Getting it Right

Set to ‘release’ soon is the latest in my Executive Line Series of business cars. The Norfolk Southern’s ‘West Virginia‘, is beautiful! In fact, the entire NS ‘Office Car Special’ is a beautiful train! I have several connections in that area, and with the NS, and they have been most helpful in providing photo details, as well as actual paint from the Altoona Shops. Since I have never seen these cars, other than in photos, it is very important to get the color just right. Often times we only have photos, and we base a model on our interpretation of that photo. When you understand that there are so many elements that will effect a photographs image, ‘getting it close’ is often as good as it can be. But in the case of the NS-OCS, the cars are there to be seen, and the paint can be matched. That’s the only way I can do this special run. Interestingly, but rather common, these cars also have a hi-gloss finish. You know where the slang term ‘private varnish’ came from, right? These cars, including the roofs, have a beautiful gloss finish. I asked Micro-Trains to finish the cars with a semi-gloss clear coat. Hi-gloss in N scale would not look prototypical, in my opinion. In the course of production, I asked for samples of everything, and was amazed when the roof sample arrived. Having a black roof with a semi-gloss clear coat on it was amazing and actually took me to early N scale Rivorrossi heavyweights from ‘back in the day’. All passenger cars once came like this. As I held the new roof sample in my hand, it reminded me of how far we have come in our production quality and modeling standards. It looks just perfect, and I expect that you will say so, as well – not too shiny and yet giving the effect I want, for the Norfolk Southern’s ‘Office Car Special’. Shoot, let’s do the whole train!

West Virginia

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Lowell Smith

A native of Portland, Oregon, Lowell Smith married his church choir sweetheart Barb in 1978. After a lifetime of rail-fanning, Lowell and Barb ventured out in 1992 to launch a new business in Portland, Oregon. Read more

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What They Say:

J. Arenas

Wow… You made my dream come true with the CK Holiday! I am a great admirer of your work.

Linda and Pete B.

Just wanted to thank you again for the opportunity to be with you and the many other happy folks who experienced the Feather River Canyon trip.  I know you put a lot of work into making this special trip a reality and it all came together extremely well!

K. Lyons

I want to be like you when I grow up!


Nothing better than receiving that white box from Lowell Smith.


“You seem to be the shining light in an industry that’s seen a lot of change since the early 2000’s when I was last in the hobby”.

Dan & Nina D.

So glad our big Alaska trip happened when it did.  It was the trip of a lifetime for me and Nina, thank you so much for organizing it.


I really am enjoying what you are producing, Lowell! Thanks for doing it. Jerry


These are indeed miniature masterpieces.

B. Kutch

Love your 3-rail O Scale Atlas Woodside Reefer series. Looking forward to future issues.

Joe W.

And as for your goal of 5 releases a year, I admire your ambition, but I won’t hold it against you if you fall short on that accomplishment.  I’m just thrilled you’re doing such an AWESOME job of releasing this amazing train, and hope you don’t stop until it’s all done!