Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Pennsylvania X29 Design Box Cars 503920 and 504222

I have a majority of signature cars for Midwest roads on my Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company railroad, set in the spring of 1955; however, I am lacking some eastern roads for which the kits are still in the to build cabinet.  Therefore, time to build a couple of eastern road freight cars.  I began with two Red Caboose Pennsylvania X29 box car plastic kits which most accurately represent the prototype.  The cars were numbered for Pennsylvania X29 503920 with a three-panel car builder steel door (erroneously referred to as the "Creco" door) and 504222 with a Youngstown steel door.  Both cars have the 1930 to 1954 “Circle Keystone” herald (emblem, logo) and the PRR class 2D-F4 trucks. The prototype cars, series 503449-505948, were built in 1924 by Standard Steel Car Company.  Photos of cars in this series can be found in Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual, Volume One: Box & Automobile Cars, compiled by Ted Culotta (Speedwitch Media, 2006, 2007) on page 119.  And, Railway Prototype Cyclopedia, RP CYC 24, on page 24 in article by Patrick C. Wider (RP CYC Publishing Co., 2012).

Upon opening the kit box of 503290 , purchased at an estate sale, to begin the build, I found the two sprues with the ladders and the bottom door guides were missing.  I immediately opened the kit box with 504222 finding it contained the sprues with the ladders and bottom door guides; however,  I found the trucks were missing.   I decided I would use the ladders in kit 504222 on the sides of both cars and scratch-build the end ladders on both.  I would also scratch-build the bottom door guides on 503920.  Since I needed to use the ladders from the one kit on both cars, I decided to build both cars at the same time.  And, I put out the word for the needed missing trucks.  My friend Joe Binish came to the rescue providing the missing trucks.

I began the build by removing the remains of the injection sprue on underbody of both cars.  To do this I use a saw blade (do not know teeth per inch) mounted on a mandrel installed in a Dremel tool to make numerous cuts across the sprue to create thin rows of plastic easily removed with a chisel blade installed in a knife handle or dental pick.  (Caution: The saw blade mounded in the Dremel can be dangerous as a slip can cause extreme harm.  A protective saw blade cover can be purchased to mount on the Dremel for safer use.)  Once the remains of the sprue was removed the gap created in the molded on train line was filled with styrene round rod from my bits box.

Saw blade in Dremel tool used to make multiple cuts in injection sprue.
(injection mold sprue being cut on a MILW Rib Side box car)

Multiple saw cuts in sprue make injection sprue easier to remove.
(note: click or tap on this photo or any photo to enlarge)

Dental pick being used to remove injection sprue after cutting.

Now the underframe was glued in followed by the brake components previously drilled for piping if needed.  Molded brake levers with hangers and molded brake rods with nice clevises were installed.  Items not in the kit were installed next.  A Tichy Train Group (Tichy) air reservoir, set #3013, was used and relocated to the correct position when AB brakes were installed.  New mounting brackets made from Plastruct #9501, 3/64” styrene angle were used for the air reservoir and bent to shape for the control valve.  Bracket fasteners were made with MEK Goop ( plastic melted in MEK).  For piping from control valve to the air reservoir I used Tichy #1101, .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW).  For the brake pipe from the brake cylinder to the control vale and the brake rod from the brake cylinder lever I used Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW.  The chain on the brake cylinder lever to rod is A-Line #29219, 40 links per inch black chain.  Finally, the dirt collector pipe from control vale to the train line was made with Detail Associates #2506, .019” brass wire.

AB brake components and brackets located per X29 diagram.

Couplers pockets and truck bolster center plates were drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws.  Kadee #148 whisker couplers were installed in the coupler pockets with Accurail #150, 2-56 x 3/16” screws used to secure the coupler pocket covers.  Into the kit trucks that had to be assembled, I installed InterMountain 33” metal wheel sets.  In the prototype photos you see chilled-iron cast wheels identified by the ribs on the backside of the wheels rather than the plain back which the InterMountain wheels have.  If you desire the ribbed back wheel sets use Walthers Proto 2000 33” ribbed black wheel sets, item #920-21259.  The trucks were installed with Athearn , #99002, 2-56 x 1/4” screws.

Underframe complete and painted.

With the underbody complete the car was weighted to 3.8 ounces with a weight cut from .040” sheet lead cut to the inside dimensions of the car and electrical outlet box punch outs.  The sheet lead weight was glued to the interior floor with Permatex clear RTV silicone adhesive sealant.  The roof was now installed to complete the car body followed by the running boards with Evergreen #8102, 1 x 2” strip styrene used to make the extensions brackets with fasteners made with MEK.  Latitudinal running board corner grab irons were fabricated from Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW with Yarmouth Model Works , YMW 356, etched eye bolts for corner legs.

Roof  and running boards installed.

Running board extension brackets with fasteners installed.

Next I did the work on the sides consisting of installing the kit doors, door placards, door guides on 504222, door stops, ladders and grab irons.  The door guide for 503920 was scratch-built with Evergreen strip styrene and extra triangles (on a sprue kit) with tops cut off with a single edge razor blade and positioned against the strip styrene as on door guide on 504222.   A drop grab iron, Tichy #3015, 18” drop type, was installed below the ladders.  The molded on sill steps were cut off and A-Line #29002, style “C”sill steps were installed into #76 holes drilled into the underside of the sill.  On the side sill the sill step mount is made with Evergreen .005” sheet styrene with embossed rivets.  The molded on door handles were carved off and replaced with door handles bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW.  On 504222 a new type single door stop replaced the two doors stops on 503920.  The rivets on the prototype used to cover the holes left when door stops removed were simulated with an awl ( a push pin) pressed into car side.

Note Car Builder door and two door stop brackets.

Note Youngstown door and single door stop bracket.

Car bodies were getting close to being finished with only the work on ends to do.  On the “B”  end I installed the kit brake step and brackets, retainer valve followed by a retainer line made from Tichy #1100, .008” diameter PBW. Now on 504222, the kit brake housing with a Resin Car Works Equipco brake wheel and brake rod were installed.  On 503920, a vertical brake shaft with the kit brake wheel was installed.  A bracket for the brake shaft step was bent from a flat strip of strip brass from the bits box. Next the kit grab irons and placard board were installed.  The scratch built ladders fabricated from Evergreen #8202, 2 x 2” strip styrene for stiles with Plastruct #90849, .015” styrene round rod used for the rungs to match kit ladder rungs ( for ladder construction method see “ladders” under “labels” on the side bar) were installed.  Finally, the uncoupling lever on 504222, bent from Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW with eye bolts for  mounting brackets formed from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW with an Xuron wire bending pliers (see “uncoupling levers” under “labels” on the side bar for bending method).  On 503920, a Yarmouth Model Works #400, carmer uncoupling lever was  installed on a mount made with a piece of styrene from the bits box with a wire installed in it for the hole in the carmer lever to mount on.  On the “A” end kit grab irons, placard board, scratch-built ladders and uncoupling levers matching the “B” end were installed.

Scratch built ladder and Resin Car Works
Equipco brake wheel installed on end.

Note retainer line position, Carmer uncoupling lever
and hand painted scratch-built ladder..

Note retainer line position and uncoupling lever
and hand painted scratch-built ladder.

With the car underbody and car body done,  I could proceed with painting.  To match the factory paint, I used a Vallejo mix: Model Color Red Leather, #70.818, 1 part, and Satin Varnish, #70.522, 1 part, to hand paint the underbody where needed, scratch built ladders and other added parts.  Once paint was dry the car was weathered with The following Pan Pastels:  Burnt Sienna 740.5 applied to sides and roof, Red Iron Oxide  Shade 380.3 for rust spots and Paynes Extra Dark 840.1 lightly on roof, grab irons, ladders and underbody.

Two X29 design box cars 503920 and 504222, eastern road signature cars, are in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company.  

PRR X29 box cars at Little Chicago M&N Freight House.

PRR X29 box car 503920 at Little Chicago M&N Freight House.

PRR X29 box car 504222 at Little Chicago Freight House.

I want to say,  “Thank You.”  to Bruce F. Smith for providing me with information to locate the AB brake components in their proper location, Elden Gatwood for posting the X29 AB brake diagram on the RealSTMFC site on groups.io (message 163123) showing brake component and associated brackets location, Eric Hamsmann and John Golden for underbody paint color and Joe Binish for providing the needed set of trucks.

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. Excellent build! Better than mine, that's for sure. Love the ladders and the handbrake. Great blog too--very inspiring and informative! - John Golden