A tribute to Bill Welch

George Toman sent this along as a fine tribute to a man who inspire so many of us to push our modeling further.

My good friend Bill Welch received bad news in September 2020 when he was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer. During this period, I kept in close contact with him and we discussed many things about modeling, world events, and his beloved Dodgers. Bill was always challenging me to raise the bar and try new methods, tools, and materials.

Before he passed away on November 15, Bill challenged me and Lester Breuer to build a National Scale Car Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha mini-kit. This HO scale resin kit includes an Z26 Duryea cushion underframe, photo etched parts. decals and instructions. I supplied an InterMountain 1937 AAR Modified boxcar kit and detail parts. Lester and I both accepted Bill’s challenge.

Here is Bill’s original challenge he posted on the Plastic Freight Car Builders group.

I have pushed my skills a bit further for this build. I added additional details and used new methods. As Bill loved ladders, I paid close attention to them. Bill liked to point out small details and model them. For this build, I mounted the brake hangers per the prototype.

A view of the prototype. Collection of Ted Cullota used with his permission

I started on the underframe, but substituted styrene for the side sills and the L-shaped (U4) pieces that attach to the bottom outside edge of the center sill. I also used styrene for part U5 center sill separator. There is nothing wrong with the resin pieces, I just like styrene.

The L-shaped piece (U4) is the attachment point for the U-shaped brake hanger that will be pinned using 0.008-inch diameter wire to mount. A prototype brake general arrangement drawing for this car has been my guide.

Seen above is the modified car body with the gray resin Duryea underframe parts. My side sills are styrene and attach cleanly to the plastic car body. I used a simple styrene support to hold the center sill separators in place while the glue sets. The L-shaped piece is installed on the bottom outside edge of the center sill.

Here we see a near-complete underframe showing the slack adjuster and Tichy AB brake components.

Since the cushion underframe components move, the air piping goes over the top of the center sill. I installed a more prototypical mounting of the brake hangers. These are normally attached to the center sill. In this case, they attach to the L-shaped styrene that I substituted for resin part U4.

The brake hangers are made from 0.010 wire with the ends formed and drilled for a 0.008 rivet (pin).

I made the brake hangers from 0.010-inch diameter wire. Using a brake diagram for this car, I measured and bent the wire to prototype sizes to mount in the proper position. After I formed them into shape, I smashed the ends flat, and filed the ends round. Then I drilled 0.0090-inch diameter hole in the stationary L-shaped U4 piece.

There were some modeling concessions. I found cross ties under the doors on the IM car body are a bit off, which makes the spacing between the centers slightly short. On my next model, I’ll make a new floor to get it exact.

The brake hangers are in place riveted to the non-movable L shaped support.

I was inspired by Bill Welch to harvest and apply Athearn rivets on the new side sill. I also shaved off the door handle. Some 0.010-inch diameter wire was flattened and inserted to make a new handle in the door center. I added a small vertical handle above the lower right door roller.

I also extended the left side door frame onto the lower sill with some styrene. I made a brass bracket and attached it to the side sill for the bleed valve rod. You can see the 0.008-inch diameter wire and hanger in front of the reservoir. These additions all follow the prototype details.

The B end of boxcars are always loaded with details. I used a Kadee Ajax brake wheel and housing. I cut off the Kadee plastic brake rod and replaced it with 0.010-inch diameter brass wire. The same was done for the bottom fulcrum piece.

A Precision Scale plastic relief valve was installed with 0.008-inch diameter wire for the retainer air lin. I secured the line with 0.020-inch thick brass clamps drilled and pinned with 0.008 wire. The ladder stiles are modified Yarmouth Model Works photo etched parts. For this photo, the ladder is only tacked in place.

Here’s how I modified the Kadee Ajax brake housing. A 0.010-inch hole was drilled in the bottom of the chain link connector for a 0.010-inch diameter brake rod. Not pictured is Kadee fulcrum that was also modified before I installed it the end sill.

Here’s one of my ladders in-progress. I made the L-shaped brackets from 0.005-inch thick brass cut to 0.060-inches wide. I added 0.010-inch rivets with a NorthWest Short Line Riveter then bent the parts into an L-shape. These secure the ladder to the car sides and ends. I tried to place them as best as I could determine from the two prototype photos I had. These were positioned and glued in place with Cyanoacrylate (CA).

I also modified the tops of the Yarmouth ladder stiles to better represent those on the CMO car. I used three pieces of styrene glued to the top inside of each stile. After the glue dried, I carefully filed the pieces flush and rounded the tops. The rungs are bent from 0.008-inch diameter wire.

I installed used Yarmouth photo etched sill steps. These are the correct shape and attach with a twist to mount on the outside car sill. To stimulate the mounting, I cut and glued 0.005-inch thick styrene strips to the sill and added Archer rivets. I soaked the rivets off the backing, dipped them in Future/Pledge glass acrylic, and applied them to the styrene strips.

The details are complete on the B end of the model.
After all the details are installed, the model is washed and ready for the paint shop.

I primed the car with Stynylrez Neutral Yellow made by Badger. I used Vallejo Gray Black 70.862 for the underframe, Black 70.950 for the Ends and Rust 71.080 for the sides and roof.

The Vallejo gray black has a great flat tone on the underframe.
A close-up of the properly mounted U-shaped brake hangers.
I used Plano etched metal Apex running boards on this model.
The decals were applied and coated with Model Master clear flat.

All that is left is to add some weathering touches.

I was not able to share my finished car with Bill. He passed away all too soon on October 15, 2020. I do hope that he would have approved of it! Bill is missed by many modelers and will always be known as “The Extreme Modeler”.

As Bill would say, “Model On, Ya’ll”!

What an outstanding tribute to Bill Welch. Thank you, George Toman, for sharing your fine model work. I’m certain Bill would have appreciated the extra effort. My jaw was on the floor most of the time as I prepped this for the blog. May we all take another step towards becoming better modelers.

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22 thoughts on “A tribute to Bill Welch

  1. Yet another superb modeling effort, George, except I think you even topped yourself! Congratulations and thank you for the memories of Bill whom I only knew a very short time through you.

  2. Simply phenominal! I am sure that not only would Bill approve, heartily, but I think he might even see a bit of a challenge to mimic your work.

  3. George a wonderful tribute to Bill. He would approve of your excellent , excellent build. As Bill the “Extreme Modeler “ would say,” You have crossed into the Extreme World.”
    “Model On Ya’ll.”

  4. WOW! I am as much in awe of your modeling skills and craftsmanship as I was of Mr Welch’s work.

  5. Thanks for all the kind comments. Bill was tops and his work will always be an inspiration to me

  6. Thanks for sharing! Some outstanding work. I can only hope to be half as good as this one day!

  7. George,
    That’s a superb tribute to Bill’s body of work. Thank you for sharing.

    Ken O’Brien

  8. Absolutely awesome work and what a beautiful tribute. I’m blown away. Thank you so much for sharing. There is just so much to take in on this build and you’ve done a beautiful job of it. You mentioned the very thin brass pieces that you used to form the brackets for the ladders. What is your source for this material? I’m a bit on the newer side when it comes to resin/scratch building and am trying to catch up with materials and techniques. I am working on an old (ca 1992) West Shore Line NYC Despatch Shops 1946 covered hopper kit that I received second-hand and partially built. It lacks bracketing to mount the air brake parts and I’d like to include it. I tried using some styrene, but didn’t like the profile. I think brass would be perfect, but need some thin material. Anyway, I really enjoyed your tribute to Bill and the work you put into this car. It’s fantastic!

    1. Thanks Ben,
      I cut most my own brass strips from shim brass using mostly .003 or .005. Small sheets are available from KS Metals. If you like I could send you some .005 as I bought a roll. Contact me at gtws00 at yahoo.com
      I coved my techniques to cut brass in a hindsight presentation I gave on a IC Mini-Kit Build. Part 2 covers my technique to small strips. Usually .020 to .030 wide
      You can download from Hindsight groups.io or I can email

  9. George, I think you have inherited the mantle as the preeminent extreme modeler. Beautiful work. Thanks for sharing your techniques with us lesser mortals.

  10. That is spectacular detail, an honest tribute to a detail freak that we all admired for his skill set, and yours. I am truly glad you are carrying on that tradition of maddening levels of spectacular detail, and hope you will share your techniques and such (Bill always told me it wasn’t rocket science, but I always felt like I could learn a lot from him, and you. Just even things like SEEING details)

  11. This is truly a fitting tribute to Bill. The work reflects his same dedication to the fine details and the creativity and quality of the work is indeed stunning!

  12. That sure looks like Bill’s work. You’ve done a great job, George! Thank you for documenting your work. It inspires many of us to try new things.

  13. George a wonderful tribute to a past but penultimate member of our hobby by an outstanding modeler yourself
    Thank you for presenting this

  14. The quality and the prodigious amount of detailing set a record! Bill would be delighted with it all, esp. the sill steps and end ladders.
    amazing , just plain amazing

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