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A sampler of Canute's model railroad cars

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OK, here comes some rolling stock I've been fiddling with since Thanksgiving. All are HO scale (1/87).

170561347_relativesizes.JPG.29db5aed67036a1a9b1fe78aa35a2b91.JPGBlue car in the back is a scale 86' car with extended coupler pockets. It's a little over a foot long. Middle car is a scale 50'. Front one is 36'. Blue car is late 60s, middle car mid 50s and the little one is pre-WWI.1640027209_86autobox.JPG.0a7817d69f7ead7d5d92f7d0b65b4b9b.JPG

Braced the insides and added the coupler boxes on the body. Original coupler mount was a swing arm off the truck (wheel-set at each end). Car needs a huge radius to run. I built it more as a kit-bashing exercise.


Added the silvery brake platform down low on the end. It's stainless photo etch and a bear to cut with a hobby knife.  I use a Xuron cutter. A few more things to add like air lines and paint here.


Same railroad, different paint schemes over the years. Front car is WWI era, middle is around WWII. Back car is post WWII.


This is the level of detail in many kits today, although this was built up from many pieces/parts. Careful gluing here. Nowadays, model companies have the Chinese build up the cars and sell them ready to run. Where's the fun in that?


This is the brake pipes and rods on the underframe. The cylinder towards the top is an air reservoir, the little collection of box like objects underneath that reservoir is the master valve and the small cylinder on the left with a cone pointing left is the actual brake cylinder. It actuates the rodding to set and release the brakes on the trucks.


Simpler early brake equipment.


Manufacturers would have you gluing all of this stuff together, but I choose to screw the coupler boxes and truck kingpins, in case they need replacing. (You never know when a car will take a fall off  benchwork over a meter off the floor. The resulting crash could dekit the whole car or do significant damage to it) Mostly 2-56 screws, a few 1-72 or 0-80, like on the big auto box. I tap the holes to keep things square, but some of the plastic parts can be done with self tapping screws. The metal details, like the coupler boxes on the 86' car, are pewter, so you have to tap those holes. Same for any zamac or pot metal parts.


These and the other cars I've done up are all in need of paint and weathering. And I have a couple of more intense kit bashes, requiring cutting up bodies and under-frames. One hopper and a handful of refrigerator cars.

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On 3/25/2019 at 7:45 PM, Canute said:


I have. Do you have a scale in mind?


 I know very little about trains other than for awhile I was involved in the restoration of interurban car #29 made by the St. Louis Car Company that serviced Grass Lake, MI from Jackson, MI. The tracks (long since pulled) ran across the street from our house. When #29 was taken out of service the trucks were removed and the body was moved to one of the area lakes and turned into a lake cottage. The photo was taken on moving day.

 The Grass Lake Historical Society purchased the car from the owners and moved it to the village where restoration efforts began. Car #29 now resides in The Lost Railway Museum where restoration efforts continue. 


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Lou I belong to a good sized club down here: https://www.avmrc.com/

Keeps me busy; plus I am an operations junkie, so we have a number of home layouts we travel to run their layouts like the real railroads did. We really are RC train guys. All our trains run with Digital Command Control. Small computer boards in each loco and a computerized control station to power the layout. I have radio trhottles and can also use my phone as a throttle. This ain't the old Lionel setup with that ZW transformer.;)


Keith, that's a pretty old steel car (large upper sashes over all the windows. May have even had Tiffany glass up there.) Thank you for helping to preserve a small piece of your local railroad history. Hopefully, they've found trucks to put under this car. That's always an issue when folks do "unnatural" things with rail cars and turn them into a cottage or restaurant. My club is preserving a Southern Railway caboose, which was donated some years back. We repainted the interior a few years back and re-stenciled it with correct  Southern markings. Our biggest problem of late with it is keeing the graffiti off. Guess we have a few aspiring "artists" around Hootervile.

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hello Ken.........so glad you decided to show some of your work :)    very nice!  I've always wanted to start a layout,  but time has been an issue.  I see the older Ambroid kits out there and am tempted to pick up a few more........but then I think of the snow plow and stop short.  I really don't need any more skeletons in the closet ;)   who knows......maybe once I can retire {major pipe dream}.  do you have any that your currently working on?  perhaps a log might be in the future?

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Morning Ken

Really enjoyed seeing your train car models. I'll bet it's a lot of fun working those trains with a modern control system like you described.

My local train line is a car hauling affair...all the train cars are car haulers, nothing else. My wife and I enjoy seeing the graffiti that covers each car. Real works of art. We wondered how that art work is done. It seems as though the train shipping company must allow it as the work is so elaborate, it must take a while to complete each one. What's the story on that, any idea? 

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3 hours ago, Canute said:

This ain't the old Lionel setup with that ZW transformer.;)

So it is true that an old dog can at least learn new information.


