Thursday, August 28, 2014

Open-car loads: completing Owl Mountain’s kit

In my first post about the new Owl Mountain lumber load kit, their no. 3001, I showed the process of assembly of simulated wood panels into lumber stacks, which are then joined to make the load units. You can read that post at: . And for more information about the kits themselves, additional photographs, and a direct purchase option, visit their web site at: .
     In that previous post, I left off at the point of completing a stack of lumber, and showed a photograph provided by Owl Mountain, of a completed load. In this post, I show briefly the process of completing my own kit.
     Once all the stack separators are glued onto the bottom of each stack, they can be glued together into a load unit. Then you have to decide how the load will be used in your operation. You can glue the load onto a suitable flat car, and with that approach, can glue the side stakes of the load so they line up with stake pockets. This is probably the most secure way of using these loads.
     On my layout, nearly all loads are removable, and I thought I would see how well this Owl Mountain load works in that mode. I followed the suggestions in the kit directions to make the load that way. For the stake spacing on the load, I chose a to use the deck of a Southern Pacific Class F-70-7 flat car. This model was originally produced by Red Caboose, and is now produced from time to time by the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society.
     I carefully aligned the load stacks in the desired position, then carefully began to glue each stake in succession onto the stacks, with their bottom end projecting into the notch in the car deck, above each stake pocket. This goes pretty quickly, as styrene cement softens the stake and allows it to “take hold” of the stack easily. In the photo below, I am adding the next stake to the near side, with the far side already staked. I trimmed a few of the stakes to a different length, as most photos of the prototype show stakes of varying length.

     Once all stakes are attached, the cross-ties and longitudinal ties are added in the same manner, again with styrene cement making the job go quickly. Here is the finished product, now on a flat car with weathered sides and deck. (I have described my method for this weathering in a prior post, which is at this link: .)

The bracing here, photographed in sunlight, is a little translucent, despite an overspray of Dullcote. I will likely add another coat to reduce this, although in indoor lighting the effect is absent. By the way, the caution in the kit instructions about weight is well taken. In combination, the entire load weight of more than two ounces is very evident when it is picked up.
     I mentioned above that I was concerned how well the loads would perform in removable mode, because the side stakes extend below the bottom of the load (so as to index into the stake pocket notches), and these could be vulnerable. I believe some careful storage technique would need to be devised for when the loads are off the flat car. But I’m happy with how I made mine. Here is one stack removed (and set down gently on its bottom stakes!).

     There has been some comment in on-line discussions that this is not a big lumber load. Since it is as tall as a 1937 AAR box car, I would disagree with that comment.

     I will repeat my recommendation, that this is an excellent and well-thought-out kit, and produces a very good-looking lumber load. I like it, and strongly recommend it to anyone wanting a load like of this type.
Tony Thompson

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wine tank cars

I reviewed the topic of wine tank cars in an earlier post, the main focus of which was wine as an industrial commodity (you can read it at this link: ). Here I want to revisit the subject of the tank cars in which wine was carried.
     In the post just cited, I showed examples of two insulated tank cars, one with a single dome and one with six domes, assigned to wine service. In the present post, I will show other examples of wine cars, to add to what was shown previously. All are American Car & Foundry builder photos, courtesy of Ed Kaminski.
     To begin, single-dome wine cars were fairly common. Here is an example, from the well-known concern of Chateau Martin, which shipped much blending wine eastward from California, along with wine to be bottled under its own label. It is a 6000-gallon car. (You can click on the image to enlarge.)

Note that this car is not insulated and jacketed, unlike most wine tank cars.
     Another common arrangement was a triple-dome car, such as this one owned by Shippers Car Line and and leased to Northern California Wineries of San Francisco. The “fat” domes show that they are insulated. Like most wine cars, this is a 6000-gallon car, making each compartment about 2000 gallons.

     Not as common but certainly visible in most photos of wine shipping was the four-dome car (in the post cited at the top of this page is a fine photo of the SP yard in Fresno, California, with all kinds of wine tank cars visible). This one was owned by California Dispatch Line (CDLX) and leased to various shippers. It is larger than most wine cars, having a capacity of 8000 gallons. Each end compartment holds 2500 gallons, each of the two center compartments holds 1500 gallons.

     Finally, the most commonly recognized wine tank car for modelers is the six-dome car. These almost always had six 1000-gallon compartments, as does this Shippers Car Line car, leased to the R. Martini Wine Company, which has insulation on both the body and the domes.

     This range of cars is not easy to model. Single-compartment insulated cars are of course easy, though not in the typical 6000-gallon size. The easiest cars (relatively speaking) at the moment are the six-compartment cars. They have been done in HO scale brass by Precision Scale, and the old Thomas Trains model is also well done (both are correctly 6000-gallon size). I have discussed the Thomas car in a previous post, a link to which is given in the first paragraph at the top of the present post. In that earlier post, I criticized the old AHM 6-dome tank car for being way oversize. It certainly has no prototype, nor anything even close. Just to emphasize the point, here is a side-by-side comparison of the AHM car at left, with a Precision Scale brass model at right. I think I’m within my rights to call the AHM version a monster.

     At least one other wine tank car is available, in prototypical lettering and in ready-to-run form. This was a convention car for the NMRA National Convention in Sacramento in 2011, and was produced by Walthers for the convention committee, using the Proto2000 insulated tank car model. Here is one of these cars in my fleet, with light weathering added by me.

The factory lettering is for California Dispatch Line (CDLX), and carries the notation, “FOR WINE SERVICE ONLY.” I have a second one of these cars, renumbered with decals.
     A few of these convention cars are still for sale, at a reduced price of $25 with free shipping. To buy one, go to this site: . These ready-to-run cars offer an easy way to get some wine traffic moving on your layout.
Tony Thompson

Friday, August 22, 2014

A new grade crossing in Ballard

I need to add another grade crossing in my layout town of Ballard, to serve an additional bulk oil depot. This is not particularly complicated in and of itself, but I thought the technique(s) used might be of interest. As background, I wrote a post a few months ago about the paving at grade crossings; you can read it at: .
     A connected topic, described in a previous post, is a summary of several topics related to grade crossings, particularly crossbucks and warning signs, which is at this link: . I won’t be talking about those protection issues in this post, but the background may be relevant to anyone planning a crossing.
     The existing track arrangement has a switch just beyond (to the right of) the road, Bromela Road, as you see below. In the previous use of this layout segment, the spur then extended some distance beyond the road. Now, however, the layout is smaller and there is not space for a second industry spot served by that switch. Accordingly, I decided to move the switch to the other side of Bromela Road, thus creating the need for an additional grade crossing for the second track which would now cross the road. Here is the existing arrangement.

The switch in question is at lower right. Above it at right are the Union Oil depot, nearest the track, and the Wine-Growers Cooperative above it. The bit of plywood visible in the upper right corner is the future course of Oso Flaco Creek.
     Although I could simply remove the switch that isn’t needed, I had the thought to leave the frog and one point rail in place (which I can solder closed), and cut the diverging rails short, exactly as one can see in disabled prototype switches, thus showing a track arrangement change.
     My first step was to remove a length of track to the left of Bromela Road, to fit a No. 6 turnout. This track, all Code 70, had been ballasted, so it was essential to carefully and thoroughly scrape away all old ballast and dirt, to permit the new turnout to sit flat on the subsurface, which is Homasote.

A piece of the removed track is at lower right.
     Next, I installed the turnout in the usual way, and soldered the joints except at the frog, where gaps will be located. Then, with the switch in place, I used some dummy track segments to see how the new spur would be aligned, and I used a pencil to mark where the pavement of Bromela Road would need to be cut away for the new track. You can also see that the switch at right has had one point rail removed, and the other soldered closed.

     Once this marking was done, I used a utility knife to cut away the old roadway, which is plaster, and then used a putty knife to smooth the area down to the underlying Homasote.

Finally, the new Code 70 track was installed.

     The spur which is to be installed to the right is short, only two car lengths, but will serve a bulk oil dealer affiliated with Standard Oil of California (now Chevron). A Standard dealership has, among other operational benefits, the virtue of being an appropriate place to send all those UTLX tank cars most of us have. Union Tank Line, though divested from the Standard Oil family in the 1911 breakup, nevertheless remained quite friendly with all the “baby Standards” and supplied their tank car needs for years. My modeling year of 1953 is within that era.
     The next step in this project is to begin replacing paving. That is really the “grade crossing” part of this post, and I will illustrate my methods in a following post.
Tony Thompson

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Open-car loads: lumber from Owl Mountain Models

