Lehigh Valley Automobile Boxcar – Weight Data

I’ve been doing a bit of leap-frog with the various projects that I have on the go right now.  I’ve been trying to get the wall of my layout space finished, and I’m waiting for parts for some of the various boxcar projects I’m working on.  Also, my SW1200RS models have been sent off to a friend to have the decoders and lighting installed.  I don’t like having so many projects moving between the workbench and their boxes, but that’s just how things have to be right now.

I sat down with the Lehigh Valley automobile boxcar while I was working on three other ancient shake-the-box kits.  These models (you’ll read about the others soon) are the last of the rolling stock that own from the time before my long break from the hobby.  At some point, you’ll read about how I brought them up to mechanical spec and, in some cases, improved a few pieces of detail in order to closer align them with the quality of newer ready to run rolling stock.  I’m using these old models to practice some weathering techniques that I plan to apply to more expensive pieces built by Kadee, ExactRail, and Tangent.

On this Lehigh Valley P2K kit, I had to add the tiny piece of the upper door track where the two doors meet.  The piece that came with the kit was at least twice the size it should be.  I had the airbrush set up to paint the underbodies of these older kits, so I masked off this new piece of styrene and the the weight data so that I could paint a clean patch over the factory numerals.    I found an old boxcar decal set and robbed it of its weight data.  I also applied newer lube plates and ACI labels.  Here’s how it turned out.

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P2K Automobile Boxcar as Lehigh Valley 8500-8599

One of my ongoing projects has been to sort through all of my old model train stuff from two decades ago in order to continue to purge the things that I will never use. During a recent purge, I found a Lifelike Proto 2000 50′ automobile boxcar kit (remember kits?).

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When I came to own this kit, back in the early to mid 1990s, it was probably an advanced product because it had separate brake and ladder details.  Even by today’s standards, it’s a decent model, and without too much work its quality can match that of other contemporary kits.

A steam-era automobile boxcar would have no place on the WRMRC layout, but the geographical location and era of my planned home layout is slowly crystallizing, and what’s certain is that I’ll build something representing railroading on either side of the Niagara River during the first half of the 1970s – the era of my earliest memories of train watching with my dad.  I just might be able to use this car in that context.

We live in an era when primary source historic information is abundant.  Online resources alone eclipse what was available to a modeller two decades ago, not to mention the quality of the various hard-copy books on the market from niche presses.  I acquired a copy of Craig T. Bossler’s CNJ/LV Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment shortly after finding this kit in my collection of junk, so  I was delighted to learn that the P2K model of the Valley’s automobile boxcar is actually a close representation of the prototype.

According to Bossler, the Lehigh Valley took delivery of 100 automobile boxcars from ACF in 1942.  These cars were numbered 8500 to 8599.  Being the ever frugal outfit they were, the Valley repurposed these cars long after they outlived their intended use.  63 of them were still in revenue service in 1971, with the majority of them in auto parts service.  A small number of them were refitted with damage free loaders and placed in general revenue service.

Bossler’s Color Guide proves that the kit is very close to the prototype, though there are a few differences that can be corrected without too much effort.  Most significantly, the side sills are incorrectly shaped, and need to be contoured with the appropriate notches.  I used the photos in the Color Guide to inform my carving and filing.  The kit designers had the foresight to put indents on the inside of the side sills, which serve to guide one through the re-shaping of the sill for different versions of the car.  The left end of each sill needed a short augmentation to conform to the prototype, and I accomplished that with strips of styrene and a spot of putty.

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IMG_2753The above photo shows the shape of the side sills before the car was touched up with Model Flex Maroon Tuscan Oxide Red.

The word “Automobile” appears to have been removed from the cars in the Color Guide, so my next step will be to remove that and paint the sill extensions. I’ll move ahead with the assembly of this car, but I’d like to have a bit more information than what’s in the Color Guide.   A high angle shot would really help to move the project forward, but I’d appreciate any information that a reader can give me.  Please help me out if you can!