Saturday, February 4, 2023

A Bill Welch freight car

At this year’s Cocoa Beach meeting in early January, Ted Culotta approached some of the attendees, including me, with an offer of some of the late Bill Welch’s incomplete freight car projects. These were offered to those who would be willing to complete projects, or repair damaged models. I jumped at the chance. (For my comments about this year’s meeting, you can look at: .)

One of the models was a 1932 ARA box car, built from a resin kit and lettered for Chicago Great Western. The model had probably been completed, but both side ladders and a sill step were missing, and, like nearly all of Bill’s models, it was not weathered. I knew about the prototype for this car, from Ted Culotta’s excellent book,  The American Railway Association Standard Box Car of 1932 (Speedwitch Media, San Mateo, 2004). Below is a builder photo from the book.

There were 500 of these cars purchased by the CGW from Pullman-Standard, 89000-89998 (even numbers only). Note in the builder photo the distinctive door. This was a Pullman-Standard proprietary door design. It resembles the Chicago Railway Equipment Co. (Creco) three-panel door, except that it has recessed seams between panels instead of projecting ones.

Bill’s model has all the features visible in the builder photo, including the door and two-piece corrugated ends (doubtless from the kit). I simply added ladders from my parts stash that matched the width and rung spacing of the end ladders, using canopy glue. I straightened a Tuttle sill step to match the others on the model.

I then gave the model a coat of clear flat finish (Tamiya) and weathered it moderately using my normal method of acrylic washes (see the “Reference pages” linked at the top right of the present post). Bill had already added some chalk marks, and I added a few more, plus route cards. 

Here’s a side view, showing the door and other features, including the correct Ajax hand brake. Note that Bill chose the car number corresponding to that in the builder photo.

The model also has an interesting roof, described in CGW builder information as a “Pullman All Steel Riveted” roof. It comprises sheets of flat steel plate, riveted in overlapping sections.

As was very much Bill’s pleasure in modeling, he has done a full underbody brake arrangement, though not one of his later-years models, in which he was including every clevis in the brake rigging. But I’m delighted to have this one. (You can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish.)

It was a nice idea to hand out a few of Bill’s unfinished or damaged models to willing recipients who could and would do whatever work was needed. I’m delighted to have this one.

Tony Thompson

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