In a previous series of posts, I described a number of loads for open cars, starting with gondolas, including loads of pipe (you can read it at: ), and I also described how I build loads of bulk materials (see: ), and even a little bit about lumber loads in gondolas (at:  ). There are others as well, which you can find by searching on a term such as “open car loads” in the search box at upper right of this page. But loads for flat cars have been only lightly treated, just touching on crate loads (see: ), though lumber is perhaps the quintessential flat car load.
     Owl Mountain Models has just released a really excellent new kit for flat car lumber loads, kit no. 3001. These kinds of loads, if built board by board, are really a lot of work, as well as consuming quite an impressive amount of stripwood (ask me how I know). After doing that job once, I pretty much decided that once was enough. Now this Owl Mountain kit immensely simplifies the task. You can see some pictures of the kit and a completed model at their website, , but I will show the basics here also.
     Here is the package you get with kit no. 3001, which is priced at $24.95. The poly bag alone is 5 x 13 inches. It contains four sprues of board panels (about which, more in a moment), a sprue of bracing and dunnage boards, and excellent, detailed directions.

The back of the kit label shows in a nutshell how this material is assembled to make lumber stacks. (The direction sheet is much more detailed.)

     When you open the bag, you can see all the panels, eight to a sprue; each panel is eleven boards wide and two deep, making 22 boards per panel. If you were to stack all eight panels from one sprue together into one lumber stack, that’s 176 boards, which I leave to your imagination to consider doing one board at a time. Then multiply that by all four sprues (four stacks) to see what this kit really gives you.

The individual boards are dimensioned to represent 3 x 10-inch boards. And by the way, if you would like even more sprues to make bigger stacks, Owl Mountain has an add-on kit no. 3012 with more of them.
     When you look at these panels, you immediately realize that this is, in a sense, an implementation in styrene of Paul Chandler’s lumber load method, which used individual panels of real wood. That method was written up in the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society magazine Trainline, issue 112 (Summer 2012 ), page 41. You can still buy that issue from the Society’s web site at .
     To start on the Owl Mountain kit, I used a conventional sprue nipper to separate the panels. This is the only part of the job really requiring any clean-up, as the cutting scars can’t be avoided even with the sharpest of nippers (I found the corner of an X-acto chisel blade very helpful cleaning scars).
     Once the panels were all cleaned up, I took the advice in the directions, and gently applied medium sandpaper to the tops and edges of all panels, so they wouldn’t have the shiny plastic surface. The directions also discuss weathering of the panels, though freshly cut and dried wood would not accumulate much weathering in its journey to market, nor even in the drying yard unless on the outside of a stack. I may weather some future stacks, but decided not to do more to the present panels than vary individual boards with Prismacolor artist’s pencils.
     Assembly of the stacks goes quickly with any styrene cement. I often use Testors, or Plastruct’s Plastic Weld (more powerful), and found both worked well on this job. Remember that rather than one really tall stack, the loaders usually divided the load into two parts, with the same separator boards in the middle as underneath the load. The kit provides exactly this. Here is a pair of stacks, with separators. The slight color variation from the artist’s color pencils is visible.

You can see that I chose the option of making one end of the stack much more irregular than the other, something often seen in photographs of lumber on flat cars.
     By the way, a full set of stacks, using all the panels in the four sprues, along with dunnage, weighs about 2.25 ounces, so you should not add weight to these loads.
    The assembly continues with stakes, cross-ties, and longitudinal ties. One slick idea in the directions: on a flat car such as the SP F-70-7 or F-70-10, with deck notched at the stake pockets. setting the stakes a little low allows them to fit right into that notch (though oversize for the pocket itself), thus aligning the load. Here is a photo supplied by Owl Mountain, of a weathered load on a Class F-70-7 car:

     I think this kit is a terrific addition to the modeler’s arsenal of ways to make loads, and several aspects of its design represent clever thinking. I will review it in my upcoming column in Trainline, so the SP Society membership can learn about it. I think the kit is a bargain at the price, and cannot recommend it highly enough.
Tony Thompson

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Modeling SP head-end cars — Part 7B, postal storage

In my first post about building a postal storage car for my Southern Pacific 1953-era “Coast Mail,” I showed the kitbash from an Athearn RPO (at: ). In the present post, I complete the car, which I decided to number SP 4263. For model comparison, I should mention that there is a prototype photo of 4263 in that first post.
     My first step was to mask the car body (which was in gray primer)  and paint the roof. I like the Tamiya “Gunship Grey” color, their number TS-48, for roofs which were originally black but have weathered to a dark gray. In the post-World War II period, SP did wash lightweight passenger cars regularly, and some heavyweight cars, but roofs were not washed. This means that almost any passenger roof can be modeled with some weathering, even if sides are left clean and unweathered. Very utilitarian cars like this postal storage car were probably washed rarely if at all, so I will weather the entire car.

