Saturday, November 22, 2014

Interim truck support blocks

I’m not sure my title for this post is very clear. What I mean is, blocks which can be temporarily attached to a model, in place of its trucks, during construction and painting. The blocks then support the model instead of trucks. In the past, I have often used old or discarded pairs of trucks for this purpose, but that isn’t always a good approach. So here I describe something I learned from Richard Hendrickson, a very effective little trick to solve this problem.
     The idea is to make a block which has a screw hole for the truck screw, enabling it to be attached just one would attach the trucks, and with dimensions about as tall or a little taller than the final truck dimension would be. These can certainly be wood, and my first one was indeed made from basswood, but styrene is easier, quicker, and more durable.
     Shown here are a couple of ways to shape them, details not at all important, though the approximate dimensions should be observed. Mine are about 1.25 inches long (car body width), which is the long dimension here, and about one-fourth of an inch high as well as wide.

Note that one pair is notched at the appropriate distance for the handbrake rod to pass above the block, for models on which that detail is included.
     One advantage of using these during assembly of a model, is that couplers can be installed, yet these blocks allow the model to be set upright, and neither the couplers nor sill steps nor any underbody brake rigging will touch the work surface. You can see that in this photo. The car can rest on the blocks, keeping the couplers and detail parts up out of the way.

     I have used these also during airbrushing of models, when all the car except the trucks is supposed to be one color. (And maybe you have already painted wheel surfaces an appropriate grimy or rusty color, which you don’t want to overspray with the car body color.) Here’s an angle view of a Branchline model in progress with these blocks installed. Couplers will be added after painting.

I should emphasize again that I did not invent these blocks. I saw them in use in Richard Hendrickson’s shop, liked them, and made some copies for myself. There are additional views of these blocks in use on models still in work, in Part 9 of  my series on weathering freight cars (you can see those views at: ).
     Though a simple part to make, these blocks have proven very handy for my modeling, including painting. You might give them a try.
Tony Thompson


  1. Works as long as it uses 2-56 screws

  2. Actually the support blocks only have to use the same screws as will eventually attach the trucks. Even the friction pins, which I personally dislike and ALWAYS replace, could be made to work with support blocks if you want.
    Tony Thompson