Virtual RPM Meet 1

New box cars on Harold's layout.
New box cars on Harold’s layout.

It’s time to share the work of another pre-Depression era railroad modeler. Harold Oakhill has been here before with some wonderful Pennsylvania Railroad XL class box cars. He just wrapped up building several New York Central box cars. Harold takes over the blog to discuss his latest works. Click on any image here to review a larger version.

Side view of a NYC Lines 36-foot box car.
Side view of a NYC Lines 36-foot box car.

36′ steel frame boxcar Boston & Albany 38817
Funaro & Camerlengo kit 6240 (originally Rensselaer Model RR Shop kit No. NGD-F012)
Decals by Yuma Car & Foundry Co., NYC Decal Set #2
Painted with Polly S Boxcar Red

Modifications to kit: back dated ends; replaced steel Dreadnaught ends with wood ends and reinforcing straps.

I recently built nine Funaro & Camerlengo kits of the New York Central Lines 36-foot steel frame box car. One of the kits was one of F&C’s earlier productions, made for the Rensselaer Model RR Shop around 1990. The kit was for a rebuilt version of a Boston & Albany 36-footer and included Reverse Dreadnaught ends. The earliest known use of Dreadnaught ends was 1925, and since I am modeling 1924 I needed to replace them with original wood ends. Fortunately I had a pair of wood ends left from some other F&C kits. Far from being a nuisance, I saw this as an opportunity to capture an odd detail I had seen when reviewing prototype photos of these cars.

The different car ends.
The different car ends.

For detailing and decorating the kits I referred to a collection of prototype photos provided by fellow modeler Ray Breyer. The prototypes were built in several lots between 1910 and 1913 and were assigned to all of the NYC affiliates. The photos reveal the original wood ends were reinforced with steel straps soon after the cars were built. Beginning in the early 1920s the ends were replaced with Murphy corrugated steel ends and later with Dreadnaught steel ends.

Prototype end on a NYC Lines 36-foot box car.
Prototype end on a NYC Lines 36-foot box car. Image from the collection of Ray Breyer.

While looking at the photo of the B-end of one of these 36-footers (CCC&StL 47705) I noticed something unexpected about the way the reinforcing straps were applied to the car. Rather than being bolted snug against the end of the car, they were shimmed out at the center and stood out to the point that the air line going to the retainer valve at the top of the car went under the straps rather than over them as one would expect. On the prototype photo, notice that the shadow under the straps is thicker at the center than it is at the ends where it tapers to a point. An enlargement of the photo reveals a shim peeking out along the bottom of the upper strap.

Modified end on the B&A box car model.
Modified end on the B&A box car model.

Modifying the end was pretty straight forward. The eve is part of the roof on this older kit, rather than cast on to the end. So I trimmed the eve detail off the top of the wood ends so they would fit under the roof. I applied the grabs, air line and retainer valve as per the instructions. The straps were made from .010″ x .060″ styrene strip. For the rivets I put dimples in the strip with a pin. The shims were made with additional pieces of styrene strip. The kit’s cast sides included straps and I used them as a guide to continue the straps around the ends. The rest of the brake details were then added.

Nine completed box cars.
Nine completed box cars.

As mentioned earlier, I completed nine F&C NYC shorty box car kits. They are seen above, assembled, painted, lettered, weathered and ready for service. I built them in assembly line style, executing each step of the construction process nine times before proceeding to the next step. It took me six months, which comes out to 1 1/2 cars per month. Not a bad production level for craftsman kits. Still, I was hoping for something a little better.

The line up includes five NYC, one NYC&HR, one P&LE and two B&A. Seems like a right mix for the upper right hand corner of the country. As for the other NYC Lines, I have the Big Four covered with other cars and Michigan Central automobile box car builds are on the horizon. I used Polly S boxcar red, oxide red, and my own concoction I call “faded oxide red” in the painting process. “Older” cars were hit with a few coats of diluted Polly-S Erie Lackawanna grey.

New cars filling the yard and ready for service.
New cars filling the yard and ready for service.

I am highly impressed with the decals from Yuma Car & Foundry. The art work is clean and crisp. The film is a joy to work with; comes off the paper after a 60 second soak, won’t tear while being prodded into place and settles down into the grooves.

Chalk marks have been applied to this box car.
Chalk marks have been applied to this box car.

I like to apply chalk marks to my cars during the weathering process using white and light gray colored pencils. The challenge is keeping a sharp point since the pencils are very soft. Cars frequently had the names of consignees, stations and junctions scribbled on them. So I couldn’t resist customizing a car with names of a few fellow modelers.

A big “Thank You” goes out to Ray Breyer for his diligent research and his willingness to share the fruits thereof. His prototype photos made detailing and decaling a smooth, enjoyable process.

I hope readers have enjoyed this quick summary of my recent model work.

Harold Oakhill

A string of new box cars heads into the Catskills on Harold's layout.
A string of new box cars heads into the Catskills on Harold’s layout.

Please post any question or comments below. All comments are reviewed and approved before they appear.

2 thoughts on “Virtual RPM Meet 1”

  1. For those who might have one stashed away, Rensselaer Model Railroad Society kit #5 (NYC/P&LE 36′ double sheathed wood boxcar has a photo of a P&LE car with the end reinforcement. The photo isn’t reproduced very well on the instruction sheet but the reinforcements are clearly visible. Also of note it appears that the brake platform was lower than the drawings on the instruction sheet indicate.


    1. Drew, I think Harold was using what he had on hand, which was a version of the kit with steel ends. F&C still offers this box car with wood ends and strap steel reinforcements. Click here to see the product. Most of the Rensselaer kits were folded into the F&C line several years ago. – Eric

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: