When I started considering S-scale as a viable adjustment for the Vernon River plan, I went straight to the top of the Canadian 1:64 food chain for advice. Trevor and David took me in and sorted me out with everything I needed to know in the world of 1:64, what equipment I needed, and where to get it and I am very grateful for their help. It also turns out S-Scalers are apparently hoarders, so I didn’t have to go terribly far to find 90% of the rolling stock and power I need for the entire layout.
One of the places they sent me, however, was to Simon Parent to get my hands on one of his flat resin Stock Car kits. Simon didn’t have any left but was kind enough to track one down for me from someone he knew selling one.
The kit’s castings were very clean and crisp and the kit included all parts required for success except for trucks. Luckily, Simon is in the business of 3D printed trucks and sold me some very beautiful sprung trucks that are accurate for the car along with custom wheelsets.
In my initial experience, this build was a breeze compared to anything I’ve done in 1:87, and though I had a minor issue with shrunken side castings, a sanding block and some Mr. Surfacer solved that with very minimal heart-ache.
Painting the car, I used my regular mix of Vallejo paints to get the CNR boxcar red, prepped for decals with Future and after decal-ing with the included decal sheet, I sealed it off with another coat of Future and some Vallejo Matt Varnish.
One thing I’m not entirely sold on in the world of S-scale is the oversized #802 Kadee couplers. I think what I may do is design and 3D print a coupler pocket that mirrors the footprint of an 802 pocket, but accepts a (1:87 scale) #158 whisker coupler, and then just continue to use Kadee #158’s.
Somewhere in the mail is a brass River Raisin 44 Tonner, brass CNR combine kit as well as a wide array of other 1:64 goodies. I’ll be sure to do an ‘unboxing’ post when the package arrives.
Over the past six months or so, while the blog hasn’t been particularly active, and I have not had as much time as I’d like to physically sit down and build, I have been quite active in terms of layout planning. When I say layout planning, I mean more so figuring out the future for Vernon River and my modelling interest in PEI in general.
Something that never wavers for me is my interest in island railroading, and if I’m being honest, I really don’t have much interest in railroading be it historically or in the modelling world unless it’s PEI-related.
Something that I have determined through many long nights of research over the years, is that I have two very distinct eras and locations of interest for modelling PEI.
These eras and locations can be described as follows:
PEI’s transition era. 1947 – 1952ish. Eastern PEI. Small GE switchers (44 and 70 Ton), 36′ wooden freight cars, mixed passenger trains, riveted tank cars. That sort of thing.
PEI’s twilight years. 1980-1989. Western PEI. RSC-14s, modern equipment, abandoned stations, everything runs as an extra, three-car trains with two locomotives and a PSC van. That drift.
What I have realized, through conversations with others and my own research is that these two described eras of interest are vastly different. And as different as they are, fundamentally, they are better represented by different scales due to the availability of model equipment, and in my opinion best represented by different approaches to modelling in general.
What I’ve decided, by the availability of equipment, is that I can better represent my transition era prototype of Vernon River if I simply backdate my era ten years from 1957/58 to 1947/48 and move from a 1:87 scale to a 1:64 scale. A 70 Tonner becomes a 44 Tonner. There are now more wooden cars than steel cars. Not much else changes. The larger size will allow me to enjoy my modules in more detail, and provide a more accurate experience. Of course, compression will need to occur in the track plan, but not much.
What else I have decided is that Vernon River will remain a set of 1:64 modules, and nothing more. I will be able to set up these modules where I currently live, as well as take them to shows to show off. But I don’t intend to expand Vernon River into a full-size layout anymore.
As a house looks more and more within the realm of possibility, I have had to take time to really consider what a long term layout will look like, and what I will do for a full-size operational basement layout. For when that time comes, I’ve decided I will move back to 1:87 scale, where I can best represent PEI with equipment suited for the 1980s. I have pre-ordered seven Rapido RSC-14s in anticipation of this, some of which are custom numbered, for a full complement of the PEI assigned units of 1750-1756.
