Friday, September 7, 2012

Modeling meat reefers -- Part 3

My first post on my modeling project of meat refrigerator cars was a background description of the prototypes I wanted to model. I discussed that subject at: . As I stated there, my intention was to use the old LifeLike one-piece plastic body reefer as a starting point (it was a Varney product originally). It has the right proportions and is 37 feet long, thus is suitable as a meat car.
     The first part of the modeling was to remove all cast-on grab irons and ladders from car sides, and to model a board roof for cars that had them. Then separate wire grabs were installed, with complete grab iron rows at ladder locations for cars that had them. This was described in my second post, at: .
     My next step was to replace the snap-in “Talgo” trucks that came with these models. My preference is for screw attachments for trucks, and body-mounted couplers are absolutely standard in my fleet. I showed how I do that in a separate post: .
     The third part of the modeling project was installation of underbody brake gear. By the year I model, 1953, nearly all cars had AB brakes, as the deadline to replace K brakes was right around the corner, so the models all got AB brakes. The simplified approach to this brake gear was shown in a post about that subject, at: .
     The next step in completing the body detailing involved insertion of A-Line sill steps, which had already been attached when the brake gear was installed. These sill steps are clearly visible in the photos accompanying the brake gear post, cited above. I also added a Cal-Scale Ajax handbrake (in set 283, source of the rest of the brake gear also) to the two cars for which it was suitable, and used Tichy ladders (part 3066) for the Cudahy car which had them. The board-roof cars needed to have ice hatches applied (strictly speaking, ice hatch covers), and I used Grandt hatches (part 5106) for one car, and some old Cannonball Car Shops hatches (part 31038) from my parts drawer for the other. These CCS parts were styrene injection-molded reproductions of the original metal Red Ball parts.
     At this point, it was time to address the painting of the cars. The original LifeLike red lettering on the white plastic bodies was pretty resistant to a couple of paint strippers, and was only partly removed. You can see that clearly in the last photo in the post about replacing snap-in trucks. Since car sides were to be yellow or orange, I wanted to make sure the old lettering would not show through. The best solution to this is a thin primer coat of light gray, so that was my next step.
     The light gray would also moderate the black roofs of the cars with original LifeLike roofs, since otherwise the final boxcar red color might be too dark over the black, compared to the white ends. Accordingly, I wanted to prime both roofs and sides of the project cars. The color I used was Floquil “SP Lettering Gray,” a light color and one I have around for other uses.
     Once the primer was dry, a couple of minor boo-boos had to be corrected (primer is a great way to highlight those little blunders you hadn’t noticed or were trying to ignore). Then I airbrushed the sides yellow. When color shots of yellow prototype cars are viewed, they are not a bright or lemon yellow, but are a deeper color tending toward gold (but not metallic, of course). I have used several paint colors to reproduce this look, including Floquil’s MEC Harvest Gold, CNW Yellow and Railbox Yellow; here I used the Railbox color. As this is the lightest finish color, it went on first. I followed that by painting the underframe Grimy Black.

You can see the sill steps are black in this view, and some gray primer is visible on the roof and end. This is the car with Cannonball ice hatches and a board roof. The roof corner grab irons have not been installed yet. The trucks, incidentally, are a pair of my “painting trucks,” which are used over and over under cars being painted and will likely never be used under a completed freight car.
     The next step will be to mask the yellow and apply Boxcar Red on the roof and ends, followed by lettering. But I think I will postpone the final paint and lettering to a future post.
Tony Thompson

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