August 26, 2016


Creating and Communicating Color

The manufacturing process requires that we communicate color to our manufacturing partner in a way that is both precise and unambiguous.

Color goes beyond just body color. In some cases, our models have over 15 different colors per car, and you may be surprised to know that the car with the most colors is the Trinity 64’ TRINCool Reefer. This model has 16 unique, painted colors!  Although I haven’t done an actual survey, I would be very surprised if any model train manufacturer has given more attention to matching the number of subtle variations of color on a freight car as we have to the Trinity Reefer.  (And you thought the Trinity reefer was just a big white car!)  


There are different methods for how ExactRail creates and communicates color. However, my preferred method is to create actual paint swatches. In 8 out of 10 cases, I custom mix paint samples in-house to get precise matches. This process looks exactly as you would expect: me, standing in a paint room with an airbrush in hand, mixing and spraying paint until the match is exactly as we want. It is a time consuming process.


Given that we create a lot of actual paint samples in our product development process, I want to give a complimentary shout to a company that I believe makes a great product. I use a lot of Tru-Color paint when mixing color for our swatches. It is not the only paint I use, but it is definitely one of my favorite paints to spray. Tru-Color was formed in 2008 when the principles of Tru-Color acquired and reformulated the Accupaint line of paints. Tru-Color is contributing to a segment of our industry that doesn't see a lot of new innovation, and I think that this deserves praise.  If you are not familiar with Tru-Color, I would encourage you check it out.  Tru-Color can be found at

Happy railroading!

Blaine Hadfield

August 21, 2016


The Dioramas

On the home page of we have a section where large images of highlighted products change every few seconds, we call them the slider images.  We like to use photos of our cars in their "natural habitat", usually photographed on a diorama in the outdoors or on a layout.  This adds a warmer and more colorful image than the cars on a white background.

I use two different dioramas to photograph the HO scale cars on.  One is three tracks going through a generic location & the other is a desert scene with our 72' Deck Plate Girder Bridge.  To photograph N scale I will use my home layout or mock-up something (I really need to get an N scale diorama built).  Both HO scale dioramas were built a few years ago for various reasons other than what we use them for today.

Triple Track

The triple track diorama is used the most often and it shows.  I built it for some photography that was needed on the original release of our Trinity TRINCool Reefers about five years ago.  Along the back left corner I had a few trees and a fence that was built from strip wood.  In the foreground I scratch built an electronics box.  I used sifted dirt from the nearby rail yard and some ground foam for the scenery.  After being used for its original purpose it sat on a shelf and gathered dust.

ho scale module 1

Today the trees, fence & electronics box are gone.  Little by little the trees would blow away in the wind and then I pulled the remaining ones out.  The fence and electronics box were destroyed when the diorama decided to take an unplanned trip to the floor.

Overall the little 12x24" diorama has earned its keep but the day will come when it gets the boot.

Bridge to Nowhere

I built the bridge module for a blog post that never happened.  I must have been pulled away to something more important because I never finished the diorama.  As you can see in the photo, the dry riverbed was never put in and the fascia was never finished.  Like its triple track brother, this diorama spent some quality time on top of a shelf collecting dust & dead bugs. ho scale bridge diorama

For this I wanted to make a desert scene and so I acquired some reddish dirt from the side of a highway in a nearby canyon.  The diorama was built on the same 12x24" sized sheet of plywood as the triple track display.  I scratch built the concrete abutments out of sheet styrene to go along with our 72' Deck Plate Girder Bridge.  The little bit of vegetation is ground foam.  As I always shoot below or level with the bridge, I have never needed to finish the dry river bed.

The Setup

When I go out to get the needed photos I like to find locations that have little to no items that will be in the background such as power lines and buildings. On occasion I have used both with great results.  I have also used the Wasatch Mountains or trees in the background but most often it is just sky.

When I have my location I put the diorama on the roof of my car, position the product, get some funny looks from people driving by and get a few shots from different angles.  Next I upload the photos, do a little clean-up in Photoshop if needed and crop the photos for the slider.

