Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Bits Box and Scrap

Many of my freight car builds, especially freight car upgrades  and freight car modifications (kitbashes), produce scrap that most modelers place in the trash.   Not the case on the my Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company workbench (desk).   On my workbench I have what I and others have named our “bits box.”   In other freight car builds and upgrades described on this blog I have mentioned using materials from the bits box.   I thought it was time to explain what the bits box is and how it can be used.   In addition to the bits box, on my workbench I have two small scrap containers.  And, under the workbench a larger scrap container, gifted by a friend.  Of course, the normal waste basket is also near.  Why do I have a bits box and scrap containers?  I will show you and explain why.

Workbench with Bits Box and Scrap Containers.
(Click or tap on this or any image to enlarge.)

Scrap container under workbench.

First I want to tell you about  my bits box.  A plastic food container with a collection of product bubble formed covers on product packing to let us see what we are purchasing.   The various bits box container sections are for different scrap created during a modeling project.

Bits Box on workbench.

As you can see in bits box photo, it has several stacked containers for various items:  on the left small styrene and next to it larger styrene,  on the right pieces of phosphor bronze, brass, and other short lengths of wire, in front on the right tiny plastic scrap, in the front on the left larger plastic scrap and in the bottom for other.   Cleanup during or after a modeling project produces scrap that ends up here in one of the containers rather than in the waste basket if I believe they may be of future value. 

Bits Box sections.

One example of using the scrap in the bits box is from my latest freight car build.   During the build of a drop bottom gondola I used several pieces of wire for the piping between brake components from the bits box wire container.  And, I used several of the bits box plastic scrap pieces to create two parts on the underbody upgrade details.  The parts were the mount for the pivot plate for the floating brake lever and for the dirt collector.

Drop bottom gondola with bits box parts.

On this gondola I could not use a Tichy Train Group (Tichy) dirt collector from AB brake set #3013 due to small spacing between parts.   I could install the pipe, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter phosphor bronze wire from AB valve to the train line (green floral wire).  I could create the dirt collector by using small scrap styrene rod molded in black and red color, from the bits box’s glued to the installed wire.   And, that is what I did.

Top view of dirt collector and floating lever
plate (yellow).

Mount under floating lever pivot plate and
dirt collector (black and red styrene rods).

During a freight car build or cleanup after a freight car build is finished in preparation for the next build, parts that are not considered of value to be placed in the bit box will be brushed into one of the scrap containers.

Scrap containers (old film containers)
on workbench.

Scrap containers on desk.

Large scrap container (sold as ash tray).

Large top allows scrap from workbench 
to be easily brushed in.

Lots of space for scrap remaining.

Collecting scrap from the workbench may cause you to ask, “ Have you lost your mind?”   “No”, again  please let me explain.   The scrap collected when building our freight cars can be used to create scrap loads for the freight cars, specifically for gondolas.   A base, in my case a piece of foam core board painted with Vallejo Model Color black #70.950 or packing foam cut to fit into the car, onto which white glue has been spread is covered with the collected workbench scrap from one of the containers.

Scrap loads made with scrap collected
from freight car builds.

Scrap load spotted for unloading at
Leone Foundry, Eureka Center, Minn.

Scrap load spotted for unloading at
Leone Foundry, Eureka Center, Minn.

If you have not already done so, maybe now you too will establish a bits box for your workbench.  And, you may even begin collecting scrap from your workbench.   Even if you do not do either, you can begin to understand and appreciate the phrase, " Model railroaders save everything."

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.  All comments are reviewed and approved before they appear.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer


Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Union Refrigerator Transit Reefers 38656 & 38605 Leased to MILW

 In my to-build cabinet I found three plastic Walthers MILW reefers matching the prototype.   First, I built URTX 37010 a steel ice bunker refrigerator car leased to The Milwaukee Road by Union Refrigerator Transit (URTX), a Division of General American Transportation Company (GATC).  Once I finished URTX 37010,   I thought it best to build the other two Walthers kits, URTX 38605, kit 905-11059, and URTX 38656, kit 905-11060, both steel ice bunker reefers as URTX 37010; however, with some different features.  The two kits were  purchased from The Milwaukee Road Historical Association  in 2000.

