Saturday, May 1, 2021

Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern Ventilated Refrigerator 942

While watching a presentation by Eric Hansmann on ventilated boxcars the Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern (FtDDM&S or FDDM&S) appeared on a chart showing it had ten ventilated box cars.   I thought I might build one; however, it was not to be as no photos available.  After the presentation I checked the 1953 Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) finding seven ventilated refrigerator cars, class VS, of series 932 - 946 (evens) on the roster.  In  the 1955 ORER there were still three cars on the roaster in this series.  A FtDDM&S ventilated refrigerator became the new build project.

I contacted Eric asking about the ventilated refrigerator series as I was considering building a model of one for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company (M&N).  Eric provided the information he had and referred me to Ray Breyer who might have information on the ventilated refrigerator series.  Ray not only had information, he also provided a photo of FtDDM&S ventilated refrigerator 942.   The photo made the build of the  FtDDB&S  942 ventilated refrigerator possible. 

Ray Breyer Collection
(click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

Ray’s suggested choice as a starting point for the build was an Accurail wood refrigerator kit.   I agreed as outside dimensions compared well with those in the ORER for this series.   Therefore, I picked a 5th Avenue Car Shops ventilated wood refrigerator from my inventory.  A car manufactured by Accurail, a 4800 series wood refrigerator, lettered from Illinois Central (IC) drawings for the IC for 5th Avenue Car Shops.  The IC ventilated refrigerator was out of service by my M&N late spring 1955 time period making it available for the build.

I began the build by removing the IC lettering: name, number and reporting marks, from the car with a cotton swab dipped in 91% isopropyl alcohol and a nylon scratch brush.  The reweigh date was changed later.

Lettering removed.

Once lettering was removed molded on grab irons, ladders, and brake step (platform) were carved off and sill steps cut off.   I used the remaining ladder lines to drill #79 holes for wire grab irons and ladder rungs.  I touched up the sides with a Vallejo mix of 2/3 Model Air Gold Yellow 71.078, and 1/3 Model Color Flat Yellow 70.953.

Grab iron and grab iron ladder holes drilled.

After another review of the “B” end on the prototype photo, I knew the fascia on the end of the car body needed to be changed and a new end sill added.  I cut the fascia to the shape of the prototype with a #11 scalpel blade in a scalpel blade handle and #17 chisel blade in and Xacto handle..  I scribed the board lines with the back of #11 blade in an Xacto handle.   I used a circular saw blade mounted on a mandrel in a  Dremel tool to cut away the sill boards to install a new steel end sill cut from Evergreen #273, I-Beam .100.”  The poling pockets cut off the car prior to the new end sill install were now installed on the new end sill.

New steel end sill with poling pockets installed.

I installed a brake shaft roof/fascia bracket, Sunshine Models resin part from parts box, on the car body.  I set the car body aside and I glued a .040” x .040” styrene piece to the top of the draft gear boxes on the under body to form the draft gear casting (casting around coupler on sill).  I installed Kadee #148 whisker couplers in the draft gear boxes and Accurail ARA cast steel with spring plank trucks with InterMountain 33” metal wheels on the underbody.   The kit provided weight was installed with Formula 560 Canopy glue bringing the car weight to 4.0 ounces.  The weight had to be clamped to the underbody while the glue dried.  After glue set the underbody was installed in the car body.  

Note brake shaft roof bracket and styrene strip
added to top for draft gear to form
draft gear casting.

Now I cut three small right triangles from .010” sheet styrene and glued them to the earlier installed .040” x .040” styrene strip to complete the draft gear casting.  I also installed the brake shaft sill step that had been cut off the removed sill portion after the molded filled portion was removed by drilling a hole into the mold filled center and cleaned up with a broach.

Note draft gear casting around coupler and
 reworked brake shaft step. 

Next I milled the kit provided running board to a thickness of .020” using a jig and a Dremel #199 cutting bit installed in a Dremel Tool mounted in a Dremel drill press stand.  On the top of the running board I made cuts to represent board lengths and installed it on the car body with Testors tube cement.

Running board milled to .020" and installed.

Note board length cuts in running board.

Now the running board end brackets made with Evergreen #8102, 1” x 2” strip styrene and MEK Goop fasteners were installed.

Note running board bracket.

