Re: "beaded" sheathing material

Tom Vanwormer

A.J. Hundhausen wrote:

From: Art Hundhausen <rmlion@...
Date: Sat, 09 Jun 2012 17:48:26 -0600
To: Bill Welch <fgexbill@...
Subject: Re: "beaded" sheathing material

I do have some knowledge concerning the use of "beaded sheathing
material" in the 1890s. This beaded siding was very common the 90s.
William Voss's book Railway Car Construction was put together from a
seres of articles that had appeared in the trade journal National Car
and Locomotive Builder and is familiar today as the Newwton K, Gregg
reproduction Freight Cars 1892. On page 20 of the later he describes
car sheathing as follows.

"The boards are surfaced on both sides to a thickness of 3/4 to 7/8
of an inch, tongued and grooved as stated, and beaded on the face side
to present a more finished appearance."

He then describes a nailing procedure, adding that

"This number of nails is used when the boards are from 5 to 6 inches
wide, and is correspondingly less for narrower strips".

So the practice must have been so common as to be described as though
it was standard. However, the board widths don't seem to have been
standardized. On the same page you will find that the boards on both
layers of the "double-board roofs" of that era were built with boards
that had two grooves on each board to help keep rainwater out of the

While the description by Voss makes the use of these beaded boards
sound universal, it wasn't. While photos of Santa Fe and Colorado
Midland freight cars shown the practice to be common on those roads, I
don't see beaded boards on most photos of SP or UP cars. Their use was
probably specified by individual roads. I know of two sets of Colorado
Midland specs from the 1890s that have survived. Both call for siding
boards that are 5" wide, "---grooved one edge and center beaded". The
outer roof boards are specified to be double grooved or "guttered".

The St. Charles Car Co builder's photo of Colorado Midland boxcar
#5176 (delivered in late 1886) shows the beaded siding quite clearly,
but it also shows how complicated things could get. The boards look
narrow, and if you count how many there are in the known distance
between the door and the right car end you will find that they are
about 3.3" wide. If you look at the door you will see wider (about 5")
boards. This pattern appears to have been present on about the first
25 of these cars built by St. Charles. On the remaining 150 cars all
of the siding boards were about 5' wide. Don't ask me why!

Finally, how did we model this on some of our Silver Crash Cars? For
the beaded siding I used Evergreen styrene sheets with scribing spaced
to match the actual half-boards. I then used a scriber to deepen every
other groove. The styrene sheet was then distressed by rubbing with
sandpaper of different degrees of roughness parallel to the scribing.
This adds some wood texture and leave a trace of the alternating
pattern of deep and shallow grooves. The extra scribing actually
raises the styrene a bit to add to the appearance of boards twice as
wide as the spacing of the initial scribing. It's time consuming, but
doable for a few masters if not for a large lot of scrath-built cars.
And I, for one, also like to see a bit of roughness and wood-grainy
texture (as well as the usual weathering) on these old wood cars.

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