Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Southern Pacific Box Car 32620

 Sunshine Models resin Southern Pacific (SP), kit 38.29, was obtained from Bill Pardie, a friend reducing his inventory of to build kits. The flat kit was for a single-sheathed SP boxcar, SP class B-50-15, rebuilt between 1936 and 1942 for merchandise service, later called Overnight Service. I decided to build it immediately as I have only a few Southern Pacific Freight Cars in my freight car fleet; however, not as a car in the Overnight Service paint scheme or number series.  After review of the prototype data sheet (PDA) #38A in the kit and another information sheet in the kit supplied by Tony Thompson with major features of cars in selected years for the SP class B-50-15/16 boxcars, I decided I would build a rebuilt boxcar numbered 32620 in SP series 31560-32659.  The rebuilt cars had the original wood sheathing replaced with steel panels.  Photos of cars with wood and steel panels are in the prototype data sheet.  Additional photos are found in  Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual, Volume One: Box & Automobile Cars (Speedwitch Media, 2006, 2007) and Southern Pacific Freight Car Painting and Lettering Guide includes PFE (Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society, 2016).  In addition, I received a 3/4 photo from Bill Pardie and “B” end photo from Ted Culotta I used for the build.

The prototype for my single-sheathed (SS) wood box car was built in 1926 by Pullman for the SP with “Pratt” truss framing of “hat” section posts and diagonals like the A.R.A. design.  The SP class B-50-15 cars had an inside height (IH) of 9’ 1” instead of the A.R.A. 1924 design 8’7” IH. The car had Murphy 7/9 ends, no end door, a Hutchins Dry Lading roof, Carmer uncoupling levers, single-sheathed “Pratt” truss framing with wood sides replaced with steel panels when rebuilt and steel doors added.  Over time modifications included  Equipco power hand brakes replacing horizontal brake wheel, AB brakes replacing KC brakes and original T section trucks replaced.  Since I did not have a specific photo of the car with number I chose and aware that tracking of specific changes to specific cars is difficult, I added these modifications to my SP box car build.  In addition, the paint scheme for SP box car 32620 would be SP paint and lettering adopted in 1946 with the full name used.

Photo of Southern Pacific Box Car 15748 on

Sunshine Models Prototype Data Sheet #38A

As with every flat kit I began the with the resin car body assembly consisting of sides, ends, and in this kit the roof. The kit roof, a radial Murphy roof not correct for car number 32620, was replaced with a correct resin Hutchins Dry Lading roof cast in the M&N Shops.  Of course, a plastic Hutchins Dry Lading roof could be used.  The cast resin roof being a little short was extended to proper length with layers of styrene added to each end and sanded to shape.

Car Body assembled with Hutchins roof.
(Click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

With the car body assembled, the basic underbody work was done after underbody fitted to car body.   Cross ties, cross bearer rivet plates,  and bolster cover plates were installed.  Coupler pads and bolster center plates were drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws.  Kadee #262 narrow draft gearboxes with Kadee #148 whisker couplers installed were installed with Fastenal 2-56 x 3/16” screws. 

Cross ties, cross bearer rivet plates, bolster
cover plates and couplers installed.

Baffles cut from Evergreen .060” sheet styrene were added inside car body to prevent inward bowing of car sides in the future and to support the underbody upon install.  Trucks with InterMountain 33” metal wheels were installed with Fastenal 2-56 x 1/4” screws.  Car was weighted to 3.8 ounces with electrical metal box punch outs attached with Permatex clear silicone adhesive sealant and the floor was installed and glued into car body.  Tichy Train Group (Tichy) brake components and brackets were installed.

Floor ready to install in car body.

Now I began the work on the car body.  First ladders provided in the kit were cut to length and installed on the sides and ends. Ladders rungs on the end ladders should line up with the side ladder rungs.

Ladders installed.

Next, I cut board gaps in the kit provided wood longitudinal running board and installed it with Formula 560 Canopy glue and added weight to keep it flat while glue dried.  The longitudinal running board end braces, cut from Evergreen, #8102, 1” x 2”, were installed and fasteners were made with MEK Goop.   I made mounting brackets for the latitudinal running boards (corner platforms, corner walks, laterals).  I cut two strips from photo etched scrap brass for each corner platform longer than the corner platforms to allow a portion to extend beyond the back and front.  The brass strips were installed on the underside of each corner platform near the sides.   The corner platforms were installed with the back strip extensions glued under the longitudinal running board and the front extensions bend over the roof edge.  Corner grab irons in kit were installed with Yarmouth Model Works photo etched eye blots without shoulder for corner legs.