I continued working on the "B" end installing a resin retainer valve from parts box, retainer line and brackets, Tichy Train Group (Tichy) #1100, .008” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW) and brake shaft, Tichy #1102, .015” diameter PBW with kit provided brake wheel.  Next the car body corner braces, cut from Evergreen .005” sheet styrene, were installed with MEK and MEK Goop used to form fasteners.  “B” end added parts were hand painted Vallejo/MicroMark Model Air Box Car Red, #29015X2.

"B" end details installed.

Corner braces with MEK fasteners/rivets installed.

Wire grab irons and grab irons for ladders I bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW were installed. The grab iron fasteners/rivets, cut from Tichy # 3026, 18” ladder rungs, were installed next.   Roof grab irons were bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW and installed with Yarmouth Model Works eye bolts without shoulder for corner legs.  Sill steps, A-Line #29000, were installed. 

Grab iron fasteners using
 Tichy ladder rungs being installed.

Grab irons, grab iron ladders, grab iron fasteners/rivets
and sill steps installed and painted.

It was time to work on the underbody.  All the molded on brake component mounting brackets were cut off with a #17 Xacto chisel blade mounted in a #5 Xacto handle.  The kit provided center fish belly was installed.  Now the following underbody details installed were as follows:

  • Brake cylinder (kit) on a Sunshine Models resin bracket from parts box
  • Control valve (kit) on bracket form Tichy #3013 set
  • Air reservoir (kit) on brackets (sill steps cut from another plastic car)
  • Brake cylinder lever, Evergreen #8108, 1” x 8” strip styrene
  • Brake floating lever, Evergreen #8106, 1” x 6” strip styrene
  • Brake piping from air reservoir to control valve, Tichy #1101, .010” dia. PBW
  • Brake pipe from brake cylinder to control valve, Tichy #1106, .0125” dia. PBW
  • Brake rods, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW with clevises, MEK Goop
  • Chain, A-Line #29219, black 40 links per inch
  • Train line, .018" diameter flora wire
  • Dirt collector, cast in M&N Shops

Underbody details installed.

With the underbody work completed the detail added parts were hand painted with Vallejo/MicroMark Model Air Box Car Red #29015X2.

Underbody painted.

Built Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern 924 ventilated refrigerator was ready for final touch up paint.  The yellow a mix: 2/3 Vallejo Model Air Gold Yellow 71.078 and 1/3 Vallejo Model Color Flat Yellow 70.953 and the red/brown Vallejo/MicroMark Model Air Box Car Red #29014X2.  Next the car body was sprayed Vallejo Gloss Medium 70.470 to provide a gloss decal base.

Car ready for lettering.  Note reweigh date has been
changed to MC for Mason City.

I made the decals, except rivets, for the car using Clove House dry transfers applied to decal paper and coated with MicroScale Liquid Decal Film.  On the ends, the FtDDM&S and number were made with Railroad Roman Medium - White #9601-11 and on the sides Railroad Roman Condensed Bold #9600-12.  I used Archer Rivet Heads, AR88026, 5/8” rivets on the sides.  I used a No. 5 lead pencil to go over the door lines to make them stand out as in the prototype photo above.

Decals and Archer rivets applied.

Decals and Archer rivets applied.

When decals were dry the car body was sprayed with Vallejo Gloss Varnish 70.510 to protect decals and better hide their their edges.  Again when dry, the car body was sprayed with Model Master 4636 Flat Clear Acryl before weathering.

The final step before putting FtDDM&S 942 ventilated refrigerator in service was to weather the car with Pan Pastels.  Pan Pastels used were: Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1 on car body and Burnt Sienna Shade 740.3 on trucks.  The Pan Pastels were applied with a makeup brush on the sides and roof.  And, a Pan Pastel foam pad was used to apply them along the sides sills.

Pan Pastel weathering applied.

Pan Pastel weathering applied.

Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern ventilated refrigerator 942 was now ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, The Lakeland Route, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  A car card was made for FtDDM&S 942,  the final step to put the cars in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.

FtDDM&S 942 moved off GN Interchange
along the trees to Dawkins siding.

FtDDM&S 942 moved from Dawkins siding
 to Minneapolis Chestnut Street Yard.

