68' Freighter *Built-Up*
Model "Model Railroad News" Review (Nov
1996)" Frenchman River Model Works
(formerly JD Innovations HO/HOn2/HOn3/HOn30
Back in 1996 I wrote a Product
Review for the "Model Railroad News" publication for this 68-foot steam
freighter kits. By the time that I finished the product review and it finally
made it to print, the manufacturer was forced to close the doors due to a
serious personal matter. No one was more disappointed that I was at the time.
Fortunately, the manufacturer has returned to the hobby and this kit as well as
many more products are now available from Frenchman River Model Works (www.frenchmanriver.com).
Many years have now passed
by and I still have not found a use for this exquisite model. This model is
available to purchase and images of this one of a kind model may be viewed on
this page by hovering the mouse pointer over them. Additionally, the following
is there written Product Review for additional information about the hows and
whys discovered while constructing this model. Please read on.
Product Review by Richard E. (Ben) Bendever
are relatively few nice scale model boat/ships for model railroading.
Unfortunately, most of the sea craft available are either plastic warships or
boats of some 0ther scale that have to be severely modified. Then there are
wooden boat kits that need so many modifications to make the ship model look
realistic enough fur model railroading, the time for construction and extra
effort may have ken better spent chiseling the darn thing out of a 2x4. Thank
you JD Innovations [JDI). This company offers an HO scale freighter with
such character and detail, it would be a crime to stick this model in the Back
of a layout or display where its personality could not be appreciated.
A brief history accompanying the instructions of this fighter.
JDI tells us that "this rugged coastal freighter was built around the turn of
the century to carry freight into and around coastal waterways." The prototype
for this model is "based loosely on a type of ship called the Clyde Puffer."
These early steam powered freighters evidently had a chuff-chuff action similar
to the steam locomotives, only without the sound of power that we associate with
steam locomotives. "The term puffer comes from the distinct puffing noise
produced by [the Puffer's] steam engine." "Even though these ships were built
around 1900, many were still in operation well into the 1950's and possibly some
This kit comes in a secure box with a nice color
photograph to interest the buyer. Inside the parts are secured in typical plastic
bags, bubble wrap, and 9 pages of instructions. The
are not difficult. Fortunately, the instructions start off with a list of
definitions for "the landlubbers
among us." Included are 4 pages of nicely illustrated photographs and drawings
of this model in various stages of construction. The parts to this model are
clearly labeled in the photographs, which is a big help in the assembly of this
freighter. Although there are not a great number of parts to this kit. I
recommend sitting down and
reading through the instructions to familiarize yourself with the
For the most part, this model is nicely detailed and it
can be assembled and painted according to the manufacture's suggestions in a
relatively short period. Preparation (sanding, fittings, painting, et cetera)
consumes the majority of time for construction of this model. However, I made a
few deviations from the manufacturer’s instructions that I feel enabled me to
construct a model with slightly more detail and realism. Some of my deviations
may clarify some assembly and construction questions that modelers may have
creation of this model.
Urethane kits Frighten most model railroaders. This model
should not. In fact, most modelers who prefer wood may actually enjoy the
diversity of this model. This is not exactly the urethane kit of old. First,
this kit is not cast in the typical white color material that many urethane kits
are cast in. This kit is cast in a rust color. This is great for modeling an old
freighter. The problem that most modelers have in assembling urethane kits, is
getting the parts to stick together without using 5 minute epoxy.
Even then, sometimes after a long period, 5 minute epoxy will not
hold. JDI suggests that you wash the parts first in warm soapy water to remove
the mold release. Although there is not that much gluing to this kit, 1 suggest
also removing the shine off of the surfaces that are being glued together. This
will give the glue an opportunity to bite into the urethane without being
repelled by the shiny molded surface. Any AC glue will then work with this kit.
I use a Scotch Pad (fine grade for metal) to knock the shine off of the surfaces
that are being glued or painted. As in the gluing method, this gives the paint a
better bite on the urethane. I do not recommend using sand paper. Not only will
sand paper leave a gritty substance that no matter what you do, always shows up
in the paint, but it is also possible that sand paper will leave scratches that
will show through the paint. It is not absolutely necessary to remove all the
shine (for reasons I will clarify shortly), however, just like painting a real
car or anything else, you risk the paint flaking off later. I use Floquil® Brand
RR paints. I do something differently that would probably make the Floquil®
paint manufacture cringe. I thin my Floquil® paints with lacquer thinner, rather
than Dio-Sol. I do this for two reasons: 1. The lacquer thinner helps the paint
bite into the urethane better. 2. There is absolutely no shine from the Floquil®
paint when it is thinned with lacquer thinner. I have built a number of
dioramas, and people are constantly sticking their noses up close to my models.