The shot above shows the roof, as painted. Next comes the body color.
     But first, I will address the underframe challenge. The car is considerably shorter than in its original Athearn form, and the six-wheel trucks have a long wheelbase. To keep these at the distance from the car ends that they originally had, permitting trucks to swing freely, a couple of pieces need to be cut out of the kit underframe. Shown below is my cut-up underbody. I kept the two end pieces (which mount the trucks) and the center piece, which includes the representation of a battery box (which will no longer be in the right place), and discarded both intermediate pieces. The B end is toward the right.

I won’t give dimensions, because exactly how you do this will depend on exactly how you proportioned your car body. But note that both my cuts at the right, and the outer one on the left, are alongside one of the transverse “cross members” of the Athearn underbody (you can click on the image to enlarge it), and the fourth cut is at the edge of the large battery box. At this point, I cut off the battery box cover from each side of the body, and glued the covers onto the underbody where it is molded to accept them.
     I reassembled the underbody parts by gluing the butt joints with Plastruct Plastic Weld, then reinforcing the floor by gluing the Athearn weight, cut down in length, to the left and center pieces in the photo above. I used canopy glue, which is excellent for metal to plastic bonding. From beneath, the assembled underbody looks like this, with the B end at the right, as in the photo above. Note battery box covers are relocated.

     One more addition. In the prototype photo of SP 4263 in my Part 7A (link at the top of this post), you can see that there is a small underframe tank to the right of the battery box. I added these to each side, using 1/8-inch styrene tube with ends closed.
     Having painted the roof, as shown in the uppermost photo in this post, I waited for that paint to be thoroughly dry, then masked the roof and airbrushed the Dark Olive Green or DOG, using the No. 135 color from Tru-Color Paint. Since this paint dries with a nice gloss, perfect for decaling, I applied decals directly to it. I used the excellent Thin Film set of SP heavyweight passenger lettering (Dulux Gold), their set no. HO-160-SP. Once that was done, and an overspray of Dullcote protected the decals, I weathered the car with acrylic washes. For a summary of this method, there is a joint clinic handout by Richard Hendrickson and myself, which is available at this link: .
     Here is a view of the completed car. Those are the Athearn kit trucks.

     It was an interesting challenge to devise this kitbash and carry out the various cutting and fitting tasks, and the result is a car that will certainly be an addition to my model version of SP’s Coast Mail. Now it’s true, as I mentioned in my first post about this car, it is not an exact copy of SP 4263 for several reasons, not least in that I proportioned the car body too short. But it will serve the purpose of standing in for a mail storage car.
Tony Thompson

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The virtues of variety

I have been rediscovering something I guess I knew long ago, but keep running into. It has to do with variety. Like everyone, I have occasional projects which are big and truly all-consuming and can give great satisfaction when completed. But there are other projects which kind of elude control and have the opposite effect.
     I have written in previous posts about the roadblocks to completing projects that can arise from lack of planning, or poor planning (for example, ). But here I am talking instead about the kinds of projects that “grow like Topsy” (a phrase which developed from Uncle Tom’s Cabin—you can Google it) and become too large or too repetitious to enjoy.
     To illustrate, I once decided to build about six or seven Red Caboose box car kits all at once, reasoning that repeating the individual steps like attaching brake gear would be relatively quick, and doing it six times would hardly take longer than once. Any reader who has tried this probably realizes the flaw—for any one step, the belief in efficiency is true, but when continuing with entire kits, with lots of parts and thus lots of steps, the process becomes way too much like work. It seems to take forever, and none of the cars are getting finished, because of course all are at the same stage of incompletion. The satisfaction when you do finish doesn’t seem to compensate—at least for me.
     Or I have fallen into the trap of picking up “similar” projects when starting on one. For instance, I need to build a loading dock for a structure, and decide to build four loading docks for four different structures which need them. Again, I get bogged down in what was supposed to be a quick job, and get tired of the detailing, instead of moving ahead with the structure I was originally doing. Jack Burgess has a principle he adheres to in his own modeling, which would apply here (I hope I’m stating it correctly): do each project to completion, whether it is a structure, or a small area of layout scenery, or a locomotive, or whatever. That way, you stay focused on that one project’s needs instead of having to think of several projects at once.
     Sometimes it helps to simply let my imagination jump to something completely different. Here’s an example. I am not sure I will find room on my layout for a barn, but even though I’m not a farmer, I do know one important thing about barns. Having lived in and driven through different parts of the country, I recognize that barns are very regional in appearance. A New England barn is not like a Pennsylvania barn, nor an Iowa barn. Since I model California, the distinctive old-style California barns are what I would need to model. Here is just a single example, located south of Livermore, California.