Running boards installed.

Car body details on the sides were installed next.  Straight grab irons bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW) were installed on the left side of the door.  Based on prototype photos sill steps, A-Line #29002, style C, were installed rather than the incorrect sill steps, style A, in the kit.   I do not install the doors at this time as the door area provides an area to hold the car when necessary during build without worry of a dirty finger leaving residue since area will be covered by door before going to paint shop.

Grab irons and sill steps installed.

I continued the build adding details on the ends.  On the ends grab irons, Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW, Carmer uncoupling levers, metal etched in kit, Carmer mounting bracket, cast resin part in kit and placard boards, in kit were installed on the ends.  The “B” end remaining details were installed next.  “B” end details installed are as follows:

- brake step, Tichy #3013 in kit

- brake step supports, Evergreen #8102, 1” x 2” and MEK fasteners

- brake housing and chain, Tichy set #3013 in kit

- brake rod step was bent from scrap photo etched brass

- brake rod, Tichy #1102, .015” diameter PBW

- retainer valve, resin cast in M&N Shops

- retainer line and brackets, Tichy #1100, .008” diameter PBW

- fasteners, MEK Goop (MEK with scrap plastic melted in it)

- brake wheel, Kadee Equipco #2041

"B" end details installed.
Adjax brake wheel to be changed to Equipco.

Only underbody details and doors needed to be installed to finish the build.  On the underbody the following details were now added:

  • brake cylinder lever made from Evergreen #8108, 1” x 8” strip styrene
  • floating brake lever made from Evergreen #8106, 1” x 6” strip styrene
  • brake lever hangers, wire grab irons in kit
  • Universal slack adjuster cut from resin strip in parts box
  • slack adjuster brackets, made from resin flash
  • 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, Tichy turnbuckles #8021
  • chain, A-Line #29219, Black 40 links per inch (not in kit)
  • train line, .018” diameter floral wire
  • dirt collector, Tichy, set #3013
  • train line couplings, dirt collector tee, and fasteners made with MEK Goop

Finished underbody ready for paint.

With the “B” end and underbody finished I went back to finish the sides to add the doors before painting.  Before installing the doors I carved off the cast on door handles and installed wire door handles bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW followed by install of placard boards provided in kit.

Doors added.  Car ready for paint.

SP box car 32620 was ready for paint.  The trucks and wheels were hand painted with Vallejo Model Color Black Grey, #70.862. The car underbody was sprayed Model Air Vallejo Dark Grey Blue, 71.054.

Underbody spray painted.

The car body was sprayed Vallejo Grey Surface Primer 70.601.  When dry, the  car body was sprayed Vallejo/MicroMark Box Car Red, #2915X2, thinned 50% with a custom mix of distilled water, Vallejo air brush thinner #71.161 and Vallejo Airbrush Flow Improver 71.562.  After paint was dry the car body was sprayed Vallejo Gloss Medium 70.470 to have a Gloss base for decal application.

Car body spray painted.  Ready for decals.

Car body spray painted.  Ready for decal.

After drying overnight, decals in kit, except for the herald from Microscale decal set 87-414, were applied.  I used a photo of SP box car 32178 car as a guide to apply decals.  Decals provided in the kit were soaked off in distilled water and applied to the car body where MicroScale Micro Set had been applied with a brush.  After the decal was applied in the Micro Set and positioned the edges had MicroScale Micro Sol applied.  Any excess solution was sucked away with the torn edge of a paper towel.

Decals ready to be applied.

Again when dry, car body sprayed with Vallejo Gloss Varnish 70.520 to better hide edges of decals.  Again when dry, the car body was sprayed with Vallejo Matt finish 70.520.  And,  again when dry, the car body was sprayed again with Vallejo Matt finish 70.520 to get the flat finish look I wanted.

Decals applied.

Decals applied and brake wheel 
changed to Equipco.

And, after Matt Varnish was dry, a light weathering with Artmatic eye shadow and Pan Pastels Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1 and Burnt Sienna 740.5 on trucks.

SP box car 32620 lightly weathered.

SP box car 32620 lightly weathered.

