Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Wordy Wednesday - Chicago and North Western Emergency Box Cars and Ron Sebastian

San Diego, Sept. 5, 1955, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo
The Chicago and North Western had a sizable fleet of Emergency box cars. They were delivered in two groups with differing specialties. They were delivered by Pullman-Standard (417 cars, nos. 77416-78248, even nos. [part of an order for all-steel cars that was modified due to restrictions imposed by the War Production Board], Viking roofs and both Superior and Youngstown corrugated steel doors) and American Car & Foundry (500 cars, nos. 79250-80250, even nos., Murphy panel roofs and Superior doors.) Only the Northern Pacific received more Emergency design box cars.

Tacoma,  Feb. 19, 1955, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo
HO scale modelers have been blessed with two routes to replicate these distinctive prototypes. Sunshine Models offered resin kits to duplicate most versions of Emergency box cars. Intermountain followed with models that replicate most of the tall (10'5" - 10'6" inside height) cars. One nice detail that is included in undecorated kits as well as on the decorated cars that require it is the Viking corrugated steel roof (this part was offered by Des Plaines Hobbies as an add-on to the IMWX/Red Caboose 1937 AAR box cars and then re-tooled to fit the Intermountain AAR box car offerings.)

Some of the Des Plaines Hobbies parts in my stash (the steps are partially used)
One other point of this post is to indirectly pay homage to the late Ron Sebastian. Over the last ~50 years, Ron was a giant in the hobby, owner of Des Plaines Hobbies, where many made the pilgrimage, either on visits to the Chicago area or as part of the annual Sunshine Models Naperville now RPM Chicagoland. Ron was also a driving force in the manufacturing side of the industry, both directly and indirectly. In addition to the Viking roof referenced above, Des Plaines obtained and temporarily resuscitated the Storzek line of HO resin kits, he produced other injection molded parts, he heavily influenced several projects with major manufacturers, he was the driving force behind other manufacturers, and he was a promoter and supporter of all types of modeling, including his efforts to expand the S scale community and his donations to RPM modeling door prizes, clinics, and giveaways over many decades. His legacy is immense and he will be missed not only for his contributions to the hobby, but his jovial, kind way. I considered him to be a friend as well as a mentor to Speedwitch and I am deeply saddened by his passing.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

RPM Chicagoland Chicago Great Western 1937 AAR Box Car Part One

Prototype photo ca. early 1948, Charles Wales, William Hopkins Collection

Naperville, or RPM Chicagoland as it is known now, had been in a bit of a funk for several years. Interest had waned and St. Louis and Cocoa Beach had leapfrogged it as the events to attend on the RPM calendar. One of the things that Mike Skibbe and his dedicated band of volunteers revived was the gift for attendees in the form of a set of parts to kitbash a model into an interesting prototype. They offered a B&O M-15K in 2016. They followed it up in 2017 with a Chicago Great Western 1937 AAR box car that incorporated the distinctive Pullman-Standard Carbuilder’s end.

The entire package included almost everything needed for the kitbash. The attractive Centralia Car Shops box contained a Red Caboose (ex-IMWX) square-corner 1937 AAR box car, resin ends, doors, and details, plus decals (there were corresponding packages for N and O scale modelers.) The instructions were included in the printed and bound meet program, including general arrangement and brake arrangement drawings.

It struck me a little sacrilegious to chop up a perfectly good Red Caboose car. The Intermountain (IM) 1937 AAR cars already come with separate ends, making them suitable models to mate with the resin Carbuilder’s ends. However, when I test fitted the ends to the IM car, I found they were a little too narrow, meaning they did not span the entire width of the car end. I made the decision to cut up the IM car to create a flat kit: sides, ends, roof, and floor/underframe (the prototype underframe had a pair of stringers between the body bolsters and end sills while the IM cars have diagonal supports [see drawing from instructions included at the bottom of this post.] I was willing to overlook this difference if the IM car body was used unmodified. However, since I was creating a flat kit, I opted to use a spare resin floor/underframe.)

Halfway through the car body assembly, illustrating the styrene added at the corners
To create a flat kit from the IM car, I made a series of cuts with a razor saw. The precision of the cuts is less important than avoiding any slips that could damage the side detail. I made vertical cuts to the flat “sub-ends” just inside, finishing all the way into the car body. Once both verticals cuts were complete, I could “flex” the sub-end (still attached at the floor.) Using an Xacto knife, I scored the floor-end joint from the inside of the car body, making several strong passes in both directions. Once scored, it was an easy task to snap away the sub-ends. To remove the sides from the floor, I made two razor saw cuts the length of the car, starting from the bottom of the floor (not from inside the car body,) again with the precision of the cuts not being as important as avoiding damage to the car side detail. I cut all the way through (I did not use the score and snap method because the minimal amount of styrene at the door opening tends to be difficult to get to snap away, leaving one with a side that is missing the portion below the door opening… warning delivered to others, I hope!) Once these two cuts were complete, I removed the excess material from the back of the car sides, leaving two clean and flat car sides.

