Thursday, 29 March 2012

UP 190690 Box Car: ACR Project

This Maerklin/Trix UP box car was bought for one reason only, it has Alternate Center Rivets, and apart from resin kits I believe this is the only plastic model of a car with this arrangement? Anyway this is a B-50-24/27 a 1937 AAR variant, which due to the steel used required an extra line of rivets between the panels. In other words a true rivet counters delight.

Mike Brock, owner of the Steam Era Freight Car list, and all round UP guru has given the models a qualified thumbs up. Main issues are the trucks and couplers. It also needs coupler cut levers and air hoses. The roof pattern is not quite right, but noted as something that one will need to decide what they want to do?

It would be a lot of effort to cut the roof off and replace it. A non-trivial job, but who am I to speak as I've already turned a perfectly acceptable War Emergency gondola from Tichy into effectively a kit, so we shall see how I feel when the time comes for this car to enter the work bench.

I shall have to find some photographs and come to my own conclusions. I understand that there is an article by Richard Hendrickson on Union Pacific B-50-24 and B-50-27 Class Steel Box Cars using the Marklin models,  in The Streamliner. Vol. 17 No. 1 (Winter 2003), which I shall try to get hold of.

Finally, many thanks to Barry Bennett for pointing me in the right direction for getting hold of one of these cars at a reasonable price. Thank you.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

N&W 44324 Box Car: Part 2 Saving the Day

Well I didn't record all the individual steps, but here is the final few steps to reach an end finish I was happy with.

I got the model back to this state, which is sans egregious brush strokes. And here is a three-quarter view to show the roof.

Roof still wasn't right, even after highlighting the panels as can be seen here.

Anyway I took the car the spray shop and applied some new Modelmates weathering dye over the finished model and then refinished the model. This experiment has given me an idea for doing a car using these weathering dyes as the basis for finishing my next box car.

In the process this blemishing appeared on the roof, which was rather surprising, but serendipitously there was a nice weathering article in the April issue of Model RailRoader, by Charlie Duckworth, which showed him doing something similar to represent weathered galvanised steel roofs on box cars. I think a woot for the win is called for here. 

The April Model RailRoader issue also has a nice one page piece on Hayes bumping posts too, which is going to come in handy when I get around to weathering my Walthers plastic Hayes bumping posts.


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

PRR 363156 Gondola: Part 2 Lumpen Lead

I made a mould for casting the lead weight. It didn't go as expected.

Rather a misshapen lump.

Doh, one of those I've forgot to add those trucks to my weight calculation again.

I shall have to rethink how to make the moulded weight, but in principle I think I'm on the right route for project.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Interior Group Weathering

Its been one of those days today. Not feeling well, getting over yet another winter bug has made me feel exhausted. Had to go to the bank today, after having a bath in the morning and ate out for lunch, followed by a nap to recover from all this excitement and carrying a small amount of groceries home.

So I thought to myself what can I do to at least feel that today has been a little bit productive?

So I decided to rust up the interiors of eight hoppers and one mill gondola.

I used Scenic Rust, which is iron filings/dust with what appears to be Matte medium and Gun blue. The process is to mix the iron filings with the matte medium and paint onto the surface to be treated, Allow to dry, and then brush on Gun Blue, which then rusts the iron coating. Quite ingenious.

I then worked over some Kadee hopper coal loads using Matte medium to fix some real coal to the top of the plastic mouldings.

The Kadee hopper loads are designed with integral weights that are ingeniously suspended from the coal moulding. Unfortunately, in my mind, this means that if you remove the load you lose the weight, and the cars are ridiculously light. I want to run empty hoppers so I've been weighing up all my hoppers using liquid lead over the past few weeks.

So, now the loads can be a lot lighter, but I do add about an ounce of steel weight to the bottom of the moulded coal load so that they run when full at the recommended weight, and to allow me to use magnet to remove the load from the car.

And here are five loads, two I did earlier, as they say on Blue Peter, and three drying out.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Operations 4: Generating traffic

I've been thinking whether or not to use waybills, or a switch list, or a combination of both, and I'm still struggling to choose, as both have advantages and disadvantages in use? On one hand, I understand waybills and they can be used to automatically create random consists because they are in effect a pack of cards that you can shuffle. Switch lists however, actually tell you what cars to switch where.

Currently experiment with something called SwitchList, which has crashed on me twice so far, and lost all the data I had entered to boot twice. Not good for any definition of not good in my opinion. So now third time lucky is what I'm thinking, and I've checked out the support group and will report back on my progress in due course.

However, SwitchList does generate trains based on the data one has entered, which is a neat feature. Being able to define yards, cargoes and staging areas as destinations etc. is also very good. As and when the Apple iPod version comes out I think this could be a really handy-dandy thing to use.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

PRR 363156 Gondola: Part 1 Jumping the Shark

I bought this Tichy PRR War Emergency gondola as a RTR model. As it came out of the box it was way too light at 2.6 ounces.

I therefore did the liquid lead thing to the underframe, even so I was only able to get this sucker up to 3.2 ounces. Just over half the weight it should be according to NMRA guideline, which for all there faults from being a trifle conservative, do at least provide a solid chance of reliable running.

So after much rumination over what to do, various choices, of do nothing, add more weight and if so how? I decided that  if I got an AMB LaserKit false floor I could cut out the floor area around the metal weight and pour in more liquid lead.

Here it is just after I had used my Dremel to cut around the floor. I drilled through from the bottom and scored the floor to marked where I was cutting.

As soon as I cleaned this I poured some liquid lead in and was disappointed to find that I could only increase the cars weight to 4.2 ounces. All that work for so little added extra weight. It was at this point I decided that the best thing to do was remove the rather slim steel weight and replace that with some lead, and while I'm at it replace the liquid lead with lead sheet.

This required me to disassemble the gondola. by cutting across the underframe and teasing everything apart. I then saw the mes that I had to clean up, and I realised I had "jumped the shark", as this whole North Shore project is about keeping things simple, using RTR models with a few kits, having some laughs,  getting on down, and playing with trains.

I asked my partner whether I had "jumped the shark"? I was told in no uncertain terms that I had not just jumped a shark, but that I had jumped a plurality of sharks, as it wasn't a question of whether I had, but how many I was I jumping?. 

My mission is to now raise this model's weight to five ounces, cue music. My plan is to cast a lead sub-floor to fit the space I've created.

N&W 44324 Box Car: Part 1 When Weathering Goes Wrong

Next up for weathering is a plain N&W box car where I'm going to try and capture that magic moment I missed when recording the covhop.

Here it is all pristine and purrty like straight out of the box.

First off is a light application of Devlan Mud, all over just to make this brown car more brown as Degas would say. All looks a bit patchy at this point.

Followed by Badab Black to add shadows with added bonus runs from an over heavy application. However, during the process of meticulously recording every phase of the transformation process it all went "Pete Tong" (rhyming slang for wrong).  As can be seen below.

After eleven steps of building up a layers of I arrived at the above and I felt that I'd over done the rust.

So I thought I would pull it all together with another Devlan Mud wash, but I was again left with something that was dissatisfying. It wasn't working, and in addition the running boards had started to clog up too.

So I started by cleaning up the running board, using windscreen wash and a stiffish nylon brush.

So here is where I am now, not quite back to square one, but with the dirt pulled back to somewhere I feel I could start from with a reasonable assurance of getting a good result. The big advantage of using an iterative approach with inks for weathering is that one can wash it off.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Operations 3: A Day's Turns

Apparently a turn is an American term for an out and back freight run, as opposed to a run from one yard that finished in another yard at the other end of the line. The North Shore Line appears to have had little in the way of freight trains running as all the reference I have so far read refer to turns that went out and back again. This is probably a product of the North Shore Line being a bridge route that hustled on the margins to get freight routed for delivery over its tracks.

So, I looked at what I thought might happen when serving Burnham Yard?

I know that at midnight connecting railroads would want to off load empties to connecting lines so as to avoid per diem charges (a surcharge for holding onto a foreign road car that would have to be paid). So I figure that the first trains of the operating day for Burnham yard would be interchange traffic from the South Shore and Roarin' Elgin to offload cars in transit.

I imagined for my scheme that the South Shore would arrive first, on the basis that it was the biggest freight hauler of the three former Insull owned lines, and that it would on average haul in five cars with say a minimum of one and a maximum of nine cars per turn (just to give the operating crew some headaches). Whereas the Roarin' Elgin having much less freight traffic would only contribute two cars per day, say a minimum of one and a maximum of three per turn.

These would arrive at Burnham yard during the first shift of the day; midnight to 08:00 hours.

The next train to arrive at the yard would therefore be a North Shore turn working the second shift of the day. Again I thought that this would average around five cars, with a minimum of one and a maximum of nine cars being hauled per turn.

All of these trains are considered to be third class.

Next I would have a fourth class local switching turn come and switch the cars that the previous train had left,  and spend time readying cars to be picked up by the next North Shore Line freight train.

Finally, the last train of the day would arrive at Burnham yard, a North Shore third class freight turn that would drop cars at the interchange and pick up cars for delivery. This might arrive with five cars and depart with and equal number. I'm not sure yet as this is the one job that I haven't quite got my numbers sorted out for.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

EJ&E 3310 Covered Hopper

Weathering is an area of the hobby that divides people, some like it and some don't. In American I see a lot of emphasis on weathering using a photograph of the prototype to follow, and copying it as closely as one can.

Not so easy to do with historical cars, as photographs are largely in black & white, but I also think that weathering is one area where we can flex our artistic and creative skills. So my approach is to weather in a way that simulates the real process, and to think of it like trompe l'oeil; making something that is not real, look real, rather than making it real per se.

I thought for this post I would try and talk you all through how I weather a freight car from start to finish.

Here is the car with a liberal coating of Games Workshop's Devlan Mud ink wash applied to all the places where dirt would accrue, this is the first stage of the weathering process.

Then what I do, once the ink wash has dried, is polish it off using a fiber glass polishing pen. I have three, all different sizes. I make the model wet with water as I'm doing this. Wetting the model gives me a good bit of control over the end result, and it also generates random effects, which I exploit to get the desired effect. In the above shot you can see a before and after the second stage polishing finish comparison on the roof.

Here is the model at the end of the second stage of my weathering process with all the excess wash removed.

I've done a lot of different weathering over the years, using an airbrush, weathering powders and now this wash and polish technique. The truth is that there is no one right answer, but what you do want is a weathering process that will produce a randomised finish, because in my opinion nothing looks worse than weathering that all looks the same.

The above photograph shows stage three where I have now applied another two washes. First Badab Black that is carefully applied to all the crevices and joints, followed by a liberal coating of Gryphon Sepia. Both washes again being games Workshop products.

Here is the car from the other side. I think it looks pretty good even as it is, and if it wasn't for the fact that this is meant to be a newish paint job, I think it could almost be left as it was.

Oops I've managed to break a handrail off, which I will have to fix later. You can see where I polished away a lot of the original Devlan Mud on the ends, which has now been blended by the application of the Badab Black and Gryphon sepia washes.

And here is a picture of the roof to show how it is all dirtying down nicely, with random wash effects simulating how rain would run off the real freight car.

Once the second lot of washes of the third stage have dried overnight I do a very light polish with the fiber glass brush to feather the edges of the washed with the original paint job as my fourth stage. Next I use weathering powders.

And looking at stage five I'm thinking to myself that there might be a few of you going "and then a miracle occurred", as I can't rightly completely explain how I got from there to here.

I know what I did. I applied weathering powders, first spraying some hair spray on the model to hold the pigments in place. Then I brushed off excess powder, and then I washed clean the model using windscreen wash (the stuff you use for car windscreens), and et voilĂ  what you see appeared.

Finally, stage six involves drybrushing edge highlights to the model and the trucks just to make the paint pop, which you can see in the above photograph when you pay attention to the trucks.

Finally, a shot of the roof showing how the use of weathering powder has created the effect of dried cement on the roof. Oh yes, I sprayed Testors Dullcote over the model to seal it. All-in-all a nice weekend modelling project.

One final note. In this case I did have a picture of a similar car, but it was a fairly oblique three-quarters view, and of fairly poor quality. So I kept the photo at hand, but winged it as described here.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

American Freight Cars 2: Additions

Since I started this blog I have been acquiring new freight cars for the layout. Xmas and birthdays have happened over the period, so I think I've been lucky to acquire the following:

This is the absolutely lovely ExactRail Milwaukee horizontal long rib single door box car. The trucks on this, and its sister below, are brilliant. They do everything the Kadee ones do, without any compromise with the coil springs. Only down side is that they are plastic, not metal, but I can live with that.

So the ExactRail trucks are going to be my new go-to trucks for all new car additions where possible. Now I will have to find out what they sell.

My second ExactRail model, and another steam era classic signature freight car, this time a B&O M-53 Wagontop box car. Again this car came out of the box with Kadee 58 scale couplers, cut levers, and all I had to do was replace the Code-110 wheels with Code-88. I was lucky in that I had eight so called 1.015 NWSL axles that were actually 1.005 (give or take) that fitted into the ExactRail trucks. A serendipitous win-win situation for me.

Another Kadee PS-1 boxcar, making it a total of five that I have, but the good thing is that each car has variant doors to match the prototype, which is really nice. Then in most cases it is just a matter of replacing wheels and painting the trucks. In this case I had a photograph of a C&NW PS-1 with red painted trucks, so I decided to match my model to it.

Missed from the first time around one of my original Kadee PS-1 purchases, showing the variation in the doors from the car above.

I converted all my original Kadee PS-1s to the new scale Kadee 58 scale couplers by the simple expedient of snapping out the old coupler boxes, gluing the stirrup step mouldings back into place and tapping for a standard Kadee draft box.

I've since found that Kadee provide an upgrade route that would have saved me all this trouble. So I have ordered some of the Kadee upgrade kits for my old cars, as they come with the nicer looking scale coupler boxes, and my original four models will be upgraded in due course.

A Kadee PS-2 covered hopper. I have a picture of this car in one of my books, so even though the repack date is too modern for me (it will be changed), this car will fit right in. I intend to make this my next weathering project. This model came with Kadees new ASF Ride Control HGC trucks.

These look lovely, but quite frankly I don't like the way they compensate the truck, as it works by splitting the transom at the truck pivot point. This means that if you want to have non-sloppy trucks, then you lose the compensation from the restricting movement, because split transom will be unable to move when screwed in firmly.

This is a Tichy Train Group PRR War G-30 Emergency gondola, and by golly it is light. Too light for consistently reliable running given its length. I'm going to have to give this one some serious thought, and no, putting a load in is not an answer. Or at least not a complete answer, as I like to be able to run empties. Cut levers need to be added to finish this off.

My Proto 2000 Mather stock car bought mostly on a whim after seeing a photo of some C&NW stock cars in one of my North Shore Line books. So I had to have one. Dead cute model though. Cut levers are missing and while you can't see it here, the coupler boxes are horrible big clunky things, but probably best left alone.

Finally, an InterMountain Caswell GA-7 gondola. Again cut levers are missing, which for me separates first rank models from second rank. Whereas cast on ladders etc makes a model very much third rank, and as such something I would only buy on the expectation of having to carve off all the cast on detail before it would see use on my layout. Call me fussy like that.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Operations 2: Switching Spots

I'll start with naming the locations on my layout that will require switching.

First is  the interchange track with the South Shore Line (Chicago South Shore & South Bend RR) and the Roarin' Elgin (Chicago Aurora & Elgin RR aka The Great Third Rail). The reason d ĂȘtre for the layout. This spur holds five cars.

From left to right there is Armstrong Hardware (provisional name), a big building that hides the entry to the off stage track, which has three spots for cars.

Dominating the center of the layout is Chestnut Warehousing (provisional name), another big building that has three car spots.

On the right hand side of the layout is the North Shore freight house, come Railway Express Agency, building that can hold four cars.

Finally the adjacent team track, which also has the capacity to hold six cars.

That means if one assume about 50% capacity then the layout will handle ten, or eleven freight cars before it starts to clog up with too much traffic. I'm going to assume that five cars are exchanged daily with the two connecting railroads via the interchange. I'm then going to assume that half of the remaining cars will rotate off after being unloaded, or loaded, which is two freight cars a day coming in, balanced by two leaving each day.

What I don't have a real feel for is how reasonable this level of traffic is for a small interchange yard like this one? Is it too much, about right, or too little? I don't know. Any opinions would be welcomed.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Five Box Car Reds

The term box car red describes something that in real life encompassed a range of colours that depended on the mix of the paint. Railroads specified the percentages of each ingredient, based on preferences and cost.

The better pigments cost more, with the definition of better being longer lasting colour when the paint is exposed to sun light. The two classic ingredients were iron oxide red versus red lead.

So if I line up five boxcars, say from the Southern, Santa Fe, SP, UP and PRR, the colours should progress from brown, to rich red-brown, to (what we think of as) box car red, to oxide red, to orange oxide red. Well I don't have that exact combination, but I am able to show five box cars red demonstrate this range from cars painted in iron oxide red to those painted using red lead.

 The brownest box car I have is this N&W PS-1 from Kadee.

With just a hint of red to it this AT&SF PS-1 from Kadee fills the next spot for a rich red brown car.

Falling into the mid point, the classic box car red, is this RI 50 foot SD from Proto 2000.

This C&NW PS-1 car from Kadee fits the bill for a oxide red freight car.

Finally, the classic orange oxide red of this PRR War Emergency gondola from The Tichy Train Group.

And just to make the comparisons in the same lighting all five freight cars in a line, which also demonstrates how we perceive colour changes according the light we view the colour in. In this case artificial light for the individual models, whereas the group shot is predominately daylight tinged with some background artificial light that was on in the room. Here I can't see the colour difference between the N&W and AT&SF freight cars, as they both look just brown to me at this distance. Close up I can see a difference.

Moral of this is that there is no one shade of box car red, and variety will therefore add realism to the freight car roster. What is of course just as interesting is each manufacturers interpretation of a railroads red and the variance between each, but I'll keep that for another time.