Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ex-EPSW 40ft Ballast Gondola

Ever wonder if those cheap old models at the flea-market actually make into good and accurate models of anything?  Well, have a look at this car...

Left side of SP 45752, Model by Jason Hill
It's based on an old Mantua 40ft gondola.  The prototype is an Ex-EPSW gondola which had sides that VERY closely matched this model.  Photos of this car in Tony Thompson's SP Freight Cars Vol1., pg 87 shows a car with minimal lettering.  One bit of lettering I've not added that shows in the photo is the "When Empty Return to Melrose" plaque which is mounted on the extension boards above the reporting marks on the left most panel.

B-end view of SP 45752, model by Jason Hill
The ends of the Mantua car were different, but that's easy to fix with styrene and small L-beam styrene strip.  This end photo shows the simple construction of the flat end of the car.  The original end sill was kept from the Mantua model.  New end sheets were made from 0.015" or 0.020" sheet styrene and 0.04" L-girder from Evergreen Plastic was used for the exterior vertical and internal horizontal bracing.  Separate Tichy wire grab irons were mounted in holes drilled for them.  The original cast-on grabs were cut off and wire grabs installed on the carsides as well, so the new ends weren't as obvious.

The original underframe and floor was scrapped.  Sheet lead was used to bring the car up to club standard weight of 3.25 Oz.  I think this car might be slightly heavier.  A new second hand Athearn 40ft boxcar underframe was used to supply the rough underbody brake details, bolsters, and draft gear boxes.
Empty interior of SP 45752, model by Jason Hill
The interior of the car was pretty much correct.  The edges of the 8 drop doors were scribed into the floor as shown in the photo above.  Thru holes and the tips of the screws for the truck bolsters and couplers can be seen in this photo.  As long as the tip of the screws are close to even with the floor of the car, painting them will hide them from most viewer's casual glance at the car.

Removable ballast load, model by Jason Hill
The load was made from a Bowser plastic coal load for a 4-bay PRR H21 hopper that they make.  Woodland Scenic fine light gray ballast was glued to the top of the plastic load.  The load is removable by up-ending the car and dropping the load out.

Paint was Floquil (Boxcar) Freight Car Red and decals were Microscale SP freight cars, probably from the 87-911 set meant for 40ft USRA (B-50-13/14) boxcars.

Right Side of SP 45752, Model by Jason Hill
The damage seen on this model happened during 15 years of service at the club.  I recently (2016) reglued the side board extensions and will soon replace the brake wheel with a new brass one.  New second hand Red Caboose T-section trucks replaced a set of destroyed Walthers sprung T-section trucks that it had before while in service.  The trucks and new wheelsets will get a coat of paint and weathering.

In looking at the prototype photo again, there are a few things to add.  One is the car should have repacking data stenciled on just above the right side truck.  there should also be slight saw-tooth look from the bolsters and needle beams connecting below the side sheet.

I'm not going to worry too much about the saw-tooth look, as that is more work to scratch build than I want to do on this model.  I probably will add some repack data and then give the car some light dusty "ballast" weathering.  Once all is well with the car again, a light spray of dullcoat will knock down the gloss of the glue around the side boards and the car will go back into regular service.

I hope you all enjoy seeing what can be done in a few hours with a cheap flea-market car.  All told a car like this could be kitbashed for about $10-15 if you find the right parts at a meet... which is less than even a new Athearn R-T-R freight car!
Jason Hill

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