Wednesday, July 18, 2012

“Shake ’n’ Take” 2006 project: KCS rebuilt box car

The “Shake ’n’ Take” project at the Prototype Rails meeting in Cocoa Beach, Florida in January, 2006 was a rebuilt 40-foot Kansas City Southern box car. These cars were rebuilt by KCS in 1949 from USRA 40-ton double-sheathed box cars, with 1950s steel sides, roofs and ends. Accordingly, they had the usual kind of underframe of USRA rebuilds, with inset side sills supporting the wider body of the newer carbody design.
     The number series for these KCS cars was 15500–15599. The cars were an original allocation from the USRA, built by Keith Car & Manufacturing Company (per the standard reference on USRA freight cars, James E. Lane’s article in the R&LHS publication, Railroad History, No. 128, Spring 1973). In 1940, there were still 95 cars on the roster. In 1949, the 92 remaining cars were rebuilt as described, and retained their original car numbers. By 1953, when I model, all 92 rebuilds remained on the roster.
     The background on modeling this car can be found in an article by Greg Martin in the Railroad Model Craftsman issue for March 2009 (“KCS post-war, rebuilt 40-foot box car,” pages 52–56), with additional information from Joe Pennington’s modeling article in Mainline Modeler, April 1992. The directions that came with the kit for this “Shake ’n’ Take” project are also available on Google Docs, with Greg Martin’s permission. Here is the link: .
     Below is a photo of one of the prototype rebuilt cars (George Sisk photo, Charles Winters collection, courtesy Rob Evans). Though not a good copy, it shows the main features.

In this photo, it appears that the roof is black and the ends are the same color as the sides. This is how the model was painted in Greg Martin’s article in RMC (cited above).
     I had started this project soon after the 2006 meeting but was not happy with my success in scratchbuilding the side sill details for the car, and, as so often happens, set it aside until a time when motivation might increase sufficiently to overcome this problem. Until recently, that time had not come. I hate to admit it, but this is not the only project in my “project boxes” with this status. (On the other hand, I know that a few other modelers suffer from the same disease.)
     The stimulus to get going again was indirectly the 2012 “Shake ’n’ Take” project at Cocoa Beach, the Southern Pacific Class B-50-12-A cars similarly rebuilt from USRA box cars, though in SP’s case they were 50-ton single-sheathed box cars. There too, the side sill had to be created, and so the stimulating event that happened recently was the announcement by Chad Boas that he was going to make resin castings of this USRA-rebuild side sill, with all details.
     Chad doesn’t really stock these parts, but has the masters and tells me that he will keep these available. Accordingly, it should be possible to order them at any time. His address is 30 N. 30th St., Lafayette, IN 47904, and his e-mail is <>. He charged $6 for a pair of the side sills, plus $2 shipping and handling, when I bought mine. They are really nice parts, and would be a great deal of work to duplicate from scratch.
     The overall KCS car project was fully described and illustrated in Greg Martin’s article, cited above, as well as in the “Shake ’n’ Take” kit directions (link above), so I won’t go into detail on most of the project. Instead I will try to indicate what is not shown or not clear in Greg’s description, including of course the use of Chad Boas’s fine side sill castings.
     The basic idea behind this project is to combine the Accurail USRA style underframe (for example, from series 4600 cars) with an Accurail postwar steel box car body (series 3500). That body has slightly the wrong Improved Dreadnaught ends (they are a design from a few years later), but this will be a “main line” model for me, so exact ends aren’t crucial.
     An important first step in using the Accurail car body is to make sure its sides are parallel. As you get them, many of these bodies bow inward quite substantially. Greg’s suggestion at Cocoa Beach was to use two lengths of 0.25-inch styrene tubing, 1.25 inches long, to brace the  body inside and locate the sides properly. Here is a view of my body (which was severely bowed) with the internal braces added.

The body also needs to have the side sill cut to a straight configuration, which means essentially cutting off the projecting “tabs” and narrowing the under-door support to 7 feet, 3 inches. Here, roughly indicated with white lines, is what I mean:

    The next step is to attach the brake gear to the underframe. As Greg’s article clearly showed (and as is visible in the prototype photo above), all three elements of the AB brake hardware are on the same side of the car, the left side. (The convention for the side nomenclature describes what you would see standing between the rails at the B or brake end of the car: to your left is the left side, etc.)
     I mounted the AB parts using their own mounting posts, in holes drilled #43 in the new locations. The vital part of this visually is the transverse reservoir, an unusual but far from unique placement. Brake levers are 1 x 6-inch (scale) styrene strip. I used some of the styrene rod provided in the “Shake ’n’ Take” kit, something Greg Martin swears by for brake piping and rodding, as well as ladder rungs, etc. The rod size used here is 0.015-inch diameter. You can click to enlarge the image.

     In this photo, the underbody-floor piece is merely resting on the car body (the cuts indicated above have not been made yet). The gap of about one-eighth of an inch on either side of the floor, inside the car body edge, will be filled by the new side sills. So to complete this part of the model, the Boas side sills will be attached along either side with CA.
     This is as much as I wanted to present of the project in this post. Addition of side sills and the body detailing is fairly simple. That work, and painting and lettering, will be included in the following segment.
Tony Thompson

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