Saturday, April 15, 2023

Modeling in O scale, Part 4

 In this part of my little journey through O scale model railroading, I want to talk about re-doing one of Larry Kline’s freight cars. This is the brass gondola model that he picked up at an O Scale West meeting. I showed it in my first post on this topic (see it at: ). I mentioned in that post that I wanted to re-do the car.

The gondola is a decent model of a prototype Enterprise design circa World War II, a type that Southern Pacific did purchase, their Class G-50-16. Here is the car as it came to me (shown also in the post just cited):

The lettering is mostly in the wrong places, is a mixture of lettering that probably never was together at one time on a gondola, and with the large sans-serif road name and post-1956 car number, would in any case not fit my early 1950s modeling preference. 

Here’s a view of the prototype, not in its as-delivered paint but with a post-1946 repaint, when the spelled-out road name became the reporting mark (Paul Dunn photo, 1947, Rich Burg collection). For more about SP’s post-war GS gondolas, see Chapter 7 in my book Southern Pacific Freight Cars: Volume 1, Gondolas and Stock Cars, Signature Press, 2002).

My first step was to overpaint the entire car. I used a light gray primer over the sides, to reduce the contrast of the lettering underneath, then a finish coat of Tamiya “Red Brown” (TS-1). This color is a little browner than what modelers traditionally think of as boxcar red, but is within the range of variation from railroad to railroad. Note below that I left one side panel un-repainted: it contains a correct-size SP emblem, correctly located. 

A nice feature of brass construction is revealed in the internal end corrugations, the “inside” of the Dreadnaught end, at the far end of this view.

This paint gives a semi-gloss finish that isn’t shiny but is a good surface for decaling. I went directly to the Protocraft O-scale set of Rick Leach decals for SP post-war gondolas, “SP G-50-15/22.” I chose the post-war scheme, as on the prototype photo above, for this car. The 300 cars of Class G-50-16 were numbered SP 95200–95499.

Next I added route card boards above the left truck on each side, using stripwood, and painted the boards. Next step was to weather the entire car, inside and out. If nothing else, I wanted to tone down the striking white of the new lettering. I used my usual acrylic-wash method, as described in the ‘Reference pages” linked at the top right corner of the present post.

You’ll note above that in addition to achieving the dusty look I wanted, shown under an overcoat of flat finish, that I also added a few chalk marks and route cards. This completes the car project. 

This was, for an HO scale modeler, quite an experience with a really large model, and definitely fun to do. It won’t convert me to O scale, but it increases my respect for and enjoyment of that scale.

Tony Thompson

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