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:

 photo MaskingWheels_zps36p1e43d.jpg

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

9 thoughts on “Three-dome tank car: Painting prep

  1. Good Morning Trevor,

    Many many years ago in the Model Trains Magazines published by Kalmbach in the 1950’s early 1960’s, there was a tip about reassembling a cloths peg backwards so you have an inexpensive flat clamp (see photo).

    These days traditional spring cloths pegs come in a couple of different sizes, which opens up even more possibilities.

    John Green
    Vancouver BC

     photo JohnGreen-Pegs_zps321zpjdy.jpg

  2. I also have been using reversed wooden clothes pins for years, wouldn’t scratch-build without having them. Lee Valley Tools have a newer version of this clothes pin: slightly longer, small grooves which might aid the holding capabilities, plus the spring mechanism is improved so that the new ‘clamps’ do not spring apart so frequently.

    Also, it is extremely easy to file or cut the wooden pins for specific clamping jobs.

    • Hi Andrew:
      I don’t know. I don’t have any masking fluid handy. I did have Tamiya tape.
      Taping wheels is dead easy. I did all eight in about 15 minutes, on the deck, enjoying the fresh air.
      The Tamiya dispenser includes a serrated tear strip – like a dispenser for clear tape. I tore off small squares using tweezers, then laid them on the front face of each wheel in a pinwheel pattern. I folded them over the flange then added more squares to the back of each wheel to cover that, too.
      Once the paint was dry enough to handle the trucks, I used the tweezers to pull off the tape squares – and there’s nothing more to clean up.

  3. Good afternoon Trevor, I have run into the same problem taking apart my “O” scale trucks to convert them for P-48 and after pinging a spring into the nether regions (later found) I put the further trucks inside a zip top storage bag and worked gently that way and voila, now more lost springs!

    Love your site

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