     This barn is typical of many, in having the different roof angle to the additions on each side. This particular barn is painted white, though it is common in California to see barns which are either unpainted, or have their paint weathered away. This one also happens to be built with board-and-batten siding, though plain planked siding is common too.
     Thinking about building such a barn for the layout, and finding a spot where it could be placed, is liberating just because it is a different kind of project from other things I’m doing. I have often found it refreshing to do this kind of varied thinking—and at the same time avoid those oversize or over-complex projects which bog me down!
Tony Thompson

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Modeling SP passenger cars — Pt. 4: sleeper interiors

In previous posts on the topic of SP heavyweight sleeping cars, I have described modeling the outside of the cars. The most recent post (at this link: ) showed my continuing work on a 10-1-1 car (10 sections, 1 drawing room, 1 compartment).
     In this post, I discuss interiors for these cars, since they have windows permitting some view of the interior. There are several approaches, since various vendors have offered passenger car interior components at various times. But since my Rivarossi (imported by AHM) Pullman cars mostly came with a molding simulating the car’s interior, I pursued my interiors in those terms.
     Here is a view of that Rivarossi interior molding, which is intended for the 12-1 models (12 sections, 1 drawing room) as originally supplied.

As you see the molding here, the B end of the car is at left. The large enclosed area at the right end is the men’s dressing room and toilet. At the left end are the women’s dressing room and toilet, nearest the end, and adjoining it, the drawing room of a 12-1. Here is where Pullman’s interior modularity comes into play. The 10-1-1 car essentially just removed one section of the 12-1 floor plan, and inserted a compartment between the drawing room and the women’s dressing room. I can do the same, by cutting out the leftmost Pullman section in the photo above, cutting just beyond the drawing room and moving the drawing room over, then inserting a mockup of a compartment. For more on these interior arrangements, see Volume 2 in the SPH&TS series, Southern Pacific Passenger Cars (Pasadena, 2005).
     Here is the cut-up molding, which you can compare to what is shown above (it is rotated 180 degrees for clarity), with parts repositioned for use in the 10-1-1. One section was removed just at the far right of the section area, for the five instead of six pairs of sections in this car. I will use the removed section seats to make the daytime seats in the compartment, which goes where there is a gap in the length.

     With these cuts made, I simply used 0.040-inch styrene sheet to make two walls, one to divide the drawing room from the compartment, the other to separate the compartment from the aisle. I supported the corner between the two new walls with a piece of 1/8-inch square styrene, in the location where there was a closet on some Pullman compartments. Here are the new parts, not yet painted so they would be visible in this photo, shown looking toward the B end of the car, where the room accommodations were located. The seats in the compartment have been added, and you can see the crosswise cut, just at the left end of the aisle segment, where one section was removed.

Below is an overall view of the entire interior as modified, in this case with the B end toward the camera, where the men’s lounge and toilet was located (at right). You can count the five pairs of sections.

     After painting and assembling the interior parts, here is how the car looks, with the interior walls also repainted from their primer gray.

    I usually add some passengers in these cars, as you can see in one of the 12-1 interiors shown below. In this photo, you can see I also trimmed the seat arms with a contrasting color of paint, but this (along with tinting the seat cushions) is truly invisible from outside the car. Some of the passengers you see are commercially available seated figures, but a few of these were standing figures, simply cut off at an appropriate height for viewing through a window. If you like, you can click on the image to enlarge it.

