Model train O scale people

Ivan’s been back in touch with his model train O scale people.

Last time he was adding people to his carriages (that post is here).

This time he’s added an engineer and fireman.

“Several years ago I purchased a Bachmann Industries Ohio River & Western Passenger Train Set On30 (no longer sold) pulled by a 2-6-0 Mogul steam engine, #12 w/o DCC, to go around our Christmas Tree.

I also run an American Flyer #293 S gauge train set, from my childhood, around the tree. I contacted the Ohio Railroad Historical Society and asked them what engines ran on the OR&W RW line.

The last engine built to run on the line was a 2-6-0 Mogul #16.

The train set was based on the original railway that was a 112 mile long narrow gauge railway, which operated from 1875 till 1931. The train ran in Ohio from Bellaire (east point) to Zanesville (west point near Wheeling, WV).

I ordered a new Bachmann Industries, Inc. “On30” Spectrum 2-6-0 Mogul Steam Locomotive and Tender, Painted Unlettered Black, (DCC Equipped and sound ready).

I installed a plug and play 16-bit Sound Trax Module and purchased a Power Cab to run the system. I attached new letters and the number 16 on my new engine.

In my previous submission, I had installed people in the passenger cars and said I had ordered an O scale Engineer and a Fireman to place in the engine.

In fact, I also ordered ho scale Engineer and a Fireman, to go in my Bachmann B&O ho scale 2-8-2 Light Mikado. By using a variety of craft tweezers, the ho scale Engineer and Fireman, were fairly easily inserted and glued in place.

However, the On30 Mogul was a different challenge. They would not go in through the window, because the boiler is in the way or through the back, because the back is closed off.

I researched on line to figure out how to remove the cab from the Mogul. It is prudent to check a verity of suggestions.

The first suggestion said to take an exacto knife and cut the glue along the base of the cab. Problem is, there is no glue, it is friction fit.

Another bit of information said to lift the cab up and tilt backwards. This was close. I found that the first thing you need to do is to rotate the whistle assembly away from the cab. I did not do this at first, so the cab would not budge.

After the whistle was rotated, I used my pocket knife and inserted it at the base of the cab, wiggled it a little to get a slight raise of the cab then did the same to the other side.

There is an alignment tab on each side. I alternated this procedure several times to raise the cab. The front of the cab fits in a grove on the boiler. Patient, it doesn’t want to move.

There are also a couple of pipes in front of the cab to be careful with.

I apologize for the clarity of the photos; I used my cell phone and an old TV tray to work on.

model train O scale people

Engine 4508 is the Bachmann B&O ho scale 2-8-2 Light Mikado.

model train O scale people

Engine 4508 has Engineer and Fireman installed through the window and back, no problem.

model train O scale people

This is the OR&W Baggage Care with previously installed passengers and luggage.

model train O scale people

The OR&W Baggage Care has newly arrived passengers sitting on luggage.

model train O scale people

Note the whistle assembly over the front of the cab to be rotated on the Bachmann 2-6-0 Mogul.

o scale steam train

With the whistle assembly rotated, the cab can be pried up a little at a time from each side.

o scale steam train

This is the right side of the engine, with elevated cab and tab on the bottom of the cab.

train cab removed

With the cab removed, see the grove on the boiler in front of the piping going to the gauge.

o scale person

Positioning the bent arm on the cab window sill, one foot will extend below the cab and one leg will extend into the area of the boiler and must be ‘amputated’.

locomotive fireman and engineer

After the bodies have been mutilated to fit, a leg and an underarm can be glued and positioned.

locomotive engineer

Engineer in Place.

locomotive fireman

Fireman in place.

model train O scale people

After the gentlemen are in place, the cab is reinserted into the groove and slid back down in place. This part goes smoothly. If the piping in front of the cab has been moved, slide it back to its original position. Rotate the whistle assembly back into position and you are ready to go.

model train O scale people

View from the rear of the engine with OR&W RW employees in place.

model train O scale people

Ivan G.
Poca, West Virginia”

It was quite a timely post from Ivan, because not long ago I got this question in from Susan:


Your readers are a vast ocean of knowledge and experience. I wonder if it would be possible to ask a question of them and get their input on something.

I have bought sets of HO scale people. Some lots are not painted and are not connected to anything. I would like to hear your readers’ opinions on the best way to paint them. Do they hold the people freehand and paint the tops, let dry, then paint the bottoms? Do they attach a row of people to something (a piece of balsa wood?), and with what, and then paint the lot together?

I know there are probably YouTube videos offering ideas and other websites with suggestions, but somehow I trust your readers and their creative solutions more. I don’t want to get stuck in a method that might be difficult for me when one of your readers could have an alternative that would be better.

The bottom line is, what’s the best way you’ve found to paint HO scale people?


Please do leave a comment below if you can help Susan.

A big thanks to Ivan for sharing more of his model train O scale people – I think the fireman and engineer add a lot of life to the engine.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you want to join in with the fun, the Beginner’s Guide is here



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

17 Responses to Model train O scale people

  1. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Susan To help speed up the painting of figures I find that the best way is to attach them by the sole of one of their shoes to a sprig of plastic rod leaving enough space between the figures for access for your paint brush. This way you can paint the the parts of the all the figures to be a similar colour at the same time rather than having to clean your brush use the next colour then the next until one figure is completed then start on the next figure so if you plan your colour scheme for each figure, do a very rough sketch then you can go along them using the same colour as appropriate to each figure. They are then easily detached and fitted to your layout. Perhaps the best examples you will get of figure painting on-line is the War craft videos. The detail is usually outstanding and you should get loads of tips on fine detail painting.
    Hope this helps.

  2. I personally use a hemostat or alligator clip to hold a figure by the foot to paint the figure. If I have a bunch to do i take a piece of scrap wood, drill several holes in it and place dowels or bolts through the holes and attach alligator clips to them. I personally use acrylic paint pens to paint the people as this allows me to use multiple colors without having to have many paint bottles open at the same time.. I also eliminates cleaning many brushes.

  3. Steve says:

    Susan you can use a strip of BluTack or Platiscene on a work surface and stand the figures on that to paint them. Cover with a suitable sized box to keep dust off while they dry. Once dry reverse the figures so you can finish painting their shoes.

    Use non-gloss paint in fairly muted colours for clothing in general, it looks much better in my opinion.

  4. James Marek says:

    As the song goes…some days are diamonds, some days are stones.

  5. Will in NM says:

    Ivan, What a fine turorial of how you solved your installation of engineer and fireman in the Bacmann Mogul. However, I think the engineer need to cut back on the coffee he’s drinking judging from the extreme whites of his eyes. 🙂

    Susan, I find that putting a piece of double-sided painter’s tape on one side of a paint paddle and then sticking the figures to it (either standing or on one side) allows me to paint them easily. the paint paddle can be set down or held in one hand while painting the figures, so it’s easy to get to various angles with your paint brush.

    Also, make-up micro brushes work well for painting fine details on the figures. I got 500 of those in 5 different sizes on Amazon for about $9.00 including shitpping. They are available in smaller quantities from other vendors on Amazon and at Micro Mark. Hobby Lobby sells 20 for $3.99 which can be reduced to $2.39 with their 40% off coupon.

  6. Ivan
    The trains look great with people on them
    Good job

  7. Paul Campagna says:

    To Will in NM, Ivan busted his onions painting and placing these figures in his engine and you have nothing better to do than criticize the engineer’s eyes and make a smart comment about too much coffee. Precisely the reason I don’t send in pictures of my layout.

  8. Gordon Valentine says:

    Susan. I paint my HO people and animals. Two helpful things I have found, tooth picks work good for things like suspenders. Paint them as you would dress them. Start with face (head) and all skin, shirt, pants and finish with shoes. I hold then with tweezers. I find it very interesting to style them to fit the scenes. Hope this helps. My wife says I am crazy. Have fun.

  9. Nice job Ivan, and I think Will was having fun, not being critical.
    To Susan, lots of good suggestions here, but I suggest using simple colors, staying away from herringbone or Glen plaid patterns;).


  10. I run N scale but have run Ho a lot of the past also !-I drilled a #1/32″ drill bit
    hole in the bottom of the seat of the people to keep them where Wanted, and some times in the hoves of animals if they did not have 4 legs that allow for gluing them in place and upright !and some are still not easy to get put in the right stance ? Be well and stay safe !

  11. Mark T. Pianka says:

    very well done!!

  12. Lou says:

    @Paul Campagna
    Its amazing how easily some people get hurt.
    He was JOKING!!! I guess the little smiley face next to his comment wasn’t clear enough.
    You must be loads of fun at parties and such if you can’t even take a joke. 🙄☹

  13. Bob Sullivan says:

    When painting figures, I’ve used a pair of vice grip pliers. You can adjust the closure to gently hold the figure on a foot, and the vice-grips allow you to turn and maneuver the figure any way you wish.

  14. Susan Cannon says:

    Thank you all so much for your wonderful suggestions. I greatly appreciate it! Especially the idea of acrylic paint pens. I have some for other crafts, and for some reason just never thought to use them for my trains.
    This community is so great!!! I am thankful to have found it.

  15. george zaky says:

    I am far from adding figures to my layout but I have the exact engine and I so thank you for your very thorough treatise.
    You learn something everyday. You asked a question and I learned something from some kind souls.
    To All;
    My Momma said if you cant say something nice keep quiet. Humor is said to be at someone’s expense and my layout is SO politically wrong and bordering on offensive that it cant be for the public eye. I have such a good time with myself and want to laugh and be humorous and this Hobby does just that. There are too many people that have no idea about humor and I have no use for them. So all you humorous guys-Keep it going. To all you downers- keep it to yourself.
    Big Al

  16. Roderick Mackay says:

    That must have been a really awkward loco to work, with the firebox door right at the end of the cab so you’d presumably have to squeeze out of the cab back door and fire from the tender deck. Poor fireman! And being stuck in a corner right next to the firebox all shift, poor driver too.

  17. John From Baltimore says:

    A few notes on HO people,
    First, I heat them with a soldering pencil and bend limbs, like they are walking, stepping up on a ladder, or bending over something like that – I’m frustrated that the people I’ve been able to get are in about 6 poses, none of which show action except for a guy running with his coat flying. Like I can use 10 of those?
    Second t, I glue them to a strip of styrene plastic and when done cut them off with sharp sprue cutter.
    Third, I get the tiny brushes and all the paint ready, and with magnifying glasses (which I hate) set out to “dress” the figures workers all get orange safety vests and hard hats, miners get coal dust colors,and so forth.

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