No. 65: Progress on Freight Cars, Oct 2017

A quick post on progress of freight car model construction and also construction of the Portage Tower models for Mike Moore’s layout.

Proto 48 Models


I was able to finish a lot of small projects this week and also contemplate a few new ones.  First I finished installing the running board for an Intermountain 1937 double-door box car that will be finished as an SAL AF-3.  I scratchbuilt the latitudinal running board supports and am not terribly happy with them, but they are much better than the kit-supplied parts.  The running board is an aftermarket part from Protocraft.  The car is finished with detail parts mostly taken from the excellent Chooch detail sets.  Here’s the car below, ready for sandblasting.


I also finally finished the build for the Western Pacific double-sheathed box car.  I had to fashion a number of parts because I clumsily broke them off during construction, but in my defense I found the plastic to be brittle and I felt it broke easily.  I added a number of aftermarket detail parts, mostly from Chooch, to upgrade or repair the model.  The nut-bolt-washer castings are from MacLeod Western.


I’m happy with the WP car and the future SAL AF-3.  Next Stop: The sandblaster.  I have not used the sandblaster in exactly two years–heresy, I know!  However I’m taking this opportunity to clean and rebuilt it completely so it won’t be ready for action for another week or maybe two.

I have one more immediate Proto48 job on the ready track.  I need to repair or replace the decals on this Intermountain 1937 box car, this one finished for Nickel Plate.  I finished this car before I left the U.S. but when I decaled the car, the decals disintegrated.  The decals are by Protocrft but this is in no way a condemnation of Norm’s product line.  I probably killed the decals with too much setting solution.  Anyway this model has been on the RIP track for two years and it’s time to get it done.


Progress on HO Scale Models


Rock Island 141107 pictured above is an old Sunshine Models Rock Island single-sheathed car that I initially built probably around 2006.  This time around I added Hi Tech air hoses, Tahoe Model Works Dalman trucks with semi-scale, “proto-88” wheelsets, and some new blended weathering.  I also added new couplers.  This is a favorite car and was one of a series of single-sheathed cars put out by Sunshine in the mid-2000s.  That was a great series of cars and I think I have most or all of them.


GN 24968 is an older Westerfield flat kit I got from Richard Hendrickson back when I was editor of the SCL Modeler magazine.  We did a big series of articles on the  Durham & Southern and I intended to model this car as a D&S car with scratchbuilt ends.  Unfortunately I bought everything including a few neat, steam era decals sets but never finished the project.  Instead, around 2012 or so, I built this car.  I am very happy with it and used Westerfield decals to finish the job.  I added Hi Tech air hoses to the model and updated weathering on the roof, and that was it. 

I would like to pick up a few more of these Westerfield cars and finish one as a M&StL car—that’s an essential M&StL car—and one as a Wabash car–again, another essential freight car.


CB&Q 194468 pictured above is another old, almost-finished project that I finally got around to wrapping up.  I completely rebuilt a decorated Proto 2000 kit with all the wire details and everything about a year ago and last week finally added the last few wire details and air hoses, plus touched up the paint.  I am very happy with this car and want to do the same to my C&IM stock car. 

I must tell you that I got the motivation to rebuild this car after seeing Jerry Hamsmith’s beautiful CB&Q cars at the 2015 Naperville RPM.  Jerry’s work is very inspirational.  Here is one of Jerry’s cars, below, rebuilt from an old blue box Athearn car.  What a neat model from such a simple kit!   



So here is another view of the rebuilt Proto car above.  The appearance of the new grabs and details is a great improvement over the factory details, which can be seen on this C&IM car below.  Viewed close-up, the Proto details are ghastly.  These cars, spearheaded by Mike Gruber at Life Like, are still state-of-the-art—15 or more years after introduction—but the details need an update.


I am very pleased with the weathering on this C&IM car, which I purchased as a built-up model.  It needs to be rebuilt like the CB&Q car…or maybe I’ll just sell it and try to find a few kits on EBay and try again.  

Portage Tower Progress

I made some good progress on my Portage Tower models, which I am building for Mike Moore’s 1960s-era layout.  I got the basic assembly complete on the tool houses and the tower and as of this writing everything is ready for paint.  


Above.  I made the roof by measuring the footprint of the model as a guide.  I cut out one large single piece of styrene and built the peaked roof on top of it.  With no plans or drawings, and few photos, I just did the best I could with the time I had available.

Below.  Next I cut an identical piece of styrene to match the roof footprint and cut it in half.  



Below.  Then I trimmed the two styrene pieces, and glued them together, forming the peak.      


Above.  Last I added the two sides, just pieces of .020 styrene, with Tamiya liquid cement.  I let it dry overnight and then trimmed and sanded everything square.  You can see the complete roof section in the photo below.    

Below, here are the basic buildings for Mike’s layout, ready for painting and detailing.  At far left is the tool house, at center is the tower and the coal house, and at far right is a second and somewhat smaller tool house.  


Finally, Brothers, I’ll leave you with Philippians 4:8, which gives me strength in times of despair.  There seems to be plenty of despair going around in the news this week, which is why I usually make an effort to avoid the mainstream media.  Philippians reminds us Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!  – John G


2 thoughts on “No. 65: Progress on Freight Cars, Oct 2017

  1. Hi Gene, thanks for the comments. The Prtocraft decals are wonderfully thin but they came apart after too many applications of setting solution. I’m gairly certain I used the last of my Champ solution on these decals. All I have left now is the Microscale stuff. What are you using for decals these days? John G


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