The net result of the installation of these interiors is that even a glimpse in a passing train shows something inside, as it should.
     This completes my discussion of construction of SP’s heavyweight sleepers. All that remains is a few last details, and final paint and lettering.
Tony Thompson

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Modeling SP’s Coast Mail — the rider coach

One component of the “Coast Mail,” trains 71 and 72 in the Transition Era, was a rider coach. This served the crew as a caboose, and accommodated the occasional paying passenger (few of whom traveled much distance), or deadheading SP employees. I will need one or two such cars for my model of the train. The rest of the train was introduced in one of my earlier posts (see: ).
     The most commonly seen rider coaches on the Mail were old 60-foot arch-roof coaches (often termed “Harriman” cars). There is now a great deal of information about these cars, presented in Volume 1 of the series Southern Pacific Passenger Cars, entitled “Coaches and Chair Cars” (SPH&TS, Pasadena, 2003). The earliest cars of any quantity, classes 60-C-3 and 60-C-4 (219 cars for Pacific Lines), had the wide windows familiar from photos and models. Subsequent 60-C classes had paired windows, a quite different appearance. One has to choose which to model. I lean toward the earlier cars.
     Roof arrangements varied too. The first 116 of the 219 Pacific Lines cars of classes 60-C-3 and -4 had a single row of ten Globe vents along the roof center line. Subsequent cars in those classes had double rows of eight vents per row, plus additional vents over the toilets, and in later years many of the older cars with single vent rows had them rearranged into the double rows of eight, plus toilet vents.
     The Model Die Casting (now Athearn) “Harriman” coach, with wide windows, has been familiar to modelers for years. In my view, it suffers from a couple of defects. First, the rivets are simply immense, practically the scale size of grapefruits. Especially on the roof, where they are unavoidably visible, I have simply sliced them off with a chisel-blade hobby knife, and the remaining scar still looks kind of big. Second, and more seriously, there are not enough windows: the car has seven large side windows, whereas the prototype coaches had eight and the chair cars nine. The reason is simple: the good folks at MDC evidently did not realize that passenger car length, in SP terminology, is the length between end sills, and the end sills were located at the end of the passenger compartment, not at the outer edge of the vestibule. The coupled length of the prototype car is thus about 68 feet, not the nominal 60 feet of the “60-C” classification, or the 60 scale feet of the MDC car.
     Alternatives at reasonable prices include the Ken Kidder brass cars from the 1960s. These were intended as economy models, and were sold with only a plain wood floor, no underbody detail whatever, and no interior whatever. They also have a little bit the wrong roof contour; the roof edge should curve down to be tangent to the car sides, whereas the Kidder roof meets the side at an angle. But this is not terribly obvious in a passing train.
     Over the years, Kidded produced several car bodies: a 40-foot RPO, and a bunch of nominally 60-foot cars. These include an RPO, a baggage car, a combine, two coaches (one with a single row of roof vents, one with a double row), and an observation. As far as I can tell, the arch-roof combine represents an extremely rare SP car and the observation may be imaginary as they modeled it. The others seem to be reasonable, and here I will talk about the coach.
     I have one of the Kidder brass versions with double rows of Globe vents. I bought the car fully 25 years ago, and it was far from new then. Naturally it had been gently tarnishing during the interim years. I used a product my wife relies on, Wright’s Copper Cream, available in many housewares and hardware stores, to see if I could clean the car. With virtually no elbow grease, just gentle scrubbing with an old tooth brush, the car was gleaming clean brass in under a minute. I then rinsed it thoroughly with warm water and allowed it to dry.

     The most visible shortcoming of this car is that it has open upper window sashes, whereas SP over the years either plated over those upper sashes, or replaced the glass with something opaque. I wanted to capture that look without having to apply plating over all the upper sash segments, so applied styrene strips, 1/8-inch wide and 0.020-inch thick, along the car length inside. I attached the strips with canopy glue, a very effective medium for dissimilar materials like these. (If you don’t know this product, you can read my commentary at: .) Here is a view inside the car, showing the first styrene strip applied on the far wall:

From the outside of the car, the desired blanking of the upper sash is neatly accomplished:

Then I applied a gray undercoat to the car, using Testors “Flat Dark Aircraft Gray,” which remains available in the Testors line as a spray can, item 1226. This undercoat seems to help adhesion of Tru-Color Paints, which I will use for the final coat of SP’s Dark Olive Green (some modelers call the color “DOG,” from its initials). Here you can also see the blanked upper sashes.

