Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Soo Line SS Box Cars 354 and 390

The Soo Line began an extensive rebuild program of various AC&F single-sheathed “sawtooth” box cars, series 100-444, even numbers,  at their North Fond du Lac Shops in 1950-1951 .  Ken Soroos in his book Soo Line Freight Equipment and Cabooses published by the Soo Line Historical and Technical Society (SLHTS) tells us 250 (173 Soo Line and 77 Wisconsin Central (WC), series 1500-1652, even only) cars build in 1913, 1914, and 1915 received diagonal panel roofs, AAR center sills, channel side sills, power handbrake mechanisms and had 6’-0” door openings.  Photos of Soo Line Box 374 and WC  1584 are in the book on page 19.  A freight car diagram of the car can be found in Soo Line Freight Car Diagrams ( Soo Line Historical and Technical Society, 2013).

In 2013 I purchased an Accurail car produced for the SLHTS,  Soo Line box car numbered 248, that I found was a foot too tall and roof was incorrect for a 1950 rebuild.  A Branchline Trains diagonal panel roof could be used to replace the incorrect roof; however, a rework of the car to get the proper height of 8’-7 3/16”, found on the car diagram, in my opinion, almost impossible as it would require removal of three boards below the fascia strip.  I decided it would be easier to scratch-build the car.

I put the project off until winter of 2015 when I built Soo Line Cars 354 and 390 in resin.    Rather than scratch-build the cars with wood or styrene as used in previous projects,  I chose resin for the experience.  First, the sides of the car were made.  I chose to rework a Train-Miniature (TM) single-sheathed ( SS) car side that provided a height of 8’-9”, close enough.  I cut up a TM plastic SS car body to create a flat kit from which I reworked the side.  The reworked side became the master for a rubber mold used to pour the resin sides.

Train-Miniature master and resin cast side.
(click or tap on any photo to enlarge)

Next, I cast the ends.  I still had an unbuilt Dennis Storzek Soo Line SS “sawtooth” box car kit in the unbuilt kit cabinet.  When I checked the wood 4 post ends I found they could be used with the TM sides.  The ends needed to be reworked above the existing posts to add a triangular piece and a rivet strip above the posts and two vertical braces in the center of the ends above the coupler box.  All the additional parts could be added to the cast ends using styrene after the resin car body was assembled.  Therefore, I used the ends for the master to make a mold and pour resin ends.

Ends from Dennis Storzek Soo Line "sawtooth" box car kit.

Note added posts in center of end above coupler ,
triangular shape and rivet strip above posts.

The final parts needed to begin the build were the underbody and the roof.  For masters I used an Accurail 4000 series underbody and a Branchline Trains diagonal panel roof to make the molds and cast the resin parts.

Branchline Trains roof and Accurail underbody.

Having all the parts made, I was ready to assemble the basic body.  Prior to assembly I cut a rabbet on the bottom of each side to allow the underbody to fit between the sides and rest on.  I assembled the basic box consisting of sides, ends, roof, and underbody as I have described on this blog ( see resin car body assembly under "labels").  Kadee #148 couplers and Accurail ARA 50 Ton cast steel with spring plank trucks with InterMountain 33” metal wheels were installed.  The trucks listed on the car diagram are Barber Stabilized Type S-2-B.

Car body assembled with couplers and trucks installed.

With the basic car body complete, I began the detail portion of the build with the underbody.  I fabricated the straight center sill with Evergreen #136, 30”x .0125” strip with flanges made with Evergreen #8104, 1 x 4 strip styrene.  Brake cylinder, control valve, air reservoir and brake levers  from Cal-Scale, set 190-283, were installed.  Brake levers hangers are made from  Tichy Train Group (Tichy) #1106, .0125” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW).   Piping from the air reservoir to control valve was installed using Plastruct, #90850, .010” styrene round rod.  Pipe from brake cylinder to control valve and brake rods were made using Tichy, #1106, .0125” diameter PBW.  For the chain connecting the brake cylinder lever to the brake rod, Campbell black 40 links per inch chain was used.  I installed a train line made with Evergreen, #218, .020” diameter styrene round rod. The dirt collector was made with MEK Goop (plastic melted in MEK).

Underbody before paint.

Underbody after paint.

