Rusty Rail Craftsman Kits and Castings
Images and text Copyright © 2006 by Matt Swan

        In Fresno California there is this little cottage industry that produces a variety of very unusual resin castings aimed at the model railroad industry. This company, Rusty Rail, has been making work benches, out houses, sheds, boxes, barrels and piles of junk in the common railroad scales such as HO and O. Now you may be asking yourself right about now just what this has to do with model aircraft building. A few modelers already are aware of this and now I will let you in on the secret as well, O scale model railroad material is basically 1/48 scale. Are you starting to connect the dots yet? Where I’m going here is that all these neat little O scale accessories fit perfectly into virtually any 1/48 scale diorama!
        Rusty Rail has a pretty good selection of material already available at some very reasonable prices and for the purposes of this review we will look at three of the packages. In the image below at the left we have kit number RRWB-O-01 which is the larger of the work benches and sells for about $5.00 US (remember – prices are subject to change as time goes by), in the center we have a junk pile kit number RRJP-O-01 which is selling for about $6.50 and lastly on the right is the drum kit number RRBS-O-02 and that sells for about $6.00. If you are already buying accessory items to dress up a diorama just the selling prices should spark your interest.

        Even though these are designed for railroaders looking at that tool bench we could easily be looking at an engine flywheel gear, maybe an air filter can and tools that could have been used to work on an aircraft. Think about that junk pile, if you added a propeller blade and/or an aircraft wheel there it would fit into the background of any airfield service area. Those wooden drums would work well and consider some of the other items available like an outhouse – no explanation needed there. So all of this sound pretty good and I am anxiously waiting for some sample pieces to arrive. Once Bill the mailman is out of sight I start ripping packing material away to see how the overall quality of the parts look and I am not disappointed.
        The parts have no appreciable casting stubs or any noticeable flash. I did find a few micro bubbles but have seen worse from main-line casting companies. When the pieces are placed with other 1/48 scale items such as crew figures and aircraft they seem to measure up well. The planking detail on the workbench seems somewhat overdone but as this is not the main feature of a diorama but only background material this does not seem to be much of an issue. The workbench is the first pieces I choose for painting. It was cast with the backside being the pouring surface and I sanded that slightly to just flatten the backside a bit. I could not see or feel any mold release agent on the parts but just to be safe I washed it in warm soapy water and let it air dry before heading to the paint room.
        The part was primed with some Mr. Surfacer 1000 cut about 50% with lacquer thinner and it took the primer very well. Base color was simply two coats of NATO Brown airbrushed. Details were brush painted with various browns and metals with a little color tossed in for some tool handles. Testors’ silver was used for some dry brush highlighting and a heavy coat of sludge wash was used. After this had all dried down I sealed the piece with some Polly Scale clear flat followed with some ground pastel chalks being rubbed on the wooden wear edges with an eye liner swab. All that is left now is to place this with an aircraft model and a couple of mechanics.

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