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!
As my modelling slowly starts to ramp up again, there isn’t much content for me to post. However, I realized that the projects I completed before this blog’s existence are not yet documented here. I thought it might be fun to fill in the slow times with what I’m going to call a BUILD RUN-DOWN. I felt the right place to start would be with a Funaro & Camerlengo CNR 8-Hatch Reefer kit I built a couple years back.
Between 1939 and 1958, the CNR had built for it over 3000 8-hatch steel reefer cars. F&C has built flat resin kits to represent these cars for 20+ years. I have a handful of the True Line Trains ready to run models, but I wanted to paint one up with the red maple leaf and #11 red under-frame.
The kit was built, mainly adhering to the included instructions. However, I provided some enhancements by upgrading and adding a few details. (I will provide a parts list at the end of the post.)
Construction began by cleaning up all of the flat kit castings and giving them a bath in Dawn Dish Soap to remove any mold release agent.
The truck bolsters on the car’s under-frame were then drilled and tapped, and the same for the couplers. At this point, while the kit was still flat, I drilled out most of the holes required for grab irons, eye bolts and the heater pipes. However, some of the holes were left undrilled until the body was assembled to ensure their placement would be accurate.
Once I was satisfied that I had removed all of the flash and mold release agents from the parts, I used 1-2-3 blocks, tape, patience and a minimum initial amount of CA to assemble the flat car sides, ends and roof into a 3D body shell. At this point, I turned my attention to the under-frame.
I used various sizes of Tichy phosphor bronze wire for the brake rigging. My standard approach for this is to use .015,” or .020″ wire for the train line (if I include it), .0125″ wire for the brake rods, .010″ wire for the air-lines and .008 wire for the retainer line and release rod, the latter which I usually wait and add after the model has been fully painted and the underframe has been glued in place. Tichy turnbuckles cut in half were used to simulate the Yarmouth Model Works brake levers’ clevis. The piping going to and from the underslung heater was added with piano wire. (In hindsight, you may have better luck with some Tichy .038″ PB wire as cutting piano wire this thick was NOT fun. I eventually had to use aviation snips.)
Once I was happy with the underframe, I moved to the car body. As I mentioned above, I adhered mainly to the kit’s instructions, so I won’t bother getting too detailed. However, I will say out of all of the upgraded detail parts I used, I think the Des Plaines Hobbies Canadian Style 8 Rung Ladders and Yarmouth Model Works running boards made the most significant visual difference; I can’t recommend these parts enough for your next Canadian prototype build.
The hatch rests, tack + defect boards, brake wheel mount and jacking pads were built with Evergreen strip styrene. This was all pretty straight forward except for the hatch rests. The hatch rests included with the kit left a lot to be desired, so I used a tip I read on Pierre Oliver’s blog and made them out of strip styrene. A strip of 1×3″ and 1×6″ styrene was glued together in an “L” shape, which I then cut to equal sizes with my NWSL Chopper II. To have the hatch rests appropriately centred on the model’s roof, I laid out strips of masking tape on my workbench. I measured out the proper distances and drew lines on the tape to use as a guide, then taped the strips to the roof of the model and glued the hatch rests on with CA using the tape lines as a guide.
I primed the car with Tamiya Fine Surface primer- the bottom section of the car got primed with Oxide Red while the body got primed with Grey. I then loaded up my airbrush with black paint (VMA 71.057) and pre-shaded all of the panel lines, grab irons, brake rigging, running boards— virtually anything I wanted to stand out. I then painted the model, as usual, allowing the pre-shading to very lightly appear through the paint. The car’s bottom was painted #11 Red while the body was painted #11 Grey and all paints were Vallejo Model Air. To get #11 Red, I mixed 2pt VMA 71.105 to 1pt 71.038. For #11 Grey, I used straight VMA 71.045. After the model was painted, I used a #0 brush to paint anything attached to the body but falling under the sill (such as grab irons, stirrup steps etc.) #11 Red.
Before lettering the car, I sprayed it with Testors Glosscoat and allowed it to cure for four days. The car was lettered with Black Cat Decals [CNR#209710-H] instead of the ones included. I also had some Speedwitch Media freight car chalk markings (highly recommended), which I later added. To get the particular car number and correct data information I wanted onto the model, I had to do some surgery on the decals. I wound up placing a lot of the numbers individually, which was time-consuming. After lettering was finished, the car was again sprayed with Glosscoat followed by Dull coat and allowed to cure.
