Sunday, October 14, 2018

Southern Railway Low-side Gondola - completed finally

I find it hard to fathom that it has been about two-and-a-half years since I posted about building this car. I finally got around to dusting off the cobwebs and finishing the model. The main stumbling block beyond time was the hand brake. The prototype used a Universal Multi-power hand brake, with the gearing mechanism contained inside a housing mounted below the end sill. I spent many free moments noodling how I would replicate that feature (when I made the patterns for this model, I never even considered it… how time changes things!) I have included a prototype photo below for reference (click to enlarge).

I settled on the solution illustrated in the graphic. Since the overall shape of the prototype’s housing was roughly segments of two differently-sized circles, that’s the approach I decided to follow. I punched discs from 0.020" styrene. The larger disc was created using a Waldron punch and die set while the smaller used an RP Toolz set. Portions of the two discs were combined to create the housing.

I found it easiest to integrate the entire assembly after adding the brake step to the model. The step, with hole for the brake shaft, was “rigidly” attached to the end. I added the housing using a 50/50 mix of Goo and MEK. This allowed me to prod and move the housing into position, with 0.020" wire in place (note that the wire on the bottom of the housing is a separate piece of 0.015"; the two were of different diameters on the prototype, too.) Once I was satisfied, I added some ACC to the housing — end sill joint to firm things up.

The bottom part of the housing was fashioned from pieces of 0.004" brass, cut into strips of appropriate width. As on the prototype, the bottom portion of the shaft nested in this arrangement, so I drilled holes in the straps to accommodate the 0.015" wire. This is partially obscured by the uncoupler lever rod so it likely adds little to the overall appearance of the model, but it is a feature I wanted to replicate so that I can make it for future projects.

The trucks also include a slight modification. The Tahoe Model Works Buckeye 50-ton trucks (TMW-106/TMW-206are a fairly solid match for the prototype’s trucks, but the truck bolster includes a vertical web through the center of the outside portion of the bolster casting. I replicated this feature by adding 0.010" strips into the center of the Tahoe bolsters. See the photos of the stock truck via the link above versus one on the model shown here.

I blasted all wire, metal, engineering plastic, and rubberized (Hi-Tech angle cock—air hoses) surfaces with 220-grit aluminum oxide. This created a surface conducive to good paint adhesion. I applied a coat of Tamiya Light Grey followed by Tamiya black, lightened slightly with grey. The black dried to a glossy sheen, perfect for applying decals. 

I lettered the model using the kit decals. At the same time, I added several chalkmarks to each side. These would be over-weathered, making them appear like older chalkmarks, to contrast with “newer” ones to be added post-weathering. I did not apply the reweigh, repack, and brake test stencils, as these would be added after the first application of weathering. These decals were sealed with a coat of Tamiya clear flat.

The weathering was applied in several steps. The interior of the car received a heavy application of Bragdon’s powders dark rust. Over this, I added a layer of PanPastels dark Payne’s Grey followed by an application of PanPastels dark umber over the entire model. On the trucks, I highlighted the truck springs with a rust shaded colored pencil. I then added the PanPastels Payne’s Grey and dark umber followed by some Bragdon’s soot grey. All of these powders were sealed with a coat of Tamiya clear flat.

I forgot to mask the areas where I would apply the reweigh, repack, and brake test stencils. This meant that I had to do the reverse and add fresh black paint to those areas. The reweigh and brake test stencils on the model would be applied to represent approximately three year old stencils while the journal repack would be less than a year old. Consequently, I created fresh paint rectangles for all three. However, for the journal repack rectangle I cut the rectangle from a solid piece of masking tape. I painted the area inside the opening of the masking tape with fresh black paint (I did the same for the reweigh and brake test rectangles, too.) For the journal repack rectangle, I then covered it with the “center” of the masking tape (the part that had been removed).

To the appropriate freshly paint areas, I added stencils corresponding to the reweigh location and date and brake test location and date. After application of decal setting solution, I airbrushed a coat of clear flat. I removed the tape over the repack stencil “rectangle” and added another round of PanPastels raw umber to the exterior car body followed by a coat of Future floor polish, creating a gloss surface. I added another round of chalkmarks plus the journal repack stencils. I applied a final coat of clear flat to the exterior of the car body.

Finally, I added the last details. I added wood and scattered bits of coal to the interior of the car to represent dunnage and debris from previous loads. I polished the treads of the wheelsets and screwed the trucks to the car body. Small pieces of paper were affixed to the route card boards with canopy cement to represent routing instructions (photo of finished model taken before these bits of paper were added). Southern Railway 55542 was ready for service.

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