Friday, February 28, 2020

Milwaukee Road Rib Side Boxcar 20426

With the new Accurail Milwaukee Rib Side cars available I moved my last long rib side car,  kit 4161, purchased from 5th Avenue Car Shops in 2004 to the top of my build list.  I still have three short rib Rib Side Cars kits in inventory.  The car in the long rib side kit is numbered 20426 with the slogan “Route Of The Electrified Olympian”.   The kit was originally manufactured by Rib Side Cars owned by George Schmidt.  George’s tooling for rib side cars was purchased by Accurail after his passing. 

The prototype for this car was built by the Milwaukee Car Shops from June to September in 1940 as part of series 20188 to 21187.  The cars had welded rib sides and welded Murphy double panel roof.   The steel ends were W-section corner post 5/5 welded dreadnaught ends with the “A” end having a lumber door.  The cars in the 20188 to 21187 series had camel doors, Equipco hand brakes, and rode on Barber Stabilized with spring plank trucks.   Running boards were wood or steel.  Car 20426 had a wood running board  per data sheet in the kit.   A diagram, photos of cars and photo of underframe from this series can be found in Railway Prototype Cyclopedia 13 (RP CYC Publishing Company, 2006).  In addition to this series, RP CYC 13 has excellent data and photos for the other Milwaukee Road Ribbed-Side Cars.

Milwaukee Road Collection, courtesy of Milwaukee public library.
( click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

I started the build of the car by removing the ugly molding gate on the center sill underframe.  I used a wood working method of making saw cuts next to each other over the area to be removed.  Any hobby saw can be used to make the cuts.  I made the saw cuts with a saw blade mounted on a mandrel in a Dremel tool.  If you choose this method be aware it requires focus and a steady hand as a slip will damage the model or worse you.  A Xacto handle with No. 17 blade, dental tool scraper and sand paper finished the removal.  A Xacto handle with No. 11 blade and a scriber made from a dental tool were used to make grooves between boards.  The molded on brake cylinder mount was also removed.

Molding gate being cut with saw.

Molding gate removed.
(click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

After removing the gate I drilled and tapped coupler pockets and bolster center plates for 2-56 screws.  Kadee # 148 couplers were installed with 3/16” 2-56 screws in the kit and Tahoe Model Works Barber 50 ton trucks, TMW-109, were installed with Fastenal  1/4” 2-56 screws.  Two Kadee #208,  .015” fiber washers were used to obtain proper coupler height determined with a Kadee couple gauge.  Adding the kit provided car weight and roof weighted the car to 3.8 ounces.  The weight was checked prior to gluing on the roof in case additional weight had to be added which was not necessary for this car.  Next all molded on grab irons and door handles were carved off.  The kit ladders and the wood running board install followed.

Trucks and couplers added.

Molded on grab irons removed.  Ladders and
running boards installed.

After the running boards were installed I used a saw to cut between the boards to provide a more realistic look.  It would have been much easier to do this prior to install.

Running boards with notches cut before cleanup via sanding.

I installed the kit longitudinal running board brackets; however, they did look like those in photos.  Therefore, I removed them and made replacements with Evergreen #8012, 1 x 2” strip styrene.   The latitudinal running board brackets were not long enough to go over the edge as on the prototype so I extended them with MEK Goop ( plastic melted in MEK); however, a modeling putty could be used.

Longitudinal running board brackets added and
Latitudinal running board brackets extended.

Normally I would have installed the roof grab irons at this time to finish the roof; however, I decided I would install all grab irons after other details were added.  My reason for this was the delicate Kadee brackets grab irons to be installed on the sides can easily be broken during the build.

Before starting the side details I returned to the under body to add the basic brake components.  I drilled the kit brake cylinder and air reservoir for piping with a #79 drill prior to install.  A Sunshine Models brake cylinder mounting bracket from the parts box was used to mount the brake cylinder.  I used a Tichy Train Group ( Tichy) control valve and mounting bracket from  Brake Gear AB set #3013  rather than the poor kit control valve.  Again the Tichy control valve was drilled with a #79 drill for piping install.  I wanted the glue to set overnight so I turned to adding the side details.

Under body brake components installed.

Before I started adding the side details I cut off the over over-sized molded on sill steps with sprue cutter.  The only side detail in the kit, the large placard board was installed after modifications, scalpel cuts for board lines and fasteners made with MEK Goop, were added.  Additional details seen in prototype photos including the small door placard board, a Branchline part from the parts box, and route card holder, cut from resin kit flash, were installed.  The route card holder is on the cars in the photos I viewed of cars in this series; however, not on all cars in other series.  The door handles were bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW).

Side details installed.

