Monday, April 22, 2024

Modeling X29 (Part 1) - PRR 100813 Basic Construction

PRR 100813 from a Red Caboose "Late" X29 kit.

In previous posts, I've covered some foreign "Signature" cars, which almost every layout in the steam-diesel transition time should have.  However, I've not covered two of the premier unique prototypes because I'd not finished building any. (Gasp, I know!)

Prototype History

This post starts my PRR X29 build articles that are going to be posted along with the "competition's design", which was formed by the NYC's design for an All-Steel boxcar during the 1920s.  Both designs were built in the thousands by the two designing railroads as ARA looked for a way to gather the railroads into more standardized freight car design moving forward from the USRA's war-emergency designs.  

Partly complete Red Caboose kit of PRR's "Standard" X29 boxcar (left) and BLI's NYC "Standard" 1920s All-Steel boxcar (right).

The ARA's concepts eventually resulted in the early 1932 ARA standard boxcar.  These early designs then evolved into the 1937 AAR design that dozens of railroads bought all the way into the early days of WWII before construction was curtailed "for the duration."

PRR X29 horseshoe with freight cars - Matt Glumac collection - Cropped

This PRR X29, which just out of focus enough that I can't make out the car number, has plate-steel ends and three-panel plate doors and I think still has vertical staff hand brake!  Yes, this photo has a pair of GP7/9 in the foreground as point helpers on an E-unit powered passenger train, showing just how late this X29 is still running around with vertical staff brakewheels!

Circa 1957+ tare date on ATSF 213481 (left) and dirty X29 with plate-ends (right). - Tim Logan collection

This photo shows how dirty PRR X29s could get.  This photo is circa 1957+, judging from the tare date on the ATSF boxcar.  So I'm not sure how much of this filth was already on the PRR car during the post-war to 1953 era, but probably most of it was already there.  Interesting how patchy and partly worn off the dirt/soot is in some places on the car.

Starting Point

Red Caboose X29 Battery Car kit

Many years ago I started reworking a Red Caboose X29 kit which was decorated for PRR's MW Battery Car service, which I'll cover the finishing details in Part 2.  For now, I'm going to start with one of Red Caboose's PRR "Circle Keystone" X29 kits which I finally was able to pick up a couple years ago.  I should add that IMRC of course now has produced several runs of X29s as RTR models.  But I think the older kits are certainly fun to build and deserve some love too.

Basic Car Assembly

PRR 100813, RC decorated X29.

Installing the doors is the first steps I did in construction of the body.  Later cars were repaired along the lower body as the side sheets rusted out with a new strip of metal riveted in place on the exterior.


Underframe of PRR 100813 kit starting to be assembled - B-End to the right.

While the underframe injection sprue is accommodated with notches in the centersill, I went ahead and carved the boss down a bit.  Note that at the upper part of this carving are the two small pin-holes for the brake cylinder bracket.

PRR 100813 with basic parts glued in place.  B-End to the right and marked.

Next came the four cross-stringers at the door, then the main underframe/bolster added.  Note the alignment of the holes in the underframe for brake parts & rigging.  At this point I also drilled out the bolster and coupler box holes with #50 drill, then tapped for 2-56 screws.

Later Dreadnaught Ends

B-End of PRR 100813, RC decorated X29 kit

This model has the Dreadnaught ends.  Earlier X29s had plate-steel ends.  The PRR 100813 shows a build date in 1934, making this one of the later X29s to be built.

Brake Wheel Experimenting

PRR 100813 B-End with details & RTV installed brakewheel.  The retainer valve & pipe still needs to be installed.

I'm experimenting with using some Hi-Temp "Red" RTV Silicone, which is similar to the PRR FCR, to bond the brake wheel to the geared brake housing.  I need to give it a full 24 hours to fully cure before I see if it really will work.  The problem is that the RC brake wheel is too fine to support the brake wheel if it is bumped.  The Battery car (PRR 100305) brake wheel already been knocked off, so I'm also testing the RTV on the 100305.

I still need to install the grab irons at this point in the construction.

Early Plate Ends

RC CGW 85240 shows off the "early" plate-steel ends.

The one RC model of an X29 I have that has the plate-steel ends isn't a PRR car, but a CGW car which bought clones of the X29s.  Also note that the CGW model shows the 'patched' side sheeets in the bottom foot or so of the sides.  Many PRR X29s received these patches.  Some cars had multiple patches which varied in height, reflecting the extent of the unsaveable sections of the sides that rusted out.

Patched Sides

PRR early X29 built in 1924 with double door stops and patched sides - Pintrest webphoto

One of the reasons that I picked up the Battery Car versions, was to be able to make some custom replacement patches on those models.  Hopefully, in some future post I'll be able to show what I come up with in that area.

PRR 2136 X29 patched panels - pintrest photo

This stuffed-and-mounted example shows a better example of the continuous replacement lower side sheet.  This car also shows the later-built X29s with the Dreadnaught ends.

Stuff to Do Next

What's left to do at this point?  It's mostly down to wrapping up the smaller details.

Stirrups & Grabs

I'll probably be replacing the plastic stirrups with A-line flat-wire parts.

I'm not sure which option I'll go with for the grab irons, but I'll probably be using 0.012" PB wire, which I'll end up forming on some of my standard OwlMtModels grab iron jigs.

Underframe Brake Rigging

Like with the grabs, I'll be replacing the brake rods with 0.012" PB wire, but using the plastic brake levers.

In Closing

PRR 100813 at the end of Part 1, I still need to do the grabs and stirrups, and paint the underframe.

That covers the first part of this build.  I'm also working on wrapping up the PRR 100305, which I started years ago, it is currently about the same point that I got the new 100813 kit to.  So we'll start the next part of this series working on both cars.  The X29 blog posts will be at least two more posts, not counting if/when I build the Battery car kits with custom side-patches installed.

BLI NYC 111869, early 1920s all-steel standard boxcar.

Another series of posts that are going to intertwine with the X29 build posts will be on the BLI NYC "Standard" 1920s All-steel boxcars (Lots 437-B, 438-B, 439-B, 489-B, 490-B, 491-B, 559-B, 563-B).  These were the competing designs to the ARA's request for standardizing an all-steel boxcar design in the 1920s.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Other PRR Posts
X31 & X32 Boxcar (Part 2) - PRR X32As from Boswer

X31 & X32 Boxcar (Part 3) - PRR X31F "Turtle Roofs" from Boswer

X31 & X32 Boxcar (Part 4) - PRR X31As from Boswer

X31 & X32 Boxcar (Part 5) - PRR X31B & C from Boswer

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