Saturday, September 7, 2019

Rock Island Auto Box Car 160250

Rock Island 40 ft. double-door automobile boxcar 160250,  A.A.R. class XM, Rocket Express kit R1-1, a flat  resin kit, is now in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company.  In 1930 Bettendorf delivered 350 single-sheathed automobile cars the Rock Island assigned to series 160250 to 160599.  The cars had a steel underframe, 3/3/3 dreadnaught ends on the fixed "B" end and a Union Metal Products dreadnaught end door on the "A" end, staggered double doors and a Murphy radial roof with wood running boards.  In the kit instructions, a prototype data car service years chart shows 333 cars in service  in 1952  and 158 in service in 1959.  A prototype photo of 160250 appears in the instructions.  Color photos of the previous series 159250 to 159899 with fixed/solid ends, otherwise similar features appear in the Rock Island Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment (Morning Sun Books Inc., 1966).  Another excellent number of black and white photos including closeup photos showing details can be found in Focus On Freight Cars, Volume Nine: Single Sheathed Box & Automobile Cars 2, (Speedwitch Media, 2017).

Phil Weibler Collection, courtesy of Steve Hile

Being a flat kit, I began the build with what I term the “basic box” consisting of the car body.  I did not follow my normal assembly ( see resin car body assembly under “labels” on sidebar ) due to the auto door end.  I started with the fixed end and glued one side to it to form a “L”.   Rather than creating a “L” with the other side and auto end door, I took the second side and glued it to the already assembled “L”.  I now added the roof to the end with the two sides leaving an open end.   Next I cut off the roof flange on the open end as stated in the instructions with an UMM saw allowing the auto door end to be installed to complete the car body.  I built the car body in this manner as I felt getting the auto door end correctly installed was easier. 

Basic carbody assembled
(tap or click on this or any photo to enlarge)

Next I fitted the underbody via sanding.   I wanted supports for the underbody to rest on when inserted into the carbody so I cut two scrap resin sections from a resin frame surrounding resin parts in the kit  to the inside length of the car body and glued the cut strips inside the car body for the underbody to rest on when inserted. 

Underbody supports visible inside of carbody.

The underbody now could be inserted into the carbody for the remainder of the work required without falling into the body.  Following the instructions the fish belly center sill sides, cross bearer cover plates and bolster cover were installed.  The coupler pocket pads bolster center plates were  were drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws.  Kadee #262 coupler pockets with Kadee #148 couplers inserted were  installed with 2-56 screws.  Trucks, Accurail cast ARA with spring plank provided in the kit into which I inserted InterMountain 33” metal wheels were installed with Athearn 2-56 x 5/16” screws.  Weights, electrical outlet box punch outs,  were added to bring the car weight to 3.8 oz.

Kit parts listed above, couplers and trucks installed.

Car weighted to 3.8 oz  using electrical outlet box punch-outs.

Underbody installed into carbody with "A" end showing.

With the car body complete, the adding of details to the various carbody sections could be done.  On the sides, upper door rail ends of the upper door track, doors, side placard (tack) boards, lower door tracks, side brackets on sides of doors, and rivet plates on the lower left bottom side were installed.  Using prototype photos, kit provided ladders with seven rungs were installed on the sides and on the fixed end.  Later after receiving the photo of 160250 from Steve Hile included above,  I cut off a rung on the fixed end ladder to make a six rung ladder as on the prototype.  Prior to installing the side ladders scrap styrene from the bits box was used to make ladder mounts.  On the end door the ladder is part of the resin casting.  I carved off the cast rungs and installed wire rungs, Tichy Train Group (Tichy) .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW).  Grab irons were installed on sides and on the ends. After painting cast door handles were carved off and replaced with Tichy .010" diameter PBW.

Side details have been added.
Door handles not yet replaced with wire ones.

End door "A" end cast ladder rungs carved off
and replaced with wire rungs.

On the roof, the wood running boards were installed.  The longitudinal running board end brackets were made using Evergreen #8102, 1 x 2” strip styrene.  The latitudinal brackets are .005 x .030” brass strips cut from .005 thick sheet brass.  Roof grab irons are, Tichy  #1106, .0125 diameter PBW with corner legs, photo etched eye bolts with shoulder, Yarmouth Model Works, YMW 356, rather than those provided in kit.

Roof running boards, brackets, and grab irons installed.

On the “B” fixed end the kit provided Tichy, set #3013,  brake gear housing, chain, brake step (platform), brake step brackets, bell crank and retainer valve were installed.  I added triangular shaped side plates (as seen in prototype photo ) made from resin kit flash to the brake step brackets.  Brake rod is Detail Associates #2505, .015” brass wire.  Retainer line and brackets are Tichy #1100. .008” diameter PBW.  End placard  board (tack) provided in kit was installed with brackets made with Evergreen #8102, strip styrene and MEK Goop fasteners. A Kadee #2020, Ajax brake wheel installed. Uncoupling (cut) levers, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW with kit provided eye bolts were installed rather than using kit uncoupling levers.

"B" end details have been installed.
Ladder not yet shorten to a six rung ladder.

Rather than doing underbody detailing first as I usually do on a freight car builds, I did it last.  Tichy, kit provided brake components and brackets were installed after drilling parts with #79 drill for piping using diagram in kit instructions.   Piping from air reservoir to control valve, Tichy #1101, .010” PBW, and from brake cylinder to control valve, Tichy #1102, .015” diameter PBW,  was installed.  Brake Levers cut from Evergreen #8108, 1 x 8” and #8106, 1 x 6” strip styrene ( see brake Levers under “labels” on side bar ) were installed. Brake rods, Tichy #1106, 0125” diameter PBW, with Tichy #8021, turnbuckles used for clevises to attach the brake rods to brake levers were installed.  Chain between brake cylinder lever and brake rod is A-Line #29219.  The slack adjuster on the floating lever is made from material with holes  ( source unknown) from the parts box.  A train line, .019” diameter floral wire, was installed. The dirt collector, Tichy set #3013, installed with pipe connected to the train line with tee made with MEK Goop.

With the underbody work finished the car was moved to the paint shop.   In the paint shop the underbody, always sprayed first, was sprayed Vallejo Model Air, Black Grey RLM66.  The carbody was sprayed Vallejo/MicroMark Model Air Box Car Red, X290152X2.  Once the carbody was dry, the carbody was sprayed a Model Master Acryl 4638 Gloss Clear  to provide gloss surface for decal application.  Kit provided decals except for reweigh date from another Rock Island set were applied with Microscale Micro Set, Micro Sol and Walthers Solvaset.  Once the decals were dry the carbody was sprayed Vallejo Matt Varnish 70.520 to provide a protective coat for handling and weathering.

Rock Island 160250 out of the paint shop.
Note wire door handles.

Rock Island 16250 "B" end out of paint shop.
Note shortened ladder to six rungs.

After painting and lettering in the paint shop was completed the car was weathered using the following Pan Pastels: Red Iron Oxide Shade 380.3 and Burnt Sienna 740.5 on car body, Black 800.5 on roof and lightly on areas of car body such as ladders, and Payes Grey Extra Dark 840.1 on underbody.

Rock Island 160250 car body weathered with Pan Pastels.

Rock Island 16250 "B" end after weathering.

Rock Island 16250 "A" end after weathering.

Rock Island 160250 finished underbody.

After weathering was completed the car could enter service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company after a car card was made.

Rock Island 16250 at McGregor Team Track.

Rock Island 160250 at McGregor Team Track.

A  big “Thank You” to Steve Hile for the photo to help with build of this car and for permission to use photo in this blog post.  In addition, a “Thank You” to Steve Hile for his help and information provided to RonVon Werder to make this kit possible.

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, another really nice job. Thanks for the details including the paint and weathering process. Ken Zieska

  2. Hello Lester. Have you considered turning on subscriptions by email (setting) for your blog? I would love to get notified via email when you post new content.

    1. You can do that now. To get notification you can enter your email in the sidebar "Follow By Email" and click the "Submit" button and you will receive an email of a new post.