One complement I usually receive is the absence of shiny surfaces.
Another secret for making this model look more realistic,
is the painting and weathering process. As I mentioned earlier, this model is
molded in a rust color. After I scuffed off the shine from the molded metal
areas, I sprayed all metal surfaces to represent weathered rusty metal with
Floquil® Rust and allowed this to sit for 2 weeks. I then taped up and sprayed
the different colors on the hull. This process only took an hour because 1 use
lacquer thinner to thin the Floquil® paint.
After the hull colors had dried for another hour, I took
regular 3/4" masking tape and using a 6" strip of tape, I worked the tape into
the cracks and seams of the plating and details of the hull. I then pulled the
tape back off the model. The tape pulls tiny patches of paint off of the hull,
allowing the Floquil® Rust and the rust color of the hull to show through the
colors on the surface of the hull. I then used Dr. Ben's Realistic Rust as a
rusty weathering wash. The effect is fantastic. The real trick here is to wash
the rust on, with the model upside down, and allow the rust solution to dry. I
could elaborate on this theory and method if there were enough interest. Write
to the editor of this magazine.
I also deviated from the instructions for this model when
I fit the decks to the hull. The front "2/3'sU deck does not fit as nicely as
the manufacture probably would have liked it to have fit. The instructions
suggest that the builder fill in the gap with CA glue. This would probably look
acceptable from 4 or 5 feet away, but not up close. Instead I found that an HO
scale 2"x12" fills the gap between the 2D's deck and the inner surface of the
hull. At the same time, this adds additional detail to the interior of the deck,
which looks very natural to the viewer. Also, there is an unexplainable gap
between the aft-deck and the deck bulkhead, which is easily filled with an HO
scale 6"x l0".
Both of these deviations are rather insignificant and should actually pose no
problem to construction of this model. The rest of this model falls into place
and most of the time spent constructing this model is in the preparation.
Other changes that I made were the anchor chain and
lifeboat. The chain that comes with the kit may be fine for G-scale, but not for
this model. There are a number of scale chains that would substitute without
much difficulty. The lifeboat provided is satisfactory. I chose to mount a
smaller lifeboat on the roof of the cabin rather than lay the lifeboat on the
deck or drag it behind the freighter. This was simply my preference.
There are probably a hundred additions and details anyone
could add to this model, I did add a couple of Grandt Line lights to this model
to give it the appearance that the operators of this freighter might work at
night. I also added a Vimex Industries clam-shell bucket. My plans for this
freighter is to haul coal. Some may want to use a patch of panty hose to
represent a burlap tarp and stringers at the comers. This could be prototypical
where men would shovel coal onto the tarp and load or unload the freighter by
One last point to mention was the scale emphasis of the
hull plates. Initially, 1 was concerned that the thickness may be over
exaggerated. However, after the freighter was completed, the weathering and rust
neatly disguised what prototypically would be several inches thick. This is
something that we would notice in real life as well as not very functional.
Fortunately, there are those times in building models when slightly exaggerated
looks better than prototype. I have shown this completed model to a number of
people and no one has noticed.
Many modelers may not feel that an article pertaining to a
freighter has any real relevance in model railroading. However, if you think
about it, many modelers have begun to add a significant amount of water to their
railroad layouts. I always add some sort of water to any of the dioramas that 1
build. i.e. Hooker's Point Lighthouse, voted Most Photogenic, by the editors of
the model railroad magazines at the 1995 NMRA Convention in Atlanta. Adding
water to a layout or diorama has become much easier and safer in the past few
years with the two part urethanes from Envirotex and other companies. The really
neat thing is that without much effort, this freighter could be modeled to
represent N, S. and 0 scales. Now more than ever, the model railroad hobby is
now lacking relative sea power that is comparable to the quality and detail of
typical model railroads. This freighter from JDI is a nice addition.
image at right is of the "Model Railroad News" Product Review in 1996. MRN now
has a new owner and I don't use Floquil® products any longer. My my how times
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