Thursday, September 17, 2020

Western Refrigerator Line AC&F Reefer


In the spirit of throwback Thursdays, I am going to start digging into my past and sharing some of the cars I've built over the years. This model is a Western Refrigerator Line (Green Bay & Western) AC&F reefer. Branchline Trains offered them as decorated kits way back in the day. To one of the BLT cars, I added some detail upgrades, including wire grab irons and uncoupling devices, A-Line metal sill steps, wire upgrades for the brake gear, a Klasing power hand brake (with vertical shaft) from a Proto 2000 Mather box car kit, and 0.005" styrene strips at the lower door edges, below the hinges. I tried my best to match the gray, freight car red, and black to blend the detail upgrades.

Note the Proto 2000 Klasing hand brake

These cars were profiled in "Essential Freight Cars," so if you have the back issues of Railroad Model Craftsman, you can find the article there. If I were to model these cars today, I would use Tahoe or Rapido (from the NP double sheathed box cars) trucks, instead of the Accurail trucks shown above. Another vehicle to model these in HO scale is Westerfield.

Fayetteville, NC, Oct. 22, 1951, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo

WRL had 500 such cars delivered by American Car & Foundry in 1929 (lot 920,) car nos. 9000-9499. They were fairly long-lived, lasting well into the 1950s, with some surviving into the 60s. An indeterminate number of cars received side sill strengthening members that made the cars quite distinctive in appearance.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Small Wonders General American Aerocoach Bus


A few months back, I saw an announcement for this interesting HO scale bus from Small Wonders (a Sylvan Scale Models affiliated company.) I ordered one from a seller on ebay a couple weeks ago. It's a classic late Steam to Diesel era bus. They were used in longer haul service as well as typical municipal transit. The site Coachbuilt has a fairly good history of the General American Aerocoach buses. I have already decided to decorate mine for a fictitious southern Oregon regional bus line serving towns between Ashland and Grants Pass (unless I find good information about an actual bus line that operated this prototype in that area, at that time.)
Three quarters view looking at the front
The basic castings appear quite nice after opening the box. Upon closer inspection, I discovered two issues. The first is that the "underbody" is not wide or long enough for the body casting. I added strip styrene to compensate for this difference. I also discovered a casting void created by an air bubble in one of the window frames. This was filled with several application of ACC. I hope that will hold up until I can get window glazing in place to shore things up.
Three quarters view looking at the rear of the bus
Overall, this is an extremely attractive model of a commonly-seen type of bus that would be at home on any layout from the 1940s to the 1960s. I am excited to build and decorate it.
Underbody illustrating the styrene strips added to improve the fit
Interior of the bus
Straight-on side view
The flaw caused by a bubble in the casting
The parts bag

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Simple Tool


This is a very short post from vacationland up in the Adirondacks. Anyone who has worked in an office for the last decade has likely seen these things, although you may not have paid them much attention. They are the skewers used for fruit in the fruit "bouquets" marketed by Edible Arrangements. As a modeler always looking at the functionality of things, I thought they might be useful and grabbed a bunch. They proved be quite useful for two things. One end is shaped akin to a Phillips head screwdriver. That one functions well as a manual uncoupling tool. The other end works as a handle for holding truck sideframes while painting. Simply slide the bolster truck mounting hole over the tool. It is a particularly good fit for Tahoe Model Works truck sideframes.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

The enigmatic PRR 2D-F8 truck

T. S. Martorano Collection
One of the interesting things about the Pennsy was its trucks. Like everything the Pennsy did, they were different. The trucks used on the X29 (and X28) illustrate this. The 2D-F8 (PRR designation) truck had a pronounced droop at the bottom of the sideframe, lending the trucks a distinct shape. This was similar to the ARA Type Y cast sideframe design. However, the Pennsy also employed several different types of bolsters, resulting in a dog's breakfast of combinations after cars were shopped. X29 572110 shown above is a fine example, with what I am calling an "ARA" bolster on the left truck and a "box" bolster on the right truck (click on images for larger views). Here are views of a few others, along with HO scale truck references



This is an early bolster with a notably sloped face in the bolster end. This is the truck included in the Red Caboose HO scale X29 model.


