As I mentioned in “Route cards-3,” route card boards were visibly not all the same size, but a size seen often, and shown in some drawings, was either 6 or 8 inches high and 12 inches long. To model them, I just cut one-foot slices of scale 1 x 6-inch or 1 x 8-inch styrene strip. These boards were often located on the side sill at the left bolster, but particularly on open-top cars, prototype photos are essential to determine actual locations.
To choose an example, I’ll use the prototypes in Richard Hendrickson’s by-now-classic articles on modeling various mill gondolas by kitbashing the Athearn gondola. This was a two-part series in Prototype Modeler, in the September-October and November-December issues of 1982, pages 31 and 12, respectively. In the articles it can be noted that route card board locations are all over the various cars. Likely some were even moved at shoppings of older cars in later years.
I needed cars of this type at the time the articles came out, and followed some of the suggested prototypes in those articles to build my own models. Here is one of them, an Elgin, Joliet & Eastern car.
For an intriguing look at the variation in route card board locations on gondolas of a single railroad, I recommend Dorin’s book on the EJ&E (Signature Press, 2009), Chapter 10. I made use of the EJ&E prototype photo in the second Hendrickson article. This particular board is 1 x 6-inch styrene, located as on many (though not all!) EJ&E gondolas. Here I am applying it:
After application, of course, the route card board will be painted black and then touched up with weathering colors, next time I weather a batch of cars, before adding a route card.
This kind of detail addition is quick and very easy, and it enables you to have a location for those interesting route cards on your freight car models.