The prototype steel ice bunker refrigerator cars were built in 1954 by the General American Transportation Corporation.  The cars were leased to The Milwaukee Road that assigned them to series 38000-38799, A.A.R. class RS the designation for a general service refrigerator car equipped with ice bunkers.  As the 37000-series refrigerator cars,  they had the  distinguishing characteristic of these refrigerator cars, the horizontal rivet strip through the the center of the car side.  New features introduced with these cars was the cutout side sills ( tab side sills) and different ends.  The ends were Standard Railway Equipment Co. improved dreadnaught ends with round corners with modeler’s designation of R+3/3.  The first 100  cars of this series had plug doors while the other cars in the series had the standard 4 foot hinged doors.  Other features of this series cars included: Murphy steel diagonal panel style roof with two blank panels on each end next to the ice-hatches, Blaw Knox metal running board (similar in appearance to Apex Tri-Lok) and brake step, Equipco ice hatch covers, air circulating fans and the placard boards (tack boards) relocated to the lower left of the door.  The cars rode on Barber S-2 trucks.  A photo of the prototype with plug door can be found in the Milwaukee Road Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment, Vol. 2 (Morning Sun Books, Inc. 2000).

Courtesy of Milwaukee Road Historical Society
(Click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

I began the build with the basic underbody assembly.  The underframe was fitted and installed.  The underframe has the brake cylinder mount molded on the wrong side for the MILW, so it was cut off the underframe with a single edge razor blade (SERB) and relocated to the proper location using an underbody diagram from September 1999 Mainline Modeler.  Bolster center plate and coupler pads were drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws.  Kadee #148 couplers were inserted into the coupler pockets and covers attached with Fastenal 3/16” screws.  Trucks with InterMountain 33 inch metal wheel sets were installed with Fastenal 1/4” screws.  Kit brake components, after being drilled for brake piping, were installed.  And, kit plastic sill steps were installed to provide a better mounting area after being cut off for A-Line sill steps install later in the build.

Underbody diagram from Mainline Modeler

Basic underbody work done.

Next the car body ends were installed followed by the roof after the kit provided weights had been glued inside the ends of the car body with Permatex Clear Silicone Adhesive (not Goo as stated in the assembly instructions) giving a weighted car of 4 ounces ( over NMRA recommended 3.8 ounces).   After the roof was installed the kit hatches and latches were installed.  

With the basic car body and underbody assembly done, I moved to the sides.  The molded on grab irons were carved off with Xacto handle with custom ground Xacto blade and micro scalpel.

Tools used to carve off molded on grab irons.

Kit ladders were installed on the sides.  After install, the molded on ladder rungs were cut off with a side cutter.  Wire ladders rungs bent from Tichy Train Group (Tichy) #1101, .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW) were installed.  The replacement was done by cutting off every other rung and installing a wire rung.  Then, the remaining rungs were cut off and replaced with a wire rung.

Kit ladders with wire rungs installed.

And, kit ladder install on the ends followed; however, with the ladders mounted all the rungs were removed at once with a side cutter.  As on the sides the removed molded on ladders rungs were replaced with wire rungs bent from Tichy #1101, PBW.

Molded on ladder rungs cut off.

Ladders with wire rungs installed.

Now work on the roof was done.   Rather than use the kit running board, a Plano Model Products #191, Apex running board was installed.  Roof grab irons were installed later.

Running board installed.

Roof grab irons installed.

Onto the “B” end work.  A Plano #191, Apex brake step (platform) was installed.  The kit brake housing was installed with the hole in it enlarged with a #56 drill to enable a Kadee brake wheel to be installed.  The chain, Tichy set #3013,  from the brake housing to connect to the brake rod was installed as was the bell crank, Tichy set #3013, on the sill.  A Tichy turnbuckle #8021, the clevis for the brake rod was attached to Tichy #1102, .015” diameter PBW wire longer than needed with CA.  Then the brake rod, wire with clevis was cut to length between the bell crank and brake housing chain and installed.  A retainer valve, Yarmouth Model Works #0060, was installed followed by a retainer line and brackets, Tichy #1100, .008” diameter PBW.  A Kadee #2033, Universal brake wheel was installed.  And, the a kit plastic bracket grab iron was installed.

