Wanted :: A few good trucks

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To my readers who also work in 1:64…

I’m looking to buy some trucks for a few freight car projects. Here’s what’s on my list:

1 pair – PRR 2D (S Helper Service)

3 pair – either 50T Bettendorf (preferred – PRS) or Andrews (second choice – S Helper Service), or a combination of these.

If you have any of these in your Home Hobby Shop, and they are superfluous to your requirements, can you get in touch, please?

Thanks in advance!

Paperwork for a stolen car

… or, “What to do with CML 1952?”

Regular readers will know that CML 1952 is an NMRA heritage boxcar lettered for the Crooked Mountain Lines – a freelanced O scale interurban empire built by Bob Hegge. I recently finished my S scale model, shown here:
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(Click on the photo to read more about the model)

All that’s left to do is create some waybills for the car – and that’s posing some problems for me. These can be summed up as follows:

“What is CML 1952 doing on the Port Rowan branch?”

Hegge’s line was freelanced and I don’t recall him ever pinning down a geographic location for it, although I recall that he was inspired by the Oregon Electric and other heavy interurbans of the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The Crooked Mountains through which his railroad ran certainly looked like that part of the world, too.

The problem, for me, is that the Pacific Northwest is way over there, on the left coast of the continent. And Port Rowan is more to centre-right – and in Canada, to boot. While the typical inbound traffic on my branch consists of consumer goods – everything from pineapples to pianos, tinned tuna to tractors – it’s unlikely that any of this was sourced directly, by the carload, from places like Oregon or Washington State. More likely, inbound goods would have come from a big distributor in a place like Toronto or Hamilton, or directly from various industries in Southern Ontario. And those would arrive – for the most part – in a CNR boxcar (which is why I have so many of them on the layout).

However, I have devised a scenario in which a load might arrive in CML 1952. Railways preferred to move cars loaded in both directions, because an empty car doesn’t earn anything for the carriers that haul it. And the AAR wrote the book, literally, on car-handling rules – describing how empty cars on their way home could be commandeered for re-loading:
Freight car rules photo AAR-Freight-Coughlin-1956.jpg
(Click on the image to learn more about this book)

I won’t go into great detail here about the rules, but one that applies in this case is that an empty car heading home can be commandeered for a load providing the lading is headed in roughly the same direction as the empty car. If CML 1952 ended up empty in Winnipeg or Chicago, it could not be commandeered for a load to Toronto, Hamilton or Port Rowan. But if it ended up in Montreal or Halifax, it could be – since the load would take it west, towards home rails.

So here’s the scenario for CML 1952: It was loaded in CML territory (let’s call that Oregon) and destined for Montreal. That’s possible, since Montreal is a big city that served as a distribution centre so somebody in Montreal might order a carload of something from Oregon. Once the car is empty, it’s destined to head home. But wait! There’s a load from Montreal headed to Port Rowan – and in the grand scheme of things, Port Rowan is on the way home, so the CML car can be used.

So, that’s my justification. Now, I need to figure out what the waybills look like for that.

I use scaled down prototype paperwork for freight car forwarding. Here’s an example:
Paperwork - Empty to Staging photo EmptyToStaging.jpg
(Click on the image to read more about my waybills)

Normally, an empty car bill looks like the one shown above. There’s the waybill with the load information, in white, and stapled to the top is the empty car bill showing that this car is now headed for home. Crews would look at the routing information on the waybill to determine how to forward this to home. What I’m not sure about is this:

“What does the paperwork look like once the empty car is ‘stolen’ for another load?”

Is a new waybill stapled to the top of this paperwork? That would make sense to me, since crews would still need to know where the car came from originally. In my example, once the car is unloaded at Port Rowan, we want it to continue on its way to Oregon – not returned to Montreal. But I’m not sure.

I will have to dig through my AAR book on freight car handling to see if I can determine the answer. Until then, CML 1952 will have to sit in the storage drawers under the sector plate…

Finished: CML 1952 (+ two CN reefers)

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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.
CML1952-Brakes-Detail photo CML-1952-Brakes-04_zpsa833e7f7.jpg
(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

CML1952-Brakes-Painted photo CML-1950-Brakes-03_zpsb9a55fd0.jpg

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.