What now remains is to paint the roof dark gray or black and the car sides DOG, then decal; and also to create an underframe.
     Robert Bowdidge has also undertaken upgrading of several of these Kidder cars, as he has described in a post to his fine blog (you can read his post at: ). Although his statements about roof vents don’t apply to the early SP classes modeled by Kidder, he accomplished a nice underbody, and I will come back to that topic in a future post. I will also show in that post the final paint and lettering for this car.
Tony Thompson

Monday, August 4, 2014

Modeling SP passenger cars — sleepers, Part 3

I began this thread on the heavyweight sleepers operated by Southern Pacific (in my modeling year of 1953) with a fairly broad introduction to the topic (see: ), and showed some examples of unmodified Rivarossi (later imported by AHM) Pullmans of 12-1 configuration — that means 12 sections, 1 drawing room.
     But although SP did purchase a large number of 12-1 sleepers from Pullman in 1948, they purchased even more with additional room accommodations, which SP evidently preferred, such as the 8-1-2 car (8 sections, 1 drawing room, 2 compartments). To get to cars like that from the 12-1 Rivarossi model requires modification. My second post (you can read it at: ) showed the modification method published by Thomas C. Hoff in Mainline Modeler, and presented the window movement/substitution process for modifying Pullman configurations.
     I showed in that second post (cited above) the first steps in modifying the 12-1 Rivarossi body to the 10-1-1 configuration (10 sections, 1 drawing room, 1 compartment). Once the window-correction part of the modeling was complete, I sprayed the car body with a light gray primer (I used Testors “Flat Dark Aircraft Gray,” their #1226, though I sure wouldn’t call it dark gray), which serves as a “witness coat” to help spot areas needing further work, as well as a base coat for the final color.

The interior is also sprayed gray, though later I will repaint the interior with a sort of buff color to look like a Pullman interior.
     With the primer in place on both the interior and exterior of the body, I was ready to address the roof and other details. Essentially all of the “room” accommodation cars purchased from Pullman by Southern Pacific were air conditioned, so I needed to model the roof with the kind of add-on air ducts which Pullman applied.
     In previous models, I used the wood duct shape once sold by Walthers, and that approach required not only a lot of filing and fitting of the wood part, but a lot of fussing (and a whole lot of Squadron Green putty) to make the faired ends of the ducts. Today the New England Rail Service (NERS) part #250 is the way to go, with ducting which fits the Rivarossi roof very well. You get two full-length ducts, and an assortment of duct end fairings, with instructions.

Your hobby shop can get it from Walthers, or you can order direct.
    Each specific Pullman received particular ducting. In the early days, it often only served the sleeping part of the car, with aisles and restrooms left un-air conditioned, but as the retrofitting of air conditioning progressed through the fleet, cars tended to receive more and more duct length, with a fair number getting full-length air ducts on both sides. You need to find a photo to model from, if you want to reproduce a specific car accurately. I used the photo of one of SP’s 10-1-1 cars on page 174 of Volume 2 in the SPH&TS series, Southern Pacific Passenger Cars (Pasadena, 2005).
     The Rivarossi roof part is entirely molded in clear styrene, since it also serves as the window glazing. Here is the Rivarossi roof prior to painting, with the NERS ducts applied on each side (this happens to be the roof for a 12-1, my model of Tuolumne, shown in the first post cited at the top of this post). I found these ducts really easy to apply.

Final rooftop color will be a pretty dark gray, to suggest weathered black roof cement. For this, I like the Tamiya “Gunship Grey” color, their no. TS-48.
    I also like to make a modified car interior for Pullmans, since these cars have enough window space that the interior is actually visible in passing trains. But that topic can be a little complex, so I will defer description of it to a future post.
     In another future post, I will show the result of airbrushing the car sides and ends with Tru-Color Paint #135, SP Dark Olive Green, and then lettering.
Tony Thompson

