Reading USRA Mill Gondola

Bill Welch

One of my interests in kit building is representing car designs that were historically important and/or numerous in their production numbers. Something I try to do when building is have photos to guide my building, the more the better. At the Collinsville RPM earlier this year I stumbled upon a stack of photos for sale at one of venders that was mostly selling kits. Experience has told these informal stacks of photos often contain a few treasures so I sat down and found many, including three photos of the Reading’s GML mill gondolas, clones of the USRA’s mill gons. (The Reading owned 500 original USRA built cars and 4,000 clones.) Two of the photos were the opposite sides and ends of RDG #24234—pairs of photos like this are pretty rare and are real treasures for a modeler I think.

Years ago I had purchased two Westy kits of these cars, one B&O (the largest owner of the design and its clones) and one undec intended to become a L&N model once I sorted out how to make the Dreadnaught end I would/will need. With these new photos I decided the L&N model would have to wait. The attached photos represent my progress thus far beginning with adding the sixteen crossties and the train line to the underframe. I am hoping I can get more information on the AB Brake system layout for these cars before I go much further. Earlier this month at the Lisle RPM friend Steve Hile gave me a pair of unassembled Eastern Car Works “Taylor” trucks to use on 24234. (Taylor trucks were unique to the Reading and I have to wonder if a Reading employee might hold their patent.)

While looking for the brake info I am detailing the rest of the model. These cars typically used drop grabs on the side but one of the photos showed that on the right side of 24234 the drop grab on the right end of the right side had been replaced by a straight grab so I modeled that change. The kit comes with Resin Sill Steps that to my mind is a waste of resin as although resin is flexible, it is not so flexible as to survive very long. So I used a lighter to heat four A-Line sill steps and re-bent them so that they are wide enough to represent the sill steps. While bending I made sure to square up the corners of the steps. I used .010 x .030 strip styrene and harvested rivets to model their attachment flanges and bolts.

Among the detail castings are those for the roping or towing staples. I also ignored these, as I prefer stand off details. I used my newish small Tamiya bending pliers to bend the .010-wire and used Tichy .020 rivets for the attachment bolt heads. I thought the Retainer Valve pipe bracket on the prototype looked interesting and used a short section of 0.005 styrene strip formed over a piece of wire and another harvested rivet to make this. I have to admit, I am pretty much In-Love with the way this bracket turned out.

If I have calculated in my head correctly this is only USRA type that I have not yet modeled.

Bill Welch

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