Thursday, July 31, 2014

I don't know how they do it

LNWR/LMS King George V class 4-4-0. This thing looks just sooo "British." I'd really like to build my model of it for display if nothing else. But can't until I figure out the "round bits" underneath.
"They" in this case being modelers of British railways. And "it" can be translated to mean "figure out which set of wheels to use..."
Some background.
Years ago my late Grandmother went to see her brother who lived in York, England at the time. She wanted to bring me something back as a gift and, knowing my interest in trains, he suggested going to a train show that happened to be going on that weekend and buying me a model I could put together (the fact that I have enough projects didn't seem to enter her mind, although she'd seen the piles of boxes in the basement plenty of times).
She presented me with a wonderful gift - a Brassmasters kit for a OO scale London Northwestern (later LMS) 4-4-0 called the "George V." I always thought it was kind of cool that the Brits kept naming locomotives long after we ended that practice in this country.
When I opened the box I immediately ran into two problems.  
First of all, there are no photos of the model or prototype in the instructions. There's a couple of very rudimentary drawings, sketches really, but there's also a considerable stack of etched parts - and me without an English to American dictionary handy figuring out which part went where was going to present a real challenge.
There isn't even photos on the Brassmasters website. Yes, there's a reference to a set of photos to the almost identical "Precusor" class model. But those images are so small to be almost useless and the model is only shown unpainted. Not a bad thing, but a photo of the painted model would also help. And, let's face it, it's a different engine. And this kit was hardly what one would call cheap.
This thing went back into the box and has sat there for more than a decade. 
As you may have noticed from my last post Christine and I just had a wonderful vacation in London and Paris. In London I found a small hobby shop (Ian Allan Publishing - really a bookstore specializing in railway books with some train models - but well worth a visit if you're in London or one of their other locations in the UK -
The staff was extremely helpful, as were some of the other customers.
A total of 90 of George V class engines were built, which means they weren't exactly "rare." So I figured there might be a book with lots of pictures, and maybe a drawing of this thing. They had books on every class of locomotives you could think of - except the George V.
At least today we have the internet and I can, and have, Googled pictures of the prototype. And I found a few. 
But there's still a second big problem with this thing. There are no wheels in the kit. That's not unusual - seems a little strange but we have plenty of craftsman freight cars and the like that don't include wheels.
Worse, there's no indication of what kind of wheels I need, or who might offer same.
Since I was standing in a train store in England I made the mistake of asking where I could get the wheels for this locomotive.

"What type, EM, P:4, or OO?" was the reply....

All I could think to say was "uh, Round."

I ended up learning a lot about wheels, and the differences in British scales. Deciding which wheels to use impacts how the kit goes together in a rather significant way since P4 requires bending the etched chassis at one point, and OO means bending it in another. At least that's what I able to ascertain from my reading of the instruction sheets and discussion with the helpful staff in the store. But I still didn't get any wheels. (I did buy a considerable stack of books on Irish Railways.)
But "sourcing" the wheels is apparently going to be a considerable challenge.
Made me appreciate RP25 all the more....

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Naperville Door Prize 2: Chicago Burlington & Quincy FM-11/11A Flatcar, 2000 Prototype Modelers Seminar Kit

Time for another Naperville Door Prize Project. In 2000 Sunshine Models surprised attendees not with a conversion kit (like the MoPac box shown here) but with the basic components for an entire CB&Q flat car.
The model is based on the CB&Q's FM-11 flat. The railroad built 850 of these "home-built" cars in its Galesburg (IL) shops between 1928-30 - indications are building flatcars like these were a great way to keep the shop crews employed during the Great Depression. Two virtually identical classes were built - the FM-11s (91000-91249) and the FM-11As - numbered 91250-91849. The one obvious difference was the trucks - the FM-11s had Andrews trucks while the FM-11As were equipped with AAR cast steel sideframe trucks (better known to modelers by the brand-name "Bettendorf"). In 1953, some of the cars were converted for early TOFC service.

A request for prototype photos on the Steam Era Freight Car list led to this one from Rob Adams - the instructions didn't include a prototype picture, so the project was stalled until I could find one: what I can tell the load is a pair of military trailers - I think they are generators but they're hidden beneath the tarp. Don't plan (at this point) to model the load - I'll be happy to get the flat built!
The door prize includes the basic parts needed to build the car - I'll need to supply the various detail parts.
The first step was to clean the resin parts in warm soapy water and then rinse them well. Assembly was extremely straightforward – remove the side stake pockets from the resin sheet, install a few additional resin parts including the coupler boxes, and drill holes and install two grabs on each end and one of each corner on the sides of the car.
I build most of my freight cars to run on the layout, not to enter a contest. This means I leave off the parts and underbody details that (1) interfere with operation or (2) can't be seen profile with the car sitting on the track. I might ignore Rule 2 sometimes, but never break, or bend Rule 1.
Flatcars are tricky since you have to get enough weight to get them to track reliably. You could weight a flat car by adding a heavy load, but it’s nice to have an empty car that tracks reliably.
I used A-Line "BB" style lead weights for this. The photo shows about half the weight in place. - I apply a thick coat of Canopy Glue to the "voids" between the center sill and cross stringers above the trucks. Then I dropped the "BBs" into the glue. I also filled the space between the two centersill halves with Canopy Glue and added more weight.
One assembly trick that you might find useful on a resin kit is this method for removing smaller details from the resin flash "sheet.". Before you spend hours anxiously trimming away the resin “flash” from the smaller detail pieces with a hobby knife try sanding it away.

I remove these pieces (in this case the 26 stake pocket castings on this car) by cutting about 3 or 4 stake pockets out from the main sheet. Then I gently rub the piece of sandpaper (in this case I'm using a sanding stick, since it's what I could find. Move the part in a gentle circular motion until the resin flash gets extremely thin – and you’ll find the pieces will pop right out!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Another car for the fleet

This Central Vermont single-door 43,000-series raised roof boxcar was built from an F&C resin kit. 
The  car was on the infamous "to do" shelf awaiting decals. I ended up decaling the car at the same time I decaled the SSW box and another of the Sunshine door prize cars (a CB&Q flat). 
I was going for a newly rebuilt car - the single-door 43000-series were rebuilt between 1953 and 1956, which means this car would have had no more than a couple of revenue trips since emerging from the shop in my 1954 era. 
I might add just a little more weathering to the car next time I have a few cars on the modeling desk for weathering since it is a little too "vivid." 
In the meantime it's ready for a revenue assignment. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sunshine Models Cotton Belt 40-foot double-sheathed boxcar

Can a freight car be cursed? I think this one might be!
Ever have one of those projects that fights you all the way? The car in question is a Sunshine kit (#52.8) for a St Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) 31000-33499 series 8'-6" IH double sheathed 40-foot boxcar. I started building it back in October 2001. I remember that since it was my “hotel room” project while I was in Colorado and my family was back in Wisconsin. I remember the underframe didn’t quite fit and took a fair amount of sanding to get it to seat in place inside the bottom. I also remember struggling to get the roof to go on straight and level, and correcting the rather pronounced warp in one of the sides. Getting the basic “box” assembled square and straight was a challenge. But I did it, and put the car in the box and didn’t touch it again for several years. Somewhere along the line I learned the Sunshine directions didn’t give a lot specifics on the brake component arrangement – and I ended up redoing the brake rigging on the car back in 2005 or so, only to put it back in the box again.
I finally put the finishing touches on it last fall.
Hey, you can't rush these things you know....
The instructions are very general on the color, and the "Essential Freight Car" RMC article on these cars shows author Ted Culotta's model in a fairly light, almost oxide color. I asked on the Steam Era Freight Car list for some guidance on what color to paint the thing. I got several replies stating the car should be more of a "brownish" boxcar red. 
Confident in the color, things were still going uphill. I carefully mixed the paint, tested how it was spraying through my airbrush on a piece of scrap styrene. “Everything looks good” I thought. I placed the car in the spraybooth, aimed the airbrush at the center of the car, pulled the trigger...and….put a big splotch of paint spatter right in the middle of the side and along one side of the roof. 
Perhaps I was out of practice (it's been a few years since I used an airbrush on anything other than track) and made what is frankly a rookie mistake. I managed to wash off most of the splattered paint, and carefully sanded any “ridges” smooth before I resprayed the car with Scalecoat Boxcar Red.
Just as I was about the decal the thing I received a note from Richard Hendrickson with a prototype photo reminding me the ends of these cars would have been black during my 1954 era. So out came the masking tape – applied in small pieces around the details – before the ends were airbrushed flat black.
Decaling was anticlimatic (thank goodness!). I added the kit decals and included some reweigh "patches" from Sunshine decals, along with a few chalk marks, also from Sunshine decals. 

