Sunday, October 14, 2018

Open Loads (Part 2) - Lumber in Boxcars

In my previous posts I've covered scratch-building Steel Loads and a brief look at OwlMtModels' Modular Lumber Load kits.  In this post I want to look at shipping lumber in boxcars and a unique method for using OwlMtModels' new 3004 "Narrow" Modular Lumber Load kit inside a double-door "automobile" boxcar.

Lumber moved in both open-top cars and boxcars, with the OwlMtModels kits both can be done now.

Several people I've talked to remember seeing photos of cars arriving during the winter with lumber stacked like this in boxcars, and also seeing that the car's doors weren't closed.  Talking to several car clerks, often the older doors on these cars would become very hard to operate, leading the loading crews not to bother closing the doors on some of the 'worse offenders', especially as they'd want to get back inside someplace warm with a stove as soon as possible!

Walthers' 50ft Double Door single-sheathed boxcar fitted with half a 3004 lumber load kit.

Modifying the Car

For this project I'm using a Walthers 50ft (single sheathed) double door boxcar.  Another good candidate is the Proto2000/Walthers 1940 AAR steel double door boxcar or various other cars from Branchline or Accurail.  Cars with positionable doors are preferred of course.

Here's a Walthers 50ft single-sheath double door boxcar.
On this Walthers car, I've basically build and weathered the cars as I normally would, I'm gluing the doors on one side of the car open.  This will allow the car to be operated the other way with the doors closed, simulating the empty car part of the cycle.

Proto2000/Walthers makes steel 50ft double door boxcars.

There are other models available on the market suitable.  40ft boxcars can also be used.  Especially the cars with end 'lumber doors', but I'm not sure how many of those cars might be moving with open doors.

Here's a steel double door Santa Fe automobile boxcar suitable for lumber loading.

Usually, I've been building cars with doors open, simulating the empty part of the trip, and the closed door side for the loaded part of the trip.  Now, with the lumber load installed, some cars will have their doors open showing empty heading back to lumber country and the other cars with open doors coming from lumber country with loads!

Modifying the Lumber Load Kit

The kit consists of solid and hollow panels representing two layers of random-end lumber.  These are formed into 'Units'.  The hollow panels are used below the solid panels on top to form each unit.  Two or three units are combined vertically to form a 'Stack'.

Contents of OwlMtModels 3004 Narrow Modular Lumber Load kit before starting.

This project actually only requires about half of the OwlMtModels 3004 kit, because we'll only be looking at the inner ends of two stacks of lumber inside the car, through the open side doors.  This should allow me to make two loads for the cost of one!

Hollow Lumber Panels cut in half for use in boxcar doors.  On this pair I'm making the cuts diagonally opposite for the bigger double door boxcars.

Inside a boxcar we'll only be seeing one end of a stack, so I'm cutting the hollow panels in half.  This doubles the number of parts I'm able to use.  Be sure to cut the panels so that they can cover the open door if the car has offset doors.  I'm also cutting down the panels also further reduces the weight of the boxcar load, which is useful on house cars to keep the weight out of the top of the car as much as possible!  In this case I've assembled the stacks before doing the wood effects on them with the paint.

Note: that I'm leaving the top solid panels full length, as it might be possible to look into the car through the doors, and I don't want the load to appear to stop just past the door opening.

Weathering the Lumber Load

One of the key features of making the OwlMtModels Lumber Loads work, is using 'weathering' to make the wood look like wood, not plastic.  These techniques are inexpensive, are quite easy, and are reasonably fast as well!

Several carloads of lumber arrive at King Lumber at Bakersfield, Calif. on the La Mesa Model Railroad Club layout.

I usually start with a light over-spray of paint; either Tamiya Light Sand or Wooden Deck Tan.   More recently I've been leaning towards the Light Sand color, as it seems to bring more yellows out and makes the wood a little lighter in color.

Cheap Apple Barrel acrylic craft paints from Walmart are the final step in the wood effects.

Often I'll do my wood effects before assembling the units and stacks, however on the first boxcar load I got ahead of myself and built it up first.  This really isn't a problem as long as the stakes and bracing has not been installed.  This load inside the boxcar will only need the Separators (Item-D) between the Units, as the walls will contain the load inside the car.

Here's an example of a bunch of pre-painted wood effect panels before assembly.

Here's the modified 3004 kit, with only two sprues used to make these stacks, which will only be visible through the doors.

On the first pair I made, above, I made the cuts equally down each side, this can be a problem if you have a car with the large double 7 or 8ft doors or have the doors open all the way!

Finishing Up

Here's about how the boxcar loads will look with mostly open doors on the boxcar.

The SP 67789 is a car I finished as an empty open door boxcar.  Temporarily, I've placed the boxcar loads inside the car.  I plan to build a couple more of these Walthers cars with the open-side with lumber loads.

Unloading the lumber at King Lumber.

One more point I'm considering is if the loads could be moved towards and away from the door openings to change the car from a 'load' to an 'empty'.  I'll be looking into that in the future.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Open Loads (Part 1) - Building a Steel Load

SP 65ft Mill Gondolas - from Athearn RTR model

SP Cabooses (Part 2) - Wood Cabooses

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