No. 111: Modeling N&W Low-Side Gons and NYC USRA Single-Sheathed Box Cars

It has been over a month since my last modeling post.  Work, Christmas celebrations and a ski trip to Austria the week before Christmas kept me busy, plus I spent a lot of spare time finishing up a freight car project for Frank Hodina’s Resin Car Works blog.   Look for that article soon at

Meanwhile my buddy Jeff Kuebler sent a photo of some of Union Pacific’s engines at the old Missouri Pacific yard at Dupo, Illinois, which is right across the river from south St. Louis.  They were on the way back from special duty moving President Bush’s funeral train to Texas.

UP4141_Support troops_3.4 (2).JPG

Jeff wrote, “Merry Christmas!  Union Pacific sent me an early present this year as #4141 and #1943 paused in Dupo, Ill for two days this week.  I stopped by the yard on the way home from work on Friday and was allowed in to make a couple of photos.  I searched for them again this morning, but they had moved on to fill other stockings.  Happy holidays and hope to see you in the new year!” – Jeff K

Nice photo, Jeff, thanks for sending!

Back at the shops north of Ramstein Air Base, I was able to finish a bunch of freight car models after returning from ski week at Kitzbuhel.  I’ll cover them all, but for now here are two of my favorites.  Both are old Sunshine Models kits that I’ve been working on slowly for some time.

N&W 90547


N&W 90547 is an early Sunshine Models kit, #12B, issued in the early 1990s.  These were unique cars at 46 feet interior length, three feet interior height, and nine feet, ten inches wide.  N&W built 1,500 cars total in two series—99000 to 99999, delivered in 1937, and 90500-90999, delivered in 1941.  All 1,500 cars were placed in class G-1 by the railroad.

The G-1s were built with drop doors for carrying coal and other commodities, but were designed to carry steel and other manufactured items that were 40 feet long or longer.  Neighbor Virginian like them and built 100 copies in their own shops.

I assembled the model per the instructions.  I used a number of aftermarket detail parts, including Tahoe Model Works Double-Truss trucks with semi-scale wheelsets, a Cal Scale brake gear set, a Kadee brake wheel, and A-Line stirrups. 

I built the car in early 2016 and didn’t get around to sandblasting and painting the model for another year.  I primed it with Testors Light Gull Gray and then added a light finish coat of Testors Gloss Black.  Why Testors?  It’s all I had on hand, and paint is extremely difficult to get here in Germany.

Here, below, is a photo of the car painted and ready for decals.


I bought the kit on eBay and it did not include decals.  Instead I used decals from Westerfield—their N&W H-1 hopper decal set—and added a few Sunshine Models chalk marks and a shop date from Mt. Vernon N&W H-2 hopper decal set.  The finished car is below.


I gave the car a couple of light coats of my special dullcote mix (40% Testors Dullcote, 40% Testors Glosscote, and 20% thinner).  Then I added a few drops of Testors Gloss Black—the original car color—the the dullcote mix and gave it another complete coating.  I call this last coat a “softcoat” because it tends to blend all the finishes, tone down stark white decals, and provide a soft weathering effect.  The model below is after the softcoat was applied.


Here’s another view of the car finish after the softcoat.


The model is hard at work now on my Ackley, Iowa layout.  Before it went on the layout I added Kadee “scale” couplers, polished the wheelsets, and checked the coupler height to complete the operations check.  Here’s the model being picked up by the local below.

Yeah, that’s a PRR GP-7…and this looks more like a scene from central Illinois than Iowa.  But there’s that G-1 being hauled away, along with the subject of our next feature, NYC 194679.


NYC 194679


NYC 194679 is another Sunshine Models car, kit #93.1, which was issued in the later 1990s.

The prototype cars were built as low-interior-height Michigan Central autocars in 1922 in lots 440-B, 464-B and 465-B.  MCRR rebuilt them in 1932 with an additional 18-inches of height, along with new doors and modified ends.  This car represents one of over 1,300 cars that were further modified in 1943 with Youngstown doors and a straight panel roof.  In the year I’m modeling, 1950, NYC still claimed over 1,250 in revenue service.  

This build was about as straightforward as you can get.  Like the N&W gon above, I built this car per the kit instructions and added some improved parts, like a Cal Scale brake gear set, Hi Tech #6040 air hoses with brass brackets, Tahoe Barber trucks with semi-scale wheelsets, Smokey Valley Model Works coupler pockets, and a running board and latitudinal running boards made from Evergreen styrene strip.


Here, below, is a photo of the completed underframe and running board installation in progress.


Track testing…


…and now paint.  I painted the car with Tru Color NYC Freight Car Red.  That brand goes on great and dries fast–within an hour.


I applied the decals that came with the kit.  I also used a couple of decals from the Speedwitch NYC Box Car set, specifically the shop and repack dates.  The old Sunshine decals went on without any problems.


Like the N&W gondola above, I gave this model a couple of light coats of my special dullcote mix (again–40% Testors Dullcote, 40% Testors Glosscote, and 20% thinner).  Then I combined, in a separate container, a few drops of the Tru-Color paint and lacquer thinner and mixed that up well, and then blended that solution to the dullcote solutions.  I then airbrushed the model with this mixture to provide the “softcoat”.  The photo below shows the finish after the softcoat was applied.  Everything looks nice and smooth.


I finished the model by applying a little weathering along the bottom of the car and a little AIM weathering power (Soot Black) on the roof.  I also applied some hand-written chalk marks like I did with the N&W gondola.  Then I added the couplers—Kadee #78s—and the trucks, and polished up the wheelsets, and that finished up the project.

This photo came out a little dark, but let’s just say this photo was taken in the evening.


Here’s the above photo converted to black and white.  It looks better! 


Hope you fellas had a great weekend!  – John G


One thought on “No. 111: Modeling N&W Low-Side Gons and NYC USRA Single-Sheathed Box Cars

  1. Great work as usual, John. Thank you for sharing your ideas and results. I really like the final look that you get using your “softcoat” finish. I’m going to give that a try the next time I’m at that point in a build.
    Take good care,
    Jim Dufour


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