This one is finally on the railroad. Maybe it was just a series of accidents and coincidences that took me over a decade to finish one model. 
Or, just maybe, this thing is cursed?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Naperville Door Prize Project: 1 Missouri Pacific 1942 ACF 40-foot boxcar (2005 Naperville Gift)

One of the neat things about the Naperville Prototype Modelers meet were the "door prizes" provided every year by Sunshine Models (the company that founded and sponsored the meet).
Most of these consisted of a small sheet of resin parts (doors, ends, sills, sides, etc . . . ), a short instruction sheet, and decals if appropriate to convert a "stock" plastic kit into a different prototype. Most were boxcars, although there was a couple of hopper car conversions and even a complete CB&Q flatcar. In other years, it was a load of some type. One year we even got a set of coupler boxes and draft gear. 
I started building some of these when before we moved into this house, and put them aside when I started building the layout. Now, with the layout up and running I've been getting these "half done" projects off the "in progress" shelf and onto the layout. 
Missouri Pacific 1942 ACF 40-foot boxcar
2005 Naperville Gift
Here's a picture of the first of these door prize cars I built - a Missouri Pacific 40-foot, 10'-6" height boxcar. The basic car is an Intermountain Modified AAR boxcar kit - the Sunshine modification kit includes new doors, ends, and new sidesills. Here's some views of the car after I finished construction and before painting. 

I used very little of the "stock" Intermountain car for this project. I replaced the Intermountain underbody details with Detail Associates parts and wire piping - my rule for piping is "if it interferes with tracking, or can't be readily seen with the car on the track - leave it off." I bent my rule a little bit on this model, and added some additional piping from the triple valve that frankly, is invisible unless you flip the car over! I also replaced the Intermountain roof with a Red Caboose Murphy rectangular panel roof since I think the panels on the Red Caboose roof look better than the stock Intermountain part.  
Some of the other aftermarket parts can be seen in this view of the brake end. These include:

Stirrup steps (these always outlast the styrene or Delrin ones!)
Running board and brake platform - Plano
Brake wheel
Detail Associates
Brake housing
Uncoupling levers
AB-brake set
Tack boards
Bracket grabs
Grandt Line
Release valve
33" semi-scale wheelsets
Red Caboose
Murphy Rectangular Panel roof

The addition of the side sill was the trickiest part of this conversion. I glued it along the length of the Intermountain body (after removing the "tabs") but such a long butt joint was difficult to keep even. I need to do this same type of alteration with another of these conversions - I think I'll add a strip of styrene to the inside of the Intermountain sill that extends down enough to permit a gluing surface.
While not really "weathering" I added a painted over reweigh date that fits the era of my model railroad - often these patches didn't match the color of the car - they were also usually rolled on with little regard for making them square or too neat. I also added some chalk marks - these were done with Sunshine decals.
This one has been on the "in progress" shelf for a while. You might recall I had an issue with the clear acrylic finish (Testors) I used on this model - it dried streaky and white. I overcame that by applying a coat of Future floor polish. I blogged about that in this post. I followed that up this past week with some Tru-Color Flat finish. 
The car is ready for final weathering. But that will have to wait until next week.