Friday, May 17, 2024

Clinchfield Railroad Box Car 5470

Most of my freight car projects begin by choosing a freight car to build out of non-built inventory; however, not this one.   I have had two Campbell Road, Inc. dry transfer lettering sets in my decal drawer that came from Jim Perske, a great friend,  prior to his death sixteen years ago.  Jim was an operator on my railroad once a month for many years.  His operating railroad was the Clinchfield (CRR), hence the dry transfers he passed to me when he took down his railroad down due to medical reasons.   It was time to build two Clinchfield box cars using these dry transfers to make decals for lettering them.   After some research and review of the dry transfers, the first Clinchfield box car built would be numbered 5470.

Campbell Road Dry Transfer Lettering Set
(click or tap on this or any image to enlarge:

Ed Hawkins article titled “10’-0” IH Postwar 40-6” A.A.R. Box cars that appeared in Railway Prototype Cyclopedia 8 (RP CYC Publishing Company, 2003) provides excellent coverage of these follow-on to the 1937 A.A.R. Box Cars.  The prototype for the Clinchfield cars was an all steel 50 ton box car built by the Mt. Vernon Car Manufacturing Company in 1947 using the revised 1937 A.A.R. Design with a 10-foot inside height (IH).   The Clinchfield Railroad assigned these cars to number series 5250 - 5549 and class FB6.  The cars had the following features: ten panel riveted sides, 3/4 improved Dreadnaught ends (IDE) with “rolling pin” shaped corrugations with no top narrow stiffener, a Murphy rectangular panel roof, 6 foot Youngstown doors, Universal hand brakes, Apex Tri-Lok running boards and eight rung ladders.  The cars rode on double-truss spring-plankless trucks.

The Clinchfield Railroad box car features can be found in a chart at the end of the above article.   The chart/table titled “Postwar AAR Box Car Prototypes” can also be found and downloaded on the Steam Era Freight Cars website.  A side view photo of CRR box car 5446 can be found among  the photos in the article.  A photo of CRR box car 5531, a 3/4 photo showing B end, can be viewed in The Postwar Freight Car Fleet (National Model Railroad Association, Inc., 2006).

Colonel Chet McCold photo from Bob's Photo.
Lester Breuer Collection.

To help with the build I also received a car diagram, a scan of the  5250 - 5549 car series page from the Clinchfield  Diagrams of Freight Car Trains , Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railway.

Clinchfield Car Diagram for 
Box Car series 5250-5549

Having the research data I needed for the build,  I had to choose a box car from the to build cabinet.   I found a kit that I would use.  For the first Clinchfield  box car I would number 5470, I would use a C&BT Shops kit.  The kit box label read “a special run 1944 AAR 40’ Box Car kit made for the 1990 NMRA Pittsburgh Convention.”  The car was lettered for the Western Maryland and the car had an incorrect 10’ 6” IH.   This kit had the improved Dreadnaught end (IDE) with the top narrow stiffener that would have to be removed, a diagonal panel roof that would have to be replaced with a Murphy rectangular panel roof and a 7 foot door opening that had to be reduced to a 6 foot door opening.   I thought the roof change would reduce the car IH.

The build began with the install of the underframe to the floor to create the underbody.  Steps to complete work on the underbody and to install it into the car body were as follows:

  • drill and tap coupler pads and bolster center plates for 2-56 screws
  • Kadee #148 whisker couplers inserted into coupler pockets
  • Coupler pocket covers installed with Fastenal 2-56 x 3/16” screws
  • InteMountain 33” metal wheel sets installed in kit trucks
  • Fiber washers, .060 thick, were installed on kingpins to obtain proper coupler height
  • Trucks installed with Fastenal 2-56 x 1/4”  screws
  • Stick on tire weights added to inner floor to weight car to 3.8 ounces

I did no further work on the underbody after installing it in the car body; however, after CRR 5470 went into service on the railroad I saw how high it rode above the rails.  To correct the problem the .060 thick washer was changed to a plastic .020 washer, Tichy set #3013.   With the washer changed the Kadee coupler had to be  changed to a #147 underset shank to obtain correct coupler height.  The washer change also caused the wheel set axle to rub on the round head coupler pocket cover Fastnal 2-56 x 3/16" screw so the coupler pocket screws had to be changed to Walthers #947-1072, 2-56 x 3/16" flat head screws.  With these changes made,  CRR 5470 had a better height above the rails and excellent performance on the rails.

Underbody of CRR 5470

I moved onto the work on the car body.  I first removed Western Maryland lettering with a makeup cotton swab dipped in 91% alcohol.   The lettering came off easily; however, not completely. Next the 7 foot door opening was reduced to a 6 foot door opening with Evergreen #153,  .060 x .060 strip styrene glued to each sided of the door with MEK.

Car body with styrene strips to reduce door opening.

Now a resin Youngstown door with continuous corrugations cast in my M&N Shops was installed.

Resin cast door installed.

With the door size reduced, I worked on ends removing the top narrow stiffener.  The task was completed using an Xacto handle with a #17 blade followed by sanding.

Tools used to remove top stiffener rib.

Top stiffener rib to be removed.

Top stiffener rib removed.

Onto the most difficult part of the body conversion.   The removal of the diagonal panel roof and replacing it with a Murphy rectangular panel roof.   The molded on diagonal panel roof was removed with a fine tooth saw blade installed on Dremel tool.  Caution:  If use this saw blade you need to focus and go slow letting the saw do the cutting.  If you attempt the cut too fast the saw may "kick back" causing severe injury.

Dremel tool with saw blade mounted.

An InterMountain Murphy rectangular panel roof was installed rather than a Red Caboose as it fit into the car body with only minor additional work to fit it.  

