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Discussion Starter #141
Gold Coast Models? 85’ Passenger Car

A friend that visits yard sales called one Saturday morning and told me they found a bunch of train stuff for sale. They took a few pics and I decided to risk the 50 bucks on the lot. It came with a bunch of stuff, including three diesels. One was an AHM FM, just like the kind I had as a kid. I remember it had sat in a shop window and the housing had melted and drooped in the sun but I didn’t care, I wanted it.

Anyway, this one is painted for New Haven and after a little tender care and new traction bands it runs pretty good. Makes a nice growly sound when running. I liked it so much I bought another one off Epay, this one with a few repairs needed. I carefully changed the number by one so they wouldn’t both be the same, and now they run in tandem back to back. The second one didn’t run nearly as well as the first and they tended to overload the transformer when both ran so I converted it to a dummy.

So now I have two FMs, what kind of train should they run? I always thought covered wagons should pull passenger trains, so I looked up images of New Haven passenger trains and found pics of spiffy looking cars, with silver corrugated streamlined sides but black roofs.

I picked up a couple cars finished, then found an interesting kit with tin sides and ends and wooden bottom and top. It came in a plain brown box but no instructions or even a manufacturer name. A few queries and I decided it was closest to a Gold Coast Models passenger car. Hoseeker had an instruction sheet but having worked on it I’m in doubt that this is the right company. I ended up with another car in the same brown box as well to finish out the train.

Anyway, this kit has pressed tin sides and ends, an 1/8” wood floor and curved wooden roof plus a bunch of wood blocks for the underside detail, two clear plastic sheets for the windows plus handrails and some mysterious pieces whose purpose I can’t guess. There was a door missing, I roughed a replacement out of an old business card.

The floor is held in place with 8 screws. I ended up making skirts out of bass wood and matching the other underside detail using another passenger car as an example.

As far as interior I wasn’t planning on doing too much but got a seat set from Kitbits and used the 1 ½ oz of lead sheet as walls to separate the vestibules. The lead sheet brings the car weight up to NMRA recommendations.

I painted the top and bottom black, the floor red and the new door and skirts silver but unfortunately I can’t show you a finished car. You see, I can’t finish the interior until I install the windows and I can’t install the windows until I finish painting the exterior and I can’t finish painting the exterior until I paint the stripe across the windows in New Haven red-orange. That color isn’t available commercially and I plan on making a single batch and paint all four cars at the same time.

SO, I can’t finish the car right now. I have the last car in the to-do stack and now that I have finished the second to last it will probably get done sooner rather than later. In the meantime the car is complete enough to run and doesn’t look any uglier than the rest of the train.

Anyway, this was a fun kit to build and I really wish I had instructions, there are too many unexplained parts to wonder about.
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Discussion Starter #142
Main Line Models Cattle Car

This is the third Main Line car I built, and all the comments I made about the first two are true here. The wood is not a good type or evenly cut. There were a lot of wood pieces whose purpose I couldn’t identify and maybe some wire missing that I looted the scrap bin to replace. I decided not to put in roof beams, the instructions showed the kit both ways and none of the random wood strips seemed the right size for roof slats.

The interesting thing about this kit is the way the sides and doors are presented. They are precut into separate boards and the sides prepainted, but are still joined along the ends so they are already positioned accurately. You glue the supports to the slats then cut the ends off. I think that’s a pretty smart way to make a cattle car kit.

The instructions were similar to the other kits with nice diagrams but an update page forcing you to pick and choose which set of instructions was appropriate. The kit was generic for all 35’ cattle cars with different plaques for different railroads (and Armour Meats) and the instructions included placement for 24 different railroad plaques. This kit was for the Southern Railroad.

I figured it would be easier to paint the parts of the kit before gluing it together, but I chose to use the new jar of Scalecoat Boxcar Red and it turned out way too dark. Matching colors with old kits has always proven problematic, but after putting this kit together I decided to rout around my collection of red-brown paint (I’ve collected quite a bit by now) and found that Testor’s Model Master Rust color was almost a perfect match.

So, a wood kit a bit rough in the details but fun to build. I’ll leave you to decide if it was worth the effort.
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Discussion Starter #146
Unreview of Varney Express Reefer

This is the last of the three old Varney kits that ended up in the to-do pile, and this one was in the worst condition of the lot. Not only were the instructions missing, the cardstock and details were missing as well so basically there was a frame and a bunch of random wood chunks in the box. Oddly enough, there was also a printed cardstock sheet for a Great Northern 50’ flatcar, but without any other parts for it.

So I bought a sheet of Evergreen models V-groove plastic and used the Main Line Express reefer I already reviewed as a prototype to make the express reefer. The hardest part was making the rounded roof. Here’s what I did:

  • Cut a 1/4” basswood sheet to the right size.
  • Mark 1/16” line along the sides with a scribe.
  • Using a table belt sander sanded angles about 45° on both sides up to the scribed line.
  • Roll the top of the roof across the angled part until it rounded off.
  • Scribe a 1/16” lip around the top edge of the roof ends.
  • Gently clamp the roof end up in a vise.
  • Using a wood cutting head on a Dremel cut out the bottom of the ends to the scribed line.
The roof ended up being just a bit cockeyed. Anyway I liked the paint scheme of the Railway Express Agency so that’s how I painted and decaled it. Too bad I didn’t check the decal diagram before I built the thing, it showed the stock (flat) roof and some other details I missed. C’est la vie.

