Thursday, September 23, 2021

Minneapolis & St. Louis SS Box Car 18972

The Dominion Car & Foundry Fowler design was one of the most important designs in the evolution of the box car.  I wanted to build a forty foot version of the Fowler design single sheathed box car.    Having a good number of freight cars for Canadian and various U.S. roads that owned the Fowler design cars I chose the Minneapolis & St. Louis (M&St.L) to make an addition to my freight car fleet.  Therefore, I purchased Westerfield Models, kit 4453,  a Minneapolis & St. Louis (M&St.L) single sheathed (SS) box car of Fowler design for the project that I numbered 18972 .

In 1916 the Minneapolis & St. Louis purchased 500 cars from Betterndorf and assigned them to the 18000-18998 series, even numbers only.  The cars were all retired by 1948 , before the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company time period of late spring 1955; however,  I felt one car on the roster was fine.

There are no photos or mention of a M&St.L car in the kit instructions. Therefore,  I needed to find a photo or photos for the build.  I found one photo with a side view of a M&St.L Fowler design SS box car, number 18942,  in Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual Volume One: Box & Automobile Cars (Speedwitch Media, 2006, 2007).  In addition,  Doug Harding and Clark Propst helped with photos to aid with the build.

Sirman Collection, courtesy of Clark Propost
(Click or tap on any photo to enlarge)

After studying prototype photos I found I had to make some changes to the kit to build the M&St.L SS box car I wanted.   So be it.  I began the build of this flat kit with the build of the basic box.  For the basic box an end is glued to a side making an “L” and the two “Ls” are glued together to create the basic box (car body).  The basic box is strengthened with the addition of the roof and underbody.

Basic box after two "Ls" glued together.

Normally when building a flat kit I like to add the roof next; however, this kit  has a flat roof consisting of two pieces that are glued to a truss support structure that you assemble.

Flat roof and truss pieces

Therefore, I fitted and installed the floor and underbody because it was a one piece casting.  In this case, easier to install to provide strength to the car body that I felt was needed before adding the roof. 

Underbody installed.

Once the underbody was installed , coupler pads and bolster king pins were drilled with a #50 drill and tapped for 2-56 screws.  I installed the Kadee #262 draft gear boxes with Kadee #148 whisker coupler inserted with Fastenal 3/16” screws.  Next Tahoe Model Works #115,  40 Ton ARA trucks with Intermountain 33” metal wheels were installed with Fastenal 1/4 “ screws.

Trucks and couplers installed.  Roof not yet
installed.  Only placed on car to get it weighted properly.

After install of draft gear and trucks, I went back to complete the install of the roof.  A couple of tasks needed to be done before roof install.  First I added a baffle, cut from Evergreen .060” sheet styrene, to the center of the car body to prevent any bowing in of the sides in the future.  Tire weights, 1/4 oz., and some sheet lead were added to bring the car weight with trucks and couplers to 3.8 ounces.   Now the truss assembly was built per kit instructions and the flat roof cut in the center, bent and installed.

Baffle installed.

Weights installed.

Roof installed on truss assembly.

With the car body assembled,  adding of details could begin.  I began by installing the roof running boards.  The latitudinal  running boards were mounted with brackets made with brass 10” x 30” strip in the kit.  The longitudinal running board end brackets were made with Evergreen #8102, 1 x 2 strip styrene.

Running boards and brackets installed.

Next I installed the upper corner braces on the sides per M&St.L photos using strip styrene provided in the kit.  Corner brace fasteners were added with MEK Goop.  Now, ladders not in the kit were installed.  The side ladders are Kadee #210 ladders.  End ladders are ladders with matching rung spacing from the parts box.  On end ladders rungs were cutoff and Plastruct #90850, .010” diameter styrene round rod was used to cut and install new rungs.  At this point ladders are not the correct five rung  length.  

Ladders prior to shorting to five rung.

Ladder shortened to match prototype and ladder
rungs replaced.  Corner braces have fasteners added.

After replacing the ladder rungs on the “B” end I continued working on the “B” end installing the fascia brake shaft bracket (resin casting in kit) and the sill bracket shaft bracket from Tichy Train Group (Tichy) set #3013.  In addition, the kit provided resin retainer valve was installed.  Next a retainer line and brackets, Tichy .008” phosphor bronze wire (PBW) were installed followed by the brake shaft, Tichy #1102, .015” PBW,  with a brake wheel also from Tichy set #3013.

"B" end work completed.

After receiving additional prototype photos, I found all ladders needed to be shortened from six rung to five rung ladders with ends curved.  Therefore, I shortened  the ladders and used MEK Goop to round the ends.  Next all kit grab irons were installed.  For roof grab irons corner legs, Yarmouth Model Works photo etched eye bolts without shoulders were used.  And, sill steps, A-Line #29000, style A , were installed in #76 drilled holes.

Ladders shortened and grab irons installed.

Time to  work the underbody.  The underframe resin kit parts: crossties, crossbearers and their coverplates and bolster cover plates were installed.  The brake components, AB set #3013, air reservoir and AB valve were installed using Tichy set #3013 brackets and the brake cylinder was installed on a Sunshine Models bracket from my parts box.  I used Tichy phosphor bronze wire (PBW) I provided for the piping and brake rods.  On the underbody the following details were now added:

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

Underbody details added.

Back to the ends to install uncoupling levers and eye bolt brackets bent from Tichy #1206, .0125” PBW.  And, kit side doors with molded on door handles were carved off and replaced with wire door handles bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW.   A side door stiffener extension located near the door lock was added with the strip styrene in the kit.

Uncoupling levers bent and installed.

Note lower door stiffener extension and
lower wire door handle.

M&St.L single sheathed Fowler design box car 18972 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 Color Vallejo Dark Grey Black, 71.054.  The car body was sprayed with a Vallejo Model Color Calvary Brown 70.862.  Once the paint was dry, the car body was sprayed Vallejo Gloss Medium 70.470 to have a Gloss base for decal application.

Car body sprayed Vallejo Calvary Brown.

Underbody sprayed Vallejo Dark Grey Black

After drying overnight, decals provided in the kit except for the chalk marks from Speedwitch Media set D-145 ( now National Scale Car) and repack date from a Marty Vaughn M&St.L set 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.  When dry, car body sprayed with Vallejo Gloss Varnish 70.510 to better hide decals edges.  Finally, the car body was sprayed was sprayed Model Master Acryl 4636/Flat Clear Acryl to protect the car during handling.

Decals applied.

Decals applied.

One last item before putting M&St.L Box Car 18972  in service was to weather the car with Artmatic eye shadow and Pan Pastels.  An Artmatic eye shadow color like a Dark Box Car Red was applied over entire car body.  Pan Pastels used were Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1  on the roof and lightly over safety appliances on car body and Red Iron Oxide Extra Dark 380.1 to fade lettering.

Car weathered with eye shadow makeup
and Pan Pastels.

M&St.L shingle sheathed Fowler design box car 18972 was now ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, The Lakeland Route, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  A car card was made for Minneapolis & St. Louis box car 18972,  the final step to put the cars in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.

M&St.L  Box Car 18972 sitting
 on Chicago Great Western interchange in Randolph, Minn.

M&St.L  Box Car 18972 sitting
 on Chicago Great Western interchange in Randolph, Minn.

M&St.L  Box Car 18972 sitting
 on Chicago Great Western interchange in Randolph, Minn

A  big “Thank You” to  Douglas Harding and Clark Propst  for the photo to help with build of this car and for permission to use a photo from their collection in this blog post. 

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