The sides and ends assembled into the basic car body
At this point, I had two sides, two ends, a roof, and a floor/underframe, ready for assembly. The sides have a relatively thin profile; I wanted a little more surface area for the side-to-end joints. I remedied this by adding 0.125" x 0.125" styrene strip to the back of the sides at the corners, flush with the edges of the sides (leaving some room for the floor and roof parts to be added into the car body.) This provided some extra surface area for a stronger as well as more pronounced 90° joint. I carefully assembled the sides and ends into the basic car body, taking care to ensure that everything was aligned properly and square. Since the joints were resin to styrene, I used ACC. I added extra ACC to the interior to secure these joints. Next I added the floor/underframe casting into the car body. Fortunately, it required almost no filing to fit. I tacked it in place in several spots with ACC and then flowed ACC into the joints from the inside of the car body by adding several drops of ACC and tilting the car body to let the ACC run along the joint until all four joints were filled. I checked the fit of the roof, which required a little amount of filing and added it into the car body, but did not glue it in place at that time. I am still contemplating whether to paint the roof separately as it is black. I also added weight attached to the top of the floor.

The crossbearers as described in the text
The underframe ready for detailing
While I had the floor/underframe casting, I had to scrounge for the associated structural details. I removed the portions of the stringers where the crossbearers are located. I added strips of 0.005" styrene eight scale inches in width to simulate the crossbearer top plates. I fabricated the main crossbearers from 0.010" x 0.100" strips trimmed at an angle to represent the slope of the crossbearers. These were framed by HO scale 1x4 strips on edge. I pre-drilled two for the train pipe, as shown in the photo. I added these to the floor followed by crossbearer bottom plates, again represented by strips of 0.005" styrene eight scale inches in width, but tapered to four scale inches wide at the side sill supports. The crossties are resin pieces from the spare parts bin. The train pipe is represented by 0.020" wire (my holes were not located perfectly, so it is not straight, but from the side, that will not be discernible.) At this point, I was ready to move on to the detailing of the car. That will be covered in Part Two...

A slightly different view of the underframe
This underframe drawing, included in the instructions, illustrates the brake arrangement

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Grain Belt Models Corrugated Pipe Load

CB&Q Collection, Newberry Library, University of Chicago
I have been meaning to complete this post since last winter. I have finally managed to get it completed. For years, I have been noodling that with the state of 3D printing technology, you could make a highly realistic corrugated pipe load. Well, I didn't do it, but Grain Belt Models has. They have released HO scale corrugated pipe in a variety of sizes. They are a great candidate for a load, as well as culvert pipes to be integrated into scenes.

FSA-OWI Collection, Library of Congress
They are offered in packs of several pipes (number dependent upon diameter,) in rigid clear plastic containers (I'd prefer something biodegradable). They are printed in a silvery-grey color that is not entirely unlike galvanized, corrugated pipe, but I will paint mine before adding to a car as a load. My target is a more shiny, bluish-sliver color like that of new galvanized metal.

If there is one nit, the thickness of the pipe is out of scale. However, that is necessary to preserve some strength. It's not grossly oversized and the benefits of actually having these pipes outweighs the slightly out of scale thickness.

They are available at the Iowa Scaled Engineering website. There are several sizes from which to choose. The ones I purchased were $5.00 for a 4-pack and I purchased 6 packs to make a load with 24 pipes.

I consolidated three packs (12 pipes) into one container, as shown here

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

2019 Mid-Atlantic RPM Photos

I attended the Mid-Atlantic RPM meet this past weekend in Linthicum, Maryland (close to BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport). The recent history of this event has been a little unsettled as it had been hosted south of DC, in Fredericksburg, VA, with modest attendance figures. Under the guidance of Bernie Kempinski, in 2018 the meet moved to its current location. It offered a solid lineup of clinics and display space. This year, attendance grew considerably and the clinic lineup almost doubled. Things are looking strong heading into 2020. I snapped a few photos of things that caught my eye, although this is a sample only!

Richard Shulby displayed this fascinating PFE R-40-23 with complete interior, including floor boards, crates, and ice in the bunkers.

This SP&S gondola (Intermountain) and CP flat (Proto 2000) were part of a display on the Oregon Coast Railroad.

Kevin Olson brought this in-progress RF&P Berkshire, based on a re-detailed Bachmann model.

Pete La Guardia displayed this beautiful NYC tug.

