Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Soo Line W.C. Subsidiary “sawtooth” Box Car 135316

Having just reviewed the history of the Soo Line “sawtooth” Box Car to build Soo Line “sawtooth” Box Car 39470, I thought it best to build the Sunshine Models, kit 78.1, Soo Line “sawtooth” built for the Wisconsin Central (W.C.)  in 1926.  Therefore, all my time could be spent on the build rather another review of the history and photos for a build at a later date.

The Sunshine Models kit is used to produce a single sheathed wood boxcar assigned to the Soo Line subsidiary the Wisconsin Central.  The W.C. Box Cars had their own  number series, 134400-145398, even numbers only and a small W.C. stenciled at the upper left corner of the car side.  The cars were built by Pullman Car & Manufacturing in 1926.

Old car features include the distinctive “sawtooth” design with an inside length of forty feet.  Of course, to quote for the Speedwitch Media kit history, “the most distinctive feature of the cars, was the method used to tie the crossbearers and body bolsters into the side structural members.  The zee bar structural members extended below the side sill and tied into the ends of the crossbearers and bolster. This arrangement has been called the “sawtooth” single sheathed design by freight car researchers.”

New car features on the Wisconsin Central single sheathed “sawtooth” Box cars included wood six-foot doors increased by a foot from the previous five foot door, Murphy 7/7 corrugated Steel ends replaced the composite wood and steel zee bar design, an ARA straight center sill replaced the fish belly center sill and a Chicago-Cleveland radial roof replaced the peaked flexible metal roof.

Cars remained unchanged into the sixties except AB brakes replaced the original K brakes.  The cars rode on Andrews trucks until the late fifties when replaced with AAR trucks.

Ken Soroos Collection
(click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

As with all builds, I searched for photos  to help with the build.  Photos for the build were found in the the following four sources:  Sunshine Models PDS #78A (prototype data sheet) included with kit instructions, Soo Line Freight Equipment and Cabooses (The Soo Line Historical and Technical Society, 2014), and Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual, Volume One: Box & Automobile Cars (Speedwitch Media, 2006, 2007).

Being a flat kit, the build began with assembling the “basic box” that is the sides and ends to which the roof is added; however, on this car the build of the “box” is different due to the radial roof casting which has a small lip under the side that mates with the car sides.  Therefore, the kit instruction added modeling notes state, “the side and end castings do not mate at the top of the car.  Instead they mate at the bottom of the car.”  

Basic box

With the car body assembled, I added a center baffle and end underbody supports cut from Evergreen .040 sheet styrene.  The baffle is used to prevent bowing in of the sides as the car ages.  I believe adding the baffle and underbody supports are worth the extra effort in preventing future frustration.

Baffle and end floor supports.

Baffle and end floor supports.

Now the underbody was fitted by sanding the sides, too wide and ends, too long.  Once I have the floor fitted I always mark the “A” and “B” to avoid any confusion as to which is which during the build.

Underbody fitted and ends marked.

With the underbody inserted (not yet glued) crossbearers provided in kit were installed.  Next coupler pads and bolster king pins were drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws.  Kadee #262 draft gear boxes with Kadee #148 whisker couplers were installed with Fastenal 2-56 3/16” screws.  Install of Accurail #166 Andrew Trucks with Fastenal 2-56 1/4” screws followed.  The car was now put on a postal scale to find how much weight I needed to add to the underbody to get car weighted to 3.8 ounces.  When added weight needed was determined, tire weights were installed and the underbody was glued to the car body.

Crossbearers, draft gear, and trucks installed.

Brake components (kit) pre-drilled for piping were installed next.

Brake components installed.

The underbody was now ready for adding details.  The car body was also ready except for the incorrect door stops which were now carved off.

Car body ready for details except for
incorrect door stops.

After carving off the incorrect door stops, I chose to do the roof work next.  The kit provided longitudinal running board was cast too thick ( about .035”) so a single edged razor blade (SERB) was used as a scraper to scrape the back of the longitudinal running board to a thickness of .022” and installed with Formula 560 canopy glue.  The SERB is held vertical to the running board when doing the scraping.  If have not used a SERB for a scraper and choose to do so remember to always scrap away from you.   

Longitudinal running board installed and
incorrect doors stops removed.

The car body was set aside for the Formula 560 canopy glue to dry.  Next I attached two mounting strips, scrap photo etch pieces, with CA to the back of each lateral allowing a short extension on the back to glue under the longitudinal running board and on the front.  The front extensions were bent with a round nose pliers to allow mounting around the edge of the roof.  When glue set, laterals were installed.  Number 79 holes were drilled next to molded on rivets on the laterals to mount the kit provided wire roof grab irons with corner legs Yarmouth Model Works photo etched eye bolts without shoulder.  For the longitudinal running boards end mounting brackets I used photo etched Yarmouth Model Works brackets.

Latitudinal running boards and
 roof grab irons installed.

Upon finishing install of the “B” longitudinal running board bracket I continued with the install of the resin brake shaft fascia bracket and the sill shaft brake step.  The resin retainer valve install followed.  A retainer line was installed per model photo in the instructions that for this car per prototype photos turned out was not correct.  I changed it later.

Running board and brake shaft brackets and
incorrect retainer line installed.


I continued with the build by drilling number 79 holes for all grab irons and ladder rungs on sides and ends.   All wire ladder rungs and grab irons were bent from Tichy #1101 .010 diameter phosphor bronze wire were installed.

Grab irons installed.

