BAOX 378

I finished my three-dome tank car over the past few days. British American Oil Company (BAOX) 378 is now in service:

 photo BAOX-378-Done_zpscibsj07u.jpg

The lettering really makes this car stand out, and for this I asked Al Ferguson at Black Cat Publishing to re-scale the BAOX set he offers in HO and O scale. Thanks Al – the decals are great as always!

I do not know if this car had the data on the ends of the tanks – but I don’t care. The decal sets included this information and I liked it, so I added it. It’s actually large enough to read in 1:64, too.

I sealed the decals onto the car with a matte finish from Alclad. This has become my go-to line of finishes – really lovely stuff. I then finished the car with washes of black-grey, brown and pale grey from the Model Color line offered by Acrylicos Vallejo. While not apparent in this photo, there’s also a bit of artists oil brushed on to represent wheel splatter.

This car – an Overland import – was a fun and easy project. Now it’s back to the kit stash to decide what to work on next…

NYC 399742 + Stone load

 photo NYC399742-StoneLoad_zpsm587lo2r.jpg
(With large stone, a live load – no glue – looks best)

Yet another New York Central gondola is ready to enter service on my layout. This time, the CNR has borrowed the car to deliver a load of stone to Port Rowan from the quarries at Hagersville, further up the line. It’s pretty big stone – they must be rebuilding the breakwater in the harbour.

Like my previous NYC gondolas (NYC 399671 and NYC 399574), this one was built for me by my friend Pierre Oliver. He does this for a living through his Elgin Car Shops business, and I’m happy to send some business his way while I work on the parts of the hobby that aren’t so easy to ship to someone else. I finished this car with NWSL wheel sets, Kadee couplers and train line air hoses from BTS, plus weathering.

Googling “gondola loads” (imagine that!) turned up a nifty picture of a DMIR gondola with a load of large stone:

 photo DMIR-87663_zpszru4a86i.jpeg
(From the gallery on the Missabe Railroad Historical Society: Click on the image to visit the society’s website)

The Hagersville quarries were important the both the CNR and the NYC (through its Canada Southern operation). In addition to supplying ballast, they were a source of stone for highway building in southern Ontario. So large stone it’s a perfect load for one of these cars.

I pondered various adhesives to secure the load into the car, but the stone I used (coarse talus from Woodland Scenics) is fairly porous and I was worried losing that effect. Glue-covered rock = ugly! In the end, I decided the best solution was no adhesive at all.

I don’t expect this so-called “live load” to pose a problem, although since it’s loose in the car I did not fill the gondola above the car sides in the manner of my prototype inspiration. There’s less chance of spilling stone everywhere that way.

I now have two loaded NYC gons and one empty. They’re all different numbers, but by swapping a loaded car for an empty between operating sessions (and updating the paperwork appropriately) I can effectively model loaded and empty NYC gondolas travelling on and off my branch.

NYC 399671 + pipe load

I have finished a load of pipe for one of my new NYC gondola cars – and I like how it turned out:

 photo NYC399671-PipeLoad_zpsssbbhbze.jpg
(Click on the image for a larger view)

The load is now taller than it was when I first blogged about this car last week, and the larger load is a big improvement. I found more K&S Metals 1/8″ aluminum tube (part #8102) on my travels this week, and cut and painted the tubes yesterday.

To paint the tubes, I made up a painting fixture from a block of pink foam insulation board, and a bunch of round toothpicks:

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I then sprayed the pipes with two colours – a brown and a black – applied with rattle cans. I tried to mist the paint on in many light coats, from far enough back that the paint dried a bit in the air before hitting the tubes to give it some texture, reminiscent of cast iron. I’m pleased with the effect.

An advantage of this is that the paint dried to the touch very quickly, so I was able to flip the tubes end for end and give them one more light spray to colour the ends that had been in contact with the foam board block.

I finished the load by tying E-Z Line across the stakes, following an AAR loading diagram in Railway Prototype Cyclopedia 20:

 photo RPCYC-20-Cover_zpsuocd3zg2.jpeg

What’s a load of pipe doing coming in from the United States in the mid-1950s, when Ontario is full of heavy industry that could supply this? Well, good question. I don’t know – and I don’t care.

I like these NYC gondolas (built by Pierre Oliver from Funaro and Camerlengo resin kits*)… and there are exactly zero CNR prototype gondolas available in S scale.

