Shawmut Boxcars, part 2

Perry Squier has been pushing forward batch building Shawmut boxcars for his HO scale layout. The first part was an earlier blog feature. We have continued discussing details and Perry has sent additional notes.

After building the basic car bodies and detailing the ends, it was time to tackle the doors, car sides, and roofs. Several prototype images were used to guide the detail work. Not everything was perfect but these are close enough.

Door Hardware

Door hardware is distinctive on double-sheathed boxcars. Most prototypes had a brace and a door handle. There are also latch details to install and a closed door stop near the latch hardware.

I made the Z-shaped door stop by cutting a Grandt Line stake pocket in half, cutting off one leg, then putting them back together as in the photo. The brace is a cut down hinge. A rub strip and doorstop were installed to the right of the door opening.

Roofs and running boards

I built the roofs as per in an article by Bob Schleicher. The roof is two pieces. A sub roof supports a 0.060 X 0.060-inch styrene spacer for the peak. This also acts as a stiffener for the car sides. The 0.020-inch thick styrene car siding was scored and bent before gluing to the sub portion. Ray Breyer gave me the clue to use Evergreen #2067 for the roof as the boards are about 5 1/2 inches wide.

Ray also suggested a way to make the supports sit on the peak. Just turn the roof over and sand the peak down level with a few swipes on #600 grit paper. It was easy to hold the roof level while sanding. I shortened Tichy running boards to fit and used 2 X 4 styrene supports.

Ladder grab issue

I told Eric that I like to build multiples so mistakes are multiplied. Well, guess what? I discovered an issue with the grab irons. The positions are within tolerances of the Master Car Builder’s Association (MCBA) requirements, but they seem a bit too high to look good.

I had an idea and sacrificed one car to do the following steps.

  • remove all 7 grabs
  • drill new holes slightly below old ones, except drill holes for the bottom a little lower
  • install new drop grabs instead of straight ones
  • install NBW’s in old holes, except bottom ones
  • fill bottom old holes with styrene rod
  • drill new NBW holes just above bottom grab and add NBW’s
  • maybe replace sill steps with shorter ones

The bad news is I also have to add NBW’s to all the other grabs on the car. But hey, I’m retired and it’s going to snow today and tomorrow.

Here’s the end result. I am happier with this but now I see the side ladder grabs do not line up with the end ladder rungs. Wish I had paid attention to these details before I started. And so it goes.

Decal mock-up

I got the proofs for the decals and cut up a copy to review the fit on a model. I have initials and numbers from older decal sets so I don’t have those to mock-up. I’m guessing at the placement of the hardware inventory, weigh, and dimensional data. These custom Shawmut decals made by Jim at Highball Graphics.

I’ve not found any late Teens or early Twenties in-service prototype photos of these cars to determine the proper data lettering and placement. I do have reweigh stencil decals for St. M. 12-21 and other dates on older sets.


I HATE to paint. My friend Tom Schmeider volunteered to paint these boxcars since I scratch built several structures for his new Lackawanna Railroad. He sprayed Scalecoat II Boxcar Red (#2013) on the cars.

Now all I have to do is apply hundreds of decals.


Thank you, Perry Squier, for sharing more steps in this ambitious project. I look forward to seeing the final models soon! If the Shawmut piques your interest, why not join the Pittsburg Shawmut & Northern Historical Society? Members share lots of information on the railroad and the region it served.

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5 thoughts on “Shawmut Boxcars, part 2”

  1. I like how Tom Schmeider used wire attached by the truck screws to hold the cars for painting. It looks like he can paint the entire car — top, bottom, sides, and ends all in one shot. I’ve always had to paint the different sides, ends, etc. separately.

  2. Ladder grabs changed over the years. On V&T boxcar 1015 I found two sets of holes where grabs were mounted onto the car. One set was the old lag screws and the new set for bolted ones. New ICC requirements replaced screws with nuts and bolts.

  3. You’ve given some really great ideas to improve construction of cars in styrene, thanks! I especially like the idea of the subroof former and plan to adopt it. One question: do you drill that subroof as a vent into the main body space for styrene offgasses, to help avoid distortion?

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