Saturday, September 28, 2013

Building the Guadalupe Fruit Company

Among the planned industries for my layout town of Ballard is Guadalupe Fruit Company. In the prototype area where my layout is set, Nipomo Mesa would be a likely area for stone fruit production. My choice is to model the packing house as located on my SP branch just west of the mesa.
     The packing house is to be situated near the depot (as are several packing houses in the prototype town of Oceano, a few miles away). To see what might fit in the available area, I used some surplus Bristol board and mocked up a simple box for the house itself, then a platform to fit the space between spur tracks behind the depot. The pieces of cardboard of the mockup were assembled with masking tape, so they can readily be rearranged, disassembled or replaced. Though not sure if I would want to have part or all of the platform roofed, nor if I like the tapered roof shape on the platform, I did go ahead and mock up a roof which fits the platform. Here is an overhead view.

The green roof is the Ballard depot, with a Pacific Motor Trucking (PMT) truck in the driveway. To the immediate left of the depot is the house track, with the freight platform still to be built. At right is Bromela Road.
     The intent was to permit as many as four refrigerator cars to be loaded at one time on this platform, two on each side. The photo below shows two cars lined up alongside, though I will probably designate the other side of the platform as the primary loading point.

The complementary side view looks like this. The mocked-up platform itself is too high for the car floor height, but the eave height of the roof seems all right. (There is another structure mockup in the background.)

     The mockup immediately showed several points that I need to address. As I mentioned, the full platform roof may not be part of the final structure, and indeed several prototype packing house photos show partial rather than complete platform roofs. The platform may also be longer than necessary, since loading only requires access to the car door, not to the entire car length. One response could be to lengthen the main building at the expense of the platform. The obvious next step is to modify the cardboard version of the structure to see if I like it better another way.
     Adjustments to the mockup are easy at this stage. I can modify the mockup to respond to my successive observations of each version, and once I feel it is satisfactory, it can be disassembled and its parts used as patterns for the final structure. This is a process I have used in the past for structures which need to fit a particular space, and has worked pretty well.
Tony Thompson

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Constructing Santa Rosalia — staging under

The end of my mythical Southern Pacific branch line, and the town for which the branch is named (many SP branches were named that way), is Santa Rosalia. You can see the arrangement in the map I devised for the branch location, connecting to the SP Coast Route, in my previous post about the layout locale (see it at: ).
     The space available is the end of the layout room, beyond Ballard. Directly under Santa Rosalia will be some staging coming off the main line, so this had to be the first part of the construction project. As with the Shumala extension (which was described in a post about a year ago, and here is the link to that: ), I had a sturdy bookcase underneath the area, to which some of the track risers could be directly screwed.
     Here is a view into the room corner. On the wall is a Railroad Model Craftsman cover from a month when my modeling article was included on the cover. Obviously the bookcase doesn’t extend to the corner, so a post will be needed there.

The next photo looks somewhat toward the left (relative to the view above), and the mainline turnout mentioned can be seen. The staging will run along the wall, crossing along the bookcase top.

      As I did for the Shumala extension, I used segments of L-girder to make the bases and risers. These make a flexible arrangement, because the two parts are independent, and the components are relatively stiff, compared to just using 1 x 4-inch lumber. In this photo, I am leveling the track board (itself an L-girder). Note the 2 x 2-inch leg against the wall, which supports the board end.

With the level established, I could proceed to glue and clamp both risers to the bases. I use yellow carpenter’s glue for these kinds of jobs. The reason not to attach them with screws is not only that it would be hard to work in the confined space, but also that it will be all but impossible once Santa Rosalia is present above this track board.
     While waiting for the glue to dry, I started cutting lengths of Homasote for track support. This material only needed to be the width of this track board. This particular batch of Homasote pieces had a white-painted side, so as soon as the pieces were cut, I spray painted them with Model Master Gray Primer, to give a ballast-like color, and set them aside to dry thoroughly.
     Meanwhile, with the risers glued to each base, I could proceed to glue the track board to the risers. I used bar clamps for this, with their greater reach. At left the end of the last Homasote piece in the main line is being glued and clamped to the new track board.

     As soon as the glued track board had set adequately, I started clamping and gluing the newly painted Homasote pieces. Here is a photo of the last two segments being glued down.

