Saturday, September 2, 2023

36ft Fowler Boxcars - NC&StL 15337 (Part 3) Wrapping Up & Weathering

Time to complete the NC&StL 15337.

It's only been a few days since I posted Part 2 of this series, but I wanted to get the rest of the decals applied and then do some light weathering to get the car buttoned up.

Finishing Up


The rough level of decal completion at the end of Part 2.

Wrapping up the decalling of the NC&StL 15337 with the tare station NE 4 45 and the spec stencils for AB BRAKES and DIRT COLLECTOR from the OwlMt F-50 decal sets.

Underframe Detailing - Brake Hangers

I custom bent and installed three brake hanger grabs under the car.

The original plastic brake hangers didn't last through the decalling process.  So I cut off the cracked plastic hangers, which were part of the centersills.  Then I drilled replacement mounting holes and bent 0.012" Phosphor Bronze wire to shape with my Leartherman needle-nose pliers.  A quick dip of the grab legs in a scrap puddle of CA before applying fixes them in place.  The weathering coat later on will get these to blend into the rest of the underframe.

One step that still needs addressing, the hand brake staff should have a rod with sections of chain to connect the staff to the brake cylinder.  The Accurail kit doesn't have anything supplied for this.  I'll probably scratch-built a piece to replicate this with some spare 0.012" PB wire as well.

Brake Staff & Wheel

I shorted it to the kit specified length, which is actually too short according to the prototype photo.

Brake staff with brass OwlMtModels brake wheel soldered in place.

I used the Accurail kit staff, which is 0.020" wire, and soldered the brake wheel at the top end.  The brake wheel itself is a replacement casting from OwlMtModels 1011 F-50-series Common Standard Stirrup & Brakewheel set.

Freshly applied Brake Staff in place.

I secured the brake staff with a small drop of thickened CA glue at the bottom stirrup and also at the brake platform step.  It was about this point when I checked the prototype photo and realized that I'd cut the staff too short according to the prototype photo!  Oops!

Stirrup Steps

Stirrup steps applied with a small drop of CA, so I can still remove the body shell as needed.

I then attached the single stirrup steps from the kit.  Accurail offers two installation options for the stirrup steps on the 36ft Fowler cars.

Closing the Body

Time to close up the body for a while.

However, I do want the car to be "closed up" most of the time and don't want the stirrups getting damaged due to unplanned removing of the underframe and floor from the body, so I'm applying four small drops of thickened CA glue at the bolsters.  I will be able to 'pop' these glue joints when it comes time to open the body again.

Looking Pretty Good

3/4 view with the decals all applied.

At this point I took a little time to enjoy looking at the fully painted and decalled model.

A-end and Left Side.

I went over most of the larger decal areas with my sharp No.11 Xacto blade and sliced the board lines into the decals.  This was specifically done on the doors' slogan area to be sure that extra applications of MicroScale decal setting fluid was able to get rid of any air bubbles and gaps under the decals at the board joints.


I decided to start the weathering process with a wash of medium brown and a depot buff color from StarBrand with my airbrush.  

Left side of decalled model.

It turns out that it was light enough that all it really did was knock down the brightness of the decals, which is a really good start!

Right side of decalled model.

The last thing I wanted to do was put down too much color and cover up all the decals that I just spent all the time cutting up to correct to match the photo and putting into place!

Left side - checking against photo.

The prototype car isn't weathered very much, so I want almost all the decals to be clearly visible when I'm done.

NC&StL 15337 - Fowler -TRRA photo, East St Louis, July 1948, Illinois, Joe Collias coll, Bobs Photo - Ted Culotta collection

In looking at the prototype, the board lines are quite visible.  Shadows and possibly some dirt are accumulating around the Z-bracing and mud from the boots of the brakemen has applied to the side of the car above each ladder rung... either that or the toes of their boots has rubbed off the paint from those spots.

The car was painted with SP FCR as a basic color, so it's pretty bright red.

The color still is a bit too consistent, and I'll need to see if there's a good way that I can highlight just the board lines like the prototype photo... however I think the Accurail kit has more board grain detail than actual board joint lines, unlike most kits.  So that might be trickier to do in the weathering process, than just toning down the model.

After a wash of acrylic black with isopropal alcohol.

I wasn't really thinking, and sealed the body with Testors Dullcote and then made an alcohol wash to highlight the board lines and details.  I also used some Pavement and Burnt Umber to avoid using only straight black to mix up the colors more.

This treatment really did change the SP FCR to more of a gray-brown, which is good.

What I forgot about is that the Iso-Alcohol attacks the teflon (dulling agent) in the dullcote and turns it white... so my weathering ended up fading the car and adding darkened shadows at the same time!

A bit more work balancing out the weathering.

I was able to moderate the whiting effects of the dullcote + alcohol by carefully working the wash and adjusting it, wiping some with the paper towel and also wicking away extra wash before it set onto the carside.

In Closing

I think it came out pretty well.  I really like how the sprayed wash and the alcohol wash settled into door boards around the "DIXIELAND" slogan, which I was concerned the decal would be too thick to look reasonable.

NC&StL 15337 - Fowler -TRRA photo, East St Louis, July 1948, Illinois, Joe Collias coll, Bobs Photo - Ted Culotta collection

Time for a final prototype photo check against the model.  With the details complete and some light weathering, my NC&StL 15337 is ready to enter service.

Looks like this 'Dixieland' car is ready to visit the Jawbone Branch.

I'll still be adding some chalk marks and other small details in the future, so the car's not really finished, but then what car ever really is?  I'm also planning the next time I'm doing staff-brakes for the SP Accurail kitbashes, I'll redo this car's brake staff a bit longer to match the prototype photo.

Follow Up Blogs on Routing Cards & Chalk Mark Details

I used the NC&StL 15337 model to show some of the techniques for routing cards and chalk marks.

Prototype side of the NC&StL 15337, with all the chalk marks and routing cards in place.

I feel that the cars just don't look "lived in" if they don't have a couple of chalk marks and a routing card or grading card here or there.

"Typical" side of the car, which I don't have a photo for.

The 'brightness' of the chalk marks can be toned down slightly by a damp brush wipe of 70% alcohol, with some water, which tones down the strength of the alcohol.  This is useful to 'age' the chalk marks and make them look like they've faded or been scrubbed by a clerk to partly wipe them away.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:


Detailing Accurail Fowler Boxcar

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