Assisting others: CNJ box car

In mid-February I received an email from a friend who was responding to a question from Alan Mende. Alan needed decal help to finish a box car project and I was added to the email response as a possible resource. Alan was lucky as I had a decal set on hand to send to him. Here’s Alan with more details.

I had scratchbuilt a Central Railroad of New Jersey box car from a plan published in the January 1972 issue of Model Railroader. The model reflects the pre-Safety Appliances appearance, which is why there is only one grab iron on the car side. I was planning to use a Clover House dry transfer set, but the HO versions were out of stock. What to do?

I duplicated all of the large lettering using a Microscale condensed Railroad Roman lettering set. I even made a fried egg herald using the red circle from a Champ set of L&NE covered hopper decals. But I lacked the small data lettering. I knew this would be a bear of a task to duplicate the data lettering with individual letters from the Microscale set. these are two- and three-inch tall letters, too

Eric asked if I was familiar with the Rail Graphics generic data sets. These were new to me and seemed like what I needed to complete the box car.

I didn’t know that Rail Graphics had made these sets. Sadly, they are no longer available. Eric supplied an extra set from his stash so the CNJ car could be finished. All the smaller data lettering came from this set, as well as the Post No Bills and Air Brake lettering. These decals finished the last scratchbuilt car I need for my NMRA Achievement Program, Master Builder – Cars.

I also sent a few photos of my latest scratchbuilding projects. I’m one of those crazy people who like to scratchbuild in brass. A Central Railroad of New Jersey C-3 class 2-6-0 is the latest effort.

CNJ 0-4-0T No. 840 was my first loco scratchbuilding effort. This was featured in the NMRA Magazine a few years ago.

A two-truck Shay was a recent project. This was originally an upgrade to an old Keystone Locomotive Works kit but it turned into a scratchbuild.

This project was featured in the March 2014 Railroad Model Craftsman. Check out the article for the full story and many more photos.

As it became a scratchbuild project, I went for full cab details, too.

The Shay sees regular duty on my layout serving a private quarry line.

Here’s is a kitbash that I did using a Mantua General drive and a Roundhouse Overton coach. The photo was taken on the layout of former NMRA President Bob Charles.

The model features a full interior and a highly modified Mantua General tender shell.

Here’s something more modern. This CNJ covered hopper was made using styrene with embossed rivets.

Yes, I actually counted the rivets on the one surviving Reading car owned by the Reading Historical and Technical Society.

Portland cement and powdered pastel chalks were used as to weather the model.

I enjoy building all sorts of rail equipment.

Thank you, Alan, for sharing some of your projects in a virtual RPM presentation. I always enjoy the work of other modelers and was very happy I could help Alan finish up the CNJ box car. I look forward to his next project!

BTW, Alan presented a “Building in Brass” clinic at the NMRA’s Mid-Eastern Region October 2017 convention in Harrisburg, PA.

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6 thoughts on “Assisting others: CNJ box car”

  1. I recently placed an order with Clover House and Tom Dempsey, via an email on 13 April 2017, said that the CRR of NJ dry transfer set (7196-04) will be back in stock once Clover House is able to locate a printer.

    Drew M
    Philadelphia, PA

  2. Always enjoy the blog. I have followed Alan’s modelling CNJ for many years. He is a very generous sharer of his techniques. In fact he was kind enough to email a copy of his trackplan of a CNJ switching district to me many years ago.
    Many thanks to both of you for inspiring better modelling.

  3. The CNJ covered hopper looks really interesting. Did you ever do an article about building the car? Have you considered doing one?



    1. Hi Jerry,

      Long ago, when I started the covered hopper project, I planned on doing an article, but life got in the way. I decided to finish the hopper as part of the NMRA’s Achievement Program requirement. Consequently, I didn’t take any in-progress photos. But I did an article in Railmodel Journal on how to kitbash CNJ cement hoppers from E&B Valley/Eastern Car Works AC&F 70-ton covered hopper kits (March 1994 issue) and how to weather with Portland cement in the July 1994 issue of RMJ.

      Kindest regards,


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