Monday, October 8, 2018

Kadee Santa Fe Class Bx-57 40' PS-1 Box Car

When Kadee released this model of the Santa Fe Bx-57, I eagerly ordered one, thinking I could easily add a ready-to-run (RTR) car to the fleet. It’s rare that I find a model that meets my standards and is RTR, so I was thrilled to have it. I was recently in the process of finishing a few models and decided it was a good time to add a little weathering to this model so that it would be “complete”. Easy, or so I thought...

I did have a question about the trucks. I was curious if the trucks were black or mineral red. I consulted with Ed Hawkins and while he did not have specific information about this group of cars, he opined that if they followed Santa Fe practices of the period ordered from AC&F, then the trucks should be mineral red. So, I sandblasted the sideframes and wheelsets and while I was doing that, I also blasted the ladders, grabs, running boards, brake steps, hand brake and housing, underframe components, and other engineering plastic parts to aid in the adhesion of a flat coat to be applied prior to weathering the model. On the sides and ends, I masked the areas adjacent to the ones to be blasted to prevent lettering from being removed erroneously. The photo above shows the side after the ladders and bracket grabs were blasted. The transition from the unblasted area to the blasted area is clearly discernible near the ladder, due to more advantageous lighting at that part of the car.
Kadee and Southwest Scale Productions Improved Youngstown doors shown side-by-side for comparison
I referred to my copy of John Dobyne’s Santa Fe Boxcars 1869-1953 (currently out of print) to make sure the locations of the placard and route card boards on the model’s doors matched the prototype. Not only did they not match, but the doors on the model did not match the prototype -- see photo above. The Bx-57 used the “upside-down” version of the Improved Youngstown door, not the version on the model. Fortunately, there is a version of the door available in HO that is every bit as finely rendered as the details on the Kadee PS-1, making it a perfect complement. The door I am referring to is available from Southwest Scale as part number FC-622. The door is slightly shorter than the Kadee part, but the prototype’s door roller track is actually taller than the version on the model, so all is not lost.
New door and roller track plus placard and route card boards installed, masked, and ready to be painted to match the car body.
I removed the doors from the Kadee model. I also carefully removed the lower door tracks. I applied a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1200 and once that had dried, I carefully wet sanded the area with 400 followed by 600-grit sandpapers to clean up any telltale traces of the door guides or my poor removal of the guides. I glued the Southwest Scale doors to the Kadee model, using sparing amounts of MEK.

The door roller tracks were fashioned in a few steps. First, I added mounting “brackets” for the tracks. These were created by adding bits of 2x2 to a 0.005" styrene strip that was 2 scale inches wide. For simplicity, I created a long strip of 2 scale scale inch wide 0.005" strip and added the 2x2 bits to the strip. I removed the brackets one at a time as needed, adding 7 for each door. I added the four under the door opening first, followed by adding the 1x3 guide. I added the 3 outer brackets last, sliding them under the 1x3 guide, all the while making sure that the guide remained straight.

The placement of these brackets along the side sills corresponds to the location of rivets on the faces of the door roller tracks as shown in the photos of these cars in Dobyne’s book. The door roller track is a strip of HO scale 1x3 styrene glued to the brackets. I completed these tracks by adding rivets in the appropriate locations.

One last detail for the doors was the placard and route card styrene boards. These were scratchbuilt. The basic placard board was constructed from 1x3, 1x6, 1x6, and 1x3, glued edge-to-edge to create a 18" height, all glued to a 0.005" backing. I trimmed these to a length of 27". I then added the frame/mounting brackets using 2" wide strips of 0.005". The route card boards were created from single pieces of 1x6 12 scale inches in length, glued to a 0.005" backing. The frame/mounting brackets were again created from 2" wide strips of 0.005" styrene.

I had also wanted to add a piece of small chain between the brake cylinder and lever to capture that nice look of a dangling chain when viewed from the side. I was not aware of how easy it is to remove the center sills, crossbearers, and crossties in one part, with little effect on the overall underframe detail. So, I decided to upgrade all the AB brake details, as I was going to paint the underbody and details (as well as the doors and tracks) mineral red. I removed the Kadee brake details and added the aftermarket parts and wire, as shown.

An additional "construction" detail that will be covered in the next and final installment on this car is the replacement of the running boards. The model came with an Apex Tri-Lok running board. Kadee has since released a U.S. Gypsum Expanded Metal running board that is accurate for the Bx-57. I will also provide details about my paint matching efforts, as I feel that the color I used is extremely close to the factory model, and will be virtually indistinguishable with a small amount of weathering.

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