Friday, 9 January 2015

CNR Reefers - True Line Trains

 Modelling with Cast-offs
Words by Peter Mumby...........Images by George Dutka

True Line Trains has produced some beautiful 1:87 models of Canadian prototype rolling stock - witness their CN/CP wood cabooses, slab side covered hoppers, 40' box cars with proper Canadian ladders and NSC ends, and CN/CP 8-hatch steel-sided refrigerator cars.  Quality control, however, has periodically been an issue for the company.  The CN Northerns looked great, but arrived in barely-operable condition.  Some cars have been shipped without couplers.  The CN reefers in the "noodle" scheme arrived in a grey colour instead of the correct aluminum finish.  I guess quality control is difficult when the factory is half a world away from head office.

The focus of this post is the CN refrigerator cars.  True Scale recognized the colour problem and offered supplementary shells in the proper aluminum finish, leaving early purchasers with one complete car and one off-colour shell.  I ended up with four of the shells and George and I decided they were too nicely detailed to discard.  They represented a unique Canadian prototype (built 1945-1958).  Because the brine solution carried in overhead bunkers was hard on the finish of these cars, they developed interesting weathering patterns.  Many of them were repainted by the early 1960's, making them some of the earliest cars completed in the bilingual CN (as opposed to the unilingual CNR) scheme.  We found fine reference photos in two books; Canadian Rail Car Pictorial, Volume Six, by Richard Yaremko and Canadian National Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment, Volume Two, by John Riddell.  Since the weathered cars were close to grey in appearance, we decided we could turn these "cast-off" shells into cars that would look decent on the layout or display shelf.  We'll list the steps we followed in this project and show you a few reference photos.

This photo shows the complete (corrected) True Line model at the top and the grey "cast-off" shell at the bottom.
Here you can see the exquisitely detailed True Line underbody.  Our home made versions are functional, but definitely fit in the "good enough" category.

1.  New floors were cut from styrene stock.  This thin material was reinforced at the spots where trucks and couplers would be mounted. We also added stick on weights near the trucks supports.
2.  Floor supports were cut from heavier styrene stock and cemented to the interior of the car sides.
3.  Under frames from old Athearn boxcars (with coupler boxes removed) provided minimal detail for the underside of the car, and provided bolsters for truck mounting.
4.  Kadee couplers were mounted in their proper boxes.
5.  Holes were drilled and tapped for truck and coupler fastening.
6.  Under slung charcoal heaters were represented by styrene boxes designed for passenger car under bodies.
7.  Pieces of ladder stock were modified to represent the mounting brackets for the aforementioned heaters.
8.  The shells were applied to these new floors.
9.  Out came the weathering powders, and before you knew it, we had four "good enough" models of CN 8-hatch refrigerator cars.

The styrene floor has been cut and the mounting blocks have been applied to the shell's interior.
Weathering powders are now being applied to one of the cars.  George assures me that was only apple juice in those glasses.  So why did I end up with more weathering powder on my pants than on my car?
These photos show our cars against the backdrop of our Richard Yaremko reference book.
Here the cars are on the layout, rolling towards connections at White River Junction.

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