While the Liberty Village layout is reasonably small, it still needs a healthy fleet of freight cars to come on and off the layout, if only so it doesn’t look the same at every operating session. While the Ready-to-Run and Resin kits out there make some fantastic looking cars, and I have plenty of them both built and unbuilt for the layout, I’ll also need enough cars that look decent to fill sidings and such. A few weeks ago, I was at Credit Valley Model Railroad to pick up a few things, and my friend Roger Chrysler who works there pointed out the recently arrived Accurail CPR Fowler wooden box cars. By the 1950’s these cars would have been a bit long in the tooth, with the 33,000 the CPR owned being built between 1909 and 1915, but they were still going.
An Accurail kit. Nothing fancy. A great cost effective way to populate a layout, or a starting point if you want to super detail it.
These cars were used in all kinds of service, but were primarily used for hauling grain in the era before covered hoppers. On the layout, the mill building at Standard Brands would have received grains for milling for use in making their yeast cakes and other products. Given the affordable price of these cars (under $25 Canadian) per car, I can have a fleet of 4 or 5 for the cost of 2 Ready-to-Run on resin kits, and, they go together in a couple of hours. They need some new wheels (the cheap plastic wheels in the kits are junk), and Kadee couplers, but that will add about $5/car to the cost. Accurail even sells a decal set by mail to re-number the cars so you can have a fleet, as they all come with the same number from the factory.
The underframe and brake rigging assembled. Simple, enough detail that its there, but not super detailed or fiddly.
While I love building detailed kits, and I have a few fantastic ones from Elgin Car Shops to build for the layout, there is something to be said for a simple kit. I like many grew up with a layout full of Athearn “Blue Box” kits, which weren’t even as detailed as this car. They were cheap and plentiful and allowed you to populate a layout with all kinds of different cars without going broke. While I’m in the middle of building the layout, cheap and simple projects like this to give me something to do in between big spurts of layout action as just what I need to keep me going and provide distraction when construction inevitably gets bogged down for some reason.
And a finished car, if I had wheel sets and couplers, it would be done done and ready to weather in about an hour and a half. I’ll be picking up a few more of these, re-numbering them, then making them dirty to be the backdrop cars in my fleet.
I have a resin kit for the same kind of car, but with narrower doors, so eventually I’ll have one super detailed car and a fleet of less detailed ones. I’ll hold off on weathering this newest project until I have them all done and can give them treatment at the same time to make them look used, but not identical.