I like to do the photography on partly cloudy days but occasionally I have no time and I have to shoot regardless of the weather.   There has been times I have done the photography in snow or light rain.  From past experiences, I have learned that if there is any wind, I need to prevent the cars from moving, I have had cars get blown off (sometimes I have caught them, other times I didn't).  I use a very special rock to prevent disasters from happening anymore.

Before diorama setup


After ho scale diorama clean

I would like to get a few new dioramas built at some point.   When the time comes, I will post their construction here.

Happy Railroading!

Chris Brimley

July 24, 2016


While at the 2016 National Train Show...

The 2016 National Train Show in Indianapolis is now in the books, and while there, ExactRail previewed a new release of the PC&F 6033 boxcar!  It has been over five years since this car was last released.  But you will not be waiting long now, these new cars are coming in August!  They feature exceptional colors and fonts.  These replicas will be available in 7 paint schemes--each with all new road numbers!!

The paint schemes are:

  1. Southern Pacific 'As Delivered' 1966
  2. Southern Pacific 'As Delivered' 1967
  3. Cotton Belt 'As Delivered' 1967
  4. Western Pacific 'As Delivered' 1967
  5. Alaska Railway
  6. The Anderson's (BAEX) ex-Alaska Railway
  7. Southern Illinois Railcar (SIRX) ex-SP Yellow Door

Please watch our website or join our newsletter (at the bottom of this page) to be notified when these and other announcements are made

Happy railroading!

Blaine Hadfield 



June 12, 2016


Milwaukee Road

In my last blog post I highlighted all of the products that ExactRail has produced in Rock Island paint.  For this blog I decided to feature the Milwaukee Road.  I was a little surprised by the amount of items we have produced when I was compiling the list.  There are a few railroads that we seem to have produced more of such as the Union Pacific or the Southern Pacific.  The Milwaukee Road wasn't one I would have put at the top of that list and now I know better.  

Many of the items below are now sold out, but many are still in stock.

40' RIBSIDE BOXCAR HO SCALE ho scale milwaukee road 40' ribside boxcar 90001 ho scale milwaukee road 40' ribside boxcar 90002 ho scale milwaukee road 40' ribside boxcar 90003 

P-S 5344 BOXCAR HO SCALE ho scale milwaukee road 5344 boxcar 80904 

P-S 7315 WAFFLE BOXCAR HO SCALE ho scale milwaukee road 7315 boxcar 80613


PS-2CD 4427 COVERED HOPPER HO & N SCALE ho scale milwaukee road ps-2cd 4427 covered hopper 80186

N Scale version sold out ho scale milwaukee road ps-2cd 4427 covered hopper 80151

PS-2CD 4000 COVERED HOPPER N SCALE ho scale milwaukee road ps-2cd 4000 covered hopper 50608

MAGOR 4750 COVERED HOPPER HO SCALE ho scale milwaukee road magor 4750 covered hopper 81005

THRALL 63' CENTERBEAM FLAT CAR HO SCALE ho scale milwaukee road thrall centerbeam flat car 81105 ho scale milwaukee road thrall centerbeam flat car 81106

VERT-A-PAC AUTORACK HO & N  SCALE ho scale milwaukee road vert a pac autorack 1203

72' BRIDGE HO SCALE ho scale milwaukee road 72' deck plate girder bridge 9810

May 14, 2016


Rock Island

There are a few railroads that haven't been very interesting to me.  I am sure that is the case with many modelers.  Usually the reason for me is simply a disconnection.  I don't dislike the railroad, it just doesn't excite me in anyway.  Over the years my opinion sometimes changes and usually the cause is when I physically visit a location on that particular railroad.  This happened to me a few years ago with the Rock Island.  

Not long ago I was in the Oklahoma City area with a friend.  We drove out to El Reno because I enjoy visiting smaller cities when the opportunity rises.  My friend knew that the Rock Island had shops there and so we went looking to see what remained.  The shops, now long derelict, were a shell of the their former glory but still impressive.  This visit sparked an interest in me for something that was just some railroad that had failed in 1980, to something that was real and had an interesting past.  I have no plans to model the Rock Island but I now have an interest and respect for the railroad. 