Fritz Dahlin had several excellent vehicles on display, including a Pure Oil GMC truck (CMW body, chassis, and rear wheels with Matchbox cab, and Athearn front wheels) and an IH Emeryville tractor (Sylvan Scale with Microscale decals).

Jim Dufour had several structures featured in his inspiring clinic on the B&M's Cheshire Branch, including this USRA box car, repurposed as a freight house at State Line, New Hampshire, circa 1947.

Tom Devenny modeled an Erie gon using a Mantua model, following an article from RMC.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Clinic file from MARPM (as well as St. Louis RPM)

Yes, I know, it's been a looooonnnngggg time since I have posted anything. I aim to rectify that over the coming weeks. First up is the link to the presentation files from this past weekend's MARPM event as well as the St. Louis RPM in July. Both files may be accessed via this link.

The recent presentation, from MARPM, is a modestly expanded and revised version of my clinic on creating decal artwork (like that shown above.)

The second and older one is the clinic from St. Louis for this year's project car. The focus of the clinic is/was alternate center rivet, U-section/hat section steel box and auto cars.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Forty-foot PS-1 12-panel Box Cars

San Diego, California, December 27, 1956, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo
In my various clinics on 'oddball' 40' PS-1s I have touched on the 12-panel box car variants (link to presentations). I have wanted to model a couple of them and will start expanding upon that here with the two prototypes I intend to replicate in HO scale. One is a Mississippi Central car and the other is a Nickel Plate prototype. The Mississippi Central has been released by Intermountain using their PS-1, which is not accurate for this car, but offered nonetheless, no doubt due the the attractive scheme and the sales it could generate. The Mississippi Central had 100 cars, nos. 5000-5099, delivered in June, 1949 by Pullman-Standard. Nickel Plate received 1,000 12-panel PS-1 box cars, nos. 6000-6999, delivered by Pullman-Standard in early 1948.

courtesy of Al Hoffman
The starting point for the Mississippi Central car is the original Kadee PS-1 with six-foot door opening. The biggest consideration aside from the specialties of the prototype (hand brake, running boards, etc.) is the 12 panels. More on that in the post on modeling the cars. It's a relatively easy car to model, though.

Until late 2018, the Nickel Plate car would have required a more formidable effort. However, the recent release by Kadee of the early version of the PS-1 makes things considerably easier. The main thing to be addressed, assuming one chooses to, is the underframe (aside from the number of panels, of course.) For the earlier cars Kadee opted to leave the underframe tooling from the original kit unchanged, even though it is not technically accurate. Early PS-1s used what was in essence a welded AAR underframe, while the Kadee model uses the later proprietary PS-1 underframe. I will cover my efforts to address that in the subsequent posts on modeling these cars.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Symington-Gould Chrysler Design High Speed Trucks

Vancouver, BC, December 11, 1950, Walter E. Frost, City of Vancouver Archives
In the early 1950s, Symington-Gould Corporation produced trucks to a design licensed from Chrysler. The trucks incorporated design features to mitigate the effects of lateral motion, as well as snubbers to smooth the ride at high speeds. The trucks saw limited adoption, with perhaps the most notable cars to be equipped with them being the 350 cars built by General American in 1950. Not only did the cars use the Chrysler trucks, but they were also equipped with the Duryea Cushion Underframe and Evans 'DF' (damage free) loading devices. After being used in lease service, many were sold to several railroads. GAEX 108025 is illustrative of one of these cars, with green sides, yellow band and stenciling, and black roof and Chrysler trucks. 

1953 Car Builders' Cyclopedia
1953 Car Builders' Cyclopedia
circa 1953, my collection
In late 1952 and into 1953, PFE converted 50 R-40-10 steel refrigerator cars for express service. Upgrades included steel running boards, electric air circulating fans, steam and signal lines, and high speed trucks (the trucks were secondhand from a Union Pacific test on stock cars). The cars were assigned to class BR-40-10. Twenty-five cars, nos. PFE 901-925, were equipped with Chrysler trucks, as shown above on PFE 913.

Replicating these trucks in HO scale is not all that easy. Twin Star Cars (website is no longer available) offered resin castings of the spring portion that nests in the sideframe (shown in the center of the photo above... not that great an image, but they weren't the main subject of the image and it's all I have). Tony Thompson profiled them on his blog. I was fortunate to acquire a couple pairs of Overland brass versions over a decade ago, which, of course, I cannot lay my hands on at this moment after my recent move. However, for those of you who do not have the Overland offerings or Twin Star Cars castings, American Scale Models offers a similar if not identical offering for the steep price of $39.95 (or in O scale for $69.95).  I plan to use my Overlands to model one of the GAEX cars. I will profile that build on this blog. Stay tuned.