Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Spokane, Portland & Seattle Gondola 23038

Having completed the build of a Northern Pacific (NP) gondola to add to the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company fleet I felt it best to build the Sunshine Models resin gondola, kit 67.25, as the kit build would be almost the same as the NP kit.  Therefore, to me it just made sense; however, I would not build it as an NP gondola since I already had built two gondolas as NP.  I would build this one as Spokane, Portland & Seattle (SP&S) gondola 23038, SP&S series 23000-23199, to add my first SP&S gondola to my fleet.

Choosing to build the Sunshine Models gondola as an SP&S gondola required I obtain SP&S decals to letter the built gondola as the kit NP decals could not be used.   I found and ordered a set of decals from National Scale Car for this series of gondolas, set D221.

The prototype Spokane, Portland & Seattle (SP&S) 70 Ton 41-foot gondola was build by American Car and Foundry (AC&F) in 1952-1953.  On delivery the cars were assigned into SP&S series 23000-23199.  The cars had a  41 foot 6 inch inside length, 9 foot 6 inch inside width and a 4 foot 7 inch height.   The sides had 13 box-like irregularly spaced riveted posts, improved Dreadnaught fixed ends with rounded corner posts, and Miner handbrakes.  The solid bottom floor consisted of alternating steel and wood floor planks to provide a nailable floor.  The cars rode on A-3 Ride Control trucks.  The delivered cars, including trucks, were painted oxide red with white lettering and had the SP&S oval herald with caboose red background applied..

Photo from Sunshine Models Data Sheet #67.3

     (Click on this or any image to enlarge)

Photos of these gondolas as delivered are in the instructions.  A photo showing a three quarter view showing the “B” end of SP&S number 23038 is in Sunshine Models Prototype Data Sheet #67.3 (see above).  And, there is a photo showing a group of these gondolas (see below).  A three quarter view of SP&S X-543 can be found in Spokane, Portland & Seattle Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment (Morning Sun Books Inc., 1998) after a number of these gondolas were assigned M-of-W service in 1968.

Photo from Sunshine Models Data Sheet #67.3

To build the SP&S gondola I used the instructions in kit 67.25, the same instructions I used to build NP gondola 59204.  Since the build was the same, I will not describe details of the build steps here.  Rather I ask you to read the build details of Northern Pacific Gondola 59204 - Part One Here I will just show photos with captions of the build at various steps of the build.

Photos of build of SP&S Build.

Car body assembled.

Grab irons installed.

Grab irons and ladders installed.  And,
"B" end work started.

"B" end work finished except for uncoupling levers.

Uncoupling levers installed.

Underbody before brake detail installed.

Train line and brake details installed.

The final step prior to sending SP&S 23038 to the paint shop was to install retaining clips on the sides.  I hand painted the added detail parts with Vallejo Surface Primer, Vallejo Grey 70.601.  After Vallejo Surface Primer was dry the gondola was sprayed in preparation for applying Archer retaining clips ( tie downs).  I used Tamiya TS-79 Semi-Gloss applied with rattle can.   When dry, I used a paper guide to apply a straight dashed line with a pencil on the side for applying the Archer retaining clips.  

Marking side with line for retaining clips install.

And, the Archer retaining clips were applied.  After application of Archer retaining clips (tie downs) my gondolas was ready for finish paint.

Archer retaining (tie downs) applied.

Gondola is ready for paint and lettering.

With the build of Spokane, Portland & Seattle 23038 gondola ready the painting, lettering and weathering, SP&S 23038  was moved to the paint shop.  In the paint shop the interior of SP&S gondola 23038 was done first.  The interior was airbrushed with Vallejo Model Color Black Grey 70.862.  Once the Black Grey was dry the interior was weathered with Prismacolor pencils:  Cool Grey PC1061, Light Umber PC941 and Burnt Ochre PC943.

Interior painted and weathered.

Interior painted and weathered.

Next the underbody was airbrushed Vallejo/Micro-Mark Model Color Tarnished Black X29022X2.

Underbody airbrushed and trucks hand painted.

Now the car body was airbrushed with an oxide red mix:  Vallejo/Micro-Mark Model Air Box Car Red x29015X2, 7 drops or 70% and Vallejo Model Color Flat Red 70.957, 3 drops or 30%.   Once dry the car body was sprayed Vallejo Gloss Medium 70.470 to provide a gloss base for decal application.

