Saturday, April 16, 2022

A 3-D printed freight car, Part 3

 In the previous part, I completed the minor work involved in adding a few details to the Pere Marquette double-door box car produced by Eric Boone. In that post, I also summarized the assignment  history of these cars (auto racks or not, etc.) and showed a prototype photo (you can view that post at: ).

Now the car was ready to paint. I washed the body in warm water with dish detergent, and let it dry thoroughly. You see it below, resting on “paint shop” trucks.

Without clear knowledge of PM paint colors, I wanted to use a generic freight car color. This seemed acceptable because I planned to weather the car significantly. I chose Tamiya Red Brown, TS-1, to paint this car, and when all paint odor was gone, I added a coat of gloss finish for decaling.

Eric Boone provided a very well-done set of decals for the car, and I followed his advice and added a coat of gloss finish to the sheets to make sure they would perform. as intended. They are a pleasure to apply, nice and thin but with crisp, opaque lettering. Here’s the car, with a few chalk-mark decals to the right of the door.

The model above visibly still rests on my “paint-shop” trucks. The model’s assigned trucks, along with couplers, were installed next, so that they could benefit from the following step. 

That next step was weathering. I pursued my usual regimen with acrylic tube paints, made into washes. The method, along with some details of use, are thoroughly described in my “Reference pages” (see the links at the top right of every one of my blog posts). When satisfied with its appearance, I let the model dry well, then applied a coat of flat finish. The acrylic weathering pigments do adhere, but are vulnerable to a scratch with a tool or fingernail, until given a protective finish coat.

But of course the job of finishing wasn’t done; I still needed to add reweigh and repack stencils. The first step with these is paint patches, exactly as yard personnel painted out the old stencils to give a place to stencil the updated information, with a new date and location for a reweigh or repack. 

I have posted before about how I model these paint patches (see, for example: ), and I have also described the results, with a number of model examples (see: ). 

The present model would of course need both kinds of stencils. For my modeling year of 1953, the reweigh date would have to lie within 48 months in the past, as that was the AAR rule in 1953. I turned to my usual source of these, some old Sunshine decal sets of reweigh symbols and dates, and applied suitable ones over the “fresh paint patch” decals. I also added route cards.

The car is shown below, being switched at Shumala on my layout, perhaps containing a load of furniture from Grand Rapids, Michigan, one of the purposes for which these cars were built.

This 3D process makes a nice looking car, and a somewhat unusual body style, and I’m glad to add it to my car fleet. The modeling is very easy with the 3D-printed body and underfame. It’s true that some details like grab irons aren’t as fine in cross-section as would be the case with wire parts, but the speed and ease of assembly are the offsetting benefits. I like the car, and it was fun to work with a new (for me) kind of model.

Tony Thompson


  1. Tony the car came out looking pretty good. I noticed that the ladder on the right side of the car was kind of "wonky" looking. But after seeing the final car, I kind of like that. It looks like minor damage that may have occurred, such as a forklift that perhaps backed into it while maneuvering around the loading dock. :-)


    1. Yes, that one ladder did have a slight outward bend at the bottom. From some angles it looks bent to one side, but actually just bends a little outward. As you say, entirely consistent with some in-service damage.
      Tony Thompson