The Hazards of Second Hand Kits

Sometimes you get a deal on something and it isn’t actually a deal. One of the fleet of freight cars I’ve been working on is a Kaslo Shops Canadian Pacific Railway 36′ Fowler Boxcar. Its actually a better kit than I’ve given it credit for, though the instructions aren’t the best I’ve ever had to work with.

A lot of the problems with the kit, have actually been because a previous owner (I bought the kit at a model railroad flea market, I have no idea if I bought mistakes from them, or passed on mistakes that they bought). As I’ve been working on the kit, I discovered that castings were missing, or damaged. At some point, parts of the car around the roof line that are actually part of the car, but could be mistaken for flash from the resin casting were partially cut away, So I’ve had to rebuild parts of the car, and source new parts. That said, the car is now about 98% ready for paint. I’m just waiting on an order of parts including door stops and supports to replace missing castings, then it will be off to paint.

Shots of the almost finished body of the Kaslo CPR Fowler kit.

The other part of my problem, is I hadn’t been planning on starting the freight car kits anytime soon, wasn’t really at the top of my to do pile, but given the extra amount of spare time with staying home and not commuting to work (gets me almost 3 hours a day to model I didn’t have before), so I didn’t have phosphor bronze wire in the sizes I needed to do brake lines and mechanisms and such. Those arrived last weekend, so all the levers and piping have now been done to provide underbody detail on the car.

IMG_2413Underbody details at pretty much the maximum amount of effort I’m willing to make on piping and such.

This will be one of several Fowler cars on the layout. I have a couple of CPR Accurail kits that while basic, look decent in the background (or will once I weather them), this car, and I have a Speedwitch Media Canadian National 5′ Door version on order. There were thousands of these 36′ boxcars built for CN and CP, and while they were nearing the end in the 1950’s era I model, they were still hard at work and earning their keep.

A gondola box and Finishing a Flatcar

As I’ve decided to build a small auxiliary train, with a crane, boom car and service car, I decided to turn the 40′ Tichy flat car kit I’m building as part of this, as there isn’t really an industry on the layout that used flat cars.

Building a box for the deck of the flatcar. Using the stake pockets in the car to support it.

To build the box, I dove into my strip wood drawer, and found appropriate sized pieces of scale lumber. 4×4’s for the supports, to be inserted into the stake pockets, and 2×6’s for the side panels. The box is a simple rectangle. I built it in place with the stake pocket supports, I wasn’t going for super accuracy, but a home built look as this would have been built by shop staff as needed.

Finished box, then staining and weathering the wood before painting the outside boxcar red to match the flat car.

With the box finished, I wanted it to look beaten up, but not as weathered as the car deck. I figure a box like this in the pictures I’ve seen would have been a later addition, so beaten up, but not as old and beaten up.

IMG_2402Decals for the flat car, using a random number in the series CNR service cars seemed to be in.

I weathered the box with a commercial stain, then a mix of Isopropyl Alcohol and India Ink I keep around for darkening and making things look grungy. I had decals for Canadian National Flat Cars from Black Cat Publishing. The set provides a range of decals for cars in different eras. I don’t have a specific prototype for this car, so I just made up a number in the range of CN Work Train cars from pictures I’ve found.

Finished build on the layout, just need to give it a dullcote then move onto weathering.

I’m quite happy with this car, for an older kit, the Tichy kit is really well designed and engineered. I’m going to weather this car more, but want to do all the cars in the auxiliary train together so they resemble cars that have been working together. For now, its another car down on the pile on the workbench to eventually have enough cars to operate the layout.

Painting a Flatcar

In the paint booth spraying boxcar red and light grey on the flatcar.

I wrote last week about the many freight car kits I am building. The first of these has made it to the paint booth, the 40′ Tichy Flat Car. This is a gorgeous little kit, it goes together well, and looks fantastic, and a coat of paint helps to bring out the details. Its nice and simple to paint too, Boxcar red overall, and then spray the deck light grey to be a base for a weathered wood deck surface.

Weathering the wooden deck. Thinned Vallejo greys and browns, with each board individually painted.

I’ve painted wood decks before, to varying degrees of success. I recalled seeing my friend Ryan’s comment’s on his build of this Tichy kit, and thinking that it sounded like a more successful technique than my past efforts. In short, a number of different shades of grey and brown are thinned, and each board on the deck is painted individually with a microbrush.

Finished deck, and on the layout on a test run. The car is super light and needs more weight.

Once the boards had dried, I did multiple washes. A couple with a Vallejo war gaming grey wash (which I added some more water to to thin further), and then a mix of Isopropyl Alcohol and India Ink that I made years ago and have around for general weathering. I am ecstatic with how the deck came out. I am going to use this car in a model of an Auxiliary Train with a rail crane, not really for the layout, just something I’ve always wanted to do, so I’m going to work up a wood gondola box as I’ve seen in some pictures of cars like this. That will hopefully let me add some weight, but I don’t want to put so much junk in it that you can’t see the deck! That will be a post for another day. I need to get some decals on the car, and give it a coat of flat finish, but that will be a weekend project.


Building a Fleet of Freight Car Kits

Compared to many, I don’t have an overly full project drawer/shelf/closet of freight car kits to build, but I’ve got a dozen, and in the past few weeks, I’ve started on five of them. I’ve written in the past about how much rolling stock I think I need, and making a dent in the kit drawer will make me feel better about inevitable future kit purchases!! Presnetly underway are two “mini-kits” from my friend Ryan’s company National Scale Car, one full resin kit from my friend Pierre’s Yarmouth Model Works, a Kaslo Shops kit and a Tichy Train Group kit. I’ll talk a little about each of these below, as I am in various stages of the builds, and as I noted earlier today, discovering all kinds of things I’m out of, like phospher bronze wire for making brake lines!! All needed supplies I’ve uncovered thus far are on order at least, and there is plenty I can do to advance kits while I wait on parts arriving.

National Scale Car CN & CP 10′-6″ NSC3 End Mini Kits

Ryan’s kits are “Mini Kits”, which allow you to use a commercially available kit as the core, and he provides accurate resin cast doors, car ends, and instructions on making other changes to make a more accurate representation of the car you are modelling. I have six of his mini-kits in total, four of them are for 10′-6″ interior height boxcars, two for Canadian National and two for Canadian Pacific. The other two kits I have are for 10′ interior height cars from US railroads for some variety. The donor kits are made by Intermountain Railway, and build up quite nicely.

For the Canadian cars, the Intermountain roofs in the kit are not right, but they and others sell the correct styles of roof, so these are also being added, along with etched roof walks from Yarmouth Model Works and Tichy brake components. When done, these will be four backbone cars of the fleet given the hundreds of them owned by CNR and CPR.

Yarmouth Model Works YM-104 40′ Wabash 12 Panel Welded Boxcar

Pierre’s kits are fantastic, they have everything you need except for paint, glue and couplers, and fill niches that big manufacturers in the ready-to-run market will never touch. I have four of his kits, and I want more of them as money permits!

This car is the first one where he attempted to capture the wavy look of welded cars where the heat from the welding warps the metal carbodies. You can see it in the picture below, I know its hard to keep it visible when the car is finished and painted, but it looks really cool, so hopefully I can keep it. I haven’t done much work on this other than test fitting things and mounting the trucks temporarily, but it looks like it will build up nicely based on the quality of the resin and etched parts, and the clarity of the instructions.


Kaslo Shops HK-11 36′ Fowler Boxcar

The Kaso kit is a model of a car that the CPR and CNR had thousands of, 36′ wood box cars to the Fowler pattern design. I have several Accurail Fowlers which are cheap and cheerful fleet builders. This car should be a slightly higher fidelity one, though I bought it second hand at a flea market for $15.00, and the original owner had started to build it and made some missteps. I’ve been able to undo some of them, others I am still working on, but at this point, I’m comfortable that it will at least be a half decent looking car, even if I determine in time that it will become a siding filler on the layout. Its good practice on kit building, and overcoming problems with a kit and project.

Tichy Train Group 4021 – 40′ Flat Car

The Tichy kit is one that has been around for ages. Ryan and I found a guy selling them for $4.00 at a flea market a couple of years ago. We each bought one. I wish the guy had more, but I don’t really need a fleet of flatcars. I suspect in time I will track down a Tichy 120-Ton Steam Crane and Boom Car, and build a representation of the Mimico Auxiliary train, I doubt there was ever a derailment bad enough in Liberty to have needed to try and bring the rail based crane in (I’m not sure it would have made the curves into the area), but hey, it will look good in staging or in the display case.

The kit itself is really nice, injection moulded styrene and goes together easily and with minimal fuss. Following along with Ryan’s notes here on making the car more like a Grand Trunk/Central Vermont prototype, and from pictures of similar vintage CN cars, I removed the ribs from the stake pockets. I have decals for CN flatcars coming, and will hopefully be finishing the painting of the car this long weekend, with decals and weathering to follow.

That leaves 7 kit projects un-started in the drawer, I will probably start the other two mini kits for the CN and CP cars when they arrive, as then I can paint the two cars for each railroad at the same time with the same base paint. Its been nice to see a bunch of kits come to life, the beige boxes in the drawer aren’t nearly as much fun as the kits are when you get to working on them!

IMG_21935 kits in various states of progress in the CN staging yard, their storage location off the workbench when I’m not actively advancing them.

Helping a Friend with a Side Project

A friend and co-worker Adam who is also an N-scale model railroader had been asking me for some help with a project, as he doesn’t have any experience airbrushing, or facilities to do so. Ordinarily, I would suggest for teaching I would have gotten together on more than one occasion, but he has a bit of a rush to finish this, so I told him if he dropped the parts off to me at work last week, I could prep and prime them, and he can come over to do the finish airbrushing of colour next week and take everything home to assemble.

Micro Trains N-scale Tie Crane, a part of a 3 pack of service gondolas they sell. The small print on the purchase is the crane is a “multimedia” kit. The largest part is 3D printed, but comes complete with the print raft attached still.

The project is a small crane that rides above gondolas, and can walk its way between cars that is used on MOW service. Its actually a pretty cool model, but when I was searching online after he told me about what he needed to work on, it wasn’t clear in any of the marketing material that part of what you are buying is a kit, along with the three weathered gondolas it comes with. I think this caught out Adam’s dad whose model this actually is too! Eventually, I found the instructions online, its pretty simple assembly. The parts are actually quite nice once the 3D print support material is removed, and the flash on the resin castings cleaned up. It even has a really nice etched claw for the tie grabber.

Conveniently, the only N-scale car I have is the Rapido Trains Mike McGrattan Memorial Car (RIP Mike). The Micro Trains tie loader fits it to check everything is ok after cleaning up the parts.

Since its snowing like crazy in Toronto today, and I was doing train stuff, I pulled out the spray booth and painted a few sets of wheels, and put a quick coat of primer on the parts for the crane. As I said, in a perfect world, Adam and I would have been able to schedule a couple of get togethers so he could prime and paint, but at least I can work with him on the painting, and of course, as Maintenance of Way equipment, he wants to paint it yellow, so he’s at least picked a hard colour to get right for his learning!!

IMG_1283Hit with primer, my work here is done other than to show Adam his way around my airbrush Monday night.

A Sunday full of Small Projects

After visiting a large layout and seeing how someone is keeping on making slow and steady progress a couple of weeks ago, I have a new wind of motivation to keep going on my small layout.

With that in mind, I spent most of my Sunday afternoon doing a bunch of small projects that I’d been putting off. It was nice to be able to finish a few things. There are actually less half finished kits on my workbench and “To Do’s” on the layout scratch list after this afternoon!

Foaming the last two places that needed it, a strip along the front edge of the CN Staging, and the corner where the backdrop ends at the CPR Staging.

First up on my to-do for today was to finish getting the foam down on the layout. There were two gaps, one big and obvious, and one small and fiddly. The big one was along the front of the CN Staging yard. For some reason I used foam that was wide enough for the track, but not the benchwork here. That left an unsightly gap, that the more I looked at it I realised would look more odd with the layout stepping down when I finish the fascia than if I added a bit of foam to bring everything to the same level. I have more than enough left over foam to do this, so a few quick cuts to create the strip, and it was then cut to fit on the moving staging traverser and the non-moving section, and then glued down with No More Nails adhesive. Easy peasy!

The second bit of filling was a small uneven gap in the closet at the end of the foam where I had cut a channel for it to go around the end of the styrene backdrop. The gap was going to eventually become a problem for scenery, but it did leave me room to run the power supply for lighting in staging. Now that that is in and working, there was no need to leave the gap anymore. After a little bit of fiddling around, I had three pieces of foam squeezed into place to fill the gap and let me do scenery whenever the time comes to start working on that part of the layout.

Kanamodel Products (now out of business) freight shed, before final touches on the workbench, and then being checked in location on the layout with a boxcar and some temporary track on the Peninsula.

The second project was to finish building the freight shed for the peninsula. I had painted the sandpaper roof at some point in the past couple of weeks where I’ve been airbrushing a fair bit on projects, but hadn’t gotten around to attaching it and adding the finishing trim. That task took less than an hour including the time where I ignored it for the glue to set on the roof. A bit of black paint on the trim once installed, and some cleanups/touchups, and it was ready to set in place and see how it looks. I’m quite happy with it as a simple way to get a structure done that I have no period pictures of. With a bit more weathering and being worked into the scenery with some ground cover dirt and weeds once I start doing scenery, it will look the part and provide a destination for a a couple of freight cars.

Imagine That Laser Art loading dock kit. Final assembly and weighting down while the glue sets on the workbench, then in place on the layout.

I bought one of these the Imagine That Laser Art loading dock kits to see if I liked it for the “Castle” building in Liberty Village (a reminder I need to get back into writing my posts on the “Buildings of Liberty Village” so I have something to link to!). the kit has a nice laser cut and weathered deck, and went together in less than ten minutes with no fuss. It needed far longer with the weights sitting on it while the glue cured than it took to get everything together to be weighted down. While much of my buildings will be scratch built to accurately reflect the real buildings, sometimes for details like a loading dock, in my opinion you are just making work for yourself if you don’t use a commercially available product if it works. In this case, it looks like it should work fine, I just need to buy three more so I have a big enough dock for the large building, but it was cheaper to buy one and see how it looks vs. buying four and finding out I hated it!

A good day of small project work, getting done the things I can do where I don’t need either more hands, or advice on what I am doing to not make mistakes feels good, and means whenever I do have a bigger work session, we can focus on the big tasks rather than the small ones.