No. 92: New Builds, May, 2018

It’s been 40 days since the last post on Railroad Prototype Modeler.  Since mid-May I’ve only been able to spend about five hours modeling.  My modeling time has been devoted to other priorities, like yard work, vacationing, working overtime, spending time with kids, and watching the World Cup.


Meanwhile, yesterday my wife and I sent all our kids off to Bible School in Switzerland and we spent the rest of the day on a just-me-and-my-wife day-trip to Koblenz, Germany.  Among the many things we did was take a cable car over the river to the Stolzenfels Castle Fortress.  I took this picture from the cable car specifically for a friend who is coming to Germany in September.  He’s planning on taking a Rhine River cruise, so I thought he would enjoy the view of the cruise ships, the confluence of the mighty Rhine and Moselle Rivers–called the Deutsches Eck, which includes the massive statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I–and of course the railroad on the west side of the river.

On the way home my wife and I drove along the east bank of the Rhine River Valley, which is one of my favorite drives on the Earth.  Busy railroads, castles and cool medieval towns line both sides of the river.  In the hour it took us to drive down the valley we must’ve seen 20 trains on both sides of the river.  It seems like most of the passenger trains keep to the east side and most of the freight trains keep to the west side.  It is a great drive, and I hope to railfan it in some detail this fall.


One of the last models I was able to finish in mid-May was this recently-released Yarmouth Model Works ACL O-16-B Auto Car.  

I assisted Pierre Oliver with the ACL by providing drawings, lettering diagrams, paint information, and history.  Pierre did the hard part of course, taking the drawings and creating 3D patterns and producing the models and decals.  This is a pretty expensive model at $60 each, but since Coast Line had basically two types of box cars in the 40s–vents, and auto cars–it is an absolutely essential model.


I must say that this is an exceptional model.  It includes a number of interesting new parts construction-technology leaps that make this model something new and different.  And it’s about darn time.  Makers of armor models, such as Tamiya for example, have been releasing high-end, multi-media, plastic-metal-resin kits for a long time.  Meanwhile model railroaders have become accustomed to buying a kit and finishing it with another $30 in resin and etched parts.  But here–in one box–we’ve got it all.  We’ve waited a long time for this.

This photo, from the Jay Williams collection, shows some of the characteristics of the O-16-B cars.  Two irregularly-spaced panels on left of the doors, 16-foot door openings, 7-2-8 Murphy ends, Union Duplex door gear, and grabs above and below the short ladders.  Interestingly, this car has an Apex brake wheel–Miner was Coast Line’s de facto standard.


Coast Line took delivery of 3,700 O-16 class single-sheathed, single door box cars from 1922 to 1926.  The cars resembled USRA single-sheathed box cars but were different in almost every respect, especially with regard to interior height.  Beginning in 1939 Coast Line modernized 3,634 cars into single and double door cars.  At least six different configurations have been categorized; all of them featured a 7-2-8 modified Murphy end.  The Yarmouth model correctly captures the minor details of 1,000 O-16-B cars, which were rebuilt by 1943 and placed in ACL’s 55500-56499 number series.  

Among the new parts included are correct Tahoe Model Works trucks, etched brass ladders, etched stirrups, and etched door tracks, latitudinal running board supports, and other parts.  Pierre’s etched brass ladders, mastered by Peter Aue here in Germany, are an interesting leap in ladder tech.  They take an evenings’-worth of work to build, but once built and installed they look great.  The kit also includes laser-cut running boards–a nice touch.

Below.  Shot of assembled etched-ladder kit, Smokey Valley coupler pockets, and Hi Tech air hoses.


I ran into a major problem during construction.  The floor didn’t into slots provided inside the one-piece carbody.  With the floor installed the floor sat about nine scale inches below the side sill.  See below.  


Above.  The slots cut into the carbody simply weren’t deep enough.   To remedy the problem, I had to remove additional material on the inside of the car to allow the floor to deep deeper into the carbody.  It wasn’t a hard job (see below).  I used a Dremel tool with a cutting wheel to remove most of the material and then detail-sanded the interior to ensure a great fit.  The whole exercise took about 25 minutes.  


Below.  Now the floor fits perfectly.  


The rest of the build was quite easy and the kit builds into an impressive model.  Next stop: the sandblasting booth.  Before I “blast” the car I’ll bring it to St. Louis so you can see Pierre’s work for yourself.

Yarmouth has announced the release of two new models at St. Louis RPM, which will be held on 20-21 July in Collinsville, Illinois.  We’re excited to see the new cars!

Sunshine NYC Auto Car

As I mentioned above, one of the last kits I bought from Martin Loftin at Naperville was this Sunshine Models NYC 1-1/2-door rebuilt box car.  I’ve had it around a long time and am happy to finally be finishing it.  In case you’re keeping score this is Sunshine kit no. 93.1.


Above.  The prototypes started out as single and double door house cars operated by Michigan Central.  This is a model of one of 1,500 cars rebuilt with additional height, new doors, rebuilt ends, and new roofs by MC from 1930 to 1932, and again rebuilt by NYC in the 1940s.  According to Sunshine Models, there were 1,280 cars on the NYC roster in 1948–perfect for my 1950 operating era.  You can find out more about these interesting prototypes on the Sunshine Models historic website at


Above.  I built up the underframe first per the kit instructions.  It was all quite simple, although I omitted the train line to speed things up a bit.  The brake gear was completed using a combination of Tichy and Cal Scale parts that were wandering about in the scrap bin.  Trucks are from Tahoe Model Works and wheelsets are “semi-scale” from Intermountain.  The coupler boxes are the new offering by Jim King of Smokey Mountain Model Works.

I love the ends on rebuilt cars, especially on these NYC cars.  Sunshine captured them nicely.  I used a piece of strip styrene to replicate the mounting strap for the ladder and added Grandt Line nut-bolt-washer castings to represent the grab iron mountings.  The air line bracket is from Hi Tech details, part no. 6040.  Looks like I need to make a new coupler lift bar that reaches the center of the coupler, and also replace a rivet on the tack board. 

The Smokey Valley coupler pocket looks nice.  It is smaller than the Kadee #78 and much better proportioned, and slightly larger than the awesome Accurail scale box, but it has the advantage of being manufactured to use the Kadee #78 scal coupler.  The best advantage is I don’t have to use that awful Accurail two-piece scale coupler.


Below. This car was a pretty straightforward build.  I also replaced the kit-supplied running board with individual boards made from Evergreen styrene pieces.  The latitudinal running board supports are a nice Yarmouth Model Works product.  Finally, below, here’s the completed car ready for a trip through the sandblaster.


And, below, here’s the car posed on the layout.  The layout needs a ton of work–so does the car.  Can’t wait to get ’em both done!


And Speaking of US Freight Cars…

I was in Slovenia two weeks ago and ran across this car at the Slovenia National Railway Museum.  It’s riding on US trucks.  Got any ideas to it’s lineage? 


Blessings to you and your families!  John G

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