Thursday, January 13, 2022

SPMW 161 - Supply Flat - Sac Gen Stores Department

After the last post about SP Supply Train car series (SP Supply Train - Part 5 - SPMW 229 Supply Flat with Sideboards), I was contacted by a client about doing a custom model.  Ideally this new model should be similar to the 229, but in my usual style, I wanted to make it a bit different.

Completed SPMW 161, the fraternal twin of SPMW 229.

Here's the specs on this model:

* ex-SP 41209, F-50-5 class, built in 1916.
* SPMW 161 - converted to SPMW service 12-6-1948.  Shown Jan 1956 assigned to Misc Supply, which includes the Stores Department, which is what I decalled this car as.
* Use and demo OwlMtModels' new F-50-series "Jumbo" decal set.  So this car would use a mix of the new decal artwork.

SP Sacramento General Shops with lots of cars, F-50-series flatcars in various MW assignments. - Inad Akeb collection.

The client wants it to be assigned to Sacramento General Stores Department.  Following the research and mechanical design of the SPMW 229 which received 3-board sides.  However, this time we decided to try painted SP Freight Car Red on the exterior.

As the car was converted in 1948, the car probably still was using K-brakes and the regular T-section trucks.  I believe most cars pulled into company Stores Department (Supply) service were still mechanically in pretty good condition.  No "End of Train Only" stenciling for these cars.  They can be moved anywhere in any regular freight train... well, eventually after about 1956, the continuing cars probably had been upgraded with replacement AB-brakes and U-section trucks.

Building the Model

The basic construction of the model proceeds per the kit instructions.  The deck was distressed lightly before too many details were applied to the bottom of the car.  But this can really be done at any time during the construction, and adjusted later.

SPMW 161's deck with light scratching from the razor saw.

See my video 'Weathering Tutorial Flatcar Decks' on Youtube to see these techniques in detail.

Underframe proceeding

The bolsters, sidesills and endsills and centersills in place. Weights and weight covers are installed. The couplers and roping staples are installed as well.

Needlebeams and brake bracket installed.

The plastic weight cover allows the plastic underframe details to be glued securely with Tamiya liquid solvent glue, welding the parts in place.

Brake cylinder installed

This model is receiving K-brakes as would be typical of SP's older flatcar fleet during the late 1940s.  Some of these earlier F-50-5/8/9 cars retained the K-brakes into 1955, fully two years after they were banned from interchange.  This means that K-brake cars after 1953 had to stay on SP's rails or only interchanged between SP and subsidiary companies.

Trucks test fitted.

The T-section trucks are assembled with Bowser metal wheelsets (included in the kit).

Adding Cut Levers

Formed Eye-bolts from 0.012" wire stock

I fabricated a couple of eye-bolts from wire and glued them into the endsill holes.

Cut levers fabricated from 0.012" wire and installed

The cut levers are then fabricated from 0.012" wire and threaded through the eye-bolt.  A small drop of ACC/CA glue is applied to the hole in the bottom of the coupler box lid and the coupler-end of the cut lever is inserted.  A small drop of ACC is then appled to the eye-bolt to secure the outer end of the cut lever.  Beware, after the cut levers are installed they become snagging hazards until the trucks are installed.

Stirrups & Brake Rods

Stirrups installed

Cast brass stirrups are installed per the kit instructions with ACC/CA glue.  The brake levers have the brake rods of 0.012" wire glued to them and then bent to fit.  Holes are drilled just inboard of the bolsters to receive the bend ends of the brake rods.  The brake levers are then inserted in the centersills and glued with liquid solvent Tamiya glue and the ends are fixed in their holes with ACC/CA glue.

Hand brake chain and lower brake staff installed.

During installation of the brake cylinder I cut the hand brake rod at the bolster so it could be fed through the strap on the needle beam.  At this point I installed the remaining portion of the rod to the endsill.

Finished Construction of Body 2:25

Left side of completed body

The body is complete at this point.

Right side of completed body

  The trucks will be removed for painting and sprayed separately so that the whole underframe can be completely painted.

Building the Sideboards & Painting

Next I painted the body with Star Brand SP Freight Car Red, with a little faded FCR in it to brighten the car.  Before painting and weathering the deck, I made sure that the level of distressing was at the level I wanted, which was 'scratched' board grain, but not gouged or broken.  After all, this car was supposed to get what was loaded in it to the destination.

