Sunday, February 7, 2016

F&C Pennsy F29 Depressed Center Flat Car Pt. 1

In addition to the Klasing power hand brakes from True Line Trains and some photos from Bob’s and Mainline (Mike Gruber), I also brought home a Funaro & Camerlengo PRR F29 depressed center flat car from the Amherst Railroad Hobby Show. I am fully cognizant of the fact that it’s a car that is only needed sporadically. Specialized flat cars were not all that significant numerically, but they are interesting and having one to trot out once in awhile, particularly with a cool load, is a fun diversion.

The Kit
Upon opening the box, the first discovery is that there is very little to the kit. There is a one-piece “body” comprising the entirety of the car, minus the bottom plate of the underbody, castings for the trucks, detail castings, wire, and decals (although my kit was missing its decals, but no matter as I am having a set for these and the F33 printed.) As I do with all of my kits, I make a list of “missing” details, being those that my research uncovers that are absent from the kit, and substitutions, being areas where I want to replace the kit’s parts with others.
This prototype photo illustrates a few of the missing details. Photo is a crop of a photo available from Pennsylvania Railroad Photographs

The missing details include:
  • No holes in the castings (I’m referring to the steel casting on the prototype, not the resin casting; one of these castings is called out in the photo above in reference to the "halo" and hole) on the portion of the car where it angles up from the depressed deck to the “upper” deck. These holes were actually not simply holes in the castings, but actually had either small pieces of plate steel welded to the surface of the castings with circular holes through all of this, or the circular areas around these holes could have been thicker areas of the original casting. This is to be simulated using small styrene discs fashioned from 0.005” styrene, attached to the castings, with a hole drilled through.
  • There were two small pieces of steel with holes in them that were welded to the underside of the edge of the deck on the angled portion of the car. With two per section, that’s eight total to be fashioned. These do not appear to be on as-built cars.
  • There were three pieces of steel with holes in them, similar to the ones mentioned on the castings referenced above, on the “slope” of the center section of the car. In this case, I am pretty sure they were welded. Regardless, they need to be added. They appear to be offset from the angled portion of the deck, with weld beads on three edges and fourth edge left “open” presumably so that things could be anchored using the holes. Note that as-built cars do not appear to have this feature and also, interestingly, they are only on the A end of car 435496. They may have been a field modification for a specific load.
  • The retainer valves need to be added (valves rather than valve, as this car had two complete brake systems.) The brake cylinders are not modeled as they cannot be seen and they would interfere with smooth operation of the trucks.
  • The train pipe/trainline is not mentioned in the instructions, but it is a very visible element of the car, passing through the deck support angles on the left side of the car (the capital “L” Left side of the car is the left side when viewed from the B end.)
  • On the prototype, there was a support below the end sill, comprised of two “triangles”, that were on either side of the draft gear, with a strap attached to both and passing under the draft gear.
  • The cast resin trucks included in the kit can (almost) accept brake levers on the outside hangers right out-of-the-box. It’s just a matter of cleaning out the slots and creating them from styrene strip. I will do this. Note that I call these levers as, on the prototype, they had clevises and brake rods attached to them. If this terminology is incorrect and someone would like to correct me, please feel free to do so.
  • There are no route card boards in the kit. These will be added in the appropriate locations.
  • Hi-Tech Details rubber air hoses and angle cocks will be added.

Substitutions include:
  • Brass hand wheels for the brake staffs.
  • I am trying to have brass castings made of the kit’s lever-type uncoupling devices and the sill steps, in the interest of durability.
  • As mentioned before, I am producing decals.
  • The resin trucks can accept wheel sets right into the resin “journals”. However, I will drill out the journals to accept Reboxx delrin inserts. These should be significantly more free rolling. Reboxx code 88 wheel sets will be used.

Note that the instructions refer to an “under frame photo” that is not in my instruction sheet. My sheet is three pages in length so I can only assume that a fourth page was inadvertently omitted. I have included a photo herein of a Railworks model for reference.
Finally, I am awaiting a Walthers transformer kit to see if it will be an adequate load to add to the completed model.

