Workbench Update – October and November 2020

I’ve been busier than expected the last couple of months. The lead photo is where I left off on the gondola models. Progress has moved forward to expand the freight car fleet.

In the previous workbench update, two pair of HO scale gondolas were nearing the paint booth. Vallejo German red brown primer was sprayed onto the models before the freight car color coats were applied. Let’s catch up on these.

The Nickel Plate Road wood gondolas were painted with Vallejo dark rubber from the Panzer Aces line. A gloss coat was applied before decaling. These models were produced by Yuma Car & Foundry. The prototypes were built in the 1905-08 years and served to 1936. Nearly 2500 were built and these cars were the backbone of the NKP gondola fleet until 1930 when 1300 remained on the roster. The prototypes had a steel center sill and truss rods.

The deck is not yet glued in place. I used styrene car siding painted with rattle can primer gray. A few boards were painted with Vallejo New Wood. Those were covered with Tamiya masking tape and a burnt umber wash was applied. After all was dry, tape was removed and color pencils were used to alter the shade of some boards. Then Pan Pastels were rubbed into place. I even used some fine dirt in the center areas.

The decals were sealed with a gloss coat followed by a flat coat mixed with a couple drops of the car color. Pan Pastels were used to add grime and soot. I also used a light gray tint to fade more boards. Highlights and chalk marks were added with a cool gray color pencil. Air hoses, route cards, and card remnants will be applied when other models reach this point.

I had covered LT WT and repack decals with Tamiya tape before weathering the models. A couple of those stuck to the tape when I peeled it away. The side sill grain detail was a bit rough for the decals to snuggle down. I’ll have to fix this with a spot of gloss and decal application.

PRR GR gondolas

A pair of Pennsy GR class gondolas also moved though the paint shop. These are Funaro & Camerlengo resin kits. I had shared a mistake on an earlier blog post. I had accidentally installed side stake brackets on both models in the wrong locations.

After stewing over my stupidity, I removed the brackets with a trusty single-edge razor blade. Most of the styrene parts popped off the model with a little effort. Only a couple were difficult. Those areas were touched up with car color.

I decided to add the decals before installing the bracket details and found it was much easier to do this work without working around the brackets. Both gondolas were decaled in a couple of days.

The bracket details were reinstalled in the correct locations after a gloss coat was applied to seal the decal work. I had to cut a few new parts from Evergreen styrene channel stock.

I mixed a couple drops of car color with Model Master flat clear acryl for the flat coat. I hit these cars a few times as Pennsy gons always seem to be beaten up in prototype photos.

I applied a pin wash of burnt umber to the metal elements as a first weathering step. This is the first time I’ve tried this technique, which is popular among military modelers. This is a focused wash applied to specific details with a fine brush. Wood and metal components don’t weather at the same rate, so the paint appears different on dissimilar parts.

We often apply a weathering wash to the entire carbody and then hit some parts with a stronger wash. But I didn’t feel that would be proper with these gondolas.

FYI, the car sides were distressed before the kit was assembled. The inside areas were smooth, so I scribed lines with an X-Acto knife blade. In some areas, I purposely push the blade went through the resin material and removed some to make a wear point. I also used a wire brush in a Dremel motor tool to remove material for a scalloped appearance along the top of the car sides. If you do this, wear a mask, eye protection, and do the work outside.

B&M flat car

While waiting for primer and paint to dry on the gondolas, i thought I’d work on another kit. This Red Caboose flat car was produced with as-built Boston & Maine lettering reflecting the 1923 appearance. I updated the weigh and repack stencils earlier this year.

I needed to install the vertical brake staff and Carmer uncoupling hardware. I found the brake staff was not in the same location as the kit details, which were mounted on the end sill. The prototype hardware was mounted on the deck about a foot from the end sill.

I drilled a hole for the new spot and shaved the ratchet and pawl detail from a Tichy brake platform. I use 0.020-inch diameter wire for vertical brake staffs, which is larger than the prototype but more robust in layout use.

On the underframe, I cut down a Tichy part and mounted it on a piece of styrene 4×4 as the brake staff base. After the brake staff details were in place, I was ready to install the uncoupling hardware.

I used Yarmouth Model Works etched metal Carmer uncoupling details. The YMV 403 set with the Lift Lever 21 and Operating Lever 14 combination seemed to look like the prototype devices. These are the same combination used on USRA single-sheathed and double-sheathed boxcars, and the drop bottom gondolas. I solder the parts onto a length of 0.020-inch diameter wire before installing onto models.

Before I could install the Carmer details onto this flat car, I found the grab irons needed to be moved. The white dots in the image above are styrene rod ends that filled holes for the grab irons and original brake staff mounting detail. Once the area was clear, a #76 bit was used to drill a hole for the Carmer pivot rod. A brake staff support part from the Tichy brake sprue was trimmed to use as a spacer on the Carmer pivot rod. This fixes the distance from the end sill to the levers and provides more surface area to keep the parts attached with CA.

After snapping the above photo, the pivot rod was trimmed and the parts touched up with car color. These additions were more work than I expected but were improvements that brought the model in line with the prototypes.

I’ve rambled enough for this blog post. I started another freight car project in November, but those details will be an individual story.

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