Berlin Mills Railway REBORN! (or, my latest custom cars) is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


Ignorance is Patriotic
OK, so I confess: As a northeastern modeler, I have always had a thing for the faded jade green Berlin Mills boxcars. Having all been repatched for either SLR, GMRC or EEC, these cars I believe are some of the coolest looking rolling stock on the rails.

When I decided to put a few of these cars into my fleet, I had a problem: no manufacturer made any boxcars decorated for Berlin Mills. Athearn or Bev Bel may have done some a while ago, but they would be hard to find today and besides, the shell they used was the wrong type of car. Unfortunately, no one made the flat-roof PC&F boxcar that is the Berlin Mills prototype, so the closest thing I could find was an Athearn FMC car. The Athearn car was missing an additional side panel on either side of the door as seen on the prototype, and it had a pitched roof, but oh well, it came close. Using decals from Highball, and with my Athearn boxcars soaking in the 91% iso, I set about to model 6 prototypical Berlin Mills cars.

Researching the project, I found images of 6 cars online that I wanted to model. I decided to copy the roadnumber, the actual graffiti, scribblings, and rust spots in HO scale as seen in the prototype photos. Since the Athearn car itself was a foobie, I can't claim these cars are prototypical by any means; they are merely "prototypically-inspired".

The entire project took me four weeks, and am I ever glad to have them completed! This Sunday they officially entered service on the modern-day New York Central System. With these completed, I already have plans in the near future to do another batch of 6 to 10.

Without further ado, I present to you "publicity shots" of my finished cars. I will also provide the prototype photo that inspired each car. The prototype photos were all found online and are copyright their respective photographer. If you happened to take one of the photos and want me to remove it, please let me know and I will kindly oblige.

I give you... my Berlin Mills repatches!

EEC 2792:





GMRC 7147:






SLR 224:





SLR 253:





SLR 269:





SLR 327: (my personal favorite of the litter... don't tell the others)





Some random pictures:










That is some amazing work! The Graffiti and weathering are excellent. Did you paint the graffiti by hand or make decals from the photos?


Ignorance is Patriotic
Thanks for the compliment! The graffiti was taken from the prototype cars, but I had to heavily transform the distortion and the color to get it "just right" for being printed as decals. I ended up repainting all the graffiti in Photoshop anyway, so as to remove the shadows and such.

In retrospect, I would have done many things different with these cars, but life is a process of constant learning, trial and error. Maybe my next batch will turn out better. But thanks for your kind words :)


Active Member
that last cars graffiti looks almost identical to the real thing. Great job.

BTW, where do you run your NYCS trains? Is that your personal layout?
I am truly speechless (which doesn't happen often). If I can get anywhere near that type of detail in the coming years I'll be a happy guy. Outstanding, outstanding work. *thumbsup*

Would you be willing to share the secret on how to get those rust spot/runs so nice? Or is it more of a gotta-do-it-to-figure-it-out type of thing?



Well-Known Member
Go to the head of the class. How about a clinic? Puhhleeese!


P.S. - really, first class!


Ignorance is Patriotic
Haha, thanks guys! I don't think they're really THAT great. I certainly wouldn't consider myself in the upper echelon of painters/weatherers out there. I've seen some others whose work is TRULY impressive.

That being said, I guess I am sorta pleased with them. I will try to do a write-up of exactly how I constructed these cars, including some Photoshop tips for ya! When I have some more time than I do now, I'll shed some light on my techniques. Hey, maybe I'll even do a step-by-step photographic blog of my next custom project.

I'm really glad you guys like the cars! Everyone here is super talented, and you all serve as inspiration for me!

By the way, the cars were photographed on the modular layout of the Colorado Great Western model railroad club, in Denver, Colorado.


Rocket Red
Wow, Matt! That is simply amazing! You did such a great job detailing those cars, I can see why they took you so long! I think you like faded jade green boxcars like I like faded RI blue boxcars...

Anyway, I definitely need to weather some of my cars with you sometime soon!


Armchair Engineer
Those cars are amazing. That is one of the best looking strings of boxcars I have seen. It would be great if you could show us your secrets to making such convincing looking rust. You say you have seen others who do really impressive work. You should consider yourself in the same class. You have my compliments. Ron

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