrus train for the garden railroad

  1. Love your work! Excellent! Glad to see some garden RR articles here.

    Steve Seidensticker

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