     Next comes tracklaying and connection to the main line, along with extra feeders to make sure everything is good electrically. But that will be a future post.
Tony Thompson

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Setting up an operating session

After my post about an operating session on my rewired layout (see: ), I received some queries about how one sets up something like this. The subject is a large one, and in this post I will only touch on some main points, but hopefully these will provide some insight into what is involved.
     Obviously the setting up depends entirely on what kind of layout is involved. For layouts oriented to train operation, one would need to decide which trains to run, and when (more on that in a moment). For a layout oriented toward switching, some system of directing car movement is the primary thing that is needed. And for layouts which “do it all,” there can be a lot of choices to make in both areas. But before I get into those choices, let me make a few general comments.
     A familiar complaint of modelers who haven’t ever participated in an operating session is that they expect to be subjected to a high-pressure event, with split-second train movements and lots of complex rules and regulations that they aren’t familiar with. That can happen, of course, and I’ve run into it myself. But there is certainly no necessity for operation to be like that, nor is it at all common.
     Another comment one sometimes hears is that the operating assignments all seem to involve large amounts of work to be done, such that a person can hardly take a deep breath to fit everything in. Sometimes that busy feeling comes simply from doing a job for the first time, but sometimes the job really is excessively busy for one person. I’ll say again, I have seen this kind of thing occasionally, but would say it is by no means typical, and certainly is not at all necessary.
     So what are the goals? I would identify two: first, train movements which are realistic, which in most cases means that the trains have a prototypical purpose, and second, realistic itineraries for cars, that is, cars moving loaded or empty in some fashion which makes sense. This provides a purpose to all the car movements. These goals can be carried out in a simple way, or may be quite complex, depending on the choices of the layout owner.
     I will start with trains. One simple way to conduct operations is to have a line-up or sequence of events, rather than a timetable. In this approach, you simply write a list of things that will happen, in sequence. Maybe it would say something like, “run mail train eastward; run through freight westward; run local as far as Delta, do needed switching, return.” Now there is no time pressure, and each train movement can happen simply and independently. As this gets more complex, especially on a large layout, the obvious solution would be the prototype one: a timetable.
     If a timetable is to be used, and I recommend it even if informality is your goal, it is not difficult to start with the prototype for your area (or a similar prototype, if you are freelancing). This is what I have done with the Guadalupe Subdivision of the SP, my layout locale, as I described earlier (see: ). That timetable construction forms the middle or center pages of my layout’s timetable document.
     I said that I recommend a timetable even if it won’t be used for controlling train movements, because it is a familiar prototype document and so provides what Al Kalmbach called “typographic scenery” for your layout. I will discuss a variety of content for timetables in a separate post.
     Should you wish to go beyond the framework of a timetable and issue train orders, either the Chubb or Koester books can give you an introduction. Here are the full names of these books: first, Bruce Chubb’s outstanding How to Operate Your Model Railroad, Kalmbach (out of print, but available used), and secondly Tony Koester’s Realistic Model Railroad Operation, Kalmbach. For more specifics and very clear descriptions, you might like to try 19 East, Copy Three, by David Sprau and Steve King, published by the Operations Special Interest Group (OPSIG) of NMRA. You can purchase it on their web site, . It is appropriately subtitled, “The Art and Practice of Timetable & Train Order Operations.” It‘s a terrific book, but does represent a more complicated and advanced kind of operation.
     My second goal was stated as realistic car movements, thus creating a purpose to the movement of trains as well as for the switching. There are many ways to achieve this, which have been amply described in books such as the Chubb and Koester books just cited. I personally like a variation of the car card-waybill method, which uses more realistic waybills. In this blog I have written numerous posts about waybill usage, and you can search for them using the search box in the upper right corner of the blog page, with a search term like “waybills” or something more specific.
     My waybills are small, as you can see in another photo from the operating session cited at the top of this post. Some of the waybills have been set upright against the cars they correspond to, as a preliminary to starting switching.

     I don’t think I can overemphasize the point that all of this does not need to be particularly complicated. Running a few trains and switching a few industries can be plenty of fun, and as I said, you can always add more activity as you go along.
     When all the preliminaries are completed, and you have a few sessions under your belt, the time may come when a crew of visitors actually runs the entire layout.  There may be a lot happening, and as owner, you may just be overseeing the action. Here is an illustration, in the form of a photo at Ed Merrin’s layout, showing me at right, former SP dispatcher Rick Kang at center, and layout owner Ed Merrin at left, during an operating session on Ed’s fine Northwestern Pacific layout. Rick is asking Ed for clarification on switching procedures at Petaluma, which he is working. As this photo shows, several people may be pretty busy with different tasks, and space may be tight. But with a solid operating system, everyone can do their work.