So, this is a case of making do with what’s available, and I’m fine with that. It’s all part of life in a niche scale. If and when CNR prototype gondolas come to market, I will gladly buy a bunch. Or, maybe I’ll build my own once I have the layout finished.

Meantime, the residents of Port Rowan will be happy, because the town is getting a load of pipe to upgrade their services.

(*This car was not one of the ones I picked up from Pierre during this week’s visit. I’ve actually had this one on my “to-finish” list for about a year while I decided what sort of load to put in it. I’m glad I waited…)

Two American tourists

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The branch to Port Rowan will start seeing two more American tourists as I finally got around to finishing a couple of freight cars that Pierre Oliver built for me last year.

I did the weathering… added my preferred wheels, couplers and train line air hoses… and, in the case of the gondola, built a load.

Let’s look at the gondola first:

 photo NYC-399671-01_zpsruxfyqmm.jpg

NYC 399671 is a resin kit from Funaro and Camerlengo. This is the second such car to enter service on my layout. I’ve decided to give this one a load of pipe: Perhaps the town of Port Rowan is doing a major upgrade to its municipal services.

The load is about half-completed here. I visited my local supplier of K&S Metals, and cleaned out their rack of the 1/8″ aluminum tube (part #8102). In all, I had 18 foot-long pieces, which I cut in half to give me 36 pipes. I painted these with rattle cans of medium brown, oversprayed with black.

I would like this load to rise above the car sides, so I’ve added stakes to the inside of the car, cut from S scale 4″ by 4″ lumber. I’ll tie the load using AAR loading rules after I add more pipe to the load – but that will have to wait until more comes in at my dealer.

The second car is this terrific boxcar:

 photo PRR-503798-01_zps5yxmezsl.jpg

PRR 503798 is a plastic kit for an x29 boxcar, released in 2013 by Des Plaines Hobbies. Pierre was curious to give this one a go, since relatively few plastic kits are available in S scale compared to HO, and the release of a brand new plastic rolling stock kit in 1:64 is pretty remarkable these days. Kudos to Des Plaines for continuing to support the scale!

(Fellow S scale enthusiast Peter Vanvliet has documented his build of this kit on his website – here is the link to his X29 construction journal.)

As with the gondola, I finished this car by adding couplers, wheel sets, and train line air hoses. I then weathered it using my favourite combination of colours: a black-grey, a sandy beige, a medium brown and a light grey, all from Acrylicos Vallejo. I think it’s important to pick a colour palette for weathering and use it on all equipment go give the layout a unified look.

The final step is to generate some waybills for these cars, but once I do that they will be ready to enter service on the layout.

Three-dome tank car: Painted

I’ve given my recently-acquired three-dome ACF tank car two coats of Floquil CSX Black (because that’s what I had handy) and by the time the decals arrive from Al Ferguson at Black Cat Publishing, the paint will be cured and the tank ready for lettering:

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(Lacquer-based paints produce a lovely, high-gloss surface that’s ready for decals)

I’ve removed the masks from the wheels and will brush paint the front and back faces after applying and sealing the decals.

Three-dome tank car: Painting prep

I recently picked up an Overland Models import of an ACF three-dome tank car. This is a really nice looking model and I was pleased to discover that I can use it to model a car operated by a distinctive Canadian shipper:

 photo BAOX-378-TAWatson_zpsushbflut.jpg
(BAOX 378 from the TA Watson Collection of British American Oil photos. Click on the image to visit the collection online)

Over the weekend, I confirmed with Al Ferguson at Black Cat Publishing that he could resize his HO scale decals for this car and print me a couple of sets. (Al often does this for S scale enthusiasts. As a custom print, the price is 2x the HO set – which is completely understandable. Kudos to Al for his willingness to do this, as it opens up so many options for those of us working in 1:64.)

I sent off my cheque for the decals, and then prepped my car for painting. I thought I’d share a couple of tips related to this.

As with other rolling stock, I planned to use train line air hoses from BTS (Item 02302). On this car, the hoses would attach to the bottom of a mounting plate on each end of the frame – and given the small surface area involved, I decided the best way to attach them would be by soldering.

The problem I faced was how to hold the air hoses in position while applying the heat. Fingers would burn… yet metal tweezers would act as a heat sink.