Car body airbrushed mixed oxide red color.

Car body airbrushed mixed oxide red color.

After gloss finish was dry,  decals, National Scale Car set D221, were soaked off in distilled water and applied to the car body where MicroScale Micro Set had been applied with a brush.  After decals were 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 was sprayed with Vallejo Gloss Clear Varnish 70.510 to better hide decals edges.

I was not happy with the decal edges so I airbrushed the car body with Model Master Gloss Clear Acryl 4638.  And, when the car body was dry,  I sprayed the car body with Model Master Flat Clear Acryl, #4636, to protect decals and provide a flat finish for weathering when applied.

Decals applied.

Decals applied.

My last step before putting Spokane, Portland & Seattle gondola 23038 in  service was to weather the car.  I used Artmatic Eye Shadow makeup, a box car red color, applied with a sponge applicator on the panels.  Pan Pastels Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1, applied with a sponge applicator, was used on the car body rib tops and lightly over safety appliances on car body.  Black 800.5 applied with a fine blue microbrush applicator, on the rib sides.   Burnt Sienna Shade 740.3 was used to simulate the rust areas on the trucks.

Car weathered.

Car weathered.

Spokane, Portland & Seattle gondola 23038 was  ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  A car card was made for SP&S 23038, the final step to put the cars in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.  As on the SP&S gondola 23038 will be hauling scarp on the M&N.

NP gondola has been pulled and SP&S 23038
being spotted at Leone Foundry in Eureka Center, MN.

SP&S gondola 23038 spotted for unloading.

SP&S gondola 23038 spotted for unloading.

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


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Freight Car and Loco Wheel Cleaning And Track Cleaning

 Having an operating railroad, the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company,  ever so often I am asked, “How do you clean the wheels on freight cars and locomotives?”   After answering the previous question, usually the next question that follows is, “ How do you clean the track?”   While preforming these tasks for a monthly operating session I thought I would share my methods of how I complete these tasks of cleaning wheels and track with you here.

First let me show you with photos of how I perform the freight car and locomotive wheel cleaning and tools I use.   I have a “cleaning station” on the railroad that consists  a light duty table I built with a cleaning track installed and a commercial purchased cabinet with drawers to hold supplies.   Both of these units have casters installed to allow them to be rolled under the railroad when not in use.  Why my cleaning station?    I purchased and used several manufactures items to clean wheels or track that I felt all did a poor job.

Cleaning Station pulled from under railroad.

Cleaning station ready for use.

On the table I have installed two tracks: a cleaning track at the front and a programming track in the rear.  Two three foot pieces of commercial track are mounted on some old Tru Scale unstained wood road bed.

Two tracks are installed on front of table.

The cleaning track has track feeders as any other track on the railroad to enable it to be powered when the railroad power is turned on.   The programming track has an on and off toggle installed in the track feeders as I wanted it and programmer to be turned off when not in use.

Track feeders and Programmer

In the center of the cleaning track you see the cleaning pad, a half sheet of Bounty paper towel held in place by a piano wire.  The piano wire, .042” diameter (could be larger) wire the length of the width of a half sheet of Bounty paper towel, with a right angles bent at each end that are inserted into holes drilled  between the ties in the track roadbed and table to hold the paper towel on the track.  One end of the wire has track spikes holding it from rising.  The other wire end allowed to be lifted slightly to allow paper towel to be inserted under it.

Cleaning track paper towel cleaning pad.

One end raised to allow paper entry.

Other items I have on the cleaning table are cleaning items stored in the drawer in the cabinet next to it.  The items are as follows:

  • Bounty paper towel that allows a half sheet to be used

Bounty paper towel half sheet.

An old freight car truck with wheels with unusable deep flanges; however, very usable to hold the paper towel to the rails.

Truck with deep flanges.

  • A dispenser, my choice a bottle with needle applicator, for cleaning fluid - my choice 91% isopropyl alcohol.

Applicator bottle with needle applicator 
filled with 91% isopropyl alcohol.

  • A Kadee plastic track gauge tool for checking coupler height on cars having wheels cleaned.
  • A couple of retailers if needed to help put freight cars on the tracks.

Now lets look at the cleaning process.   Once you have the paper towel inserted on the track under the wire.

Paper towel half under wire.

The freight car truck with the deep car flanges is rolled back and forth over the paper towel to secure the paper towel to the rails.

Freight car truck with deep flanges being 
rolled back and forth over paper towel.