One concession that the resin kit makes that the Railworks brass model does not is the area under the sloped portions of the deck. On the prototype and the brass model, these areas are “open” space, whereas on the model, they are filled due to the constraints of molds for resin castings. It is a good place to try one’s hand at shading to see if those areas can “disappear” on the finished model.
View of the bottom plate and the underside of the Railworks HO scale brass F29
The first step in building a resin kit is to clean up the castings and this model is no exception. However, given the design of the car, with its simple, one-piece body, it is much simpler than a typical box car. I simply filed most of the edges where I found “flash” from parting lines in the mold. I used a medium grit, cushioned board for filing nails. These are a bit more forgiving than a standard metal file and can be found at drugstores in the nail care section. The one area of cleanup that is quite different on this car is the holes in the deck. They are teardrop shaped openings. The flash in the holes was extremely thin and I found it to be extremely easy to pierce the flash with a round needle file. I entered the hole at the large end of each teardrop, cleaning that portion as the file traveled on the inward leg of its stroke and then cleaned the small end of the teardrop on the outward stroke of the file. This proved to be quick and any stubborn holes were tackled by carefully twisting a hobby knife in the opening. 
The deck after cleaning out the holes... I love photographing that white F&C resin!
I also cleaned out the holes in the bottom plate of the flat car, again using the round file. I did not glue the bottom plate in place as I plan to airbrush the space between the underside of the deck and the top of the bottom plate black. However, I did test fit and file the bottom plate so that it was a perfect fit. 

The only other prep to the car body involved flooding ACC on the inside of the some portions of the cast angles located on the slope of the car. Some of these looked quite thin in places and a little ACC could shore them up to avoid any potential damage through handling.

I wanted to have any potential problems with the trucks resolved before I tackled the finer detailing. I carefully slid the sideframe/bolster castings on a sheet of sandpaper until the flash was quite literally falling out of the castings. Again using the nail care file, I cleaned the edges of the sideframes. The openings in the sideframes needed to be cleaned. I used the round needle file for the basic work and then carefully twisted a hobby knife in areas where more material needed to be removed followed by a few more passes with the file.
Bottom view of the truck with Reboxx journal inserts and wheelsets in place

Side view of the truck side frames. Any rough edges will be smoothed when the model is grit-blasted for paint prep
With the sideframes cleaned up, I reamed the axle holes to accept the Reboxx journal inserts. I used a 0.095” drill bit that was lying on the workbench and it did the trick. Then I lined each hole and the corresponding surface of the inserts with Walthers Goo thinned with MEK. I let the Goo dry thoroughly. 
Simple diagram illustrating how the truck bolster holes were located. Note the washers with center "boss" which is where the trucks are actually secured.
While it dried, I turned my attention to locating the holes for the bolster screws, which is more challenging on a three axle truck since it is extremely difficult (or darn near impossible) to screw in a truck right under the middle axle. This means that the truck needs to be attached through a hole that is off center (who will really notice when it’s on the layout?) I know from the PRR car diagrams for the F29 that it has 39’0” truck centers. Using calipers, I measured the distance from one end of the center sill to the other. On my model, that dimension is 4.493” or 32.6 scale feet. So the center of each truck bolster needs to be 3.2 scale feet from the end of the center sill (39.0 ft - 32.6 ft / 2 [half the distance since the distance must be shared at each end of the center sill for each truck]). 3.2 scale ft = .441”. I set the calipers for .441” and, at each end of the car, marked that dimension on the “pad” where the truck hole should be located. I then marked the line that split the center sill in half along its length, where it crossed the truck hole mark that I had just made, creating an intersecting lines “crosshair”. I held the truck in place with the crosshairs centered in the middle hole on the truck bolster. Using a pencil, I traced the circle of the hole I would use to secure the trucks (I chose the hole closest to the center of the car.)

The kit includes resin castings that are effectively washers with a raised “boss” in the center. This serves to center the trucks and provide a post around which they can pivot. I glued these washers in place with ACC, using the pencil marks as guides. Once they were secure, I drilled holes using a no. 50 drill bit and added self-tapping 2-56 screws. Make sure not to drill through the surface of the car’s deck! I used shorter screws than I normally do.

I turned my attention back to the trucks. I inserted the journal inserts, carefully pressing them int the holes I had reamed. I found that Reboxx wheelsets with an axle length of 0.965” worked. The truck side frames can be carefully spread to allow the wheelsets to fit between the journal inserts. I screwed the trucks in place and was happy to see that they rolled freely.
The model as progress currently stands. Note one truck has code 110 wheelsets. I am waiting for more Reboxx sets to replace these.
The last thing I accomplished thus far was to add the couplers. I used Kadee proto couplers with the Kadee boxes. They are secured with 1-72 screws, again being careful to not drill through to the deck.

There have been articles related to the Railworks brass models published in The Keystone Modeler: TKM No. 30, January, 2006 contains a profile by Elden Gatwood and TKM No. 88, Spring 2014 contains a profile of an interesting load made by Bernhard Schroter.

More to come on the construction of this interesting car...

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