I finished the grab irons on the “B” end so I continued install of other details and correction of two previously installed items.  I shortened the fascia mounting bracket to better resemble the prototype.  I installed the brake shaft, Tichy #1102 .015 diameter PBW with kit brake wheel next.  I corrected the previously incorrect located retainer line.  Uncoupling levers bent from Tichy #1106 .0125 diameter were installed with eye bolts in kit for brackets.  And, placard board on ends were installed.

"B" with correctly located retainer line and
uncoupling levers installed.

I went back to the sides and installed the door stops I fabricated from scrap flash resin with an MEK cap.  In addition, a new photo etched double sill step not yet available was installed as part of testing (folding, pinning of double step, twisting upper portion to make mounts and mounting with pins, Tichy #1106 .0125 diameter PBW) for the Santa Fe, BX-11/12, photo etch sill step Preter Aue has designed for Yarmouth Model Works.  Yarmouth Model Works will make the double sill step available some time in 2022.  The sill step even if a Santa Fe design can be used on other cars as was the case here.

New fabricated door stops and
double sill step on ladder end installed.

Photo etched double sill step designed by Peter Aue
for Yarmouth Model Works.

Addition of the doors with wire door handles, Tichy #1101 .010 diameter PBW, replacing carved off molded ones completed the car body.  

Doors with wire door handles installed.

With car body work done, the underbody work was completed.  The under body brake parts included a unique leveraged brake actuating mechanism.  A part without the instruction sheet I would not have known how to assemble.  All other underbody parts installed were as follows:

  • Brake cylinder with piston, (kit)
  • Control valve with mount,  (kit)
  • Air reservoir and bracket,( kit)
  • Above brake components were pre-drilled for piping
  • Brake cylinder lever, made with Evergreen #8108, 1” x 8” strip styrene
  • Brake floating lever, made with Evergreen #8106, 1” x 6” strip styrene
  • Brake lever hangers, kit grab irons
  • Brake piping from air reservoir to control valve, Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW
  • Brake pipe from brake cylinder to control valve, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW
  • Brake rods, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW
  • Brake rod clevises, cut from Tichy #8021 turnbuckles except one in kit
  • Chain, A-Line #29219, black 40 links per inch (not in kit)
  • Train line, .018’ diameter flora wire (not in kit)
  • Dirt collector, cast in my M&N Shops

Underbody with details installed.

Underbody view of slack adjuster
in front of brake cylinder.

The car was ready for the paint shop.  Off to the paint shop it went for paint and lettering.  In the paint shop, the underbody was sprayed Vallejo Black Grey 70.862.   Trucks and wheel sets were hand painted the same color.

Underbody spray painted.

The car body was sprayed with a Vallejo Model Color mix of Color Mahogany Brown 70.846, 20 drops or 57% of paint and Calvary Brown 70.982, 15 drops of paint or 43% of paint and thinned by adding  a custom mixed thinner, 30 drops or 46% of thinned paint mix.  The thinner I use is a mix of 50% distilled water with Vallejo airbrush thinner 71.161 and flow improver 71.562 added.  After drying, car body was sprayed with Vallejo Gloss Medium 70.470 for decal base. 

Car body ready for decals.

After drying overnight, Soo Line decals were applied.  Before decals could be applied a car number needed to be chosen.  After review of the numbers in the decal set I chose number 135316 for a Wisconsin Central  car number.  All decals came from the decals in the kit with the exception of the “L” and “R” and Pullman Car & Manufacturing that came from a used Soo Line set I had.  I used photo of Soo Line Wisconsin Central box car  135316 shown in Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual as a guide to apply decals.

Decals 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.  Again when dry, car body sprayed with Vallejo Gloss Varnish 70.510 to better hide edges of decals and protect decals during handling.  Again when dry, the car body was sprayed with Model Master Acryl, #4636, flat to protect decals and provide a flat finish for weathering when applied.

Right side with decals applied
 and flat coat protected.

Left side with decals applied
 and flat coat protected.

Decals applied and flat coat protected.

Decals applied and flat coat protected.

After Model Master Acryl Flat was applied and dried a light weathering before putting Wisconsin Central 135316 in service.  Pan Pastels Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1  was used on the roof and lightly over safety appliances on car body.  Prisma Color Premier Black, PC 935, pencil was used to apply the black aging look on the car body using color photo above as a guide.

Light weathering applied.


Light weathering applied.

Light weathering applied.

Wisconsin Central  “sawtooth” box car 135316 was ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, The Lakeland Route, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  A car card was made for Wisconsin Central 135316,  the final step to put the cars in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.

Wisconsin Central 135316 on Dawkins Siding.

Wisconsin Central 135316 on Dawkins Siding.

Wisconsin Central 135316 on Dawkins Siding.

A  big “Thank You” to Ken Soroos for the photo to help with build of this car and for permission to use photo from his collection in this blog post.   A big”Thank You” to Peter Aue for letting me test the new photo etched double sill step to be available for purchase from Yarmouth Model Works in 2022.   A big  “Thank You” to  Pierre Oliver for allowing me to preview the new double photo etched sill step on my blog.  And, a big “Thank You” to Richard Remiarz and Jim Dick for providing me a set of kit instructions that were not in the kit when I opened it.  Without the kit instructions I would not have known how to assemble and install the unique leveraged brake actuating mechanism. 

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


  1. Again, Lester, gorgeous end result - your efforts paid off. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Beautiful model Lester; thanks for your clear write-up; I really like the weathering on this car.

  3. Just Wow! Such intricate detail! Fabulous work.