Saturday, August 21, 2021

Modeling a Weird Flatcar - (Part 2) SP 43595 or SPMW 1791

SP 43595 and SP 45680 (Ex-EPSW) & 45811 - Raymond Breyer collection pre-depression FB, provided by Eric Hansmann to me.

Eric Hansmann sent me a copy of this photo... look at the flatcar to the left.  SP Common Standard F-50-series flatcar... and Andrews Trucks!  Hey, I recognize that load!  It's the same SP 43595 with the transformer load from Part 1!  Note the ex-EPSW gondola is basically the same car that I did the very first blog post here on, SP 45752 kitbash from Mantua 40ft gondola.

Cropping the photo, looking at the repack data. - 3-22-37, so same tare date as the first photo, so this is probably the same day and load.

I've been considering the build date of 1929, the final tare date of 3-1937, and 36 month re-weigh schedule for steel freight cars.  This would suggest a reweigh in 1931 and 1934.  This would fit with the weathering of the car in the photo from March-August 1937, with the weigh data being significantly less weathered than the rest of the car, where class data, etc should be, but is not standing out any longer.  I highly doubt that the car was rebuild in 3-1937, as the SP's first 70-ton flatcar was built new in 2-1937.  This would suggest that the car was rebuilt probably in 1931 or 1934 based on the tare schedule.  It would follow that the SP 43595 lasted until August 1937, after testing of the new 53ft F-70-1 class car for about six months, then the 43595 was retired to become SPMW 1791.

Also given that I've not seen much evidence of the original Common Standard F-50-12 underframe mounting rivets or holes... so I think the car was rebuilt to 70-tons in a complete rebuild, possibly like PFE did where the old car's number was lifted up and a nearly "new" car was (re)build taking up the old number and maybe the brakewheel.

Comparing Common Standard and 70-Ton Rebuild

Example of standard F-50-5/8/9/10/12 class underframe, as on my SPMW 847 model.

I want to show a quick comparison of the standard SP Common Standard 50-ton underframe as seen on F-50-5/8/9/10/12 class cars (above) and the SP 43595 70-ton underframe, as I've kitbashed it (below).  Note the two large cross-members, and a slightly deeper fish-belly centersill.  Also the cross standard light weight cross members (above) and the respaced light weight cross members, around the two heavy ones (below).

KC Brake cylinder and hand-brake rod installed.

I also cut the alignment tab off of the OwlMtModels brake cylinder bracket, as the Tichy Centersill has a small rib remaining, but not a slot to accept the tab of the bracket.  I will just be gluing the bracket to the cylinder and then gluing that to the car with Tamiya Extra Thin Cement liquid.  The detail on the hand brake rod, which is part of the cylinder is cut off at the Bolster, so that I can fit the rod through the Tichy heavy crossbeam.

Thoughts on Trucks 

PSC makes these trucks (PSC Part #31651$16.00/pr as of Aug 2021).  However, the trucks I borrowed from a Sunset 70-C-9/10 tender have too high of bolster, and the sideframes rub directly on the body bolsters.  So I'll probably look into other options, possibly lowering the sideframes on the journals.

Red Caboose Andrews Truck

My other option is to use a plastic Andrews truck, and kitbash the leaf-springs into it.  For now I'm planning to use a pair of second hand Andrews trucks off a IMRC/RC SP S-40-5 class stock car.  I may decide to do the leaf-spring conversion, as I've done for other Accurail trucks on my AMB/LaserKit cabooses 20-odd years ago.

Cutting out the spring package...

I'll probably have to do a bit more cleaning out of the old spring parts between the sideframe and the truck bolster.

2x4 styrene plugs being installed.

The prototype had a solid bolster end, so I'm filling in the hollow end sections of the truck bolster with 2x4 styrene strips.

Second view of the plugs being installed.

In my previous leaf-spring conversions, I made the new leafs out of laminated styrene strips.  I'm not sure if I'll do that again.  Another possibility is to have a 3d printed truck side frame made custom for this project.  I'm not sure the difference of the U-section cast on the plastic truck sideframes is worth the trouble of designing the special truck, which had more of a T-section or L-section profile through the main sections of the truck.

Painting & Decalling

Here's a low side angle shot of the SPMW 1791

About this point I decided to repaint the car with a mix of mostly Star Brand SP/UP/DRGW Freight Car Red and a bit of Light Freight Car Red, to make the car look a bit sun faded.

