A quick Hopper Project

I am sitting here in a world where this year, I basically have no freight car kits on the go. I have a couple of more freight cars on order, but realistically, more boxcars are not what I need, or freight cars of any kind. I need to finish the scenery on the layout, keep plugging away at buildings, and start making operations paperwork for the freight cars I have so I can invite friends over and actually try to operate the layout and see how that goes. That said, a car I ordered a while ago has come in. I want a model of a GACX Airslide Hopper painted for the “Canadian Doughnut Company Ltd”. I know this car was seen in Toronto, but no idea if it would have ever made it to the Gillett Company Mill. A while back Athearn announced a new run of their GACX 2600 Airflow hoppers, and I had a set of the Black Cat Publishing decals for the CDL car. So I ordered one, knowing I could remove the factory printing from a blank car, and add the decals.

The first thing I do with every car or piece of equipment for the layout is replace the wheels with Code 88 semi-scale wheels, and Kadee 58 scale head couplers. This helps with a bunch of things, in theory, operations as all my cars have the same couplers. I also cut the trip pins off as all my coupling/uncoupling will be done manually. Similarly, for the wheels, using the same wheels means that hopefully any areas where there are issues, when I have to make adjustments, no equipment with different treads causes issues. This is hopefully something that will come home to roost when I actually start operating more (I say that a lot, I really do need to run more trains!).

First up, Couplers and wheels. Swapping out the Athearn Plastic Couplers for Kadee 58 Scale Head, and the Code 110 Wheels for Code 88 semi-finescale wheelsets (I have a supply of pre-painted wheels for when new cars are built or bought).

Moving on from the basic mechanical upgrades, I needed to strip the factory printed lettering to renumber the car, and change build dates and data. To do this, I started with my least noxious chemical, to see if it would work. This being Microscale Micro Sol, a solution intended to help settle newly applied decals. I don’t remember the last time (or if I’ve ever) tried to strip Athearn printing, but I’d head online Micro Sol would soften their printing from a short application. This turned out to be entirely true. In less than a minute, the lettering would start to scrape away with a toothpick. This is, still something you want to be gentle doing, and quick;y clean away the Micro Sol. It also effects the overall coating, and the goal is to not create big patches where the base colour is too distorted. A bit of distortion is OK, as the new lettering and weathering will hide it, but you want to gently scrape away the existing letters as they become soft. You can always apply more Micro Sol after a scrape and wipe up to soften any bits of lettering that are clinging on.

Removing Athearn Genesis lettering with Micro Sol and a Toothpick.

There was a lot more lettering to remove on the sides, but fortunately, with the blank generic GACX car as a base, there was nothing in the way of the “Canadian Doughnut Company Ltd” lettering and logo. the hardest part would be getting these aligned across the car. The decals are printed in parts, designed to provide a gap over the ribs between panels, makes getting them to lie flat easier, keeping everything aligned, harder! I did a combination of things, none of which I got usable pictures of, but using various straight edge rulers and tape, I gave myself alignment lines for each row. I think there are a couple of minor misalignments, but I can live with being close as I have to really squint to see them!

Stripping printed markings from the side, and applying the Black Cat Decals.

Once the decals were down, and had a chance to set, it was back at them with setting solutions and a knife, to poke holes so the Walthers Solvaset could get in beneath and melt away any air pockets. After a few applications, the decals settled down and the carrier film all but disappeared along with any air bubbles caught beneath the decals.

Did this rare car ever actually serve the one mill in Liberty Village? I don’t know, but I know I wanted it as an option for an occasional appearance, and I’m happy with how it came out.

Another one for the “to be weathered” pile. Always something else to do, but for now, at least this quick project of a couple of evenings work is done and looking snazzy prior to being dirtied up!

Breaking out the Strong Decal Setter

Decals that never settled, even with multiple coats of Microscale Microsol, but settling nicely with an attack with an xacto knife and stronger Walthers Solvaset.

Recently, I got together with friends for a gathering at my friend Hunter Hughsons. It was the first time I’d gotten together with modellers since our 2020 Febraury meetup in his basement. Funny that right? One of my friends there passed on a tip. Ryan Mendell and I brought the same car amongst our projects, the Solway-Semet car by Yarmouth Model Works. Pierre Oliver who runs Yarmouth had left by the time we retreated to the basement to look at models after dinner, but Ryan gave a tip he got from Pierre, as some of my cars had decals that had just refused to set. He said, get a stronger setting solution than Microscale MicroSol, like Walthers Solvaset. Then, take an Xacto knife, and just poke at the decal hundreds of times to make tiny holes where it hasn’t settled. Then, apply the Solvaset, and let it work. It may still take multiple applications, but 100% even after a single application, decals that I had all but abandoned hope of getting to settle down properly, were settling and the carrier film disappearing. The small victories! I still have 8 or 10 cars to go back and work on, but this simple fix has made me very happy!

