Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Weathering experiments

I got a Vallejo weathering kit for yellow and gray models, and wanted to try it out. I haven't really weathered any freight cars, so I used the body of a Red Caboose reefer that I was planning on stripping anyway.

I weathered one side heavier than the other, and pretty much just followed their directions, and I wasn't working from any photographs. Mostly this is to understand their process, and use it as a foundation for other approaches.

Overall I'm pretty happy with the first attempt. Because these are acrylic washes, there's a bit of the rounded edges in a few places since the color pools there. So I'll want to address that.

I also added some Pan Pastels afterwards to see how that would alter the weathering:

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Flat Cars - General Information

There are many times where I can't really devote the time to go down and work on the layout, but I can work in small chunks of time while working on something else at my desk. Often this is a combination of working on models and research (and writing an occasional blog post). A common catalyst is the acquisition or announcement of a new model. 

One such group on my bookcase/desk is flat cars. The F30A that I posted recently was one such model/experiment. Instead of waiting to find a(n affordable) Sunshine model, I figured I'd see how hard it was to modify the underframe of the Bowser model. That was a result of getting the Owl Mountain Models SP F-50 and Espee Models SP F-70 flat car kits.

Once I start looking at a class of cars, I tend to look at what I might need. There are two general directions I work from in determining a roster.

Plastic Flat Car Models

The first option is to look at the available models, starting with the easiest ones - RTR plastic, as well as some that are available only as kits. In this case there are a number of good options, and resources (such as Richard Hendrickson's Railmodel Journal articles, Railway Prototype Cyclopedia, and the knowledge of the Steam Era Freight Car modelers in general.

41' Flat Car (Tichy/Ertl)

Based on an NC&StL Prototype, it's also close to DL&W, SP&S, SSW, CN, CP and NYC with 12 stake pockets. Ertl produced an RTR car based on the same prototype. I have no idea whether there are differences between the models. Ted Culotta wrote an article about modeling these cars in Prototype Railroad Modeling Volume Four (available from Speedwitch Media).

 The version that's sold as a Low Side Gondola can be built without the gondola sides and resembles AC&Y, C&O, and D&RGW cars with 10 stake pockets
I'm also working on using it as a basis for NH 36' flat cars.

AAR 50-ton 53'6" Flat Car (Proto 2000/Walthers)

This is a very accurate model, and as far as I know all of the roads released are prototypical. In my case I'm starting with ACL, C&NW,  C&O, CGW, CIL, CRR, D&RGW, I-GN, ITC, L&N, M&StL, NKP, NP, RI, SOO, UP, and WM. EJ&E would be another good choice due to the number rostered. Ted also has an article about these cars in Railroad Prototype Modeling Volume Four.

AAR 70-ton 53'6" Flat Car (Intermountain)

Another very accurate model, although the laser cut wood deck is too thick and tends to delaminate. I'm experimenting with removing it and using a styrene board-by-board replacement. The War Emergency ones are visually identical, the only apparent difference is that some of the crossties are wood. 

Again, I believe all of the released models are prototypical roads, but the NH is a must have for me, of course, and NYC rostered 1,000 of them! The ERIE and CRP are the other ones I'll definitely roster. PM had 350 as well.

NH/NYC Depressed Center Flat Car (Eastern Car Works)

Although this kit isn't produced anymore, they are easy to find, and it's an interesting prototype. More importantly for me, it's an accurate model of an NH prototype.

The body of the model is a very good replica of the cast body of the prototype. The details themselves are a bit course due to the injection-molding technology of the time, but it's easy to turn it into a nice looking model. The deck itself is beautifully rendered.

In addition, a second class of NH depressed center flat cars (they designated them "transformer cars") is nearly identical, only needing to extend the deck at either end. I need to get a picture of Chris' (award-winning) ECW flat car.

NP Flat Car (Central Valley Model Works)

This is a series of flat cars rebuilt from boxcar underframes. It's a unique looking prototype.

