Saturday, June 8, 2024

Milwaukee Road Box Car 710431

When looking for a new project I normally start by looking in the to-build cabinet for a kit.  Now and then another source of a project is a freight car on the railroad on which an upgrade was not completed.  During construction of the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company freight cars built to run on the railroad were not always upgraded as now, especially ladders.  When looking at freight cars on the railroad after setting up for the next operating session, I saw Milwaukee Road (MILW) Box Car 710431 still had molded on ladders.   And, when reviewing the records on MILW 710431 my notes told me this car should have a Hutchins roof.  My next freight car project was found.

MILW 710431 at start of upgrade
(click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

My records showed I purchased  MILW 710431, kit 932-2650, in  April 1994 from the Milwaukee Road Historical Association (MRHA) produced as a 1993 MRHA Limited Edition car.  It stayed in the to-build cabinet until 2007 when I assembled, upgraded and weathered MILW 710431.

Inventory Record of MILW 710431

The prototype for this single-sheathed, Howe truss design, wood box car with reinforced composite ends, was built in 1923 by the Western Street Car and Foundry Company.  The MILW assigned these box cars to series 708500 - 710499, class XM.   The box cars were built with an inside height of 8’ 7”, had a Hutchins Dry lading roof and wood doors.  The cars rode on cast steel truck side frames.

Photos of a Milwaukee Road box car in this series can be found in several books.  A color photo of MILW 709049 appears in 1950s Freight Car Color Guide, Volume 1 (Morning Sun Books, Inc., 2022).  A color photo of MILW 510197 taken from this car series and renumbered after being equipped to handle auto frame parts appears in Milwaukee Road Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment, Volume 2 (Morning Sun Books Inc., 2000).   A black and white photo of MILW box car 709884 can found in Freight Cars in Context, Volume One (Speedwitch Media, 2014.)

MILW 709884
Ted Cullota Collection

A shop diagram of this car series appears in the The Milwaukee Road Freight Cars, Official Employees’ Shop diagrams In-Service Freight Cars & Cabooses in 1937 (Normandie House).

The Milwaukee Road Freight Car Diagram

Before starting the current upgrade, I reviewed my inventory record of MILW 710431 build and upgrade work in 2007.   Assembly began with the underbody work.  Bolster kingpins and coupler pockets were drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws.  Coupler pocket covers for coupler pockets with  Kadee No. 5 coupler installed were installed with Athearn #99001, 2-56 x 3/16” round head screws.  Trucks with Proto 2000 ribbed back wheel sets inserted were installed with Athearn #99002, 2-56 x 1/4” round head screws.  The kit car weight plus electrical outlet box punch outs were used to weight the car to 4 ounces.  No underbody upgrade work was done at that time.  And, even after  the current upgrade work, still no upgrade work was done on the underbody.


After assembly molded on grab irons, sill steps, running board supports, retainer line, brake shaft, and brake platform supports were carved off.   Door guides were removed.  The upper door guide was reduced to desired thickness via sanding and installed.  The lower door guide rollers were made with Shinohara railroad track spikes.  With the carving work done, the roof, B end and other details installed are described in the following sections.


  • The kit longitudinal running board was milled to .020 thickness.
  • Latitudinal running boards, cut off  a Rib Side Cars longitudinal running board
  • Running board supports fabricated from Evergreen #8102, 1 x 2 strip styrene
  • Grab irons, Detail Associates #2504, .012” diameter brass wire
  • Grab irons, corner brackets, Detail Associates #2206, eye bolts

Roof after initial upgrade in 2007


  • Door hinges, upper made with Evergreen #8102, 1 x 2 strip styrene
  • Door stops, made with Evergreen #8102, 1 x 2 strip styrene
  • Sill steps, A-Line #29000, style A
  • Grab irons, Detail Associates, #2504, .012” brass wire, 18” straight type
  • Grab irons, Tichy Train Group (Tichy) #3015, .012” wire, 18” drop type
  • Braces to right of door extended over sill where lower door guide removed
  • Brace extensions made with Evergreen #8103, 1 x 3 strip styrene

