Sunday, February 7, 2016

Running boards, Part 3

In the previous posts on this topic (the first can be accessed from the previous one, at: ), I addressed the topic of how prototype wood running boards appear in service, and a little on modeling the observed variations in appearance, using Prismacolor color pencils.Variations shown so far were modest, and in this post I want to take up more dramatic variations. I should hasten to observe that these dramatic cases were relatively rare, and ought not to be present on more than a few cars in a freight car fleet. I will illustrate this post with a couple of examples of Bill Welch’s work.
     At the Cocoa Beach 2016 meeting concluded last month (see my post discussing that meet, which is at: ), Bill showed a number of models with differentially weathered running boards. Some of the cars had more heavily distressed group of planks in the running board, as with the photo below, showing a Wabash automobile car, WAB 46017, built from a Sunshine kit. The descriptive note with this car stated that it was still “in progress,” so weathering seen here may eventually be softened. But already in this state the model does emphasize the wood nature of the running board, and certainly shows variations. I think a few models in this condition would be a good addition to any fleet.

     This version is interesting because of the boards which might be unpainted replacements, though pretty dirty. I decided to try representing a single board as a fresh, unpainted replacement, and obtained the result below. I used P-B-L’s Star Brand “Natural Wood” paint, their number STR-12 (for their website, visit , click on Online Catalog, then pull down the top center menu under Categories to no. 22, Paints / Cements, and scroll through the list). I like the outcome you see below, but don’t intend to add more, as I would think this kind of appearance would be rare.

     I think most shops replacing a plank in a running board would have paint handy and enough time to daub a coat of body color onto the new plank. I tried that type of appearance on an InterMountain PFE Class R-40-10 car, as you see here, with a fairly dirty roof. The older planks have been given somewhat different colors using the Prismacolor pencils mentioned previously, and just one plank was simply overpainted with boxcar red right from the bottle.

     Finally, in Bill’s exhibit he included what I would call a pretty extreme (though certainly possible) example, a car with not one but several missing planks in the running board and the lateral boards. It is a Wright TRAK kit for a ventilated box car, built as Seaboard 89728, and it looked like this. In fairness to Bill, he did explain that he does not consider the kit quite finished, so what we see here may be modified later.

As I have mentioned, any car with the defects as we see them here would be sent to the local repair track as soon as the defects were noticed. Safety appliances were required to be kept in repair. (AAR Interchange Rule 21 required owners of cars to pay for running board repairs, although carried out on foreign lines, and cars with unrepaired running boards should neither be offered nor accepted in interchange, Rule 32.) But this kind of thing could perhaps be seen in service. Omitting just a single plank might be more realistic.
     To conclude, lest this post showing some more extreme running board depictions should seem as though I’m urging that modelers do more of the same, let me show something done by Bill Welch that I think more pleasing and much more common. Shown below are two Georgia & Florida box cars, built from Sunshine kits, with colored pencil highlighting of individual planks in running boards. I like the subtle effect Bill obtained here. (You can click on the image to enlarge.)

       I have been working my way through a number of my freight cars with wood running boards, and finding, as I mentioned in a prior post, a bunch with weathered or distressed running boards, but a substantial number with just plain roof color. I am steadily correcting many of those cars, often with something I hope is as subtle as Bill Welch’s Georgia & Florida box cars, shown just above. Thanks for the ideas, Bill.
Tony Thompson

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