PRR F30A (Bowser)

The Bowser kit is pretty accurate, but needs a few modifications like the addition of poling pockets and the work I did on the underframe. Speedwitch Media has decals available for this kit.

SP F-50 class Flat Cars (Owl Mountain Models)

This is a series of kits, I went with the F-50-10/12 model as it was probably the most numerous in my era. Available only as a kit, but it's a fun one to build. I'm building an SP F-50-12, and might build a T&NO F-50-8 as well. (Jason Hill has a series of posts on building this kit: Part I, II, III and a fantastic overview of SP Flat Cars. Tony Thompson did a quick write-up about assembling the kit too.)

SP F-70 series Flat Car (Red Caboose/Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society)

(I couldn't find a picture of this kit that I could use).
Another series of kits, sometimes available RTR, the F-70-6/7 is good for most of my era, and the similar F-70-10 would sneak into the 1953/4 sessions if I wanted to.'

UP GSC 42' Flat Car (Exactrail)

Recently produced by Exactrail, these are an accurate rendition of a 1951 UP prototype.

USRA 42' Flat Car (Red Caboose/Intermountain)

This is actually a model of the NYC and subsidiary cars, and PM and W&LE are close matches as well. This is a clone of the USRA design with minor differences.

To actually model the USRA prototype Richard Hendrickson noted that stake pockets #2, 4, 5, 8, 9, and 11 need to be moved to evenly space them across the side. In this configuration the CNW was the largest owner, and I may add additional roads once I verify their rosters in my era.

Other Plastic Flat Car Models

Of course, there have been many other plastic (and metal) models released over the years. Normally I look primarily at models that have separately applied detail parts. But flat cars have so few grab irons, they are among the easiest to clean up. A few others that I might look into:

  • The Atlas Pulpwood flat car is based General Steel Casting car built for the ACL in 1951. I believe GM&O, IC, L&N, and TN&O all had similar cars built by 1953. I don't recall seeing any photos, nor hearing of any pulpwood movements on the New Haven, though. So it's not a must-have for me.
  • MDC has a 30' flat car that is similar to a Milwaukee car, and also the PRR F22. This is a very heavy duty flat car. The F&C resin kit is probably a better model at this point. 
  • Walthers has a GSC 53'6" Cast Steel Flat Car model in their Gold Line/Mainline series (depending on when it was packaged). These are simple kits, with molded on details. They were built starting in 1951 for the GM&O, with more built for ATSF and MKT in 1952. It was a long-lived car, with additional deliveries in 1955 and through 1969, many with bulkheads or equipped for TOFC service. From what I understand it's an accurate car, and is probably worth upgrading, especially if you model the late '50s through the '70s at least. 

There are quite a few options, actually, and most available RTR. But flat cars varied quite a bit from road to road, and even though there were a few standard flat cars, they certainly don't represent the national fleet. Fortunately, there are lots of resin kits available to fill in some of those spots. Before I get to those, I'll look at the other method I use to determine what's a good starting point for my roster, and that's the prototype data.

In The Postwar Freight Car Fleet (Kline/Culotta from Speedwitch Media) they note that 15 roads account for 3/4 of the national flat car fleet. 
  • SP and T&NO (Owl Mountain, Red Caboose)
  • MILW 
  • NP (P2k, Central Valley)
  • SOU
  • C&NW (P2k, Red Caboose)
  • PRR (Bowser)
  • ACL (P2k)
  • SAL
  • UP (P2k, Exactrail)
  • GN (Red Caboose)
  • ATSF (Intermountain)
  • NYC (Intermountain, Red Caboose)
  • D&RGW (P2k, Tichy)
  • RI
  • L&N (P2k)
  • CB&Q
Of the top 15, the Milwaukee is the only road that doesn't have an accurate plastic or resin model readily available, other than potentially the MDC/F&C F22 model. Since that's a heavy duty flat car, it's not likely that it's the most common one on their roster. Charles Hostetler has a quick post on another series of MILW flat cars.

