Monday, December 12, 2022

Modeling SP 94248 - G-50-14 (Part 1) - Upgrading a 1990s Kitbash

I've not been spending much time actually working on rebuilding my older cars, but I'm hoping this winter that I can sit down and do some minor upgrades in an evening or two.

SP 94248, redecalling, and upgrades as of late 2022.

Original Kitbash of SP 94248

SP 94248 in service at LMRC in 2004. - Sorry for the period camera and lighting.

I started this kitbash sometime after 1996, when I got these cars from the Long Beach NMRA meet.  I picked up about six of the then new Proto2000 Greenville Mill Gondolas.  I was around 16 at the time, and within a few months I'd joined LMRC.  I then started the process of learning to build cars to the club standards and registering the cars into the "Steam Era Operations Fleet" pool of equipment.  I recently made a blog post relating standards I learned at the time. - Car Standards (Part 1) - Weight, Rolling, CG Allowances, & Diaphragms.

The original kitbash consisted of cutting about 18" at the center of the car, to create even spacing of the exterior ribs down the length of the car.  I also cut away the deep 'fish belly' sidesills of the WWII-built Greenville design cars.  The prototype for these two 100 car batches was built in 1937 by SP Equipment Co. at Sacramento Shops.  They had vertical handbrakes, wood floors, and I built mine with AB brakes, which I believe they had.

SP 94075-94249, 175 cars built in 1937 with an IL of 50'0", EW of 9'6", which is about 12" narrower than the Proto2000 kit that I started with for this kitbash in the 1990s.

Right side of SP 94248, one of my first cut'n shorten kitbashes from the late 1990s!

The information back in the late 1990s for these prototype cars was very limited to the ORER 1953 entry for basic mechanical specs and one photo in the Microscale SP Freight Car decal set.  Some stuff like the NEW 6-35 which I tried to read from the photo, turns out to be wrong by two years.

Once the car was basically kitbashed and I'd put on the standard SP decals that came from MicroScale set, the car was put into service for about 20-odd years with minimal shopping time.

Planning the Upgrades & Rebuild of 2022

I brought this car home around 2018-2019 to do some repairs:
- It's missing an A-line stirrup step on B-end,
- Smashed brake wheel on B-end - this was probably a plastic Accurail brakewheel
- Missing grab iron on B-end
- Retare date the car to post-1946 era
- Add modern repack stencil (probably from 2022 reworked OwlMtModels decal set spare) 
- Add decals on drop ends with reporting marks

Also after looking at the Anthony Thompson SP Freight Car Vol.1 - Gondolas, which show that the underframe should be longer with another set of heavy cross beams.  I'm not sure if I'll completely rebuild the underside of the SP 94248 or do the underframe upgrades to the other two bodies that I have partly prepared to do similar conversions on.

Pre-upgrade left-side of SP 94248.

Notice that the car has routing cards already applied below the reporting marks.  The AB rigging is just roughly typical arrangement.  After seeing in the Speedwitch instructions for the preceding G-50-13 class car, I can see how it should be related to the more prototypical underframe centersill, but as I said above... I'm not sure I'll be tearing all the underframe and brake rigging off this model with this much history.

Interior & Top view

The car has lead weight in the deep fish-belly centersill, but also the floor boards between the truck centers is made out of lead, about 1/16" thick.  The outer floor boards are wood, weathered to match the center section.

The cut making the car shorter is somewhat visible at the center, respacing the interior collapsible stake pockets.  The prototype interior photos show that the real cars only have about 1/2 as many stake pockets, so I may carve off some of them, which will help hide the odd spacing at the center.

A-End of the car with a healthy coating of dust!

Besides dusting the car, I'm going to be adding the end reporting marks to the car on both ends.

B-End with vertical staff hand brake.

The SP G-50-14 didn't have the hand brake step, but instead had the ratchet and pawl about halfway up the end frame of the car.  Now that I've seen the photos in Thompson's book, I can upgrade the car with some improvements in this area too.  I see the left end grabiron and the stirrup step on that side is also somehow missing... wonder when that got knocked/pulled off in the last 20+ years at LMRC.

Repatching Tare Info & Repack Stencils

Left side with patches painted on

Note much to say here, AppleBarrel "Chestnut 21391E acrylic paint used to make the patches, it's a bit more zinc-chromate primer, but that's fine.  I'll put a little gloss on and then apply the decals.

Right side with patches painted on.

I'll have to see if I can make up some "G-50-14" class decals to use on the car.

Try Again!

After looking at the car overnight, I decided that I didn't like the chromate primer color for the patches, so I dug out an old Polly Scale Boxcar Red and repatched the car again.

SP 94248, left side second repatch

Also I increased the size of the patch over the weight numbers, as it seems I originally kept the 70-ton data from the original P2K model.  So to correct that for a 50-ton car, I need to replace all the decals in that section.

SP 94248, right side second repatch

Filling & Resanding Splice Joint

Looking closely at the above photos, I want to polish out the splice seams in that area a bit better than 20+ year ago me did.

Starting to do a bit of scraping with sanding stick, left side.

Little more sanding/polishing stick

Little work with the sanding stick, right side

Just with some course-grit sanding stick, Left side

Still some problems at the bottom where I nicked the lower edge with the saw 20 years ago.

Squadron Putty applied

Squadron Putty sanding

Finished for now... putty & sanded.

I think this will do for now, I can do a bit of weathering over the panel again.  Also notice that the lower edge of the side sheets has no rivet row, this is because of the fishbelly side sheet was removed.  In modern modeling, I can now do some rivet replacement with Archer Rivets or resin printed rivet decals to fix this aspect of the model.  I could probably also fix the mid-panel where I've knocked down a number of the rivets.

Repair Brake Staff & Wheel

The damage to the B-end of the car required knocking off the center part of the old plastic brake wheel.

In looking at the prototype photos from Thompson's book, shows that there's a ratchet & pawl part way up the staff, so I'll be adding that part.  The prototype car should have reverse Dreadnaught ends, so I should technically swap out the drop ends from other P2K kits which have both end options in each kit.

Decal Replacement

Left side corrected tare data and location decals

The correct tare data location is in the full panels to the right of the reporting marks, the CAPY line is actually up even or just above the lower white reporting mark boundary line.  Thompson's book shows a lettering diagram with spelled out "SOUTHERN PACIFIC" split across the vertical ribs.  My next car or two will probably go for that lettering version, but given the personal history of this car, I don't really want to need to do basically a full repaint of the whole model.

Right side corrected tare data and location decals

The G-50-14 cars in photos show light weight at 52000 pounds, and load weights of 117000 pounds, so I' had to do some shuffling and recombining of my extra OwlMtModels F-50-series decal tare bits.  I came up with 51400 pounds and upped the load weight to 117600 pounds.  The Tare station is replaced with Los Angeles General Shops (LAG) for March 1950.  

In Closing

SP 94248, it seems I broke a plastic grab on the right end... Oops!

I'll be showing how to build an OwlMtModels lumber load for this car soon, now that the car's been upgraded.  The original kitbash of SP 94248 was weathered with a general grimy coat.  I'm not sure I'll do anything specifically to the weathering on this model, but I have two more bodies already shortened and glued together, so I might do full painting and decaling of those bodies and build them with the more prototypical underframe centersill assembly.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Freight Car Index - SP Gondolas - Specifically, information on the SP's gondola classes and options for modeling them in HO-scale.

Freight Car Index Page - Overview of all my freight car modeling and kitbashing articles.

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