Com-Art Colors

I bought a set of weathering colors by Com-Art the Springfield show. I’ve never seen this brand of paint before. The vendor had an airbrush set up, so I tried them out.  I liked the way these paints sprayed and saw some potential.

After working on some detail parts and finishing touches for my SW1200RS project this evening, I shot a bit of “Transparent Smoke” to simulate some exhaust grime on the roof of 8159.

The verdict: I like these paints for weathering. I was able to achieve some very fine effects. This is nowhere near finished, but here’s what some subtle roof grime looks like.


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.


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 – Part 2 How the Cars were Used

TH&B 1243 is in Kinnear Old South Yard in the early 90s. Photo by Gerry Schaefer

TH&B 1243 is in Kinnear Old South Yard in the early 90s.

In the previous post in this series, way back in September 2012, I wrote about how buying two sets of decals for TH&B 70 hoppers in HO scale by Aberdeen Car Shops brought this project from the shelf to the side-burner, so to speak.  All of my projects languished for a while, given the fact that I had started new jobs in both of my professions (I’m a busy guy), but now that things are running more smoothly on both fronts, I have a bit more time for leisure.

After finding the decal sets at the hobby shop, I unpacked two very old Stewart 70 ton 9-panel triple hopper kits that I had on hand from ages ago.  While the details on this kit are a bit crude by today’s standards, the car is generally correct for the TH&B.  As with my other projects, I undertook some research to find how the TH&B used these cars, and how to come up with a reason for having them in the fleet on the WRMRC.  Besides, I like to have some projects on the go that are relatively simple undertakings.  These serve as a nice break from the more demanding work of, say, building over a dozen ore cars in an assembly line.

In the previous post in this series, I mentioned that the decal set comes with nice background information these cars.  The fleet consisted of 50 cars that were built by National Steel Car in Hamilton, and delivered in September of 1960.  Lance Brown, the archivist for the TH&B Railway Historical Society, indicates that during the 1970s, there were a few ways that TH&B earned revenue from these cars.

Firstly, TH&B contributed 30 cars to a pool of hoppers that were in ore service between Adams Mine near Dane Ontario and Pittsburgh PA.  According to Lance’s records, the following cars were committed to that service, as of 1970:

1202     1204     1207     1208     1209     1210     1213     1214

1215     1218     1220     1221     1223     1224     1225     1226

1228     1229     1232     1235     1236     1237     1239     1240

1241     1242     1244     1245     1246     1249

That service was probably not routed over the TH&B, but their involvement in the pool likely had something to do with the New York Central’s (Penn Central at the time) part ownership of the TH&B, and the fact that the ore was at least partially routed across PC.  Perhaps the TH&B cars represent part of NYC’s contribution? Some of those cars received a white circular marking stating “RETURN TO CNR VIA BUFFALO.”  The routing to CNR in Buffalo suggests that they travelled along the Grimsby Subdivision of the CNR through Niagara, instead of across the TH&B.  Later, the routing symbol was simplified to simply a while circle below the word “Toronto.”  In the images below, two cars show the white circles.  What’s not clear to me is whether the lettering has eroded from these circles, or if they never had them.

TH&B 70 ton hopper 1221 in Aberdeen Yard.  Photo by Gerry Schaefer.

TH&B 70 ton hopper 1221 in Aberdeen Yard in the early 1990s. Photo by Gerry Schaefer.

TH&B 70 ton hopper 1231 in Kinnear Old South Yard.  Photo by Gerry Schaefer

TH&B 70 ton hopper 1237 in Kinnear Old South Yard. Photo by Gerry Schaefer

During 1970, Penn Central managed to destroy five of these cars in five separate instances. The wrecked cars were:

1207     1210     1235     1241     1245
Lance Brown reports that the twenty cars remaining from the fleet that were not in ore service were assigned to general service, which included carrying scrap tinplate on the Hamilton Belt Line, coke at Stelco, limestone at Canada Crushed Stone in Dundas, slag for National Slag, and “slime” for INCO between Port Colborne and Sudbury Ontario.
All of those services seemed self-evident except “slime” service.  After some additional research, I learned that “slime” is the accumulation of minerals other than nickel on the cathode of a nickel refiner, which is the operation that INCO had in place at Port Colborne.    Basically, the raw nickel ore has a great number of other minerals, and when it is refined into nickel, those metals accumulate on the cathode as slime, which can be collected and then further refined to separate out the precious metals.  INCO collected the slime from their refinery in Port Colborne and shipped it to Sudbury to separate out the valuable leftovers.
With evidence of these TH&B hoppers having made regular appearances in Sudbury, I was even more motivated to get to the bottom of this.  In the next post in this series, I’ll outline the research on car loading frequency in order to establish a fleet of cars for the WRMRC.

The last of the TH&B rolling stock.

A conversation precipitated out of the topic of distressing and weathering the Canadian 70 ton gondolas I built from P2K kits in my previous post.  That conversation gave me cause to look back at some of the photos I used for reference in this project.  It struck me that, for anyone who is into Canadian railroading, this is a neat photo.  I decided to post the photo, even though it’s not directly related to building models.

The photo was taken in 1989, about three years after CP had taken 100% ownership of the TH&B.  The entire railway, its real estate holdings, rolling stock, motive power, rights of way, was being rationalized by the new owners and its operations folded into theirs.  Much of the TH&B rolling stock was in need of repair by the early 80s, but they deferred maintenance because there was ample supply of CP equipment available to provide to customers.  By the time of this photo, the CP management decided to gather all of the TH&B rolling stock together and have it systematically disposed of, and at the same time demolish any structures that were superfluous to their operations, which meant that nearly every structure was razed.

At the time of this photo, Kinnear Old South yard was filled with rolling stock ready for disposal.  The same grim portrait could be taken at Welland Yard around the same time.  On the right, a line of general service 40 foot boxcars are stuffed into track 4 and have nearly become part of the forest.  Tracks 2 and 3 are also filled to their capacities with gondolas and a couple of flat cars.  A string of slab-side covered hoppers fills Track 1.  The rolling stock roundup was a grim time for fans of the TH&B.

TH&B 70 ton riveted gondolas, bad ordered account rotten floors, stored at Kinnear Old South yard 1989.  Photo by Gerry Schaefer.

TH&B 70 ton riveted gondolas, bad ordered account rotten floors, stored at Kinnear Old South yard 1989. Photo by Gerry Schaefer.