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 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

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Prototype Rails 2020

Bruce Smith displayed many cars with military loads, including this CNW AAR flat car with Roco tanks
Prototype Rails 2020 was hosted at the Hilton Oceanfront in Cocoa Beach, Florida January 9-11. Mike Brock and his able crew put together another excellent event with nationally recognized clinicians, a great vendor and model room, cookies twice per day, and perfect weather. Unfortunately, while the clinic list was impressive, I failed to attend the few that I most wanted to see. However, it was another fantastic weekend. This event easily retains its position as the most relaxing on the RPM calendar. I managed to record several photos of modelers' efforts in the display room. Here is a sample of what was out on the tables.
This is an in-progress Cannon parts set to model a Seaboard Air Line (later SCL) phosphate box car displayed by Ken O'Brien

Randy Hammill of Prototype Junction had an in-progress New Haven DL-109 on view

This exquisitely weathered model was displayed by Thoroughbred Railroad Models

Bill Raymond scratchbuilt this model of a B&O Chicago Terminal Railroad transfer caboose, one of six such prototypes converted from secondhand M-43 class cars absorbed from the BR&P

Event host Mike Brock showed off this heavily weathered ART reefer, presumably from an Amarillo Railroad Museum/Intermountain car

Dr. Denny Anspach cobbled together parts from NKP Car, Bethlehem, CalScale, Hi-Tech, Central Valley, and American Limited to model CB&Q Diner-Parlor 307
Steve Orth modeled Union Pacific diner 3696 using two Walthers cars, a roof spliced from Walthers and Branchline parts, plus a scratchbuilt underframe detailed with Walthers. Branchline, and scratchbuilt parts

Eric Thur displayed several flat cars with heavy loads, including this PRR flat by F&C with a 3D printed load from Multiscale Digital (eBay seller id: multiscale_digital_llc)

Steve Hile brought this impressive model of the coal chute at Bureau Junction, Illinois on the Rock Island all the way from Chicago (hopefully he brought it by car and not via airline!)

Ross Dando/Twin Star Cars showed off this exquisite O scale rebuilt Rock Island flat car, including stunning deck
Jim Zwerneman scratchbuilt the major components of this Fort Worth & Denver box car and married it to an Atlas roof. The decals are from Bruce Blalock and the trucks are Proto48 standard

Ryan Mendel of Nation Scale Car brought an in-progress B&O M-26D/E using Speedwitch Duryea under frame parts
Brian Carlson used a Sunshine Naperville "gift" kit of the FM-11/FM-11A class flat car plus a Sunshine min-kit for a pair of Caterpillar crawlers

This F37 class flat car is an F&C resin kit as built and detailed by Bruce Smith
Al Brown scratchbuilt this impressive Seaboard Air Line AF class 50' auto car using styrene

Blair Davies shortened an Athearn 70' baggage car to 60 feet and added scratchbuilt sides to replicate an Erie baggage car

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Scratchbuilding Clinic File

As promised, here is a link to my presentation file from the scratchbuilding clinic presented at Prototype Rails this past weekend.

One note: I had described the challenges of photographing some things without the benefit of extra hands. I think I have come up with a solution that I will use to allow me to post several videos that should illustrate many of the techniques described during the clinic. Please check back here over the coming weeks to see those videos.

Later this week, I will post some of my photos from the model display area.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Looking back and looking ahead

NC&StL XM-31 kitbash - model and prototype
2019 has been a year of change for me. The move to Brooklyn has been a good thing for me, both professionally and personally. However, it also meant a lot of weekends spent shuttling back and forth to and from Connecticut. I did not have nearly the amount of down time (= modeling time) as I had hoped. Within the last couple months, things have mostly stabilized and I now have a good working area set up and am able to regularly spend some time with modeling projects again.