B end work progress.

To finish the “B” work, the grab iron install was done.   On the plastic bracket grab iron the handhold was cut off and replaced with a wire handhold bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW.   Sill grab irons also bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW were installed.  And, roof grab irons were now installed.   The roof grab irons were bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW) with Yarmouth Model Works etched eye bolts without shoulder for corner legs.

Grab irons installed.

B end work with grab irons.

To finish the install of grab irons, I went back to the sides and installed Kadee #2250, bracket grab irons on the sides.  A Yarmouth Model Works jig was used to locate the holes drilled to install the Kadee bracket grab irons.  I use only two holes, the top right and bottom left rather then all four as on the jig.   Therefore, on the Kadee bracket grab irons the bottom right and top left mounting pins are cut off to allow mounting with only two holes.

After mounting the bracket irons on the sides I took a break from adding details and began the painting of the details instead.  I hand painted the bracket grab irons and ladders on the sides Polly Scale MILW Road Orange, F414152 ( no longer manufactured).   The sides added details could be painted with a Vallejo Model Color mix of Bright Orange 70.851, 50% and Light Orange 70.911, 50% (in my opinion a excellent match) which I used on my prior build of URTX 37010.  I continued the hand painting of added details on the ends and running board with Vallejo Model Color Black 70.950.

Bracket grab irons installed and upgrade
details installed painted.

Back to adding details.  To complete the B end work, the uncoupling lever bent from Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW was installed.  The uncoupling lever bracket was fabricated  as follows: a  small piece of .020” styrene was cut and glued to the back of the pole pocket plate and an eye bolt bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW with a Xuron wire bending plier was inserted and glued into a hole drilled in the styrene portion of the bracket with a #79 drill.

Uncoupling levers installed.

Uncoupling lever closer view.

To completer the side work, plastic sill steps were cut off.  A-Line #29002, style C were installed on the car ends and a #29000, style A were installed under the doors.   I used the style A  sill step under the doors as it appeared in some prototype photos of these cars.

Sill steps installed.

With the car body finished, the underbody work was completed as follows:

- Brake cylinder, kit and mounted on relocated molded on frame bracket

- AB (Control) valve kit and mounted on molded on frame bracket

- Air reservoir kit and  mounted on molded on frame bracket

- Above brake components were predrilled for piping

- Slack adjuster, made from styrene model car part

- Brake cylinder lever, Evergreen #8108, 1” x 8” strip styrene

- Brake floating lever, Evergreen #8108, 1” x 8” strip styrene

- Brake levers hangers, brass wire grab irons

- Brake piping from air reservoir to control valve, Tichy #1101, .010” diameter Brass wire

- Brake pipe from brake cylinder to control valve, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW

- Brake rods, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW

- Brake rod clevises made with MEK Goop

Chain, Precision Scale # 48553,  34 links per inch

- Train line, .018” diameter flora wire

        -       Dirt collector, resin cast in M&N Shops

Underbody details before paint.

Once underbody work was completed I moved URTX 38656 and URTX 38605 to the M&N paint shop.  In the paint  shop after the sides were taped off, the underbody was airbrushed Vallejo Model Color Black #70.950.

Underbodies airbrushed.

After the underbody was dry I weathered URTX 38605 and URTX 38656 with Pan Pastels.  Pan Pastels Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1  was used on the roof and lightly over entire car body.  In addition, a cotton swab dipped in 91% isopropyl alcohol was used to go over the entire car.   

Cars weathered.

During the weathering process I realized that I had not added route boards.  Therefore,  route boards 12 inches long were cut from Evergreen #8108, 1" x 8" strip strip styrene and installed.

Route boards installed in location per
prototype photo above.

Union Refrigerator Transit 38656 and 38605, leased to the MILW, were ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Company, The Lakeland Route, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  A car card was made for each car, the final step to put the cars in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.

URTX 38656 and URTX 38605 spotted at 
Food Producers in Little Chicago, Minnesota

URTX 38656 and URTX 38605 spotted at 
Food Producers in Little Chicago, Minnesota

URTX 38656 and URTX 38605 spotted at 
Food Producers in Little Chicago, Minnesota

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.  All comments are reviewed and approved before they appear.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer