Thursday, July 22, 2021

Milwaukee Road SS Box Car 713549

I purchased two Milwaukee Road single-sheathed (SS) wood box car kits produced by Accurail as a limited run for Trainfest 2008, a large train show held in Milwaukee, WI..  I purchased the cars because the cars had the six panel Howe truss sides, Hutchins roof and accurate lettering.  I knew the four post ends as molded were not correct; however, I thought these could be replaced.  I quickly built one kit , car numbered 713406, to get one car running on the railroad while the other, car numbered 713549, stayed in inventory.  Recently while building a Westerfield Models MILW stock car, kit 8202, I realized this car had the correct ends needed for the Accurail cars.  Therefore, I ordered two sets of ends from Westerfield Models.

The prototype cars were built by Pullman Company in 1925 for The Milwaukee Road who assigned the cars to series 713000-713999.  The wood six panel, three on each side of door, Howe truss single-sheathed cars had a 6 foot side door opening, a Camel No. 32 side door and ends of composite design with four structural steel members.  Two of the structural steel members on the ends, one on each side of the coupler box, were vertical and two structural steel members, outside the vertical members, were angled from the end sill to the roof at the car sides.  The ends also had a steel plate insert at the bottom portion to strengthen them.  The cars had an end door on the “A” end only. The cars had a Hutchins Dry Lading roof and rode on Bettendorf trucks.

A photo of car 713054 can be viewed in Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual Volume One: Box & Automobiles (Speedwitch Media 2006,2007).  Photos of cars 713168 and 713451 after 40 years of Interchange service assigned to hide service can be viewed in Milwaukee Road Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment Vol.2 (Morning Sun Books, Inc. 2000).  A photo of a shop diagram can be found in The Milwaukee Road Freight Cars (Normandie House).  The book contains tracings of the Official Employees’ Shop Diagrams of in-service Freight Cars & Cabooses in 1937.  The same diagram can also be found in the recently released book, Milwaukee Road Freight Car Diagrams 10-30-58 book.

Purchased photo in my collection.

While waiting for the Westerfield Models resin cast ends to arrive I carved off molded on grab irons and ladder rungs on sides.  I shortened the ladders to match prototype photos and I cut off the sill steps.  I also cut off the molded on door stop brackets and relocated them to proper location per prototype photos.

Molded on grab irons and ladders rungs carved off.
(Click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

The door handles were carved off next.  Wire door handles were bent from Tichy Train Group (Tichy) #1101, .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW) and installed.   Ladder rungs bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW were installed next.  To have the running board brackets wrap around the roof edge I used  MEK Goop to form the wrap around portion.

Door handles and ladder rung installed.

Next I did some work on the underbody.  The molded on brake component brackets were cut off and holes filled in with MEK Goop.  The cars had a straight sill that was easily made with Evergreen  #136, .030” x .125” strip styrene.  The center sill flanges were cut .070” wide out of .005” sheet styrene.  Coupler pockets and truck kingpins were drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws.  The car was weighted to 3.8 ounces with stick on tire weights and the floor was installed in the car. Kadee #148 couplers were installed with Fastenal 3/16” screws  and Accurail trucks with Intermountain 33” metal wheels were installed with Fastenal 1/4” inch screws.

Straight center sill made with styrene installed.

Westerfield Models ends (MILW kit #8202) arrived in the mail so I could now replace the ends.  I used an UMM-USA saw to cut off the incorrect Accurail ends. 

Accurail four post ends cut off.

After a light sanding the Westerfield Models ends were installed with CA.

Westerfield Models "B" end installed.

Westerfield Models "A" end installed.

With the ends installed I could now work on the roof.  The running boards were milled to .025” or 2 1/8” and installed.  End brackets for the longitudinal running board were made with  Evergreen #8102, 1 x 3 strip styrene.

Running boards installed.

Now I went back to make the ladders needed for the ends.  The ladder stiles were cut from Evergreen #8203, 2 x 3 with rungs cut from Plastruct #90850, .010” diameter round styrene rod.  The rounding of the ends of the ladders stiles was done with MEK Goop.  The brake step from Tichy set #3013 was installed and brackets made with Evergreen #8102, 1 x 2 strip styrene followed.  Brackets fasteners were made with MEK Goop.  I followed the brake step install with the brake shaft step install, an A-Line, #29000 sill step bent outward for the brake shaft to rest on when installed.

Ladders, brake step and brake shaft step installed.

I moved back to the roof to finish adding the grab irons that I bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW with Yarmouth Model Works eye bolts without shoulder for corner legs.

Roof grab irons installed.

I continued bending the remaining grab irons from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW and installing them on the ends and sides in holes drilled with a #79 drill.  I wanted the drop grab irons below the ladders to be stronger for operation once in service on the M&N so the drop grab irons were bent from Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW.  I continued the work on the sides installing the A-Line #29000, style A, sill steps in #76 drilled holes.   A door stop, Evergreen #8203, 2 x 3 from styrene bits box, added to the relocated brackets, finished the side work.

Grab irons, sill steps and door stop installed.

