No. 114: Proto48 Freight Car Update


Here’s the view out of my third floor train room window.  It is not fit for man nor beast out.  It’s a good time to get some modeling done instead.

We had a big conversation last week on the Groups IO Proto48 list–moderated by master builder Gene Deimling–about the P48 models are people building this winter.  I’ve been working very slowly on a few models with the goal of fully completing four or five models a year.  Here’s an update.

Wabash Auto Car

This is an essential freight car–the Wabash single-sheathed double door auto car.  I bought this model a couple of years ago from Rails Unlimited at a St. Louis RPM event.  I want to completely finish this car and bring it to St. Louis RPM ’19 in July.  I’m pretty close to finishing the build–I just need to finish installing the brake gear and running board and then it’ll be ready for the sandblaster.


A prototype car still exists in Atlanta, Illinois.  I’ve been using the photos I took of the car about 15 years ago to finish my model.

Wab 47194 5



I made a styrene ladder strip and that has worked out well.  The grabs I used, from Tichy, are a little heavy for P48.  They’re .015 inches wide, whereas scale grabs should be about .012.


Here’s another view.  This is a beautiful model although it has a few molded-on parts that are irritating, such as the door guides and the tack boards.

Southern Flat Car

This one of the old Smokey Mountain Model Works kits offered probably 15 years ago by Jim King.  Jim is a master pattern- and kit-maker.  His latest O scale offering, the 70-ton flat, is exquisite.  Jim is currently finishing a Southern low-side gondola that I’m sure will be the best of the lot.


I bought this kit from a little hobby shop in Iowa back in 2015.  It was an easy build.  I painted the car with Scalecoat Box Car Red #1 and applied the decals that came with the kit.  I made a new deck from individual pieces of styrene, each painted and applied separately.  The trucks are Proto48 width from Rich Yoder and the couplers are Kadee “scale” couplers in Protocraft scale-width draft gear. 


I recall that SMMW made an HO scale version of the Southern flat which retailed for $50.  That was a whole lot for a flat car model 15 years ago.  I balked, but now I wish I had one.

Western Pacific Double-Sheathed Box Car

This is an everybody’s-gotta-have-one O scale car produced by San Juan Car Company.  I built the model per the kit instructions, added a mountain of after-market parts, and painted it with Tru-Color Western Pacific Freight Car Red.  Decals are from Rick Leach.  It is a favorite prototype and the model is beautiful.


This model took me—on-and-off—about five months to complete.  The plastic is quite soft and I had a lot of trouble with it, especially when it came to drilling holes from grabs and other details.  Nevertheless after a lot of work it made a beautiful model.  

Speaking of grabs, it looks like I still need to add that grab on the bottom of the door.  Amazing what you can find in photos–even your own.


Seaboard AF-3 Auto Car

My Seaboard AF-3 is an Intermountain kit painted with Scalecoat 2 Box Car Red and finished with Protocraft decals.  The build was easy, and I used aftermarket parts from Protocraft and Chooch to raise the level of detail.  Trucks are P48 AAR by Protocraft.


I have another double-door car on hand that I’d like to finish as a M&StL auto car.  M&StL had similar cars with superior doors and a raised, Viking roof.  Scratchbuilding the doors would be easy, and Intermountain makes a replacement Viking roof that’ll work great.  I think that would be a cool and slightly unusual project.  Protocraft makes appropriate decals.


I have another double-door car in the works.  Below is my version of a Central of Georgia 1-1/2-door car.  I got the second door from Gene Deimling some time ago, and rebuilt an Intermountain single door model as seen here.  Most of the detail work is done but I want to add quite a few rivets at the ladder attachments and in other places.  


Pennsylvania GLA Hopper

My PRR GLA can be seen below on the paint rack with a few HO scale models.  I’ve had this car for three years and finally gave up looking for appropriate decals, and just last week tore apart a Tichy GLD set and a Protocraft X29 set to get the car lettered.


I sandblasted the car last month and painted it with Scalecoat 1 PRR Freight Car Color.  Then I tore apart both decal sets and applied everything letter-by-letter.  Here’s the decaling in progress.  The carbody still needs a little brake gear detailing and a few other things, but I wanted to get it decaled and dullcoated as soon as possible.


Here’s the GLA, getting’ in line with some HO scale stuff.  More to follow on this car when it gets done.

Why am I doing all this?  Someday I’d like to build a Proto48 switching layout, and when that day comes I’d like to have cars ready for the layout.  In the meantime I’ll keep building. 

I hope you guys all have a productive modeling weekend.  – John G




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s