Interior deck of the car.

The deck of the car was weathered with my standard deck weathering and distressing techniques.  I wanted the deck to look like worn wood.  Not excessively beat up, but a bit weathered, with the look of a coating of dust and dirt ground into the boards, then swept out.  These cars moved rough freight, piles of tie-plates, rails, etc.  So there could even be patches of rust or grease in the wood.

Right side of the SPMW 161 with SUPPLY CAR and assignment decal on the sideboard.

Next came the ABS plastic stakes off spare OwlMtModel 3015 Narrow Lumber Load sprues.  These were glued into the stake pocket notches with ACC/CA glue.  The spare pre-stained scale 2x10 boards from the SPMW 229 and SPMW 2452 cars provided almost enough material to finish the 161's sides and only three end-boards.  I decided to leave a couple of stakes higher than the carside, again to break with the exact look of the SPMW 229.  Some prototype photos show almost every stake higher than the boards, but I decided not to take it too far this time.

Updating the paint on one end to have painted boards.

The sideboards lap over the last stakes in the side sill and the end boards are placed inboard of the draftgear stake pockets.  A smaller vertical board is nailed to the inboard side of the corner stakes to secure the outer ends of the end boards.

Left side of SPMW 161 with assignment, but no SUPPLY CAR decal.

For a little variety, I left the SUPPLY CAR in 6" letters off the left side of the car's side boards.  The 3" "SUPPLY CAR STORES DEPT" decals are still on the lower part of the side sill, and the "SAC GEN STORES" decal is applied to the lower sideboard above the reporting marks.  The assignment being clearly stenciled is to help any trainman to be able to see where the car is to returned to when empty.  The two obvious choices for the SP Pacific Lines are LA and Sacramento General Shops where most of the SP's inventory and manufacturing of parts were based out of.

High angle showing interior and replacement board on the left side.

After thinking about it for a little while, I decided that the left side of the car should have a reason why the "SUPPLY CAR" in 6" wasn't applied to that side... So I retouched the sideboard to represent an unpainted replacement board.

Weathered right side of SPMW 161.

I did some basic weathering on the car.  The client wanted the car to appear typical of the 'transition era' which he models.  So by choosing one of the earliest F-50-5/8/9 series cars to be converted to SPMW Supply Service in 1948, this gives a little time for the car to get a bit dirty, the wood to gray a bit, etc.  

The interior of the sideboards are marked with a mechanical pencil to show the nails.

I chose to give the carsides a basic light dusting of dirt and fading paint over the pre-1948 stenciled data.  If the car was retired when it was coming up to its 48-month reweigh when it was decided to put it into SPMW instead in December 1948, then the previous tare weight would have been around December 1944, which is the decal that I used, which happened to have Tuscon as the station.

Helicon Stacked Photos

I took advantage of some low winter sunshine and the photo-stacking software (Helicon Focus 7) to make some longer depth-of-field photos of the SPMW 161 before shipping it off.

View of B-end of car

I decided that the few 2x8 boards that I had to supplement when I ran out of pre-stained 2x10s would remain unpainted.  The brake wheel was soldered to the brake staff and then glued with ACC/CA glue into the brake staff's hole in the ratchet & pawl cast detail.

Completed left side of SPMW 161.

Finishing touches consisted of a light pass over the older weight data with Territorial Beige wash and some highlights to the truck sideframes to bring out the detail.  A black wash was applied over the springs and truck bolster slots, then a light dry brush with the Territorial Beige to bring out the highlights.

Completed right side of SPMW 161.

 Lastly, I sprayed the car with Testors Dullcote to kill any remaining shine from the decals.  Notice the newer 1948 stenciled lettering "SPMW 161" and the 3" SUPPLY CAR STORES DEPT" are much cleaner than the rest of the lettering on the car.  Also the repack data for the wheel bearings should be less than 4 months old, so it always should be the newest lettering on the car.

Interchange Photos

SPMW 161 at Ryan Dora's layout in So. Cal.

This car was shipped off to the customer recently and he took some photos at a friend's SP steam era layout.

SPMW 161 - Left side

One of these days I need to finish some scenic dioramas for realistic photos on my Jawbone Branch.

SPMW 161 Right side

The right side of the car showing full Supply Car letters.  I hope he enjoys this car running around in his freight trains for many years to come!

In Closing

Side-by-side, SPMW 229 (left) and SPMW 161 (right).

Let's look at the last two projects in the same photos.  The SPMW 229's obvious difference is that the side boards aren't painted, but weathering natural wood, while SPMW 161's painted sides look more prim and proper with extra stenciling.  Note that I've not yet weathered SPMW 229's sides over the decals.

Reverse side-by-side of SPMW 229 (left) and SPMW 161 (right).

This was a fun repeat project; same, yet different.  I may try to work in building-up maybe a batch of 10 kits and offering them for sale.  I'll not be repeating any numbers, if the cars are using historic number series (SPMW roster, ORER data, etc), but without prototype photos (a.ka. 'typical' modeling).  Obviously if I were to create a replica of certain cars, like SPMW 847, for example, then any completed models for sale would be replicating that number.

Jason Hill

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Saturday, January 8, 2022

SP F-70-10 New Deck Color? New Evidence!

There's been debate about the proper color of the new decking of the SP F-70-10s.  Without good color photos of their construction, it's been impossible to determine.... until now!

New Evidence!

I was watching SP Railway: Behind the Scenes 1950s Educational Documentary WDTVLIVE42 video and found the section starting at 5:08 with assembly of wheels and trucks, then moving to the construction of the bodies and ending at 7:22 with the decking of the new F-70-10 flatcars in Dec, 1953 and into 1954.

SP Railway: Behind the Scenes 1950s video, time index 7:03

In these photos the brown wood colors show a bit more.

SP Railway: Behind the Scenes 1950s video, time index 7:13

It appears that the boards are dark, but also have some brown color still in them.

SP Railway: Behind the Scenes 1950s video, time index 7:18

However, on this car the board look VERY dark, and even shining black spots, which does suggest creosote.  So let's see what I can do with the RedCaboose/SPHTS F-70-10 model decks.

The Model

I want to model my cars on my Owenyo Branch layout for 1954 at the latest, so these cars will be the newest of all the cars I plan to model.  Certainly if I was modeling 3-10 years later the other deck weathering techniques I've shown on my assortment of F-50-series OwlMtModels flats come into play.

RedCaboose/SPHTS F-70-10 with some light weathering on the 'straw' color molded deck.

I'm not going to go into a huge amount of detail on my deck prep and basic weathering.  This is going to be an interesting weathering, or I should say, non-weathering of the deck to make it look like a first year deck.

Kitbashed F-70-10 deck (top) and new tooled deck (bottom)

I did some light scuffing with some sanding stick to give a bit of 'tooth' to the deck to hold the washed paint.  The first color used is AppleBarrel acrylic paint (21490E) Pavement, and then a thinned wash of (21985E) Black.  A bit of (20511E) Brown Oxide was mixed into the last wash of Pavement and Black to shift the deck color towards the brown side.  At this point, I'm setting the deck aside to fully dry for several hours.

SP 142617's updated deck finish with more black and patches of gloss per film clip.

I came back and add a little bit more brown and black streaking on parts of the boards.

Next is a shot of clear-coat to seal the existing colors down before a final black wash for the boards.

In Closing

Hopefully this info is useful for those of us modeling F-70-10 class flatcars.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Kitbashing OwlMtModels (Part 4) F-50-Series Decks - Link to Deck Distressing and Weathering video.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

SP Supply Train (Part 5) - SPMW 229 Supply Flat with Sideboards

This is blog post #180!  The blog has had nearly 290K views (wow!).  Rather amazing that I've written that many posts in the last 5 years, plus the blog index pages as well.  I'm clearing out some of my 2021 modeling projects that haven't made it to the blog yet.  Let's get into the post!

SPMW 229 - Supply Car with sideboards

As I've been expanding my SPMW flatcar fleet, I decided to do a side-board version of the "SUPPLY CAR" as shown in the prototype photos below.  This car will be very similar to SPMW 2452, which I covered in the last blog post (SP Supply Train - Part 4) which only has side two boards in height.

