Monday, May 28, 2018

"The Jack Burgess Files" No. 2 - Santa Fe Bx-12 ATSF 212368

Santa Fe Bx-12 rebuild photographed at Richmond, California in June, 1969. Jack Burgess photo
From 1929 to 1931, the Santa Fe added 6,500 box cars in three classes based upon the ARA design for single sheathed cars. However, the Santa Fe's cars were taller and wider, with inside height and width of 9'6-3/4" (~9'7") and 9'2", respectively. The cars were also delivered with tensioning rods at the lower corners of the sides, as opposed to the steel straps on most ARA-design cars. All cars had recessed 3/4 Dreadnaught ends and Youngstown corrugated steel doors. These cars were also equipped with Ajax power hand brakes, the first Santa Fe box cars to be built new with these geared hand brakes. See table below for details.

Between 1941 and 1944, the Santa Fe rebuilt the vast majority of the Bx-11 and Bx-12 box cars. Initially, the program involved raising the roof by eight inches through the use of sheet steel "inserts" between the original tops of the sides and the eaves of the new roofs, as well as sheet steel "extensions" on the ends. At this time, the roofs were also replaced with Murphy rectangular panel roofs. The initial rebuilding was entirely Bx-11s, except for 51 Bx-12s. The resulting cars had an inside height of 10'0" and a cubic capacity of 3,712 feet, the same as the 1937 AAR box car.

The rich, flat afternoon light evenly illuminated the details that make single sheathed cars so interesting. Of note are the transversely mounted AB brake reservoirs, the side sheathing boards, the roof extensions, and the Dalman one-level trucks, to name a few. Jack Burgess photo
In 1943, the program was altered to achieve an inside height of 10'6" and an increased cubic capacity of 3,898 feet. This necessitated adding five small pressed steel sections to support the side extensions. On the ends, instead of sheet steel, a section with a single Dreadnaught corrugation was added at the upper portion of the end.

In 1945, all of the taller 10'6" inside height rebuilds were renumbered into the 210000-211049 and 211051-214549 series. The maximum number of cars in these two combined series was in 1951, 952 and 3,213 cars, respectively. This put the number of tall rebuilds at approximately 4,200. ATSF 211050 was a lone plywood rebuild. 

There are additional details about these cars beyond what is presented here. For more information, consult, "Santa Fe Extended-Height Box Cars," authored by Richard Hendrickson (Railmodel Journal, May 1995, pp. 45-47) and Santa Fe Boxcars 1869-1953 (Santa Fe Railway Rolling Stock Reference Series -- Volume Four, currently out of print), John C. Dobyne III from the SFRH&MS.

Westerfield offers excellent kits for the entire family of Bx-11/-12/-13, including the extended height rebuilds.

Note the oddly-shaped grab iron at the top of the side and the separate extension for the top segment of the ladder, as well as the method for the attachment of the support strap for the latitudinal running boards. Jack Burgess photo

This "portrait" of the end of ATSF 212368 illustrates the extra Dreadnaught corrugation in the extender panel at the top of the end. Jack Burgess photo.

Friday, May 25, 2018

RP Toolz Small Circle Punch and Die

There are times when I am seeking to replicate a certain type of detail and have need of relatively small circles or discs. As is frequently the case, the military modeling community has recognized the need and already developed a solution.

Many years ago, Waldron produced two punch and die sets. One was dubbed “miniature” and the other was “sub miniature”. They were excellent tools that did the job well. Unfortunately, mine were submerged in a basement flood and the thin rods developed rust, which was not conducive to smooth operation. Compounding the problem, Waldron ceased operations, making it difficult to find replacements.

Enter RP Toolz. They produce a set that is more robust than those from Waldron, and also include a small hammer. As soon as I found out about the set, I ordered one. Unfortunately, it took about a month for the parcel to arrive from eastern Europe. Patience...

What do I use it to do? Primarily any circumstance where I need a circular disc-shaped piece of material. While I use it for many things, the two most common details are simulating the attachment portion of a grab iron, towing loop, door handle, etc., and push pole pockets.

Wire grabs (plus sill steps and scratchbuilt route card holder) on a Proto 2000 flat car)
For the attachment portion of grab irons, towing loops, handles, etc., it helps to "visualize" these details (see photo). These consist of a center portion, e.g. the hand hold portion of a grab, the loop of the towing loop, etc., plus the mounting apparatus. These are actually all one single piece of metal. However, they can be simulated with wire for the main portion plus small discs glued in place for the mounting segments, accentuated with rivets. See photos.

Ladder detail and wire towing loop on a Proto 2000 box car 
The other common use for me is to simulate push pole pockets. I add an appropriately sized disc and then use a drill bit to create a rounded depression in the center that looks like a push pole pocket.

Push pole pockets on a kitbashed Proto 2000 gondola
There are other uses, including discs for blanking off holes on the heads (ends) of tank cars, round hatches, such as on the top of steam locomotive sand boxes, clear discs for gauges in locomotive cabs, etc. Multiple discs of varying diameters may be stacked and shaped to simulate complex shapes (locomotive headlamps?). They can even be combined with square or rectangular styrene and stacked, as needed.

Yes, it's not a cheap tool, but it is one I use regularly.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"The Jack Burgess Files" No. 1 -- Northern Pacific Box Car NP 40513

Many, many years ago, Jack Burgess offered me a modest collection of slides to do with as I saw fit. The subject matter of these images is freight equipment photographed by Jack circa the late 1960s, mostly in the Newark, California (East Bay) area. His intention was to document cars that he would one day model. Fast forward to the present. I thought this blog would be a suitable forum to share Jack's images. I consulted Jack to obtain his blessing to post the images here, along with corresponding information about the prototypes. This is the first of what will be several groups of images.

The image above is from my copy of an NP diagram book. As noted in the information, this class consisted of 520 box cars built by Pacific Car & Foundry in 1937, car nos. 9480-9999. The cars employed typical traits and specialties for the day, including Dreadnaught ends with square corner posts, ARA/AAR-design underframe, "Murphy" rectangular panel roof, wood running boards, Ajax power hand brakes, Westinghouse AB-schedule air brakes, and Youngstown corrugated steel doors with 'early' Camel Roller Lift fixtures. The one feature that made these cars unusual was the use of double sheathed wood over underlying steel structural members for the sides. As a side note, these NP cars were quite different structurally from the GN's numerous double sheathed cars built between 1937-1942.

By the time NP 40513 was photographed at Newark, California in June, 1968, the placard boards on the doors and ends had been lowered, as shown here and the car was no longer in the original 9480-series. It had also been repainted, likely at least two times, the latest featuring the "Main Street of the Northwest" slogan and five-foot Monad medallion with "RAILWAY".

The lighting of this image illustrates the sharp corners of the square corner post Dreadnaught ends. The bottoms of two of the structural steel members may be discerned along the side sill, directly below the "Street of" portion of the slogan, to the right of the door track.

Jack also climbed up to record this view of the Murphy roof and wood running boards. The rivets on the sides of the seam caps are quite evident.

Thank you to Jack for sharing his work.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Creating Operational HO Scale Red Caboose Trucks

Red Caboose HO Scale X29 with Red Caboose trucks

It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That said, I owe all credit for getting me to ponder this solution to Dan Smith. Stepping back for a few moments, Red Caboose’s HO scale truck offerings deliver quite attractive sideframes that snap into bolsters. However, the entire assembly can be somewhat sloppy and prone to derailments. I found that by using long axle length Reboxx wheelsets, the “slop” is cleaned up dramatically. However, it is not a foolproof solution and is dependent upon ready availability of Reboxx wheelsets in a variety of applicable lengths.

Back to Dan Smith…. Recently, he shared with a few compatriots that he had developed a solution to solidify the trucks. He plunged a hot pin through the assembled bolsters and “pins” (or rods) on the back of the sideframes. This definitely tightened things up, but has a level of permanence that I usually prefer to avoid in things that operate and can potentially wear and/or fail, like trucks. That set me to thinking about a means to achieve similar results, but ones that could also be disassembled, if necessary.
Red Caboose truck before drilling of screw holes
In inspecting the trucks, my attention was drawn to the circle on the bottom of the bolsters. I envisioned drilling a hole through the bolsters and into the “pins” on the backs of the sideframes. Then screws could be used to tighten everything. The only issue is that even a 0-80 screw is too large. I set about searching for screws of a suitably small size. I found 000-120 x 1/8” screws on eBay. They're really small! One catch is that these screws use a Torx head (as opposed to Phillips or slotted). Fortunately, I also found a suitable Torx driver on eBay, as well, a Wiha no. 267 “T1” driver, which is the correct size for 000-120 screws.
Red Caboose truck with screws in place
I boldly tested my supposition on a set of assembled trucks. I used a bulletin board push pin to make divots in the centers of the circles to keep the drill bit from “wandering” while starting the holes. I used a 0.0275” drill bit (approximately a no. 70 bit) to create the holes. I carefully screwed in one of the 000-120 screws and was happy to find that everything was suitably tight. I repeated for the other sideframe and the result was the same. Solid Red Caboose trucks!

The wheelsets are Kadee 0.088" semi-scale tread width sets.

A note about the drilling process: the best way to drill the holes is to add the wheelsets into the assembled trucks. Then hold the trucks with wheelsets on a flat surface, applying light downward pressure, so that the truck and bolster are “straight”. Carefully drill the holes.