TH&B 70 Ton Hopper #1234: Finished

This model was completed some time ago, but I was deliberating the various approaches I could take with the weathering.  I had to consider how the car was utilized while I thought about the various media that I’ve used for different effects.

I built TH&B hopper #1234 for a small pool of cars used on the WRMRC in slime service for Inco.  TH&B didn’t serve any mines on line, so they used these cars like many roads used boxcars, meaning that, stead of hauling minerals for a specific customer, they shopped around for ways to put them into service earning revenue.  Aside from hauling slime for Inco, some of the cars contributed to a pool of cars assembled by CN, TH&B, and PC.  Others were used in a variety of ways, like hauling limestone from the quarry in Dundas, or scrap steel between industries in Hamilton.  Even cars used ore service were  rotated in and out of the pool.  As a result, they didn’t weather quite the same as hoppers from a road like the Pittsburgh and Shawmut or Lehigh Valley, where the such cars were used to haul coal for the duration of their useful lifespan.

In the end, I decided to try a combination of acrylic model paint, artist oils, and chalks.  The first step in the weathering was actually in the base colour of the car.  I used Polly Scale paints, and instead of using straight black, I mixed in some Reefer White to fade the black a bit without making it look grey.  This also helps to give more depth to the details.

After the decals and flat finish were applied and cured, I brushed a rough coat of white artist oil paint on the outside and bottom of the car.  I don’t use Titanium White because I find it has a hint of blue that works nice on canvas, but isn’t so good for weathering model trains.  Once the car is covered in a thin layer of white, I use a series of four progressively softer brushes to remove the paint.  The first brush is a 1″ flat and the last brush is large and very soft fan.  This step fades the car.

After I was satisfied with the fade, I used three different mixes of light grey on different parts of the car.  In this step, I didn’t whisk quite as much of the paint away because I wanted some streaks left behind. After the grey streaks, I put a few very subtle rust patches onto the sides with Burnt Umber and Raw Umber.  For these I put tiny blobs in place with a small brush and then dissolved the blobs with mineral spirits until the edges softened up enough to look natural.

When I was satisfied with the oils, I went at the car with some Bragdon weathering chalks, mixing and blending their Dark Rail Brown, Old Tuscan, Antique Iron for the inside, and a bit of those plus their Ash colour on the outside.

I think this one is ready for the layout.


TH&B 70 ton Hoppers – new wheels

Chris Mears sent some Intermountain wheelsets to me last week, and this morning I got around to weathering them.  Here’s how it went.

I hate cleaning paint off of wheel treads, so I experimented with masking them.  I put a strip of Tamiya masking tape onto my cutting surface and sliced a strip 7/64″ wide.


For each wheel tread, I chopped off a 1.5″ section of the narrow strip of tape and wrapped it around the wheel.

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With all of the wheel treads masked, I jabbed the axle end of each wheelsets onto a piece of styrofoam to stand them up.  I hit them from all angles with a cocktail of colours that I use as grimy black.


Once I’d spayed them from a few different angles, I flipped them over and repeated.  After a minute or two they were dry enough to handle.  I pulled the masking off of each tread and wiped the paint from the axle ends with a thin rag.


The grimy black serves as a primer for the three colours of powders I use for basic weathering of wheels and axles.  I like to do part of the weathering on my cars with the trucks off.  Once I’m satisfied with the carbody, I attach the trucks and hit the whole car with colours to represent dust and/or road grime. But for now, the trucks and wheels have their base weathering finished.

Check it out…


Intermountain Wheels for the TH&B hoppers

Eight sets of Intermountain steel wheels came in the post for me yesterday (thanks for getting those to me Chris). The ziplock bag they came in indicates that they are part number 85-4055 with 33″ wheels.   These are quality metal wheels on metal axles.  One wheel is insulated, of course.

I popped them into the stock trucks of the TH&B hoppers and their performance was  instantly transformed.  The wheels spin with very little resistance, and absolutely no wobble.  Every set was perfectly in gauge.


The polished finish on them is very shiny, so I’m going to have to go to work on them with the airbrush.  Right now the cars look a bit silly with chrome wheels, so I’ll get more close-up photos once I’ve weathered them (and the cars).



TH&B 70 Ton Hoppers Part 6 – Trucks

In his response to my previous post on this topic, Chris Mears asked about the trucks that came with the Stewart model I used for my TH&B hoppers. I’ve put together a short post in response to his question.

Because I mentioned the ill-fated attempt at using True Line trucks in my previous post, I want to expand on this first.  True Line has had their fumbles, and the masses have subsequently beaten them with suitable vigour.  I think it’s safe for us to leave that debate to the various online fora.  I’ll celebrate the fact that they’ve survived the lashings, and they continue to make a go of it.  I own a number of their models and I especially like their slab side covered hoppers.   I’m in line for a pair of their upcoming SW1200RS models, and I’m hoping for another run of their CP and CN vans and the slab sided covered hoppers.  My experience with their freight car trucks was a disappointment.  They should never have let those parts get into a package and onto store shelves.  One pack of bad trucks would be a fluke, but I bought two packages and both were unusable.  In the end, I was refunded my money, but I that’s beside the point.  It’s inconvenient for me to get to a store that has the parts I need for the hobby.  I want to support bricks and mortar stores, but when I get there and put my money down, I should not be performing quality control for any product I purchase, especially if that product carries a premium price, and is not labelled as a factory defect or second.  There; I can move on.

As I wrote in my previous post, I wanted to move the project forward.  Chris’s question was whether the Stewart sideframes are good enough to keep if the wheelsets are replaced.  Let’s go through some photos and figure this out.

Here’s a photo of a truck on the prototype car.


Next is a series of photos of the stock Stewart trucks from my models.




You’ll have to ignore the compression that took place when I took the prototype photo with a telephoto lens, and the expansion that took place when I took the model photos with my iPhone set to wide angle.  The Stewart model appears to have the correct proportions, despite these distortions.

The Stewart part is missing some finer details on the journal doors, the openings at the ends of the frame, and the insides of the bolster openings.  The lip around the opening in the truck frame is too pronounced.  The overall dimensions seem appropriate for a 70 ton truck.  The detail that bugs me the most is the area under the springs on the frame.  That looks different from the prototype.

I suspect that Stewart was aiming at representing a 70 ton capacity ASF A-3 Ride Control truck (with solid bearings, obviously).  I don’t know the origin of the trucks on the TH&B car.  Maybe they were cast by National Steel Car themselves, and are therefore going to be slightly unique from the ASF trucks.  Maybe my spotting is off.  I’m hoping someone can enlighten me on this.

Tangent Scale Models builds a much nicer model of a truck that represents the same prototype as the stock Stewart truck.  This is still not an exact match to that on the TH&B car (again, my spotting could be off).  Here’s the Tangent model (image is from their website).


There are some other quality representations of the ASF truck available in HO scale, but the photo of the Tangent model illustrates the improvement in quality that’s taken place over the past two decades.  My options, as I see them, are to equip the stock trucks with replacement wheelsets, or buy something like the Tangent trucks.  The stock trucks with replacement wheelsets will certainly work.  Whether they match the level of detail on the car the way I’ve modified it is a question I’ll wrestle with over the next while.  I’m leaning toward the Tangent truck with semi-scale metal wheels.

Thanks for the question, Chris.  What would you do?

TH&B 70 Ton Hoppers Part 5

It’s been a while since I posted about these cars.  I started this project as a way to take a break from the CP ore car assembly line.  I bounced back over to the ore car project until I got them to the point that they’re stored at the club, and now I’m back onto these cars.

In the previous post on this topic, I had sprayed both cars with Polly Scale Engine Black that I toned back a bit with some white.  When that had cured, I applied about five or six coats of Microscale Micro Gloss.  I find this product takes quite a few coats to build up a good shiny surface to take decals.  When the gloss coat was cured, I applied the superb Aberdeen Car Shops decal set  THB-8710.


After my considerable break from these cars, I managed to get the couplers attached.  I used Kadee #58 couplers in their own pockets and screwed them in place with a short 2-56 screw.  I installed Details Associates stirrup steps on all corners of both cars.  These are not exactly correct for this car because they are mounted below the frame sill, whereas the actual stirrup steps are bolted to the side.  I’ll live with these until I find the part (if it exist) and I’ll switch them over as time permits.

Last week, while I was stocking up on supplies for a number of different projects, I bought two sets of True Line trucks with metal wheels to use for these cars.  I have some True Line cars and they roll OK, so thought these would be worthy.  When I took them out of their packages this morning, I discovered that each truck had at least one wheel that was incorrectly mounted onto its axle.  That was frustrating, so they went back to the store.  Without anything else on hand, I used the trucks that were supplied with the kit.  The wheels are plastic on brass-ish axles… dodgy at best.  I might look for trucks with nicer detail, but these aren’t too bad.   I’d like to put some semi-scale wheels on these cars.  At a minimum, I’ll replace the wheelsets with a metal ones.  I kept the dodgy ones from the kit on the car for the photos.

Speaking of photos, it was a beautifully sunny afternoon, so I took them outside to get some pics in the daylight.

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Overall, I’m pleased with the way that the cars look with all of the cast-on details replaced with finer parts.  I’ll post back here with an update once I get them weathered.