No. 81: Progress on Freight Cars – Mar, 2018


My family and I spent the weekend in London at a high school swim meet.  The meet was held at the London 2012 Olympic pool, which was really neat, and we also spent a couple of days sightseeing in the city and elsewhere.

My son photographed the sign above at a very deep subway (“Tube”) station in central London.  At one point we had to change trains and we had to take a winding staircase about 12 flights down to one of the deepest stations on the system.  Way down at the bottom there was this sign on the wall.  Pretty cool, eh?  Just wish I could remember what station it was.

While we were there I visited the Ian Allen bookstore on a recommendation from Marty McGuirk.  It was cool and I enjoyed looking at the huge variety of British modeling equipment, almost all of which was 1/87, 1/76 or narrow gauge.  And all British of course.


We spent a second day in Dover, on the Channel coast across from Calais, France.  We walked around town and spent a few hours touring the amazing Dover Castle, which has about 2,000 years of “history piled on top of history”.

There are monuments to British courage everywhere in Dover.  This one contains a piece of steel sheet cut from a German coastal artillery gun that was emplaced in Calais during World War II.  You remember this was the narrow section of the channel where British and German artillery (i.e. battleship guns) fired over the channel at each other, and also at each other’s shipping.  Apparently the crew of one of the German guns recorded every round fired at the port and city of Dover.  Most of those heavy guns were rail-mounted, by the way…IMG_7932

In More Peaceful Times…

…progress on freight cars continues in preparation for this summer’s St. Louis RPM meet.  I was on a roll getting cars painted and decaled and thought “why stop now”?

Western Pacific Double-Sheathed Box Car

Thanks to a friend on the Proto-48 list on IO Groups I was able to procure a hard-to-find Rick Leach decal set for my San Juan Models Western Pacific single-sheathed box car.  While the decals were enroute I painted the car with Tru Color Western Pacific Box Car Red (as seen below).  What a nice, rich color it is.


The decals included with the kit are very good, but the feather in the Western Pacific monogram should be black and white, not red.  The kit’s decals have a red feather.  The monogram in the Rick Leach set is correctly black and white.

Below, the decals have been applied and the model is ready for Dullcote.  However, there’s a problem.  The Microscale decal set has left behind a white, chalky substance between the wooed sheathing.  I don’t think the decal decomposed–check out the close-up on bottom.  Do you guys have any idea what could have caused this?  My only thought is the bottle of Microscale decal set I’m using is probably 20 years old, or perhaps older.



Central of Georgia Flat Car

Before leaving for London I began the weathering process on the Central of Georgia “Fix-the-Flat” model I got from the Central Historical Society.  First I gave the car a good coat of Testors Dullcote.  Next I began the weathering process by first giving the entire model—top to bottom—a wash made of about 20% black artist oil paint and 80% paint thinner.  I’ll explain the whole process in a later post.  When the solution dries, the black pigment in the wash collects in the corners and between the boards where dirt and soot and grime tends to gather on the prototype.  I think the effect is quite realistic.


Below, this is what the wash does–it gathers in the corners and in spaces and like on the prototype.


Next I used various shades of brown to distress and highlight the individual boards on the flat car deck.  The idea here is to use a very light application to provide some contrast between boards, and blend it all together later with a final finish coat.


Below.  A little black on top is okay; I applied it very lightly because I don’t want the boards to look black–just a little darkened to provide some contrast.


After painting the deck with various shades of brown and black, I went over some of the boards with a distresser–this one made of fiberglass –to roughen up the surface a little bit.  I got this thing online at MicroMark.  I deliberately distressed the boards hard enough to bring some of the gray kit-color out, but it took off all the paint around it, making it look new and not very weathered or realistic.


See below.  I took off too much paint trying to get some gray to show through…


After a little more color and some blending, the deck looked like this (below).  It still needs a lot more work.  More to follow as I get the car weathered and wheels polished, and couplers installed, and in service on the layout.


CB&Q 75084


I gave my new CB&Q gondola car a wash with the artist oil black-thinner mixture mentioned above.  It turned out pretty nice but I probably should’ve gone a little heavier on the black.  I’ll devote an entire post on the black-wash process real soon.