My solution – a set of “soldering tweezers” – is shown here:

 photo SolderingTweezers_zpstjr9pjxg.jpg

This is simply a common spring-loaded clothes pin. I marked a line across the two jaws of the pin, then took the pin apart and put each wooden half into my miter box, and cut the end back on a 45-degree angle. When I reassembled the pin, a couple of passes with a file evened up the jaws so they mated properly.

With this tool, I was able to hold onto the end of the valve and solder the detail in place without burning my fingers. As well, I realized that if I needed a different shape – for example, a narrower set of jaws – I could carve/sand a clothes pin as required.

This is not my invention – I’ve seen this done before – but it’s the first time I’ve needed such a device. It’ll live in my box of soldering tools and accessories and I predict it’ll see frequent use.

With few exceptions, I prefer to use the same profile wheelsets in all of my rolling stock. Accordingly, I swapped the factory wheels for 33″ P:64 wheel sets from Northwest Short Line (Item number 27787-4).

The amount of work to install these depends on the trucks involved. In this case, I had to completely disassemble each truck – a process that required removing four really small springs in each side frame. I almost lost one of these, and was only saved by the fact that they ferromagnetic: I was able to find it by sweeping a magnet across the floor.

On the plus side, the new wheel sets slipped in perfectly and I was able to reassemble the trucks without any further incidents.

Normally, once I’ve confirmed that the NWSL wheels will fit (and I have made any modifications to the trucks to ensure they roll smoothly), I will remove them and replace the factory wheel sets for painting. However, I didn’t want to take a chance with losing those springs: One close call is enough. So this time, I felt it prudent to leave the wheels in place.

I plan to paint this car black and did not want to get paint on the wheels. So I taped them up, using my new favourite product for this – Tamiya masking tape:

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I’ll brush paint the faces of the wheels when I’m finishing the car, and leave the treads shiny.

The CNR GS gon project :: Reservations still needed

In his emails to me about the 3-dome tank car project, Jim King at Smoky Mountain Model Works mentioned that he’s still looking for reservations for the GS gon – particularly for the Canadian National Railways variant, which I’ve written about previously on this blog.

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(Click on the image to read more)

The (drop) bottom line is, numbers for a CNR-specific version need to be a lot higher than they are.

That’s unfortunate because these cars were real workhorses on the CNR. On my modest layout, I can think of several uses for them.

For example, GS gons were popular for hauling ballast for the railway. Gravel pits at Hagersville were just up the line from Port Rowan, so I could have a car or two in-train – picked up at Hagersville on the way down but headed for Hamilton and points beyond.

 photo ProtoMap-Labelled_zpsw29euqwa.jpg
(Map of the line, including the Hagersville Sub (Hamilton to Jarvis), Cayuga Sub (Jarvis to Simcoe) and the Simcoe Sub (Port Dover to Port Rowan))

Or, I could hook a load to my Burro crane and conduct MoW activities along my branch:

 photo Burro-Gon-LynnValley_zpsnxweaeud.jpg
(A NYC gondola stands in for a CNR GS gon as the Burro clears ditches in the Lynn Valley)

The GS gons would also have been used for hauling aggregates for construction projects – including highways and other public infrastructure undertakings. I can easily justify a few loads of gravel spotted at the team track in either St. Williams or Port Rowan.

And while I have three customers for coal on the branch, only one of those has an elevated deliver track to make use of hopper cars. The feed mill in Port Rowan, and the coal dealer in St. Williams, would rely on flat-bottomed gondolas so guys with shovels and strong backs could unload the coal by hand:

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(Once again, a NYC gondola stands in for a CNR GS gon, at the coal shed in St. Williams)

Given all of their uses – and the fact that different loads would weather the insides of the cars differently – I can easily justify eight to 10 models of these essential freight cars. If you can come up with uses for GS gons on your Canadian-based S scale layout, make sure you place a reservation with Jim.

GATX 6000 gallon 3-dome tank car

Some interesting news out of Jim King at Smoky Mountain Model Works. On his “S Scale What-If?” page, Jim is now taking reservations (with no money down) for a GATX 6000 gallon three-dome tank car.

