When I showed a photo of Chicago And Northwestern (CNW) SS Box Cars 141260 and 141268 sitting on the CNW Interchange in Little Chicago, Minnesota on my Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company (M&N) , one reply regarding this photo was, “The pickle car following them is worth a blog.” Yes, I could provide that blog post and here it is.
|Heinz Pickle Tank Car 73 behind CNW box cars.|
(Click on this or any image to enlarge)
|Pickle Tank Car 73 on CNW Interchange|
in Little Chicago, Minnesota.
The pickle tank car with closed sides, nicknamed “coffin cars”, is a highly modified and upgraded Athearn plastic pickle car, kit 1476, lettered for HJ Heinz Company with (temporary marks HJHCo) reporting marks HJHX and number 73. The kit was purchased and built in 1978 to service a salting station on my railroad.
|Athearn pickle tank as assembled from kit 1476.|
Having visited several pickle salting stations and frequently driving by a Gedney Company pickle plant in Chaska, Minnesota, I developed an interest in pickle cars. Therefore, I installed a salting station on the M&N railroad. The salting station is a modified Wabash Valley Models kit based on on pickle works plans that appeared in January 1955 and February 1961 Model Railroader (MR).
A second Athearn pickle tank car, HJHX 78 was gifted to me by one of my then regular operators in 1993. The number on this pickle tank was changed from 73 to 75 using scrap Champ decals. Later the number was changed again to 78 with Woodland Scenics dry transfer white numbers when I found number 75 was not a coffin car. Both of these kits were highly upgraded over the years as additional prototype photos and car data was found.
The prototype HJ Heinz Pickle Tank Cars assigned to series 70 to 80, A.A.R. Class TW, were built in 1925 by General American Company. The cars had wood sides and ends. The cars had six (6) panels on each side and six interior tanks, three on each side. These cars did not have the typical roof hatches. Instead the entire roof was divided into three sections on each side, one section over each of the interior tanks. One of these roof sections (called hatches) was lifted to access the tank underneath it inside the car. The January 1953 Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) has eleven (11) cars listed.
A photo of pickle car 73 can be found in the 1931 Car Builders’ Cyclopedia Thirteenth Edition (Simmons-Boardman Publishing Company, 1931) and 1943 Car Builders’ Cyclopedia Sixteenth Edition (Simmons-Boardman Publishing Company, 1943). There have also been photos and plans of pickle cars in the hobby press. Photos of these “coffin” cars including the B end, roof section hatches in open position and a color photo as well as a photo of the typical viewable four tank pickle car with number 75 are found in the excellent book Pickle and Vinegar Makers of the Midwest (David J. Leider, 2015).
|1931 Car Builders' Cyclopedia|
|Heinz Pickle Tank 78|
In addition to photos, I have in my collection a car diagram of Heinz Pickle Tank Car number 70 for model construction produced by the H.J. Heinz Company in 1941. When comparing the measurements on this diagram to the Athearn pickle closed side tank car you find the Athearn car does not have the exact measurements as it is 9 inches too tall and 12 inches too wide. And, the boards on the ends are narrower than on the diagram. I chose to live with these differences.
Both pickle tank cars 73 when built and 78 when acquired had Kadee Number 5 couplers installed and were wighted to 4 ounces (above NMRA recommended weight) with kit weight and electrical outlet box punchouts. Athearn truck sideframes on HJHX 73 received metal Proto 2000 33” ribbed black wheel sets, #21259 while HJHX 78 received Kadee 33" metal wheels. Kadee fiber #205 .015” fiber washers were installed on kingpins to get proper coupler heights. Cars were weathered with eye shadow makeup and airbrushed with Floquil Flat #11 thinned with used dirty thinner. The pickle cars were put into service and remained that way until 2002 when the major upgrade was done.
The upgrade began with removal of roof running board, roof hatches, brake wheel and housing, molded on grab irons and sill steps. The upgrade continued on carbody and underbody as described below.
The ladders were removed by cutting out the area with the ladders. The exposed areas left after ladder removal on HJHX 73 were filled with siding cut from Evergreen #3047 car siding and hand painted with Floquil #33 Rail Box Yellow. On HJHX 78 the exposed areas were filled with siding cut from Evergreen .020” sheet I hand scribed. The 22 side and end grab irons, Detail Associates #6426, were installed. Sill steps, A-Line #29000, style A, were installed.
|Heinz Pickle Tank 78|
|Heinz Pickle Tank 73|
A new roof was cut from Evergreen #2037 car siding and installed on each car. On the roof, running board saddles, cut from Evergreen #8202, 2” x 2” strip styrene, were installed for attaching the new running board . A new running board was fabricated from Evergreen #8106, 1” x 6” strip styrene and installed to create a 1 foot 6 inch wide running board specified in the car diagram. On the car ends the running board extension brackets were cut from Evergreen #8102, 1” x 2” strip styrene.