Friday, August 1, 2014

Modeling sugar beet loads

Several parts of the Southern Pacific, particularly Central and Southern California, experienced traffic in sugar beets. Individual growers sold their crop to one of several sugar producers, in various locations, in the 1950s which I model, so traffic could even move in opposite directions on a particular line. This is familiar from the Coast Route, to name one, with active sugar refineries in 1953 at Oxnard (American Crystal Sugar), Betteravia, near Guadalupe (Union Sugar), Salinas (Spreckels Sugar), and Alvarado (Holly Sugar). An outstanding article about SP beet traffic, by Patrick Bray, was in the SPH&TS magazine Trainline for Fall 2001, Issue 69. Much of the same information is in an article by John R. Signor about modeling a beet loader, in Railroad Model Craftsman, November 2008, page 58.
     Prior to 1948, Southern Pacific moved the beets (often called “the roots” by railroaders) in a removable rack, placed on flat cars, called the Blackburn Patent Beet Rack. I discussed these racks in a previous post (here is a link to it: ), and I showed a model photo of such a rack, built by Pat Bray, in an additional post about the composite gondolas which took over from Blackburn racks (at: ). There is also a fairly extensive description of both the racks and the gondolas in Chapter 8 of Volume 1 in my series, Southern Pacific Freight Cars (Signature Press, 2002).
     The present post is about making loads for beet gondolas. The prototype sugar beets are not a simple shape, but are something like very large, lumpy turnips, or as one modeler put it, a cross between a potato and a turnip. And they do vary in shape and size within a particular load. Here are two Southern Pacific photos of beet unloading to give a sense of relative size and shape. In each photo, the workman is using a long bar to operate the Enterprise drop door gear on these cars.

How can such a load be modeled?
     One answer, which occurs to many modelers, is to choose some kind of seed or grain, which is about the right size, and if not the right color, can be painted. For example, many have tried anise seeds, which are about the right size but are really too uniform. That leads to the idea of mixtures of seeds, such as Jim Lancaster’s mix of 30 percent anise seeds and 70 percent bulgar wheat, then given a rusty brown color with Bragdon Enterprise’s weathering chalk (see it at: ). Others have mixed brown rice (again, too uniform) with seeds such as anise or cumin, or, in John Gillette’s formula, mixing flax seeds and steel-cut oats (which do add a nice irregularity). Andrew Merriam has used several different seed mixtures to obtain a realistic variation from load to load.
     I have made loads from something different from all of the above, namely fenugreek seeds. These are a spice widely used in the cuisines of India and some parts of the Middle East, and accordingly can be obtained in groceries specializing in those cuisines. They are a good size and color, and most important to me, are fairly irregular. Here are a few of them to illustrate their appearance (you can click on the image to enlarge it).

     As I usually do for bulk loads in gondolas, I begin by building (removable) balsa wood platforms to fit in the cars, and you can see my method in this post: . Here is a plain platform, just glued with yellow carpenter’s glue. The two supports are a little too big, and were cut down in height later.

     The only issue of which to be careful with these platforms is inside dimensions of the gondolas. The Car Builders’ Cyclopedia drawing for SP Class G-50-23 composite cars was shown in Volume 1 of Southern Pacific Freight Cars (cited above), and the cars were 41 feet, 0 inches long inside, 9 feet, 1-3/4 inches wide inside. As it happens, I have examples of G-50-23 in brass (Precision Scale) and in plastic (both Detail Associates and Red Caboose). All are quite similar in inside width, but only the Red Caboose car is correctly 41 feet long inside (other two are 40 feet).
     I then add the load shape with a paper-mache product such as Sculptamold, as I showed in the post cited just above. The shapes created should ultimately show the car as brimming full. Here is a 1954 SP photo of the composite gondolas at Chorro siding on Cuesta, headed railroad east (probably to Union Sugar at Betteravia).

 This was a few years before the side extensions were added to gondolas like these to permit larger loads, and on my layout, the beet gons will look like this photo.
     My balsa load base sits up fairly high in the car, so as to obtain the look shown just above. Here is a platform in a Red Caboose car body, showing the relative height inside the car. Note I secured the uprights with one small nail each.

My next step was to build up the load shape with Sculptamold from American Clay Products. Here are two load platforms with their load shapes:

     I painted these rough load shapes a medium brown (I use the same “Painter’s Touch” Nutmeg color from Rust-Oleum that I use for scenery base), then glued on the seeds using Matte Medium. In this case, I used fenugreek seeds, as shown in a photo above. though I may try some of the other seed mixtures described above. The seeds were left unpainted, revealing the natural color of the fenugreek.
     Here is a finished load, in a Red Caboose composite gondola (as yet unweathered). I think the load height is a little high, comparing the SP photo above, and I can cut down the supports underneath.

     I like the overall appearance of this load, though I think the individual fenugreek seeds are perhaps a little too large. I plan to experiment with other seed mixtures to see what else I can create. Because the SP main line which I model on my layout was host to plenty of sugar beet loads, both westward and eastward, I have a lot of scope to operate cuts of loaded cars.
Tony Thompson