Thursday, September 20, 2018
Finishing the Litchfield & Madison Gondola
In the last post about modeling the Litchfield & Madison's USRA "clone" composite gondolas, I covered the construction and detailing not covered in my presentation file from the St. Louis RPM. This post picks up from there and highlights the completion of the model.
First, the trucks. I have been going back and forth on the exact manufacturer of the truck bolsters used on the prototype. I am still uncertain. I have waffled between Simplex and Huntoon and other less prominent possibilities. Regardless, the bolsters do have the "box" ends typical of these manufacturers' bolsters. It is a feature I wanted to replicate for a few reasons: it is a prominent detail, it would undoubtedly expand my modeling skills, and it would hopefully provide a solution for future similar needs in the absence of a commercially-available solution.
The sideframes of the prototype were quite similar if not identical to the Tahoe Model Works ARA 40-ton trucks without Barber Lateral Motion details (TMW-115/TMW-215). I used those trucks as my baseline. Through trial and error, I found that 0.040" x 0.125" strip styrene would fill the opening in the truck bolster (I didn't have this on hand, but created it from 0.010" x 0.125" combined with 0.030" x 0.125"). I glued it in place with Walthers Goo thinned 50% with MEK followed by ACC flowed in to fill the small remaining gaps. After it dried, I trimmed it flush using sprue nippers. I then used 0.010" styrene to fill the "wedge-shaped" opening followed by a piece of 0.005" styrene that is 0.125" wide on top of the wedge-shaped piece. I filed all of this so that the face of the bolster was flat. Lastly, I added a piece of 0.010" styrene rod on top (Plastruct offers 0.010" styrene rod). I think the trucks capture the look and feel of the prototype.
I have a pretty standard regimen for finishing models. I sandblast all metal and engineering plastic surfaces, as well as any "shiny" areas on the resin surfaces, to provide a surface conducive to good paint adhesion. This includes the truck sideframes and "faces" on the wheelsets. I use 220-grit aluminum oxide with a Paasche Air Eraser and a blasting booth. I follow the blasting by washing the model and parts with liquid dishwashing detergent (such as Dawn) using a soft toothbrush. All parts are thoroughly rinsed and allowed to air dry.
I "prime" models with a grey paint that isn't necessarily a primer, but provides a base coat and reveals any glaring imperfections that might need to be fixed. On this model I used Tamiya Sky Grey applied with an airbrush. As a side note, it goes down incredibly smoothly and in a very fine coat, which is what I would expect from a "true" primer.
The interior wood surfaces were painted with Tamiya XF-59 Desert Yellow. This is my standard base color for wood surfaces. After the yellow had dried, I masked the interior wood surfaces and applied Tamiya black, with a touch of grey, to the other surfaces of the model, including the interior faces of the ends, trucks, wheelsets, and the couplers. I applied a light coat of Future floor wax, applied with an airbrush, to the sides and ends to create a glossy surface for the decals.
The decals were applied using my standard regimen. Once the decals loosen from the paper backing, I slide them in place on the model. I let them dry before adding any setting solution. I also added several chalk marks that would be "under" the weathering, to replicate some older chalk marks. I did not apply the repack stencils, as they would be added after the weathering, as well. There were a few areas that required gentle slicing and reapplication of setting solution to eliminate trapped air. Once I was satisfied with the decals, I applied a small piece of masking tape to each side of the car where the repack stencils would be placed after weathering. The tape would keep these areas "clean" during weathering, to reflect freshly painted areas.
Using an airbrush, I applied a coat of Tamiya XF-86 clear flat. This served the dual purposes of sealing the decals and creating a flat surface for the application of weathering. I used powders for the weathering. On the interior simulated wood surfaces, I applied Bragdon grimy grey and Panpastel raw umber and extra dark Payne's grey, in that order. On the exterior surfaces, including trucks, I used only the Panpastel raw umber. I added a little Bragdon's rust powder to the couplers. All weathering was sealed with another application of Tamiya clear flat.
I removed the masking tape for the application of repack stencils. Using a fine brush, I applied small amounts of Future floor wax to the areas where the repack stencils and additional chalk marks would be applied. I added these decals followed by another coat of the Tamiya clear flat.
I cleaned the treads of the wheelsets and inserted them into the truck sideframes. I added the couplers to the pockets. I glued small bits of paper to the car sides to simulate route cards. The last detail, unfinished at this point, is to add the angle cock/air hose parts. I am awaiting a replenishment of these as my stash has been consumed.
I am quite happy with this project as it has resulted in a distinctive composite gondola being added to the fleet that has also introduced me to a couple new modeling skills. Mission accomplished.
I am already looking forward to next year's project for the 2019 St. Louis RPM (no teasers yet!)