Sunday, September 29, 2019

Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range 3332 Box Car

My latest roster addition is Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range, DMIR, boxcar 3332.  An Accurail boxcar, kit 4406, I purchased at a flea market in 2017 is built to serve customers on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company.  The correctly lettered boxcar out of the box does require side and end work, specifically the removal of ladders and addition of details to match the DMIR prototype.

The prototype for this boxcar is a single sheathed Howe truss configuration boxcar with Murphy 7/8 corrugated steel ends and Hutchins roof built by American Car & Foundry in 1923 for the Duluth & Iron Range.  After the merger of the Duluth & Iron Range with the Missabe & Northern in 1938 creating the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range, boxcar DMIR 3332, series 3300 to 3399, was classified as a DMIR class “P2” boxcar.  Other interesting features of the boxcar are grab iron drop type ladders, tow loops mounted on the outer side sill and in later years on inside of the side sill, door stops and fishbelly underframe.  A color photo of one of three cars on the Lake Superior Railroad Museum freight car roster appears in the Official Guidebook to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum and North Shore Scenic Railroad (Lake Superior Railroad Museum, 2013).  The three cars, numbers 3305, 3321, and 3374, were donated to the museum in 1975.

1988 photo from O Fenton Wells Collection

2008 photo from Kevin Dill Collection

DMIR car photo from internet with no photo credit.
(Click or tap on this or any photo to enlarge)

As with any plastic kit the under body was fitted first.  Since I like installing coupler pocket covers with screws the molded on plastic mounting pins were cut off.  The coupler pocket covers, coupler pockets and bolsters were drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws.  The coupler pocket covers were installed onto the coupler pockets, with Kadee #148 couplers inserted, with Fastenal 2-56 x 3/16” screws.  Trucks, Accurail cast ARA with spring plank provided in the kit into which I inserted InterMountain 33” metal wheels were installed with Fastenal 2-56 x 1/4” screws.  The steel weight provided in the kit was glued and clamped to the underbody inside with Formula 560 canopy glue to bring the car weight to 4.0 oz.  After letting the glue dry overnight, the underbody was glued into the car body.  

Next I added the underbody details.  First, the AB brake system components in the kit after drilling for piping were installed.  Needing mounting brackets for air reservoir, I cut the molded plastic sill steps off at this time and used two of  them for the mounting brackets for the air reservoir.  Tichy Train Group (Tichy) #1101, .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW) wire was used for the piping between the control valve and the air reservoir.  The pipe from the brake cylinder to control valve was bent from Tichy, #1106, .0125” diameter PBW.  Brake levers fabricated from Evergreen strip styrene, # 8108 1 x 8” for the brake cylinder lever and #8106, 1”x 6” for the floating lever were installed ( see “brake levers” under “labels” on sidebar for how made).  All brake rods fabricated from Tichy, #1106, .0125” diameter PBW with Tichy, #8021, turnbuckles for clevises were installed.  Chain in between brake cylinder lever and rod is A-Line, #29219, 40 links per inch.  A train line, .018” floral wire, was installed in holes drilled with a 4” long drill made from .032” piano wire.  A dirt collector from Tichy, set #3013, was added.  It was connected to the train line with a tee made from MEK Goop.

Underbody installed details ready for paint.

I worked on the car sides next.  The photos of this series of cars show grab iron drop type ladders; therefore, the molded on ladders had to be removed.  I carved off the molded on ladders and rungs with a custom ground Xacto #17 blade mounted in a #5 Xacto handle and with micro scalpel blades mounted in micro scalpel handles.  After carving was done the areas were sanded with sanding sticks.  I cut new board grooves with an Xacto knife with a #11 Xacto blade in areas where molded ladder had been. Definitely, the ladder removal was tedious and most difficult part of the build.

Custom ground blade on left and micro scalpel blades on right.

Molded on ladders carved off and some needed details installed.
The grab irons on left sided not changed to 24" yet.

Once board lines were cut, new upper corner braces cut from Evergreen .005” sheet styrene with a .048” width were installed.   Lower right triangle corner braces at sill were also cut from the .005” sheet styrene and installed.  An interesting type tow loop, again made from .005” sheet styrene was installed.  Tow loop fasteners made with MEK Goop were added.  Now Tichy #3015 18” drop type grab irons were installed to create the new ladders.  Molded on grab irons on the left side were carved off and new 24” grab irons made with Tichy #1101 .010” PBW were installed.  Sill steps cut off earlier were replaced with A-Line #29000, style steps.

Corner braces, lower door guide, and tow loop installed.
Grab irons not changed to 24" yet.

Next I added the door and associated door details.  A new lower door guide cut from Evergreen #8103 1 x 3” strip styrene was installed.  Styrene from the bits box was used to make new upper and lower door hangers.  Molded on door handles were carved off and new door handles, Tichy #1101 .010” diameter PBW, were installed.  The upper door stop was cut off and moved to it’s new upper location.  Styrene from the bits box was added to the existing molded door stops to make them look like the ones on the prototype.