Once I finished the the underbody I added the side details.  Under the roof, I installed the rivet strip cut from Evergreen #9009, .005” sheet styrene with rivets added using a R.B. Productions rivet tool.  Tichy, #3021, 18” straight grab irons were installed on the sides and were also used for the ladder rungs.  Sill steps, A-Line, #29000, style C, were installed to complete the added side details.

Car body with side details added.

Next the “B” and “A” end  details were installed.  First, the two end vertical wood braces needed in the center of each end above the coupler were  cut from Evergreen #8203, 2 x 3” strip styrene and installed.  Triangular shapes on ends under roof peak cut from styrene parts box, sanded and installed.  Rivet strips, made the same as those used on the sides, were installed. And, as on the sides, Tichy, #3021, 18” straight grab irons were installed and used for ladder rungs on both ends.  Uncoupling levers bent from, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW with eye bolt brackets formed from Detail Associates #2503, .010” diameter brass wire from the parts or bits box were installed.

Note triangular shapes added above posts
and rivet strips on sides and ends meet at corner.

 I installed the  remaining “B” end details next.  A brake step cut from a Kadee Apex, #2001, running board with brackets made from Evergreen, #8102, 1 x 2” strip styrene was installed. The brake housing, bell crank and retainer valve from Cal-Scale AB brake set, 190-283, were installed next. A brake rod fabricated from Detail Associates, #2505, .015” diameter brass wire and a retainer line from Detail Associates, #2502, .008” diameter brass wire were installed.  Finally, a Kadee Equipco brake wheel, #2041, was  installed.

Details installed on "B" end.

Now I turned to the roof details. The car diagram showed U.S. Gypsum or Blaw-Knox running boards were used when the cars were built.  I did not have a U.S. Gypsum in the parts drawer so I installed a Kadee Apex, #2001, running board to represent a Blaw- Knox install since Richard Bale in his Freight Car Roofs of the Twentieth Century article states the Blaw-Knox were similar in appearance to the Apex Tri-Lok except that the cross pieces were made of quarter-inch spiraled rod rather than flat stock.

Apex running board installed.

With the roof work finished, the cars were moved to the paint shop.  In the paint shop the under body of 354 was sprayed with Polly Scale, F414140, tarnished black.  The car body was sprayed with Vallejo Model Air ( Micro-Mark) #29015 Box Car Red.  The underbody of 390  sprayed with Vallejo Model Air ( Micro-Mark) #29022 tarnished black.  The car body was sprayed with a mix:  70% Vallejo Model Air (Micro-Mark) #29015 Box Car Red, 10% Vallejo Model Color, 70.953, Flat Yellow and 20% distilled water.  Once dry, both car bodies were sprayed Polly Scale, F404100, Clear Gloss Finish to provide a decal ready finish.  Decals obtained from the Soo Line Historical & Technical Society were applied to both cars using Microscale Micro set and Micro sol.  After decals had set overnight both cars were sprayed with Model Master, 4636, Flat Clear Acryl to protect decals during handling.

Soo Line 390 sitting on leg of Soonor wye.

Soo Line 390 sitting on Minneapolis Freight House track.

My two finished cars had some flaws; however, I was pleased with the results and my resin scratch build experience.  Both Soo Line box cars 354 and 390 went into service on my Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company after they came out of the paint shop in 1915.  The cars remain in service today showing little signs of aging.

Note the difference in car body color.

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 share the blog link with other model railroaders.
Lester Breuer

Friday, February 1, 2019

Northern Pacific Stock Car 80163

I have completed an easy build of a Proto 2000, Life-Like Trains, kit 21203, a Northern Pacific Mather single deck stock car assigned to series 80100-80299.  The Northern Pacific, NP, leased this series of cars from the Mather Car Company in 1946.  The Mather Stock Car Company, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, was a U.S.corporation that built railroad rolling stock.  Mather specialized in stock cars; however, built other types of cars as well, including boxcars.  

Image downloaded from Internet.
(click or tap on any image to enlarge)

The plastic kit, purchased in 1997 and a second one in 2016, is accurate for the NP Mather stock car it is lettered for as you can see when you compare it to the prototype in the photo above except for one problem.  The one problem is the openings between the side boards on the side of the car next to the reporting marks and number are molded closed rather open.  I removed the molded material in the problem area between the boards.  I inserted a wood block inside the car to prevent flexing or breaking with cutting out the molded plastic with a single edge razor blade, scalpel, broach (see broach under labels on this blog), micro file, dental pick and sanding stick to create the openings between the boards to match the prototype.

Wood block inserted to prevent side flexing or breaking when cutting.

Tools used to remove molded plastic between side boards.

No openings between boards next to reporting marks and number.

Open space between boards created to match prototype.

I began the build following the kit instructions, well written with good assembly diagrams, by adding the underbody brake components molded with piping, brake rods and brake levers attached.  I chose to not replace any of these with wire or styrene replacements as I felt they were acceptable as molded.  I was surprised to find not only the train line but also the retainer line nicely molded on the underbody.  Since I do not like using self tapping screws as provided in the kit,  I tapped the coupler pocket and bolster holes for 2-56 screws. I installed Kadee #148 “whisker” couplers in the coupler pockets and attached the coupler pocket covers with Accurail, #150, 2-56 x 3/16 Pan head screws.  In the kit provided trucks I installed InterMountain 33” metal wheels prior to installing them with Athearn, #99002, 2-56 x 1/4” round head screws.

Note the molded retainer line next to stringer.

With the underbody complete the kit provided weight and floor were installed inside the car body.  I added an additional 8 grams of weight with electrical outlet box punch outs to bring the car weight to 3.8 ounces.

Additional weights added after initial kit weight installed.

Kit weight installed with Permatex

 The kit contains panels that can be attached to the inside of the car body to fill the openings between boards on the ends.  The panels are provided to fill the end openings for cars that did not have them.  The NP car diagrams show the ends of the NP stock cars did not have the opening so I installed the kit panels.

Diagram is from the Northern Pacific Historical Society website.

Openings on end of card need panels added to fill them.

Panels being glued in place with clamps to fill opening on end of car body.

With these steps completed the roof was installed.  The kit running boards and longitudinal running board brackets were installed.  The plastic kit grab irons were not used.  I bent the roof corner grab irons from Tichy Train Group (Tichy), #1101, .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW) and installed them with Yarmouth Model Works, YMW #256, etched eyebolts with shoulder for corner brackets.

Roof grab irons have been installed.

All grab irons on the sides and ends were now installed.  All the grab irons were bent (see grab irons under labels on this blog) from Tichy, #1101, .010” diameter PBW and installed in holes in the car body into which the plastic grab irons were to be installed.  Some of the holes had to be opened or increased in depth for the wire grab irons.

All grab irons on sides have been installed.

The only remaining car body detail I wanted to add was on  the “B” end.  I added a retainer line, Tichy, #1100, .008” diameter PBW with two brackets made with Detail Associates, #2503, .010” diameter PBW.  I was surprised that a plastic part was not provided in the kit since the retainer line was molded on the underbody.  Uncoupling levers bent ( see uncoupling levers under labels on this blog) from Tichy, #1101, .010” diameter PBW were installed in eyebolt brackets bent from Detail Associates, #2503, .010” diameter brass wire.

Retainer line and uncoupling levers installed.

All that I had left to do was paint added detail parts and weather the car.  All details added were hand painted with Vallejo, 70.982, Model Color Cavalry Brown.  A very good match for the original manufacture color.

Grab irons and trucks hand painted.

Added detail parts hand painted.

I weathered the car with the following Pan Pastels: Burnt Sienna Shade 740.3, Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1 and Paynes Grey Tint 840.7.  After I completed the weathering I printed a car card for NP 80163 and put it into service  along with NP 80168 on my Minneapolis & Northern Railroad.

NP 80163 sitting in McGregor yard waiting delivery.

NP 80163 sitting in McGregor Yard waiting delivery.

Northern Pacific stock cars sitting on Soonor Wye siding.

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 share the blog link with other model railroaders.
Lester Breuer

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Rock Island Shop Made Covered Hopper Roof

While at a friend’s house for our weekly Tuesday night round robin railroad meeting, I saw a unique covered hopper on his modeling bench.  Upon asking my friend about it he told me it was an Athearn upgraded offset-side peaked end hopper with a Sunshine Models resin mini kit providing the resin covered hopper roof.   He showed me the instructions that had a photo from Bob’s Photos and a short history of the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific covered hopper prototype.  The instructions stated Bob Massey made the master for the Rock Island covered hopper roof which was to be installed on a Athearn offset-side hopper.  I took a couple of photos to aid me to build a similar covered hopper car.  

Sunshine Models mini kit instructions with Bob's Photo.
(click or tap on any photo to enlarge)

The  next day I began to research the prototype.  In Railway Prototype Cyclopedia 9, page 60, I found a photo of RI hopper 89589 from series 89500-89599, after the homemade covered roof was added by the Rock Island Shops in 1945.  Steve Hile provided me with a Rock Island Lines shop diagram for the 50 ton 33 ft. covered hopper cars.  The diagram shows the shop made roof with three hatches and the 9-10 inch diameter holes for grit loading that were later covered with circular plates.

Steve Hile Collection

In response to a post on RealSTMFC regarding Rock Island hopper decals, I learned about and found the article by Martin Lofton in July 1987 Mainline Modeler with prototype history, photos and how-to steps for scratch  building the roof.  After reading the article I decided to make a roof master as Bob Massey did and make a rubber mold of the master to make a resin cast removable roof rather than make a permanently attached plastic covered car roof as Martin described in his article.  A removable roof would allow me to run the hopper car as a A.A.R. class HM hopper without the roof and a A.A.R. class HMR, later changed to LO, hopper with the roof.  The roof would sit on an upgraded Athearn hopper kit obtained at a local train show.  The upgrade of the Athearn hopper car is described in a January 2019 post on my blog titled, “Rock Island Hopper 89502.”

I used a box car with a Murphy panel roof panels to make the master , a rubber mold, and a resin casting of the roof.

Plastic master and resin casting of the master.

Triangular brace extensions on the roof sides supporting the roof on the hopper sides were cut from Evergreen, #8210, 2x10” strip styrene.  A Northwest Short Line chopper was used to cut 10x10” squares from the Evergreen strip.  The squares were then cut from corner to opposite corner with a  single edge razor blade (SERB) creating a triangle side brace extension.  The triangle brace extensions are glued on the roof sides in line with the roof ribs.  The triangular brace extensions support the removable roof when placed on the open top hopper.

I added rivets on roof ends with Archer 5/8” rivets, AR88026, using Future floor finish and CA to secure them.

Triangular brace extensions on roof sides added to support roof
and Archer rivets applied to ends.

Resin running boards from the parts box were installed.  Longitudinal running board extension brackets were made from Evergreen, #8103, 1x3” strip styrene.  Prior to install, latitudinal running boards had mounting brackets cut from .005”x .030” shim brass glued to the back with extensions on the back side for gluing under the longitudinal running board and extensions on the front edge for bending over the roof edge.  And, before install, I added corner grab irons bent from Tichy Train Group (Tichy), #1100, .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW) with Yarmouth  Model Works shoulder eyebolts, YMW #356, for corner brackets.  Installing the grab irons on the latitudinal running boards prior to install makes it easy to cut off any wire protruding through the back flush with the backside.

Resin running boards installed.

Roof hatches cast from resin using Sunshine Models PFE Reefer hatches from kit 46.4 for the master were installed.  A Grandt Line Std. Guage Reefer Hardware set, #5106, contains hatches that could be used. Next each hatch received a handle bent from Tichy, #1101, .010” diameter PBW and a wood hatch rest next to the handle made from scrap strip styrene.  Roof hatch rests, wood on the prototype, were made from Evergreen, #8202, 2x2” strip styrene.  The 9” hole covers were cut from a 9” diameter kit sprue with a single edge razor blade (SERB) and sanded to final thickness before install. 

Hatch covers with details and  9" hole covers (black circles).

The covered hopper roof was now moved to the paint shop where it was sprayed with a Vallejo mix of two parts Model  Color Black red, 70.859, and one drop Model Color Flat Yellow, 70.953.  Once dry, I sprayed the roof with Model Master Flat Clear Acryl.  After drying I weathered the roof with Pan Pastels: Burnt Sienna, 740.5 and Payne’s Grey Tint, 840.7.  I do not spray any protective coat to protect the weathering as I have found it is not necessary after seeing cars handled in numerous operating sessions with no finish problems.

Removable covered hopper roof painted and weathered.

Painted removable roof added to open top hopper to have a covered hopper.

The Rock Island hopper removable roof can be put on open top RI hopper 89502 to turn it into a covered hopper, A.A.R. class HMR, later changed to “LO.”

Rock Island hopper in service as an open top hopper.

Removable roof added to have covered hopper.

I want to thank Steve Hile for sharing the Rock Island diagram for 50 ton 33 ft. Covered hoppers with me and allowing me to share it with you in this 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 share the blog link with other model railroaders.
Lester Breuer