There were some less than precise elements necessitating some fudging and filling at this point. Even after straightening out the bodies in hot water, some of the sides were still slightly out of square vertically, which resulted in the sides bowing out or in by a very small amount. Compounding this, the new floors that I built were made of lead, which is so incredibly soft that it changes shape by merely bumping it against something. As careful as I was when I cut the lead to fit into the floor, each rectangle needed to be flattened out before it was installed. The flattening process deformed the lead enough to cause small gaps around the edges of the floor.
If I were to build more of these cars, I would find a way to have steel rectangles precisely cut to size so they could be slid into the hopper for weight. Working safely with lead is onerous and a great deal of time is taken up cleaning my tools and work surface to be sure that I don’t transfer lead all over the place.
Back to the gaps around the floor of each car…
I decided to fill those will contour putty. I experimented with Tamiya putty and Squadron Green, because I had both on hand. I’ve concluded that, while both are very good, I prefer working with the Tamiya product. It’s a bit less grainy than Squadron Green and it dries a bit slower. When Squadron Green starts to solidify, it can’t be touched or the surface gets very grainy.
I used two different sizes of palate knives to trowel the putty into the gaps and smooth it out while it’s still wet. I did no sanding on the floors because I didn’t want to create lead dust.
With the gaps filled, I moved on to address the top chords on the sides and ends. To simplify the process, I went through every kit and cut the chords from the resin casting. With two piles, end chords and side chords, I proceeded to install them on the cars like an assembly line.
There’s an issue that came up at this point. The thickness of the sides of the car is out of proportion to the thickness of the chords. The top of the chord ends up looking real wide, and is obviously comprised of multiple pieces.
This ended up being a compromise that can’t be rectified in the model. It’s the result of the thickness of the car sides being many times greater than scaled down sheets of steel. Nothing could be done to rectify this, so I did my best to smooth the tops of the chords so to try to make the seam between the chord and the side of the car disappear after being painted. In some cases I used a bit of putty to help fill in some gaps. I’m sure it will look fine once they’re painted. I’ll post some pics to illustrate in the next instalment.
Next step… put the spines back in!