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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