Easy boxcar update

I like to wrap up a project or two before a prototype modeler meet so I can take the models for display. A couple of months ago I came across an Accurail 36-foot boxcar that I had detailed but had not completed. That’s how the model appeared when I decided to finish it off.

I started working on this model in September 2017. I like to work from the top down on a boxcar. Those details are most noticeable.

The cast-on corner grabirons on these Accurail models slice away like butter. The short longitudinal latitudinal running board parts pop off the model to ease handling the work. Drill a few holes and bend some wire for a better look to this roof detail.

I focus on end details next. A Tichy retainer valve casting and 0.008-inch diameter brass wire representing the line are easy additions.

Brake platform supports are installed. I tried something different and used strips of frosted Mylar for these supports. I used the same material for the running board ends. Styrene 1×4 split into 1×2 works great, too.

The above image was snapped in February 2019. The model sat in this unfinished state for months.

Ray Breyer collection

A prototype image came along to inspire more work. Missouri Pacific 25578 has a 1919 weigh date. The line introduced their buzz saw herald about the time of my 1926 focus. I didn’t want to completely repaint the car and this prototype lettering was close that on the model.

Westerfield AC&F builder photo collection

This USRA double-sheathed boxcar builder image illustrated the MP lettering elements. A couple early 1920 images confirmed the use of this lettering style. I had to change some lettering on the Accurail model, mainly the data under the car number to the left of the door.

Here’s the model in September 2019 with factory lettering and RPM events looming on the calendar. I decided to get busy. Uncoupling levers were installed on the end sills at this time.

I brush painted over the car number on the right side and the data under the car number on the left side. I used Vallejo acrylic colors that were a close match. The darker patches are Pledge Future that was brushed on to prepare for decals. This product is now known as Pledge Floor Gloss (Revive it). I searched all through my decal stash for data sets that would be close to the prototype but had no luck.

A friend came to my rescue for the data decals. He created art that reflected the prototype style. He printed it onto Tango Papa decal paper using a Ghost white cartridge in an HP color laser printer. The lines above and below the reporting marks came from the remains of another decal set. Never throw those out. You can pick off numbers, letters, and other details to use on models.

After applying a gloss coat on the decals, I sprayed a mix of flat with a few drops of boxcar red color. Hi-Tech Details air hoses were added to each end sill then the car rolled through the weathering factory. It was ready to display at the MARPM and RPM Chicagoland events. These Accurail models are easy to detail and upgrade to follow prototypes.

Some readers are now wondering why this post is labeled as an easy boxcar upgrade. Yes, the work covered a two year span, but I didn’t work on it continuously. If we subtract the amount of time between the detail phase and prepping for decals, then the time shortens to a couple of months.

The resulting model is not an exact replica of an early 1920s MP 36-foot double-sheathed boxcar but it’s close. The extra help in creating and printing the decal art makes this model stand out. Special thanks to Dr. Dave Campbell for the assist in pushing this project across the finish line!

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6 thoughts on “Easy boxcar update”

  1. Longitudinal running board runs length of the car, Latitudinals are the short components perpendicular to the Longitudinal running board.

    1. DANG! I had a 50% chance of getting that right. Ack! I’ve corrected the text. Thanks, Bill! – Eric

  2. Eric,

    Nicely done. Good timing too, I’m working on some Accurail 40′ NYC boxcars and I find them easy and quick to put together. A few extra details really makes them stand out for the time and money invested.


  3. Nice update details.
    How has using frosted Mylar for the brake platform supports worked out for you? I have successfully used frosted Mylar for things that stay completely on the surface of a model (like corner straps on a boxcar), but I have found that when using frosted Mylar that stands away from (freestanding) the surface, the Mylar becomes brittle when it is attached with cyanoacrylate and breaks vey easily if handled.

    1. That’s a good question, Bill. Thanks for posting. I used canopy glue to attach the Mylar to the model. The attachment was reinforced with a bit of CA. I had used Barge cement thinned with MEK on a few applications several years ago but the odor was overwhelming. The Mylar has held up pretty well so far. The car hasn’t been used in operating sessions but has been packed and unpacked a few times for display at RPM events. A hopper was also upgraded using Mylar for these supports, so I’ll be watching both models. – Eric

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