FtDDM& Southern 924 sitting on Chestnut Street yard
 track  before being moved into "Extra West" freight train.

A  big “Thank You” to Ray Breyer for data and the photo to help with build of this car and for permission to use photo in this blog post.  A “Thank You” to Eric Hansmann for his presentation providing the inspiration for this build.  And, a "Thank You" to Jon Habegger for data help by providing a scan of the 1955 ORER page for the FtDDM&S.

Thank You for taking time to read my blog.  You can share a comment in the section below if you choose to do so.  Please sign your comment with your name if you choose to leave one.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer



Sunday, April 18, 2021

Fasteners or Rivets for Grab Irons

On freight cars that we install wire grab irons on may require the fasteners or rivets for the grab irons also be added.  Various methods are used to add the fasteners or rivets for wire grab irons or ladders, consisting of grab irons, when added to a freight car model.  The two most often used methods are: one, purchased rivets are cut off sprue and installed at each leg of a grab iron in a hole drilled to receive them and second rivets are harvested/cut off another model and installed one at a time at each leg of the grab iron.  Both methods produce good looking grab iron fasteners; however, both take time to complete the task.

The Accurail freight car I was working required 38  18” grab irons.  I installed 18” wire grab irons I bent in holes I had previously drilled with a #79 drill.  I now needed  to add the grab iron fasteners.  I was not looking forward the task.  Then for whatever reason, I had an idea to do it quickly and easily using Tichy Train Group (Tichy) #3062, 18” ladder rungs.  The idea provided the following method.

Grab irons holes drilled with #79 drill before
wire grab irons installed. Note sill grab iron
 holes not yet drilled.
(Click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

I pulled out a package of Tichy #3062, 18” ladder rungs with fasteners.  I used a new single edge razor blade (SERB) to cut the rung from the sprue.

Tichy Train Group 18" Ladder Rungs

I installed Tichy ladder rungs by picking a cut off rung up with a tweezer and touching only the fastener on each end into Testors Cement in a tube and placing it on the car above an installed wire grab iron.   I used Testors tube cement because this was a plastic car and plastic Tichy part.  A CA gel could have been used if preferred and is what I would use on a resin or another material freight car.

Tichy ladder rungs installed
above installed wire grab irons.

On the end sill I installed the Tichy ladder rungs without having installed wire grabs first.  The reason is I used the Tichy ladder rung fasteners, after rung cut off, to provide the location for the holes to be drilled for a wire grab iron install.

Note the ladder rungs installed on end sill
to provide location to drill holes for
wire grabs to be installed after rung
portion is cut off.

Once all the Tichy ladder rungs were placed above the wire grab irons I used a SERB to cut off the rung portion leaving the grab iron fastener or rivet.  I now had a wire grab with a fastener at each leg.  If you are not careful when touching the fasteners on the end of the rung to cement and get cement under the rung portion you may end up with rung sticking and not want to come off easily as happened with the second rung removal in the photo below.

Ladder rungs cut at fasteners with
SERB and removed.  Note the sill grab iron
fasteners provide the location to drill 
wire grab iron holes.

With fasteners/rivets installed, the paint was applied next.  After painting some fasteners still required clean up and paint touch up.

Tichy ladder rung remaining fasteners or rivets
after paint applied.

Of course, this method works on the sides of a freight car as on the the “B” end shown above.

Some Tichy ladders rung cut off at fasteners
or rivets and a few left to do.

I have not seen this grab iron fastener/rivet method described in print or have I had anyone describe this method to me before so I thought I would share it here on my blog with you.   I hope you will give this fast and easy method of installing wire grab iron fasteners/rivets when needed a try.  Just another method to help one in detailing and producing a better freight car.

Thank You for taking time to read my blog.  You can share a comment in the section below if you choose to do so.  Please sign your comment with your name if you choose to leave one.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Soo Line “sawtooth” Box Car 39334

 It was time to stop putting off build of one of the two Dennis Storzek Modelmaker kits in my to build cabinet.  I purchased two flat kits, # 1920, to number one for Soo Line and the other for subsidiary Wisconsin Central.  Both kits produce the same single sheathed wood boxcar assigned to either railroad.  The only difference in appearance was the number series and a small W.C. stenciled at the upper left corner of the car side.  The cars were built by several manufactures from 1912 to 1923.  Car features include the distinctive “sawtooth” design, five-foot doors, post ends, peaked roofs and fish belly center sill.  All number series built had a small lumber door on the “A” end except the last series.