     These are only some of the considerations in setting up an operating session. It may seem obvious, but the important thing is to start with just a few parts of the ultimate operating system you want, see what works and what doesn’t, and add more complexity as you go. Operation is a lot of fun, and puts all that layout work into motion. I enthusiastically recommend it.
Tony Thompson

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My note about staging in Model Railroad Planning

I recently was asked for more information about the tiered staging arrangement I devised on my layout when it was in Pittsburgh, PA, and reported in the issue of Model Railroad Planning (MRP) for 1999, page 84. This one-page description had been requested by MRP editor Tony Koester after he saw my staging on a visit to Pittsburgh.
     In brief, I was adding eight staging tracks to my layout, and was familiar with the problem often encountered in layout staging areas, that it can be hard to see what all is in there, since staging is often underneath something, or in the dark. All I did was to stagger the height of pairs of tracks, so that each pair was separated by about 1-3/4 inches. This is how it looked from the side. The surface under the track is simply painted ballast gray, and the rails painted rusty brown. There is an escape crossover just visible on the second tier, at the right.  This is the same slide used in the MRP article, though cropped differently.

The purple-gray horizon line on the backdrop is worth pointing out. It is just a quickly painted, monochrome addition to the sky-blue wall, but it magically adds depth to the scene. It was surprising to me how much even this little “scenery” improved the look.
     The black posts supported an upper level, removed so I could take this photo conveniently. When the upper level was in place, I installed under-shelf fluorescent light units to provide good illumination of the staging. This was effective, and identification of cars in staging was easy.
     Perhaps the only additional information I can supply is that I did spend some time arranging the lead into this eight-track yard. It was connected by a single track to the rest of the layout, and I used a large sheet of plywood for the transition from that track into the yard. The cookie-cutter technique allowed me to manage gradual changes of slope for all four of the track boards (none were quite level with the approach track). I used twin-coil switch machines to throw switches as well as power frogs, and built a diode matrix so tracks could be selected by pushbuttons, one per track.
     I have placed a scan of the article on Google Drive, and it can be downloaded (and printed, if you like) by anyone. Here is the link:

This is a simple idea and not particularly difficult to implement. I recommend it if you have space to carry it out.
Tony Thompson

Monday, September 16, 2013

Homage to two great resin kits

I have built a number of resin kits over the years (in fact, way back in the 1980s, I wrote a review for Railroad Model Craftsman for the very first Sunshine kit), and they naturally vary in ease of assembly, fidelity to prototype, and excellence of castings—not to mention clarity of instructions. I’ve also traded some of my surplus kits to the guys who build kits professionally, in exchange for them building some of the kits I don’t have time to do. But however they get built, occasionally a kit really stands out. This post is about two such kits.
     One of them is among the true pioneer resin kits. Dennis Storzek, back when he was a resin kit manufacturer, made several kits, two of them Soo Line prototypes. One was a caboose, about which I heard raves, and the other was the signature Soo box car, a “Fowler-like” design on which the diagonal braces connected to the underframe crossbearers below the side sill, a distinctive look. I had no use for a Soo caboose, but could certainly operate the box car; the Soo had over 2000 of them, and they are truly a “signature” Soo car.
     I bought one when they were new, soon after the initial release in 1985, and it has sat on my shelf ever since, until recently. The castings in this kit are simply superb, very sharp and with little flash, and I had long wanted to “get to” this project. Finally, I had Dennis Williams build it, as part of a recent trade, and as always, I did my own lettering and weathering. This kit can certainly result in a handsome freight car!

     The other kit I want to praise is a Funaro and Camerlengo product, the Southern Pacific Class A-50-5 or A-50-6 kit. Steve Funaro has come a long way in his resin kits, from the early ones (cast in a kind of yellow resin) with numerous air bubbles and often warped parts, all the way to often excellent ones today. This SP automobile car, which is the familiar “door-and-a-half” design made famous by the Ambroid kit, is among his very best. The castings are crisp and well-detailed, and all dimensions are correct. Again, Dennis Williams did the basic construction and I finished with lettering and weathering.