Southern Pacific SS box car 32620 with “Pratt” truss framing was ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, The Lakeland Route, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  A car card was made for SP 32620,  the final step to put the a car in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.

SP 32620 being unload at General Tire & Rubber.

SP 32620 being unload at General Tire & Rubber.

I want to say, “Thank You” to Bill Pardie for downsizing his freight car inventory and photo of SP box car 32178 to assist in lettering my build of SP box car 32620.  And, a “Thank You” to Ted Culotta for his photo help with “B” end.

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 sign your comment with your name if you choose to leave one.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer


Friday, January 1, 2021

Sanding Tools

Of the many tools we have on the workbench, sanding tools get used on almost every model project whether it be a freight car,  structure or maybe a resin vehicle.  Due to the variety of sanding tools available, I will share the ones I have and use and  I asked my good friend George Toman to share sanding tools he uses.

I will begin with the sanding tool I use the most.  It is the simple nail file or sanding stick with course grit on one side and a fine grit on the other.  I like the  nail file because it comes in various sizes, various grits and types as the cushioned type.  I can use it as is or cut it half or even smaller strips to get into tight places.

Nail files in front tray.
(Click on this or any image to enlarge)

Cushioned nail files.

Large nail files of various grits.

George like many of us used sanding sticks often called nail files found in stores in the cosmetic section until finding and trying out sanding sticks marketed by Stevens International.  He located these in a store that caters to Military Modelers. They come in various grits of 100,180, 220, 320, 400, 600 and 800 grit. George tells us, “I found the quality of these to be just superb. I am still using a 320 grit one that is now about 3 years old. It is getting worn out and is used to smooth brass photo etched parts cut from the frets that hold them. You can see this old one on the left hand side of the picture below showing the various grits available. You can see that these also have a slight taper that helps getting into tight spots. I also will cut these into custom widths and shapes to help reach difficult areas. A sharp pair of scissors or single edge razor blade (SERB) can cut these.  I find I use 240 and 320 grits the most frequent. They do seem to last longer than other brands I have tried.”  George purchases Stevens International sanding sticks from Hobbylinc as he can buy them at a discount and in packages seen in the photos.

Sanding stick made by Stevens International.
George Toman photo.


I have a few of the above sanding sticks.  A similar sanding tool I use are Micro-Mesh Dual Angle standing sticks which can also be purchased from Stevens International.

Dual Angle sanding sticks.

George also uses a neat variant of these called Swizzle Stick Sanders.  They come in a assorted  pack of 15.  They are about .1 inch wide and come in 100, 180, 240, 320 and 400 grit. These really get into tight spots and between panel lines on boxcars. George put a ruler in the photo for a reference or size.

Swizzle Stick Sanders.
George Toman photo.

I have a similar sanding product; however, round rather than flat on each side named Plastic Sanding Needles made by Alpha Abrasives.  The tips of the sanding needle can get into the smallest area.

Plastic Sanding Needles.

George also uses some machined aluminum sanding sticks that are marketed by UUM-USA that come in 5 different widths. George says, “I either use sandpaper with sticky tape on it or use double sided tape to secure the paper. I have also discovered that Canopy Glue can be used to attach the sand paper to a stick. You can also cut a piece and just wrap it around to hold, but I prefer to attach for a nice flat surface.”

Aluminum sanding sticks.
George Toman photo.

Aluminum sanding sticks.
George Toman photo.

I have a set of plastic sanding sticks that come in different colors to allow me to have a color for each grit available.  The sanding sticks use a sanding belt that is easily moved on the stick with one’s thumb to allow the user to have a new sanding area as needed.  The belt once used up is simple to change due to a built in spring in the sanding stick.

Plastic sanding sticks with belts.

George says, “An old tool on my bench is a sanding bar made of Tungsten Carbide and comes in a few variety of lengths and shapes. The two you see in the photo below are fine and medium grit and are no longer available but there is a new but thinner version of it that can be secured to a flat surface or a special aluminum block made to secure it. I find mine useful for things like sanding the backs of resin parts."

Bench sanding bar.
George Toman photo.

Rather than a sanding bar,  I have the sharpening DuoSharp bench stone with Diamond Machine Technology (DMT).  It is a 8-in. DuoSharp Bench Stone Fine/Coarse Sharpener With Base (WM8FC-WB). I too find mine useful for things like sanding the backs of resin parts.

DuoSharp Bench Stone Sharpener with base.

