Sunday, July 9, 2023

SP 15469 (Part 1) - Lettering Changes & Backdating Rapido B-50-15

In the two previous posts in this series I've covered the History & Roster of the SP/T&NO fleet of B-50-15/16s in Part 1 and the Review of the new Rapido models in Part 2.  This could be considered Part 3 of that series, but I will be specifically working on the SP 15469 model. 

SP 15469 Left side with the finished decals

Stock Model

Stock Rapido SP 15469 with post-1946 lettering and AB-brakes.

Rapido didn't offer the proper pre-1946 lettering scheme, which used only reporting mark initials, not the whole railroad name spelled out, which came in 1946.  So in this post I'll cover the changing of the lettering, backdating it and weathering.

Removing & Painting Underframe

As-Built K-Brakes - painted FCR

The K-brake version of the B-50-15/16 has a very nicely rendered dirt collector 'can' hanging from the trainline pipe on the valve.

Rebuilt car after 1936 with AB-Brakes

I actually swapped underframes with SP 15564, which has K-brakes.  I want the steel resheath car with AB brakes and this backdated wood car to have the older K-brakes.

Disconnect bottom of brake staff

This requires popping out the base of the brake staff from the bracket, which is part of the underframe assembly.  

Underframes removed for painting

Once that is released, the normal method of spreading the sides of the car slightly allows the shell of the car to be removed from the underframe.  

Masking & Painting Body

SP 15469 masked up for blanking out the 1946 lettering.

I masked off the capacity and car number that I wanted to keep with Tamiya masking tape, along with a shortened section of the upper white bar over the initials.  I cut the tape into smaller pieces with a sharp No.11 X-acto blade.

Left side masked and painted

With the underframes removed, I painted them with a lightened StarBrand SP Freight Car Red (FCR) mix in my airbrush. 

Right side masked and painted

The masked body was also shot with the lightened SP FCR, working around the sections of the herald and car measurement blocks.

3/4 view of the left side of the car masked and painted.

I did paint out the "AB BRAKES" stenciling at the far right, next to the ladder as this car will now be equipped only with K-Brakes.

Weathering & Redecalling

Masking removed, right side

The masking was removed and weathering with various earth/brown colors of Apple Barrel acrylic paints were used to cover the color change between the lightened FCR and the original Rapido FCR color.

Masking Removed, left side

This naturally resulted in the car appearing faded and moderately weathered.  I also did a quick pass on the roof, trucks, and ends.  I may add a bit more to the roof.

SP 15469 Right side with finished decals

As part of the weathering to blend the color of the masked parts, I used the acrylic paints to highlight the boards and get a bit of worn out board look, or at least the paint starting to fade and fail.  I also highlighed the trucks with some lighter dusty tan.  This is a quick first pass on the weathering, so I might do more after a pass of dullcote to add some shadow washes on the trucks and boards.

SP 15469 Left side with the finished decals

I used some of the OwlMtModels #1219 SPMW Supply Car decal reporting marks and some remnant decals from the Era-D tare mark & station set.  I selected "BKN 11-47", which is Brooklyn as the reweigh station in November, 1947.

In Closing

I'll probably put some chalk mark decals and routing cards on the car to finish it up before a quick shot of dullcote.

SP 15469 weathered with retare dated SP 15564.

That covers the work on I'll be covering the mechanical modifications in SP & T&NO B-50-15,-16 (Part 3) - Mechanical Modifications of Rapido Models.  I'll also be covering some other smaller changes to the other cars in a upcoming blog posts.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SP & T&NO B-50-15,-16 (Part 1) - Modeling, Research, & Rapido

SP & T&NO B-50-15,16 (Part 2) - Arrival & Review of the Rapido Models

Freight Car Overview Index - SP & Multiple RRs Cars.

Ted Culotta Review of Rapido B-50-15/16 - Ted points out several issues with the Rapido model that I missed.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

SP & T&NO B-50-15,16 (Part 2) - Arrival & Review of the Rapido Models

New Rapido B-50-15/16s have arrived!

Late June 2023, I received the notice that Rapido was ready to send my order of their new B-50-15/16 models.  The SP modeling community has been looking forward to these cars since October 2022, when they're announced and the reservation cut-off closed.  (I covered this in my previous post about these cars.  SP & T&NO B-50-15,-16 (Part 1) - Modeling, Research, & Rapido )

(Legal stuff - I have no personal or professional association with Rapido Trains.)

My Order from Rapido

Ends of the four cars that I picked up in this batch.

While I could certainly have ordered more versions, my sharpened modeling focus for the late steam era of the Jawbone Branch has made some of the versions less useful to me (such as the Green Passenger version or the Pre-War Overnight Orange/Black scheme).  So I only ordered the following three versions of the cars:

SP 15203 B-50-15 Boxcar: 1946 to 1952 scheme - As Built w/ Murphy Roof (171002A)

Left side of SP 15203 - Tare stenciled for OAK 6-48.

This pair of B-50-15s "As-Built" will showcase both roof versions offered by Rapido during this first run, both painted in post-war spelled out "SOUTHERN PACIFIC" scheme. 