In summary, I have determined the best ways to represent PEI in a model format using the space I have access to, and in terms of equipment availability. My dedication to modelling and researching PEI railroading knows no set scale, and will always follow the best path to an accurate representation of history.
It’s been awhile and I’ve been quite busy with non-train related things, mostly work.
This week I was sent across the country to White Rock, BC for some work-related business.
To my surprise and excitement (and the disdain of my colleagues who enjoy uninterrupted sleep), the hotel I was put up in was right across from the BNSF line, just a couple KMs from the Douglas / Peace Arch Border Crossing.
Between conferences, I managed to find some downtime to make the pilgrimage into Vancouver to visit Central Hobbies, which is slated to close in June 2023.
Where I live, there isn’t a model train focused hobby shop, so you can imagine dropping me into the midst of a store the size of Central Hobbies would be much like shooting me into space.
I spent over two hours browsing the store, spoke to the store owner Hal and a few other employees about their time with the store; I even had to step outside one time to collect myself- the selection was just THAT wild! I felt like a kid again.
As hard as I tried to resist the urge to drag some boxcars across the country with me, I left with two CN Cylindrical Hoppers, a BCR Boxcar and a Point St Charles Caboose undecorated kit.
While it’s a shame that Central Hobbies is closing its doors, this was an experience I’ll never forget, and I’m glad I made the time to see it before it’s gone.
Merry Christmas, everybody. I hope all of my followers were able to celebrate generally to at least some degree. Mine was low-key, which is the norm for me anyway.
My Christmas Day miracle was applying the window glazing to this Eastern Road Model’s Double-Ended Transcona Shop Snowplow just before midnight and finally being able to call it finished. I was not finished before Christmas as I had set out in my last post, but on Christmas nonetheless. I’ll take it.
The first thing I tackled was the large grab irons around the perimeter of the cupola roof. I thought this would be a lot more fiddly than it turned out to be, and it only took about 20 minutes. I used Yarmouth Model Works photo-etched eye bolts and .010″ Tichy PB wire for the grabs themselves with pieces of styrene strip between the grab and cupola roof to provide a uniform clearance while gluing them into place.
Next, I added the stove stack, horn and headlights.
The stove stack was modified to be of the coal-burning variety by using a piece of 1/8″ styrene tube cut in half. It is a bit oversized, and I may replace it with brass at some point down the road, but not now.
The horn required only a simple hole, but the headlights were a little more complicated. The Pyle headlight was a Detail Associates part, and I glued the full headlight to a larger piece of styrene to keep it in place, while I used a razor saw in a mitre box to cut only the front of the headlight off, which was then glued to the cupola.
Next, couplers were installed. I used Kadee scale-head couplers with a short shank. I filed around the base and the top and bottom of the coupler shank (where the whiskers attach) to allow more freedom of movement in the box. I then painted the couplers and installed them using a piece of 1/8″ styrene tubing to fill the hole in the coupler box and keep the couplers in place. I used a tiny drop of CA to adhere the tube into the hole, let it set, and then painted Mr. Surfacer 500 on and around the tube before filing it all flat.
I taped off the couplers and then gave the boxes another quick shot of primer and let them dry.
Before painting the model, an under-frame for the weights and trucks to ride on was required. Using CAD and the measurements provided in the kit’s instructions, I drew the under-frame and cut it out of .040″ styrene mechanically with a Cricut Maker. I modified Tichy body bolsters to be only 1/8″ high from the under-frame and cut the ends off to compensate for the now lower swing of the trucks. These plows ran super low to the rails, which creates additional considerations when modelling them.
While looking for truck bolsters in my spare parts, I found a full under-frame from a Tichy flat car kit. I decided that although it wouldn’t necessarily be accurate (the plows did retain their K-brakes for their entire service life, however), it would be a fun touch, so I added it to the blank under-frame.