DuoSharp Bench Stone Sharpener with base.

Another tool I have is The True Sander made by Northwest Short Line.  A great tool for keeping items square or equal length when sanding them.  One example is getting resin car sides in  a flat kit the same length prior to assembly.

True Sander 

George added a fairly recent and clever tool called a Tight Spot Sander sold by National Scale Car to his sanding tool collection.  Ryan Mendel, owner, came up with this neat idea.  The Tight Spot Sanders are simple acrylic plastic shapes with a rounded out hollow for your finger to hold as you sand.   A package containing three sizes  of the Tight Spot Sanders cost five dollars.

Tight Spot Sanders.
George Toman photo.

Not recently, rather nine years ago I thought it might be nice to have a power bench sander to help with the sanding of parts when building a freight car or structure.  The power sander had to have a slow RPM so as not to burn/melt plastic or resin.  I found no such sanding tool on the commercial market to fit the need.  While at the local junk shop, the Axe Man, with a friend we found a two-step motor with a five inch aluminum disk attached that would work to build a power sander.  After bringing it home and building  an enclosure for it my power “slow sander” became a reality.  I use it to sand the backs of resin parts as sides and ends on cars.  I built a 45 degree accessory to sand  a 45 degree angle on plastic structure parts like walls for assembly.  Additional accessories include a miter gauge and right triangle. 

The right triangle is held against the miter gauge to keep small parts such as doors square.

Slow Sander

Sanding accessories: 45 degree one on top,
miter gauge and right triangle.

Slow Sander motor enclosure removed.

George says, “Last in my toolbox is a quality package of sanding paper of various grits that I cut to size as needed and attached to my desired sanding tool. This package is from Alpha Abrasives. This package has grits up to 1200. These are good for wet sanding as well.”

Sanding  paper.
George Toman photo.

As George, I keep packages of sanding paper of various grits type and sizes.  I use cut  strips or part of a sheets folded that I hold in my hand for sanding.   I attach sheets or cut strips to a board or plate glass to have a flat surface larger than the DuoSharp. 

Various sanding paper.

Various sanding paper.

I will cut sandpaper sheets into strips to attach to wood sanding blocks I keep in  a drawer at the workbench.

Wood sanding blocks with cut sandpaper strips.

In the tool drawer is another plastic hand block type sanding tool with dual angled ends.  As you see in the photo below this sanding block uses purchased belts available in various grits.

Plastic sanding blocks with sanding belts.

In addition to sanding sticks, I also keep  packages of the Micro-Mesh polishing  Stix on hand.  As sanding sticks the polishing sticks come in various grits.  I find them especially handy to repair flaws in a paint surface of freight cars.  Of course, they are also great to to obtain a fine surface on a putty or MEK Goop filled area.  Polishing pads are also available in the various grit sizes.

Various grits of Polishing Stix.

Various grits of polishing pads.

One final unusual sanding tool, Frog Tape.   When working with small parts and trying to sand them such as resin placard boards and other small parts that need the back sanded down,  George and I will sometimes use a method using masking tape to hold the part.

George says, “Lester called this a masking tape vise when I told him about this sanding tool.  I start with Frog Tape (green tape) and cut a piece to the needed size and tape this sticky side up to a small 3 x 3 steel block.  Next I place the resin part front side down on the Frog Tape to hold the part so you can sand the back. I sometimes use various sizes of styrene strips to help support the side of a part that is not flat to keep it from damage, such as when you are trying to clean up an L shaped piece. The supports prevent the part from breaking when you apply pressure sanding.  For some jobs, the tape method gets the job done quickly and accurately.”

 I still think this is a vise made using masking tape for holding the part while sanding.

Attach part to Frog Tape.
George Toman photo.

Sand back of part with sanding stick.
George Toman photo.

Sanded part ready for use.
George Toman photo.

I hope that some of the sanding products described above find their way into your sanding tool collection if not already there.   To find additional information on a product or make a purchase to add it to your sanding tool  collection links are as follows:

Sanding sticks in general.

 Stevens International sanding sticks from

Stevens International sanding sticks

Machined aluminum sanding sticks. UMM-USA.

Perma-Gritt. available from Micro Mark.

Tight Spot Sander from National Scale Car.

(note: you may have right click on link)

DMT Duo Sharp bench stone.

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 sign your comment with your name if you choose to leave one.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer