Finished: CML 1952 (+ two CN reefers)

 photo CML-1952-Finished_zpse99c7a01.jpg

Over the past couple of days, I’ve managed to build and weather the Crooked Mountain Lines boxcar – an NMRA heritage car paying tribute to the late Bob Hegge‘s O scale interurban empire.

This was a particularly fun project because I decided to modify the kit’s brake system, inspired by an unconventional rigging arrangement found on some Pacific Electric boxcars. The change is fairly subtle when the car is on the rails – but the rod that connects to the handbrake at the B end of the car was moved to the side sill to allow the PE cars to negotiate tight curves. I thought it would be a nice feature on this car.
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(Click on the photo to read more about the brakes)

I’m very pleased with how this project turned out.

While I was in the airbrushing mood, I also weathered my second and third of three CNR eight hatch refrigerator cars:
Last two eight hatch reefers finished photo TwoByEight_zps559e584f.jpg

I followed the same process as with the first of these cars. Now that I have three of these on the layout, I’ll be able to run the occasional reefer block during harvest season.

And yes, I realize while looking at these photos that I have to paint the air hoses and glad hands on all three cars. I tend to add these hoses last, after painting but before weathering, and I sometimes forget to paint them. It’s been added to the list…

“PE brakes” for CML 1952

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In September, I wrote about acquiring an S scale version of the NMRA’s tribute to Bob Hegge and his Crooked Mountain Lines. This tribute takes the form of a PRS boxcar decorated for Hegge’s famous freelanced interurban line, inspired by the likes of the Oregon Electric.

I was fortunate to find an unbuilt kit:
CML 1952 photo CML-1952-01_zps7239915d.jpg

While I’m a prototype modeller at heart, I’ve noted before on this blog that I have a soft spot for Hegge’s work. It greatly influenced my own journey in this hobby. So I’m happy to break my from prototype-mindedness, enact “Rule One”* and let this model roam the rails. I’m not sure what it’s doing in Port Rowan – possibly, it delivered a load to Montreal or a point further east, and it’s been grabbed by the CNR to deliver another load en route to its home in the northwestern United States.

I’ll figure that out. In the meantime, now that the kit has had a couple of months to “acclimatize” in my layout** room it’s time to build it. When I acquired it, I decided that this car would look really neat with what I’ll call “PE Brakes” after the Pacific Electric, which used a modified brake rigging system on some boxcars to allow them to negotiate tight curves. The big change from the conventional arrangement is that the rod connecting to the brake staff does not run through the truck (between the wheels) to the B-end of the car: It’s mounted along one side sill to allow the truck to rotate freely. This required an extra lever and a bunch of hangers and adds visual interest when the car is viewed in profile.

Sunshine Models produced an HO resin kit at one time for the Southern Pacific B-50-13/-14 series of boxcar, and they did a PE version that included instructions for building the PE brake rigging. The kit is no longer in production, but I was fortunate that a reader of this blog came forward with a scan of the PE brake rigging instructions for me. I transferred these to my iPad and got to work:
CML1952-Brakes photo CML-1950-Brakes-01_zps749da5dc.jpg

The rigging took most of yesterday afternoon – in part because I had to translate instructions for a wooden prototype with fish-belly centre sills to a steel car with no fish-belly. The PRS kits come with a brake-rigging system that’s injection moulded in a single piece – piping, rodding, appliances, levers, hangers, etc., all in one. I cut away the piping and rodding, drilled holes in the various appliances to accept wire, and rearranged the pieces while trying to follow the PE instructions as closely as the different styles of frame would allow. I cut and sanded my own levers, and employed the common trick of cutting turnbuckles in half to use as clevises. There are three levers and a lot of clevises on this car.

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As the lead photo shows, I masked the sides to protect the CML lettering (which is the whole point of this particular car, after all) and then sprayed the frame (and the trucks, not shown) with tarnished black to blend everything together. I can now move on to building the rest of the car in the more conventional manner. In no time at all, this unique tribute to a personal influence will be rolling on my layout.

(*Rule One: It’s my layout)

(**Yeah, that’s it. I wasn’t ignoring the kit. I was letting it “acclimatize”…)

The sharp-eyed will note that the NMRA’s tribute car includes a build date that reads “NEW 11-33” – quite remarkable on a style of boxcar that didn’t exist until 1937! I always knew Hegge was ahead of his time…

Hegge Tribute: CML 1952

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I’ve made no secret of the fact that while many of my contemporaries in the hobby were salivating over layouts depicting West Virginia Coal Hauling Railroads, it was the heavy interurbans on the O scale Crooked Mountain Lines layout built by Bob Hegge that struck me like a bolt of lightning.

At one time, the National Model Railroad Association offered a series of Heritage and Living Legends Cars in multiple scales – and Hegge’s CML was honoured on Car #14. These are no longer available from the NMRA, but I was fortunate to stumble across and acquire an unbuilt example of the S scale version:
CML 1952 photo CML-1952-01_zps7239915d.jpg

As the photo suggests, this was a custom print run of a Pacific Rail Shops boxcar (actually, Gold Coast Models according to the instruction sheet, but the two were related.)

Given that the “prototype” for this model was an interurban railroad, I may even modify the kit by adding the unique brake rigging employed on some boxcars owned by Pacific Electric. As this Sunshine Models flyer explains, the brake system was rigged to the outside of the trucks in order to handle the PE’s sharp curves. (I would love to get my mitts on a copy of the instructions for the now-discontinued Sunshine kit. It would help me perform the necessary modifications.)

While I consider myself a prototype modeller, I’m not so tightly wound that I can’t pay tribute to a hobby hero by running a freelanced railroad’s boxcar on the layout from time to time.

I’m sure Bob Hegge would’ve approved…