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


  1. Amazing modeling job. Wish I was at your level.

  2. This may be an often asked question: Wondering (generally) about the interior color - from the factory and later on - might have looked like?

  3. Ross Thank You and your question on interior color. Answers to your question are those taken from "RealSTMFC", a site used by many prototype modelers. The stock car interiors were left unpainted wood which would weather or some people have photos showing a white wash interior. Lester

  4. Hi Lester. Great ideas on your blog. Thanks for sharing. I have a quick question. What color do you paint the under side of your freight cars. My guess is on the prototype they were probably painted to some extent just to protect them but got pretty dirty quickly. Mostly I've built prepainted kits and really didn't think about it. Just finished a resin kit and need to paint it. Thanks. Mark

  5. Beautiful job coming at just the right time! I have about 6-8 of P-2000 kits to assemble and four Central Valley kits left to build. Very encouraging.