I had no idea that model railroading had reached that level. I knew that some people had installed VR cameras in their trains, (Something I always wanted to do on my RC ships.) But I had no idea of the DCC system. Makes sense though. Just send the digital signal down the track and each loco has it's own decoder.

The only part I wonder about is accidents where trains get into conflicts in complex layouts like the one at your club. 

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3 hours ago, Canute said:

May have even had Tiffany glass up there

 It's molded glass but I don't know who the manufacture was as the SLCC drawings didn't elaborate. This photo shows the glass a little better. The upper glass is beautiful, fortunately there was only two missing panels though several were broken but remained in their frames. 


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Keith, that's the Tiffany glass I mentioned. One hundred plus years back, the railroads really did themselves proud with fancy work like that.


Lou, we run cars around the layout with drone cameras (smaller than GoPros) to give our visitors a view "out of the cab" from one of our locos running around  the various sections of the club. Many think we're running videos, until we tell them to wave at the camera car and they see themselves.  They eat it up. We ask our engineers to follow their trains to prevent wrecks, but "cornfield meets" can happen.


Craig, it is fun. Build up a miniature world and run your trains around in a prototypical manner. Beats working for


The graffiti on cars happens when they sit in a yard somewhere for too long a period of time. That big, blue autobox I did was used to haul parts from the parts makers (Delco, etc.) to assembly plants. We had a number of assembly plants in north Jersey (Mahwah - Ford, Linden - GM) It was considered captive service, since those cars were very specialized internal racks for GM or Ford parts. Keeping track of all them needed a slew of clerks, since we weren't into a lot of computerization.


Denis, Ambroid and Northeastern kits are available, usually on Fleabay. Interesting kits, although the level of details isn't up to the current  capabilities. And they tend to try to make wood look like steel. I have some QualityCraft "steel" cars that show the wood, despite four or five coats of sanding sealer. I have a couple of vinegar and pickle cars (nice wood cars) that I will substitute some styrene parts where they should be steel.


There are decals to do graffiti, like Denis says, but I know a few custom painters who study the cars a lot. They tend to take and gather a lot of photos so they can duplicate the real thing. I'm off to a railroad prototype modelers meet tomorrow, down in Savannah, Georgia. A few of those guys may be there, so I'll ask around..


I've got a few kitbashes in the mill, Denis. One is a conversion of a coal hopper to a clay hopper. Chopped the bottom hopper chutes off with my scrollsaw and cleaned up the  plastic crumbs. Plumbed the brake lines and started fitting two side channels. Next step is some bottom doors. Another project is a Northeastern stock car  with a little modernization of detail parts.

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as I've said.......when it comes to the model medium as a whole......train modeling has always stood alone.  it's kinda funny too......planes boats and cars have seemed to jumble together......techniques and styles....and even the materials used.  train modeling uses pretty much the same in materials and paint,  and most if not all of the techniques are transferable and applicable to all mediums as well.  articles I've read haven't really put a finger as to why this is so.  the only reason that I can think of,  is history and the roll that trains played in the modernization process.


I'm a nostalgia nut.......the older the kit,  the more it peaks my interest.  Ambroid has been around for some time,  and when I came in possession of the snow plow,  I did some digging to find out when it was produced.  around 1955 is my best conclusion.   I've seen some of the more modern kits,  the metal construction does make them look so much better.


time has past since I started to write this.......the admiral finally goaded me into pulling the lights down from the garage.  that led me to starting to rearrange the garage,  since I had to bring my tool box home from the shop....they supply all our tools now.   I got some of it done....it became daunting when I opened the drawers for the first time,  since it made the trailer ride back home............all the tools are mixed up and shuffled to the back of the drawers!   just as well,  I guess........I need to rearrange them anyway,  now that I have the extra room {tool space}.   I hope you post some of the processes in creating your train pieces....I think it would be interesting  ;)                                                                                                                    

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Denis, Mark, the level of detail available is stunning. And as guys get more into 3D printing of parts... The technology is amazing. Some kit makers have such a level of detail, it'll blow your sox off.  Boxcars with the oil canning of the sides. Greg Lester is a master doing that on his ships, but it takes time and work. I pulled a resin cast car out of the box and the oil canning is already done. I still have a lot of work on the car, drilling out grab irons,  adding brake rigging, putting on doors and running boards, painting and weathering.


Denis I will do an actual build soon. I have 3 half finished cars I need to get closer to completion. I'm too far along to get "starting out" pictures.


The digital command control we have now is very cool and being able to use the tiny speakers from your cell phone really adds to the effect. The sounds are superb. We have to be very careful with speakers, since the sound systems are in the 2 watt range. Some of the sounds can be corny (station announcements), but I can match the actual air horn sound to the loco I'm running. Find a club in your local area and ask to visit the layout. If it's HO, S or O scale, you'll get the sound effects. The N Scales have sound, it's just tougher to fit all the goodies into their equipment.

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