Murphy panel roof installed.

After installing the Murphy rectangular panel roof, my discovery causing disappointment.  The car had an IH of 10’ 3” rather than the 10” I thought it would have.   To obtain the correct IH of 10’ the roof would have to be removed, the molded on fascia strip with rivets at the top of the car body where it met the roof cut off, roof reinstalled and on the car body and where it met the roof a new fascia strip made by adding a styrene strip and decal rivets applied.   Rather than make the correction, I decided to live with the 3 inch IH error.  Maybe one day a future project to correct?

Continuing the build, I installed Kadee #2000, Apex, red oxide running boards on the roof using Zap Formula 560 Canopy Glue to attach them.  Prior to install the molded on install pins on the running board brackets were cut off with a PBL gate nipper.

Kadee running boards installed.

Now kit ladders were installed on the sides and ends.  I like to have the ladders installed to enable me to use them along with prototype photos if available to guide install of remaining detail parts, especially on the “B” end.

Kit ladders installed.

With ladders installed, the work on the B end on installing parts was done as follows:

  • brake step, Apex Plano Model Products #131-12
  • Brake step brackets, .005 x .025 flat strip brass cut, bent to shape
  • Brake step bracket fasteners, tiny drops of MEK Goop
  • Brake housing, kit (hole enlarged with #56 drill for Kadee brake wheel)
  • Bell crank, Tichy Train Group (Tichy), AB brake set #3013
  • Chain, brake housing to brake rod, Precision Scale #48553,  34 links per inch
  • Brake rod, Tichy #1102, .015 phosphor bronze wire (PBW)
  • Brake rod clevis, to attach brake rod to bell crank, Tichy turnbuckle #8021
  • Retainer valve, extra resin kit part from parts box
  • Retainer line and brackets, Tichy #1100, .008 PBW
  • Universal brake wheel, Kadee #2033
  • Placard boards, kit

B end details installed except for Placard boards.

The grab irons on the B end were of two types.  The sill grab irons were bent from Tichy #1101 .010 PBW and installed.  The kit bracket grab iron was installed, the handhold cut off and replaced with one sized and cut from Tichy #1101 .010 PBW.   On the sides Kadee #2250, bracket grab irons were installed.

Kadee bracket grab irons installed.

Additional details added on the sides were installed and hand painted Vallejo Model Color Cavalry Brown 70.982 except for ladder rungs as follows:

  • A-Line #29002, style C sill steps
  • Molded on door handles carved off
  • Door handles, bent using Tichy #1101 .010 diameter PBW
  • Placard boards, kit
  • Ladder rungs cut off with PBL gate nipper
  • Ladder rungs,  bent using Tichy #1101 .010 diameter PBW
  • Uncoupling lever brackets, Yarmouth Model Works, YMW #507
  • Uncoupling lever holes enlarged with #79 drill
  • Uncoupling levers, bent from Tichy #1106, .0125 diameter PBW

Additional side details installed.


Next, on the ends the molded ladder rungs were cut off and replaced with wire ones bent from Tichy #1101, .010 diameter PBW.

Wire ladder rungs installed.

Wire ladder rungs installed.

Clinchfield Railroad box car 5470 was ready for the paint shop.   In the paint shop the car body was cleaned with a cotton makeup swab dipped in 91% isopropyl alcohol.   When the car body was dry it was air brushed with Vallejo Model Color Brown 70.982.

Car air brushed with Vallejo Model Color Brown.

Car air brushed with Vallejo Model Color Brown.

Again when dry, the car body was airbrushed with Vallejo Gloss Medium 70.470 for a gloss base for the kit decals.  After drying overnight, decals were applied.  The decals were made by applying the Clinchfield Campbell Road Inc. Dry Transfer lettering, set WT-11, to decal paper and coating the lettering with Microscale Liquid Decal Film.  In order to get the car number, build date, and class,  I had to piece data in the dry transfer set together to make the decals needed.  In addition to the made decals, decals used were as follows: Champ Decals 1 inch stripes, set No. S-52 was used for the stripes, Champ Decals, set HD-2 240020 for dimensional data and Smokebox Graphics, set DF0587, pieced together for reweigh date.  I used above photo of CRR box car 5446 above for decal location.

Decals applied.

Decals applied.

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 Mig Ammo Ultra-Matt Lucky Varnish, AMIG 2054,  to protect decals and provide a flat finish for weathering when applied.

CRR Box Car 5470 ready for weathering.

CRR Box Car 5470 ready for weathering.

One more step before putting Clichfield box car 5074  in service was to weather the car with Artmatic eye shadow and Pan Pastels.  An Artmatic eye shadow color like a Light Box Car Brown was applied lightly over entire car body.  Pan Pastels Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1  was used on the roof and lightly over car body.

CRR 5470 weathered.

CRR 5470 weathered.

CRR 5470 weathered.

Clinchfield boxcar 5470 was ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, The Lakeland Route, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  A car card was made for CRR 5470, the final step to put the a car in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.

CRR 5470 sitting at Sawhorse Millwork 
Tunnel City, Minn.

CRR 5470 sitting at Sawhorse Millwork 
Tunnel City, Minn.

CRR 5470 sitting at Sawhorse Millwork 
Tunnel City, Minn.

CRR 5470 sitting at Sawhorse Millwork 
Tunnel City, Minn.

I want to say, “Thank You” to Ed Hawkins  for providing photos and suggestions for building my Clinchfield Railroad cars.  A “Thank You” to Allen Stanley for providing car diagram for the CRR 5250 - 5549 box car series.  A “Thank You “ to Ben Hom for providing a PDF of the Ed Hawkins table containing this car type on the Steam Era Freight Cars website.

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


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