Prototype Car

These SPMW flatcars with sideboards are very commonly seen in the photos of the Stores Departments around the system, especially Sacramento and Los Angeles General Shops.  The cars often returned there to be loaded and then sent out as needed to division store department yards or specifically to meet up with the regularly scheduled supply train movements around the system.

SP Sacramento General Shops with lots of cars, F-50-series flatcars in various MW assignments. - Inad Akeb collection.

The car below the AC, in the middle of the string has 3-board sideboards and is F-50-4/5/8/9/10/12 class car.  The car to the right is an F-50-1/2/3 series car.  The car to the left is another F-50-4/5/8/9/10/12 class car.  Sadly we can't see the car numbers, but using the SPMW 1956 Roster, I can get a good idea which cars it could be.  Also skewing my modeling more the 1949-1953, I rule out modeling the 1954-55 retired and converted cars.  I selected SPMW 229 to by my example of this type of car.

SPMW Supply Car from 'Southern Pacific - This Is My Railroad - 1947 cut' SP Company Film

I've had these above-shots of the SPMW supply cars, but didn't really have a good outside shot, so combining this info, I feel now that a reasonable model can be made.

The Model

I built the SPMW 229 per OwlMtModels instructions as standard F-50-5 with T-section trucks and AB-brakes.  The SPMW 229 was retired from revenue service on 12-27-1948.  I decided to model this car with the AB-brakes, as it would be regularly moving around the SP system in Supply service in the early 1950s in regular freight trains.

AB-schedule brakes and sideboards installed.

The stakes are taken from OwlMtModels lumber loads #3011 or #3015 stakes.  The stakes are cut square at the bottoms and glued with ACC/CA super-glue on top of the stake pockets.  I left the extra length of the stakes in place until the side boards are in place.
The sideboards are fabricated from 10" x 2" basswood strips as on SPMW 2452.  I pre-stained them with various gray and tan colors.  I cut the sections of 2x10 boards to the correct lengths to fit between appropriate stakes.  I then applied a bit small drop of ACC/CA glue from a piece of scrap wire to the interior of the stakes.
SPMW 229 - Supply Car with sideboards

Center Stakes are also installed with ACC/CA glue and 2x10 boards are cut to length across the ends of the car, inboard of the end stakes.  A couple of short sections of 2x4 are glued to the interior of the sides, even with the end stakes.  These will form the stops for the end boards.

The bolt/nails are simulated with a mechanical pencil.

Bolt/nail details are added along all of the interiors of the boards at the stakes to simulate the attaching devices using a mechanical pencil lead.  Note that all the boards have lapped joints, ending on different stakes.  I also prefer the pre-stained sideboards, so that they each show up slightly different shade.  While it is possible to achieve this look with paint alone, it is more difficult in the inside of a car or between stakes.

Decals on SPMW 229, ready for a bit of weathering.

Applying the decals was pretty straight forward.  I decided to put the small 3" "SUPPLY CAR" lettering above the car number.  I selected Colton 2-45 as the tare location and date, which would be about right for the car to be retired in 1948.  Many of the SP's flatcars in SPMW service retained the stenciling of the revenue capacity and load data while in SPMW service before 1958.

Interchangeable Loads?

0.020" Styrene Sheets cut to size to make false-floor load bases.

I made two full size floor sheets from 0.020" styrene sheets and a shorter 'partial' load floor sheet.  

SPMW 229 with three sheet plastic load floors.

I scratched the surface with my deck weathering techniques using a razor saw.  The painting is done with my standard Apple Barrel paint techniques.

Another view of the interior and false-floor for load.

I plan to build unique loads on each floor sheet which can be exchanged as needed to show the various loads or empty.  Maybe I'll even make some with misc junk and second hand materials going back to the Stores Department.

While I've not made my 'high dive' into the parts bins for various 'gribblies' to fill out the supply car with, I'll be sure to make another update post when I do!

Assignment Decals!

SPMW 229 with assignment stencil applied.

I decided to use the "LA General Stores" stencil decal from the new OwlMtModels "Jumbo" set of F-50-series decals on the SPMW 229.  Operationally this means the car should be returned to LA when it makes empty anywhere in the system.  I like being able to add this extra layer of information on each model to help the operators at La Mesa Model Railroad Club in San Diego send the car on prototypical movements.

SPMW 2452 is assigned to Sac General Stores Dept.

Lastly, this is a bit of an update on my SPMW 2452 wheel car post.  I also used another line of decals from the new "Jumbo" set to assign this Ready Shop car to "SAC GENL STORES".  These assignment stencils were made from prototype photos of SP Stores Dept/Supply Cars.

In Closing

That catches up the two SPMW Stores Department/Supply Flatcars that I've been working on in 2021.  I'll probably cover more on these in 2022 as I develop some removable loads for these cars.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SPMW Flatcar Jan 1, 1956 Roster & Analysis - Let's look at the SPMW flatcar fleet

Other Blog Posts on SPMW Topics

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Modeling UP Gondola (Part 1) - Steel Re-sheathing

Frosty new year to you all!

The UP bought several classes of Enterprise-type composite GS gondolas, in the early 1950s they were re-sheathed with steel sheet sides.  One was photographed at Owenyo around 1953-54.

SP 3203 at Owenyo with UP steel-sheathed composite gondola. Eddie Sims collection

As I'm modeling Owenyo, I think it would be kinda fun to have one of these foreign lines cars in the mix.  I'm not exactly sure what it was hauling to Owenyo, if was 'borrowed' from the UP out of LA, or if it was 'captured' after making empty somewhere on the San Joaquin or Mojave Sub, then routed to Owenyo for loading to some UP-ish destination.  Probably will never be able to tell.  In at least one other photo I've seen a UP steel GS gondola, so this couldn't have been a one time event.  Perhaps importing coal?  Hard to say.

Starting Point for the Model

Red Caboose undec G-50-23 body before starting to do modifications.

I've decided to start by working with a Red Caboose undecorated GS-composite gondola.  The first modification is puttying up the board scribes and sanding it flat to simulate the new steel sheathing.  Another starting point could be the composite Details Associates (DTA) composite GS gondola, as it would be easier to replace the sides, but I didn't happen to have one of those on-hand.


Tichy Train Group 10180 decal set for UP sugarbeet gondolas.

I found that Tichy Train Group has UP decals for the exact series of re-sheathed GS gondolas that I need.  These decals are meant for the cars later once they were fitted with 

Thick lettering?

I've heard some that Tichy's decals are thick and problematic.  I took this low-angle photo so you can see the thickness of the 'ink'.  I'll have to do some experimenting before applying these to the model and see if I can over-coat the decals and blend out this thickness.

I may end up using other decals pieced together if the Tichy ones are found to be too problematic during my testing.

Body Work

Starting puttying of wooden side panels

I'm using Squadron White Putty and thinning the putty to get it smoother and require less sanding.

Scraping down the putty before sanding.

Getting there...

I continue to use this technique on each of the body panels.

Fully puttied and scrap/sanded down.

Here's the look of the finished gondola puttied and polished down.  I'll need to shoot some primer and check how good the job has been done.  It may need a bit more work on it.

Interior of Sides

View of the stock interior of the Red Caboose SP G-50-23 body.

Filling the exterior board joints is not enough for a proper model.  The interior needs to be cleaned up too.  I went to sanding down the interior of the boards.  Then I plan to use Archer Rivet decals to simulate the attachment of the new steel side-sheets to the hat-section side structure.

First step in sanding the interior of the sides.

I may do some more thinning of the sides before I do the finishing with the rivets.

New Ends

The UP gondolas had earlier ends than the "Improved Reverse Dreadnought" ends included with the SP G-50-23 models.

Thankfully, I was able to get a hold of a set of drawings for the UP gondola ends, which allows me to 3d print conversion parts.

In Closing

Edit: In 2023, I found the following photo posted, which shows not only more proof that these UP ex-composite GS gondolas were at Owenyo, but also that Rio Grande GS gondolas also showed up too!  So in the end, never say never about something weird showing up!  I'll be showing more of this photo as I build the western end of Owenyo and the transfer dump trestle.

UP Steel resheath Gondola - Owenyo Trestle - SG side - unknown calander photo - Ronald Grau collection

Well, I'm gonna wrap up 2021's modeling at this point.  I'm looking forward to some crazy modeling projects and blog posts for 2022.  I hope you all will join me for the continuing journey of modeling blogs during the new year!

Jason Hill

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