Wheels of Time Blog
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Notes from the Field

An enjoyable aspect of working here at Wheels of Time is documenting the prototype accurately. I am especially aware of the little details, details you'll see reflected on your Wheels of Time products. I find it especially satisfying when I find the prototype in real life.  It certainly helps me develop accurate models!  Here are some tips that I've learned in documenting a prototype.

1)  Take good field notes, even if it looks like chicken scratch. Here are my field notes for the SP American Car & Foundry bilevel coach built in 1957. You never find this level of detail from a magazine drawing. Taking good notes, I see things that otherwise I would miss. One such detail: the 1955 Pullman-Standard cars had wide shallow skirts around the center doors and slightly angled in A/C diesel-generator cabinet, in contrast to the ACF coaches.

2)  Use a measuring stick.  It makes taking general dimensions easier since it will not flex or roll up like a measuring tape.  It can give the relative scale of complex parts.  My stick is a 3-ft PVC pipe with electrical tape, marked off at 3" and 1' increments.


3)  A measuring tape is also a must for accurate dimensioning. Here is a measuring tape in relation to a PCC truck. I'm careful to measure how far things stick out.


4)   Documenting the style, color, dimensions of the actual lettering is important. This one is from a B & O car.


5)  Paint color can vary under different lighting conditions. Here is a VRE bilevel coach in the railroad shop. Having photos of the paint scheme in white lighting conditions can be helpful in finding the correct hue of the paint.

6)   Taking photos with shadows, i.e., side-lit. Noticed how the shadows bring forth the contours and relief on this Dodge truck that you won't necessary see if you were to take the photo of a subject lit perfectly flat from the front.
7)   Show relative dimensions. Note the relative dimensions of the belt rail to the rivets on this B & O car. This kind of photo is very helpful in model making. I'm careful to measure the diameter of the rivets and the thickness and width of the belt rails.
8)  Don't forget to take photos of the ends of the car. Noticed the rain gutters and the "B" marks. Be sure to measure the dimensions of the "B" mark, using your measuring stick . . . unless you are extremely tall. Little details like this go a long way in making your model look like the real thing. Our new Wheels of Time bilevel coaches will feature these rain gutters, and our SP model will have the little "B" letterings too.
By the way, don't forget to reserve your bilevel coaches today* from your favorite dealer or directly on our site ... and go out and document your own favorite piece of rolling stock or vehicle!   
*Deadline extended until the end of this month since most people are on holidays.
I hope you will have Happy New Year. May you find much health, meaning and joy to celebrate in 2011.  


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