The prototype used special arch-bar trucks with a 4’2″ wheelbase. The closest I could find were Tahoe Model Works’ 5-foot wheelbase arch bar trucks (TMW-111/211). To match the prototype, I used Intermountain 28″ diameter replacement wheelsets. I threaded the screw-bosses in the 3D printed part of the bottom of the plow-body and then test fit the underframe to the plow.
At this point, it was time to paint. I used my usual mix of Vallejo paints for the body and cupola to get CN boxcar red. The inside of the cupola is painted a sea-foam green, while the seats were painted gull grey with black cushions. The stove-stack was painted aluminum, and the interior of the headlight housing was painted with glossy silver. A coat of gloss was applied with Future floor wax, and I set the model to dry for a few days before applying decals.
The decals were applied using scraps of leftover Black Cat Decal boxcar sets. Using prototype photos of plows that were kept captive to PEI in the mid-1950s, I determined that most plows at this time only had road numbers and bearing repack dates, so the plow reflects that.
After painting and decals, all that was left was to install the window glazing inside the cupola. I used .005″ clear styrene by Evergreen for this, with Micro Krystal Klear to adhere it to the inside of the cupola.
All in all, I enjoyed this kit, but it was not for the faint of heart or easily frustrated. I’d give anybody who attempts this build the following advice: you’ve already spent a lot of money on this kit, don’t cheap out and use the Micromark rivet decals. The Archer rivets, in my experience, look much nicer. In retrospect, if I had to build the model again, I would use them instead of the Micromark decals. That’s not to say the Micromark decals look bad; they could just look better, is all. Lesson learned.
PS: Your very own Transcona Shops Double-plow kit can still be purchased. Body here and cupola here. I have no connection to Eastern Road Models and make no guarantees of their products or the service Shapeways provides.
PPS: The next project is brought to you by the letter “S” and the number “64”…
It’s been a busy and just plain overwhelming summer and fall, which has not left me with a lot of time or capacity to build.
But, with things calming down and signs of winter starting to appear, I figured that it might be an appropriate time to build the Eastern Road Model’s CNR Double-ended Snowplow kit I’ve been sitting on for a few years.
For those unfamiliar, Eastern Road Models was the moniker Steve Hunter used for his PEI prototype-focused Shapeways 3D printed model shop.
CN built a small handful of these Double-ended plows at the Transcona shops in the 1930s, and while they could be seen elsewhere in the system from time to time, I am all but sure they were built with PEI in mind; they could be seen on the island right up until abandonment.
The body and cupola are supplied as separate purchases, and the rest is up to the modeller to source and more or less figure out.
Sparing a novel, essentially up to this point in the build, what I have accomplished is as follows:
Prepared the Shapeways parts by leaving them in an ultrasonic bath filled with a mixture of Simple Green HD and water.
Sanded the body of print lines and removed any excess wax material from the printing process.
I drilled for the grab irons and other necessary holes.
I primed the body and cupola.
Applied Micro-Mark rivet decals to the body and cupola (has to be closing on 1000 rivets).
Bent all grab irons from scratch, including the drop grabs, using .010” PB wire.
Installed the brake wheel and staff.
Installed the wire, receptacles and snow shields for the snowplows power connections with the locomotive.
Installed hinges on the journal box access hatches using Grandt Line reefer hinges.
All that remains is the installation of the roof grabs around the cupola, stove stack, horn, headlights, paint, decals, couplers.
It’s not often I post about anything ready to run on here, but I think my most recent acquisition is a good exception.
On a night not too long ago, instead of sleeping, I was cruising around through my PEIR files looking at pictures, as I often do.
I was about to turn in when I stumbled across a beautiful David Othen photo I’d never noticed before of RSC-14 #1751 hauling a classic PEI train consisting of three boxcars and transfer van #76617 at O’Leary dated June 1982.
The following day on break at work, I came across a Facebook post by Otter Valley Railroad of pictures of a brass estate they had just brought in and when I saw the green box with “CNR Transfer Van” on the sticker I thought it was probably meant to be.
When Hilda at OVR wrote me back to tell me the model was still available and that if I wanted, they could have David Browning, who used to paint for Overland, paint it for me; I knew it was meant to be.
#76617 arrived late last week, and I am thrilled with how it turned out. It will look great behind RSC-14 #1751 when the Rapido models are finally released.
In my last update, I mentioned that my scratch-build of one of CN’s 1929 built “Group C” flat cars was drawing to a close. I am happy to report it is indeed now complete, sans a retainer valve. As I could never discern the valve’s location on the prototype, my thoughts were that it would be better to leave the part off the model entirely rather than guess and find out later it was put in the wrong location.
In 1929, CN had 300 46’1″ flat cars built. What makes these 300 cars unique was they were the first flat cars CN had built to its own design. Until this time, all of the flat cars on the CN roster were a hodge-podge of assets inherited from its predecessors, from varying builders and designs.
I learned about these “Group C” cars while working on my CN “A-3” cars: scratch-bashes of two Tichy kits; they are featured in the same two 1994 articles by Stafford Swain in CN Lines (issues V5N3 and V5N4.)
Using the supplied drawings, I cut out a piece of .060″ V-Groove styrene to act as the car floor, and from a sheet of .030″ plain styrene sheet, cut out the side and centre sill plates. The centre sill of the car was then assembled as a sub-assembly, using strip styrene for the bracing, spacing and to simulate the rivet plates. I also added the rivets to the center sill at this point using Archer Fine Transfers, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to get at it after all of the details and side sills were installed.
I took a piece of plain paper, taped it to a piece of glass and then measured out the distance between each stake pocket for the car side sills. I then taped the side sills onto this and glued each Titchy stake pocket to the side sill using the paper as a guide. After the glue had ample time to dry and the styrene had time to properly re-solidify from the solvent glue, I used a #17 blade to take all of the “U bolt” details off the stake pockets. I used the #17 blade to notch a horizontal line across the middle of the face of the stake pocket. Utilizing the notch in the middle of the front of the stake pocket as a guide, I used my flush cutters to cut a roughly 45-degree angle from the center of the face of the stake pocket down to the bottom “foot.” This mimics the prototype more accurately than the Titchy pockets that come from the package. After the stake pockets were completed, I set them aside.
[As you can imagine, the entire process for the stake pockets was an absolute nail-biter because one mistake would render the whole side sill junk… I took a lot of time to make sure I did this cleanly and accurately. I luckily only made one small mistake, which was easily hidden with some Mr. Surfacer 500 painted over the dent in the sill and sanded flat.]
Before installing the centre sill, I drilled out two holes for each truck at a spacing of 35’9″. I then screwed two Titchy Bolsters to the car floor and cemented them in place. Once the cement dried, I fit the scratch-built centre sill snugly between the bolsters, centred it to the car and glued it in place.
I installed Z-bracing to the car floor parallel to the centre sill. The z-bracing was scratch-built by threading two 1×3″ and one 1×2″ piece of styrene through a homemade jig and glued with Tamiya Ultra Thin. Then I used my JMC Micro Saw to cut out notches to fit in the four more prominent cross members, pre-drilled to accept the train line.
The article didn’t include any photos or drawings of the underframe, so I studied the rivet patterns on the car sides from prototype photos and similarly built flat cars to conclude the location of the cross members and brake components.
The fourteen Z-shaped cross members were installed using leftover z-bracing. I notched out one end of each cross member with a 400 grit PC board file to fit flush against the centre sill. I then ran a sanding block vertically down the side of the car floor to ensure there was no overhang into where the side-sills would be installed.
Next, I installed brake levers fabricated from strip styrene into the sill and the Cal-Scale brake parts. This required me to modify the triple valve mount with a file and make hangers for the air tank from phosphor bronze wire.
Before installing the brake piping and rods, I scratch-built a slack adjuster from scrap pieces of styrene and used a Titchy NBW to simulate the bolt into the associated brake lever. The airlines were installed with .010″ wire and the rods with .0125″ respectively. I used Titchy turnbuckles cut in half to act as the clevis on the connections to the brake levers, and scale chain was used between the brake cylinder and associated rod. The last thing I installed on the underframe was the train line, using .015″ wire and a scratch-built “t-valve” from styrene rod, connecting the train line to the triple valve.
