Ore Cars Step 13 – Steps and Ladders

In the previous instalment of this series, I added exterior details above the floor line at both ends of the cars. In this step, I added ladders and stirrups.

The process consisted of trimming the Tichy parts to length – four rungs on the end and five rungs on the sides. The side ladders have a short bracket holding the ladder to the car body because it hangs out over the end.  The kit includes a tiny 2″x4″ piece of resin of the exact length for this purpose.  To save time, I opted to glue all of the side ladders to a strip of 2×4 styrene.  When the CA had dried, I chopped them off the strip and glued them to the car body.

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After the ladders, I glued the stirrups in place.  They are also Tichy parts, and they need to be trimmed off of their sprues.   At this point, I noticed that I had missed drilling out some of the holes.  I had to spend a bit of time finishing that step to about five cars, and then I glued the stirrups into the holes.

In the next step, I’ll assemble reservoir and bracket assembly, plus the brake cylinders and the triple valves.

Ore Cars step 12 – end details above the floor line

The last time I posted about the CPR drop-bottom ore cars, I’d built up the brackets for the triple valve from three small pieces.  For this post, I’ll show the work required to put a variety of details onto each end of the cars.

There are basically four parts that go onto the A-end of each car: a platform, a grab iron, and two levers.  In addition to the brake wheel, all of these same parts also go on the B-end of the car.  I don’t have a photo to illustrate the ends of the prototype cars the way they appeared in the 1970s.  At some point after the end of the ’70s, these hoppers had their drop bottom doors welded shut when a rotary dumping facility was built at Inco.  Prior to that, and during the time I’m modelling, the cars were unloaded by workers operating a pair of levers that opened the floor.  I’ll start by explaining how the levers went together.

I used a drafting divider, with the points set to 18 scale inches, to mark the holes that need to be drilled for the grab irons. You can see that I kept all four levers together on the resin sheet. This made the parts easier to mark and drill.

After the levers were marked, I used a #80 drill bit in a pin-vise to drill out two holes in each lever. Two holes per lever, four levers per car, fifteen cars, that’s 120 holes.  I wonder how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.

Once the levers were drilled, I inserted an 18″ straight grab iron into each one.  With all four levers still together, I ran some thin CA across the back of the parts to adhere the grab irons to the levers.  The levers on the left are finished, the levers on the right are next in line.

With the grab irons attached, I shot the back of the resin sheet with accelerator an nipped the extra wire off.  The levers were trimmed from the resin sheet and stored them in my parts container.

Next, I drilled a #76 hole into the brake housing casting to accept the post on the back of the brake wheel.  I assembled all 15 of those and stored them in my parts container.  I also cut 15 bits of wire left over from the rods that operate the doors in the floor.  This will be used to represent the chain coming out of the bottom of the brake wheel housing.

Having previously drilled for all of the grab irons, gluing went quickly.  I glued the levers, walkway, grab-iron, on the A-end, then the same parts plus the brake wheel/chain assembly on the B-end.  Here’s the result:

Levers, walkway, grab-iron, brake wheel and housing – that’s it for step 12.

The cars are getting closer to being ready to paint.  I’m predicting four or five major steps in the construction sequence before that point.

Ore Cars Step 11 – Progressing toward the really small bits

Having finished putting the end cap plates onto the sides of all the cars, the carbodies are now pretty much together.  From here on, I’ll be adding grab irons, levers, air brake components, and the associated piping.

At this point in the assembly, most of the parts have been cut off of the resin sheet holding all the parts together.  The sheet for each car was fragmented into small bits, and many parts were beginning to just fall off of some of the thinner sheets.  It was getting difficult to keep track of those small parts, so I took some time to go through all of the kits and collect all of these small parts together in one place.  It took about an hour, but I’m feeling better about having the parts sorted and in one place.

Moving back to the assembly of the cars, I decided to work on the triple valve mounting bracket.  The triple valve is mounted to the large plate that is cantilevered out away from the centre sill in the photo below.

That plate needs a bracket holding it in place and that bracket is in two parts in the kit.  The first part sits vertically between the end of the plate and the cross bearer above it,  or beneath it in photo below, because the car laying upside down.

Above, you can see that the vertical piece is a bit too big.  I glued that piece onto each car, and then went back to the first car to trim the extra material down with a sanding strip.  The photo below shows the result.

The second piece of the bracket lays on the cross bearer butted against the vertical piece.  The next photo shows it more clearly.

Ore Cars Step 10 – End Caps

With a project of this scale, it’ amazing how such a small piece of the construction sequence can turn into a major undertaking.  In this instalment I’ll describe how I installed the end caps on the bolsters and cross-bearers.

As with all of the other small resin parts in this resin kit, the end caps are on a sheet of resin, and they need to be cut out and cleaned.  The end caps were aligned in a row on the sheet, so to begin, I cut them away from the other parts but kept them all together in a strip.You can see that there are two sizes of end caps.  Four large caps go on both ends of each bolster, and four smaller ones go on the ends of the smaller intermediate cross-bearers.  I’ve circled them in this photo by Jurgen Kleylein.

There was a slight problem with getting these parts into the correct position.  They have small alignment tabs that position them against the end of the piece they are being attached to.  The cross bears didn’t always line up precisely during construction because the slot they fit into is at least twice their width.  The centre beam also has a bit of vagueness as a result of them being warped and then straightened in hot water.  Despite my careful efforts, it was difficult to them precisely squared up for their entire length.  As a result, if the end cap was centred on the cross-bearer, it might not necessarily be spaced nicely when looking at the car from the side.  To address this I removed the tabs on the backs of the end caps by sanding them while they were still held together in a strip.  I used course, medium, then fine sanding sticks in succession.

Once they were smoothed and polished, I cut them away from the resin sheet with a razor blade.

I sorted them by size and threw them into a couple of bins so they didn’t accidentally get lost.  They are pretty tiny bits.  My wife thought they were left over scraps when she saw them.

 Before I glued eight end caps onto each car, I had to clean up the ends of the bolsters and cross-bearers.  Some of them protruded out to the edge of the car as result of the warpage I mentioned earlier.   After they were trimmed accordingly, I attached the end caps in assembly-line fashion.  In this photo, you can see the car on the right has the end caps installed.  The car on the left is next in line.

Here’s an assembly-floor shot of all 16, completed up to this point.

At this point, most of the remaining parts in the assembly sequence are very small.  I expect that the difference at each step is going to be less dramatic.

Ore Cars Step 9 – The Downside

In the last instalment of this series, I prepared 128 separate parts to be glued onto the underside of 16 resin ore car kits.  Before I got started, I gathered all of the parts and tools, and set myself up at my table in my sunny backyard.

After setting up a streamlined workspace, I set about gluing all of the bolsters in place.  These parts are the same on each side (ie. there is no left and right part).  I finished these pretty quickly. After the bolsters, I did the four intermediate cross-bearers: glue two on each side, spin the car, do two more on the other side.  Put the car aside, grab another car and repeat.  The definition of an assembly line.

The last parts to go on were the end sills.  There is a left and right part for these.  Having them sorted into two piles streamlined the process.  I finished these about as quickly as the others.

When I was finished, I lined the cars up to admire them.  I gathered together all of the wire for the rod that runs the length of each side.

Look closely at the picture.  Did you see the problem?  If not, take a closer look at the end sills.  Compare the car on the right that was my ‘pilot’ model to the one on the left taken from the group I had just finished assembling.  Did you spot the mistake?  I didn’t spot it until I started measuring for the wire.  Something wasn’t right with the way the wire was fitting.  Then it hit me: I’d put the end sills on the inside of the frame instead of the outside.  And I’d done it on ALL of the cars.  That just about ruined my whole day.

And that’s the down side of doing a big group of cars in an assembly line: when you screw up, you could easily screw up every car in the assembly line.  I’m sure Ford figured this out early on and built in safeguards against it.  With all of the cars put together incorrectly, I had no choice but to set up another assembly line for an unexpected step: removal and cleaning of all of the end sills.

If you were really paying attention, you were probably wondering why there was a bottle of Testors plastic cement in that last photo, because plastic cement doesn’t work on resin.  And you would be right to wonder about that.  But Testors plastic cement is a nice CA de-bonder that doesn’t harm resin (too much).

It’s a good thing I didn’t use too much CA when I put these parts on.  Most of them came off within about ten seconds of being flooded with cement.  I had to work them off with a chisel hobby blade, and sometimes re-flood the joint.  But no adjacent CA joints came unglued, fortunately.  I’m probably over-stating the obvious, but don’t try to de-bond CA with plastic cement on a plastic model.  Use the de-bonder they sell in the hobby stores.  That stuff is plastic compatible, but I’ve had it dissolve resin.

Once all of the end sills were removed I used the cement to clean off any residue so they could be re-installed correctly.  It took a long time, but eventually I had put everything back together properly.

Each model has a pair of wires that represent the rods that run the length of the car on each side.  This rod was part of the mechanism to open the doors in the floor for unloading.  I cut the wires to length with my Dremel and glued them in place.

The last part of this very ambitious day was to glue the bottoms of the centre beams in place.  That went smoothly.  Before long, the fleet of ore cars was one big step closer to being finished.