Ore Car Assembly Line Continues


I haven’t worked on these cars for quite some time, but progress on the scenery at the Victoria Mine Switch scene on the Webbwood sub of the WRMRC layout inspired me to push ahead.

Jurgen Kleylein suggested a novel approach to weathering these cars. Following his lead, I’m proceeding to apply a grungy colour to each car, from the underside up to about halfway up the car. This will go onto the car before the lettering. I’ll work on these again later in the week, so there will be an update on the details. Stay tuned.

CP ore cars in use

While visiting Roger Chrysler, we discussed the various freight motors that Inco used on their electrified railway.  I’ll put together something about the motors themselves in the future, but in my search for info on them, I discovered this photo.

Photo by Arnold Mooney

Photo by Arnold Mooney

Arnold Mooney was gracious enough to allow me to use this image here.  This is Arnold’s description of the shot: “INCO electric 65T #121 is pictured westbound from the mine with a load of ore for interchange at CP’s Levack station, mile 104 on the Cartier Subdivision. It is my understanding that all the electrics are now off the properties of VALE, formerly known as INCO. Info would be appreciated.” 

Aside from showing the Inco motor, Arnold’s shot captures a string of CP’s welded drop-bottom ore cars in use.  These are the prototype for the cars I built in my series of posts on this subject.

Ore Cars Part 18 – Poorly designed Kato trucks

The members at the club advised me that the Kato Barber S-2 70 ton truck is the preferred option my ore car project.  These particular trucks feature roller bearing faces that actually rotate with the wheels.  A few of the members pooled their resources and bought the 16 pairs of trucks I needed for this project, so I set about readying them for the cars that they would eventually be mounted beneath.


These are supremely smooth rolling trucks, and the detail is outstanding.  As I went through them to install the roller bearing caps and prep them for paint and weathering, I discovered that they didn’t conform to NMRA standards.  The gauge on all of the wheel sets was uniformly too tight.


A simple opposing twist of the wheels slides the wheels  outward from each other, but then things got a bit complicated.


These trucks are not designed with needle ends that fit into conical impressions in the back of the truck frame, like standard old-school plastic trucks.  In order to get the animated affect of the roller bearings, Kato designed the axles with a finely machined race just inboard from the ends of each axle.  The race snaps into the plastic truck sideframe from underneath and the roller bearing caps fit onto the ends of the axles.  Kato gets extremely smooth performance out of this approach.

However, when the wheel sets are pulled into gauge, too much friction is created between the inner edge of the race and the side frame.  The trucks roll very poorly when set to the NMRA standard, and some sets would not roll at all.  This would be great for modelling cars with the hand brakes applied, but otherwise it looked like we might have to return them and find another solution.

Before I completely threw in the towel on these, I found that if I set the wheels to be at the very minimum to meet the NMRA standard, the trucks still roll well. The adjustment had to be very precise, because if I set them even the tiniest bit too wide, they wouldn’t spin when they were mounted.  In the photo above, you might notice that this wheelset is set as tight as it can be and still conform to the standard.  For those of you keeping score, that’s 16 cars or 32 trucks, or 64 wheelsets.

They don’t roll as nicely as they did when they came out of the box, but they still roll well.  Anyone using flextrack and commercial switches on any kind of “normal” layout would probably never have a problem with using these trucks straight out of the box.  But our layout is anything but normal.  The magnitude of what what we’re undertaking pushes everything to the extreme.  We wear out and rebuild model locomotives that would serve the typical hobbyist a lifetime without any kind of failure, so we’re quite disciplined at adhering to standards.

In the end, we decided that we could use the Kato trucks as long as each wheel set was very precisely tuned to be in gauge and still roll reasonably well.  You can see that they are very nice models of the Barber S-2, so I’m pleased that it worked out.



Ore Cars Step 17 – Action Red

I shot all of the cars with a coat of True Line Trains CP Action Red and moved them from my work bench to the club.  The rest of the work will take place there, so I’m going to store them in the Crean Hill Mine scene while they’re being finished.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAObviously, the scene is still very much a work in progress.  Back in September, I started a series of posts that give an overview of this part of the layout (all of those posts are under the “Copper Cliff” category on the side bar).  I managed to connect the spur track that comes off the Webbwood Subdivision at the Victoria Mine Switch some time ago.  The spur comes off the Webbwood at the far east end of the shelf with the Nairn scene, just above this shelf.  Jurgen started to work on the loader and then got sidetracked by dozens of other projects, but these shots give a bit of an overview of what’s happening there, and how these ore cars fit into the operation.

Ore Cars Step 16 – Wire grabs

The last step in the assembly of these ore cars takes place on the ends, and is another very finicky part of the project.  Both ends of the car have an angled grab iron in the bottom right corner, and at the same corner there are two grabs that wrap around from the end to the side of the car.  Because the floor on these cars is rather high, and because workers had to walk to the end of the car to manually open the doors in the floor, a pair of U-shaped safety bars extend down from the last cross rib.  There is also a handrail from the sides into the centre of the car.  And, of course, there is a coupler lift bar at each end.  Some of that detail is visible in this shot by Jurgen Kleylein.

Here ares some shots of the first model I finished.

IMG_1464 IMG_1465 IMG_1466 IMG_1467 IMG_1468 IMG_1469 IMG_1471

I put this first car together late one evening, and then took a closer look at a number of photos of these cars on the Canadian Freight Car Gallery site, only to discover that the configuration of end grabs on these cars varies a bit.  The photos show the cars after they’ve been reconfigured to work with a rotary dumper, and by that time some of them might have had repairs and modifications to the grabs as well.  The kit has dimples for the grab iron locations as you see in my photos, which are probably accurate for the car or cars that the kit was modelled after, but does not represent the car in its as-built condition.

All of the corner grabs have to bent by hand, so I built a jig and used .012″ brass wire for these. I found it too difficult to work with steel wire, but your mileage may vary. This step in the process involved many evenings of patient bending and fitting using my home-made jig, a variety of small metal brakes and pliers, and the help of a magnifying visor.

The car in the photos above is going to stay in the configuration its in.   It will have to represent a car that had some damage and was quickly repaired at the Sudbury car shops.  I’ll get a detailed shot of one of cars with the as-built grab irons and post it later.

The next step is pretty simple: paint.

I had promised to post a photo of the “as-built” end grab irons.  Here it is…