SCRATCH-BUILDING A “GROUP C” CNR 46’1” STEEL PRE-WAR FLATCAR

#660213 completed and in all its glory.

Buckle up, y’all; here comes a long one.

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.

Let’s begin.

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.

The car mostly assembled, but before the final installation of rivets and decking.

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.

Close up shot of some of the under-frame detail, including the t-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.

This shows the addition to the buffer plate.

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.

Close up detail of the cars under frame.

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.

Close-up shot of the completed decking, including the subtle nail details.

Finally, Hi-Tech Details rubber air hoses were installed on each end of the car along with Kadee #158’s.

The completed model on the bottom vs the mock-up I made prior to deciding to proceed with the project. The “stripe” in the middle of the mock-up separates two different paint formulas I was testing at the time for #11 red.

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…..)

CM

RAW MATERIALS:

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)

Plastruct:

  • .010” Styrene Rod (#90850)

Tichy Train Group:

  • .008” PB Wire (#1100)
  • .010” “     “ (#1101)
  • .0125”     “ (#1106)
  • .015” “     “ (#1102)

COMMERCIAL PARTS:

  • 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) 
  • Bolsters, x2 / Tichy Train Group (#3069)
  • Brake Wheels – 6 Spoke, x1 (Brass) / Precision Scale Company (#31117) 
  • Carmer Cut Levers / Yarmouth Model Works, x2 (#404 & #401) 
  • Scale Draft Gear Boxes / Smokey Mountain Model Works, x2 (87-DP-401-GY) 
  • Stake Pockets, x26 / Tichy Train Group (#3006) 
  • Stirrup Steps, x4 / A-Line (#29000) 
  • Turnbuckles, x4 / Tichy Train Group (#8021) 
  • Vertical Brake Staff & Support, x1 / Tichy Train Group (#3003) 
  • 7/8 Boxcar End, x2 / Tichy Train Group (#3058) [Used to harvest four poling pockets]
  • 33 Inch Semi-Scale All-Metal Wheelsets / Tangent Scale Models (#137)

SCRATCH-BUILT PARTS:

  • Side sills, x2. [.040” Sheet Styrene]
  • End sills, x2. [2×12” & 1×10” Strip Styrene]
  • Corner gussets, x4. [1×12” Strip Styrene]
  • Grab irons, x8. [.010” Phosphor Bronze Wire]
  • Center sills, x2. [.030” Sheet Styrene]
  • L brackets for centre sill. x4. [1×6” & 1×4” Strip Styrene]
  • Center sill foot plates, x2. [1×6” Strip Styrene]
  • Brake rods, x2 [.0125” Phosphor Bronze Wire]
  • Brake lines, x3. [.010” Phosphor Bronze Wire]
  • Retainer valve line, x1. [.008” Phosphor Bronze Wire]
  • Verticle buffer plates, x4. [1×3” and 1×2” Strip Styrene]
  • Wood deck boards, x60. [3”x8” Scale Lumber cut into 9’ lengths with a NWSL Chopper II. Installed individually on car floor.]
  • Z-Bracing [1×2” and 1×3” Styrene fed through a scratch-built jig and glued into a “Z” with Tamiya Extra Thin.”
  • Crossmembers, x10. [Same process as Z-Bracing.]
  • Crossmembers, x2. [1”x4” Strip Styrene]

PAINTS / FINISHES:

  • Brown / Vallejo Model Air (#71.105)
  • Camo Medium Brown / Vallejo Model Air (#71.038)
    • [2pts #71.105 + 1pt #71.038 = CN #11 Red]
  • Fine Surface Primer, Oxide Red / Tamiya (#87160)
  • India Ink, Super Black / Speedball
  • Nato Black / Vallejo Model Air (#71.251)
  • Polyurethane Matt Varnish / Vallejo (#26.651) 
  • Revive It Floor Gloss (Future) / Johnson

DECALS:

  • Canadian National Flat Cars / Black Cat Publishing (#289)
  • Freight Car Chalk Markings /  National Scale Car (#D135)
  • Railcar Rivets / Archer Fine Transfers (#88025)

ADHESIVES / WEIGHT:

  • 15 Minute Epoxy / JB Weld
  • Medium CA / Mercury Adhesives
  • Extra Thin Plastic Weld / Tamiya
  • Lead Shotgun Shot [Used as weight] / Western Metal

The Best $50 You Can Spend In Canadian Prototype Model Railroading.