Resin Flat Car Models

So the next step was to fill in the options from resin kits. These fill in a lot of holes, especially with the more unusual flat cars. In addition to the ones listed below, Norwest Models produced two Canadian prototypes in resin. There were some other resin or part resin models, such as Westrail, Pittsburgh Scale Models, and Protowest, but these are hard to find and have been duplicated by other releases.

Chad Boas

Chad makes quite a number of flat car kits. These are just the major castings, no other materials are provided. But the price is right and the castings are fantastic. Ordering information is available on the Sunshine Kits website.. These are the ones that, as best I can tell, are appropriate for my era.
  • CB&Q 89000-series 53'6" Straight Side Sill Flatcar
  • CB&Q 94000-series 60' Welded Straight Side Sill Flatcar
  • GN 65000-series 52' Fishbelly Side Sill Flatcar
  • GN 65500/60060 TOFC 53'6" Welded Fishbelly Side Sill Flatcar
  • GN 66000-series 52' Straight Side Sill Flatcar
  • GN 67000-series 50' Fishbelly Side Sill Flatcar
  • GN 69500-series 43' Fishbelly Side Sill Flatcar
  • L&N 22000-series 46' Fishbelly Side Sill Flatcar
  • M&StL 23000-series 50' Fishbelly Side Sill Flatcar (available with straight or extended overhang deck)
  • MP 8000-series 45' Fishbelly Side Sill Flatcar
  • MP 8100-series 50' Fishbelly Side Sill Flatcar
  • NH 17500-series TOFC 40' General Steel Casting Frame Flatcar
  • NW 42900 40' General Steel Casting Frame Flatcar
  • SEABOARD 47000-series F6 Flatcar
  • SOUTHERN 51000-series 53'6" Fishbelly Side Sill Flatcar
  • WP 2400-series 50' Fishbelly Side Sill Flatcar

Funaro & Camerlengo

Many PRR prototypes, along with a couple of northeastern roads.
  • B&M Well Hole Flatcar with load.
  • B&O P-11 Fishbelly Flatcar (available with and without loads)(Chris did a long series of posts on building this car: Part I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X - I think that's all of them in the correct order)
  • PRR F22 Heavy Duty Flatcar
  • PRR F23 Heavy Duty Flatcar (same as F22 but with a steel deck)
  • PRR F29 Depressed Center Flatcar (Excellent writeup by Ted Culotta: Part I, Part II)
  • PRR F33 Well Hole Flatcar 
  • PRR FM Flatcar (same casting as the B&O P-11) (available with and without loads)
  • PRR FM Container Flatcar with Container load
  • Rutland 2300/2600 series Flatcar (available with an without loads)
Speedwitch Media has replacement decals for the F29, F33 and FM flat cars (and containers).

Speedwitch Media

For me, the NH car is a must-have of course.
  • NH 172000-series Flatcar
  • NP 52' Straight Side Skill Flatcar (originally from Northern Specific Models)

Sunshine Models

Although Sunshine is no longer in business after Martin Lofton's passed away in 2013, many of the kits originally released by Sunshine are available from other sources now. However, there isn't a good source for ATSF prototypes other than the 70-ton AAR Flatcar. Sunshine kits are regularly listed on eBay, but they sell for premium prices. In my case, I have an ATSF Ft-L & N kit that I'm looking forward to building.
  • AAR 53'6" 70-ton Flatcar for ATSF, CRP, DT&I, ERIE, IHB, NH, NYC and PM (same Prototype as the Intermountain model)
  • USRA or USRA Clone 42' Flatcar for B&M, CNW, PM, SL-SF, and TC (the same prototype as a modified Red Caboose kit)
  • ATSF Ft-G & M 40' and 44' Flatcar
  • ATSF FT-I & J 44'6" Flatcar 
  • ATSF Ft-L & N 53'6" Flatcar (originally 50' flat cars, they were lengthened by inserting a 3'6" section)(released with and without bulkheads)
  • ATSF Ft-O & P 50' Flatcar (released with and without auto frame loading equipment)
  • B&O P-11 Flatcar (same prototype as the F&C kit)
  • CB&Q FM-11, 11A Flatcar
  • CNW 46' Flatcar
  • MP Pulpwood Flatcar (the bulkheads were built using Murphy ends from retired boxcars)
  • PRR FM Flatcar (same prototype as F&C kit)
  • PRR F30A Flatcar (same prototype as Bowser kit)
  • RI 50' Spliced Flatcar (these prototypes were made by inserting a 7'6" section to the center of a USRA clone. It appears this can be accomplished by splicing together two Red Caboose kits.
  • SSW 42' Flatcar (I think this prototype looks similar to the Tichy kit)
  • T&P 42' Flatcar (I think this prototype looks similar to the Tichy kit)
  • T&P Pulpwood Flatcar (rebuilt from USRA clone boxcars, using the original Murphy ends for the bulkheads)