Upper door stop moved to new location.
Note new gussets at side sill corners.
Grab irons have been changed to 24".

Door hangers from styrene bits  box added.

The roof work was done next.  I removed the running boards, milled them to .028” or 2 1/2 HO inches and reinstalled them.  On the longitudinal running board the end extension brackets were made with Evergreen #8102 1 x 2” strip styrene.  On the latitudinal running boards the molded on grab irons were carved off and holes were drilled using a #80 drill to mount new wire corner grab irons.  The corner grab irons were bent from Tichy #1101 .010” diameter PBW ( see “grab irons” under “labels” on side bar for bending) and installed with Yarmouth Model Works #356 eye-bolts with shoulder for corner legs.

Roof with milled running boards and new corner grab irons.

I only had the work on the ends left to finish the build.  As on the sides, molded on ladders and grab irons were carved off and areas sanded with sanding sticks.  A #79 drill was used to drill the holes for the drop grab iron ladder, end drop grab iron, and sill drop grab irons.  Again, Tichy #3015 18” drop type grab irons were installed. 

On the “B” end the brake step is in the incorrect location requiring the mounting hole to be filled. Per photos, the brake step was relocated between corrugated ribs six and seven and Evergreen #8102 strip styrene was used to make the brackets.  The brake shaft step molded closed was opened by drilling a #50 hole and cleaning it up to the edges with a broach and file.  After brake shaft step opening was acceptable, the back portion of the brake shaft step was cut off at the same angle as the front to create a strap looking brake shaft step matching the prototype.  A brake shaft cut from Tichy #1102 .015” diameter PBW was installed followed by a Tichy brake wheel from set #3013.  MEK Goop was used to create a brake shaft fastener above the brake wheel.  A Tichy retainer valve, set #3013, was installed followed by a retainer line, Tichy #1101 .008” diameter PBW.  Finally, uncoupling levers bent from Tichy #1106 .0125” diameter PBW with eye-bolt brackets bent from Tichy #1101 .010” diameter PBW were installed (for bending click "uncoupling levers").

Molded on ladder rungs carved off
and brake step moved.

"B" end details added except for uncoupling lever. 

Uncoupling lever added.

To finish the build the added details needed to be painted.   The underbody and trucks were hand painted Vallejo Model Color 70.862 Black Grey.   Car body added details were hand painted with a Vallejo Model Color mix of 75% (3 drops) 70.864 Mahogany Brown and 25% ( 1 drop) Calvary Brown.  In my opinion, a good match to the Accurail factory applied paint color.  The only decal I applied was the reweigh date for Duluth cut from the extra reweigh dates on a Rock Island decal sheet from Rocket Express.  The decal was applied with Microscale Micro Sol and Walthers Solvaset.  Once the decals were dry the carbody was sprayed using an air brush with Vallejo Matt Varnish 70.520 to provide a protective coat for handling and weathering.

Underbody hand painted.  Note the reworked brake shaft step
next to the coupler pocket on the right side of the photo. You
can see through it.

Side details hand painted.

Added details hand painted.

With the protective coat applied and dry, Pan Pastel weathering was applied with makeup brushes and micro applicators.  Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1 was applied to the roof.  Burnt Sienna Shade 740.3 was brushed on the sides and ends.  To fade the lettering Red Iron Oxide Extra Dark 380.1 was lightly applied over the lettering.  A final blending of the applied colors was done with a very light touch with the makeup brush loaded with a tiny amount of Paynes Grey Extra Dark.  The tiny amount was obtained by tapping the loaded brush on paper towel prior to remove most of the Paynes Grey Extra Dark.

DMIR 332 after weathering with Pan Pastels.

"B" end after weathering with Pan Pastels.

Since I do not apply a clear coat after weathering to any freight car, I printed a car card for Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range 3332 and placed the car in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company.

DMIR 332 sitting at Little Chicago Freight House

DMIR 3332 sitting at Little Chicago Freight House.

I want to say, "Thank You" to O Fenton Wells and Kevin Dill for sharing photos they took of the DMIR cars with me and giving me permission to share them with you here on by blog.

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. Where can I purchase a micro scalpel and related items?
    Thank you.

  2. You can purchase micro scalpel from Micro-Mark as I did. Micro knife handle with one of each of the four blade types available is product #81067. The blades in the photo in the blog are #61 and #62 blades.

  3. Nice job Lester. I have done many similar Accurail upgrades myself. I notice that you did not include the sill step to the left side of the door like the one shown in the prototype photo.

  4. Ken you are correct. I did not include the step by the door as I thought it was added after the cars went into tool car service; however, after looking at other DMIR cars this was a common feature. I will go back and add the step.