Weathered hopper cars

I was in the mood to weather some hopper cars today, so I discussed the approach I should take with my friend Pierre Oliver. Pierre builds and paints rolling stock for others for a living under the name Elgin Car Shops, so he knows these things and it’s always good to pick his brain.

My first project was a set of three hopper cars for use in hauling gravel. I used a three-pack of raised side panel hoppers from S Helper Service for these. They came factory-painted for the CNR, although the consensus is that Canadian National didn’t have any raised panel cars. (I’m not bothered by this – not for now. I have other, more pressing things to do like lay rails, wire track, and so on.)

Any paint on the insides of these all steel cars has long been scoured away, so these three cars have a good layer of rust on them, topped by a bit of stone dust:

CNR Stone Hoppers - Finished.

I weathered the interiors with a selection of weathering powders from Bragdon Enterprises and airbrushing. I found I had to spray a fresh layer of paint on the insides of the cars in order to get the weathering powders to grip – something about the factory paint was impervious to weathering (It’s probably an American Flyer thing). I weathered the exteriors with an airbrush.

These cars will deliver gravel to various customers via the team track at St. Williams and the elevated coal track at Port Rowan.

I also did a pair of cars for coal service:

Coal Hoppers - Finished.

These two cars are also factory painted offerings from S Helper Service. I used similar techniques as on the CN stone cars, with the black CNJ all-steel car getting a thorough rust treatment inside. The brown PRR car is of composite wood/steel construction, so I treated it slightly differently. I rusted up the steel parts inside the car, while the wooden sides were finished with a grey-black paint and “soot” weathering powder from Bragdon to represent ground-in coal dust.

These cars will haul coal for a variety of customers – again, coal track at Port Rowan can be used for deliveries. But the feed mill in Port Rowan also had a coal bin, and I may add a bin to the spur in St. Williams.

I’m pleased with how these five cars turned out. Now, I need to find some removable loads for them.

Not-so-black tank cars

Tank cars - weathering.

I haven’t decided just how dirty I’m going to make my tank cars, but since I was doing things with the airbrush today I added some rain streaking to help lighten them.

While it’s not obvious in the photo, I also made some modifications to the brake rigging I installed yesterday. I was talking to my friend Pierre Oliver today and he had some suggestions to make the brake rigging more accurate. (Thanks Pierre!)

New brake rigging for two tank cars

Back in September, I received two tank cars from the S Scale America line offered by Des Plaines Hobbies. Since then, I’ve been thinking about things I can do to upgrade the models. Today I started with the brake rigging.

The models come with cast-on brake rigging, which isn’t very good. For starters, the rods don’t go anywhere near the trucks:

SSA Tank Car.

Note the stub of a brake rod below the frame just to the left of the ladder. It’s miles away from where it needs to be.

So today I did something about the brake rigging.

I carved away the moulded on rods, levers, clevises, supports and other gubbins – and replaced them it with my own made from styrene strip, brass wire, brass bar and some chain. It looks better already:

Tank Car Brakes.

When painted black, it’ll look even better.

Tuning couplers

I don’t like the slack action in Kadee’s S scale couplers, so I’ve been modifying them to remove it.

On the underside of the coupler shank, there’s a projection that fits into a slot in the coupler box to aid in centring the couplers. I slice this off and sand/file the area smooth:

Kadee coupler modifications.

There’s also a small projection at the back of the shaft. I remove this, too:

Kadee coupler modifications.

Then, instead of adding the centring spring, I cut a piece of .080″ x .080″ styrene strip and use it. I cut this so it’s just a touch shorter than the opening for the spring (minus, of course, the post in the coupler box). This prevents the coupler from sliding forwards and backwards in the box:

Kadee coupler modifications.

This means my couplers do not automatically centre. But that’s fine. With all track a reasonable reach from the front edge of the layout, I can manually line up knuckles before coupling – something that brakemen have to do on real railways on occasion. The extra time to line up couplers represents the time a brakeman would spend visually checking the alignment, pulling the pin, etc.

The PRS Story

Ages ago, I wrote about starting my first Pacific Rail Shops boxcar kit. In that post, I commented that…

This kit reminds me of working in HO 25-30 years ago, when companies like Front Range and McKeen were creating state of the art kits. This is fun – it’s like a trip in the TARDIS, to the time before HO modellers enjoyed so many resin kits and excellent examples of RTR rolling stock.

Well, it seems there’s a good reason for that. For the answer, read the story of Pacific Rail Shops in the S Scale Journal.

Update on rebuilding this site

I’ve spent a bit of time this evening restoring about a dozen posts to this site. (Long-time readers will remember I lost the entire site a couple of months ago, but my bacon was saved by reader Gordon Dobson, who had all of my postings – although not the comments – in his RSS reader.)

Newly restored posts include items on the water tank, the backdrop, the sector plate and the switch stands I’m using for turnout control – among other things. So if you’re looking for something, have a browse…

I’ll keep restoring old posts as time permits.

The right tool for the job

As regular readers know, when the guys come over to work on the layout I like to feed ’em. And nothing makes a dinner complete like fresh, home-baked bread.

The problem is, making dough with a kitchen appliance is fine if I’m doing a single loaf. But when there’s a large crowd, I needed something up to the task.

So yesterday, I picked up this beauty:

Drill Press.

It’s a 3/4 horsepower, 16-speed model with a six-inch quill stroke, so it’ll get to the bottom of even the deepest mixing bowl and work through the toughest of doughs. And the large table has several clamping options to keep the dough from hitting the floor, or me.

I also appreciate the LED work light.

I’m sure I’ll find many other uses for it. Already, my friend Chris Abbott has suggested pancake batter.

A prototype + S connection

Thanks to Bill Roberts, I have a fresh prototype photo to share – and there’s an interesting connection with S scale.

It’s the summer of 1955 and Anthony Perles took this picture of The Daily Effort:

Anthony Perles photo of Port Rowan.

The note on the back of the photo states:

Anthony H. Perles, 7-16-55, Port Rowan, Ont. CNR 80 (2-6-0 E-10a) RPO 7707, and combine 7176, as Train 233 at Port Rowan terminal.

There are not many photos taken from this side of the tracks so it’s wonderful to see a different perspective – and a perspective that operators on my layout will see since this is the “aisle side” on my layout. I will have to park a couple of automobiles at this end of the depot, as in the photo. And I definitely need to add weeds, saplings and other vegetation along this side of the rails.

Speaking of rails – look how small they are. Talk about a ribbon of steel.

Now, the S connection: The National Association of S Gaugers gives out an annual award to an author who publishes an article about S in a non-S scale publication. It’s a great way to encourage people to promote the scale. And the award is named in honour of…

Anthony H. Perles.