The flat car only took a morning; a 1/8” board from the scrap heap as a base, cutting and folding the cardstock sheath, making ribs out of bass wood, covering all ribs over with lead weight, touching up all the corners where the paint split after folding. I lucked out that the couplers were the right height.

So, the same problem with cardstock wear. Not sure if it dried out over the decades or if they were always brittle but they really don’t make satisfactory cars anymore. I am not writing off cardstock or cardboard cars entirely, but if they require folding I think I’m going to pass from now on (until the next “Oooh shiney” purchase).
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Discussion Starter #148
Uhlrich Boxcar

Having built two all-metal coal cars and a hopper from Uhlrich I thought it would be interesting to see what they can do with regular boxcars. Thus I present “Uhlrich Model Kit Box Car Kit No. 114 D L & W”, complete with trucks.

This kit has excellent castings for the roofwalk, ends and brake pieces; stamped metal doors, roof ribs, sill steps and door tracks; and bent wire hand grabs. Everything else is wood. The sides are painted and stenciled with grey or silver, including some graffiti. The instructions are nicely written and illustrated.

Assembly was straight forward in the typical ends, roof and floor frame with the cast ends and sides glued on. The underside doesn’t include piping, not even in the pictures. I used Scalecoat 1 flat boxcar red to paint the unpainted parts, it seems pretty close to me. I assembled everything up to the point where the prepainted sides are added, spraypainted everything then added the rest of the parts.

Comments: First of all the sides are awfully thick. They stick out from the end castings, had I checked the thickness I could have trimmed the frame a bit but that isn’t something you’d expect to have to do so I didn’t think of it. There is a stencil on the bottom marking where the ribs and center beam go, but I found out after gluing the beam on the stencil wasn’t centered, so a nice idea badly executed.

The sides didn’t cover the ends of the ribs under the floor, I’m not sure whether that is historic or not but it looked odd so I put a chunk of basswood under there to cover it up. The ends also were 1/16” too short so I lined them up with the bottom of the frame and extended the roof with bass wood.

Overall it came out as a nice kit and will be snaking around the layout for years to come.
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Back in the early 60's those all metal Uhlrich "working" coal cars were my favorite, so I still have 3 or 4 that still operate.
 

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Discussion Starter #150
Quality Craft 85’ Covered Gondola

Let me start by saying this is one butt-ugly railroad car. Yes I know this isn’t a beauty contest and cars are built for utility not looks but ours is a visual hobby and if something is ugly it’s hard to raise any enthusiasm for it. Also I couldn’t find anything on the innertube about this particular type of railroad car. I expect they were designed to carry cannon barrels, pipes or wind turbine vanes.

I’ve reviewed a Quality Craft kit after the line was purchased by Bev-Bel and this one is pretty much the same. It is almost all wood, with lots of engineered bass wood in various shapes and the instructions are a few paragraphs of text with full-sized diagrams of the car. These kits are universally complicated but not difficult if you go step-by-step, have an eye for alignment and patience. One thing I find helpful is how the designer (Robert E. Weaver, he even signed the instructions) deconstructed the car into simple shapes so while taken in whole it looks impossible but is not quite so hard when you concentrate on the piece in front of you.

Anyway, my only criticism of this kit (other than it falling out of the ugly tree and hitting every branch on the way down) is the end brace template is too short by about 1/8”. Comparing the template to the full car drawing and it’s obvious, but I didn’t notice until I’d cut out all six. At that point there wasn’t enough wood left over to recut all six so I took the cut-off triangle and glued it to the top of the brace, then reshaped it to fit. Not a recommended course of action but better than nothing.

There are a lot of pieces to cut for this kit. I’m not going to count them all but for example there are 38 angle irons under the roofwalk. Use a sharp knife and pay attention to the angle of your cuts. The most complicated pieces are the steps, they are bent out of flat wire and I find them almost impossible to get even. Generous use of glue and a coat of paint hides many ills. One thing I like about these kits is that they color code the wood with a dollop of paint on the tip so you don’t have to keep measuring it to figure out if you have the right piece.

So there you have it, another weird and wonderful piece of rolling stock painstakingly constructed out of little pieces of bass wood. Can’t wait to get the next one. As for this, I’m not interested in modern cars so I expect someone is going to have a very merry unbirthday...
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I don't recall ever seeing one of these. It has a roof walk so doesn't that mean its not exactly "Modern"? Certainly not designed to carry something very heavy.
 

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Discussion Starter #154
Still some work to be done but the racing stripes look nice on the passenger cars.
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Discussion Starter #155
Finished the (basic) interior and the decals on one side, letting them dry before turning it over. I picked the car names for two seaports. Still need to add the diaphragms. The cars end up looking a bit crude, but fun to build.
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Discussion Starter #156
Labelle Box Car
Labelle concentrates on rolling stock from the turn of the twentieth Century. I built five passenger cars by them and enjoyed them, so When I got “Toledo and Western Box Car HO-45” I thought it would be equally fun. It was.
there are some interesting things different about this prototype, primarily in that it lacks some of the refinements of more modern cars, like end ladders, roof ribs and metal parts. But it does have corner braces and truss rods.
The instructions were confusing at first because one page was missing. Fortunately HOSeeker had the missing page and after that the instructions made sense. The kit is a typical wood frame with siding. It is almost all wood, with a few brass and plastic parts. Assembly is pretty straight forward, The floor is milled withs the support beams underneath. Mine was a bit warped but I clamped it while the glue set and it held together nicely. The truss rods are fishing line.
One problem I’ve had with wood cars with individual boards milled in is that when they are painted the spray paint doesn’t get into the grooves, and when you look at the car square on you can see unfinished wood in between the boards. This time I thought I’d stain the wood before assembly. This hides the cracks and staining the back side as well prevents the wood from warping after painting. I’ve had other cars warp after assembly because only one side was painted. If you paint both sides it controls the warping and prevents further warping when applying the final coat. The stain I chose didn’t look dark enough but once painted it came out nice.
I had a two-week delay because I’d run out of boxcar red paint. Fortunately mail order was quick enough and I worked on a diesel fueling station in the meantime.
Rather than decals this car has rub on transfers. At first I didn’t do so great then I figured out the secret was to hold the cover sheet tightly against the car so it doesn’t move while you rub. Then once you think you are done carefully lift one corner of the sheet while holding it down to make sure you got all the decal. Anyway, two of the decals came out broken up and one obviously cockeyed but it was an interesting change from regular soaked decals.
So overall I really liked this kit and will build more from them in the future when I can. Labelle has a doodlebug, that would be especially fun. This kit is still for sale new.
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Fascinating kit. The resultant box car looks from a very old era. I find your kit building lessons really interesting.👍
 

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Discussion Starter #158
Fascinating kit. The resultant box car looks from a very old era. I find your kit building lessons really interesting.👍
Thanks for that. I'm really enjoying building these things and every car is a lesson.
Finally finished the diorama for the coal mine. Like all things some parts came out better than others. I'm pleased with the (scratchbuilt) conveyor belt house and the coal pile inside the tipple but the dirt inside the cut is too regular and I should have made the edges of the board where I would be extending the hill irregular so when I get the rest done the eye won't be drawn to the straight lines. Still, nice to have something done. I'm planning a stockyard next to it and the back edge will have a wall of some kind...
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Discussion Starter #159
IMW Boiler House and Diesel Tank
I really enjoy building locomotives and rolling stock, but when I see pictures of other model railroads I’m always struck by how barren my own layout is and have been making buildings to give the trains something to run around. I was actually looking for an engine house or car shop but found instead this neat little kit for a diesel tank and Boiler house.
At first I wasn’t able to find any information about Industrial Model Works of Lodi, New Jersey because the terms were all so generic. Then I did a search for the whole name in quotes and found a blog from a guy who had trolled through old Railroad Model Craftsman and Model Railroader magazines and found some ads from the late 50’s. Apparently the company was one man in New Jersey and didn’t last very long.
The kit advertised that it included real blueprints, but I’ve seen real blueprints and these look a bit truncated to me. And naturally the instructions for the tank are missing. I found a couple line drawings of them on the inner tube and cobbled together enough to fill in the rest. The instructions for the boiler house were clear enough to build it but considering how simple it was that is not saying much.
The boiler house is a relatively simple four sides and a roof made of some kind of pine, too bad the board and batten siding pressed on is not perfectly even on all pieces. I reinforced the corners with some balsa but should have driven the holes for the pipes first as the corners interfered.
Not sure what they intended the roof to be, maybe tin? They wanted us to use paper cut in vertical strips but I wasn’t happy with that so I ended up using black paper to look like tar paper. The building also included a cupola which is a nice touch. I should have drilled a hole in the top of the smokestack.
The tank is a piece of ¾” diameter dowel (maple maybe?) cut to the right height and a bunch of thick silver paper to wrap it in. Like all round clad structures keeping the paper ends flat against the structure is an issue. In this case the fuel gauge is provided to hide it. They provided some overlaying strips with embossed rivets that gives the tank a bit more texture than my description sounds. I had to guess at where all the little pieces in the box went and may have simplified it accidentally because I didn’t know what to do with all these little bits.
Now I have a tank and pump house, how do you get the fuel into the engine? I decided to buy a Woodland Scenic Fueling station to put alongside the track and the IMW structures just outboard of that. The fueling set deserves a review on its own, but basically it’s a half dozen castings with lots of detail and a few rub-on transfers with interesting signs and instructions how to set it up. Due to space I cheated a bit on distances.
I made it into a diorama by putting everything on a concrete pad and surrounding it with a chain link fence. Unfortunately the only really clear spot is right on the edge of the table and as clumsy as I am I don’t know how long it will last before I bump it onto the floor. Anyway, a neat, basic kit and one I recommend for people liking old school building kits.
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