Cars remained unchanged into the sixties except for removal of lumber door as ends were re-sheathed and AB brakes replaced the original K brakes.  The cars rode on Andrews trucks until the late fifties when replaced with AAR trucks.

The flat kit can build into a car that can be numbered for cars built in different years by different manufactures.  I chose to build and letter a car for a 40 foot Soo Line boxcar built in  1923 by AC&F (Lot 9465), one of 500 cars assigned to the 39200-40198 series.  Before beginning the build I searched for prototype photos.   Photos for the build were found in the the following three sources:  Soo Line Freight Equipment and Cabooses (The Soo Line Historical and Technical Society, 2014), Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual, Volume One: Box & Automobile Cars (Speedwitch Media, 2006, 2007) and article “Essential Freight Cars: 32 Soo Line single-sheathed boxcars”, Railroad Model Craftsman, July 2006.

Wisconsin Central "sawtooth" Box Car 133654
W. Danke photo, from William Raia in
Kenneth J. Soroos Collection

The build began with the assembly of the car body consisting of sides, ends and roof.  The assembly was not my normal resin car body assembly process of ends to sides to form the body and add roof.  The kit instructions suggest first glue ends to roof and then add sides.  After careful review and dry fit of parts I decided to glue ends to roof first due to the careful alignment of ladder rung fasteners on sides to those on the ends.  The sides were glued to the roof with ends to complete the car body.

Basic car body assembled.
(Click or tap on this photo or any other to enlarge)

Once the car body was assembled I cut and added baffles cut from Evergreen .060” sheet styrene for strength and to prevent inward bowing of sides.  The length of the baffles had to allow them to be glued just below the cast in floor support.  A feature I wish all resin kits had.  After baffles were installed I fitted the underbody.

Baffles installed.
Note underbody support cast into sides.

Next the top plate flanges, 1/4” strip styrene provided in the kit, were glued in the molded in groove at the top of each side and end. The same 1/4” strip styrene is used to cut to length and install the door track on each side.

Top flange being installed on "B" end.

Top flange installed.

Door track installed.

Since I ended the install of the last top plate flange on the “B” end, I continued the install of retainer valve (kit) and white metal brake shaft step bracket (kit).

Retainer valve and brake shaft step installed.

Now I began work on the underbody.  Center sill (kit) and metal cross-bearers (kit) were installed followed by the brake components.  I used Tichy Train Group (Tichy) AB brake components, set #3013 and the kit provided brake levers.  The brackets used were a Sunshine Models bracket from my parts box for the brake cylinder and plastic sills steps cut off a freight car for the air reservoir.  I mounted the control valve on a Tichy bracket on the stringer.  The location I chose for the control valve mount made it difficult to install piping and dirt collector.  A better choice would have been to mount the control valve closer to the side sill on a bracket located between the side sill and stringer allowing easier install of the already mentioned parts.  A train line, .018” diameter floral wire, was installed later.

Underframe parts and braked components installed.

I continued underbody work by installing the bolsters.  I did not use the metal bolsters supplied in the kit on the underbody; however, I did use them as a master to make a mold to cast resin bolsters I used.   I cast the bolsters from resin to make fitting easier as I rather work with resin then white metal.  Once bolsters were fitted and installed, coupler pads and bolster center plates were drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws.  Kadee #262 narrow draft gear (coupler) boxes with Kadee #148 whisker couplers were installed with Fastenal 2-56 x 3/16” screws.  Accurail Andrews #166 trucks with InterMountain 33” metal wheels were installed with Fastenal 2-56 x 1/4” screws.

Metal and resin cast bolsters.

Resin cast bolsters installed.

The install of car body details was next.  Ladder rungs and all grab irons whether kit or ones I bent were installed in holes drilled with #79 drill.

Grab irons installed.

