Sunday, June 16, 2019

Soo Line Box Car 45938 Upgrade

While setting up for an operating session I pulled Accurail Soo Line Box Car 45938 out of it’s storage box and set it on the Great Northern (GN) interchange.  As I looked at the car I thought it needed weathering and moved it to the workbench.  Upon closer examination of the car at the workbench I found I had not upgraded the car due to lack of data when I acquired the car in 1992.  So with no project on the workbench I decided the time to upgrade the car was now.  First I researched the car to see what the upgrade would require.

The prototype was one of 396 steel cars, series 45900-46698, with diagonal panel roof and R+3/4 dreadnaught ends.  The car was built in 1954 by Wisconsin Soo Line Fond Du Lac Shops.  A photo of 46238 appears in Soo Line Freight Equipment and Cabooses book ( Soo Line Historical and Technical Society, 2014) on page 21.  Accurail painted box car 45938 a lighter oxide red and lettered it with the lowered  Soo Line road name in large white “billboard style” lettering. The paint and lettering  on the model matches that in the photo  well.  I checked the car diagram in Soo Line  Freight Equipment Diagrams ( Soo Line Historical and Technical Society, 2013) finding the model dimensions matched the prototype well.  I also found here the car series had Superior & Equipco hand brakes, nailable steel floor and rode on ASF Ride Control  ASF A-3 or Barber S-2 stabilized trucks.  Checking my photo collection I found I had purchased a photo of Soo Line Box Car 45450 to help with this upgrade.

Similar in construction to cars in this series.
(author collection)

My records for Soo Line 45938 show I built the Accurail car, kit 3218, in 1992.  At that time I painted the under body Floquil Grimy Black, #110013 which today can be matched  with Vallejo Model Color 70.862 Black Grey or Model Air 71.055 Black Grey RL M66.  I installed Kadee No. 5 couplers and Kadee 33” metal wheels in the Accurail AAR cast steel with spring plank kit trucks that are not correct for this car.  Therefore, I began the upgrade by changing the trucks to Athearn ASF A-3, #90400, that I hand painted Vallejo 70.862, Black Grey prior to installing the Kadee metal wheels from original kit trucks.

Next, the roof another easy change.  The kit running boards were removed and into the holes left from the mounting pins I inserted and glued plugs cut from kit sprues.  The plugs were left with 1/8” inch exposed rather than inserted flush with the roof.  After the glue set, the exposed portion of the plugs was squeezed with a square jaw pliers and sanded to create a roof saddle matching others on the car.  Next the molded on longitudinal running board brackets at the roof car ends were cut off to allow Kadee Apex, #2000, running boards with mounting pins and mounting pins on end brackets cut off to be installed.

Kadee running boards installed.

I now decided to do the most difficult part of the upgrade which is to change the molded on seven rung ladders with stiles too long to eight rung ladders with shorter ladder stiles on the sides and seven rung ladders on the ends to match the prototype ladder in photos.  The first step was carving off all the molded on ladder rungs on the sides and ends leaving the molded on stiles.  Being in the removal mode, I continued carving off all molded on grab irons on sides and ends, brake shaft and incorrect solid molded brake step (platform).  The brake step brackets are not removed as they are correct for the prototype.

Ladder rungs carved off  leaving ladder stiles.

Ladder rungs, grab irons, brake rod were carved off
and brake step removed.

With the ladders rungs carved off I shortened the stiles to match photos.   To locate the rungs I made a card with rungs locations found using the Thales Theorem ( used to divide a straight line into equal parts) and marked the locations on the car body to drill number 79 holes for the rungs.  If you are not familiar with this method you can type, “divide straight line into equal parts” into Google to find videos describing and showing how to use this theorem.

Ladder rung location car made with Thales Theorem.

I bent the ladder rungs (like straight grab irons)  from Tichy Train Group (Tichy) #1101 .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW) and installed them.

Ladder rungs to create eight rung ladder installed.

New ladders created by removing molded rungs
and adding correct number of wire rungs.

  After finishing the ladders, I cut off the incorrect style molded on sill steps.   A-Line, #29002, style “C” , sill steps were installed in #76 holes drilled in sill underside prior to install.  The sill step mounting strap on the sill on the side of the car body was added using .005" styrene with rivets added.  The molded on door handles were carved off and replaced with flattened Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW.  To complete the sides Kadee bracket grab irons were installed using Yarmouth Model Works jig to mark upper right and lower left mounting pin holes drilled with a #75 drill.  I use only the fore-mentioned two mounting pins rather than the four provided and cut off the other two with a nipper on the Kadee bracket grab irons to install them as I find that is sufficient to mount them and makes install easier.

Sill steps, door handles, and bracket grab irons installed.

I now continued to mount Kadee bracket grab irons made for car ends on the ends of the car.  After mounting the “B” end bracket grab, an Apex brake step was cut from an Apex Kadee running board and installed in the location of the removed brake step over the molded on brackets.  A  brake rod was cut from Tichy #1102, .015” diameter PBW and installed between the chain and bell crank to replace the earlier carved off one.  A retainer valve, cast in the M&N Shops, was installed followed by a retainer line and brackets made using Tichy #1100, .008” diameter PBW.  A Kadee Champion Brake wheel #2044, was installed.  To finish the “B” end work, uncoupling levers bent from Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW with eye bolt brackets, formed from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW were installed.  To learn how to bend the uncoupling levers you can click on "uncoupling levers" under "labels" on the sidebar.

"B" end with upgrade details installed.

Before proceeding to the under body work, I decided to hand paint all added upgrade details.  The added details were hand painted with Vallejo Model Air 71105, Brown RLM 26 a match for Polly Scale Special Oxide Red.

Side upgrade details hand painted.

"B" upgrade details hand painted.

I now turned my attention to the under body.  I had installed the kit brake components when I built the kit; however, I did not drill them for piping so that was done first using long drills.  Next I used an Umm saw to cut a slot in the clevis on the brake cylinder piston to allow it to slide onto the brake cylinder brake lever when inserted.  Brake levers were made with Evergreen strip styrene:   #8108, 1 x8” for the brake cylinder lever and Evergreen #8106, 1 x6” for the fulcrum lever. The slack adjuster was made with parts from parts box.

Next the piping and brake rods were installed. Piping from the air reservoir to the control valve, Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW.  The pipe from the back of the brake cylinder to the control valve Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW.  Brake rods, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW with clevises, Tichy #8021 turnbuckles, used to attach them to brake levers.  The chain  between the brake rod and brake cylinder lever is A-Line #29219, black 40 links per inch.  A train line, .018” diameter flora wire, was installed to which the dirt collector, Tichy set #3013, pipe was attached with a tee made with MEK Goop.

Under body only needing brake lever hangers to be completed.

Brake lever hangers, bent Tichy straight grab irons, were installed in #79 drilled holes whose spacing was determined using a divider, set to the width of the grab iron.  With under body complete the car was sent to the paint shop to have under body added details hand painted with Valllejo Black Grey 70.862.

Under body with brake lever hangers added and painted.

Time for weathering to be applied.  I applied the following Pan Pastels with a Pan Pastels soft sponge applicator:  Black 800.5 to roof, Neutral Grey 820.5 lowers sides and ends, and Burnt Sienna 740.5 to sides and ends.  I do not spray a clear coat over applied Pan Pastels so the car was ready for service.

Light weathering applied as built 1954
and my railroad set in spring 1955.

Light weathering applied.

Once out of the paint shop the car was put back into service on the Great Northern (GN) Interchange on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company (M&N) to serve customer needs.

Sitting on GN Interchange waiting pickup by M&N

Sitting on GN Interchange waiting pickup by M&N

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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