Though built in the 1920s, the prototype cars survived in SP service into the 1950s, no longer carrying the automobiles they were designed to carry, but carrying other bulky loads and especially lumber. That’s how I’ll use it.
     These two kits are a joy to operate on the layout, and are outstanding examples of what is possible in resin freight cars. Funaro’s success after a long period of improvement deserves respect, and is understandable as steady progress. The perhaps startling point to be made is that the impressive Storzek kit was among the very first resin car kits ever made. How can a pioneer be among the best ever? Because such design and production is more art than engineering, and great insight into both prototype and modeling does not depend on whether the result is a pioneer or not. Dennis Storzek certainly proved that.
Tony Thompson

Friday, September 13, 2013

A new SP bridge for Shumala, Part 3

In the previous post, I described completion of the girders for this bridge, including weathering (it’s at: ). I also mentioned the need to glue a styrene sheet underneath the track ties on the bridge, so that it could be ballasted. Southern Pacific definitely preferred ballasted-deck bridges, and used that style even on long, high trestles. The problem was that the ties are Delrin or some similar engineering plastic, a notoriously difficult material to glue.
     After a lot of poking around on the Internet, often finding directly contradictory reviews of particular products (either “it worked great,” or else “it was terrible, didn’t stick at all,” and so on), I decided that the Loctite product, Plastic Bonder, had the best reviews. Then I couldn’t find it anywhere locally. But another Loctite adhesive, called Plastics Bonding System, got nearly as good reviews, and I found it available for sale nearby. It has two parts: an Activator, which is applied with a device just like a felt-tip pen, and an Adhesive, which is applied to one surface and the parts clamped (I just used clothes pins). I tried it and it appeared to work fine. I am not putting much stress on the joint, but it certainly sticks. I pried at it gently and the joint remained intact. Good enough for me.
     Then I was ready to install the girders. For bridges like this, one end normally has a shoe which can slide on its pedestal with expansion and contraction, while the shoe at the other end is bolted to its pedestal. (On larger bridges, the fixed end often includes a hinge which permits slight movement up and down, but not on a bridge as small as the one I am modeling.) I simulated the shoes and pedestals with small blocks of styrene under each end. This whole topic is described clearly in the book by Paul Mallery, Bridge and Trestle Handbook, Revised Edition, published in 1976 by Boynton and Associates, pages 31 and 32.
     I simply attached the girders with Canopy Glue, to the tops of the shoe/pedestal pieces. Here is a top view of the bridge at this point, with the sheet glued under the ties, using the Loctite system, to hold ballast.

     The proportions of the new bridge girders are far more appropriate for this short span than the ones used previously. This is evident in a view below, from the side, even before re-ballasting. That’s the Shumala depot roof in the foreground. The weathering mentioned in the previous post in this series (see citation at top) is visible in this photo, the yellowish rust film. Ballast of course remains to be added.

     Next I ballasted the bridge deck and surrounding area. First, I checked that I had a barrier to prevent ballast slipping around or through the bridge structure onto Chamisal Road below. Then I used my usual ballasting method, basically the Dave Frary approach (as shown for example in How to Build Realistic Model Railroad Scenery, Kalmbach). This is an entirely water-based method, using “wet” water (with a drop of detergent), applied with a misting sprayer, to wet everything thoroughly, then eyedropper application of a 50-50 mixture of wet water and acrylic matte medium.
     I have tried an alternate approach, advocated occasionally in the hobby press, to wet the ballast or other scenic material with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol before the eyedropper step, instead of wet water. But in all candor, I did not find it any more effective than wet water alone, and the alcohol seems able to soften some scenic materials. I’d rather not find out what else might happen along those lines.
     Here is the completed bridge. The girders look no different that what is shown in the two photos above, but this angle shows the completed ballasting.

