No. 144: 75 Days

It’s been 75 days since my last post.  That’s 2-1/2 months!  In that time I got new job at the air base–and have been working well over 50 hours a week—and wrote two articles for another guy’s blog, and spent ten days away in Slovenia and another week hiking in Austria.  And I have managed to dodge our friend COVID.  It’s been a very busy 75 days.

Back on Memorial Day, my wife led the family on an awesome hike along a cliff in the Moselle River Valley, about 30 miles south of Koblenz.  It was the best hike I’ve taken in Germany—very strenuous, and very scenic–and I got to watch trains all day too.

Below.  Here’s the view after scaling the first cliff at the beginning of the hike.  This electric freight train is headed west over the Moselle.  The tunnel at the right is the once-famous Kaiser-Wilhelm Tunnel, originally built around 1885.  The trains rolled all day–it was a great show!


Freight Car Work

Here are some models I’ve been working on in the last 75 days.

The first model finished was this Resin Car Works Illinois Central single-sheathed mini-kit.  I finished this car for a friend’s blog and hopefully that article will be posted soon.


Another car under construction–or re-construction–is this old Sunshine Models “War Emergency” box car.  The model simply needed an upgrade, so I replaced the trucks with Tahoe Spring Plankless trucks with semi-scale wheelsets, replaced the kit-provided wood running board with a Kadee Apex-type, replaced a few broken ladders, added new stirrups from Yarmouth, and also added Hi-Tech air hoses with brass brackets.  Proper decals, for Atlanta & West Point, are on the way to Europe from Speedwitch.


Since I took this photo, I attempted to re-fit the roof onto the model and realized it is too long.  Andy Carlson is sending me a replacement Red Caboose roof which will fit better.

Below, here is a shot of the same model way back in 2001.  I lived in Northern California at the time.  The model has come a long way.


Below.  I have reported on this car before, but here is an almost-finished view.  This is the Roundhouse/Athearn 50-foot, single-sheathed, Missouri Pacific auto car.  I have extensively rebuilt the model and am waiting for paint from the US before decaling can begin.  I’m going to devote an entire post on this model, so if you’re interested stay tuned.


Below.  Here’s what the model looked like when I got it.  I bought it for five bucks on eBay.  The prototype photo below is from the Focus on Freight Cars book series, published by Speedwitch Media.


I don’t recall if I posted this photo before, but in case I haven’t…this is an extensively rebuild Rib Side Models model car.  I added a new running board made from Evergreen styrene strip, Details West ladders, Cal Scale brake gear, Yarmouth stirrups, Tahoe Model Works trucks, Hi Tech air hoses, and a whole lot more.


Here, below, is an in progress view after painting.  The Details West ladders have a slightly more scale profile and are preferred when I can get them, but they are fragile.  Note one or two of the stiles is broken.  The draft gear box is ghastly but I chose not to replace it.  The Yarmouth stirrups have an excellent scale cross section.


I’m also working on a Rock Island 1937 Modified box car using the old Intermountain kit.  My friend Allen Cain found a stash of these cars and I bought from him.  The other two will be Burlington cars.  In the meantime, the model below has received the full treatment and has been rebuilt and sandblasted and is ready for paint.


Pipe Load

I’m hard at work at a number of other models which I’ll show in the next post.  I was also able to finish a gondola load project last week that I’d like to show.  Inspired by this photo below (courtesy Mike Gruber at Mainline Photos), which shows a pipe load on a gondola two cars back, back in January I bought scale corrugated pipe from the guys at Iowa Scaled Engineering.


I did some basic measurements and ordered four of the packages below.  For a car load, it wasn’t cheap—I think $24 for four packages of four pipes.  This is a super, high-quality product—exactly what you would expect from ISE.


Below.  Before building the load I did some testing, and determined I could fit four pipes cross-wise across a standard car with room on each end for braces or dunnage to secure the load.


I chose to build the load for an Accurail ACL gondola that was finished for an SCL Modeler project ten years ago.  This car was also featured in a later companion article in Railroad Model Craftsman, I think that was published in 2015.  First I built a false floor made of styrene, and painted it flat black.  Then I attached scale 2 x 4 crossmembers on the bottom, and built the load up from there, one level at a time.  I took my time and used canopy glue, as shown, to fix the dunnage and pipes.


Per AAR loading rules from 1950, I included wood dunnage underneath each level of pipes.  When I was done building up the pipes, I cut long strips of paper, colored black on both sides with a Sharpie pen, to use as straps.  I turned the load over and secured the straps with tape on the bottom of the false floor.


I’ve used the paper-strap technique many times.  Below is a picture of a pipe load that was built about 12 years ago.  Like the load above, the straps were secured to a false floor from underneath.  The load fits in a Proto 2000 NYC or P&LE 52-foot gondola.  The photo  below was part of a short freight car article in the first NYCS Historical Society Modeler magazine.

Photo 4

The new corrugated pipe load is just about ready to install.  With the dunnage in place and the straps secured, I cut some long pieces of  scale 2 x 4 to use as side-bracing when the load is installed.


Below.  Here’s how the old car looks with the new load.  The dunnage and bracing is in place.  The load is completely removeable and can be set up in any other gon.

ACL 94930 with load

I have a bunch of new posts “in the queue”.  I just need time to get them ready for prime time.  I hope you guys stay healthy and COVID-free, and keep on getting good things done.  – 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