I am not a huge believer in New Year's resolutions. However, I do believe that taking the time to put something down in writing makes it a lot more likely to happen. So, as an exercise in that philosophy, I have assembled a list of railroad projects to accomplish in 2020. Without further ado, here they are:


I will have a more expansive post on this in early 2020, but my goals are simple and are also quite modest. The drawing above illustrates the footprint and a smattering of industries/structures that need to be located. At this point, I do have a clean slate, with the benchwork up and insulation foamboard in place.
  • Identify the optimal orientation of structures to utilize the available space
  • Create a trackplan to support
  • Lay the track
  • Complete at least three structures
Walter E. Frost, Vancouver, BC

Freight cars

This is a more ambitious list (several of the things that I list to complete as kits are things where I created patterns awhile ago and then they have languished.) Complete the following (a number of these have appeared in my series of kitbashing clinics presented within the last two years; clicking here will take you to all of my clinic files, including the kitbash subject matter):
  • NC&StL XM-31 (kitbash)
  • FGEX 10800-series rebuild (scratchbash)
  • Oscar Mayer (NX) reefer (kitbash)
  • RF&P USRA 50-ton box car (modified Tichy)
  • PFE R-40-4 (Tichy)
  • ATSF Bx-34 AAR Duryea underframe box car (parts offering)
  • CNW PS-1 auto car (patterns and kit)
  • SAL AF-4 PS-1 auto car (modified parts/kitbash)
  • CN&L single sheathed box car (patterns and kit; prototype photo above)
  • CV 40000-series single sheathed box car (patterns and kit)
  • MILW 271500-series 50' single sheathed auto car (patterns and kit)
  • SP A-50-11 auto car (patterns and kit)
  • SP A-50-15 auto car (modified parts/kitbash)
  • SP A-50-17 auto car (modified parts/kitbash)
  • PFE plywood sided R-30-9 (scratchbuilt side pattern - 2020 St. Louis RPM project car)
  • CGW 1937 AAR box car (2017 Chicagoland RPM parts set)
  • GM&O GSC flat car (modified Exactrail)
  • LS&I PS-1 box car (modified Kadee)
  • NKP and MSC 12-panel PS-1 box cars (modified Kadee)
There are other freight car projects, but this is more than enough to get started and several I am not prepared to discuss yet, let alone list here...

American Car & Foundry photo



  • Prototype Railroad Modeling, Volume Five
  • Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual, Volume Four: Gondolas (this is a reach goal!)

Time to get busy...

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Shell Chemical Tank Cars - colors?

Toronto, Ontario, Jim Parker photo
Shell Chemical (as well as Shell Oil) had a West Coast facility based in Martinez, California. The area around the Carquinez Strait was a hub of petrochemical businesses and still has a large number of operations. I have an interest in modeling a couple Shell Chemical cars, including one in the scheme shown on these two cars. However, not having any color photos, I would be guessing at the scheme. I can discern (or imagine?) a difference in the hue of the reporting marks and other stencils contrasted with the "SHELL CHEMICAL" lettering. It seems likely that the name is red while the other lettering is black. The color of the tank is the other question. It appears to be gray or silver/aluminum. I am hopeful that someone can offer some definitive information, but my best source so far is the photo of a Strombecker kit produced in 1948 (see bottom). The tank wrapper in the kit has a gray tank with black stenciling and red company name. Given the kit's contemporaneous manufacture with the existence of the prototype, it seems highly plausible that the producers of the kit were basing the scheme on primary source material, meaning they might have actually viewed the scheme in question or had gathered material directly from Shell or GATC to aid in accuracy. In the absence of other information, the Strombecker model is my best resource.

Note that the two cars are both General American designs. The car shown at top, SCMX 840, is a GATC "Type 30" design, of 8,103 gallon capacity, built in November, 1936. SCMX 2061, below, is an interesting car. The insulated, pressurized ICC 105A 300W tank was built in May, 1943 and is in service hauling Anhydrous Ammonia. It had a capacity of 11,161 gallons. The frame is a GATC postwar design and was likely married to the tank in September, 1950, assuming that occurred when the car was last reweighed in September, 1950.

Pittsburg, California, October 26, 1952, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo