Some of my projects are long term affairs but they eventually move forward. Here’s a peek at one of those projects. This freight car started about five years ago when Accurail released their very nice 41-foot steel gondola. Except for the ends and a couple of small details, the model is a close match to a Wheeling & Lake Erie prototype. 2000 of those gondolas were built in 1921.
The last couple of posts have focused on resources available here on the blog to assist modelers with a focus on 1920s and 1930s freight car fleets. While enjoying my morning coffee, I was reviewing images on a photo archive and realized how much I’ve learned from this resource and realized it hasn’t been promoted as much as other sites. There are great photo archives available on line with thousands of images that date to the first four decades of the Twentieth Century. The Library of Congress has a Mother Lode of images, many of which have been enhanced and posted at the Shorpy site. Several cities and libraries have extensive online digital archives; the Denver Public Library, Historic Pittsburgh, Cleveland Memory Project, West Virginia History on View, and the Vancouver Public Library, to name a few.
The Erie Lackawanna Railroad Historical Society has been posting several images a day from an extensive negative collection for the last few years. The images were taken in the Teens by a company photographer to document accident scenes and places along the right-of-way. Many images capture the railroad traversing a rural scene, while others show the hum and bustle of a small town or larger city. Vintage freight cars can be seen in many of these photos, along with vintage signs, homes, commercial structures, and industries. For a modeler of the Teens through the 1940s, the images are pure gold as they are filled with details that can be implemented along our model right-of-ways and towns. The images are like a window back in time that offer a glimpse of homes and small industries before they were leveled as towns grew with population increases. It was a time when the railroads were moving goods to serve communities and transport people to places near and far. Anytime I view images like these, an old indie rock tune, “Places That Are Gone,” by Tommy Keene starts playing in my head.
The details seen on many of these images inspire our hobby efforts no matter the scale, era, or gauge of our model railroads. I encourage you to visit the Erie Lackawanna Photo Archive regularly and make new discoveries among these century old photos.
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Many different tools are used to build the models for our railroads. We have all collected a variety of tools over the years. From pliers to knives, tweezers to paint brushes, metal rulers to screwdrivers, our tool boxes and workbenches have quite the selection at hand. I’ve used a few tools recently that are not common but they were very helpful in completing a few projects.
I recently started decaling some box cars that I’ve had for a few years. I showed my wife the progress on the Rock Island car seen above and she rolled her eyes and mentioned how difficult the work looked. A comment from a friend in an unrelated conversation a couple of days later hit on a similar note.
In our freight car building and detailing adventures, we sometimes forget about finishing the wheelsets and trucks that carry the latest builds around our model railroads. Here are a couple of tips to enhance these components and the final freight car effort.