Friday, April 12, 2019

West India Fruit & Steamship Company Box Car 323

I was asked by a friend to add to my blog my write-up and photos of West India Fruit & Steamship Company box car W.I.F. 323.  At his request, I am sharing them here since I built W.I.F. in November 2017 prior to starting my blog.

The Western India Fruit & Steamship (WIF&SS Co.), founded in 1946, operated a railroad car ferry between Palm Beach, Florida and Havana, Cuba until August 1961. During this period the WIF&SS Co. had a total of five car ferries similar in design to the ferries built for Great Lakes service to transport railroad cars to and from Florida and Cuba. The service was described as "The  Superior All-Rail Route to Cuba." In January 1952 the WIF&SS Co. took delivery of 150, 50-ton, 40'-6" box cars, W.I.F. series 200-349, from American Car & Foundry.   The 150 cars had features including 12-panel welded sides, 8' door openings, improved Youngstown steel doors, Apex Tri-lok running boards and brake step.  Additional data and photos of W.I.F. 323 and 234 can be found in Railway Prototype Cyclopedia, RP CYC 29 (RP CYC Publishing Company, 2014) on page 112.

Yarmouth Model Works produced a W.I.F. resin car, kit #YMW-113 (still available),  that features the unique oil canning effect from welded car sides.  I purchased one to build for my  Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company railroad even though I was not sure the cars operated in the Midwest.  Upon discussing the new kit with several friends I found W.I.F. cars definitely were found in the Midwest.

Soph Marty photo, Clark Propost collection

Yarmouth Model Works kit is a one piece body kit so I began the build with the car body.  I added a baffle, Evergreen .040" styrene, inside at the center of the car body.  Next, I began the under body work by fitting the floor via sanding.  Bolster center plates and coupler pads were drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws.  Kadee #262 coupler pockets with Kadee #148 couplers were installed with Accurail #150, 2-56 x 3/16" Phillips pan head screws.  Trucks, Kato ASF A-3 provided in kit,  were installed with Athearn #99002, 2-56 x 1/4" round head screws.  I like to have trucks and couplers installed and floor fitted to car body prior to placing it on a postal scale to find if additional weight is needed.  The car was weighted to 3.8 ounces, my standard which is slightly above the recommended NMRA 3.75 ounces, with electrical outlet box punchouts.

Car body and underbody is ready for assembly.
(Click or tap on this or any photo to enlarge)

Once the  Permatex RTV silicone adhesive sealant and glue used to attach the weights was dry, I installed the fitted under body.  To complete the car I installed detail parts on the car as follows:

Under body

- Cross bearers, cross bearer caps, crossties, and bolster caps, kit
- Brake components from Tichy AB brake set #3013, provided in kit, were installed using photo
   etched brass mounts, kit. Prior to install the components were drilled for piping.
- Brake levers and slack adjuster, kit
- Piping .010" diameter brass wire from air reservoir to brake cylinder, kit
 - Piping .0125" diameter brass wire from brake cylinder to control valve, kit
- Brake rods, .0125" diameter brass wire with Tichy Train Group turnbuckles #8021, for clevises
   to attach to brake levers
- Chain is A-Line, #29219, black 40 links per inch
- Train line, K&S .020" diameter brass wire
- Dirt collector, Tichy set #3013, kit

Under body ready for paint.


- Grab irons, kit
- Photo etched Apex running boards, kit, installed with Formula 560 Canopy glue.
- Running board extension brackets on ends of car, kit, with MEK Goop fasteners.

Roof with Apex photo etched running boards installed.

Car Sides

- Grab irons, bracket type, kit.  Yarmouth Model Works jig used to drill mounting holes.
- Ladders, kit, assembled from brass bent stiles and 18" rungs
- Pads for ladders, Evergreen #8203, 2 x 3" strip styrene
- Sill steps, A-Line #29000, style A, with styrene made mounting brackets on side sill
- Doors, kit, with handles made with kit brass etched ladder rungs and placard boards, kit

Note oil canning effect, brass ladders and bracket grab irons 

Bender and jigs used to fabricate ladders.

Car Ends

- Grab irons, kit
 - Ladders, kit, assembled from brass bent stiles and 16" rungs
 - Brake housing, kit, and brake wheel, kit
- Brake step and brackets, kit, with MEK fasteners, brake rod, .015" brass wire, bell crank, kit
- Retainer valve, Precision Scale #31796
- Retainer line and brackets, .008" diameter brass wire, kit
- Uncoupling levers, Tichy #1106, .0125" diameter phosphor bronze wire 
 - Placards, kit, with MEK (plastic melted in MEK) fasteners

"B" end of car

For finishing, West India Fruit number 323 was moved to the paint shop where Vallejo Model Color was used to spray the underbody Dark Grey Blue 71.054 (tarnished black) and car body German Uniform green 70.920 (dark green).

W.I.F. out of the paint shop ready for lettering.

Once the paint was dry,  I used Model Master 4638 Gloss Clear Acryl to spray car body for a decal base.  Decals used were in the kit except for stripes which came from my used Champ decals.  For the reweigh station decal I used New Smyrna Beach (NSB) rather than Bunnell (BN) for the station reweigh sight.  Hindsight, I could have cut up the NSB to get BN.   I did have to cut up decals to get the number and date I wanted to match the photo in Railway Prototype Cyclopedia RP CYC #29, page 112.  After decals applied were dry, I sprayed Model Master 4636 Flat Clear Acryl for a protective coat.

As every finished car, W.I.F. 323 is in service on my Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company.

W.I.F. 323 on IB Fine Woolen Company siding

W.I.F. 323 on IB Fine Woolen Company siding.

I wish to say, "Thank You" to Clark Propst for sharing a Soph Marty  color photo from his collection to help with 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


  1. Lester,

    This car looks fantastic...great job. I did the patterns of this car for Yarmouthmodelworks. It’s nice to see one get built. The only other built one I’ve seen is G.Tomans. Thanks for sharing.

    Ryan Mendell

    1. Ryan Thank You for the kind words. And, I Thank You for your work to produce the fine masters for this fine kit.