    I’m happy to have a bridge back in place at Shumala. This scene is something I want to photograph as well as enjoy operating, and the bridge makes it more complete than it was.
Tony Thompson

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My new column on PFE in Model Railroad Hobbyist

My regular column in the on-line magazine Model Railroad Hobbyist or MRH has just come out in the September issue. This is Part One of a two-part series, aimed at a modelers’ viewpoint on Pacific Fruit Express (PFE) operations. There is, of course, an entire book about PFE, of which I was principal author (Pacific Fruit Express, 2nd edition, A.W. Thompson, R.J. Church and B.H. Jones, Signature Press, 2000, still in print). But the book has no explicit modeling content, even though it contains a lot of information that modelers need for realistic operation and for accurate freight cars. The column has the purpose of bringing the book’s information together in one place, oriented to modeling needs. It contains little information not in the book, just organizes and presents it differently. One slight difference is that not all of its 17 photos are in the PFE book.
     As always, you can download the September issue of MRH for free at: . My column in that issue does not have separate page numbers (like everything now in MRH), and is most conveniently accessed from the Contents page.
     Here is one of the photos which didn’t make it into the MRH column (a PFE photo). It shows the ITP or Ice Transfer Plant of PFE at Hood River, Oregon. It was a ten-carlength ice deck, about two-thirds of which is visible here, with a modest ice storage house behind the deck. You can also see ice unloading platforms, one under the deck at the ice house, the other at far left, though most ice was provided by the adjacent facility of the Hood River Apple Growers Association. Even a size of ten cars makes a pretty long deck in model form, but this is a quite small deck on the prototype. Modelers generally have to compromise on rather small ice decks, by PFE standards.

     The column was originally written as a single, larger text, but the press of other material for September’s MRH caused it to be split into two parts, a perfectly reasonable editorial decision, though perhaps less convenient for readers. Part Two, originally just the second half of my writing, is about modeling PFE cars in HO scale. 
     Readers of this blog will recognize that I have done a lot of PFE car modeling, along with a lot of thinking about how best to do so. Some of the cars which will be shown in Part Two in MRH next month have already been described in prior posts in this blog; others have not, and were photographed specifically for the column. Some of the thinking behind choices of models and paint schemes likewise has not appeared in the blog.
     The MRH column, and the comments in this post, are focused on PFE, though many aspects and practices of PFE were common throughout the business of perishable shipping by rail in the days of ice refrigeration, including ART, MDT, FGE, SFRD and others. I just know PFE the most thoroughly and completely, so have restricted myself to it.
Tony Thompson

Saturday, September 7, 2013

An operating session

When my layout was in Pittsburgh, PA, and was rather larger and with much more staging, we had operating sessions fairly often, usually with the members of ICFS (for information on what ICFS was, and is, you can read my post at: ). In those days, the layout peninsula, which was home to the towns of Jalama and Ballard, included most of the switching opportunities, though the 16 tracks of staging permitted lots of mainline trains too. For a drawing of the peninsula as it then was, see: .
     With my move to California, it is that peninsula which is now the majority of the layout. As I’ve explained previously (see my discussion at: ), the town of Jalama is now renamed Shumala, and what was previously a freelance short line is now an SP branch. Nearly all of the switching remains as it was, so that sort of operation is equally available in the new layout.
     Having accomplished a victory—which is only an interim one, of course—in the “electrical wars,” as previously described (you can find the story at: ), I thought the time might be right for an exploratory operating session. There had been some operating sessions prior to the total rewiring of practically the entire layout, accompanied by totally rewiring my control panel, but an obviously new situation, at least electrically, meant that there were bound to be new challenges.
     My brother-in-law, Bill Albrecht, was in town for an anniversary celebration, and since he is a model railroader (albeit of the garden-railway persuasion), I invited him to try a switching problem. I set it up with my usual waybills, which I’ve described previously in a magazine article (see: ), so that it would require only a fairly simple set of moves. This was because Bill is not used to switching operation in the garden-railway world. But he does use an NCE throttle exactly like mine on his railroad, so he was comfortable controlling the locomotive, and away we went.
     He soon figured out the logic of the required switching, and of the waybill system, and went to work. Here he is at the beginning, with waybills still standing up alongside the cars, while he gets the hang of the locomotive behavior.

Pretty quickly we removed those waybills and with only some preliminary mentoring from me, he moved through the switching that was needed. My sister (Bill’s wife)  took this photo.

Once the Shumala work was done, he started making up the train for Ballard. As was the case in the entire job, he is using SP Consolidation 2836.

Upon arrival at Ballard, there were some set-outs and pickups to do, before returning to Shumala. Here Bill is using a bamboo skewer as a switch pick to uncouple the caboose.