Car body after initial upgrade in 2007

B end

  • Brake step, kit
  • Brake step braces, Evergreen #8102, 1 x 2 strip styrene
  • Retainer valve, molded on not removed
  • Retainer line, Detail Associates #2502, .008 diameter brass wire
  • Brake staff, Detail Associates #2505, .015” diameter brass wire
  • Brake staff step, wire staple
  • Brake wheel, Kadee #440
  • Grab irons, Tichy #3015, .012” wire, 18” drop type
  • Uncoupling levers, Detail Associates .012 diameter brass wire
  • Uncoupling lever brackets, Detail Associates #2206, eye bolts

B end with 2007 upgrade details and 
2024 end ladder wire rungs installed.

Once MILW 710431 was moved to the paint shop, installed detail parts were hand painted with Floquil Polly Scale Box Car Red F414281 (no longer manufactured) as were the trucks.   When paint was dry, MILW 710431 was weathered with eye shadow makeup using various browns and black.

Enough history, onto the current 2024 upgrade.  I began by carving off the molded on ladder rungs with my favorite tools for this task.  A Xacto number five handle with a Xacto #17 blade ground to shape I like.   A scalpel with a Havel’s Carbon Steel Surgical #6100 micro blade and a brush for removing carved material.

Knives used for carving and cleaning.

Molded on ladder rungs carved off.

Molded on ladder rungs carved off.

After final cleanup of the areas between the ladder stiles, the areas were hand painted with Vallejo Model Color Black Red, 70.859, a good match for original aged and weathered box car red.   While the paint was drying I made the Hutchins roof.

1928 Car Builders' Cyclopedia

I made a jig, a section of Evergreen styrene I beam, that could be laid on a roof rib with one end against the longitudinal running board and the other used to make a hole in the roof rib with a pin mounted in a pin vise to mark holes to be drilled for rivets.

Simple jig for marking holes to 
be drilled for rivets.

With the hole marking done, I drilled the holes with a #77 .018 drill mounted in a #8050 Dremel Tool.  Tichy rivets #8018, .025 diameter were installed into the holes and glued with MEK.

Holes for rivets visible and rivets installed.

Rivets in roof ribs being installed.

Roof rib rivets installed.

Now inner roof ribs cut from Plastruct #900849, .015 styrene round rod were cut to length on a Northwest Short Line Chopper and installed with MEK.

Inner roof ribs being cut on NWSL chopper.

New ribs installed.

After install, the new inner roof ribs were hand painted with Vallejo Model Color Black Red 70.859.

Inner ribs hand painted.


With the Hutchins roof made, now the install of the ladder rungs was completed.   The ladder rungs were bent using Tichy #1101, .010 diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW) and installed with CA.

Wire ladder rungs installed.

Wire ladder rungs installed.

Once install of ladder rungs was done, a nail file board was used to make a few strokes over them to rough them up a bit to better hold paint.   And, the ladder rungs were hand painted Vallejo Model Color Black Red, 70.859.

Ladder wire installed rungs painted.

Once dry eye shadow eye makeup, a light brown color, was used with applicators with sponge tips and micro applicators to weather new added details and touch up any area showing wear due to MILW 710431 being in-service on the railroad.  In addition to the eye shadow makeup, a Prismacolor Premier pencil, Tuscan Red, PC937 was used to color boards here and there as was seen in the color photo of the prototype mentioned above.

MILW 710431 weathered again.

MILW 710431 weathered again.

Milwaukee Road 710431 was placed back in service on the siding at the Hiawatha Elevator where it was spotted prior to removal for upgrade and move to the workbench.

MILW  710431 spotted at Hiawatha Elevator
in Little Chicago, Minn.

MILW  710431 spotted at Hiawatha Elevator
in Little Chicago, Minn.

MILW  710431 spotted at Hiawatha Elevator
in Little Chicago, Minn.

MILW  710431 spotted at Hiawatha Elevator
in Little Chicago, Minn.

I want to say, “Thank You” to Ted Cullota for providing photo to assist  build of Milwaukee 710431 and allowing use of photo here on my blog.. 

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


No comments:

Post a Comment