ExactRail has proudly recreated a fraction of that past with a handful of HO & N scale freight cars.  Below are the examples we have produced so far.

BERWICK 7327 BOXCAR HO SCALE ho scale berwick 7327 boxcar rock island 

EVANS-USRE 5277 BOXCAR HO & N SCALE ho scale evans-usre 5277 boxcar rock island  

P-S 5344 BOXCAR HO SCALE ho scale p-s 5344 boxcar rock island

PS-2CD 4427 COVERED HOPPER HO SCALE ho scale ps-2cd 4427 covered hopper rock island 80155 ho scale ps-2cd 4427 covered hopper rock island 80188

THRALL 2244 15-PANEL GONDOLA - HEAVY TOP CHORD HO SCALE ho scale thrall 2244 gondola rock island 

VERT-A-PAC AUTORACK HO SCALE ho scale vert-a-pac autorack rock island 


April 12, 2016


Chicago & North Western Bicentennial Hopper! bethlehem 3737 hopper ho scale cnw bicentennial

The Bicentennial era of railroading is cool.  Period.

It is a curious fact that so many railroads adopted the practice of refashioning equipment in elaborate--dare I say, garish (?)--paint schemes.  I wasn't alive in 1976.  But from the distant place of today, it is hard not to feel railroads laying claim to being "American."

And, railroads have a unique reason to celebrate America's bicentennial.  Railroads are an industry that stands apart from others in the annals of American history.  They connected resources, places and people.

And so, of course we were more than enthusiastic when the Chicago & North Western Historical Society (CNWHS) approached us about developing the bicentennial car! The CNWHS was looking for an exceptionally accurate replica for their 2016 annual convention, and we are pleased that they chose us to execute!

The CNW bicentennial will only available through the Chicago & North Western Historical Society company store and is coming soon! Please support the CNWHS as it works to preserve the history of one of America's great railroads.

The bicentennial period of railroading is cool, and I will gladly fight anyone who dares say differently. :)

Happy railroading!

Blaine Hadfield 

March 27, 2016


Reddy Kilowatt

There are some brands that are not themselves railroad-owned, but they are as relevant to the modeling community as the most popular railroads. For example, as a manufacturer, we can expect demand for Cargill and ADM paint schemes to be as strong as Santa Fe and Conrail.

One brand that would have been a household name from the 1920 through 1970s is Reddy Kilowatt. Into the1930s, the overwhelming majority of rural areas were without electrical power. This new "electrical" technology represented a paradigm shift of significant proportions, and utility companies recognized that electricity was a tough sell for rural dwellers. Many of these individuals had never seen the benefits of electric power, and at the time, it couldn’t be taken for granted that one would know what electric power could do. Ashton Collins, the commercial manager for Alabama Power Company, sought a likeable character to give a face to electrical utilities industry. By the 1960s, Reddy Kilowatt was licensed for use by over 300 utilities.  These companies used the jovial image to relate to the public, and that includes, putting Reddy Kilowatt on freight cars!



Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) produced this fun commercial using Reddy Kilowatt sometime between 1945 and 1960.



We hope you enjoyed a look into the past with Reddy Kilowatt. 

Happy railroading!

Blaine Hadfield


March 20, 2016


Provo Yard

ExactRail is located just a stone's throw from the local yard in Provo, Utah.  As you may have guessed, visits to the yard happen at a minimum of once per day.  The visits to the yard have been very beneficial to many items that we have produced.  Some paint schemes would simply not have happened without them.

I have visited many yards across the country and still to this day it is one of my favorites.  I wouldn’t call it a large or a very busy yard, but it has always remained interesting. provo yard union pacific sign

Blaine and I both grew up in the area and both visited the yard as often as we could in our youth.  We often reminisce about the days that are now gone.  One of my first memories of the yard was when I was about 5 years old.  I was waiting for my uncle to arrive on the Amtrak California Zephyr at the now gone Provo Station.  While waiting for the train to arrive, one Rio Grande freight after the other would fly by at track speed.  The sight and sound of them terrified me, but at the same time fascinated me.  The memories of that night will never be forgotten.

The Provo yard is actually made up of three yards running more or less parallel to each other.  The easternmost is the former Denver & Rio Grande Western yard that Union Pacific now primarily uses for freight car storage and the occasional coal train to briefly tie up in.  Tucked in the middle you will find the Utah Railway.  Although it is a Utah Railway yard, it looks more like a BNSF one.  This is because the Utah Railway handles all BNSF trackage rights trains that now come through thanks to the UP-SP merger.  Last of all you have the Union Pacific yard to the west. provo yard chris brimley photograph

I will always look back fondly on the yard of my past, but I look forward to the (hopefully) good changes to come.  

I am sure that like me, many of you have a railroad location or a moment that has had an impact on you.  I would love to hear about them in the comments section.

One last thing.  I want to thank the Union Pacific and Utah Railway crews for tolerating our frequent trips through the yard.

Happy Railroading, chris brimley signature

Chris Brimley
March 05, 2016


Show Product

One of my many responsibilities at ExactRail is to plan which products we bring to sell at shows. I try to bring what I hope will be the best fit for the show that we are attending. Sometimes I felt that I couldn’t have done better with the selections and then there have been times that I missed the mark. show product imageDuring my initial preparations for a show, the first items I add to my list are products that we have most recently released. Next I look at the region that the show is located and make selections of freight cars and paint schemes that are appropriate. Not everyone attending a show wants products from that region. For example, at the last show we attended in Springfield, Massachusetts we had multiple customers come into our booth looking for Western Pacific items.

When I have the list of products, I then need to decide on the quantities. Shows that we have attended in the past are a little easier to know based on past sales. When we attend a show for the first time it can be a little more difficult.

The last step is to pull, package and ship the product out to the show location.

If there is a specific item that we have in stock that you would like to purchase at a show that we will be attending, please send an email to me and I will make sure I have it for you.

Happy Railroading, chris brimley signature
Chris Brimley

February 28, 2016


The Best and the Worst from ExactRail

Have you ever wondered which paint schemes have performed the best for a particular model train company, and which paint schemes have performed the worst?

You may find the answer interesting. With this blog, ExactRail will disclose our best and the worst performing paint schemes of all-time.

A few caveats before getting started. 1) The list is not pro-rated. Early releases have a greater chance of doing well. 2) This blog only compares the sales of individual paint schemes.  Specific models or car types themselves are not compared.  And 3) this list only takes into account HO scale.

An additional note, one may be mislead if one assumes that there is a relationship between the time to sell-out of inventory and volume sold.  Models that sell-out the fastest are not always the ones to sell the most. ExactRail orders different quantities for every paint scheme based on our unique expectations.  In some cases, we have confidence in particular paint schemes to sell well over time. For these products, we may be comfortable carrying inventory for sometime. Other times, we have under-evaluated demand. It has happened that we have sold out of large inventories in mere hours. It has also happened that small quantities remain in inventory for a period well in excess of our target. The point is, there is no way to judge from the outside what volume of product is sold by looking only at the time to sell-out.

So, what paint schemes have been the best, and what have been the worst? ps-2cd4427 covered hopper scoular

The worst: the Scoular PS-2CD 4427 Covered Hopper:

ExactRail has released over 100 different paint schemes of the PS-2CD 4427 Covered Hopper. It is one of our most successful cars to date, but from among some very successful paint schemes, one deserves the mantle for being a serious underperformer,
The Scoular PS-2CD 4427 Covered Hopper.

It’s our opinion that the Scoular paint scheme is great looking.  There are no graphics or paint errors that would disrupt sales.  The car is an accurate match for the prototype. And so, we are slightly perplexed. It just seems as though our quantities are a solid miss for demand. The Scoular car was released in Dec. 2010. And five years later, we have sold 33% of our inventory. trinity trincool reefer armn/up

The Best: UP/ARMN Trinity TRINCool Reefer:

Based on the number of units sold for any one particular paint scheme, the UP/ARMN Trinity TRINCool Reefer has been outstanding! Over four releases, we have sold 48 times as many cars in this paint scheme as we have the Scoular PS-2CD 4427 Covered Hopper. It has been outstanding!

Happy Railroading!

Blaine Hadfield
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