A circus train is a method of conveyance for circus troupes. Circus trains began in the 1870s, by replacing the shows that moved by slow animal-drawn wagons.  Over the years these trains grew in length as the train cars switched from wood to steel construction.  Circus trains typically consisted of three types of cars: large animal cars, flat cars loaded with colorful wagons and passenger cars for the workers and performers.  They were usually found in the train in that order.  Circus cars were generally longer than normal freight cars because the railroads charged by the car & mile.  They were painted very colorful to attract attention.  The greatest number of circus trains operated between 1920 and 1950.  Over those years many merged and others went broke. One of the larger users of circus trains was the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (RBBX), a famous American circus formed when the Ringling Brothers Circus purchased the Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1907.

When the circus switched to travel by train, they began by using flatcars from the Pennsylvania Railroad, which turned out to be hazardous because the Pennsylvania Railroad’s cars were in poor shape. In mid-season it was decided that they would buy their own cars, and when the P.T. Barnum Circus left Columbus, Ohio, it traveled on the first circus-owned train. It was made up of 60 cars, including 19–45 flatcars carrying about 100 wagons. Circus trains have proven well-suited for the transportation of heavy equipment (tents, rolling wagons, vehicles and machinery) and animals (elephants, lions, tigers and horses), despite tragic accidents over the years.

It is common practice for model railroaders to enact the operation of the circus train on model railroads using the O scale layout with an operating circus train, several displays, and a parade staged in a town.

Track cleaning


A dirty track can be a frustrating problem for many modelers. As dust settles on the rails and oil and other dirt accumulate, electrical conductivity between wheels and rail deteriorates to the point where reliable current supply to the motor and onboard systems is no longer possible. The result is inevitable; jerky running, flashing lights and generally disappointingly poor performance.

Here we explore ten top tips to model railway track cleaning:

1. The first thing to do is check if your track is dirty by taking a piece of white kitchen towel and simply run it along the rails. If it picks up what appears to be dark grey greasy muck, it is safe to assume that the track needs cleaning.

2. Traditional track homasote is great as a model railway track cleaner and ideal for picking up tough dirt on the rails, including paint following track detailing. Try to choose one that has a soft texture and make sure you don’t rub too hard to avoid eroding the rail top.

3. If the layout has not been used for some time, tarnish could be a problem. Rub a homasote. gently on the rail surface and the inside edge, because model locomotives will pick up electrical current from the side and the top of the rail.

4. Another method for cleaning railway track is using a lint-free cloth soaked with isopropyl alcohol. This is the gentlest method of cleaning model railway track for removing oil and dirt without scouring it.

5. If your layout is DCC, a track cleaning car can be a useful tool and there are several available. They are designed to be filled with model railway track cleaning solvent and either pushed or hauled by a locomotive around the layout until all the track has been cleaned. The cleaning action is achieved through a soft pad on the underside of the track cleaning car, which is fed with a steady stream of solvent as it is used. There are similar track cleaning cars which rely on abrasive action on the rails and these are also very successful.

6. Dust, fluff, hairs, and dirt all make a layout look uncared for and untidy. Vacuum the layout regularly and use a small clean paintbrush to dust scenery and buildings.

7. Paint and glue left on trackwork can collect on the rail edge and is best removed with grade 1200 wet and dry paper.

8. Make sure you check the turnout switches and clean where appropriate. Look for tiny pieces of wood splinters in the hole that may be enough to prevent the point motor from doing its job properly.

9. Following a deep cleaning session, apply a rail head treatment such as ‘Track Magic’ or ‘Rail-Zip 2’. Apply in small amounts using a clean soft cloth and leave overnight. It should improve electrical conductivity too, plus helps prevent the effects of dirt contamination due to arcing between locomotive wheels and rail together with corrosion and tarnishing.

10. Simple soft covers light enough to avoid damage to trains and structures are a great idea for protecting the layouts. Fit portable layouts with hardcovers that not only make handling easier but will protect structures and scenery from damage during transport.