Oh Come on….cat hair everywhere

Seriously? I know cats & their hair and scale models are drawn to each other, but Gandalf doesn’t spend much time in the layout room, and can’t get up to the layout itself, but this is crazy. I haven’t even had this pair of Rapido Canadian Pacific USRA Clone Box cars long enough to start weathering them!! I recently wrote about de-catting locomotive drive-trains, well the same thing applies to freight cars! All I have done is swap out the wheels and couplers for my preferred ones, and set them on the layout. I want to fade these cars out as by my era in the 1950’s, they should be old and well used looking. Still figuring out exactly what my first step in doing this is going to be, if I’m smart, I’ll do one car, and see how it goes before I do the other!

A giant clump of Gandalf “Floof” stuck to the side of a brand new boxcar.

Vacuuming cat hair that floats about is a normal part of cleaning with regular dust, but walking into the layout room the other day to find this giant clump of hair was definitely annoying. At least a quick pinch and it was gone!

Seven Boxcars fleet weathered and with Brake Lines

That’s it, they are done for now. The mini fleet of seven resin box car kits I have been working on are as done as they are getting at the moment. They have been lightly weathered to take the worst of the freshly painted sheen off, and had rubber brake lines from Hi-Tech Details installed. They are now ready for some running in to find any problems that need fixing, and for me to get some paperwork done so I can start setting up operating sessions (the lack of paperwork is not unique to these cars.

Before and after initial weathering, yes, it is subtle on most of them, but the grime brings out some detail and further differentiates similar cars. Future me will weather some/all of them more individually than this quick fleet job.

I don’t remember when I first used the Hi-Tech Details brake lines, but for me, they are a game changer. Much easier to install, just two holes, dabs of CA Glue and insert the two prongs, and they are in. They are rubber, so they deflect over anything sticking up from the roadbed, and you can’t snap them while coupling/uncoupling cars reaching in with a tool to reach the couplers. I really like them, and in all likelihood as I go and cars that have more solid air hoses lose them, I will upgrade my whole fleet with them.

Closeups are always cruel, but you can see the rubber brake lines on the ends of the car. Nice and flexible so they don’t easily break off. Second shot shows the two mounting points and what it looks like from underside.

Time to get back to building buildings and advancing the layout scenery. I made some progress at long last on Hinde & Dauch last week and the main wall windows. I am officially half way through. 17 window openings done with windows inserted, 17 to go. Hopefully make some more progress on that this week.

Seven Boxcars now with Decals

A nice update for me, as a small fleet of seven resin boxcar kits I have been working on the past few months are really starting to look the part. Over the past week I have gotten the decals onto all seven cars. They all need clear coating, weathering and brake hoses added, but they now look done, even if they will still be getting worked on for a bit. This is one of those things where seeing things go from bare resin to painted and detailed really helps to motivate me to get a go on with projects big and small, including the work to finish these.

Beginning of July above, end of July below, good progress. Just sealing the decals, weathering and rubber brake hoses to finish them.

A Seven Pack of Boxcars ready for Decals

I’ve been working on the stash of resin boxcar kits and mini-kits in my kit drawer since February or so. I have posted about them before, but they are now organized and ready for the paintshop. There are three Yarmouth Model Works kits, and four National Scale Car MiniKits (changing doors or doors and ends). Two of the National Scale Car Kits are built with Yarmouth Model Works box car cores. This is just a quick post as I am somewhat pleased with myself at how well they have turned out thus far. Hopefully, getting the decals on and then finishing them will go as well, but seven more cars almost ready for the layout, along with some I have on order, and who knows what else the resin kit manufacturers cook up in the years ahead, and I am perilously close to having my layout full to overflowing, I wrote shortly after starting construction about how many cars I needed for the layout, and I think I am closing in on having more cars than I can fit on it. Time will tell, but for now the next thing to do is get the cars decalled and I can worry about having too many once I start seriously working out operations and paperwork for the cars.

Seven resin box cars painted and ready for decals. Getting these done will seriously flesh out my fleet for Liberty Village.