The CNRHA (Canadian National Railway Historical Society) and its magazine, “CN Lines,” are undoubtedly well-known entities within Canadian modelling circles.

However, you may not have known that as of July 1st, 2020, you can now purchase a USB drive containing every single back issue of CN Lines for only $50. I sure didn’t, anyway.

That’s right. EVERY. SINGLE. BACK ISSUE on a USB stick for only $50.

This is undoubtedly among the best $50 I have spent in this hobby as a prototype modeller.

The back-issue USB drive paired with the free online index means that I now have over 32 years of accurate and relevant prototype information gathered within the CN Lines Magazine at my fingertips. This has already saved me a substantial amount of research time on my next project, two CNR 40ft flat cars to serve the Vernon River sawmill, which will be Tichy kits modified using a Stafford Swain article.

If you’re looking for a great source of prototype information as a Canadian modeller, look no further and order one of those USB sticks today.

I have no affiliation with CNRHA; I just can’t get over the value!

– CM

Scratch-building CN’s 40′ Wood End Bunker Reefers PT:5 [Underslung Charcoal Heaters & their Piping]

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.]

The ties that bind…

Ok. So, before the world exploded my focus in Vernon River land was more or less on preparing for the laying of ties, ballast and track.

For a man who hasn’t even laid flex track before, you could imagine how deep of a daunting rabbit hole this could be.

It has been my full intent since Day 1 with not only this project it’s-self, but my modelling as a whole to hand lay my track. It just seems like the right thing to do and nothing looks exactly like wood, but actual wood.

Instead of just going in blind and starting to lay track on my actual bench work I figured it might be fun / a good idea to teach myself this group of skills by building a display / test track.

So that’s what I did.

I ordered a “Ultimate Track Sample Starter Pack” with Code 55 rail and 8ft ties from Proto87, snagged a 1×3 that a buddy of mine had from his old deck, got some 1/2in extruded foam left over from a different buddy’s garage build and got to work.

I’ll go over the actual test track it’s self another time. What I want to show off here are my ties.

Hunter Hughson has a great post on Weathering Ties with Acrylic paints over at his blog that I more or less followed to a tee, and man am I ever happy with how they turned out. The only thing I changed from his process was how I went about beating up the ties. Instead of a dental pick, chisel tip and #7 Exacto blades I used a dental pick and wire brush at the suggestion of Chris Mears.

I had the idea to perhaps switch it up and represent a later era with my test track; say the late 70s or early 80s, where tie plates would be more prevalent on the prototype [AKA a excuse to use more of the beautiful Proto87 tie plates that came with the sample pack]. However, I’m leaning back to sticking with the late 50s. I’d still perhaps throw a couple tie-plates down here and there on newer looking ties.

Next up will be ballasting. If I stay with the late 50s it’ll be cinders, if I go with the late 70s / early 80s it’ll be a mix of crushed rock.

C.M.

Scratch-building CN’s 40′ Wood End Bunker Reefers PT:4 [Rivets & installation of the centre sills, z-bracing and crossmembers]

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.

IMG_1447.jpeg

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.

60753719966__51C9BE7E-28A4-4EF0-A7AB-C59859C6DA26

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.

IMG_1448

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.

CM

Special delivery… (70 Tonner decals)

Just wanted to poke my head in and give a little mail-day update..

Backstory: Last fall I designed and 3D printed a accurate footboard assembly for my long-stalled Kaslo 70 Tonner project. This was a detail that had been bothering me for some time and I just couldn’t seem to get it right by scratch-building with styrene. This 3D printed part gets me over that hump, but in order to finish the project I still needed decals…

Receiving the test parts from Shapeways was the inspiration I needed to finally get off my behind and get decals made so I could finish the project.

STR21235a.001.aa.cs

CNR #38 at the Moncton, NB diesel shops. CSTM Collection.

Shortly before Christmas I began talks with Bill Brillinger from PDC.ca to make a custom set of decals for the ‘simplified’ second iteration of the green and gold livery the CNR 70 Tonners wore. I mailed him some reference material and to work he went.

After a few weeks of back and forth, I was very excited to see the PDC.ca envelope full of 70 Tonner decals arrive in my mailbox today.

IMG_1274.jpeg

As you can see, the decals turned out beautifully. Bill is an absolute joy to work with and he nailed what I was looking for. The decal set will do three locomotives with the ability to label any unit on the roster, although not all of them got this paint job.

While my super-detailed 44 Tonner will see lots of action on the layout, 70 Tonners were just as common and I’m excited to finish this project so I can run 70T #38 in mixed train service.

CM

Vernon River Co-Op Warehouse: a study on shared building plans.

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The former Vernon River Co-Op Warehouse built in 1947. July 2013. Chris Mears photo, used with permission.

Since the very conception of this layout, a mystery has been at the back of my mind. That is the mystery of the Vernon River Co-Op Warehouse.

I guess perhaps not as much of a mystery, as a minor annoyance. You see, the photos I have are only but a tease- only providing partial views of how this building looked while it was still rail-served.

There is one fact working for me, and that is that the building still stands today- rails to trails use it as a workshop. Having an accurately sized model will not be a problem.. however, its freight doors and roof vents have been removed, and the roof and siding have been replaced.

I’ve reached out to local area Facebook groups to try to find a better photo of the building with its freight doors still intact, to no avail. I’ve reached out to the archivist at St. F.X. University, which does have a giant photo collection of Co-Op buildings, PEI included- to no avail. (One avenue I have not yet explored is to contact rails to trails and see if I could be allowed inside to see if the door framing is still visible.)

This has mostly left me to fill in the blanks myself.

However, just this morning, I had a bit of an “ah-ha” moment.

I don’t know why this didn’t hit me before now, but I had already been aware of direct evidence that the co-operatives routinely shared building plans, being co-operatives and all. One such example of this is the Co-Op Potato Warehouses at Morell, Tignish and Souris being nearly identical.

Could the Vernon River Co-Op warehouse just be a shortened version of these other warehouses?

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Morell’s Co-Op Warehouse. Year and photographer are unknown. St. F.X. University Archives.

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Souris Co-op Warehouse. Steve Hunter photo, year unknown.

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Tignish’s Co-Op Warehouse. Year and photographer are unknown. Note that the building is nearly identical to Morell’s warehouse, a county away.

What caught my attention is how similar the front of the Morell warehouse looks to the front of the Vernon River warehouse. The large double door and loft door are of identical construction. The chimneys are identical. While in different locations, the man-door and window are of very similar construction. What we can see of the first freight door shows us that these doors are also very similar, if not identical, to the Morell warehouse.

To corroborate my theory, I took to Google Earth and went back in time to 2015 when the Morell warehouse still stood. Now, the two warehouses’ lengths obviously differ- we don’t need Google to tell us that, but what I was most interested in was finding out if the buildings were the same width.

I’ll be the first person to tell you that Google Earth’s measurements aren’t always so accurate (they even admit this themselves). Still, I figured that if I measured the buildings from a satellite image taken on the same day, I’d be able to figure out if they were the same size.

What I came out with was this:
Morell warehouse= 43.24′ x 122.82′
Vernon River warehouse = 44.91′ x 82′

The widths are very close indeed, given Google’s inaccuracies and satellite imaging variables. I’ll take that as a win.

So now we know that the Vernon River and Morell warehouses were in all likelihood the same width. The similar width dimension, look, owner, and use of the building make me feel comfortable using the Morell and Souris photos as a reference for the Vernon River build. The Morell and Souris photos, along with a scale drawing of the Morell warehouse Steve Hunter gave to me, will most certainly get me most of the way there.

Without a photo showing the Vernon River warehouse’s full side, we don’t know how far apart the two freight doors were.

I can figure this out in two ways:
– Obtain permission to enter the warehouse as it stands today and see if the door framing is still visible from the inside.
– Measure the outside of the warehouse and use the 1958 air photo to scale out the door centres.
These methods will have to wait until the snow melts, but I’m happy having figured out the process I’ll have to follow.

One final question I may never have a firm answer on involves the relationship between the truck door and the foundation.

In the Souris, Tignish and Morell photos, the land is built up to the top of the foundation to meet the truck door- meaning the truck door doesn’t go through the foundation. However, in the Vernon River photos, it appears as if the foundation has been cut to allow for a taller truck door. The man door placement above the foundation caught my suspicion. It made me believe that the ground was initially built-up like the other warehouses, and for some reason, the door’s height needed to be increased, so the foundation was cut into to allow for this.

As you can see in the 1981 Vernon River photo, it looks as if a whole new door frame has recently been installed and the earth around the foundation excavated. The man door remains above the foundation. Perhaps this is all the evidence I need.

After studying the images, I have come to the conclusion that it’s very likely that at some point, the foundation was cut to accommodate a taller truck door- most likely in the early 80s. If the building was initially built like this, wouldn’t the man door be cut into the foundation? I feel confident I can create the door as shown in the Morell photo, with it being accurate.

Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until the spring to go much further with this research as it requires a field visit. Still, I feel confident that I have most of the information I’ll need to scratch-build this building.

If you’ve stuck with me this long, thanks for reading.

CM

Scratch-building CN’s 40′ Wood End Bunker Reefers [PT:2 Doors and Corner Bracing]

 

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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.

IMG_1061

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.

IMG_1014

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.

IMG_1015

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.

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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.

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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.

Until next time,

CM

Vernon River / Murray Harbour Subdivision traffic analysis [PT:2 Researching Traffic Amounts and Crunching the Numbers]

7751 on Murray Harbour Sub CN002589
44 Tonner #7751 leads a mixed train on the Murray Harbour Subdivision. #7751 was renumbered #2 June 1956. Photographer unknown. CSTM Collection (#CN002589)

In my previous post I used newspaper archives to determine and describe the types of traffic I thought Vernon River would normally see.

My goal is now to not only determine the amount of freight traffic Vernon River would see but to also determine the average train length, loads and percentage of originating vs terminating traffic on the Murray Harbor subdivision as a whole. Having these statistics will allow me to accurately model the car movement both through and at Vernon River.

This info is important for a few reasons, but mainly I need to be able to:

  • Determine in general terms the amount of switching moves per operating session
  • Determine to the average train length through Vernon River
  • Determine the usual ratio of originating to terminating cars
  • Use the above information to figure out how long the single track staging cassette will need to be on each side of the layout.

With the new Drive-By Truckers record on in the background, into the rabbit hole I went.

In my files I found a summary written by Shawn Naylor of a freight report CN completed in the early 1960s. Apparently this report was prepared to propose reductions in PEI’s rail service. In the report CN used carload data from the mid to late 1950s which makes it super conveniently accurate for my layout’s era.

Below I’ve created a spreadsheet of carload data as it applies to the Lake Verde, Vernon [Loop] and Murray Harbor subdivisions from this summary (the same mixed train #240N / #209S served these subdivisions.)

1958 Daily Carload Data: Lake Verde, Vernon [Loop], Murray Harbor Subdivisions

STATION

ORIGINATING CARLOAD / DAY

TERMINATING CARLOAD / DAY

TOTAL

Millview0.4NIL0.4
Vernon [Loop]0.51.01.5
Murray Harbor0.10.10.2
Mount Albion0.6NIL0.6
Other Lake Verde, Vernon and
Murray Harbor 
Subdivision Stations
2.00.72.7
TOTAL3.61.85.4
If you’re not familiar with island railroading it’s important to note that “Vernon” and “Vernon River” are two different locations. I’ve marked Vernon with [Loop] to make it less confusing.

Using the numbers on the chart it would be fair to say the average train could include around five freight cars- a pretty low key operation. Most photos I’ve seen reinforce this, showing on average zero – three freight cars plus the baggage and coach car. [With a train so small I should be able to get away with a 5ft staging cassette on each side of the layout]. Obviously not all of these cars would be destined for Vernon River. In fact, it probably wasn’t a daily occurrence that anything would even be switched there. For the sake of fun, my layout will only operate on days where there is an originating or terminating load for Vernon River.

Knowing the average train length I now need to know what types of freight we’d see on that train. Naylor’s summary includes traffic types for the Murray Harbor, Lake Verde and Vernon [Loop] subdivisions but the figures are irrevocably lumped together with the Montague and Georgetown subdivisons. I can live with that though- the Montague and Georgetown subdivisions would have seen pretty similar types of traffic. It shouldn’t distort our reality too much.

1958 Originating vs Terminating Carloads: Murray Harbor, Vernon [Loop] & Lake Verde Subdivisions:

  • Originating Carloads: 67%
  • Terminating Carloads: 33%

1958 Originating Carloads: Murray Harbor, Vernon [Loop], Lake Verde, Montague and Georgetown Subdivisions:

  • Potatoes: 57%
  • Turnips: 33%
  • Other: 9%
  • Livestock: 1% (Aprox 13 carloads per year)

1958 Terminating Carloads: Murray Harbor, Vernon [Loop], Lake Verde, Montague and Georgetown Subdivisions:

  • Other: 54%
  • Sand and Gravel: 27%
  • Fertilizer: 13%
  • Coal and Coke: 3% (Aprox 30 carloads per year)
  • Animal Feed: 2% (Aprox 27 carloads per year)
  • Petrol Products: 1% (Aprox 9 carloads per year)

In Naylor’s summary is it said that a contributing factor to PEI’s high operating costs was the need to use different cars for originating and terminating traffic; cars used to import things to the Island tended to leave empty. As such, local moves will range from very rare to non-existent on this layout.

With these statistics I now have a great foundation to base my layouts operations around. Even though I’m only modelling a single village, I think its important to consider the subdivision as a whole in order to serve my chosen village accurately. 

Now I just need to figure out how to work these averages and percentages into a car card system…

CM

 

Vernon River / Murray Harbor subdivision freight traffic analysis [PT. 1 Researching Traffic Types]

With a prototype chosen it was time to dive a little further into my research.

My first goal was to figure out the types of freight traffic the village would see in a broad sense and not just my chosen era; after having that information I could then, through logic and evidence, figure out what would be applicable to my era.

One of the primary tools for the research job was islandnewspapers.ca. – “a fully-searchable online archive of PEI’s main newspaper of record, The Guardian, from 1890 to 1957.” This archive along with a document by Shawn Naylor that Steve Hunter passed to me a few years ago provided me with a wealth of information.

What I found was that Vernon River received quite a few different commodities ranging from general merchandise to mussel mud. Its main exports would have been produce (potatoes likely being the majority of this) and livestock (mainly hogs). 

I have compiled the following list of inbound and outbound traffic. Everything listed is based upon direct evidence (unless marked with a “*” or “**”) found in newspaper archives or in Naylor’s document. 

  • Outbound Traffic:
    • Produce (Potatoes, Turnips and other crops)
    • Livestock (mainly hogs but also cattle)
    • Finished Wood (*) (not likely in my era)
  • Inbound Traffic:
    • Animal Feed
    • Limestone
    • Fertilizer
    • Bulk Oats
    • Barley
    • Bulk Wheat
    • Fuel (**) (would oil and gasoline be pumped from tank cars into trucks to supply farmers with fuel?)
    • Coal (OCS and revenue)
    • Ties (OCS)
    • Mussel Mud (not likely in my era)

(*) Outbound loads of finished wood is a assumption at this point and only that. This is based on the existence of a saw mill about half a km away from the station. While I have not found any evidence to back up this assumption I don’t think it would be much of a stretch to consider them using the public siding to ship finished wood at some point. I have not found much information on the saw mill and it’s hard to tell in my air photos if it exists in a operational capacity in my era. 
(**) There is no evidence I have found of fuel being received at Vernon River. Would it be possible that fuel would be pumped from a tank car into a truck to deliver to farmers? The farmers had to get it somehow and even still by the late 1950s not all of the roads east of Charlottetown had been paved. I am genuinely not sure how this worked.

Based upon the list above its easy to imagine the types of rolling stock the village would have received, namely lots of reefers, boxcars and stock cars. 

Next time I will delve into the research of the daily amount of carloads both originating and terminating (along with their types) to try to get a sense of what a switching job at Vernon River consisted of.

Thanks for reading,
-CM