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.

Etched Brass Fire Escapes

I am working on yet another side project/diorama, though at least this time it is in HO Scale like the layout, and is giving me a chance to experiment with something I will need on one of the keystone buildings on the layout, the “Castle” of the Gillette Company at 135 Fraser Ave. This building had multiple fire escapes over the loading dock, so I am going to need a lot of them. I am not 100% sure these are a perfect match for what I need, but they are really really nice, and worked for the side project, so it was a chance to stretch my legs and try to build a new skill-set, soldering etched brass parts.

Etched brass fire escapes for a side project. I actually soldered the parts rather than gluing them, pushing myself for something I’d never had any luck at before.

I bought the Gold Medal Models etched fire escape main set, and the add on set to do the 4 storeys needed. Gold Medal Models are primarily a model ship etched manufacturer, but they offer limited sets of N Scale and HO Scale items, including two styles of fire escape, “regular” and “fancy”. I chose the regular ones.

I have been wanting for a while, to try and solder brass etched parts together. This is most assuredly baby steps into working with Brass Etched kits. My friend Trevor has been building complicated full brass etched locomotive kits of late, and reading his blog posts and trading messages was making me really feel the need to push myself. It also didn’t hurt that I could ask him for advice on how to solder brass, and then go and try to apply his suggestions while making my own mistakes and finding out what worked for me.

These were, admittedly simple to form and solder. The ladders don’t appear to need any solder at all, just fold the sides up, then twist the stairs so they are level. This made me very happy to have bought a good etch bender a couple of years ago. Good tools continue to pay off. The platforms are also simple, fold up the sides and then solder to the deck, a single part with three folds. They then only needed two solder joints, one on each side to form the box. The etches are quite thick, so one of the problems Trevor warned me about in applying too much heat and warping the parts was almost impossible, but I very gently made my best bad effort at tinning both sides of the joints, I then brought the parts together and successfully soldered the four platforms.

Installing the fire escape, with modifications to look a bit more like the real building. This isn’t even the main event for the site project, this is the scenery next door.

The kits included a drilling jig for the three holes needed on each side, so I marked and slowly worked my way up from the 2nd floor to the top drilling holes and adjusting ladders. I even used a spare ladder for access to the ground floor cut into pieces to lengthen the upper ladders to reach between the floor spacing on the building. I even managed to solder the extensions to my ladders. With the etched parts done, I used some styrene to make channels for the ground ladder to look like it is in a slider, and then assembled everything onto the temporarily sticky tacked together walls. Before I assemble everything, I will need to paint it all, but I will at some point likely throw some primer and paint at the fire escape, but for now, I am enjoying the shiny brass as I look at the escapes while I work on the building and the rest of this diorama.

What is the diorama? That’s for some other day, down the road. I do like my secrets, but people may eventually figure out from various side projects I am working on as I post about them. There are a lot of sub components and things I am playing with and experimenting with for this one.

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.

Avro Lancaster Mk.X “Vera” (That’s No Train Part 10)

Wow, double digits on things that are not a train, or even in HO Scale. Yes friends and readers, I can be easily distracted sometimes by the shiny side project. This is one of those things I’ve wanted to do for years, build a model of an Avro Lancaster. There are some amazing kits in 1/72, 1/48 and now 1/32!! scale, but I definitely don’t have room for them, so I went with the baby of the bunch, 1/144 scale. Which is smaller than my regular HO Scale 1/87, I must be mad, there is already a reason I don’t do N Scale trains at 1/160!! In any event, its that time again, another “That’s No Train” project, past ones can be read about here: 1, 2, 3 (& 3.5), 4, 5, 6, 7 8 and 9!

I didn’t take a lot of pictures through the assembly, but here are a couple of me getting started, and of the final stages of getting it up on its wheels, and checking the props fit before painting.

For this project, I bought one of the A-Model 1/144 scale Lancaster kits, along with decals from Kits World, Scale Aircraft World white metal landing gear and KV Models pre-cut masks for painting the windows. I ordered everything from Hannants models in London England as they had everything and carry a large supply of aircraft kits and parts.

I am modelling the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum‘s Lancaster Mk.X which flies out of the museum in Hamilton. She is known as “Vera”, or a phonetic sounding of her alpha code VRA. The decal sheet I ordered has decals for the two flight-worthy Lancaster’s, the one in Hamilton and the Battle of Britain Memorial Fund’s in England. The 3rd Lancaster in the decal set is a privately owned one in England which there is also hope to return to flight some day. 1/144 scale kits are small, so its an interesting challenge for me getting everything together. I would say the A-Model kit is not the best quality on fit and finish. Everything went together, but certainly not without some convincing to get the body halves and the wings together and aligned.

Painting a Lancaster. Prepping, primer, brown on the top side, and then green top side markings. Painted by hand without masking. Decided to challenge myself and not have hard separations which seem unrealistic to me on planes churned out fast in a war.

For paint, I bought a Vallejo Model Air set of Bomber Command I started laying down brown over-top as the base for the camouflage. I then sprayed the dark green stripes. I looked at masking, and decided I wanted to try and do this free hand. I’ve never painted free hand like this before. A World War 2 bomber is a good candidate, as while modern repaints have nice clean lines, my sense is that in WW2 they were being painted fast, and wouldn’t have had as perfect paint lines. I also like the look of the lines fading. At the end of the day, as with everything I do, I am most concerned with my happiness than others opinions, and I don’t generally enter contests, so its not like I’m going to get marked down by some judge. I masked the top of the winds and fuselage so I could spray the black on the underside.

Masked and underside painted, then back to the workbench to start adding canopies/turrets and propellers.