I haven't gone through the ORER of each of these roads to see if the available models address the largest classes on those roads. As always, the model roster is dependent upon the available models (or the ones I kitbash or scratchbuilt) which rarely coincides with the actual national roster.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Engine Servicing Pits

Things as always have been a bit hectic lately, and my backlog of posts has been exhausted. Chris and I spent a day working on some modifications to the layout that I'll report on shortly, but in the meantime here's a few pictures experimenting with building the engine servicing pits that I'll need.

Here's a Kent Cochrane photo c1946 that shows the servicing pits. This used to be the inside of an engine house, and you can see the stone foundation for the pillars between the doors and also just beyond the locomotive. I wrote more about the photo when I picked up a different copy of in an earlier post. This one is a second exposure from a slightly different angle.

I looked at a variety of options to build them, including entirely scratchbuilt. But I like the drains in the Peco ones (although I don't know for a fact if there were present here), and thought I might need the stairs too, so I bought a couple of them to see what I could do to modify them to match the brick-lined ones here.

I narrowed the top "flange" of the model and scratched it up with a razor saw to make it look like wood rather than concrete. For the based of the wall I used a piece of .040" x .060" styrene that I roughed up with a mill file to look like cut stone. The brick is Plastruct, and then a piece of .040" x .080" styrene to extend the wood over the brick. I didn't color the brick, but the floor, wood tie, and the stone base were done by stippling Pan Pastels into wet paint as I described here.

I'm' happy with the general results, other than the Plastruct brick looks like little loaves of bread. So I ordered some brick sheet from N-Scale Architect, and started on the first one while I wait for them to arrive.

As you can see, I've only done the floor and the foundation stone. I'll cut  the brick sheet and paint/weather it before installing, and then I'll do the top strip to finish the wood before painting/weathering that. Based on the photos, I don't think I'll be using the steps after all, but I will add the wood bridge across the middle. I have three to build, but they go pretty quick. An added benefit is that the tie plates are already part of the model and will hold the track securely. While they aren't an exact match, if I feel like it I can add additional detail.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Upgrading a Bowser PRR F30A

One evening after I had picked up a Bowser PRR F30A flatcar kit I decided to cut out the missing holes in the cast underframe. This was a process of drilling a bunch of holes, then cutting and filing until they were the right oval shape. It's hard to tell, but I even filed out the holes in the crossbearers.  

It's not precise, and I think I did two too many holes in the small sections where the trucks will be. On the track, of course, the underframe is largely unseen, but the very bottom of the holes can be seen when looking from the side on the layout.

It will take a little more work to finish the model, but this was a good project to just grab and do something on a night where I otherwise might not have done any modeling.

The Sunshine kit has the correct underframe, of course, but they are hard to find and the Bowser kit is not only easy to find, but inexpensive. And it's a pretty accurate model as is, with a few modifications.

More to come!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Train Length

Like many of us, I'd like to run some long trains. For a lot of model railroads, particularly those with busy single-track mainlines, the limiting factor for most trains is the longest passing siding on the layout. Aside from that, the next limiting factors are grades and staging capacity.

