In this post, I’ll continue from the previous post in this series where I described the history of the CP and TH&B mill gondolas I’m building in HO scale.
TH&B 70 ton mill gondola 2495 in Aberdeen Yard on October 15th 1988. This car was serviceable at the time of its scrapping, which occurred at United Steel Metals in Hamilton, ON on April 6, 1989. Lance Brown photo.
Having established that there are no suitable models for these Canadian built cars In HO scale, the old Proto 2000 52’6″ drop end mill gondola will serve as a stand-in because it matches the overall dimensions of the Canadian cars, despite the fact that it falls short of representing the Canadian built cars. The P2K kit was purportedly based on a car built by the Greenville Car Company for the Erie Railroad in the 40s [if anyone has a prototype photo they’d be willing to share, send it to me and I’ll insert it into this post]. I’ll use this model as a stand-in until something accurate comes along.
I considered bashing this model into an accurate representation of the TH&B and CP cars. In my estimation, the process of removing and then replacing details worked out to be nearly as much work as scratch building. All of the ribs would have to be removed and replaced in different locations with ribs of a different cross section, the entirety of both ends of the TH&B cars would need to come off and reconstructed, and all of the tie downs would also need to be reconfigured. I still have plenty of other projects on the go that require a great deal of my time (cough, ore cars, cough), so in the interest of getting a few cars up and running quickly, I decided to follow the lead of my colleagues at the WRMRC. They’ve been doing one simple modification to the P2K kit to bring it a step closer to representing a Canadian prototype, and perhaps more importantly, to set it apart from the gondolas in our fleet that are from American roads.
Notice that the P2K kit has sloped side sills, just like the Canadian cars. The slope on the P2K car spans the distance between the 2nd and 4th rib from each end. The slope on the Canadian cars only spans the distance between the 2nd and 3rd ribs from each end. The modification that was shown to me by the WRMRC guys involves slicing the bottom of the sill between the second rib from each end. The sill now looks more like the Canadian cars.
There are still major discrepancies between the model and the prototype, not the least of which include the incorrect number of ribs and their spacing, and the shape of each rib. I agree with my friends who’ve already done this modification; this work represents the threshold beyond which it becomes a major reworking of the model. In the photo below, taken after the slicing of the sill, you can see that the slope spans only one panel between two ribs.
I had three of these P2K cars cars on hand. I had already assembled one of them years ago. This one was factory painted TH&B. Two others were still unassembled and factory painted in Canadian Pacific with script lettering. One additional car that was an abandoned work-in-progress was given to me when I was almost finished the first three. I decided to keep the factory paint on the TH&B car. The TH&B scheme on the car is an accurate representation of a car that was repainted since delivery from National Steel Car.
The two CP cars needed to have their factory paint stripped. The CP script lettering that the model came with was applied to new cars for a relatively short period of time by the original builders long after these cars gondolas were built. The script scheme was never applied by in-house car shops crews at CP. Therefore, these gondolas painted in script lettering were either non-existent, or extremely rare. I wanted mine to be in block lettering because the vast majority of the prototype cars, if not all, were painted this way.
Once I had stripped the two CP cars, I used a low powered soldering iron to heat the plastic. I used a variety of small metal tools with rounded surfaces and edges to push the soft plastic outward from the inside in order to create dents in the sides of all three cars. With the soldering iron clamped in place, I heated the plastic on each individual panel by placing the model close to the soldering iron, being careful to never let it touch the plastic. Alternating between the inside and the outside of the car helped to soften the plastic enough that I was able to push the metal tool onto the plastic panel from inside. Once I was satisfied with the damage, I painted both of the newly stripped cars with black and shot them with gloss coat to prep the surface for decals.
I used Black Cat Publishing’s HO decal set BC129 for the CP cars. These are excellent decals to work with, and the artwork is superb. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any shots of the cars with fresh decals on them. Once the lettering was applied on the CP cars, I proceeded to assemble them. Before I got too far into the assembly, I painted and weathered the floors with a variety of commercial weathering powders, and some that I made from artist pastels by sanding them and collecting the dust. I had to work with the TH&B car in its assembled state, which required some masking of the insides in order to weather the wooden floors differently from the metal sides, but the process and techniques were otherwise the same. Here are the two floors just prior to being glued into the CP cars.
Once the cars were assembled, I experimented with a variety of techniques for weathering. The TH&B car was done only with weathering chalks and very subtle airbrushing. The CP cars were done with a combination of artist oils, weathering chalks, and airbrushing. In the next post in this series, I’ll show you how the TH&B car turned out.