How To Prototype Railroads Model an enginehouse scene

Model an enginehouse scene

By Cody Grivno | November 6, 2022

A single-track structure on a shortline railroad provides several modeling ideas

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Model an enginehouse scene. Last year, I wrote about an old 40-foot insulated boxcar being used as a storage shed on the Sisseton Milbank RR (SMRR) in Milbank, S.D. I thought it would be fun to take another look at the 38-mile line, a subsidiary of the Twin Cities & Western RR, this time focusing on the railroad’s enginehouse in Milbank. The enginehouse scene could be re-created on virtually any model railroad.

The enginehouse

Photo of metal single-track enginehouse with supplies stored along right side
The Sisseton Milbank RR enginehouse in Milbank, S.D., is a metal single-track building with offices on the second floor. Cody Grivno photo

The SMRR enginehouse is located off West Milbank Ave. next to Lake Farley Park. The metal structure is pretty basic as far enginehouses go. It has roll-up doors on both ends for locomotives and freight cars, along with windows and personnel doors on the south and west sides. There appear to be offices on the second floor. A pair of roof ridge ventilators, similar to Pikestuff No. 541-3102, help pull diesel exhaust fumes from the structure. The building is heated with propane; an above-ground tank is seated parallel to the building on the west side.

Re-creating the enginehouse with commercial kits would be pretty easy. HO scale options include Pikestuff’s small enginehouse (No. 541-5000) and the Walthers modern single-track enginehouse (No. 933-2985). In N scale, Pikestuff offers its small enginehouse kit as item No. 541-8002.

Detailing the scene

Tires, signs, barrels, and other objects next to the side of a building
Joint bars, pallets, barrels, and signs, among other objects, are stored along east side of the enginehouse. Cody Grivno photo

The east side of the enginehouse appears to be a catch-all storage spot. Used pallets, 55-gallon drums, blue flags, an old tire, and signs were among the items I spotted. There were also spikes, joint bars, and other loose track materials. These are probably “grab-and-go” items kept at the ready so track crews can easily reach them if they need to make quick track repairs.

There are plenty of options for these detail items. Small Scale Innovative No. CS002 could be used for the “Road Closed” barricade, Walthers offers pallets, and Tichy Train Group sells a 12-pack of 55-gallon drums. For track materials, I’d source the joint bars from KV Models and the tie plates from Monroe Models.

Maintenance-of-way equipment

Photo of tie crane and cart parked on siding in partially snow-covered landscape
A tie crane was one of the three pieces of track equipment stored behind the enginehouse. Cody Grivno photo

With only 38 miles of track, storage space is at a premium on the SMRR. During my visit in March 2019, a tie crane with push cart, a tamper, and a spike driver were stored on the north side of the enginehouse. Adding details like these by the enginehouse further reinforces the shortline theme.

For the tie crane, check out Durango Press kit No. 99 from JL Innovative Design. I wrote an article on how to build the kit in the August 2018 issue of Model Railroader. I was unable to find matches for the tamper and spike driver, but other track equipment is available from Durango Press and Custom Finishing Models.

Photo of weathered ballast hopper painted yellow
Sisseton Milbank RR 70-ton two-bay ballast hopper No. 8022 sits on the south side of the enginehouse. The hand-me-down car started life as a two-bay covered hopper. Cody Grivno photo

On the south side of the enginehouse was SMRR No. 8022, a 70-ton two-bay ballast hopper. The car, a modified covered hopper, had faded yellow paint with bits of blue peeking through. The patched reporting marks suggest the railroad acquired the car secondhand.

Modeling this car is easy thanks to English’s Model Railroad Division of Bowser Manufacturing. Undecorated kit No. 3-1701 would be an ideal starting point. Pair your favorite light yellow paint with Smokebox Graphics patch job stencil decal set No. DF5687. The set has plenty of options for stencil lettering. Smokebox Graphics paint out blanks No. DF6887 has the gray patches that you’ll need to put under the reporting marks and road number.

The data, which is hard to see on the full-size car, can be found in one of the following Circus City Decals sets: Chicago & North Western No. 87-07; Conrail No. 87-01 ; or Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern No. DME204.

If you’re looking to add interest to your layout, model an enginehouse scene. Hopefully one or more of these ideas will spark your next modeling project.




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