So my layout, out of necessity, has two helixes, one at each end of the Highland Line. Eastbound is Hartford, and westbound is Holyoke/Westfield, the New Hartford branch, Waterbury, and Maybrook, depending on the train. These are about 2% on a 28" radius curve. The other grade on the layout is on the Berlin Line, also a 2% on a 28" radius curve.

Passenger Train Length

The longest passenger train is 5 or maybe 6 cars. Presently, only one of those cars is brass. Most of the trains are 3 or 4 cars. The short trains can be handled by any of the motive power called to do so - Atlas RS-1, Athearn RS-3, Crown Custom I-2. The longer train, 131/136, receives power from Boston, which means either a DL-109 (Life-Like/Walthers or brass), or the BLI I-4. So that's not a problem. Other passenger service, depending on the era, is either the Comet or RDCs. So passenger service is no issue at all regarding the helixes.

Freight Train Length

Freight, on the other hand, is a different story - at least in one case. The major issue here is motive power, and the main limitation is steam.

Cedar Hill-Holyoke Freights (NY/YN)

The Holyoke freights won't be an issue. They come into Whiting Street yard on level track. They could leave a dozen or more cars at Whiting Street before hitting the 2% grade to New Britain (on a curve). Even the J-1 seems to be able to handle 15+ cars on that track, although it will primarily be handled by an S-2, RS-2, or RS-3, and the RS units often ran two or three at a time. The H-16-44s could also be on this run. So these trains could be 30+ cars westbound.

Eastbound, they are limited by whatever the motive power can pull up the helix. But we can add as much new tonnage, probably 12-15+ cars in New Britain, because it's downhill to staging. So they could still be 30-car trains leaving the layout.

Because of staging limitations on the Berlin line, the only way I'll be able to do that is to have the through train crew member actively splitting the train as it enters staging, then removing cars to make room for a later train. Something we might do from time-to-time with the right crew.

New Hartford Local (HDX-5)

Of course, the New Hartford local, with either a K-1-d or an S-1, will be much shorter. I'm not sure the K-1-d will handle more than 8 cars up the helix, perhaps less. I'll need to get as much weight into it as possible. The Atlas S-1 can handle at least a dozen cars.

Maybrook Freights (OA/AO)

The Maybrook freights, on the other hand, could potentially be very long...or not. Starting in '47 these were hauled by an FA-1/FB-1/FA-1 set. The Life-Like Proto 2000 locomotives are great haulers, and starting in '51 I could even add an FB-2 to the consist. But the brass L-1s on the other hand, won't be able to handle as much tonnage.

The good news is, that by the time they get to New Britain, all they have left is New Britain and Hartford cars. But that could still be 12-15+ cars for New Britain, plus that many or more for Hartford. One reason I'd like to be able to have a sizable cut for Hartford is the ability to have a decent string of reefers on the front with an equal or greater size cut of general freight. So maybe 8 reefers plus 10-12 cars, plus another 12-15 for New Britain. So I'll be able to do a 30-40 car train here with the ABA sets.

The westbound has only empties and loads coming from Hartford. This works out well, because I can max out the train coming up the helix, and add on the outbound from New Britain to go down the helix, just like the Holyoke freights.


The point is, even on a layout as small as mine, it is possible to potentially run some very long trains. If I do get to run 30-40 car through freights, it will look "right" because most of the area they are running through is 70%+ to scale. The reality is, in this era it was still possible to see 100+ car trains heading to Maybrook.

Even if I can't run trains that long, we can simulate them anyway. We most likely won't be running the overnight trains (often two Maybrook, one Holyoke, and even a Bridgeport to Hartford train). Instead, long cuts of cars will be waiting for the crew when they arrive at work, just like the prototype. We can extend that approach by leaving the long cuts for the evening/overnight freights when the crew goes home, instead of running those trains. This would be easier for the YN freights to Cedar Hill due to insufficient staging.

In the meantime, as we're prepping the layout it sounds like a good job for Joseph - test 30-40 car trains and see how the layout handles it.