You can come away from a scratchbuilding article feeling like there is only one way to do something and if you’re not doing it that way; you’re doing it wrong.

Volume 12 of The Missing Conversation takes a different approach as you’re invited back to the workbench for a conversation about the completion of the PS5344 scratchbuilding project that started in Vol. 11.

In this volume the story follows the car up to the primer stage, covering the major assemblies like the underframe, the car sides and roof, along with the smaller details like the ladders, brake system, doors and draft gear. There’s also a short essay on whether a built-to-scale underframe is really feasible for operation on typical model railroad curvature.

The build wasn’t all smooth sailing; there were mistakes and lessons to be learned from them. And while there are plenty of specifics of materials and component sizes, this story is less of a how-to and more of a journal about growing as a modeler.

Volume 12 is in the store now. Thank you.



  1. Simon

    I proof-read this issue (if you find any mistakes, you know who to blame, and it isn’t Mike!) and it is a real cracker. If it were simply a technical piece, it might be worth publication in book format, but this is, as Mike indicates, far more than that. The personal story and revelations make it a worthy addition to the TMC series.

    I get no kick-back from this, by the way. I simply enjoy reading Mike’s thoughts.
    On that basis, this is the best.


  2. mike

    Hi Simon,
    Thanks for the kind words.

    To everyone,
    I’ve wanted to share the inside story of OST and The Missing Conversation for a long time. I was always afraid it would come off as self-serving and have never been certain when, how or where would be the best way. So for better or worse here goes.

    I realized that I couldn’t do the work justice with my efforts alone, so when Simon volunteered to proofread the volumes, I accepted his generous offer. In return I send him the corrected work for free as a thank you. It’s a token to be certain but we are both happy with the arrangement, until things change. In addition to Simon’s help, I asked another friend if he was willing to look each work over and basically tear it apart, with an eye toward making it better. Again, my goal was to get objective feedback. His identity is no secret and the only reason I’m not revealing it is because I haven’t discussed this with him. I’m making this choice to respect his privacy.

    From day one, I decided to pay guest contributors for their work. I pay 500 dollars minimum for full articles and have paid a more modest fee for those I’ve interviewed. Only two people turned down the interview fee, and one asked for complimentary volumes instead, which I agreed to provide. Most publication do not pay for interview answers but I’m asking people to take time from their modeling and life to provide the in-depth answers to my questions. I feel that time is worth something. Article fees are on par with what you would get elsewhere and if I could afford to pay more I would. I also charged for the work from day one. I want it to be reader supported and I want to answer to you instead of advertisers. Only one person complained about the cost. He purchased the first volume and hasn’t been back. The money from book sales goes back into the work to pay future authors and to produce a better product. My work as a magazine editor taught me the value of good writing and helped me understand how much real work it takes to prepare a single article to the depth that I ask for.

    I do things differently. I only commission articles that I want and can afford to pay for. I will not accept unsolicited articles because I have very specific criteria for the subjects I want to present in TMC. I ask every author to bring their “A” game to the work and try to be clear in what I want in the way of material. I look at this as a true collaboration and so far it’s been a very satisfying experience for all concerned.

    In the near future OST Publications will publish the first work by an outside author. This will be a print book in the Masterclass Modeling Series and I’m only acting as the editor and designer for this project. It’ll be on diesel modeling techniques and written by Tony Sissons. There is no publication date yet as Tony is still working on the manuscript and project models. From the material I’ve received so far, this will be an outstanding contribution to the craft of railroad modeling.

    I will always consider OST Publications to be a work in progress. As the sole owner, I’m working to understand my role as a writer and business owner. I know I can’t do the work to the level I want by myself. There’s always something new to learn and I’m committed to bring a quality product to modelers.

    I know this has been a long winded essay and I hope it helps you understand the work better.


  3. Ctown

    Thanks for explaining the background and the ‘why’ of writing. While I haven’t pulled the plug on any of your articles just yet, I’ve found the blog posts to be well written and thought provoking. I recently stopped subscribing to Garden Railways, because I felt that the content and level of writing no longer matched my modeling skill set, and it seemed to lacking in something else ( I can’t quite place what it is, but whatever ‘it’ is, it is lacking). I should just bite the bullet and purchase volume 11 & 12 as I think it would be a wonderful resource in my scratch building attempts. Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying the rigor that you have introduced into the modeling through your blog. Thanks to you, I feel justified in my modeling to redo something until it’s 100% right, regardless if it takes 1 or 10 tries, or 1 month or 10 months. Having the sanctification of doing something correct is well worth the ‘cost’.

  4. mike

    Hi Craig,

    Thanks for the kind words. It’s alway gratifying to know the impact the work is having on readers. The choice to purchase is yours of course. I will say that the volumes go into far more depth and breadth on each subject than individual blog posts. There is a bit of overlap between 11-12 but I felt it necessary for the flow of the story in each. The volumes can stand alone and also compliment each other.



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