Next the bottle with needle applicator is used to apply the 91% isopropyl alcohol to the paper towel.

91% isopropyl alcohol being applied.

Once the paper towel has 91% isopropyl alcohol applied, a freight car whose wheels are to be cleaned is placed on the track on either side of the paper towel.  I then hold the car while I roll it back and forth across the wet paper towel pad.   If there is dirt on a wheel it will come off.

Freight car placed on cleaning track.

Freight car rolled back and forth on paper towel.

Freight car rolled back and forth on paper towel.

You will be amazed at the grime that comes off on the wet paper towel from a dirty freight car wheel.  After grime has accumulated on the paper towel,  you stop and pull the paper forward to get a clean area and repeat the process.  You continue to do this until no grime comes off on the wet paper towel.

Paper towel cleaning pad pulled forward to
have a clean wheel cleaning area.

To clean locomotive wheels the preparation for the wheel cleaning is the same except instead of the freight car a locomotive is placed on the track.   And, the track power has to be turned on.  A throttle is used to run the locomotive front wheels onto the wet paper towel.

Loco moved to paper towel with throttle.

I hold the locomotive by its back to allow the wheels to spin while I turn on the throttle knob to almost full throttle allowing the spinning front wheels to deposit the grime on them on the wet paper towel.

With throttle turned on I hold the loco to allow
 locomotive to allow wheels to turn on the paper towel.

I move the locomotive rear wheels to the other end of the paper towel and place my hand on the track in front of the locomotive to hold the locomotive in that position until rear wheels have released their grime on the wet paper towel.

Back wheels on locomotive being cleaned.

Of course, you do not need a wheel cleaning table to use this method.   The cleaning track could be a section of track on your railroad or a section of track mounted on a piece of lumber as a 2 x 4.

With freight car and locomotive wheels clean we want clean track to run them on.    To clean track I use a piece of Masonite fiberboard (hardboard) cut to 1 1/1/4 inches in width and 7 3/4 inches in length. 

Masonite fiberboard in middle.

Again Bounty paper towel  is folded to create the cleaning pad to wipe down the track.  A half sheet of Bounty paper towel will be folded to make cleaning pad.

Half sheet of paper towel.

 The half sheet of paper towel is folded in half.

Half sheet paper towel folded in half.

And, once more in half again to create the cleaning pad.

Paper towel folded in half once again.

The folded paper towel cleaning pad is now attached to the Masonite holder with two hairpins.

Folded paper towel attached to masonite holder
with two hairpins.

The two hairpins can easily be removed to move the paper towel cleaning pad to obtain a clean section on the end.

Paper towel cleaning pad moved to obtain
a clean area to wipe track.

The end of the paper towel pad can be wet with the 91% alcohol with the needle applicator or used dry to clean the track.  Now only one’s hand is needed to hold and apply the track cleaner to the track.

Track cleaning tool in use.

Ok, that may be great for cleaning track in open access area; however, what about track through tunnels or bridges.   Well,  to accomplish that task you add an extension handle of appropriate length to get the track clean.  My handle is an old broom handle with a slot cut in it to friction fit the Masonite holder.

Track cleaning tool with extension handle.

Once you have tools to clean wheels and track they have to be put in service.  On an operating railroad as on the prototype it is a good practice to have a freight car and locomotive maintenance schedule.  On the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company each month freight cars, normally 25 to 30 cars, entering the railroad on the Great Northern, Chicago And Northwestern, Milwaukee Road and the Chicago Great Western interchanges have wheels cleaned, coupler heights checked and inspected for any other problems as loose trucks.  Freight cars that do not leave the railroad via the interchanges such as cabooses have wheels cleaned  every fourth operating session.  

Great Northern Interchange in Minneapolis, MN

CNW Interchange in  Little Chicago, MN.

MILW Interchange in Eureka Center, MN.

CGW Interchange in Randolph, MN.

M&N Locomotives cleaned each month are the switchers in Minneapolis, Little Chicago, Northfield and MILW locomotive in Eureka Center.  Mainline locomotives and doodlebug have wheels cleaned as needed or a number of them have wheels cleaned with the switchers each month.

Minneapolis, MN.  engine house.
Note caboose track along side of hill to road.

Roundhouse in Northfield, MN.

Doodlebug at station platform in Northfield, MN.

I hope my methods and tools can help you get your freight car and locomotive wheels clean as well as the track they run on. 

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