I haven’t done many aircraft in a long time. Painting the cockpit frames always used to cause me grief, as I didn’t really understand masking, and I’ve built only a couple of aircraft when I first got an airbrush years ago, and since I’ve been more actively building the odd kit in the past few years, I’ve only built one aircraft that had no clear windows but which used decals for them all!

Applying pre-cut canopy masks and the results of painting the canopies. I wish I had had these things years ago when I was building plastic kits a bit more seriously!

With the canopies and turrets painted and installed, the last thing to do was the decals. The Kitsworld decals are gorgeous, not a lot of carrier film, and easy to apply and settle. My biggest complaint is that they are so small some of them, it was hard to find the right ones and get them cut off the sheet with three planes worth of decals crammed onto one small sheet. The instructions could have been better as well, the decals are not keyed, and the diagrams are not super clear, but, in such a small scale, it wasn’t the end of the world.

Applying decals and then light weathering, the distinctive streaks of exhaust across the upper wings that collects on Lancaster’s.

All in all, as with many of my projects, this one proceeded in fits and starts, where I would get things done for a bit, then set it aside for many reasons, then all of a sudden seemingly get things done and find myself looking at a finished project. I have wanted to build a model of a Lancaster for a long time, but it’s just never happened, for many reasons. Now, I have a nice and reasonably small Lancaster model in my collection.

The dreaded side by side. VRA on the ramp at Hamilton International in 2012, and in my photo box in 1/144 scale in 2022!
1/144 Scale Vera (VRA) gallery, the flying Lancaster of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton. Complete and ready to find a home for display.

A quick fix for a Project Mistake

I wrote Friday about my first of two “frankenboxcar” builds. These came about because of an error in packing kits that were sold as being for 10′ high cars, when in fact while the doors and ends were 10′, the bodies were 10′-6″. Making the most of a bad situation, other changes allowed me to get the right bodies to build these cars, and to get kits to make something of the 10′-6″ cars, but, being a dope, I made modifications to the 10′-6″ bodies before discovering they were not the 10′ cars I needed. I had scrapped off the lower door track that was molded on with a chisel to allow me to install the etched brass lower rails for the different door hardware, or so I thought until I discovered I had the wrong car body height.

Fortunately, the bottom rail is basically a rectangular shape, which I could recreate with strip styrene. Using the body I hadn’t scraped the rail off, I was able to confirm the location and the size. A piece of 0.015″ x 0.040″ styrene strip was the perfect match. Two pieces were duly cut to length using the unmodified car as a guide, and carefully held in place while I touched some Tamiya Extra Thin solvent cement to the joint to wick along it and bond the styrene strip to the styrene car body.

Before and after of replacing the bottom rail on one side of the car. Fortunately this was a quick fix, but it pays to check everything is right before you start cutting up models or kits!

Important lesson I probably knew learned/relearned. Make sure everything is in a kit when you get it, and that it is actually what it says on the box! Packing mistakes and such happen at factories. In this case, there was a litany or errors made in packing these kits, but I’m going to come out ahead with 4 models instead of 2 from the bits in them at the end of the day!

A FrankenBoxcar Kit Build

I have written about my small (relative to some people’s) supply of freight car kits to build. It currently, including the one in the pictures/discussion below at 8 boxcar kits. Seven of these I have all the parts I need to build. One I need to source the accurate doors and decals for. For this summer after two years of all the worlds craziness, my in-laws have rented a giant cottage for a weeks get away with the extended family. I am planning on having the seven box cars I can have built and painted to take with me to the cottage so I can sit looking out over the lake and decal the cars while I am away. I have a portable work bench I built a few years ago that I can take which is perfect for this kind of get away work. It does two things, gives me something to do at the cottage to unwind (yes, I find working on models relaxing), and two, gives me motivation to keep on keeping on with building the kits to have them ready to go to the cottage in July!

Two views of a ready for painting boxcar project. A National Scale Car mini-kit of the doors, and a Yarmouth Model Works blank core with ends from a messed up Intermountain Kit.

This car is a model of a 1937 AAR (American Association of Railroads) standard box car, but with “Superior” doors. You can see in the pictures the etched lower door rail, recreating the Union Duplex door fixtures. Even unpainted the car looks quite different from a standard box car with this rail. This is Kit 102.1 with decals for Southern Pacific and Texas & New Orleans (an SP subsidiary). These have been an adventure thanks to the main source of undecorated kits, Intermountain Model Railroad basically seemingly having stopped producing undecorated kits. I thought I had found some a few months ago, but when they arrived, they had 10′-6″ bodies and 10″ ends. I needed the 10′ body and ends to do these cars! Suffice to say, one can’t install a 10′ tall door or car end on a 10’6″ body, it leaves a nasty gap!! Fortunately, another source in Yarmouth Model Works has recently stepped in to fill the void by selling “Boxcar Body” kits that come with a roof and doors, but no ends in the 10′ and 10′-6″ height of 40′ long AAR standard designs. With one of these, the mini kit doors, and the Intermountain Kit ends, I have been able to cobble together a complete car! The car has been finished with Yarmouth’s etched ladders & roof walk, Tichy AB Brakes, leftover etched bits from other kits, and a variety of grabs from Tichy & Kadee. I’ve started a second frankencar kit build using the same broad range of parts for a second version of the NSC mini kit featuring Youngstown Doors and Atlantic Coast Line (ACL) decals.

The bonus of this is, I have two Intermountain 10′-6″ kits without ends, so I was able to order a couple more of the National Scale Car CN and CP mini kits with Canadian ends, not the worst outcome from a failed kit purchase where Intermountain packed and sold 10′ height cars with 10′-6″ bodies in them! I’ve turned two mispacked kits into 4 cars, I’ll take that anyday!

Note: At the time of writing (March 4/2022), all the National Scale Car mini kits mentioned are out of stock, but you can subscribe to the NSC website to get notified of them being restocked in the future.