Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A Magor dump car for the layout

Southern Pacific was among the many railroads that bought side-dump cars from the Magor Car Corporation (pronounced MAY-gorr). This car design had air-operated dump beds that could dump to either side of the car. Though these might normally only move in work trains, they nevertheless should be found occasionally on the layout, even if only posed on a siding, as well as being included in passing work trains.
     I had long been interested in having one of these cars in my car fleet, ever since overseeing the production of Ed Kaminski’s book on Magor’s history and cars, The Magor Car Corporation (Signature Press, 2000).  These side-dumps were a mainstay of Magor’s product line, though most railroads purchased them in small lots of at most a few tens of cars.
     As it happens, the SP cars were purchased in an order for 20 cars, numbered SPMW 2900–2919, in April 1929, under Magor Lot P-6945. This information is from the Magor book. I don’t have a photo of the SP cars, but here is a photo of the right side of a very similar Santa Fe car built in the 1920s (Richard Hendrickson collection). Note how dusty are the lower parts of the car.

     When models of these prototypes were produced in HO scale brass by W&R Enterprises, they disappeared quickly, and I didn’t manage to get one. But eventually it happened that I inherited one of the W&R models from Richard Hendrickson. Now I needed to paint and letter it.
     I proceeded to clean the model, then airbrush it with my best match to the SP drift cards, which is Floquil “D&H Caboose Red.” As I’ve often mentioned, I was lucky enough to buy a stash of this paint some years ago. Here is the left side, painted; you can see the resemblance to the photo above.

     After a coat of gloss finish, I was ready to decal, using the kit decals.The W&R model was provided with not only decals but also a lettering diagram. I knew that I could choose any car number in the full series, SPMW 2900–2919, because all 20 cars were still on the SP’s MOW roster in 1956. After decal application, here is the right side of the model with its large air tank.

Next came the vital step for a car like this, weathering. I used my usual technique with acrylic washes, heavy on the Neutral Gray to make the car look dusty. (For more on the acrylic wash technique, see the “Reference pages” at the top right corner of this blog post.) To add to the result of the acrylics, I also rubbed a little real dirt into the bed of the car, increasing the dusty look.
     Lastly, for operation, I added a pair of my standard couplers, Kadee no. 158 whisker couplers, and cut the truck mounting springs in half. The stock springs essentially are so stiff that they prevent truck rotation, perhaps a good thing for collectors, but I plan to operate the car. Here is the complete car:

The natural environment for a car like this is in a work train, or spotted at a location where track or right-of-way work is in progress.  From time to time on my layout, I operate a ballast train, often with other work cars in it, and here is the Magor car in such a consist, just as it passes my layout town of Shumala on the SP Coast Division main line.

     Though this is a nicely detailed and complete brass model to start with, it is an interesting project to paint and letter it, and to try and create a dusty, well-used look. Those were my aims here., and I think the results meet that goal.
Tony Thompson

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