SP 15203 with wood sheathing, door, and AB brakes 3/4 view.

I may backdate one of these to pre-1946 scheme and weather the wood sides heavier to represent a car that has been around for 10-15 years and is about to need a rebuild.

SP 15469 B-50-15 Boxcar: 1946 to 1952 scheme - As Built w/ Viking Roof  (171004A)

Left side of SP 15469 - Also tare stenciled for OAK 6-48.

The 15469 came as post-1946 scheme with AB-brake upgrades, typical of a "as-built" car upgraded after 1936, but not rebuilt with steel sheathing. 

SP 15469 with wood sheathing, door, and AB brakes 3/4 view.

I'll probably be repatching either 15203 or 15469 to be a T&NO car to keep my fleet proportions in balance.  This will also include changing the tare date and station, and prossibly swapping brakes to K-brakes.  I'll have to make another pass through Thompson's book to sort out exactly what each of these cars will look like when I'm "done" with them.

SP 15564 B-50-15 Boxcar: 1931 to 1946 scheme - Rebuilt w/ Viking Roof  (171007A)

Right side of SP 15564 as an early steel sheath rebuild with tare stencil for SAC 3-36.

I wanted at least one of the cars with the earlier lettering scheme, so this car will be an early steel sided rebuild for B-50-15.  Unfortunately, Rapido didn't seem to understand the SP lettering scheme changes over the years on these cars.  This scheme should simply have "SP" split over the vertical post over the left truck, with lines over the initials, but not spelled out road name.  This is a easy change to make if I wanted to.

SP 15564, B-50-15 with steel sheathing, door and K-brakes 3/4 view.

I could model this car with heavier weathering to be a representative of an early conversion from the 1937 era, pushing 15 years since rebuild by my era.  Given it's my only Steel Sheathed car, I should instead probably re-tare this car to be later and more representative of a later car, after 1946 which would make this lettering scheme correct.  I may therefore swap the K and AB-brakes around between this car and one of the other B-50-15s.

One minor issue with this model is that the running board end support for the A-end came out during shipping, but it was in the box.  So when I work on this car, I'll have to put it back on before the car's ready for service.

SP 37821 B-50-16 Boxcar: Overnight scheme - Rebuilt w/ Viking Roof (171056A)

Right side of SP 37821 in 1946 Overnight scheme.

I decided I couldn't help myself, and I'd get one of the black Overnight B-50-16s with steel sides (1946-1950).  The 150 black Overnight B-50-15/16s were returned to general freight service with the decline of Overnight boxcar loading around 1950, allowing the 450 B-50-24s to be the sole class of cars to retain the black Overnight color scheme until the silver scheme in 1956. 

Another overall view of SP 37821.

This way I can use the car in Overnight service for pre-1950 or temporarily use it in general freight LCL service out of LA up the Jawbone in the early 1950s until it was repainted into general service FCR scheme.  It sounds like the cars once out of the Overnight pool, were simply allowed to run as regular XM's around the SP system and interchange, but for my needs an LCL load from the LA freight house is just as likely.

On a side note, I still have an unbuilt Westerfield Overnight version B-50-15 with steel sides that I bought back in 2018 to build, and I may paint it up as one of the post-Overnight FCR repaints of the cars back to general freight service.

Review, Details, & Comments

Now that I've covered what models I'll be looking at, let's see how they measure up.

Exploded Part Drawing & History Page

Exploded Drawings for the multiple versions of the car available from Rapido. - also available on their website for download to sort out replacement parts.

Each car comes in a cardboard box with viewing window, split formed plastic supporting box, history and exploded parts drawing page, and a Rapido Trains sticker.  The car itself is wrapped in a single layer of plastic to avoid scuffing the paint work and details.


Underframe with K-brakes.

The Rapido underframe is only really correct for B-50-15, which has the trucks center spacing 8" longer than the Rapido model (31'3" Truck Centers).  This also means that the bolster vertical rib should move, requiring special sides for the B-50-16 offerings, along with a unique underframe, which is basically a new car if Rapido was to do it correctly.  The only real place where I can see it is at the ends of the door's upper guide rail ending over the vertical post, where as the B-50-16 drawings show it ending inside of the vertical post, as the posts are moved towards the center of the car on the -16s.  - Yes, I did have to talk to a friend that pointed out the truck spacing between the two classes was not the same - Thanks to the friend that pointed this out!

Painting Comment

My Sunshine (Resin) B-50-15 with FCR underframe and trucks (still underconstruction).

I will also quickly comment here that all of the 1946 standard lettered cars should have FCR underframes and trucks (aka, Freight Car Red overall).  The FCR models that I received have black underframes and trucks, so when I break out the airbrush to do the patching work around the reporting marks, I'll also shoot all the underframes before I start weathering.

Bolsters & Coupler Boxes

Typical Rapido Bolster 'hat' section excessively high.

To meet my standards, based on the 1990's LMRC Car Standards, I'll need to file down the top of the bolster hat so that the trucks do not rock excessively.  I've made this modification on my Rapido X-3 Tankcars Review.  Both ends of the B-50-15/16s have the solid tab 'snubbers' to prevent some of the rocking, but not in the fore-aft direction.