This S scale model would use the CAD drawings developed for the highly-praised HO scale model recently offered by Tangent Scale Models:

 photo Tangent-3Dome-Tank_zpsodsg5fa1.jpg
(Click on the image to visit the Tangent web page and read more about these cars)

While these are not the most common tank cars on the rails, they are nifty looking and they did haul a variety of commodities. The three, 2000-gallon compartments made them ideal for delivering several grades of liquid to a smaller customer, too – like the customers that my branch would’ve served. So, I’ve placed a reservation with Jim and can envision delivering agricultural chemicals or various grades of fuel to the team tracks at St. Williams and Port Rowan.

As Jim notes on his website, he typically needs about 80 reservations before he can consider producing a car. I like that he shares the number of reservations on the “What If” page, so his customers have an indication of whether a car might be produced. I’m sure in some cases, seeing “75” reservations will encourage people to add an extra car to their order to help push a project over the final hurdle.

Thanks, Jim, for continuing to support the S scale enthusiast!

Update :: How about a CNR-specific GS gon?

 photo CNR-GS-Gon_zps4fb93214.jpg
(Will we get these in S? I hope so! Photo from the Canadian Freight Cars site. Click on the image to visit)

Jim King at Smoky Mountain Model Works has sent me an update on his GS gon project

The SP/UP cars that folks want me to produce have 5-foot sides; the CN cars are shorter and show much of the door mechanism. SP cars do not. I really don’t want to get into a wide variety of cars BUT if you “Canada guys” can pool your interest to justify a CN-only car, I will consider it. I need at least 50 car kits reserved to justify the time and pattern cost to make new sides, etc.

This would be a better option for those of us working in 1:64 than the detail kits discussed earlier. Even the detail kits would be grand, but actually having a CNR prototype-specific model can’t be beat.

If you are interested in these cars, then now is the time to speak up! You can contact Jim directly, or you can use the “comments” section of this blog post to provide input and I’ll forward it to Jim, with your email address so he can follow up.

Jim is also looking for more information on the CN versions – specifically…

1 – The differences from a standard GS gon (such as the UP/SP model he’s doing).
2 – He could also use help with the artwork to get lettering produced – for both CNR and CPR models.

Again, if you can help with these two requests, you can contact Jim directly, or you can use the “comments” section of this blog post to provide input and I’ll forward it to Jim, with your email address so he can follow up.

Can we make up 50 orders, as a community? I think so. I like to build permanent loads in open cars – I think they look better than removable ones – so I could easily justify 10 on my own to create a five-car loaded and empty block of cars from the quarry in nearby Hagersville.

Think about it, and let Jim know…

CNR GS gondola in S scale?

 photo CNR-GS-Gon_zps4fb93214.jpg
(Will we get these in S? I hope so! Photo from the Canadian Freight Cars site. Click on the image to visit)

Jim King at Smoky Mountain Model Works has become a great source of rolling stock for those working in 1:64 – and his latest potential project will be of interest to Canadian railway modellers.

Jim is looking for expressions of interest for the GS gondola – in all-steel and steel-wood composite designs. He writes:

Based on an $80 (US) price including couplers and decals, how many would you buy? Be specific. This is a make/break decision time based on YOUR interest.
1. Tell me how many steel sided cars in SP, UP or other roads you’d buy.
2. Tell me how many composite sided cars in SP, UP or other roads you’d buy.

The all-steel version will be a good starting point for CNR GS gons. In fact, Andy Malette from MLW Services has raised this possibility with Jim, and Jim is open to doing a set of add-on details to create a Canadian car – providing there’s sufficient demand.

So, now’s your chance: Visit Smoky Mountain Model Works and drop an email to Jim to tell him now many you would take. Do it soon!

I’ve already told Jim I’m in for five of the all-steel kits – and more if he offers the Canadian detail sets.

Among their many duties, these cars would be ideal on company service, hauling ballast from quarries such as the one near Hagersville. So I hope Jim gets the numbers he needs to go ahead with this project.

UPDATE: Jim at Smoky Mountain is looking for information about the CN and CP versions – specifically:

1 – The differences from a standard GS gon (such as the Red Caboose model in HO scale). The additional side details (ribs? stampings?) is an obvious one. Any others?
2 – He could also use help with the artwork to get lettering produced.

If you can help with these two requests, you can contact Jim directly, or you can use the “comments” section of this blog post to provide input and I’ll forward it to Jim, with your email address so he can follow up.

Jim reports that as of Friday, he had more than 80 reservations (combined) for the GS gondola and the Canadian version. This is good news as it means the project is likely to go ahead. If you’re working in 1:64 and interested in the Canadian version, let Jim know!