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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.