All in all, I was very satisfied with how this model turned out. I gained a lot of experience and tried many new-to-me techniques.
Next time I’ll be giving a rundown on a Yarmouth Model Works 40ft CNR boxcar I completed a year ago.
Thanks for reading!
COMMERCIAL DETAIL PARTS USED:
“HO Canadian 8 Rung Ladders” / Des Plaines Hobbies [DPH-2003] x1 Package
Laser Cut 40′ Wood Running Board w/ Laterals & Etched Brackets / Yarmouth Model Works [YMW-255] x1 Package
“Eyebolt No Collar” / Yarmouth Model Works [YMW-500] x1
“Eyebolt w/ Collar” / Yarmouth Model Works [YMW-501] x1
“Bracket Grab Drilling Template” / Yarmouth Model Works [YMW-502] x1
“Brake Levers, Set of 10” / Yarmouth Model Works [YMW-503] x1
“Turnbuckles” / Tichy Train Group [#8021] x1 Package
“Straight Side Mount (Stirrup)” / Tichy Train Group [#3038] (included w/ kit) x1 Package (Tip: After all of my upgrades, I do find these are left looking a little out of scale. Perhaps an A-Line product would have been better suited.)
“Freight Car Chalk Markings” / Speedwitch Media [D135]
SCRATCH-BUILT PARTS USED:
Hatch Rests x16 – Scale strip styrene cut with a chopper tool and glued together in “L” shape
Defect Boards x2 – Scale strip styrene cut and assembled
Tack Boards x4 – Scale strip styrene cut and assembled
Drain Spouts x4 – Tichy PB wire inserted into holes drilled into car bottom and glued from the inside. Square styrene strip cored out with a pin vice and then slid over the PB wire, dab of CA secures the styrene to the bottom of the car and wire.
Brake Lines – .010 Tichy PB wire measured, cut to size, bent with pliers, inserted and glued into brake components.
Brake Rods – .0125 Tichy PB wire cut to size and inserted into Tichy turnbuckles which were cut in half and thinned down to simulate the clevis.
Coupler Cut Levers x2 – .008 Tichy PB wire cut and bent to shape. Inserted through bracket on car end and through YMW “Eyebolt No Collar” above coupler.
Release Rod x1 – .008 Tichy PB wire cut and bent to shape. Inserted through hole drilled into sill and through YMW “Eyebolt No Collar”, drilled and inserted into triple valve.
Stand-offs for DPH 8 Rung Ladders x8 – Strip styrene cut and glued to ladders, then ladder glued to car.
Underslung Heater Piping x2 – Music wire cut, bent and inserted through holes drilled into the sides of the underslung heater casting and through holes drilled into the car floor. Glued from the inside of the car with JB Weld 2-Part Epoxy (the 15-Minute stuff)
Small update coming at y’all- and while it’s small, the process behind this was large.
Last night, in the final hours of my 20s, I installed the underslung charcoal heaters and their piping onto Reefer cars’ underframe.
The heaters were resin copies I cast of a certain manufactures underslung charcoal heaters that I could not purchase individually from a kit. I cut a notch out of the previously installed Z-bracing and then affixed the heater right to the car floor with CA.
The piping was .032” Tichy PB Wire threaded through the car floor into small holes drilled into the heaters. I made the “T” joint by first filing the ends of the cut wire totally flat, then used masking tape to hold the wires together in the desired formation on top of some scrap wood. Flux was applied, and solder was liberally applied to the joint. I cleaned it up with 400 grit sandpaper, rubbing alcohol and a wire brush.
The bracing/strapping that holds the heaters to the car floor on the prototype will be installed after the final under-frame installation is made
One of the first things I had to consider before taking on this project (almost a year ago !!!) was the availability of certain parts that would be rather difficult to scratch build- the big concerns being the roof hatches and the underslung heaters.
Well, I was able to find suitable hatches to use (Details West RH-1003). Still, underslung heaters were going to be a different story.
I tried emailing a certain resin kit manufacture multiple times to see if I could purchase some of their cast underslung heaters that they include in their Reefer kits but received no response.
Second, I took to Shapeways to see what I could find. I placed an order with a certain shop for some heaters that looked promising, but when I received them- though they were nice, they just didn’t look as nice as the other manufacturer’s part. And that just couldn’t do.
So, as a last resort, I raided a couple of unbuilt 8 Hatch Reefer kits I have in the closet, got a casting kit at Great Hobbies and cast my own resin copies of the underslung heaters; something I’d never done before.
I’ll spare the casting process, but I’m happy with how they turned out. And while it was a minor headache to not just buy the parts I wanted, this turned out to be a great learning experience, and I’ve learned a new skill.
[A note on ethics: I wouldn’t condone doing something like this (even for personal use only) if the parts in question were still in print and/or readily available. You should always support hobby shops and manufacturers whenever possible. Don’t be a dink.]
Well, it’s been longer than I would have liked between updates.
This whole COVID-19 mess has certainly affected every one of us, and us in the aviation industry, especially in terms of employment. My employer has placed myself and roughly 15,000 other of my union brothers and sisters on off duty status, which has admittedly been hard to comprehend given how quickly all of this has erupted.
Without getting too personal, I’ll just say this whole mess really hasn’t left me with much motivation to write. However, as the dust of our new reality begins to settle, I’m starting to feel a little better. That said, this post isn’t nearly as beefy as I’d like it to be, and I must apologize.
Progress has continued on the reefers, and I’m really starting to get excited about where this project is headed. The fishbelly sills have been riveted with MicroMark surface decals and installed along with the z-bracing, cross-bearers, cross-members and train line.
After installing the z-bracing (which I put on the wrong way somehow! whoops!), I used my UMM saw to cut through the bracing and installed the cross braces and cross members. I went with 4×4″ Evergreen for the cross members and used my Cricut Maker to cut the cross bearers from .030″ Evergreen sheet. The cross bearers will receive a 1×6″ cap over them after the floor is glued into the cars.
With the sill, z-bracing and supports installed I figured now would probably be a good time to install the tramline as it needs to be threaded through the cross-bearers. I bent .020″ Tichy PB wire directly over top of the scaled down general arrangement drawings, cut it into two pieces and installed it into the car with CA. This was repeated for both cars.
Another view of the under frame.
Next time, I intend to make a drill jig for the side and end grab irons using the engraving tip on my Cricut Maker. I plan to design the jig in 2D with CAD, engrave it onto a .010″ brass sheet (or a soda can), cut it out, fold it against a vice and then use my pin vice to punch the holes before using it to drill out for the grabs.
We’re all facing a lot of stress right now… I encourage you to take some time and work on or run your models. We all need to get our minds off of things. Please wash your hands and stay home.
After a brief break from the CNR Wood Reefer project, this weekend seemed like a good opportunity to get back to it; with the recommended social distancing and all. Might as well use a not-so-good situation to have some fun at least, right?
The next thing I needed before proceeding with the underframe of the car was Z-Bracing. The general arrangement drawings show two lengths of Z-bracing running end to end of the car. The problem I faced here was that Evergreen does not make Z-angle small enough, but I didn’t want to mail it in and use just a plain old strip in place of the Z-angle.
Luckily, while cruising around the internet looking for pictures of scratch-built fishbelly centre sills I happened across Chris van der Heide’s blog. Lone behold Chris had run into the same problem as me at one point and took the time to detail how he fabricated and used a jig to create his own Z-Angle stock in this post. I decided that this is how I would proceed.
The jig made from scrap styrene.
Feeding the three strips of styrene through the rear of the jig.
The three strips are glued together with Tamiya Extra Thin Quick Drying cement as they exit the jig.
The jig was not at all hard to make and the process of feeding the three strips of styrene (HO scale 1×3″ on the top and bottom and 1×2″ as the web) through the jig was made easier by brushing a little bit of powdered graphite into the hole as a lubricant.
The final product.
As you can see the finished product is just as good as anything you could buy on the market. Thanks for your help Chris even though you may not know you helped! LOL. Make sure you check out his blog post for a better explanation of how this was done.
With the Z-Bracing out of the way the other major component needed for the underframe was the fish belly centre sill.
First, I used the scaled-down general arrangement plans as a guide to drawing the general shape of the sill plates in TinkerCad. Then, I used my Cricut Maker to cut the fish belly sill plates out of .030″ sheet styrene. The great advantage to using the Cricut for this purpose is that all of the sill plates will be accurate and of the identical measurement. One disadvantage is the cutter does create a bit of a burr around the cut but it is easily cleaned up by carefully using a single edge razor blade to slice it off. The Cricut Maker is an amazing machine and deserves a post of its own. I see a lot of potential for this machine in the hobby of model railroading…
Freshly cut sill plates. I used a Sharpie pen to flow some ink into the cuts so I could better see.
Pushing the sill plate against the 1×6″ strip and a machinist square.
Finished sill plates ready to be assembled.
After the sill plates were cut and cleaned up I added 1×6″ Strip to the bottom of the plates by pushing the strip and plate against 1-2-3 blocks and gluing them together. Then, I added 1×4″ strip to the top of the plate as well as 1×3″ along the bottom of the plate where it meets with the 1×6″ strip.
After all of the sill plates were built, I glued the tops of them to a piece of 2×12″ strip to create two full fish belly sill assemblies- one for each car. When the glue dried, I wedged strips of 2×12″ styrene vertically between the plates to prevent them from warping inwards. I trued the edges up with my NWSL true sander.
One of two completed fishbelly centre sill assemblies.
While the fishbelly isn’t glued to the car floor in this photo, this shows how it will look attached to the car.
I’m very pleased with how the fish bellies turned out. Once they are glued to the model a strip of 1×3″ strip will be glued against the car floor and the side of the sill plates to create an “L” channel with the 1×4″ plate on the sill.
I will use MicroMark surface decals for the rivets and I’ll likely apply them to the sill before gluing it to the cars (with the exception of along the previously mentioned 1×4″ strip.)
Next time I will glue the centre sills onto the car floor, install the z bracing and fabricate and install the cross ties/cross-bearers. After that, it will be time to install the underslung heaters and install the brake rigging (my favourite!).
[Worth noting: the underslung heater may become a project in its self, 3D printed part which may end up being molded and cast as a precaution- I don’t entirely trust the chemical stability behind Shapeways’ Fine Detail Plastic. We’ll see.]
The car siding is now attached to the car’s core. .005 corner bracing and Grandt Line door hardware added.
After finally having some time to clean up my workbench I was able to continue with my scratch-build of CN’s 40′ Wood End Bunker Reefers.
Using a nibbler, I began by cutting the doors out of the car siding. I then glued the car siding to the body using a scale 6″ spacing jig I made to ensure a uniform 6″ of the core remained visible all along the bottom of the car. Since the car siding I used was .040″ I had to lay down a .020″ substrate into the door opening before I could install the framing. I framed the doors with 2×4″ HO scale Evergreen strip. 2×3″ HO scale strip was used for the eve above the door, 1×2″ HO scale strip was used to represent the gasket between the door and the doorframe and 2×10″ was used to represent the kicker plate below the door. The door its self was cut from .020″ Evergreen freight car siding. Grandt Line reefer hinges and door latches were used for the door hardware. I’m still waiting on a few Tichy detail parts that will complete the doors but they are about 90% finished.
Close-up of the Grandt-Line door hardware.
After I finished with the door, I decided next I would notch out the sections of the under frame required to fit the coupler pockets. I installed Smoky Mountain coupler pockets in the cut-outs. I’m still not totally sold on this and may revert to the “scale” coupler pockets that come with Kadee #178, they aren’t as nice at the Smoky Mountain pockets but come closer to the look of the prototype. I will revisit this once I finish the under frame.
A razor saw was used to cut through the frame. Much care was used to ensure I didn’t cut into the car siding. In hindsight it may have made more sense to cut these “notches” out before I installed the car siding over the core.
A exacto knife with a brand new #11 blade was used to score along the bottom of the car siding. I used a screw driver to snap the cut pieces back.
Next I added the corner bracing on both the car body and the visible portion of the under frame. To accomplish this I cut scale 10″,6″ and 3″ strips from .005 styrene. For each corner brace I gently folded the strip over its self and then used my photo etch pliers to complete the fold- this way I got a nice crisp and straight fold. Using my NWSL Chopper II (absolutely essential for this task unless you want to cry) I then cut eight 10×12″ corner braces for the bottom of the body, eight 6×5″ corner braces for the visible portion of the under frame and sixteen 3×12″ corner braces for the upper portion of the car body.
A NWSL Chopper II with the guide set to the proper length was used to ensure uniform cuts of the corner braces. The bent q-tip on the left was used to hold down the corner brace between the guide and the blade to ensure the corner brace didn’t move as it was cut.
A bunch of cut out corner braces. I always make extra and use the best ones.
Next time I’ll start into the under-frame of the car, beginning with the installation of the truck bolsters. I was going to scratch build the bolsters but the Tichy ones are pretty close and already sit the car at the proper height.
After the bolsters I’ll install the Z stringers and fishbelly. The stringers will be made from strip styrene, glued together to make a Z shape. The fish belly under-frame will be cut from sheet styrene of a thickness yet to be decided.
I have some tricks up my sleeve for the brake rigging and the roof is already on my mind as well.
I’m really happy with how this build is progressing and I am picking up a lot of new skills along the way.
CN Wood End Bunker Reefer #208571 (Series 3). Photo: nakina.net
Some time ago Steve Hunter showed me photos of his beautifully finished Norwest Models CN Wood End Bunker Reefer kits. This planted the seed for a small obsession with these wooden reefers built between 1926 and 1932.
Knowing that I would eventually need a few of these cars to compliment my fleet of F&C and True Line 8 Hatch Reefers (which will be regulars at the Vernon River Co-op warehouse!) I searched high and low for years for even just one Norwest Kit, to no success.
Armed with general arrangement drawings sourced from the C. Robert Craig Memorial Library and a copy of Railroad Model Craftsman (June 2001) featuring Stafford Swain’s wonderful article on this prototype I set out to begin scratch building a pair.
I began the preliminary work on the project by sourcing decals from Black Cat Publishing, trucks from Tahoe Model Works, 3D printed underslung charcoal heaters and liquidometers from Shapeways and many of the other detail parts and styrene stock I would require to complete the build.
By studying the drawings I determined that it might prove easiest to build the car body in three layers. A inner core, a main core and finally an outer layer of Evergreen freight car siding. (All layers .040″)
The inner core would provide a solid foundation for the car’s floor to sit on which would be made from Evergreen V-Groove siding. This would be the main core to which the entire car would be built off of.
The main core’s purpose would be to simulate the 6 scale inches of steel under frame and would be cut 6 scale inches taller than the inner core to achieve this.
Finally, the outer layer of Evergreen freight car siding would be cut 6 scale inches shorter than the main core. The freight car siding would then be placed around the main core using a jig made from styrene to ensure a uniform 6 inches of the main core remained visible all the way around the model.
This view shows the three layers of the car body. The holes drilled in the core’s floor are there to flow glue into when the time comes to permanently install the car floor.
A view of the car bottom with the floor installed. The car floor totally hides the inner core when installed.
After constructing the inner and main cores, the next step was to cut the car siding to fit around the car body. Once I made the cuts I marked where the doors would be cut out. Using the previously mentioned jig I taped the siding to the car to test the look and to ensure everything lined up properly.
4 car sides made of Evergreen freight car siding cut and marked for their door openings.
This view shows what the siding will look like when finally glued to the car. This also shows the 6″ of the main core that represents the visible steel under frame of the prototype. Eventually Archer and Micromark rivet decals will be used to detail it.
The spacing jig I made to ensure a uniform 6″ of the main core remains visible all the way around the bottom of the car body.
Sitting on trucks just for fun, this car is starting to look a little less like a time consuming rectangle and more like a wooden reefer!
After a few failed attempts at cleanly cutting out the doors out of the car and subsequently having to cut out new sides I decided I needed a different approach.
Browsing around on a few different model railroading forums I came to the conclusion that a nibbler seems to be the way to go in regards to cutting square, clean doors (and windows) from sheet styrene when the standard #11 blade won’t do the job cleanly. With that knowledge I ordered one from Amazon and I should see it next week.
Sometimes I need to remind myself that it’s often best to tape a step back, take some time to plot the next move and then come back with a new approach and fresh mindset.
I hope to return to this build soon- when I finally have the door openings cut out and installed I will be able to turn my attention to the steel under frame.
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