I moved on to work needed on the roof.  The wood running boards were assembled per kit instructions using the kit supplied lumber.  I did add the grooves to simulate boards lengths on the 42’ 6” longitudinal running board.  End brackets were fabricated from Evergreen #8102, 1 x 2” strip styrene and MEK Goop fasteners added.  The latitudinal (laterals, corner platforms) running boards did have the mounting brackets cast into the roof making for easy assembly after boards cut to 2” 4” length on Northwest Line chopper.  A Model Railroad General HO Scale Converter Dial Caliper was use to set the unusual length.  Evergreen strip styrene, #8102 was used to make the end brackets on the longitudinal running board.  The corner grab irons bent from Tichy #1101, .010” phosphor bronze wire (PBW) with Yarmouth Model Works photo etched eye bolts without shoulder for corner legs were installed.  The corner grab iron fasteners, rivets (kit), followed.

Running boards installed.

The work on the “B” was next.  I drilled the upper brake shaft bracket (cast on the end) with a #76 drill.  A retainer line, Tichy #1100, .008” diameter PBW was installed.  A brake shaft cut from Tichy #1102, .015” diameter PBW was installed followed by the kit provided brake wheel.  A top brake wheel fastener was made with MEK Goop.  Uncoupling levers bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW installed with kit supplied eye bolt brackets.

"B" end details added.
Top brake wheel fastener not yet added.

I returned to the sides to install the white metal sill steps and to the “A” end where I installed the white metal cast lumber door provided in the kit.

Sill steps and lumber door on "A" end installed.

With the car body complete I moved to the underbody to install the the following details:

  • Train line, .018” flora wire
  • Piping from air reservoir to control valve Tichy #1101 .010” diameter PBW
  • Piping from brake cylinder to control valve Tichy  #1106 .0125” diameter PBW
  • Dirt collector, Tichy set #3013
  • Brake rods, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW
  • Clevises are made with MEK Goop
  • Chain, A-Line #29219 black 40 links per inch
  • Center sill extended between bolsters and coupler boxes with scrap styrene

Underbody details installed.

Note the center sill extended to fill gap
between bolster and coupler pocket.

One final addition to the car body before painting.  The resin cast doors (kit) were installed.  Later, the molded on door handles were carved off and replaced with door handles bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW.

Doors installed.

Soo Line “sawtooth” boxcar 39334 was ready for paint.  The trucks and wheels were hand painted with Vallejo Model Color Black Grey, #70.862. The car underbody was sprayed Model Air Vallejo Dark Grey Blue, 71.054.

Underbody painted.

  The wood running boards and added detail parts hand painted Polly Scale Milwaukee Road Gray, F414158.

Car body installed details hand painted
Milwaukee Road Grey

The car body was sprayed with Vallejo Model Air Brown RLM26 71.105.  Once the paint was dry, the car body was sprayed Vallejo Gloss Medium 70.470 to have a gloss base for decal application.  After drying overnight, decals provided in the kit were soaked off in distilled water and applied to the car body where MicroScale Micro Set had been applied with a brush.   After the decal was applied in the Micro Set and positioned the edges had MicroScale Micro Sol applied.  Any excess solution was sucked away with the torn edge of a paper towel.  When dry, car body sprayed with Vallejo Gloss Varnish 70.510 to better hide decals edges.  Finally, the car body was sprayed was sprayed Model Master Acryl 4636 Flat Clear Acryl to protect the car during handling and provide a base for weathering.

Soo Line 39334 painted and lettered.

Once the flat clear coat was dry light weathering using Pan Pastels was applied with a makeup brush.  Pan Pastels used were as follows:  Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1 on the roof, sides and ends.  Burnt Sienna Shade 740.3 on truck springs and wheels.   In addition to Pan Pastels, Artmatic eye shadow makeup was applied on sides and ends with a makeup brush and micro brush applicators between ladder rungs.

Soo Line 39334 weathered.

Soo Line “sawtooth” box car 39334 joins Soo Line “sawtooth” box car 39826 in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, The Lakeland Route, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  A car card was made for Soo Line 39344,  the final step to put the cars in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.

Soo Line 39334 at Sussex Team Track

Soo Line 39334 at Sussex Team Track

Soo Line 39334 at Sussex Team Track

A  big “Thank You” to Ken Soroos for the prototype photo to help with build of this car and for permission to use photo in this blog post.

Thank You for taking time to read my blog.  You can share a comment in the section below if you choose to do so.  Please sign your comment with your name if you choose to leave one.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer