New Resin News | CNR 1929 boxcar, painted

My friend David Clubine at Ridgehill Scale Models* is very close to releasing the company’s newest S scale kit – a resin model of the CNR 1929 40-foot single sheathed boxcar.

This kit is being produced for Ridgehill by Pierre Oliver and his colleagues at Yarmouth Model Works – and Pierre recently shared the first photo of his test-build subject in full paint and lettering:

CNR 1929 in full paint

I have no further details about availability or pricing – that’s up to David to announce – but I’ll be sure to share the information when I have it. Meantime, I know I’ll be adding a few of these to my layout when they’re released.

(*Ridgehill Scale Models has not produced a new kit in a number of years and as of this writing it does not have a website. There’s a listing on a friend’s website of past models. I’m hoping that once this car is made available I’ll be able to add a new website to my list of S scale suppliers that I frequently use. As always, check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links.)

New Resin News | NSC-built “AAR 1937” CNR boxcars – now with lettering

My friend Pierre Oliver shared photos of the finished sample models for a new resin kit coming for S scale enthusiasts. Pierre and his colleagues at Yarmouth Model Works* are making their first foray into 1:64 by offering two versions of their first S scale kit, covering some 5,700 boxcars built for the Canadian National Railways by National Steel Car of Hamilton, Ontario.

This is the early version of the car, with a flat roof and the brake reservoir located perpendicular to the sills:

CNR - NSC Boxcar - early - lettered

And here is the later version of the car, with raised panel roof and the brake reservoir located parallel to the sills:

CNR - NSC Boxcar - later - lettered

As I have noted in a previous post about these cars, the kits are coming soon – definitely before the end of the year. Ordering information, including pricing, will be posted on the Yarmouth Model Works website when they’re available. I know I’ll be buying a few of each for my layout!

(Note that unless stated, the kits on the Yarmouth Model Works website are in HO scale)

New resin news | NSC-built “AAR 1937” CNR boxcars

There’s more good news for S scale enthusiasts, in the form of forthcoming resin kits for the “1937 AAR” boxcars built for the Canadian National Railways by National Steel Car of Hamilton, Ontario. And there’s even better news:

These kits come from a well-known manufacturer of high-quality HO scale resin freight car kits that is dipping its toe into the S scale waters for the first time.

Yarmouth Model Works* will actually offer two versions of this 40-foot, 10’0″ inside height all-steel car – featuring different roof styles and brake configurations.

The first version covers two series totalling more than 1,300 cars. These featured flat panel roofs and the brake system’s reservoir mounted perpendicular to the frame:

NSC - early series with flat panel roof

NSC - early series - underframe

The second version covers four series totalling more than 4,400 cars. These featured a Murphy raised panel roof and the brake system’s reservoir mounted parallel to the frame:

NSC - later series with raised panel roof

NSC - later series - underframe

The prototype cars feature the distinctive “NSC-2″ end. National Steel Car used this proprietary end on the 10’0″ and 10’6” inside height boxcars built between 1939 and 1950. The patterns for casting these models incorporated a 3D printed master for this unique end:

NSC-2 end - early series car

The prototype for these models could be found across North America and the Canadian Rail Car Pictorial – Volume 2 shows them running in revenue service into the 1980s.

Pierre Oliver of Yarmouth Model Works visited this week and let me photograph the in-progress models he is building to write the instructions and use as samples. They’re beautifully done, with crisp casting and fine detail, including many photo-etched parts.

As I mentioned off the top, this will be the first foray into S scale for Yarmouth Model Works. A successful sales run of these kits will definitely encourage Pierre and his colleagues to bring more top-quality resin kits to market – and he and I have already discussed possibilities.

Meantime, I know I’ll be adding several examples of both versions of these NSC steel boxcars to my layout when they’re released. The release date has not yet been announced but it’s highly likely to be before the end of the year.

NSC car - early version

NSC car - later version

(*Check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links)

New resin news | The CNR “1929” Boxcar

A few days ago, I posted a teaser about some new S scale resin freight car kits that will hit the market soon.

One of these is the CNR “1929” boxcar – a 40-foot, single sheathed model:

CNR 1929 - test build - 01

According to Canadian Rail Car Pictorial – Volume 2, the Canadian National Railways rostered more than 9,600 of these. The CNR contracted three major builders – Canadian Car & Foundry, Eastern Car Company, and National Steel Car to produce these, and all were built in the 1929-1931 time frame. Prototype photos show them with either wood or steel doors.

The Pictorial notes that the majority of this fleet lasted until 1983, moving grain from western Canada. In earlier decades, though, they would’ve been seen all over North America – and the fleet is large enough that any modeller of the steam era in the United States can justify one or two for their layout. Modellers of the CNR working in 1:64 will want considerably more, of course.

The kit is being manufactured by Yarmouth Model Works* on behalf of David Clubine at Ridgehill Scale Models*. This project started life with Ridgehill, working with another manufacturer, but then stalled until Yarmouth Model Works was brought on board. Ridgehill will handle all sales for this one.

CNR 1929 - underframe

Pierre Oliver of Yarmouth Model Works visited this week and let me photograph the in-progress model he is building to write the instructions and provide a sample to Ridgehill. It’s beautifully done, with crisp casting and fine detail, including many photo-etched parts.

I know I’ll be adding several examples of this kit to my layout when it’s released. The release date has not yet been announced but it’s highly likely to be before the end of the year.

CNR 1929 boxcar

(*Check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links)

CNR 470000 series boxcars: finished?

Well, almost…

 photo CNR470000-13_zpsrhwk48gu.jpg

On Friday, I gave my five CNR 470000 series boxcars a first pass of weathering. I used acrylics from Vallejo (a pale grey, medium brown and my favourite colour – grey-black) to build up effects of dust, mud, grime and soot.

I say “almost finished” because while two cars shown above look good on their own, when I put them in a string with other CNR boxcars I realize I have not weathered them enough:

 photo CNR-Boxcars-4styles_zpsphekcwqr.jpg
(25 percent more variety in my boxcar fleet. From left: a 36-foot “Fowler”, a 470000 series rebuilt USRA, a 40-foot single sheathed, and a 1937 ARA steel car)

In particular, the roof needs more soot. I think it’s important to have a consistent look for all equipment. That’s not to say that all cars will weather the same way, but this rebuilt car really stands out fro the others. It almost looks like it’s from a different railway.

I’ll take care of these cars next time I’m in a weathering mood. Meantime, I’m on to generating waybills so my new boxcars can bring all the essentials and luxuries in life to the 1:64 citizens of St. Williams and Port Rowan…

CNR 470000 series boxcars: lettered

 photo CNR470000-09_zpstvyk6b4h.jpg

Last week, I snuck some time between work assignments and finished lettering my fleet of CNR 470000 series boxcars. These took a lot longer than I expected: I finished the first side of each car earlier this month, but then various other commitments got in the way.

I’ve given the cars a spray with Alclad’s matte finish. I’ve used it for a few projects now and it has become my hands-down favourite flat coat. Just look at that cloud of flatty goodness in the bottom of the bottle:

 photo CNR470000-10_zpstrnjsve6.jpg

It does a great job of hiding decal edges and will even kill some silvering.

 photo CNR470000-08_zpstzxlgpox.jpg

 photo CNR470000-12_zpskm7hmnbc.jpg

With the lettering done and the flat finish applied, it’s time to replace the wheel sets. As the photo above suggests, I use the supplied wheels while working on cars and don’t mind getting them covered in paint. That’s because I swap in Northwest Short Line wheels before cars hit the layout. This gives me a consistent wheel profile across all of my rolling stock, which I’ve found is important for reliable running.

I’ll also swap out the tongue depressors for Kadee couplers. Prepping wheels and couplers is a good job for a winter afternoon in the kitchen, with a mug of tea close to hand and something stewy simmering on the stove…

 photo CNR470000-11_zpsoren7b39.jpg

A lot of one car?

 photo CNR470000-05_zpsiebb87c9.jpg
(“Why so many?” Here’s why…)

In response to my previous posting on the CNR 470000 series boxcar project, René Gourley commented:

Gosh, isn’t that an awful lot of one class of car for your little pike, Trevor?

It’s a terrific question and I decided it deserved its own post in response.

Yes, five models of one class of car is a lot for a layout as modest as mine. I could get away with a dozen pieces of rolling stock, for the entire layout. But I’m modelling a large number of this class of car to help address some shortcomings on my layout:

1 – I model in S scale. There’s not much equipment available in S scale, compared to other scales. I can model a few classes of CNR boxcar, but not as many as I could in HO for example.

2 – I can’t justify a wide variety of car types on my layout. I have friends who model bridge lines, and almost anything goes. But I model a small terminal of a lightly-trafficked branch line. Only cars that are serving the few industries I have would show up on the layout. Most of those are boxcars.

3 – What’s more, it’s a branch of the CNR in the steam era, which means the lion’s share of the rolling stock has to be home road. I can enjoy the occasional car from an American railroad, but my trains would never look like the “alphabet soup” of reporting marks that one would’ve seen south of the border. So, most of the rolling stock that appears on my layout will be CNR boxcars.

That said, I want variety. I don’t want to see the same few cars in every operating session. Yet given the limits outlined above – both prototype and model – how do I achieve that?

On my prototype, over the course of a year, one might see the same class of cars showing up all the time. That makes sense, because the same customers would ship or receive the same types of products. But within a given class, it would be rare for the same car to show up again and again – especially if we’re talking about something as ubiquitous as a boxcar.

So, one way I can add variety to my operating sessions is to model several examples of each class of car that I can actually model in S scale. They might have minor detail differences – or lettering differences (like a different logo) – or even just variations in weathering patterns.

I’ve done this with other cars, too – my ARA 1937 steel boxcars are a good example. I have five of these on the layout already, and will build more of them.

 photo CNR-4811472-Finished_zps23cdabc2.jpg
(Click on the image to read more about the dominance of home road boxcars on a mid-century Canadian layout)

And of course while the cars are the same class, each car number is different. Operators will have to pay attention to the details: They can’t simply look at the train and say, “Oh, that’s the USRA rebuild car – it always goes to Leedham’s Mill in Port Rowan”.

From a practical side, if I’m set up to detail, paint and letter one car I might as well do a batch of five. I can use them all and I have space to store them as I rotate them on and off the layout – but if I decide at some point that I want to unload some, I’m sure I can sell them on to other members of the S Scale Workshop.

Thanks for asking the question, René!

CNR 470000 series boxcars : 2

 photo CNR470000-05_zpsiebb87c9.jpg
(With plenty of time for the paint to cure, these five cars are ready for lettering – a good “kitchen table” project)

Over the holidays I managed to make some progress on my CNR 470000 series boxcar project. As reported earlier, I’m working on five cars that are credible stand-ins for some USRA cars that were rebuilt in 1936.

Having finished all detail modifications (at least, those modifications I was willing to do), I ran these through the paint shop for a coat of CNR mineral red from the CNR Historical Association’s line of Scalecoat paints.

I decided – finally – to get smart about painting rolling stock, and crafted some tongues out of styrene to screw into the coupler boxes. These can be seen in the lead photo. I installed these at both ends of the cars.

The tongues help keep paint out of the coupler boxes. They also provide a handy handle for moving the cars in and out of the paint booth. Since S scale manufacturers have pretty much standardized on the Kadee S scale coupler (I use the brown Kadee 808 model), these tongues will come in handy for future painting projects, too.

(The manufacturer’s wheel sets will be swapped out for NWSL replacements before the cars go into service. For now, they keep paint out of the journals and give me something to stand the cars on.)

 photo CNR470000-06_zpsaxnmigkl.jpg
(Ready for lettering. The reading glasses are now an essential item when working with white decals)

I painted the cars in early December and then got busy with other commitments. On the plus side, the paint has had plenty of time to cure in preparation for lettering. Over the weekend, I set up on the kitchen table and got to work. The decal sets are number 524206S from Al Ferguson at Black Cat Publishing.

Lettering rolling stock is an ideal project when one’s workshop is otherwise inaccessible (as mine is right now). It’s a “clean” project that doesn’t require a lot of tools, materials or space, so it can be done at the kitchen table. Over the course of an afternoon, I got the first sides done on all five cars. Having left the decals overnight to dry thoroughly, I’m now going over them with a sharp scalpel and the aggressive decal setting solution. The heralds, in particular, need some extra help to settle down over the panel rivets.

 photo CNR470000-07_zpspgmbq43c.jpg

CNR 470000 series boxcars : 1

 photo CNR470000-01_zpskumogbdd.jpg

I’ve started another CNR boxcar project as I continue to diversify the fleet on my layout. This time, I’m creating some credible stand-ins for the CNR 470000-series of USRA rebuilt boxcars.

According to the Canadian Rail Car Pictorial – an excellent series of softcover books for any student of Canadian freight cars – these were the CNR’s first all-steel boxcars. There were 250 in the class, rebuilt for CNR from ex-Grand Trunk auto boxes in 1936. The Grand Trunk Western did the work.

My donor car for this is a USRA rebuilt from S Helper Service. I picked up five of these a while ago from my friend Simon Parent, because they are too new for his layout. As with the three single sheathed CNR boxcars I did back in 2013, these will be close-enough models – suitable stand-ins for the prototype. There are discrepancies – notably in the pattern of the stamped ribs on the ends (the prototype is 7/8, while the model is 5/5/5) – but I can live with those.

I decided that I’d upgrade a few details on the model, starting with the roof walks. The lateral roof walks at the ends of the car had boards running parallel to the ends, instead of parallel to the longitudinal roof walk. So, I removed these and their supports:

 photo CNR470000-02_zps5ed933cf.jpg

(“Wow!” I hear some of you exclaim from the other end of the Internet. “What the heck is that thing stuck on the end of the car?” That’s a Hi-Rail coupler. My buddy Chris Abbott refers to them as “Knock’em-Sock’em Robot” couplers, and they’re huge. But here’s a cool thing – they make great handles while working on the car. I will replace this monstrosity with a Kadee 808 in due course.)

When I went to remove the longitudinal roof walk, I found I couldn’t do so without damaging the car. I’m not sure what glue was used at the factory, but this wasn’t going anywhere. In the end, I sanded the top of the plastic roof walk to remove the rivet detail, then glued strips of 1×6 scale lumber over top. With those in place, I then fabricated new lateral roof walks from 2×6 scale lumber and brass strip.

 photo CNR470000-03_zpsp9wjdrlc.jpg

I was able to re-use the car’s L-shaped grab iron on each lateral roof walk.

Turning to the under frame, I removed the K-brake and replaced it with AB brake components from BTS – catalogue number 02301. These are beautiful detailing kits. I added some phosphor bronze wire and Builders In Scale chain to complete the detailing belowdecks.

 photo CNR470000-04_zpsinn9leru.jpg

Not shown in the above photo, but visible in the first picture in this post, are the BTS air hoses (part 02302) and some (HO scale) A-Line stirrup steps. These are a little narrower than the prototype’s stirrups, but the same height – and they’re much finer looking than the clunky stirrups that were cast as part of the body side.

(I wish someone would do suitable, metal stirrups in S – but I suspect if the market was there, somebody would have by now…)

With the addition of Kadee coupler boxes in place of those Hi-Rail couplers, this car is ready for the paint shop and I’m one step closer to adding a new class of CNR boxcar to the layout.

One down – four to go!

Three more CNR steel boxcars finished

 photo CNR-4811472-Finished_zps23cdabc2.jpg

I’ve upgraded wheels and couplers, added air hoses, and weathered my three newest editions to the CNR boxcar fleet.

My previous posting on this set of cars generated a lot of discussion after Jared Harper asked why I plan to have so many CNR boxcars on my layout. It’s a good question. The full discussion can be found in the comments section on that previous post, but here’s a quick recap:

In the 1950s, as today, the Canadian railway scene was dominated by two nation-spanning systems. The CNR and CPR went virtually everywhere, from coast to coast. This is quite different from the situation in the United States, where railroads were confined to specific regions. Even the mightiest stopped at the Mississippi, and hauling freight across country required interchange with one or more partners.

In Canada, most freight would have been carried by a single road, without interchange. One reliable source suggests 75% of the boxcars on a mid-century Canadian layout should be home road boxcars. A distant second would be traffic exchanged between the two major railways. A distant third is cars from American roads.

Most traffic would’ve been domestic. And in the 1950s, Canada did more trade with the UK and other members of the Commonwealth than it would have with the United States. For the most part, that foreign traffic would’ve arrived in Canada at Canadian ports such as Halifax and Vancouver. Or, it would’ve landed in North America at an American port and forwarded, in sealed cars, to Canada. (Marty McGuirk pointed out that half of the cars carried by the Central Vermont through White River Junction VT were CNR cars. That makes sense when one considers the CV was owned by the CNR and linked Canada to the port at New London, CT.)

What’s more, I’m modelling a tiny backwater on the CNR’s system. Therefore, every car that arrives on my branch is there because it’s delivering something to St. Williams or Port Rowan – or picking up a load from these places. If delivering, chances are slim that the load came from anywhere other than a place where it could’ve been loaded into a CNR boxcar. If it’s a load originating on my branch, it’s likely to be packed into a CNR car. (This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s a good guideline.) There’s no bridge traffic, so I can’t run many American cars – or even specialized Canadian ones – and say, “Well, that’s just using this line to get from Point A to Point B”.

(There were exceptions, of course – and I’ll deal with those in a future posting.)

Finally, the reality of S scale is there’s limited choice for rolling stock. One reason I will have so many CNR 10′-0″ steel 1937 AAR cars on the layout is that Pacific Rail Shops made a suitable plastic kit for this prototype, and decals are available from Black Cat Publishing. That said, I’ve done quite well in adding variety to the CNR fleet. I have examples of the following on the layout or in the planning stages:

– CNR 36′ Dominion boxcar (the Fowler Patent): One on the layout, one in kit form. I’d like a couple more. This is a Ridgehill Scale Models resin kit.
– CNR 40′ single sheathed car: 3 suitable stand-ins on the layout. This is an S Helper Service RTR car that I’ve detailed and painted.
– CNR 40′ AAR 1937 steel boxcars (10′-0″): Like the cars in this post. With these three, I have five on the layout – plus two more in kit form.
– CNR 40′ double-door box: I have one on the bench. It’s an extensive modification of a PRS kit.
– CNR 10′-6″ steel boxcars: I have one kit to build and am in the process of acquiring a second one. Like the double-door boxcar, these will require extensive modifications to a PRS kit.

So, that’s 15 cars in five varieties. Not too bad a representation of the CNR’s vast fleet. And since I think I have four to six boxcars in paint schemes other than CNR, my ratio of home road house cars is about right…