Underside view of left side showing Pavement-Oxide Brown AppleBarrel paint weathering.

I added a Kadee red bolster washer, which is needed to bring this pre-production module up to height.  The A-end bolster is one of the kit bolster hat-sections installed, but with the shim only, hat collar is removed to use the RC Andrews trucks on the car.  - Note the scribbed notes on the weight cover, including the comment of the car's 70-ton capacity and the car's assignment as a Ditcher-Flat.

SPMW 1791 decals from OMM 1210 decal set applied to left side.

I decided to put a little light weathering on the sub-deck blocking, which should give the chipped paint off the wood parts.  If the SP 43595 was retired in 8-37, and last tare date in 3-37, then by 1952-ish the car could be getting pretty ratty, but the car was probably restencilled at least once during those 15 years.

Underside view showing the right side with the KC brakes.

This pre-production model has bolsters and coupler-draft gear boxes from a failed pre-production mold which was not machined correctly, so several very small changes were made between this and production.

More of the right-side view of the SPMW 1791.

These shots show the color changes in the three areas of the car.  Underside getting more darker gray 'oil-grime' weathering, the wood chipping/fading and the steel car staying a bit more natural color.

I then added a bit of the gray-grime wash with some brown over the steel sides just to knock down the basic coloring a little bit.

Capacity weight decal fragments pieced together.

The odd part of this car is that I need to custom gather the 70-ton capacity data from my RC/EspeeModels F-70-7 sets and the OMM 1210 F-50-decal sets.  I mounted the trucks again.  A little more putty will be needed to finish filling in the truck bolster ends.  I still need to put on the repack data just inboard of the right stirrup step.

Deck Weathering

I roughed up the deck, with emphasis on the damage from tracked vehicles.

I did a bit of deck weathering.  I try to do each deck a bit different from the others I've done.  The deck will be masked when I shoot the finish coat of FCR paint.  For more on weathering flatcar decks in this style, check out my YoutTube video on Weathering Tutorial Flatcar Decks.

Deck weathering after airbrushing FCR on sides and slight black wash.

Probably close to the final deck weathering after airbrushing FCR on sides for decaling.  The couplers are weathered a bit with some rusty brown and a little bit of darker weathering wash over the knuckles where grease would be.

In Closing

Check out the cranes on the Ditcher-Flats behind the NWP MW 191 - Tiburon 1960 - Tony Johnson Photo (FB - SP RR)

I think I'm gonna button up the project until I get around to solving the leaf-spring solution.  I'll also need the same type of leaf-spring on the SPMW 438 Scale Repair Car trucks.  At some point, I'll probably be working on some SP Company earth moving equipment, a steam shovel, or something to use as a load.

P.S. Continuing Tweaks to the Deck

I did a bit more weathering on the SPMW 1791 deck to bring out the detail a bit more.

Jason Hill

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Saturday, August 7, 2021

Modeling a Weird Flatcar - (Part 1) SP 43595 or SPMW 1791

Everyone seemed to enjoy my two part article so far on the SPMW 438 and 790 Scale Repair and Test Cars, but I'm taking a bit of a 'left turn at Albuquerque' with the mystery plot of this post tonight.  I hope you will stick with me and enjoy reading it as well.

Recently a couple people have posted a photo of SP 43595 as it appeared between March and August 1937 carrying a heavy transformer load.  The car number indicates this to be one of the 500 cars of F-50-12 class, built in 1928-29 for the SP at the Sacramento Shops by the SP Equipment Co. 

SP 43595 F-50-12 flat with transformer from Raymond Breyer collection, via Eric Hansmann of PreDepression group

But Now It Gets WEIRD!

So far so good... the odd part of the photo is the weight stenciling on the car, showing 140,000 as the Capacity, or 70-tons.  This car should be rated at 100,000 pounds, or 50-tons nominal load.  No other SP 70-ton flatcars were available until the first experimental F-70-1, SP 49679, was built and put into service on Feb 9, 1937.  The F-70-1's single car class was based on the F-50-14 class of 53ft flatcars, which had the similar beefed up underframe and cross beams, with the longer car requiring four crossbeams, not the two beams seen on 43595, a 40ft car.

It would seem that this "F-50-12" was some sort of weird 70-ton upgrade experiment, which is not covered in Anthony Thompson's SP Freight Cars Vol.3 - Flatcars.  Let's continue looking into the details of the car, and see if we can come to any further conclusions.


This brings up another interesting question as to the timing of when this car was upgraded from 50-tons?  The car was built in the 1928-1929 class, given it's near the top end of the number series, probably a 1929 built car.  More can be gleaned from the car's paint scheme and tare date, so let's continue.

Lettering Changes?

Cropped view of original photo - Raymond Breyer collection, via Eric Hansmann of PreDepression group

The photograph of SP 43595 shows a tare date of March 1937, and the rest of the car's lettering is noticeably more weathered than the newer tare stenciling, there's no more class stencil data, and most other 'extra' data has been weathered over.  This suggests to me that the car is actually at least 36+ months old in 3-37, possibly as much as 72 months, if the tare dates were at their limits... So the car probably was rebuilt in the 1931 or 1934 era.  Note the reporting marks have lost their periods, so the the reporting marks probably were also repainted in the 1937 reweigh of the car.

Sidesill Changes?

Cropped view of original photo - Raymond Breyer collection, via Eric Hansmann of PreDepression group

The sidesill shows no evidence of the original "Common Standard" crossbeams at their usual locations.  There should at least be holes from where the rivets were, right?  So are the sidesills new too?  If the car has replacement sidesills as well, then we're talking about a very major rebuild, why would it continue to have the F-50-12 style sub-deck blocking and other arrangements of the overhanging deck.  Maybe these parts were all that survived a wreck and were reuseable?  At least being built in the SP Shops, the F-50-12 parts like, sidesill material probably was still available. If the rebuild was done much after the construction of this class of car, much past 1937, the design of freight cars changed and the sub-deck blocking style of construction stopped on new cars.  I suppose other scrapped cars could have given up parts... but that's another whole rabbit hole which I'm not going to go down.

Underframe Changes?

Cropped view of original photo - Raymond Breyer collection, via Eric Hansmann of PreDepression group

Looking closer at the under frame of the car, Eric Hansmann pointed out that the car has two heavy cross frames, which the normal F-50-12s definitely did not have, as shown below.  

SPMW 5323 Right Side.  NV State Railroad Museum, Carson City NV. Jason Hill photograph

The photo (above) of SPMW 5323 (ex-SP 43661) at the Carson City Museum is the car I measured to provide the information used to make the OwlMtModels F-50-series flatcar kits.  This car definitely did not have the extra cross beams on the underframe, but the standard crossbeams of the same design style dating back to the 1910 "Common Standard" Harriman design of the F-50-4.

Leaf-Spring Trucks?

SP Andrews Tender Trucks, as seen under 70-C-9 tender behind SP 2757, Eddie Sims collection

Note that the car has standard SP Andrews Trucks with leaf-springs, the same as are usually seen under SP steam engine tenders!  These tenders often weigh up into the 60-70 ton range, so using them on a 70-ton flatcar does make a certain amount of sense.

Roster Data?

Unfortunately, I don't have any ORERs for the 1930s.  However, maybe I'll get lucky and the car will have been one of the flatcars retired into SPMW service, which survived to be included in the January 1, 1956 SPMW Roster...

Yup, there's the car old number SP 43595, F-50-12, retired 8-6-37.  The 1956 Roster shows the car now as SPMW 1791 and assigned to work as a Ditcher-Flat.  I'm still a bit unclear what a 'Ditcher-Flat' exactly is.  One thought is that it's a flatcar which was used to carry steam shovels on rails, which then cleared the ditches and put the spoils and debris from the ditches along the right-of-way into dump cars or gondolas.  Another thought for a 70-ton capacity flatcar is that it would have been really good to move heavy equipment, such as bulldozers, which can easily exceed the 'normal' 50-ton capacity.

Digging Deeper...

As I've put much of the data from the 1956 SPMW Roster into a spreadsheet file, let's see what else I can find of interest, which might be relevant to this project.