New Trucks

Newly tooled Rapido T-section trucks.

Rapido has tooled a new one-piece T-section ARA/AAR cast steel truck.  However, I have one criticism of it, that they didn't put in the detail on the sideframe around the sides and top over the bolster end, which just leaves the bolster end coming out of the sideframe. 

I'm not sure what caused this, if the truck mold simply missed a cutter pass or it was design choice to have the trucks look less compressed.  Either way, I think it's still missing some details around the bolster and looks sprace.  I'm not sure what I'll do with this as I weather the trucks, and generally lighten them up with a coat of dust over the FCR paint.  The black Overnight car might actually look better for this.
- See more correct sideframe below from the Red Caboose sideframe.

Red Caboose T-Section Truck, notice opening over the bolster and half-round rib around the edge.

The Rapido wheelsets are good and free rolling.  I believe they are double insulated metal wheels with metal axle and small insulators close to the axle.

Roof Differences

Murphy Roof on SP 15203.

I can only see a minor difference between the Murphy and Viking roofs.  The changes are very small at the very end of each rib.

Viking Roof of SP 15469.

The complicated profile of the Carmer uncoupling levers are very well seen in this view, along with the extended brackets holding the trainline air hose.  The free-standing ladders show well in this view as well.

Detail Photos

B-50-15/16 comes out of the shops with steel-side sheathing - SP This Is My Railroad '46 Car Shops - Resheathing

Here's a prototype photo of a square-cornerposted B-50-15/16 coming out of the SP shops with steel sheathing and door.

Detail view of SP 15469's left end with reporting marks over the wood siding.

All of the models come with "L" and "R" on the doors denoting right-hand and left-hand sides of the car, a detail not seen on most models.  The roofwalk end supports and stirrup steps are metal as well!

SP 15469's B-End Details

All of the models come with an excellent rendition of the Carmer uncoupling levers and metal stirrup steps.  The cars are equipped with the Rapido brand knuckle coupler, which is a blend of KD-5 and KD-158 "Scale head" concepts, specifically in the detailing on the "thumb side" of the coupler head.

SP 37821 Showing lettering and details.

The Overnight scheme is well rendered with sharp printing on the SP herald, Overnight ball-logo, and the rest of the car's lettering.  The B-50-16's Dreadnaught ends are also certainly a different look than the B-50-15's steel ends.

The Overnight car does not come with special short ladders typical of the cars in L.C.L. service, so that will be something I'll have to add to the 37821.

Edits & Photos from Kent Courtney's B-50-15s

After I posted this review, a few things have come up.

SP 37393 - B-50-15/16 with rebuilt Steel Sides.

Kent Courtney sent me a few photos of his cars, which came with the pre-1946 lettering... so I'm not sure why they made the one that I have which has the post-1946 lettering, but with a 1936 tare date.

SP 14484, the wood 'as-built' version with K-brakes.

As Ted Culotta points out in his review (Ted Culotta Review of Rapido B-50-15/16), the wood boards are too wide by almost a factor of two.  Maybe one prototype photo showed a car with non-standard resheath boards.

Shot of the underframe with K

View of the underside with the K-brakes.

In Closing

Overall, I give these cars a 97% accuracy rating.  I am happy that Rapido decided to do these cars and I welcome these four cars into the freight car fleet for the Jawbone Branch.  They certainly convey the look of the prototype cars at the 18"+ range.  There are some minor issues that I plan to fix relating to the specific choices of lettering scheme and brake combinations that Rapido chose to do (and which models I ended up ordering).

The one detraction from the model I feel, which could have been addressed in this release is the odd missing detail on the trucks.  The body and underframe changes to make a 'correct' B-50-16 would probably have been too much to attack without building a completely separate model and tooling it.

EDIT 2023-07-10: After reading Ted Culotta's review, I agree that the error in board size really does drop the value of these models in the accuracy rating to maybe 60% "stand-in" status.  The steel resheath models don't suffer from this problem, but the other issues still remain.  My initial review post was done without cross checking my copy of Anthony Thompson's SP Freight Cars Vol. 4 Boxcars.

The fresh "out-of-the-box" Rapido B-50-15s and B-50-16 at Owenyo.

Well, this wraps up my review of the new Rapido B-50-15/16 class cars.  I'll probably cover the mechanical changes in Part 3.  Then I'll cover any of the minor repairs, tweaking the tare data, painting underframes, weathering, and finishing of each separably in following posts for each car as I get around to it.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SP & T&NO B-50-15,-16 (Part 1) - Modeling, Research, & Rapido - My first part going over the history of the two classes that Rapido is planning to produce.

Modeling SP 32451 (Part 1) - Sunshine B-50-15 - Starting on my Sunshine resin kit B-50-15.

Modeling SP 32451 (Part 2) - Working on Sunshine B-50-15 Resin Kit - Continuing assembly - annnd still not done as of July 1, 2023 when the new Rapido cars arrive!

Ted Culotta Review of Rapido B-50-15/16