This and the following image illustrate the "box" bolster. This truck was offered by Sunshine Models as a set of white metal castings to be assembled by the modeler.



This bolster is what I have dubbed the "ARA" bolster. I am not aware of an HO scale offering for this. Should Kadee get around to offering an 'HGC' version of their 2D-F8 truck, I would lobby for this as it could be used as a Type Y stand-in, most notably for several PFE reefers. That beer can-like thing where the outer right hand spring is supposed to be located is a Miner snubber, which was supposed to reduce harmonic oscillation and improve ride qualities. There were other flavors. See the CP chapter in your 1932 ARA box car book.


This is the last and most "modern" of the bolsters with a vertical web cast in the center of the outer portion. This truck has been reproduced in HO scale by Bowser.

Note that while I have highlighted these as shown on X29s, they were used on many, many others classes of 50 and 55-ton PRR cars, so having representations of all of them in HO scale is a good thing, even for non SPFs*.

*Slobbering Pennsy Freaks

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

An additional silver lining in the Rapido X31 announcement


One of the additional benefits of Rapido's announcement of the PRR X31A box and auto cars is that we should have two additional finely detailed power hand brakes in HO scale. One is the Equipco 3160 model with E-312 hand wheel, as shown above on PRR X31A 69308. Because it was offered in the early 1930s, applications of this hand brake are few (at least I haven't come across many in my research). The three I have found are:

  • Some of the late Dreadnaught end PRR X29 box cars
  • Several members of the early X31 family
  • NdeM 1932 ARA box cars 60000-60599 (see above)


The other power hand brake that will be produced is an early Ajax power hand brake (there were many subtle changes to the housing over the years, so which version will be produced is not known by me) with no. 3059 hand wheel, which had only four "spokes" in the center - see above. The 3059 hand wheel has been offered for years by Intermountain, but is heavy in detail, so a finer version is most welcome, as its adoption was wide and deep.


Now, Rapido, why not do the Universal 5700XL with M1704 hand wheel that was used on many members of the X31A family (please)

Note: I did provide reference materials to Rapido for this project, but have not been consulted about the models, including any test shots of pre-production models.

Yes, it had been a long while since my last post. More on that in a post in the near future...

Monday, January 20, 2020

Modeling the Lake Superior & Ishpeming PS-1 Box Car - Part 2


This is the left side of the car as re-detailed
Over a year ago (!) I wrote about the things I would need to do to model a Lake Superior & Ishpeming (or New York Central) PS-1 box car. I have done almost all of the work highlighted in the post and the updates are shown here. I am certain that with some paint and weathering the white bits that are difficult to see herein will display more clearly. I will post the finished and weathered model in Part 3.

This is the first phase of the lower door tracks. The seven lower pieces are 0.015" x 0.040" strips on a scale 5 inch wide strip of 0.005" with equal overhang on both sides. The upper strip on edge is an HO scale 1x2.

The "face" of the track is a 4 inch wide 0.005" strip. Individual rivets were glued in place (note that the "missing" one was flicked off and needs a replacement.) The fixtures that held the door open or closed are scratchbuilt using photos as guide. They will undoubtedly be rendered better in photos once painted.

The lower right corner, with push pole pockets (they were welded in place so there are no rivets, just pairs of discs punched from 0.005" styrene.) The sill step is from A-Line while the short sill section and corner "wraparound" are scratched from styrene.

The push pole pocket was fashioned from a styrene disc that was shaped (note that the left edge is "open" in a crescent shape as on the prototype) from a styrene disc. The center was "dished" using a no. 50 drill. The uncoupling lever was bent from 0.012" wire and the bracket is sheet brass bent to shape.

The defect card holder on the sill of the right side of the car was created by filing 0.015" x 0.025" styrene strip (0.010" x 0.015" butt-glued against a 0.015" x 0.015" strip) and adding a 0.005" styrene "flap" as shown

The placard boards were created to replicate those of the prototype, using individual boards and a "frame" of 0.005" styrene

The AB brake components, piping, and rods were all replaced

The view from the "top" of the underframe