Thursday, May 24, 2018


Milwaukee box car 713406, series 713000-713999, is an Accurail special run kit for Milwaukee Trainfest 2008.  The prototype, a single sheathed, Howe truss design, three panels on either side of the wood doors, and braced ends was built in 1925 by the Pullman Company. The cars when built had Hutchins Dry Lading roofs and the underframes used an ARA straight center sill. These cars stayed in service for more than 40 years.  Black and white photos and history can be found on pages 70 and 71, in Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual, Vol. one: Box & Automobile Cars, complied by Ted Culotta, published by Speedwitch Media.  A color photo of  Milwaukee box car 713168 is on page 7 in Milwaukee Road Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment, Vol.2, by Doug Nighswonger, published by Morning Sun Books.

Click or tap on photos to enlarge

Before starting to assemble the kit I reviewed the car body and underbody for prototype accuracy finding the roof correct and sides, except for corner brackets, with modifications I could make were correct.  The car had braced ends; not the correct type found on the Milwaukee Road cars. If I had been willing to cut off the ends I could have used proper ends found on Sunshine Models, kit 47.3, Milwaukee box car 711470 ( build found on this blog and Resin Car Works blog) or Westerfield, kit #8202, stock car kit.  The underbody has the a fishbelly rather than a straight center sill and brake components needed to be relocated to correct location for the Milwaukee cars. Paint and lettering were acceptable except for build date which is 1929 rather than 1925.

The different ends.  Accurail on left.  Sunshine Models on right.

I began the build of this car as any other Accurail car by carving off all molded on grab irons and cutting off molded on sill steps. Next all holes for grab irons were drilled using a #80 drill bit. I installed grab irons on sides and ends bent from Detail Associates, #2504, .012" diameter brass wire.  I continued with the other work needed on the sides.  The ladders were seven rung ladders, incorrect for the Milwaukee car, so I carved off all ladder rungs and shortened the left stiles to match Milwaukee car photos.  I installed new ladder rungs bent from Tichy Train Group (Tichy), #1106, .0125" phosphor bronze wire (PBW).  The new ladder rungs were spaced correctly to create six rung ladders used by the prototype.  A bent drop grab iron was installed under each ladder.  The door stops as molded on the model did not match the Milwaukee so the lower door stop was carefully removed and reinstalled a better distance from the upper one and covered with a scrap piece of strip styrene to match the look of the Milwaukee door stop. A-Line, #29000, style A, sill steps were now installed in #76 drilled holes. The molded on door handle was carved off and replaced with one bent from Detail Associates, #2503, .010" diameter brass wire.

With the sides finished I installed the running boards in the kit on the roof.  Longitudinal running board extension supports were made from Evergreen, #8102, 1x2" strip styrene (see "B" end photo).  Grab irons bent from Tichy, #1106, .0125" diameter PBW with Yarmouth Model Works, YMW 255, eyebolts for corner brackets, were installed.

Now I turned my attention to the "B" end work.  Since the car was painted and lettered, I decided to keep and rework the ends on this car rather than replace them making this an acceptable stand-in car. First the ladders were reworked the same way the side ladders were.  The brake shaft step was opened with a 2-56 drill and cleaned up with a small file.  Brake shaft, Tichy, #1102, .015" diameter PBW with a bracket made from Detail Associates, #2503, .010" wire, was installed. The kit supplied brake wheel was installed on the brake shaft.  A Sunshine Models resin cast retainer valve was installed followed by a retainer line made from Tichy, #1100, .008" diameter PBW. Finally, top mounted uncoupling levers made from Tichy, #1106, PBW with eyebolt brackets formed with a Xuron wire bending plier from Detail Associates, #2503, .010" diameter brass wire, were installed.

With the car body finished, I did the needed underbody work.  The first task was to replace the fishbelly center sill provided in the kit with a straight center sill correct for the Milwaukee car. A new straight center sill was made with Evergreen #145, .040x100" strip styrene.  The brake components were drilled for piping and located in the proper location.  The air reservoir was mounted with brackets that were the sill steps cut off of this car.  Brake levers cut from Evergreen, #8101 1x8" and #8106 1x6" strip styrene and slack adjuster cut from scrap styrene were installed.  Piping from the air reservoir to the control valve is Tichy, #1101, .010" diameter PBW and the pipe from the brake cylinder to the control valve is Tichy, #1106, .0125" diameter PBW.  All brake rodding is Tichy, #1106, .0125" diameter PBW with a half Tichy, #8021, turnbuckle for a clevis to attach to brake levers.  Chain is A-Line, #29219, black 40 links per inch.  Flora wire, .020" diameter, was used for the train line. The dirt collector is from Tichy set, #3013.  Brake lever hangers were added after this photo was taken.

With underbody work done the car was moved to the paint shop.  In the paint shop a color match to the Accurail applied paint had to be found. I worked with three Vallejo paints to create two mixes.  The first mix was Vallejo Model Air Brown, RLM26, one drop, and Model Color Saddle Brown, 70940.  The second mix, my preferred mix,  was Model Color Black Red, 70.859, one drop and Model Color Saddle Brown, 70.859, two drops.  The small number of drops used is because the mixes were done in a plastic water bottle cap. The underbody and trucks did require the mix to be made several times for complete coverage.  After car body was left for a couple of days I did the weathering with Pan Pastels and Prismacolor Premier color pencils using black, burnt ochre, cool grey and light umber. The weathering did not receive a clear coat to enable it to be removed if I should want to change it later. I have found that cars weathered with these methods stand up well when handled on an operating railroad.

Color photos in MILW Nighswonger book used to add weathering.

Milwaukee box car 713406 now joins Milwaukee 711470 to serve customers on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company. A future project for a second Accurail Milwaukee box car in inventory will be to build it with correct ends in addition to the work done to this stand-in.

MILW SS box cars in M&N Minneapolis Chestnut Street Yard

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

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