Category Archives: Boxcars

All boxcar related projects

Site Seeing – The Little Critter that could edition

It’s not often that you get to see internal (in-plant) company railway operations today. Thankfully “Saginaw Terminal Docks” (Facebook and YouTube) posted a video from Reid Machinery in Lansing, Mi showing how they use old freight cars to store valuable machinery on their site prior to sale.


Reid Machinery’s internal railroad

Reid Machinery Inc of Lansing Michigan have specialised in moving machinery, primarily in the forging industry, throughout North America since 1992. And while that may not seem like the most worthy thing to write about on the third Tuesday in July – I urge you to hang around a moment longer. You see they also hold their large (as in big – not lots of) inventory on and in their own railroad assets.

Yes – they have their own switching layout.

Thanks to Saginaw Terminal Docks we have a front row seat, and a cab ride on one of these switching moves. I asked him about connections to the rest of the world. He tells me that the in-plant line connects to the JAIL/Adrian & Blissfield on over a mile of old track through Lansing’s south side.

And this is so modellable…


YouTube video

Some of the things to watch out for in the video are:

  • The three person crew (Engineer, conductor, and digger – and yes it’s a guy with  a shovel)
  • Slow switching speeds
  • At around the 18 minute mark – opening the boxcar door with the forklift forks (we often model the result but the actual operation is rarely filmed)

So sit back, turn up the volume and enjoy the show.


Resources

Site Seeing – Sebastopol Shops RIP Track 2

It’s officially Australia Day so I thought I’d share more work done weathering the Southern Boxcar underframe and sides. It’s interesting to see how the added brake gear (see more about that here) has become just another part of the model, and no longer seems to dominate the underframe, just as I had hoped it would.


Southern Boxcar 36188

I’m relatively happy with the work so far. There is work to be done on the patches to tone them down “just” a touch.

Beyond that though the underframe weathering is what I now consider to be just right (considering that it will be hard to see). I had to add a bright white background behind the model for it to show up.  Very pleased with how this work has come out. It looks perfectly functional, and most importantly, looks the business.

I’ve weighted the model appropriate to my needs (that’s roughly the cube root of the on rail weight). This is heavy by the ‘normal’ standards, but with the Kadee sprung and equalised trucks under them my cars run like dream.


Tasks remaining

  • Rust spots need adding on the side, especially on the sliding door (right) side of the car as this area takes a real beating in service. There’ll be less on the left side. I’ll be using Ken Patterson’s oil weathering process, as outlined in the video in the resources section below. I’ve not used this particular method before so it will be interesting to see how it works for me. I’ve weathered in oils before and enjoy them very much, this will be one new technique for quick and dirty rust weathering.
  • The roof needs to be attached to the car and I’ll be weathering it to match the side weathering. I always do the sides before I do the roof because much of the run off ends up on the car sides.

Resources

Ken Patterson’s Oil Weathering method:

Sebastopol Shops Update – More Brake Mods

Work has been busy and I’ve not had much time to model, however I did get time yesterday to begin the weathering process on a couple of car underframes that have come through the brake rod upgrade program. Pictures below…


Southern 36188

An E&C Shops kit this PS-1 50′ single door boxcar has been in the shops recently for brake rodding updates. With the deeper side sills it provides a good view of what I’m trying to achieve through the upgrade program – adding ‘something‘ between the bottom of the car and rails.

From a lower point of view the rodding detail on this car disappears into the background clutter of hard angles and shadow (image taken in reflected sunlight on my workbench – late afternoon – with nice and flat tones)

Taken at normal railfan height the rodding is there and fools the eye, at least my eye, into believing that this is a super detailed car. Rolling by you’d never guess anything otherwise.


XAF10 class prototype car

Work continues on the XAF prototype car, an Athearn Blue Box kit. I’ve had my concerns throughout the upgrade that things would stick out like a sore thumb. I needn’t have worried. I like what’s emerging.

This is the car with all brake rodding work completed. I was worried that the brake rodding would be too obvious using the 20 thou brass.

After applying the base of the undercar weathering the experiment has borne sweet fruit. This looks much more like I wanted it to look. Same lighting and location showing the hard angles and shadows. Once on its wheels and with further weathering applied the rodding will disappear into the background, yet have that wow factor as it goes past.

Thanks for stopping by. Comments? Questions? Let me know.

Site Update – RailBox XAF10 Modelling pages updated

The modelling article on the RailBox XAF10 class cars have been updated. There is new content and the third step of the rebuild article promised some time ago. There’s more information below.


What’s happened

My last update on this project covered the addition of a short history of the class. This time we’re getting into the meat of the project.

This new page covers the dangly bits between the frame and the rails – brake rigging. This is a task focused modelling article on how to simulate the brake rigging on the model without going over the top. Thanks go out to Tony Thompson whose original post on his blog got me started on this particularly enjoyable journey. (There’s a link from the new page to Tony’s original blog post.)

Throughout the series I’ll be aiming to complete the entire project section within an hour (between getting home and dinner for example) and at the end of it have a model that you can be proud of. Here’s what I mean using before and after photos:

Image 1: The basic Athearn BB kit sans brake rigging

Image 2: Same kit (undec) with brake rigging – a subtle difference but well worth the effort

You can head direct to the page by clicking this link, or head over to the project home page clicking this link. I hope that you enjoy this new part of the project. Like, subscribe and follow to keep up to date with all the new content here on Andrew’s Trains.

Sebastopol Shops – Adding brake gear

There was movement at the station, (to partially quote A. B. ‘Banjo’ Patterson), and I’m working to update a fair proportion of the model fleet with basic brake gear. More below…


Low hanging fruit

I mentioned a couple of posts ago I wrote about simplifying my modelling, without compromising my vision of what I want to achieve with my modelling. I believe that by simplifying my modelling style that should not mean accepting less. I tend to overthink everything, over detail (hyper detail) and in the end never finish anything to the standard I want to – think contest models of everything. But no more however. In that spirit I’ve been working toward cost-effective updates to my Athearn BB and other boxcars that I’ve collected over the years. To that end last week I found (for the second time at least) the post by Tony Thompson on his blog about providing partial yet effective brake rigging. This week I’ve gotten that done on several cars, and what a difference I feel it makes.

There’ll be a full article coming later this week on how I achieved my version over on the project page for the RailBox XAF10 cars. The page updates appearing there will be out-of-order but I’ll be filling in the blanks over the next couple of weeks as I get images completed. In addition there’ve been some cars in for repairs and one specifically coming closer to completion. More on these last two tomorrow.


Images from the RIP track

The production line; and while the cars have good general representations of the AB brake system, you can make a better looking version with a little time, staples, some fine brass rod and a little super glue (in this case super thick).

Above: the prototype for all the brake gear, RBOX XAF10 (the car at the back with all brass) with the other three cars using staples for the protective hangers.

Below: Bringing it all together. Staples and brass rod for the actuating rods. Absolutely prototypical? Nope, but they look the goods and make a total difference to the side on view of the cars. Well worth the time and effort to do.

50 Boxcars NW 52900 & Southern 36188 showing the difference between steps:

Above: the car with the beginnings of the brake rigging in place.

Below: shows the difference between one day and the next. Talk about a difference. I really like the look, busy, but simple and cheap to do.

I’ll post more images next time as I work through the rest of the cars on the RIP track.

Thanks for reading and dropping by.

Site Seeing – the Switching small customers edition

There was an interesting video posted by Danny Harmon (who goes by the handle of Distant Signal on YouTube).

He focuses on the increasingly rare small switching customer. Once upon a time it was the core of railroading. And while it is harder to find, in some places it can still be found as Danny presents in this video.

Enjoy the video! And if you like Danny’s videos as much as I love his voice then like the video and subscribe to his channel. I have no affiliation with Danny other than as a happy viewer of his content.

Site Seeing – 29 June – A new series from Model Railroader – Taking Care of Business

I’ve been quite hard on model railroader over the years. They’ve been very predatory in their behaviour over the years. I even got a cease and desist letter from them at one point because they thought I’d copied part of their intellectual property when I published a corner layout of my design. After to-ing and fro-ing and a level of “kiss my A##” from me since I was in the right, we’ve gotten along well ever since.

However, I may, and I stress only may, change my point of view if they keep up their new free to watch video venture – Taking Care of business. The basis of the idea is to ride along with a crew (in this video SMS Lines switching the Pureland Industrial Park in Bridgeport, New Jersey) as they go about their day-to-day work. The video was entertaining and informative. My concern is that if it doesn’t stay free I certainly won’t be putting up my money to pay for it. Lots of content providers share similar videos on YouTube and other sharing sites that help me understand as much.

Free is good as in beer, and speech. Hopefully MR keeps this series going as free to watch. There is some really interesting content, good production values and I enjoyed the narrative of the story showing the crew going about all of their tasks during their day.

Resources:

  • Video: To watch the video (while it is still free) head over to Taking Care of Business: SMS Rail Lines | ModelRailroaderVideoPlus.com
  • SMS Rail Lines: SMS Rail Lines restores, maintains and operates many historic Baldwin diesel locomotives (in fact I believe they have the largest fleet of Classic Baldwin’s in North America). It’s a labor of love to keep these rare and historic units in-service for future generations to witness. For more just search “SMS Baldwin” on YouTube.

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Site seeing: October 03

I love the size, and the presence that O scale models have. While cruising around on the MRH forum the other day I came across the blog of Jack from France (SVJRR) whose modelling is just outstanding. And so onto today’s site.

Site 1: O scale – Updating some Atlas/Roco cars

Image 1: Jack’s completed rebuild and respray of the Atlas/Roco 1970s Boxcar

Jack, whose English is very good for those who might be worried, steps you through a tutorial on how he updated some of the 1970’s Atlas O Scale cars (actually made by Roco in Europe) into modern-day equivalents.

As I have around 10 of these cars sitting quietly in my stash his tutorial came about at exactly the right time. The work is simple (and not surprisingly mirrors the work I am doing on the Gondola build at the moment.

I know that the cars are not exact matches for specific prototypes, although they are very close, but they allow you to get up and running quickly with little effort beyond grabs, steps and a repaint.

Site seeing – February 15

Introduction

Today’s site seeing adventure is for those of you interested in railroad operation, in this case dispatching. Today’s link came across the wire thanks to the ‘Ry-ops-industrialSIG’ SIG group on Yahoo! Groups.

Site 1 – Train Dispatching

Today’s link points to Train Dispatching by J. G. Lachaussee. It has two separate sources of the same article (one from Scribd – the other directly on the site.) The article is as published in ‘The Sandhouse’ – A Publication of the Mississippi Great Southern Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

I’ve had a quick read of it and found it to be really interesting to see the information presented by a long time dispatcher himself. You can read more of the article here: <Offsite Link>

The article is by J. G. Lachaussee; published in the November 2011 issue of The Sandhouse.

Site 2 – Scribd

A while back I began a short history of the 40’ Hi-Cube Boxcars that rode the rails for a short period from the late 1960s through to the 1980s. So far I’ve only completed the SP and SSW part of the document and have not yet completed the other owners or operators or the modelling section for the final eBook.

There seems to be an inordinate amount of modelling interest in these very specifically operated cars; the model manufacturers have made a lot of them over the years. In fact there are more models available than those produced by the car makers themselves.

They’ve lived in model form for longer than they ever did during their prototype railroad days. If you’d like to take a look at the first part of the eBook please go to: https://www.scribd.com/doc/103033209/A-Very-Short-History-of-the-40-Foot-Hi-Cube-Boxcars

Now it is time to go model with my 10-year-old son.

Updating Athearn Blue Box Railbox XAF 10 cars

 Part 1 – No plan survives first contact with the enemyThe basic blue box car

It has been some time since I’ve had the funds or the time really to do much of anything in the modelling realm.

I’ve simply not had the funds to bring a lot of the work I’ve had underway forward to completion. Thanks to the Taxman and a payout due to being laid off, I’ve been able to order some extra parts to complete most of my Railbox cars.

The most important of all the parts has been a set of Microscale decals.

I ordered these from Microscale in the US and very quickly in the post I received 3 packets of Microscale (87-1291) HO scale RBOX & ABOX decals. Microscale’s service was fast and excellent after ordering directly from their website. They decal two cars of each type and come with all the car data you need for the cars.

RBOX_Microscale_Decals

I have a lot of these cars to re-work; at last count I believe about there were 10 in total. I have enough to cover 6 cars for now. With my layout that I’m building (currently set in 1978) there’s latitude for the Hunter Valley to have bought some similar per diem boxcars. These cars I’ll complete last as I have to produce or manufacture my own decals for them.

Updating the Athearn Blue Box model

The Athearn model is, except for the roof pattern used, correct for the XAF10 series cars. The kit does not have the detail that modern-day kits come with as standard, but they were only $7.50 when I bought them and even after the upgrade process will top out in real dollar terms at less than I can buy the newer models for now. To keep the costs down I’m making most of the add-on parts. To be fair I love scratch building. It has always been my favourite part of the hobby.

Let me say this before the rivet counters jump in: I know that the roof panels on these cars are wrong, I can live with that. At the height above the floor the new layout will be, they really won’t be all that obvious,even if they may be easy to see.

When money is tight these simple upgrades make all the difference. What other issues remain I can live with. There are some issues though that I just cannot live with. In order of descending importance they are:

  • Trucks – I replace these on all of my Blue-Box cars. In this case they’ll be the 70 ton roller bearing trucks (fully equalised) by Kadee. I love these trucks, and with proper weighting they run like a dream floating along and bending to the poor track of the HVL (we are a ribbon in the weeds kind of Shortline you know). At around A$15.00 per pair they are not cheap, but they work so well I’ll eventually fit them on my entire fleet as I can afford to.
  • The body side the grab irons just irk the hell out of me; moulded onto the body side and just begging to be milled and replaced with brass wire – the image below shows the experimental car with these.modifications. While the grab-irons on this model look over sized I am certain that once they’re painted they’ll stand out a lot less. If they don’t then I’ve since sourced some really fine brass, and if they aren’t fine enough I can always get some fine copper wire, tin it and then fit them for prototypical accuracy

Modified_Bluebox_Boxcar

  • The stirrups on the car ends are OK, but I can do better using brass wire, brass strip or as shown in the image above good old-fashioned staples (which have proven to look great but will need to be drilled, glued and then have NBW castings glued through them and into the body to stay on – every one of them has been knocked off  – even with careful handling and using the best super glue)
  • Updated Kadee knuckle couplers (I prefer the #58 which have a much finer head casting). From these I’ll  be removing the magnetic glad hand as I do all of my uncoupling with a skewer, and because I’ll be adding air hoses and glad hands (these magnetic units which look really great as you can see in the YouTube video below. They are now available from P.W.R.S. at: http://www.pacific-western-rail.com)

Remember how I said no plan survives first contact?

If I were a purist, or a glutton for punishment, I could rework the car ends. There is much that could be done by milling the ends and cleaning everything up and starting again. I just can’t be bothered. The ends are good enough, and because they’ll be in between other cars, and generally not focused on I’m not going to worry.

The coupler box used on the model is wider that the real one used on the real car, but again, this is between the cars during normal operation and really, I just don’t think it matters. I’ll live with it.

In part 2 I’ll provide a historical context to the build, and then in part 3 I’ll move on to reworking the basic car into something better for your railroad, and mine.