Workbench update – April 2020

I’ve made great progress on some freight car kits in the last month. Consider this post as an update from my workbench.

First up was a 30-year-old HO scale resin boxcar kit I finished in late March. It’s the lead image for this post. The model follows a Rutland prototype and was originally sold by the RPI model railroad club. I installed Yarmouth sill steps, uncoupling hardware, brake platform and running board end supports, and a Tichy brake wheel. Air hoses will be added after the model is painted.

I started building the model on February 27, when I dealt with a few warped pieces. The flattening process was featured in an earlier blog post.

Next up is a Yarmouth Model Works Canadian Pacific 40-foot single-sheathed automobile boxcar. I’m building the resin kit in the as-built version with the 10-foot door opening. I had issues with the resin door track castings so I made my own from strip styrene. The one-piece door casting and door tracks were installed over a weekend.

The underframe details fell into place easily. There was some fussing with the coupler installation, but there usually is with almost any kit. I install Accurail Proto:HO scale couplers and gearboxes whenever I can.

Yarmouth Model Works provides etched metal parts for the ladders. I spent extra time to make these fine details and am happy with the results. Lester Breuer blogged a tutorial on these ladders that inspired my work. I didn’t have the same bending tool he used but did well with one I had at hand. Here are my steps.

I used a tool from the Small Shop called The Bug. I rotated the silver part of The Bug so the straight side is adjacent to the wider workspace. The image above shows the tools I used. A pair of cuticle scissors to trim parts from the fret.

I did mess up bending my first stile but the Yarmouth package includes stiles for five ladders on the etch fret.

Here’s the etched stile lined up on The Bug. I use an old biology probe to position the stile on the table, then I hold down the silver part and twist the knob to clamp it. You can’t just turn the knob as the silver part shifts.

I use the probe so the etched fold part is positioned to ease the fold. The etched line needs to be just adjacent to the edge of the straight segment of your bending tool. I messed up a stile by lining up the center of the fold etch with the edge of the tool. It was not successful.

After the stile is clamped, I slide a single-edge razor blade under the stile and bend up. The blade needs to pivot under the fold etch. You will need to use more uumph than you expect.

Once the stile is mostly bent, I use a small square to push the stile against the silver edge of The Bug and iron out any kinks.

Voila! One stile is ready. of course, you need two for each ladder.

Following Lester’s recommendation, I made a jig from scrap styrene to hold the stiles for rung placement. A clothespin clamps another scrap of styrene to hold the stiles. I insert a few rungs before applying a small amount of Loctite 496 adhesive at the connection point with a wire applicator. After the adhesive sets, I flip the clamped piece over to apply adhesive on the back of the stiles.

With the rungs in place, you can’t use the jig to install the remaining rungs. I balanced the ladder on a scrap of wood with the remaining rung locations hanging over the edge. A light weight was place on the finished part of the ladder to keep it in place while the last rungs were installed.

The work is tedious but the finished ladders look amazing. I hope to install these soon.

I haven’t relayed the exact order of the work in this post. I took a break from the Canadian Pacific boxcar after the doors and door tracks were installed, and before the ladder work. I built an Owl Mountain Models Southern Pacific F-50-5 class flat car kit to clear my brain.

I had not built a plastic freight car kit for several months and this flat car seemed like a nice break from a resin kit. The instructions were straightforward and the castings are well detailed. The installation of Accurail Proto:HO couplers slowed the work a bit. I need to figure out modifications to the kit parts and the coupler gearbox.

In the image above, you can see where the front of the gearbox was cut back to clear the end sill casting. It was also shortened. I shaved the inside walls of the kit coupler box with an X-Acto knife so the gearbox would fit. I also thinned the walls of the coupler box casting on the end sill to allow for more coupler pivot. Only the bottom casting of the Proto:HO gearbox was used.

After the coupler installation, the underframe details fell right into place. I would advise checking the brake lever slots in the center sill castings before those are attached to the model. I thought I cleared out the slots but did not insert a brake lever to check. I had to use a long drill bit to widen the slots after the center sills were glued to the model.

Here’s the current condition of this kit. It’s difficult to get a decent shot of flat car kits. I like to see some of the underframe in the photos. And yes, I should have hung some paper in the background to hide the workspace.

I need to install the uncoupling hardware on the end sills. I’ll add the brake staff and brake wheel just before the model is painted.

I took my time building these models. Many freight car kits can be built in a week. Don’t expect quick builds on your first few kits. As you become comfortable with the steps and processes to add details, your time to completion will decrease. Most of all, enjoy building the kits.

Be safe. Stay healthy. Build models!

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2 thoughts on “Workbench update – April 2020”

  1. Eric the models looking mighty fine. Great progress. Look forward to seeing them in paint and lettering. Your photos of showing how to get nice bent stiles with the Small Shop bender is really well done. Thanks for sharing.

    And, Thank You for the mention and link my blog.

  2. Eric

    Looking good the Owl Mountain flat cars a nice car I built two. I need to build some ladders for my Sunshine SP B50-13

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