Workbench update – May 2020

It’s been a busy hobby month, as travel beyond home has been reduced. I’ve seen many modelers share their recent work over the last month. I’ve snapped images of a few models that have been on the workbench recently.

The lead image is a bit misleading as only two of those cars have been on the workbench. I’ve noticed a few models lack appropriate weigh stencil details for my late 1926 focus. I was working on a new flat car that needed the same update, so why not add a few other cars that need similar work?

Weigh data stencils

Dave Parker helped me understand freight car weigh data and the update frequency. He has gathered the following from several prototype sources. The required stenciling frequencies date to 1917 and were codified by MCB/ARA Rule 30. Except for some semantics changes, they persisted until 1932 with another change in 1935.

Prototype all-wood and composite construction freight cars were required to be weighed on regular intervals. The first would be a year from the build date with another a year later. Then the cars would be weighed on two year intervals. In other words, most freight cars would be reweighed 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, etc., years after their build date.

All-steel gondolas, hoppers, boxcars, and reefers had a slightly different schedule with weighing required every three years. The intervalls on these cars would be 3, 6, 9, 12, etc., years after their build date. Tank cars were exempt unless they had undergone substantive modification that would change the light weight

Freight cars would need to be reweighed and stenciled after any type of repair work that would affect the light weight of the car.

Additionally, all weights were to be rounded to the nearest 100 pounds. But the tare weight did not have to be changed unless it differed by 300+ pounds (500 for reefers) from the previous value. This explains why so many cars have new station symbols and dates, but the LT WT and LD LMT  stencils look unchanged.

My modeling focus is November 1926, so weigh dates on most of my car fleet should have stencil dates within the previous two years. Some all-steel cars could have earlier weigh dates.

Model progress

I added paint patches using decal sheet that I painted with different freight car colors. These patches did not necessarily match the color of the car. New weigh stencils were placed on top of the paint patches after those had set for several minutes. Solvaset was applied after several minutes to encourage the decals to snuggle down. Everything dried overnight and I brushed on Pledge Revive It floor gloss (formerly Pledge Future) to seal the work.

I also noticed a broken sill step so it was replaced with an A-Line metal step, which will be painted shortly.

I found my other NYC hopper and will upgrade that in the next week. The side-by-side comparison illustrates the work. These models were originally updated in 2012 and featured in a blog post back then.

It looks like I should hit the trucks with a light wash of burnt umber, too. It’s funny how you see these things in photos but not when the models are on the workbench.

Here’s the flat car kit that I built. Its factory decorated in the proper 1923 as-built paint and lettering. I added paint patch and weigh data stencils. A repack stencil was also added above the right truck. This is an old Red Caboose kit that Intermountain now produces. I added a retainer valve to the right of the journal repack stencil. That needs to be touched up and the deck needs more color work. The vertical brake staff will be added after the paint and weathering work is done.

This Atlantic Coast Line boxcar is next for the weigh data upgrades. I’ve had this car for over a decade and only noticed the weigh stencil discrepancies recently. All the lettering here is factory applied and reflects the appearance when these USRA cars were built in 1919. I only need to update the weigh stencils and add a journal repack stencil for the model to reflect a 1926 appearance. I’ve already prepped the decal locations with floor gloss.

A new project

This is an old MDC/Roundhouse 36-foot boxcar kit that was a special run offered by the Old & Weary Car Shops about 20 years ago. I grew up in a town along the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh’s Indiana Branch and wanted to get this ready for service. But the prototype side sills and underframe are different, so I modified the model.

I substituted an Accurail fishbely center sill underframe and cut away a narrow strip of the car body along the bottom of the car sides. Strips of 0.015-inch thick styrene sheet were attached for side sill pieces.

Material was removed from the bottom of the car ends and remaining details were scraped and sanded off the bottom of the casting. Board grooves were extended to the bottom of the casting using a #11 X-Acto blade and dental tools. The end sill is Evergreen 0.125-inch styrene channel.

I didn’t have any small tube handy to make the poking pocket so I sliced part of the Accurail coupler lid boss and glued those in place. It’s not perfect but neither is much of this model.

Roof details are the most visible and the kit parts were lacking. Three styrene 1×6 strips were installed for a new running board. I filled in the brake staff divot and added grab irons above the ladders. And yes, I did drill grab iron holes in the wrong corner, which is why you see odd white dots in one corner.

The main parts of this car are not glued together yet. These will be painted separately before final assembly.

A different twist

Freight cars haven’t been my only project. I’ve started building track switches so they are ready to install when the layout benchwork is built. These are #6 switches with code 70 rail. These are the first I’ve built in 25-30 years.

I’m using Fast Tracks fixtures, tools, and supplies to build these. My second effort is seen in the above image. There are a more pieces to install but this one has built faster than the first. I’ve had most of these materials for nearly 20 years so I should build a few to prep for my next layout project.

That’s my May workbench summary. There are exciting things brewing for the blog. The Lehigh Valley boxcar fleet of 1925 was well received so more fleet summaries are in the works. I plan to share my hopes and dreams for the next layout soon, too, but I’d like to install some benchwork before spilling those beans.

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One thought on “Workbench update – May 2020”

  1. Eric
    Your comment on noticing things that look right until you look at the photo of the model is so true

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