Roof hatch ribs (two on each side divide roof into 3 sections) were made with an Evergreen #8204, 2” x 4”, installed on the 2” side and two Evergreen #8103, 1” x 3”, one installed on each side. Other roof ribs are Evergreen #8204, 2” x 4” and Evergreen #8103, 1” x 3” strip styrene. Roof grab irons were bent using Detail Associates #2504, .012” diameter brass wire and installed with Detail Associates #SS 2206, eye bolts for corner legs.
|New car roof with running board and ribs.|
Roof hatch support brackets attached to the running board to support roof sections when opened were fabricated two ways. On HJHX 73 the supports were bent from Detail Associates #2524, .010” x .030” flat brass. On HJHX 78 hatch supports were made from Plastruct #570-90001, 3/64” angle and Evergreen #8106, 1” x 6” strip styrene.
The new roofs were airbrushed using Floquil Boxcar Red, F110074.
|Roofs showing roof hatch brackets|
attached to running board.
On the B end the molded on narrow brake step (platform) was widen with Evergreen #8204, 2” x 4” strip styrene. Tichy Train Group (Tichy) brake step brackets, AB brake set #3013, were installed. A plastic grab iron was installed for the brake shaft step at the sill. A Tichy retainer valve, AB set #3013, and retainer line, Tichy #1100, .008” diameter phosphor bronze wire were installed. Brake shaft, Detail Associates #2506, .019” brass wire with a Grandt Line #5607 15” brake wheel on HJHX 73 and HJHX 78, was installed. At a later date, a broken wheel on HJHX 78 was replaced with an Accurail brake wheel. A brake shaft bracket near the roof was bent from wire in the bits box and installed. Uncoupling levers bent from Detail Associates #2504, .012” diameter brass wire with Details Associates, #SS 2206, eye blots for mounting brackets were installed. Except for decals the B end work was finished so all added detail parts were hand painted Floquil Boxcar Red, F110074.
Decals for end reporting marks were made using Clover House #9600-11 Railroad Roman Condensed White Dry Transfers for letters and for numbers Woodland Scenics DT510, RR Roman White Numbers dry transfers applied to decal paper and coated with Microscale Liquid Decal Film. While the decals were drying the area for the reporting marks and number was hand brushed with Future Floor Finish. Once brushed area and decals were dry, 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 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, the decal area was hand brushed with Model Master Flat Clear Acryl, #4636, to protect decals and provide a flat finish for weathering when applied.
|Pickle car B ends with upgrade details.|
On the underframe the four center cross members were removed and only three were reinstalled to match the car diagram. The fish belly center sill was fabricated by adding Evergreen #155, .060” x .100” strip styrene with angles cut on ends to match prototype look. I did not add the center sill plate cover as I thought it would be easier to add brake details before doing so; however, after adding the brake details I never did add it.
|Underbody with underframe changes made.|
I considered adding the split-K system brake detail to match car diagram as I had done on an old Universal Model Products Company wood kit (kit review MR, Feb. 1955) I had upgraded.
|Heinz Pickle Tank Car 70 with split-K brake.|
|Heinz Pickle Tank Car 70|
Since I had moved my railroad time period from 1948 to 1954 (now spring 1955) prior to this upgrade and never found a photo of these cars without a dark underbody to see brake components or location, I thought I should install a typical AB brake system. Therefore, I installed a Tichy AB brake system, AB set #3013, on HJHX 70 and 78. After the center sill holes were cut for brake levers, Tichy AB brake components were drilled for piping and installed. Now the following brake system details were installed:
- Train line, .019” flora wire
- Brake cylinder lever, , Evergreen #8108, 1” x 8” strip styrene
- Brake floating lever, Evergreen #8106, 1” x 6” strip styrene
- Piping from air reservoir to control valve Tichy #1101 .010” diameter PBW
- Piping from brake cylinder to control valve Tichy #1106 .0125” diameter PBW
- Dirt collector, Tichy set #3013
- Brake rods, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW
- Clevises are made with MEK Goop
- Chain, A-Line #29219 black 40 links per inch
After brake system parts were installed the underbodies were airbrushed with Floquil Grimy Black, F110013.
|Underbody brake details installed.|
Before putting HJ Heinz Company cars HJHX 73 and HJHX 78 into service the cars were weathered with eye shadow and Pan Pastels. A dark brown eye shadow color was applied over entire car body. Pan Pastels Red Iron Oxide Extra Dark 380.1 was applied over the end reporting marks and numbers to tone them down. Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1 was used on the roof and lightly over safety appliances on car body.
|Heinz Pickle Tank 73|
|Heinz Pickle Tank 78|
HJ Heinz Company pickle cars HJHX 73 and HJHX 78 were ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, The Lakeland Route, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.” A car card was made for HJHX 73 and HJHX 78 , the final step to put the a car in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.
Pickle cars HJHX 73 and HJHX 78 are not an a perfect match to the prototype; however, they will continue in service on my Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company until a manufacturer produces a reasonable priced resin or plastic pickle car and decals that match the prototype.
|Empty HJHX Pickle Tank 70 on CNW Interchange|
Little Chicago, Minnesota to be moved to
salting station in Sussex, Minnesota for loading.
|HJHX Pickle Tank 78 at salting station|
at Sussex, Minnesota on the
Minnapolis & Northland Railroad Company.
I want to say, “Thank You” to Gary Laasko for suggesting the pickle car was worth a blog. And, a “Thank You” to Fred Holzapfel for gifting the Athearn pickle car that became HJHX 78. Definitely appreciated.
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