Maintenance, together with careful design, are two important factors in achieving a good running layout. Routine maintenance will help deliver smooth and trouble-free running most of the time and model railway track cleaning is an important consideration.



Ice houses were a new concept when the country’s railroads finally began to use them to replenish the ice necessary to keep their customers’ perishable items from spoiling in transit. Railroads were reluctant users of refrigerated cars in the first place, but large shippers such as meat packers, breweries, and produce suppliers demanded they use this method to ship perishable goods. Railroads maintained ice houses for the purpose of filling refrigerated freight cars and providing ice for early passenger car conditioning. These operations were usually at major terminals.


Icehouses hark back to the era before railroads began using diesel to refrigerate freight cars. In those days, the only way perishables could be kept cold was by loading ice into bunkers at either end of the car. It is difficult to find the exact year the first icehouses were built. However, in a July 26, 1907, Sentinel story it was reported that the Grand Junction ice plant was running low on ice for domestic use. (Before electric refrigerators were available, “the iceman” made daily deliveries of blocks of ice from that plant to residents, most of whom had “iceboxes” on their back porches.) Arrangements were made with the railroad company to borrow 30 to 35 tons of ice to get Grand Junction residents through the remainder of the summer. The local plant promised to replace the ice during the next winter. A fire destroyed the ice houses, freight depot and merchandise cars with all the merchandise inside on Sept. 23, 1918. According to the headline, the entire city of Grand Junction was endangered. With the booming fruit industry, the railroad quickly built four new icehouses to keep pace with the growing number of packing sheds on the western slope. One of those four was destroyed by a fire on Aug. 30, 1947. When one of these icehouses went up in flames it was one heck of a fire to fight. The icehouses were constructed of two sections six inches apart, filled with sawdust. The roofs were covered with tarpaper. These icehouses were gigantic; each one measured 120 feet long, 80 feet wide, and 40 feet high and stored up to 33,000 tons of ice.

Hundreds of men were employed in producing the ice and packing it in the bunkers. A slide with chutes at different levels was located at the rear and center of each building. Blocks of ice would go down the chute to a platform outside, where the workmen would load the ice into the bunkers. One car could hold 10,000 pounds of ice. Railroads would have man-made reservoirs, usually around 14 inches deep. Each winter, workers would flood the reservoirs. When the water was frozen, the ice harvest would begin. Among the tools used were jig saw, circular saw and large tongs. The men would cut the ice into large slabs, which were then floated through the water to a spot where they were plucked out, placed on a conveyor belt and planed into 300-pound ice blocks. These blocks were then loaded onto a rail car in layers of ice and sawdust and transported to the railroad, where they were transferred from rail car to the icehouse. The last ice house was demolished in 1972 with the introduction of artificial refrigeration.


The following ice houses and icing operations have been noted:

  • Detroit – Michigan Central Junction Yard. A large icing facility for railroad refrigerated box cars. Located on the property south of the MCRR main line, between Greenfield Road on the west, and Miller Road on the east.  This is the triangle area bordering the main line, the junction yard branch, and the old and new wye to Town Line. Operations here likely began about 1900 and operated through the 1950’s.
  • Durand – Grand Trunk Western. Photographs of this icing facility are located at the Michigan Railroad Museum at the Durand Union Station. [Robert Conrad]
  • Elberta – Ann Arbor Railroad. The AA apparently had an ice house in operation at Elberta which was reported to be located east of the roundhouse.
  • Melvindale – Wabash Railroad. An ice house was located in the Wabash Yard in what is now Melvindale. This area is now NS’ Manifest Yard. [Greg Degowski]
  • Niles – Michigan Central. This icing operation was build and operated by the MC in their yard here. [Gary Schoenleber] This building still stands as of 2002.
  • Port Huron – Grand Trunk Western. See the photos below.
  • Shanghai Pit (Ypsilanti) – The Michigan Central harvested ice from the Huron River here around 1900.