Back to the underbody where I installed the Tichy AB brake components, set #3013, with the AB valve not in the usual location.  I located the brake components to match the prototype photo showing air reservoir and AB valve on the same side with the brake cylinder on the other side of the center sill.  Brackets for the components: plastic grab irons cut off cars for wire upgrade, AB valve bracket from Tichy set #3013 and a Sunshine Models resin one for the brake cylinder.

Brake components installed.

Not in the mood to continue with the underbody details, I went back to finish the “B” end.  I installed the retainer line and bracket, Tichy #1100, .008” diameter PBW.  The install of the brake shaft, Tichy #2505, .015” diameter brass wire, with Tichy brake wheel, set #3013, followed.  Before moving on to the underbody work left I took a break from installing detail parts and mixed Vallejo Model Color paint to match the Accurail car body applied color.  I hand brushed the car end edges and some added detail parts as the ladders and grab irons to test the mix.

Retainer line, brake shaft & wheel installed.
Paint test applied to ladder and end edges.

I turned back to finish the underbody adding detail parts as follows:

  • Train line, .018” flora wire that passes through holes drilled with a 4 inch piano wire drill made from .032” diameter piano wire
  • Piping from air reservoir to AB valve, Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW
  • Pipe from brake cylinder to AB valve, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW
  • Dirt collector, Tichy set #3013
  • Brake levers, cut form Evergreen strip styrene: brake lever #8108, 1 x 8 and floating lever #8106, 1 x 6
  • Brake lever hangers, brass wire grab irons
  • Slack adjuster, parts box
  • Brake rodding, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW
  • Brake rod clevises, Tichy #8021, turnbuckles
  • Chain, #29219, A-Line black 40 links per inch
  • Fasteners, MEK Goop

Underbody details installed.

The Milwaukee Road single-sheathed box car 713549 was ready for paint and decals.  For a color match to the Accurail applied body color I used a Vallejo mix of Model Color Calvary Brown 70.982, 50 drops and Model Color Black 70.950, 1 drop.  Since the Milwaukee Road painted car body, underbody and trucks the same color the painting of Milwaukee 713549 was not difficult.  I taped off the car body sides and using a Paasche Talon airbrush with a size 3 (.66 mm) needle I sprayed the ends and underbody.  I hand brushed any added detail parts not already painted.

Side of car detail parts hand painted.

Car body ends sprayed.

Underbody sprayed.

While the paint was drying I found MILW reporting marks for the ends and repack date in a used MILW decal set.  I made the end number decals by applying Clover House, set 9600-11, Railroad Roman  Condensed Bold White dry transfer numbers to decal paper and coating them with Microscale Liquid Decal Film.  Prior to applying the repack data and end decals I hand brushed Vallejo Gloss Medium 70.470 on areas to receive decals.  When Gloss Medium was dry, the decals were applied using Microscale Micro Set and Micro Sol.

End decals applied.

Repack data decal applied.

After drying overnight, decals were coated with Vallejo Gloss Varnish 70.510.  Next, the uncoupling levers and eye bolt brackets were bent from Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW and installed.  The uncoupling levers were hand brushed with the Vallejo Model Color mix saved from spraying the car body ends and underbody.  Again after setting overnight, the car end lettering and repack data decals were hand brushed with Model Master 4636 Flat Clear Acryl to protect the car during handling.

Uncoupling levers installed.

Weathering of this car began with study of weathered car photos.  Attempting to duplicate what I had seen in photos, I applied a light weathering using Artmatic reddish brown eye shadow makeup, Pan Pastels Neutral Grey 820.5, Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1 and Prismacolor Dark Brown PC946 pencil.  Pan Pastels were applied with small and large makeup brushes and Micro applicators.  No clear coat was applied.

Light weathering applied.

Light weathering applied.

Milwaukee Road 713549 Box Car is an upgraded stand in with which I am pleased.  To be a better match to the prototype corner braces on sides would have to be installed which would ruin the factory lettering.  And, sides trusses should be angled on top and bottom as trusses on the Westerfield Models ends.  If one were to add the corner braces a decal set containing the correct lettering is available from the Milwaukee Road Historical Association for $25.  

Milwaukee Road 713549  was ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, The Lakeland Route, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  As for any build or upgrade, a car card was made for MILW 713549,  the final step to put the a car in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.

MILW 713549 spotted at
Minneapolis Freight House

MILW 713549 spotted at
Minneapolis Freight House

MILW 713549 spotted at
Minneapolis Freight House

MILW 713549 spotted at
Minneapolis Freight House

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  1. Lester, that was a GREAT read, and a really excellent break down of what you did. I have a couple of those kits, I think I would like to follow what you did. I really, really appreciate your time and effort to do this, and show us what you did. I am years behind you, but being able to see what you're doing is inspiring. Thank you!

    Matt Savage

  2. Thank You Matt. Kind words appreciated. I am pleased to hear my post can help.

  3. That's a super kit upgrade, Lester! I also try to find kits where the factory applied lettering fits my modeling moment. I might have to put one of these Milwaukee cars on my to-do list.
    - Eric Hansmann

  4. Eric Thank You. Kind words appreciated. I hope you add MILW to your to-do-list.