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?

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