Here's the whole SPMW fleet of "Ditcher-Flats" as of 1 Jan, 1956 sorted by original number. Excerpt from my spreadsheet, Jason Hill collection, 2021

The 1956 Roster shows 22 "Ditcher-Flats" with two not assigned as "misc.", but as "Ready Flat" and "Misc Supply", which is interesting.  Five cars are the "early Harriman" standard PSC flarcars (F-50-1 to -3), two are 50ft F-50-11 class cars, the remaining 15 cars are drawn from the F-50-5/8/9/12 class 40ft 10in cars, including the 43595.  Looking at the retirement dates most of the F-50-1/2/3 class cars are retired in 1925, with one in 1936.  One F-50-9 is retired in Feb, 1926 after only two years of service, I wonder if this one was wrecked or what happened!  Then the three F-50-12s in fall 1937, and two F-50-11s at the end of the year again, after only 8 years of service for the F-50-12s and about 10 for the -11s!  All of the remaining cars last until at least 1949 before being retired, including the older 1916-built, F-50-5s and -9s.  Of course the grain-of-salt in this is by 1956 the really old cars, F-50-1/2/3 and older classes, would have been retired for the most part and don't show up in these records.

Interesting, the other two cars of F-50-12 were retired within the same year... and one on the same day as the 43595!  That's not unusual, but it is a little weird that three of these cars that were only eight or so years old were being retired already.  

SP F-50-11 43155 with peeled white fir line pole loads 1929 - Fort Bragg - Mendocion Coast Historical Society Archives

The two 50ft F-50-11 class flatcars were also retired to Ditcher-Flat service in December 1937, so maybe it was just time to get some 'newer' flatcars retired for heavy work.


So, I guess the still unresolved question is... Is SP 43595 rebuilt as a 70-ton flatcar a one-off weird SP car?  Is this car part of an experiment and other cars could be out there also, rebuilt in the same way, or was it involved in a wreck and then completely rebuilt from the ground up?  Did the car keep the SP tender trucks with leaf springs after being shifted over to SPMW service?  I don't know, but it certainly is an interesting car, and one that I'm going to be modeling!


The Starting Point

I'm starting this project using a defunked early production sample OwlMtmodels flatcar.  This car had a centersill that was not up to the production tooling standards, so I didn't want to waste the brass castings, etc.  I was planning to refit this car with good parts and make it into some sort of SP flatcar until this project came along.  It was just sitting on my desk staring at me.  I stripped and cleaned out the centersill gluing areas, shown in light gray where I scrapped away the Freight Car Red (FCR) paint.  These parts were test fitted WAY before the kit was actually ready to assembly, I think it was just deck and outer frame parts test sample.  Nice to be able to re-use otherwise scrapped parts.

The de-centersilled carcass that I'm starting with.

You too can do this as a fairly simple kitbash of an OwlMtModels F-50-series (2002 or 2003 kit).  A Tichy Train Group USRA flatcar (#3089) will provide the "heavier" underframe components, I stole mine from an unbuilt USRA flatcar kit.  Select your favorite tender trucks, probably brass is the easiest to find, although Bachmann or IHC ones may work too.  Red Caboose Andrews with scratch built leaf-springs (out of strip styrene) replacing the spring packs would also be a direct drop-in for the OMM 2002 kit.

Time to Start Bashing!

Test fitting the new Centersills, they're short!

I started by despruing the two centersills and two crossbeams from the Tichy flatcar kit.  Note that several years ago, I already built up the OwlMtModels flatcar kit, with the bolsters drilled and installed, the endsills and sidesills drilled for grabs, details, etc and installed.  I'm basically taking over the kitbash at Step 8 from the OMM instructions.

The basic starting point OMM body with marked Tichy frames to clear OMM weights.

The Tichy Centersills are shorter than the OMM flatcar bolster spacing, which is fine.  I'll fill in the blank gaps later.  For now the focus is on centering the centersills and planning out how much needs to be notched away to clear the OMM weight.  The floor stringers show where the weights end.  I discovered that the little alignment ribs' inboard edge on the interior of the Tichy Centersills are perfectly centered and align in length with the OMM deck stringer relief, so that will be the right length to match the weights.

The parts are being gathered to make the centersill kitbash happen.

I mark the back of the stringers in pencil to the depth of the Tichy crossbeam/needlebeam notches.  This happens to be the same depth as the OMM weights and weight cover are.  In the bottom of the photo are the four weights (two thick and two thin) and the weight cover (styrene sheet).

Installing Weights

Detail view of weight-shim installed.

