Friday, September 1, 2023

The Rapido SP box cars: finishing

As most readers know, Rapido Trains recently released a number of paint schemes on a new HO scale model of Southern Pacific Class B-50-15 box cars, and a quite good stand-in for Class B-50-16. I have posted the historical background of these two classes to help understand the model choices (see that post at: ), and have also shown most of the paint schemes offered (that post is here: ). 

[By the way, I also wrote a response to some of the criticism of these models, in a previous post. It is at this link: .]

The present post takes its title, “Finishing,” from a remark of Richard Hendrickson’s from some years ago, speaking about “ready-to-run” models: he felt these should really be called “ready to finish.” They may need details replaced or upgraded, trucks may need to be changed, and of course the models almost always need weathering and other finishing, such as reweigh and repack stencils, chalk marks, and route cards.

One example of a “finishing” step is to correct the brake gear, if your particular modeling period is such that the K brakes on some of the Rapido models should have been replaced with AB brakes by the time you model. I wrote about this fairly simple process, using the AB brake parts helpfully provided by Rapido in many of the model boxes (a post that is located at: ).

Now let’s turn to weathering and its accompanying steps. These are procedures I have already described in some detail in my “Reference pages,” linked at the upper right corner of every post, and I won’t directly repeat that material; but I thought I would take space to at least outline my process with the Rapido models under discussion.

My first step (after any detail replacement or truck changes) is to weather the roof with washes made from acrylic tube paints. You see this below on a maintenance-scheme Rapido car. I do it this way because it is easy to work on the roof with the sides available for holding the model. You can see that the roof is duller in color, with gray tones.

The next step is to hold the car by roof and center sill (or trucks) and weather sides and ends. After a few hours (if it’s warm) to get fully dry, I give the car an overspray of Dullcote or equivalent. Actually I nowadays usually prefer Tamiya’s “Flat Clear,” number TS-80.

When that’s dry, protecting the acrylic pigment on the car, I add small patches of Glosscote from a bottle, only as big as the paint patches would be, for new repack and reweigh stencils. Then patches of black or boxcar red decal are placed. These are visible below in the usual locations (you can click on the image to enlarge it, if you like). I chose black for the repacking stencil location because some rather minor yards did repack journals if needed, and often had only one color of paint to patch with: black.

[Note also in the above view that the plain metal wheel faces have been painted, in this case Tamiya “German Gray,” XF-63. Wheels in this era were liberally coated with journal oil soon after entering service, and this color, or a darker gray, gives a realistic look.]

Once the paint patches are placed, the stencils can be added. For repacking, I use the Sunshine Models “Western Reweigh and Repack Data” decal sheet. For SP reweigh dates and symbols, I use the Tichy decal set, HO 10053, which is for SP tank cars (using artwork I prepared), but it also includes many SP reweigh locations and dates from 1950 to 1953. Those locations range from the most familiar (SAC, LA, OAK, ELP) to the less familiar (FRN, Fresno; BS, Bayshore; EGN, Eugene) and even to the rare and unfamiliar (KF, Klamath Falls; AVD, Avondale; CKT, Crockett). For this car, it’s BAK (Bakersfield).

You may note that I added a couple of route cards to this side of the car, something fairly often observed in prototype photos. One of them is light green, inspired by an SP route card shown in one of my recent posts about route cards (you can peruse it at: ). 

On a wood-sheathed car like this, a route card could be attached wherever the clerk wanted to put it, but two common locations were above the truck  bolster (as you see above), or just to the left of the door. I have applied route cards in both locations on my various wood-sheathed cars. 

For an additional example, here is a Class B-50-15 Rapido car, weathered and prepared exactly like the foregoing model, and carrying a reweigh location of Bayshore, to supersede the unlikely factory reweigh date of 1936 on a post-1946 paint scheme.

The chalk marks seen on both cars above were made with Prismacolor artist’s pencils, both white and French gray 30%. I used to make mostly readable numbers (implying train numbers, etc.) but so many prototype photos show smaller writing, that now I just make a small scribble for most of the marks. I’ve learned that the pencils need frequent sharpening to write truly small scribbles.

This brief summary is, as stated at the top of this post, just a small part of all the detail about weathering presented in my “Reference pages,” linked at the top right corner of every post. If you are interested in more info, please look there. For now, I am pleased with how these new Rapido box cars are turning out.

Tony Thompson

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