While this might seem like a disjointed way to go about building the under-frame of the car, I did it in this order because I knew once I put the car’s body sills on, I wouldn’t have much room to work on the small parts. I had to be careful not to box myself in.
With the under-frame assembled, I next installed the side-sills. To get an excellent 90-degree joint, I used a machinist square on its fat edge to push the sill flush while the glue set. The car ends were installed using 1×12″ scale strip styrene and reinforced from behind with 1×10″ to prevent warping.
The joints were sanded clean, and then corner irons were installed with strip styrene.
I used a single edge razor blade to shave the poling pockets off some spare Titchy boxcar ends I had lying around. I glued the poling pockets on top of the corner irons and purposely used a liberal amount of styrene cement so they would melt into the corner irons to look like one solid part.
With the general shape of the car completed and the underframe more or less entirely assembled, it was now time to install the Smokey Mountain scale coupler pockets.
I measured the centre of the car ends and then cut notches for the width of the draft gear box with my JMC saw. I scored the inside of the car end that was to be removed with a #11 blade and then snapped it out with my tweezers.
The Smokey Mountain coupler pockets were fitted into the car ends, the screw-hole marked with a pencil and then drilled out and installed. As the prototype had a slightly wider buffer block than the Smokey Mountain product, I used a 1×3″ styrene strip on each side of the buffer block on the car end. This also covered up any visible slop between the draft gearbox and the notch cut out for it.
The brake wheel and its mechanism were installed on the car end. I used the Titchy rachet part but decided to upgrade to a brass Precision Scale brake wheel.
The Yarmouth Model Works Carmer Cut Levers were then installed. I used a 4×4″ square of styrene to mount the cut lever, and put a Titchy NBW on top of it to simulate a bolt.
The grab irons were drilled out and installed with .010″ wire, my new go-to over .0125″ as I find .0125″ looks large when painted.
The A-Line stirrups were held over a candle and flattened out straight, re-bent to match the prototype and then installed by first drilling into the bottom of the side sill before being glued in place.
Before painting, I installed all the remaining rivets onto the car using Archer Fine Transfers and the articles drawing as a guide and then installed the Tahoe Model Works Trucks. I also at this point installed the weight into the center sill, which was lead shotgun shot given to my by a friend.
The car was then primed with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer and allowed to dry overnight. I used my regular mix of Vallejo paints to paint the model CNR #11 red. Future floor polish was used to prepare the model for decals.
Black Cat CNR Flat Car decals were applied with the car being lettered for road number #660213, coated again with future floor polish. The car was matte-coated with Vallejo Matt Varnish.
It was then time to install the car’s decking; for this, I used 3×8″ scale lumber from Northeastern Scale Lumber cut into 9′ lengths. I began by first installing a single board on each end of the car, ensuring they were dead centre to the car. After the (15 minute) JB weld had dried overnight, I set a ruler against the boards previously installed on each end and on top of the stake pockets; this created a dead straight line between each back of the car and allowed me to install each board dead center as well. This is an aspect of the build I spent a lot of time thinking out before tacking, as I knew that if the boards waned and weren’t straight, I would not be happy. It turned out to be a straightforward process in the end.
Lastly as far as the decking installation was concerned, I drilled out the holes for the end stake-pockets and squared them up with a #11 blade.
With the decking installed, I took a sanding block with 400 grit sandpaper on it. I sanded the deck to level it out a bit and get rid of any fuzzies from the wood I didn’t get before installing. I stained the wood decking on the car with a light mixture of India ink and isopropyl alcohol.
I decided I wanted to try simulating the nails that hold the decking to the car floor. For this, I went to a pharmacy and asked for some of the smallest hypodermic needle tips they had. I measured out where each “line” of nails would be on each end of the car and then used the hypodermic needle against a ruler to install over 400 “nails” into the car deck. I then gave the deck another coat of stain, sanded it, and then stained it one final time. The result is subtle, but I think it turned out well as the nails in a wood deck aren’t that noticeable on the prototype once the deck becomes dirty.
Finally, Hi-Tech Details rubber air hoses were installed on each end of the car along with Kadee #158’s.
That’s a wrap! A long and complicated build is finally completed, and I am very proud of the end result. It is my intent to eventually have this model judged toward an NMRA car-building merit award. Find below a parts and materials list for this build.
Next up, finally more work on that pesky CNR wood-reefer scratch-build (and maybe a new not-so-much scratch built reefer project…..)
Evergreen Scale Models:
.060” V-Groove Siding (#14060) [12”x24” sheet, special ordered]
1×2” HO Scale Strip Styrene (#8102)
1×3” HO Scale “ “ (#8103)
1×4” HO Scale “ “ (#8104)
1×6” HO Scale “ “ (#8106)
1×8” HO Scale “ “ (#8108)
1×10” HO Scale “ “ (#8110)
1×12” HO Scale “ “ (#8112)
2×12” HO Scale “ “ (#8212)
4×4” HO Scale “ “ (#8404)
.030” Sheet Styrene (#9030)
.040” “ “ (#9040)
Northeastern Scale Lumber:
3×8” HO Scale Lumber (#3811)
.010” Styrene Rod (#90850)
Tichy Train Group:
.008” PB Wire (#1100)
.010” “ “ (#1101)
.0125” “ (#1106)
.015” “ “ (#1102)
A.A.R. 22” Air Hoses, x2 / Hi-Tech Details (#6038)
AB Brake System, x1 (Plastic) / Cal-Scale (#283)
Barber S-2 50 Ton Trucks / Tahoe Model Works (#113)
At an operating session not so long ago, my friend Derwin asked me if I’d ever considered building a kit for somebody else; and if I’d make a Sylvan CNR Automobile Boxcar kit (HO-1078) for him.
I’ve had a lot of fun operating on Derwin’s “Canadisle” layout over the years, and I thought building this car would be a fun way to give back. Additionally, Derwin models the late 70’s and early 80s, which allows me to explore another era with no commitment. I decided to break from my Group C flat-car scratch build for awhile and put together the kit.
[Note that I don’t currently have any intention of changing my period of focus, although I do have 4 Rapido RSC-14s on pre-order, but I digress.]
Derwin didn’t have a specific road number in mind, so I cruised around on the Canadian Freight Car Gallery until I came across an excellent Jim Parker photo of #740215 in June 1980, right in the middle of Derwin’s era, and decided this would be the one to model.
The car is built entirely to the kit’s instructions, except for the prototypical differences such as the removed running boards, cut end ladders on the “A” end of the car and a few upgraded parts, such as Des Plaines Hobbies 8 Rung Canadian Ladders, A-Line stirrups, cut levers and Cal-Scale brake details. Derwin also supplied Tahoe Model Works trucks with Intermountain wheelsets, my suggestion.
The car was primed with Tamiya FSP Oxide Red, pre-shaded and painted with Vallejo acrylics, gloss-coated with Future Floor Polish, decals applied with the included Black-Cat Decals (+ Highball ACI Labels and National Scale Car Chalk Mark) matt coated with Vallejo Matt varnish. The matt coat was followed by a very light mist coat of white to simulate paint fade and then sprayed again with Vallejo Matt varnish.
I’m pleased with how this project turned out, and it was a lot of fun to explore a different era for change. This model was the first I’ve ever applied a noodle decal to, let alone an ACI label!
I’m happy to have been able to contribute to Derwin’s layout, even if it’s a small piece of it, and with that in mind, I built this car as if it were for myself.
PS: That Group C flat-car scratch build is coming to a close; post coming soon!
In the early 1920s, during the founding years of the Canadian National Railway, a wide array of freight and passenger equipment was inherited from its predecessors. Amongst these inherited cars was a venerable fleet of flat cars of steel construction, initially built for Canadian Northern Railway (CNor), Canadian Government Railways (CGR) and Grand Trunk (GT).
These steel cars were the subject of a duo of Stafford Swain articles entitled “CNR Pre-War Steel Flat Cars – Part I” [CN Lines Vol 5, N3 – focuses mainly on prototype information] and “CNR Pre-War Steel Flat Cars – Part 2” [CN Lines Vol 5, N4 – focuses primarily on building the cars in HO scale, includes scale drawings].
As I’ve mentioned before, you can buy a thumb drive that contains every single back issue of CN Lines, and these two articles were worth the price alone.
The articles cover the A-1, A-2, A-3, A-4, B-1, B-2, C-1 and D-1 series cars- all of which can be built with relative ease from Tichy #4021, Athearn donor cars, or just straight up scratch-built.
I decided to build two “A-3” cars: #651731 from the CNor order and #652125 from the CGR order, using Tichy #4021 as a starting point. Both orders were handled by the Eastern Car Company of Trenton, NS, just 66 kilometres as the crow flies from Vernon River, PE, in the winter of 1918 / 1919.
I began by first installing 2×8″ styrene strip substrates in substitution for the kits supplied side sills. Next, I raised the height of the car by 6″ by first installing the kits provided truck bolsters and then a 6″ styrene block at the pivot point of the bolster. I also added a 6″ styrene block where the coupler pockets would later be installed.
At this point, I used a CAD program to create and print a template to aid in the positioning of the stake pockets on the scratch-built side 1×10″ sills. The spacing measurements for the stake pockets are provided in Stafford’s article.
The kits provided stake pockets are inaccurate for the CN prototype as supplied. This was remedied by filing off the details on the front of the pockets while still attached to the sprue. After this was done, I used the previously mentioned template taped to a sheet of glass to aid the placement and installation of 13 stake pockets per sill.
Once I had 4 side sills created, and I was sure the glue was dry, I went back with a #17 chisel blade and removed the remaining “u-bolt” details from the top and bottom sides of each stake pocket. With all of these details removed and a coat of Tamiya Extra Thin styrene cement quickly applied over the entire pocket to dissolve any leftover detail fragments and “melt” everything together, the stake pockets now more closely resembled the cast metal pockets of the CN prototype.
With the significant structural work of the side sills complete, I glued them to the car and then drilled out the holes for the grab irons. At this time I also drilled out end pockets in the cars decking. To clarify: the reason I used a 2×8″ strip for the substrate and then 1×10″ for the actual sill was to create the illusion of a more “thin” side sill if the car is viewed from track level while still maintaining the overall thickness of the kits supplied sills.
Next, I began work on modifying the supplied centre sill.
I began by filling in the notches in the kits sill sides that normally accept the kits’ super deep cross-bearers. After these “notches” were filled in with styrene and filed level, I installed the centre sill.
After the centre sill was installed, the next task was to establish an AB brake system and its piping in place of the kits provided K system. Because all of the drawings in the article have the K system, I had to turn to prototype photos to figure out where everything went. I mounted the brake cylinder to the mounting bracket for the K system, and then with a prototype photo, figured out the location of the air tanks. With these two locations known, it was easy to extrapolate the location of the triple valve.
I added the kits provided weight at this time and also added some lead shot in an attempt to add even more weight to the car. The prototypes more shallow cross-bearers were fashioned from sheet styrene and installed. (Again, the measurements for the replacement cross-bearers were in the article.)
Will the side-sills and centre sills installed in both cars, it was time to make the new ends. For this, I used a 2×10″ styrene strip for the “web” and a piece of 1×4″ styrene on the top and bottom of it to create the flanges. These new ends were glued to the car ends, and I drilled in the holes for the grabs as well. At this point, I took the time to install the retainer detail on the car’s side and placard and defect boards as well as the car’s “end caps,”; all with .005″ styrene.
With the construction of both cars primarily completed, the only remaining significant structural details to add were the brake staff, cut bars, coupler pockets, grab irons and stirrups.
