Ontario Northland Boxcars – Some Weathering

I like using photographs to check the progress of my weathering. Not sure how I feel about how this one is shaping up, but most of what’s on it can come off again. So far, I’ve done a fade with white acrylics, some streaking with grime coloured acrylics, and some rust and grime buildup with powders. This is the first non-practice model on which I’ve used artist acrylics for weathering. I’ve been using oils for a while. I like the fact that acrylics speed things up nicely.


Ontarion Northland Boxcars – part 2

In my previous post, I described the upgrades to a pair of True Line Trains 10’0″ Ontario Northland boxcars. Subsequent to that post, a lengthy discussion ensued on the Canadian Railway Modellers Facebook group, in which Jurgen Kleylein and Ken Chrysler contributed photos and ideas so we could sort out a few details.

Here’s a digest of what we figured out. When Ontario Northland car shops crews removed the running boards from their 40′ boxcars, they often left the ladders on full length, all the way up to the roof. On the B-end of the car, workers would need access to the brakewheel, which was also left in its original position, high on the end of the car. In order to facilitate the movement from the side ladder to the end ladder on the B-end of the car, some pieces of flat metal were fitted onto the roof and the corner grab iron was re-installed in its former position, sans running board. On the opposite corner of the car, there was no grab iron, presumably because workers would have no reason to be on the upper part of that ladder.

I decided that one of my ONT boxcars would have short ladders on the A-end and the other would have tall ladders. Both would have tall ladders at the B-end, and therefore, both would have the metal straps and grab iron in that corner of the roof. Here’s what they look like so far, with a quick coat of paint to get the cars ready for weathering.


This photo shows the running boards removed and the metal straps represented by styrene strips. The car closer to the bottom of the photo was the first one I modified. I bent a grab iron to fit and used a lift ring in the corner. The other car was my second run at this. I used the grab iron that was on the model’s stock running board. I shaved it off the discarded part and used CA to reattach it to the styrene strips.

On the actual cars, the side ladders don’t curve up and over the edge of the car like the model. The strips of metal to which the grab iron is attached actually wraps over the edge of the car and is bolted to the side. For the sake of not having too many modifications to the ladders, I simply attached my strips of styrene to the tops of the ladders. It works, and it looks fine. I decided to go this route because there are more compromises with the kit’s ladders that I’m choosing to ignore. I felt that if I started to make changes to the top of the ladder, I should probably fix up the inaccuracies at the bottom as well. I figure this would be better addressed by a complete ladder replacement some day. If I ever choose to make that modification to these cars, I can move the styrene strips on the roof. For now, I’m calling this good enough.

Once I had done the roof modification to both cars, I proceeded to do the patch-outs for the weight data and other outdated information on the side of both cars. Here’s how they look so far:


You can see I’ve also added lube plates and ACI labels. So far, I’ve only patched one side of both ONT cars. Once I get the patches finished and new data onto the car, I’ll weather them to reflect 25 years of service.

Having finished the modifications on my ONT cars, I decided that I should do two 10’0″ cars that have in Canadian National. For the CN cars, I’m going to leave the running boards on the cars, but I’ll add air hoses, cut levers, swap out the couplers for Kadee #158, patch them for weight data, add lube plates and ACI labels.


The last thing I’d like to do is provide some links to sources of information I used so far on this project. Ted Kocyla wrote on the MRH forum about weathering some similar cars for the WRMRC layout. Click here for that article. Chris Vanderheide has written about similar projects on his blog. Click through to see some posts from August 2015, June 2015, and November 2014 that are relevant to this project.

The work being done to the CN cars is the same as what I’ve already done to the ONT cars, so I won’t repeat any of that. I’ll post an update when I have some weathering finished.

Tangent Scale Models X58 Boxcars

Here’s a shot of the North Tonawanda switcher bringing two empty PRR X58 boxcars into the International Paper plant on Tonawanda Island.


These are the new from Tangent Scale Models. Mine arrived from Action Hobbies Kingsville on Monday. They’re really nice models, but that comes as no surprise to me; Tangent has established the highest standard of quality.

I have two of the now out of production Rail Yard Models resin kits for these cars. The Tangent RTR model is of equal quality, perhaps slightly better in a couple of small details. The Rail Yard kits took many hours (80?) for me complete, and they cost me about the same amount of money. I’ve created a “category” in the menu on the right side of the screen, so you can click on that to see my posts about X58 boxcars by both Rail Yard and Tangent.

The Rail Yard kit was superbly designed, and mine built up into the best models on my layout (until now). I happened to buy mine the month before Rail Yard closed, and I was quite disappointed when to learn that I wouldn’t be able to find more without paying upwards of $120 on ebay. Given the fact that the Tangent RTR model buys the hobbyist a ton of free time to work on other projects, I expect to see the used market value of the Rail Yard kits to drop substantially. And on that note, I’ve budgeted to buy a few more Tangent X58s, but if you’re one of those people who has hoarded away a stash of Rail Yard kits that you can’t sell and will never build, do be in touch with me. I’ll rid you of the burden 😉



Recent Project: Penn Central N5G 18403

According to information that I’ve gleaned from a number of sources, including the Penn Central Caboose Archive, Penn Central was experiencing such a desperate shortage of cabooses that they purchased a number of them from the Lehigh Valley, of all roads. They classed these cabooses N5G, and put them in yard and transfer service.

My model of 18403 represents ex Lehigh Valley car #95119, which Penn Central purchased in 1968. I have no evidence of this caboose ever operating in the Niagara area. Regardless, it makes a nice addition to the caboose fleet.


My model of 18403 started as a factory painted Proto 2000 Northeast Caboose. Here’s what it looked like out of the box.  IMG_9542

I had a hard time imagining how to tone down the glowing plastic appearance, and I’m just not a fan of the way it was lettered. The lettering is correct, by the way, but the whole thing just wasn’t sitting right with me.

After I did some research, I discovered that there are some discrepancies between the model and the prototype. The end windows at the platforms are wrong, and the steps should have three rungs instead of two. There are other issues as well, but to my eye, the colour, lettering, and those particular issues with the carbody are the most glaring. I decided that a simple repaint of the model might produce a satisfactory representation of the prototype, and perhaps I could live with the other issues.

After the car was disassembled and stripped, I repainted it with a colour that I mixed from Polyscale Penn Central Green and NYC Century Green. Incidentally, Penn Central used NYC green on the earliest caboose repaints. The photos don’t capture the difference in colour between this car and the ones painted with Polyscale Penn Central Green, but it’s apparent in person.

After painting, the car was lettered with decals from Microscale and the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society. I replaced the knock-off coupler with a Kadee “scale” coupler and weathered it with a combination of airbrushed colours and powders.

This model was finished a few weeks ago, but I didn’t have time to post about it until now. Here’s a photo of the other side.