This model I'm wedging the weights in with HO 2x4 styrene strip, cut to about the length of the weights.  This is shimming about 0.022" on each side of the weights, which keeps them centered nicely.  I used thick ACC/CA to glue the weight to the underside of the floor, and then before the weight was firmly afixed into the glue, I slipped the two 2x4 strips in, then pressed the weight the rest of the way down firmly into the ACC.

Next comes the second layer of weights.

The second layer of weights is glued in with a thin layer of thick ACC/CA, along with two more shim strips.  Yes, I could have used 2x8 strips instead, but 2x4 Evergreeen is what I had handy.  Next I glued the plastic weight cover in place with ACC.  I spread the ACC into a thin layer over the weight with the end of the cover, getting an even coat, then aligned and pressed the weight cover into place.  This did squeeze some ACC out one end, but a couple quick swipes with a paper towel absorbed the excess glue.

Notching the Frames

I used my P-B-L flush cutter to make a vertical cut just inboard of the little alignment ribs (at left in the photo above) and then used my trusty metal ruler from Mascot and a No.11 Xacto to scribe the horizontal line.  I made about 3-4 light passes with the blade, roughly at the depth of the key-ways for the six thinner cross beams.

Scribe and Snap the notches for the weight in the centersills.  Showing the moment the plastic snapped.

Now that the scribing is done, it's time to flex the upper section, above the scribe and get the plastic to fatigue and snap there.  A pair of needle nose or flat nose pliers are good for this if you've not done it before, just be careful not to damage the plastic.  I was able to do it with my fingers carefully.  Try to keep the lower part of the centersill that you want to keep straight and unstressed during this process.

Test fit both Centersills

I found that I didn't cut quite close enough to the little ribs, so I put the flush-cutters right up against the ribs with the flat-cutting-side and snipped into the frame.  It is better to do this final fitting after the horizontal cuts are made, so as not to fracture the centersills in the weaker corner area. - In fact, keeping the flush cutters a good 0.020"-0.030" away from the planned corner of this cut is probably a good idea, as the cutters will cause some white fracture-stress lines to shoot out as you make the cut/snip.

Time to mark the crossbeams.

The Tichy Crossbeams need to be cut off, just below the diagonal bottom edge of the beams.

Crossbeams before and after cutting to clear weight.

Here's the close-up view of the two crossbeams.  A-end at the top, B-end at the bottom of the photo.  The cuts were made with the P-B-L cutter, then filed to exact height, checking the fit often against the centersill, and seeing that the crossbeams dropped all the way down into the interlocking joint, not hanging up on the weight cover.

Test fitting the new Centersill and Crossbeams!

The crossbeams are shorted to fit between the OMM body's sidesills, as these parts weren't designed to be fit together.  However, it doesn't take much to get them to fit very well.

Finishing Touches

The Tichy Centersills still have some rivet and angle-plate detail on them showing where the thinner crossbeams are supposed to attach on the USRA car.  While I'm not sure what the exact design and spacing of the SP's rebuild 70-ton underframe was, these heavy crossbeams certainly don't line up with the original SP standard crossbeams, so I'm willing to go with what the Tichy parts are suggesting, so the model will look different from the rest of my SP F-50-series fleet of cars.

Replacement "thin" crossbeams installed, prepairing the OMM KC Brake cylinder.

Styrene 2x4 strips again are used, to create just the bottom flange of the crossbeams, the rest of the beams would be inside the weight, and I'd rather the car weigh enough to operate!  I aligned the strips with where the notches were, and the centersill detail is outboard of the outer strips, and inboard of the inner strips.  (Click on the image above to enlarge the view.)  The strips are cut to length at the inside edge of the sidesills, which they stay just below the bottom edge of, as I can't see any evidence of them in the original prototype photo.

In Closing

At this point I'm going to call it a night on this project.  It only took maybe two hours to do all of what I've shown here.  This kitbash will probably only add 10-15 minutes of additional cutting and cleanup to the normal assembly time of the OwlMtModels flatcar, specifically to modify the Tichy parts to fit and then adjust the brake bracket.

All done for now...

In the next post on this car, I'll be deciding which 70-ton leaf-spring tender trucks I'll be using... and possible bolster changes, then finishing up the detailing, repainting it SP Freight Car Red (FCR), and getting into decalling.  I hope you enjoyed seeing some more simple kitbashing of a rather exotic prototype, that I didn't know existed last week!

Jason Hill