After the sides, I added the the “B” end details.  First, I filled the mounting hole for the brake step (platform) with a scrap styrene cut piece from the bits box.  A Plano Model Products brake step from set #1322 was installed followed by brackets made using Evergreen #8102, 1 x 2” strip styrene with MEK Goop fasteners.  A bell crank, part 9c, from Cal-Scale AB Brake System set #190-283 was installed.  A chain, part 18 , Tichy set #3013, from the brake housing to the brake rod was installed.  Now the brake rod between the chain and bell crank cut from Tichy #1102, .015” diameter PBW was installed.  No brake wheel yet as I find it easier to install the retainer valve and line prior to doing so.

A Precision Scale retainer valve, #31796, was installed followed by a retainer line and brackets made using Tichy #1100, .008” diameter PBW.  The brackets are “U” shaped loops bent with a Xuron wire bending pliers inserted into #79 drilled holes.   Now the fine brake wheel  (my guess a Kadee Equipco wheel added by 5th Ave. Car Shops) installed.  The large placard board provided in the kit, modified as the ones on sides, was installed.  A Yarmouth Model Works uncoupling lever bracket was installed and on the “A” end.  To give the CA glue additional time to set before installing uncoupling levers I installed the remaining under body details.

"B" end details added.  Photo taken before
uncoupling lever bracket added.

A 3/4 view of  "B" end and side details added.

On the underbody the following details were now added:

  • floating brake lever made from Evergreen #8106, 1 x 6” strip styrene
  • Universal slack adjuster cut from resin strip in parts box
  • brake lever hangers, Branchline plastic grab irons from parts box
  • piping from air reservoir to control valve, Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW
  • pipe from brake cylinder to control valve, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW
  • brake rods, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW
  • brake rod clevises, MEK Goop
  • chain, A-Line #29219, Black 40 links per inch
  • train line, .018” diameter floral wire
  • train line couplings, MEK Goop

Under body details added.

Back to adding details to the sides.  The sill steps, style A, A-Line #29009, were bent to shape per photos of Milwaukee rib side cars and installed.  I continued adding the final detail on the sides, the Kadee bracket grab irons, #2250. A Yarmouth Model Works jig was used to mark two mounting holes, upper right and lower left, drilled with #75 drill.  Insect pins were used to pass through the tiny jig holes to mark the holes.  Only two holes were marked and drilled since I use only two mounting pins of the four the Kadee bracket grab irons have.  Therefore, on the Kadee bracket grab irons, looking at them from the back, the upper right and lower mounting brackets were cut off with a PBL #804b, Supper Fine Gate Nippers prior to install.

Side sill steps and Kadee bracket grab irons installed.

Now the roof grab irons were added.  Roof corner grab irons bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW with Yarmouth Model Works Photo-etched eye bolt corner legs were installed.  

Roof grab irons installed.

Back to the ends to add the grab irons.  The sill grab irons, Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW. The bracket type grab is made by slightly modifying an InterMountain plastic grab iron from the parts box.  With grab irons installed I bent the uncoupling levers, Tichy #1106, .125” diameter PBW, per photos and installed them.

Sill grab irons and uncoupling lever with resin
uncoupling lever bracket.

Only the application of paint to remaining unpainted details was needed to finish the MILW 20426.   You may have noticed in the build photos that added details were painted during the build.  All added details and trucks and wheels were hand painted with Vallejo paint mix:  Model Air #71105, Brown RLM 26, 2 drops or 2/3 of the mix and Model Color 70940, Saddle Brown, 1 drop or 1/3 of the mix.  No thinner was used in the mix. The Kadee coupler glad hands, the reason I do not add air hoses, were hand painted Vallejo Model Color Black Grey 70.862.  

All added details added to side of car painted.

All details added to "B" end painted.

Finished under body painted.

After weathering with Pan Pastels MILW boxcar 20426 was ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  Pan Pastels used to weather MILW 20426 were as follows:  Red Iron Oxide Extra Dark 380.1 on car body, Payne’s Grey Extra Dark 840.1 on car body and roof, Red Iron Oxide Shade 380.3 on trucks and couplers, and Payne’s Grey Tint 840.7 on placard boards.

MILW boxcar 20426 weathered with Pan Pastels.

MILW boxcar 20426 waiting pickup on MILW Interchange.

A little closer view of  MILW boxcar 20426
 on the MILW Interchange/

After finishing Milwaukee boxcar 20426 and putting it into service and again looking at the photos I took of the built boxcar I may decide to go back and replace ladder rungs.

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. Nice work! I am working on an Accurail release if the rib side. Metal grabs and underbody plumbing is far as I am going. I just had cataract surgery and will not have 'modeling' eyes for a month. Wearing 'cheater' glasses is not making it!

    Jim Bernier

  2. Les, nice work, I appreciate the subtle weathering you did. Ken

    PS, take care Jim

  3. Interesting your kit had wood running board. Both of my brand new kits #3992 and #3991 had a representation of a metal rectangular grid running board (Apex?). As these are going to be background models on my layout, I am not going to try and replace with a Kadee Apex running board. I will however change the build date with a repack date as I am going to use these cars in an 1950-54 setting.

  4. Thank You for for kind words. The running board can be steel or wood depending on the number series.