86′ Hi-Cube Project – Part 2 Removing and Reshaping

In my previous post, I outlined the various possibilities for modelling 86′ hi-cubes in HO from the old Athearn blue-box model.  In this post, I’ll describe how I plan to move forward with improvements to the model.

I decided that I would try to improve the Athearn four door car into a representation of the Greenville prototype.  The Athearn car more closely represent an early Thrall car in that the model has single welds between the side panels and the indent behind the ladders  have a beam at the floor and roof.  But I wanted to try to bring the car closer to a Greenville car, despite the fact that all of the Greenville cars were riveted.  I decided I could live with the concession of the welded panels for this one.

My decision to live with the welded sides was partly influenced by the fact that the factory paint on my NYC car isn’t too bad.  I felt that a model of a Greenville car would result in the least amount of repainting required.  Also, I’m confident that I can weather the factory finish more easily than a custom paint.  I’ll expand on that in a later post.

To begin the the upgrade, I removed all of the cast-on hand rails and grab irons, the stirrups, walkway across the B-end of the car, brake equipment, and tack board.  I shaved these off with a chisel blade hobby knife, then shaped and shined the ends with three consecutively finer grades of sanding sticks.

Once the cast-on details were gone, I removed part of the beam at the top and bottom of the indent behind the grab irons. Here’s a nice illustration of the indent on a Greenville car.   In this photo of a Thrall car notice that there’s a beam at the top and bottom of where the sides are indented (near the ends).  That’s the part that has to come off of the model.  Here is a sequence of photos taken during the removal of the cast-on bits.


I used Morning Sun’s NYC “Color Guide to Passenger and Freight Cars” as one of the many sources of information for this build.

In this shot, I'm trying to illustrate the thickness of the beam that runs along the top of the indent in the side of the car.

In this shot, I’m trying to illustrate the thickness of the beam that runs along the top of the indent in the side of the car. There is a corresponding thick beam at the bottom of the indent, above the side sill.


This photo was taken while I was in the process of removing the unwanted bits. The grab irons have just been carved off, and I’ve tried to minimize the effect of teh beam at the top and bottom of the indent. At this point, I considered trimming back the wrap-around of the ends to correspond with the prototype, but I felt that would remove too much of the factory paint in a place where the repaint won’t be partially obscured by new wire details. Aside from cleaning things up a bit, this is the extent of the removals.

I’ll need to do some drilling for grab irons and the handrail & walkway across the B-end.  I haven’t checked my parts box, but I’ll proceed when I find or buy the grab irons that I need.

In the meantime, here are some links to old articles about HO hi-cubes built from the Athearn model.

Railmodel Journal January 1994 – Part I   D. Scott Chatfield

Railmodel Journal March 1996 – Part II  Mike Budde

Railmodel Journal June 1996 p42 – 48 – Part III   Mike Budde