CML1952-Brakes photo CML-1950-Brakes-02_zpsbf10c139.jpg

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…

CNR 209540

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One down – two to go: The first of my three eight-hatch refrigerator cars is finished and ready for service on the Port Rowan branch.

Having installed a new running board, described in yesterday’s post, I stained the wood pieces with Weather-It. I then airbrushed the styrene crosspieces of the running board (as well as the upgraded hatch rests) with CNR Grey #11 to blend them into the finished car. Some overspray on the wood suggests that the running board was originally painted but has worn off over time.

After the grey cured, I weathered the car with Acrylicos Vallejo paints.

My next task is to create waybills for this car. Obvious commodities include apples out of Port Rowan, and other produce out of St. Williams. The adjacent Port Dover branch shipped fish and flowers, too. I could borrow some of the fish traffic to ship out of Port Rowan, and I’m sure a greenhouse in the St. Williams area could ship flowers.

But these cars carried a wide range of commodities. As the GHQ Forum notes, these are not “Refrigerator Cars”, but “Temperature Control” cars – they were equally good at keeping things from freezing as they were at keeping frozen things frozen. Commodities hauled included chicken, beef, pork, fish, crabs and lobster, cream, juice, canned goods that shouldn’t freeze, pickles, peanuts, trees and shrubs, flowers, veggies and fruit of all kinds, condensed milk, blacking liquid, ball bearings, bakery goods, chocolate, eggs, beer, syrups, candles… the list goes on.

I’ll have fun filling out waybills for this car, and its unique paint scheme and busy roofline will make it a real attention-grabber during operating sessions.

Thanks to Andy Malette at MLW Services for creating this kit, and Pierre Oliver at Elgin Car Shops for building it for me.

Refrigerator running board

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It’s a hobby of course, and people engage with it (or at least, they should) in the way that gives them the most satisfaction. But I find it interesting that so many freight car enthusiasts pay so much attention to accurately modelling the underside of a car.

I’m really impressed by the work that people do below the frame – and I’m pleased when the owner flips over a car to show me the fine details. But I know we don’t see most of it when we’re running trains on a layout. And I’ll admit that while I have built freight cars from kits – including resin kits – it’s not the part of the hobby that raises steam for me. So when I’m building cars for the layout, I tend to leave off details that one isn’t going to see. It’s rare to find the train air line running through the sills on my models, although I do add the valves, hoses, and glad hands at the ends, since they’re so visible.

At the same time, those who sweat the small details belowdecks often gloss over what we do see: The roof. They’ll take the one-piece cast resin or plastic running board – a piece that often includes the lateral running boards too – glue it in place and be done with it.

I don’t always upgrade running boards, but when a model deserves it I like to put some extra effort into them. And I like using wood to model wood running boards, since nothing takes stain quite like the real thing.

Therefore, when I asked Pierre Oliver to build three of Andy Malette‘s S scale CNR eight-hatch refrigerator cars for me, I told him to leave off the resin running boards. I’d add them myself.

Many cars on the CNR had an unusual, segmented running board – and looking at prototype photos I realized this style of running board was found on the eight-hatch refrigerator cars. They’re pretty easy to spot, even from ground level, since each carline (roof rib) is topped by an upside-down T-shaped piece of metal which provides support for adjacent segments of running board. As the wood wears, these even start to sit a little proud of the surface – which must’ve made them a great tripping hazard.

I’ve modelled a segmented running board before, on a PRS plastic kit that I detailed as a CNR boxcar. Click on the image below to read about that project:
Segmented Running Board photo CNR-RunningBoards_zpsbe580aa4.jpg

The refrigerator car required a different approach. The roof on this model is built from two halves, and the cast running board saddles do not line up precisely during construction. In addition, a number of the saddles were damaged when the castings were removed from the mould. I would not be able to add individual supports to the saddles. Instead, I would have to build a new running board as a unit.

I started by selecting appropriate materials. I decided I could build a subframe out of styrene strips designed to lie directly below the three rows of wood that form the running board. I would use styrene strip, laid on edge and glued to these three long strips, to represent the T-shaped supports. I would then measure, cut and glue the wood segments on top.

The photo below shows the styrene parts, assembled and ready for wood. I used two of the kit running boards determine the spacing of the styrene strips – which are actually narrower than the wood I will glue to them, so they will disappear under the finished running board. Note that at the ends, I cut the long styrene supports shorter than the last pieces of wood. I did this so that the styrene would remain hidden under the finished running board. The kit running boards also supplied the correct spacing for the “T” supports. I’ve cut the cross pieces longer than needed, and glued them in place.
Reefer-Running Board photo Reefer-RunningBoard-01_zpsd7c639c5.jpg

To finish the running board, I distressed a length of strip wood, then measured for each section, cut wood, and used thick CA to carefully glue the pieces in place between the styrene crosspieces. Here’s a photo of the finished running board, viewed from underneath:
Reefer-Running Board photo Reefer-RunningBoard-02_zps428ce1fb.jpg

As the lead photo for this post illustrates, I also used wood for the lateral running boards. I measured these from the kit’s resin castings, and used thin brass bar to create the supports. At this point, the car is ready for L-shaped grab irons on top of the lateral running boards, then it’s off to the paint shop where some careful airbrushing and weathering will blend everything together.

Upgraded reefer trucks and couplers

My three new CNR eight-hatch refrigerator cars are a step closer to going into service on the layout. Today I installed couplers and NWSL wheel sets.

I use Kadee’s S scale couplers but I modify them to eliminate excessive slack action. I’ve written about this before on the blog. Click on the image below to read more:
Coupler modifications-3 photo CouplerMod-03.jpg

The running boards will be next. Meantime, I can do a bit of testing on the layout to make sure the cars roll and couple properly.

Upgraded hatch rests

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While looking at the information about CNR Eight-Hatch Refrigerator Cars that I stumbled across on GHQ’s forum, I noticed that the hatch rests on the roof are L-shaped. I checked my models and of those that were intact, they were straight. (A number of the hatch rests on my models were partially or completely missing. Judging by the ones that were still sort of there, I concluded they’d torn when the roof segments were pulled from the mould.)

I decided I could – and should – do something about this since the tops of rolling stock are so visible on most layouts, including mine. So before I tackled the running boards I filed away the remaining hatch rests and replaced them with new rests I built from pieces of styrene.

For each car, I cut 16 pieces of 0.010″ x 0.080″ styrene strip, 0.080″ long – so I ended up with 0.080″ squares of thin styrene. These became my vertical supports. Using CA applied with a pin, I glued these in place on the three carlines (ribs) that are located between the hatches. The supports are located on the side of the carline closest to the end of the car. On the centre carline, they’re located on both sides.

While these cured, I cut 16 pieces of 0.010″ x 0.040″ styrene strip, 0.080″ long. I mounted these on top of my verticals, so that they created upside-down L-shaped supports, with the L pointing towards the hatch they would support. It’s hard to explain, but easier to show, so have a look at the lead photo. A bit of CN Grey carefully airbrushed onto the rests, followed by weathering, and they’ll blend right in.

With this done, I can move on to installing segmented running boards. I’m going to use a hybrid of wood and styrene for these and will write about them when I work on them. But that’s not going to happen tonight…

8-hatch reefer info at GHQ

GHQ Models has an interesting forum post about CNR Eight-Hatch Refrigerator Cars. Published in April 2010, the post includes info on the technology used on these cars, plus info on the types of traffic they carried and where they travelled across North America. There’s more information on these cars in GHQ’s online instructions for their kit.

I’m definitely putting a copy in my files…

A chill in the air

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The days are getting colder in the part of the world where I live, so it’s appropriate that when my friend Pierre Oliver visited yesterday he brought along three CNR eight-hatch refrigerator cars for me. Pierre built these from the recently-released resin and photo-etch kit by another friend, Andy Malette at MLW Services. They’ll be a wonderful addition to my fleet. Their grey sides will really stand out in a train of reddish-brown boxcars.

I should point out that the cars are not finished. Obviously, they need couplers added and need to be weathered. Less obviously, I will add real wood running boards and NWSL wheel sets, then make up waybills for them.

Finishing these cars is at the top of the to-do list – I’m keen to get them into service. Thanks for creating the kits, Andy – and thanks for doing such a great job on building them, Pierre!