Before priming the cars, I used Archer rivet decals to complete the look of the scratch-built car sides, ends, and new cross-bearers.
After the cars were primed with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer, I painted them with my go-to mix of Vallejo Model Air paints for CN #11 red. I masked off the decking and sprayed the decks with Tamiya Wood Deck Tan, and once all of this had time to dry, it all got a coating of Vallejo Gloss Varnish.
The cars were then lettered using the data charts from the articles. Since both cars were from different orders, they required different data, which needed some cobbling of the Black Cat Decals. Once I was satisfied with the lettering, the cars again got a coat of Vallejo Gloss and then Matt.
Pan pastels were applied to the decking using the same method I described in my previous post. I did this time, however, have a happy accident. After applying the initial coating of pastels, I decided I overdid it and went to wash them off the car. While I was gently scrubbing the decking with my thumb while holding the vehicles under the sink, I realized this actually created just the effect I wanted, so I stopped washing the pastels off and let the cars dry as is before giving a final coat of Vallejo Matt. After the matt dried there was only one final detail to install: rubber air hoses by Hi-Tech Details.
Overall I am very satisfied with how these two flat cars turned out.
I have already begun a scratch build of a “Group C” car, which is already well along and should be the subject of a blog post soon / someday.
In the last minutes of 2020 I sat, bored, at my work bench and decided to start a Tichy 4021 kit I had on hand.
My original plan for the kit was to modify it to be a CNR A-1 Pre-war Flat car, as outlined by Stafford Swain in CN Lines V5 N3- but as will be revealed below that didn’t happen. (But has since happened with a couple other kits, which will be covered in a future blog post.)
I was so into the build that I decided to just build the kit as it was for once, not worrying about making it accurate or performing any major surgery.
This was a nice thought as I built the kit, however after I finished the construction I realized that it’s inaccuracy would bother me if lettered for CN.
So, I began the hunt for a railroad that ran a car close in construction to the Tichy kit as built.
What I came across was the Central of Georgia, whose historical society is restoring a flat car very similar to this, and is even selling Tichy kits packaged with the correct trucks and CG decals with all proceeds going towards the cars restoration. I decided this would make an interesting prototype, and ordered some decals.
I painted the car black, with Vallejo “NATO Black”, and the deck with Tamiya “Wooden Deck Tan” – the latter a recommendation from Pierre Oliver’s November 2020 blog post “Flat car decks, a better way?”.
At this point I managed to knock one of the plastic Tichy stirrups off the car; so I removed the rest of them with my spru cutters and replaced them with A-Line stirrups that I had “squared” up by heating them over a candle, flattening them out and re-bending them with chain nose pliers, a Bill Welch technique, and a worthy upgrade to any car.
After I had the car painted and the stirrups fixed, I applied future floor polish with my airbrush and then lettered the car. The lettering makes the car accurate for about 1947, about ten years before my layout at Vernon River takes place- so if it appears on the siding somebody invented a time machine. After lettering, I simply brushed some future over the decals to seal them and then airbrushed the car with Vallejo Matt Varnish- which is now going to be my go-to flat finish.
Again, following Pierre’s previously mentioned blog post I applied pan pastels to the cars deck. This was my first time using pan pastels and man, I love them! They are so intuitive to use, blend super smoothly and are actually pretty hard to mess up.
While this car isn’t even close to being accurate for my era, it’s still an interesting prototype and is fairly accurate within its self. I’m really happy with how this project turned out, and it was a great test-bed for pan pastels. I am still waiting on the proper Andrew’s trucks to arrive, but I’m way to excited to not share the car just how it is.
Coming down the pipe: an update on my CNR Reefer scratch builds, building two Sylvan CNR Wooden Express Reefer kits (just need to be lettered now), modifying two Tichy flat car kits to CNR A-3 Pre-War Flat cars and scratch building a 46’1” CNR flat.
While my blog posting has been lacking, I’ve been building more now than I ever have before. I have 4 or 5 different projects on the go and it feels really nice to be back at it with the passion I had before.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown