CNR 461000-463999 (or, “S” is for “Stand-in”)

CNR 461000 series - model and prototype photo CNR-461000-01_zps98abb6e4.jpg

The reality of S scale is that the selection is not what it is in HO, or even O. And while I hope to scratch-build some rolling stock at some point, I have too many other projects on the go (for the hobby and that non-hobby time called “life”) to tackle a freight car right now.

That said, I’m thinking about ways to boost the Canadian content on my layout. And as the lead photo shows, I’ve found a suitable stand-in model for a CNR car that will be little more than a paint-and-decal project.

Volume two of the Canadian Rail Car Pictorial series includes a photo of CNR 461244. This is a 40 foot, single sheathed, steel frame boxcar – part of a series of 3,000 built in1921 by Canadian Car and Foundry for the Grand Trunk Railway. These cars were originally for auto service, but outgrew their usefulness by the early 1930s and were rebuilt with a six-foot wide door. The cars lasted into the 1970s.

The model in the lead photo is a ready to run single sheathed car from S Helper Service. I have three of these in my collection, all painted for U.S. railroads.

Comparing the prototype and model, there are a few obvious discrepancies:

First, the prototype has a fishbelly frame – while the model does not. However, that should be relatively easy to correct: I can cut and shape a pair of styrene strips, notch them for the brake rigging, paint them black and glue them in place on the model’s centre sills. Not perfect, but they should look just fine when placed on the layout.

Second, the roof is almost correct: It’s a Hutchins roof, with the correct number of flat panels between the ribs. According to the book, the prototype has a narrow rib down the centre of each flat panel. (Here’s an example on a Proto:48 boxcar built by Jim Zwerneman.) This would be relatively easy to fix on the model with some styrene strip.

Third, the prototype features a 7/8 Murphy end, while the model has a 5/5/5 arrangement of ribs. There’s not much I can do about that without resorting to major surgery, at which point I may as well scratch-build (and if I’m doing that, I’d look at the CNR’s 1929 standard design, like this O Scale offering from Sylvan Scale Models. However, the ends are not a glaring issue – they’re not, say, 4/5 Dreadnought Ends – so I can live with the discrepancy if it lets me put some more Canadian National equipment on the rails.

The horizontal brace on the door is higher on the model than on the prototype. Again, not a deal-breaker. I may even be able to carve off the brace and add a new one, lower down.

That’s the bad news. Here’s some of the good news:

The sides are correct, with the right number and configuration of bracing. Even the corner braces are present.

The ladders are correctly made from grab irons on sides and ends.

The model car needs a stirrup step added to each end, under the ladder. That’s easy to do and I would want to replace the plastic stirrups on the sides anyway.

The finished cars will boost my CNR fleet even as they add variety – a nice intermediate design between the Fowler cars and the all-steel cars. They’ll help me get rid of some American equipment (which, while nice, would have been rare on my branch). And they won’t take that much time or effort to finish so I can fit them into my task list.

I think they’ll also force crews to pay more attention to reporting marks, since operating sessions will require more than “putting the Maine Central boxcar over there”.

I’ve written to Al Ferguson at Black Cat Decals to determine whether appropriate lettering is available in S.

Beyond this project, I have a number of other CNR boxcars to build:

I have a half-dozen Pacific Rail Shops boxcar kits to build and detail, which will join two already on the layout – including this one:
Finished CNR steel boxcar photo CNR-487747-Finished.jpg

I have another kit or two for Ridgehill Scale Models Fowler boxcars to join this one on the layout:
CNR Fowler Boxcar photo CN408756-01.jpg

And there’s the CNR double-door boxcar project…
New Ends for a CN Boxcar photo CN-DD-Box-NewEnds.jpg

… which is currently on hiatus because, frankly, I’m not in the mood to scratch-build the doors and I have other projects I’d rather tackle at this time.

I’ve decided that it’s really nice when S Scale gives me a bit of a break…

Freight car mix

S Scale Freight Cars photo FreightCar-SectionHeader_zpse5a91f24.jpg

A reader wrote this week to ask a question about my freight car mix. It’s a good question, so I thought I’d share the answer here as well as responding directly.

The reader commented…

Do you plan to deploy more CNR box cars in due course? The overriding impression from the photos in Ian Wilson‘s books of Allendale and Palmerston is that the great majority of freight cars were box cars, and almost all of those were plain ol’ CNR (probably about half-and-half AAR steel (PRS) and single-sheathed (Ridgehill/scratchbuild) by the mid-fifties). Are you sure about that yellow TH&B one (there were only ever two of their USRA ones that colour) and the ATSF rebuilt car must be a bit a stretch for a southern Ontario branch line by that time…

Those are very good observations. (Thanks for taking the time to write!)

Yes, I’m planning on adding more CNR boxcars. In fact, I have five or six kits from Pacific Rail Shops, and at least one other Ridgehill kit for a Fowler car in my collection.
But, they’re kits. The Fowlers are resin, so a fair bit of work. The PRS are injection moulded, but need modification to better represent CNR prototypes. In addition, I want to model a variety of CNR cars, which will require kitbashing the PRS cars.
CN 1937 AAR boxcar (A end) photo CN-487265-02.jpg

I have started a CNR double-door boxcar, which I’ve written about on this blog. But the project is stalled until I find the time to build some new doors:
New Ends for a CN Boxcar photo CN-DD-Box-NewEnds.jpg

My goal is to have CNR represent 80 percent of the cars on the layout, at any one time. The off-road cars will make rare appearances – maybe one on the layout at any time – to add a bit of variety.

Yes, the TH&B yellow double-sheathed car and the ATSF boxcar are a bit of a stretch. But not as much as the Central of Georgia ventilated car or the B&O wagon-top covered hopper!

Having said all of that, my focus right now is on the layout – not equipment. So I have a number of ready to run cars (like the boxcars mentioned above) that give me sufficient rolling stock to run trains. At some point I’ll turn my attention to the PRS kits and get another half-dozen CNR boxcars on the layout. It’ll make a big difference!

CNR double-door boxcar: Which series?

I recently had a question about a CNR double door boxcar about which I’ve posted previously.

In crafting my response, I found this photo online of the class of car I’m modelling.

How I picked this particular series of boxcars to model points to one of the challenges of working in S scale.

According the Volume Two of the Canadian Rail Car Pictorial (available at most fine hobby shops), there are four series of CNR 40-foot, 10′-6″ high, double-door, steel boxcars. The Pacific Rail Shops boxcar is not right for any of these series – it needs modification.

I picked the 590500-590999 series (which features a diagonal panel roof, 4/4 Improved Dreadnaught Ends, and Superior six-panel doors) for my model because it will require the least amount of work to model accurately. Here’s why:

- The PRS car has the right side doors and roof for the 589000-589499 series, but the ends are 4/4 Improved Dreadnaught Ends. There’s an appropriate resin casting for the “B” end, but the “A” end on this car has Youngstown end doors in a Camel frame – and a casting for that is not available.

- The PRS car has the right side doors for the 589500-590499 series, but the prototypes have NSC-2 ends, which are not available in S scale. I’m not sure about the roof.

- The PRS car is completely wrong for the 592307-592411 series, which had welded sides, diagonal panel roofs, 4/4 Improved Dreadnaught Ends and Superior five-panel doors.

- The series I’m modelling has the correct sides. That’s about it. I’ve removed the ends and replaced them with 4/4 ID Ends – resin castings I obtained through Andy Malette at MLW Services. This series does not have the end doors, so both the “B” and “A” castings are correct. I also have a resin casting for a diagonal panel roof – again obtained through Andy.

I will have to scratch-build the doors, but Superior six-panel doors are relatively straightforward compared to other styles – and certainly a lot easier than scratch-building ends or a roof.

The dreaded dreadnaughts

New Ends for a CN Boxcar photo CN-DD-Box-NewEnds.jpg

I’m working on my CN 10’6″ 40-foot double-door boxcar, which I introduced in an earlier posting.

The first step was to cut away the 5/5 Dreadnaught Ends on the Pacific Rail Shops car and replace them with resin castings for 4/4 Improved Dreadnaught Ends by Andy Malette of MLW Services.

I remember regularly seeing features and clinics on doing this type of surgery on HO cars back in the 1980s and early 1990s, before the resin revolution made a lot of this type of kit bashing work unnecessary. It’s still necessary in some cases, but in many other cases it’s possible to find an HO resin kit with the correct ends already cast.

But not so in S.

I’ve never done this kind of surgery on a freight car and I was a little nervous about attempting it. I didn’t need to be. Some patient work with a razor saw, a few passes with a file, and some gluing (suitably braced inside the corners) and the job is done.

I did need to file the inside of the peaks of the resin ends to allow the roof to drop into place, since I lost a saw-kerf of body side length from each end of the car, but this was pretty straightforward too.

This car will add some variety to my growing boxcar fleet.

CN 10’6″ 40-foot double-door boxcar

This is my next equipment project.

Like my previous two boxcars, this one is starting life as a Pacific Rail Shops kit. But in addition to adding details such as the boxcar detail kit from Andy Malette at MLW Services, I’ll also be cutting away the 5/5 Dreadnaught ends and replacing them with a set of resin castings from Andy for 4/4 Improved Dreadnaught ends to more accurately model the Canadian National’s cars.

By the way, a great reference for modelling CNR boxcars (and, indeed, other Canadian railroad equipment) is the Canadian Rail Car Pictorial series. Volume 2 – Canadian National Boxcars Part 1 – includes nice photos of the different styles of boxcar ends and roofs used on CNR steel boxcars.

CNR 484036 (02)

CN 484036 photo CN484036-01.jpg

I found some time yesterday afternoon and finished detailing CN 484036.

This is my second S scale kit (once offered by Pacific Rail Shops) for a 1937 AAR 40-foot steel car, with a 10′-0″ inside height. Again, I used the boxcar detailing kit from Andy Malette at MLW Services plus some parts from BTS, eight rung ladders from S Scale America (Des Plaines Hobbies), and a scratch-built running board.

I’m now out of S scale Kadee couplers, although I have ordered some so that problem is in the process of being solved. In the meantime, though, that’s two boxcars (and a baggage-mail car) ready for painting.

I’m actually doing really well for freight cars. In addition to these two CN boxcars and a Fowler Patent boxcar from a Ridgehill Scale Models resin kit, I have a modest collection of ready-to-run boxcars and hopper cars from S Helper Service, plus two tank cars on order from the Des Plaines Hobbies.

Now I just need a layout to run them on…

CNR 484036 (01)

Today I picked up some Black Cat Publishing decals for S scale CN 40′ boxcars from Andy Malette at MLW Services. We had a good talk about the state of S, as we often do.

I’m very excited about Andy’s forthcoming kits for CNR eight-hatch refrigerator cars.

I also started CN 484036 – a second boxcar kit from Pacific Rail Shops. Not a lot to show, so no pictures, but I did get the basic body assembled, the replacement wood running board installed and most of the underbody done.

I’ll try to get it finished in time to take to Elgin Car Shops for a painting session later this week. Pierre Oliver and I always have enjoyable afternoons in his workshop and working on his HO scale layout, which depicts the Wabash through southern Ontario.