     We had fun doing this problem, despite finding a few dead spots (amazing how they surface whenever you operate). They are all marked for attention. And I need to replace more of my Caboose Industries ground throws with the Bitter Creek ones (I described and installed one of these in a prior post, at: ). But this was an encouraging step with the new wiring, not to mention plain old fun.
Tony Thompson

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Steam in India, 1984, Part 2

As I described in my previous post on this topic (you can read it at: ), in December 1984 I was in India to participate in ICF-6, the sixth Intrnational Conference on Fracture. Prior to the meeting, my wife Mary and I did some travel within India to see various sites of interest, including Varanasi
     At Varanasi, the depot was bustling with steam power, which I had not expected. In just a two-hour sojourn there, all the while wishing I had another roll of film (remember those days?), I saw many steam-powered trains in both directions, and many light engines being serviced.
     When I first arrived at the depot, I photographed a pair of passenger engines, with typical red smoke lifters, on ready tracks across from the platform. In the near foreground is a water column of a type seen throughout the Varanasi terminal.

There were also a few diesel locomotives, with a variety of paint schemes. I thought this one was pretty handsome. On the nose, just above the walkway, can be seen the initials “NE,” standing for the North East zone of Indian Railways.

     This shot shows a mail train, with a guard van (caboose) behind the tender, just getting underway. Most passenger power had obviously been rubbed down and was relatively clean, including glossy boiler bands. This one’s tender also has the initials NE.

As I was about to leave the depot and return to my hotel, one more train came in, with the typical Mikado power. The engine was uncoupled from the train, then drifted past me, and I got a shot of the tender. Note the NE initials.

Then I walked up to the head end where a workman had opened the headlight casing, I suppose to check a defect. I liked the silver trim around the smokebox front.

     As was the case with my steam encounters in China in 1981, it was a real pleasure for me to see these locomotives working in everyday service. Whether any of them had especially historic value, I have no idea. But it was wonderful to see them going about their daily duties.
Tony Thompson

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A classic HO scale car kit — one more time

I have said more than once in this blog that most older car kits have lots of limitations, particularly many of the Athearn “blue box” line of easily assembled freight cars. That certainly applies to the refrigerator cars, both the all-steel car (clearly modeled on the Pacific Fruit Express Class R-40-23) and the wood-side car, basically the steel car with different sides. Any of these cars requires a lot of work, which still can’t fix all the shortcomings, and so may well not be worth it by modern modeling standards. But. There can be extenuating circumstances, and this post is about one of them: paint schemes.
     Back in the 1980s, Bill Metzger of Evergreen Roundhouse produced a number of custom decorated Athearn cars, including several Union Pacific box cars and some PFE R-40-23 cars. All had excellent paint schemes, featuring quite accurate lettering from high-standard artwork. I have a couple of his UP box cars in my fleet, upgraded in the usual way of Athearn box cars, with improved doors, running boards, brake wheels, grab irons and sill steps, etc.
     But on the PFE side, although I own some of the kits, none had been finished. I decided to look carefully at one of them, which was actually a gift to me from Bill for help with PFE information, way, way back in 1988. The kit had been started on upgrading, so I looked to see how much work remained, and if I wanted to do it. Here is Bill’s label on the end of the blue box.

     I decided to go ahead. As always, the cast-on sill steps of the Athearn body, among the most oversize and most evident features, had to be replaced with metal parts. The car sides needed placard boards; the B end needed an extended brake step and decent brake wheel; the underframe needed the usual brake gear reversal; and the roof needed a steel grid running board and complete ice hatch rebuild. But that is all pretty routine stuff for Athearn reefers. I decided to go ahead and finish the car, partly because the paint scheme does hold up by today’s standards, and also because I respect and admire the work Bill Metzger did on these models.
     The only things worth pointing out, perhaps, are the Tuttle Industries sill steps at car corners, and the InterMountain plastic “double steps” under the door. The latter steps were applied to nearly all cars of PFE Class R-40-23, and are available in InterMountain’s refrigerator car detail set, part no. 40500-10.
     I have described in earlier posts how almost all this work was done, so will not repeat it here. If you want to view those posts, you could start here: . Here is the underbody work well along, seen from the right side.

In the view above, the commodity card board has been painted, but the placard board and the route card board remain unpainted, as do all the steps.
     In the car’s painted and assembled form, route cards and commodity cards have been added, as in this view of the car’s left side.

Athearn model though it is, the upgraded details raise it above its original state. It may be classified as a “mainline car,” but whatever the case, I enjoyed completing this fine piece of Bill Metzger’s work, and will be pleased to see it in service on my layout.
Tony Thompson