Tichy Tank Car

I mentioned to my friend Steve Hile that I was finishing a Tichy tank car model, and he was kind enough to send me an old Model Railroader article that discussed prototypes for the model.  In case you’re looking for it, the article was in Paint Shop in the May 1988 MR.

The article explains that the Tichy model is almost an exact match for 500 cars built for Canadian General Transit Company in 1948.  The authors recommend a few changes to the model, but since mine was already built and painted I chose to omit the modifications.

Anyway, years ago—on Richard Hendrickson’s recommendation—I bought a CGTX decal set from Al Ferguson at Black Cat Decals, and I had them on hand to use on this car.  This is a beautiful decal set and interestingly the decal set includes reporting marks for CGTX 1635…which is the exact car featured in the MR article.

You can see a few blemishes on the car below; most of them are exaggerated due to light glare.  I can’t wait to get this car weathered up and on the railroad.


Flying Box Car

No, I’m not talking about the old Air Force C-119.  You may recall I’m finishing up about six other freight cars, one of which is an old Sunshine Models M&StL single-sheathed box car.

I finished applying all the decals and was holding the car out of a three-story window, spraying on the first coat of Dullcote.  The car was all wet with Dullcote when POP!  The forceps I was using to hold the car popped open and the car went flying down into the garden below.  The model was unharmed, but the garden was wet after a rainfall, and the car—with wet Dullcote—got covered with sticky water.

I went down and retrieved the model and took this picture so you can see how wet it got, and how far it fell.  I dried it off right away but as you know, Dullcoat and moisture don’t mix.  The car is now covered with white splotches.


This wouldn’t be a big deal if I could get more decals.  Unfortunately there are no more decals…so I’ve gotta figure out a way to save the finish.  And while I’m at it, how to save the finish on the WP car too.

Model Railroading is Fun.  – John

5 thoughts on “No. 81: Progress on Freight Cars – Mar, 2018

  1. Good work, John.
    I like the effect of the chalking on the WP box it looks very realistic to me, particularly, with the white down in the boards.
    Always appreciate your posts and the fact that you spend lots of time with your wife and family seeing the sights of Europe. What a great time of family “bonding” and teaching world history.
    Take care,


  2. Thanks, Barry. We were surrounded by history in the US of course, but it’s different here. We’ve noticed a change in our son too. He seems to be appreciating the history that surrounds him much more these days. Last weekend we were in The British Museum–which is fantastic–and they had a huge display of money throughout history. Jacob said he had learned about some unusual form of currency used in Europe in the 1700s and was wondering if any of it was on display. He went through the exhibit and found it, and took a picture, and sent it to his teacher. I wish we had more time to explore, but I am busy making history at work…ha…

    We have a huge house and an empty, furnished apartment downstairs. It’s free for you and your wife, anytime you want it. Just say the word…don’t pass this up! Frankfurt is 90 minutes, Paris 5 hours, Luxeumburg/Belgium 90 minutes, Holland 2 hours, Munich and Stuttgart and Cologne (Koln) 4 hours, the list goes on…

    John G


    • John,

      What about just respraying your amphibious flying boxcar (can you imagine a C-119 on pontoons?) with another coat of Dullcote? That makes the alcohol “blushing” go away, so hopefully it would work for the water blush spots. If that doesn’t work, Microscale offers a set of decals for the M&St.L’s steel AAR boxcars. I think the slogans and other lettering are similar enough to where they might work for your XM-1.

      And I’m a bit envious of your current living situation. Driving 5 hours only gets me to Fargo. Not quite as exciting as Paris. Although I actually have much more interest in seeing all the WWII battlefields I’ve read about, but as I understand that can be a touchy subject in Europe.

      See you in St. Louis!

      Bob Heninger


  3. Thanks for the blog, much use. If it’s of any use, the ‘To the Trains’ glazed tile is at Russell Square station on the Piccadilly Line.


    • Thanks Will! As I took the picture I told myself to remember the place…and five minutes later I had already forgotten all about it.


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