Here in the UK ice houses for the fishing industry go back several centuries. Here is an example from Haven Bridge, Great Yarmouth, (herrings). 1840 or thereabouts the fish could travel by rail to London’s Billingsgate Market in hours. Link



Purina Chows

The California Model Co. #82 SuyDam Purina Chows Feed Mill Building Kit is a must-have for model railroad enthusiasts and collectors with a penchant for agricultural or industrial-themed setups. This highly detailed kit embodies the essence of a mid-20th-century feed mill, a common sight in American agricultural landscapes, particularly in areas where livestock farming was prevalent. Purina Chows, a brand deeply rooted in the history of animal nutrition, represents the kind of industry that supported rural communities and the broader agricultural economy.

Craftsmanship and Detail

The kit is renowned for its precision and attention to detail. It is designed to replicate the authentic look of a working feed mill. It includes intricate parts that simulate metal, wood, and concrete textures commonly found in such facilities. Each component is crafted to fit perfectly, allowing builders to enjoy a seamless assembly experience. Including the Purina Chows signage is a nod to the brand’s historic significance in animal feed production, making the model not just a piece of art but a piece of history.

A Piece of History

The choice of Purina Chows as the brand for this feed mill model pays homage to the company’s long-standing contribution to agriculture. Purina, established in the late 19th century, has been instrumental in developing products that enhance animal nutrition and farm productivity. This model serves as a reminder of the brand’s impact on farming practices and its role in supporting the livelihoods of countless farmers across the United States.

For Model Railroaders and Collectors

Whether placed within a bustling farm scene or as a standalone piece on a display shelf, the California Model Co. #82 SuyDam Purina Chows Feed Mill Building Kit offers versatility. It fits perfectly into HO-scale model railroads, providing additional realism and depth to layouts. The model is for those interested in agriculture and those who appreciate industrial building engineering and architecture.

A Collectible for the Future

Like many model kits, the Suydam Purina Chows Feed Mill Building Kit is a collectible item that will likely be appreciated. Its specificity, coupled with the high-quality materials and manufacturing, make it a sought-after piece for collectors. Whether for historical preservation, educational purposes, or simply for the joy of modeling, this kit represents a worthwhile investment.

A Visual Companion

To truly appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the California Model Co. #82 SuyDam Purina Chows Feed Mill Building Kit, one must see it in detail. Below is an image that captures the essence of this remarkable model, showcasing its complexity and the potential it offers to model railroad enthusiasts and collectors alike.

Let’s create an image that aligns with the detailed and historic essence of the Purina Chows Feed Mill Building Kit.

Meat Packing Plant

Meat packing plant with delivery truck park outside.
Meat packing plant with delivery truck park outside.

Armor and Company has its roots in Milwaukee, where in 1863 Philip D. Armor joined John Plankinton (founder of Layton and Plankinton Packaging in 1852) to found Plankinton, Armor and Company. Together, the partners expanded their meatpacking operation in Milwaukee to Blankinton and established branches in Chicago and Kansas City and an export home in New York City. Armor and Plankinton dissolved their association in 1884 with Operation Milwaukee which eventually became the Cudahy Packing Company. In its early years, Armor sold all kinds of consumer products made from animals: meat, glue, oil, fertilizer, hairbrushes, buttons, olmargarine, and medicines, made from slaughterhouse by-products. Armor operates in an environment free from unions, health inspections, or government regulations. Accidents were common.

Armor was famous for the low wages it offered to line workers. He fought unions by banning well-known union activists and breaking strikes in 1904 and 1921 by employing African Americans and recent immigrants as strike saboteurs. The company did not fully unionize until the late 1930s, when the Meatpacking Federation succeeded in creating an interracial industrial federation as part of the Conference of Industrial Organizations. During the Spanish-American War (1898), Armor sold 500,000 pounds (230,000 kg) of beef to the US Army.An Army inspector examined the meat two months later and found that 751 cases had gone bad and had contributed to the food poisoning of thousands of soldiers. In the 2000s, a young Dale Carnegie, a representative from the South Omaha sales district, became the company’s best-selling salesperson, an experience that was based on his best-selling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. . In the early 1920s, Armor ran into financial trouble and the family sold its largest stake to financier Frederick H. Prince.

Get 15% off your order use code 4132022

The company maintained its position as one of the largest in the United States during the Great Depression and the sharp increase in demand during World War II. During this period, it expanded its operations in the United States; At its peak, the company employed fewer than 50,000 people. In 1948, Armor, which had been making soap for years as a by-product of the meat packaging process, developed a deodorizing soap by adding the bactericidal agent AT-7 to soap. This scent reduces body odor by reducing bacteria on the skin. The new soap was called Dial because of its 24-hour protection against odor-causing bacteria. Armor featured the soap with a full-page advertisement using scented ink in the Chicago Tribune. During the 1950s, Dial became the best-selling deodorant soap in the United States. The company has adopted the motto “Aren’t you glad you’re using Dial? Wouldn’t you like everyone else to?” 1953. In the 1960s, the Dial brand was expanded to include deodorants and shaving creams.

Due to the popularity and strong sales of the Dial brand, fueled by advertisements in magazines, radio and television, Armor Consumer Products was founded as Armor-Dial, Inc. in 1967. In 1958, William Wood Prince, a cousin of Frederick Prince, became president of Armor and Company. Historic Armor and Company sign in Fort Worth, Texas; The company closed its operations there in 1962. In 1970, Armor and Company was acquired by Chicago-based Greyhound Corporation, after a hostile takeover attempt by General Host Corporation a year earlier. In 1971, Greyhound moved Armor headquarters from Chicago to Phoenix, Arizona, to a new $ 83 million building. Stevie Nicks’ father, father of rock icon Jess Nicks, who was CEO of Greyhound, became president of Armor. In 1978, Greyhound sold Armor Pharmaceuticals to Revlon.

Revlon sold its pharmaceutical unit in 1985 to the Rorer Company (later Rhône-Poulenc Rorer). Forest Laboratories acquired the rights to Armor Thyroid from Rhone-Poulenc Rorer in 1991. The remaining assets of Armor Pharmaceuticals are now part of CSL Behring. Armor’s Factor VIII “Factor” was widely reported to have infected thousands of hemophiliacs worldwide with HIV during the 1980s; There have also been reports that the company concealed evidence that the product was defective. As a result, there have been trials, investigations and criminal charges. Greyhound’s rapid diversification and frequent unit restructuring resulted in erratic profitability. In 1981, John W. Titts was appointed president of Greyhound and began selling unprofitable subsidiaries. After the meat packers

Adrian Blissfield Railroad Company

The Adrian and Blissfield Rail Road Company (reporting mark ADBF) is a Class III short line railroad which operates 20 miles (32 km) of railroad track between Adrian and Riga, in Lenawee County, Michigan. The Railroad owns approximately 2.5 miles of track that run through the Village, and, although the Railroad does not cross state lines, the traffic that originates or terminates on the railroad crosses state lines.

It was incorporated February 6, 1991, with company headquarters in Westland, Michigan. It also operates Lapeer Industrial Railroad, Charlotte Southern Railroad, Detroit Connecting Railroad, and Jackson and Lansing Railroad. ADBF’s railroad line is one of the oldest operating in the United States, having been originally built in 1834 by the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad. ADBF also operates a dinner train known as “The Old Road Dinner Train” in Blissfield, and a sister company operates in Charlotte.

The ADBF travels on a segment of the original Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad Line that began operations in 1836, making this one of the very first railroads west of the Allegheny Mountains. Along the way, you’ll travel through the rich farmland of Southeastern Michigan, which is thought to have been, in prehistoric times, the bottom of an ancient lake we now call Lake Erie.

The ADBF serves several industries but is noted for its grain elevator traffic and ethynol related products.  The Detroit Connecting has heavy industrial customers south of Milwaukee Jct.  The Lapeer Industrial serves local industry.  Both the Charlotte Southern and the A&B operate dinner trains.  The Jackson and Lansing (known as the JAIL line) serves a steel facility in Holt, as well as about a dozen other industries along its line and in the Lansing terminal area.


Rock the the lake shore

When most people think of a lake shore of ocean shore we think of flat and sand. If you think of a natural lake we then think of grass and reed all the way into the lake. But a lot of shores are rocky and not very bare feet friendly.

Here we made a rock shore with a boat house on top of a pier. Use can use rocks to build up a shore around the pier you want. In this photo we used 2015 and 2017 BNO rocks. You should use the rock color that fits the area you are modeling.


Rocks are the perfect complement to a lake installation in your scene. They can be used to build up devotement (backfill), for break water, and to line a cascading waterfall, or to serve as the foundation for the lake. One of the easiest ways to incorporate rocks in your scene is to select larger, more attractive pieces and strategically place them around lake to serve as lake accents. This will give your lake texture, interesting variations in height, and a more natural look.

Rocks can beautify your scene and are easy to place, can provide utility, and are versatile. With various colors and textures, rocks can transform the look of the lake and add a little accent to the scene to spice up your property and give it a dazzling touch. Placing rocks on your lake has a ton of benefits and can be a very easy process. It requires practically no preparation and can save you a ton of time and money. If properly placed and maintained, rocks on your lake can last for a very long time, and are very easy to maintain. To obtain a visually stunning effect, you can place rocks of different colors and textures, say, light grey rocks on a darker-multitoned scene by your lake. You can also adjust the rock by placing larger, flat rocks to adjust different parts of the lake to create a heightening effect.

Placing rocks on the lake can prevent erosion. Erosion can destroy all of the hard work that you have put into your scene. The shore which is exposed can be stripped away by water, wind, and traffic. If your topsoil is not protected or cannot absorb water effectively, it leaves an ugly bed of land underneath. In order to prevent having to spend money on solving a foundational issue, you will want to control erosion. Luckily, you can prevent this by placing rocks by the lake in your scene. A layer of river rock on a steep grade can hold in place the soil and prevent runoff, in turn preventing erosion. Rocks are low-maintenance, and they don’t break down like mulch or wooden landscape features. They are cheap (although delivery may be expensive) and do not have to be replaced. Rocks are fire-proof and helps reduce the fire risk in your scene to some extent, and generally bring natural beauty to your scene.

Wash with a bridge

So in this scene we have a Arizona wash the have a bridge. The bridge is from Campbell Scale Model kit 305, Howe Truss Bridge Kit.

So the base is made from plaster with a brick form to give it the brick look. Don’t forget if you us a periocular look on one pier or wall. You need to keep that look the same on the abutments.

So below on the ground we used a mix of 11003 High Desert Sand & Gravel with 1284 Smooth Stone and some foliage. The larger rock nest next to the abutments are 1305 Northern Pacific Gray Model Railroad rocks. The rocks to the left of the pier is some rock from the 1285 Smooth stones and 201 BNO Rail Yard rocks.

Small Downtown scene

In the this photo we have a down town scene next to the tracks.

This would be in the 1940’s – 1950’s. So this town choose to place a street next to the track but not touching. They placed rock between the track and the street to keep traffic from crashing in to trains.

The ground is not seen much but can be seen around the building is some brown with darker areas. Nest to the track is covered with foliage but not allowed to grow to high.

You should use something close to the color of natural are you are modeling. Then add some foliage and some rocks.

Now the track ballast is Empire builder so we can assume that it is somewhere from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles route.

So you should not always use the rock that match’s the local color in your scene. But in this scene we just used large Empire Builder rock.

Nature is messy and we surprise your with the weird color combos that are found in the same small area.