Denny Anspach <danspach@...>
Like Bill Darnaby, I save cast resin kits for lazy summer porch
projects. I do not do enough of them to be at all "proficient", but
I do enjoy the challenges. My ecumenical selection this summer were
a) a Westerfield Milwaukee USRA SS boxcar, b) a Sunshine Sand Springs
Ry. SS boxcar, and c) a Funaro & Camerlengo NYC boom car. Here are
some short comments, both substantial and trivial on these kits from
three well known resin kit makers. Much of this is "old hat" to many
of you <DELETE!>, but for others who are hesitating to step into the
resin world, this might give some encouragement.
Be aware that these were assembled 2000 miles away from my workshop
and parts bins. There were quite a number of "make-dos" involved,
including the largest collection of very cheap Chinese, Pakistani,
and Bangladeshi flea market marketing tools known to man. I did get
through the airport gendarmerie a tube of GOO, and some corner
clamps. I used Elmer's ACC, ACC Gel, and Debonder, all purchased
locally. I sorely missed a razor saw and mitre box.
1) Packaging: Westerfield packs their kits in probably the most
inexpensively-made and constructed box in the market; Sunshine packs
theirs in the largest and most substantial (to withstand the USPS and
UPS); F&C packed their kit in a stapled plastic bag!
2) Prototype information: Westerfield and Sunshine- tops; with many
photos, Martin more than Al. Because of the inherent nature of the
subjects, adequate end views were rare (as would naturally be
expected) but would have been VERY helpful. The F&C information was
sketchy (the reasons for which were adequately explained), and there
were no photos- not helpful. In all instances some useful detailed
prototype information was absent, either through oversight, or
because it simply was not accessible.
3) Instructions: Al and Martin do a pretty fine and complete job.
Both rely heavily on model photos, instead of plans and drawings.
Occasionally, a single seemingly complex cascade of instructions is
as succinct as the classic French instruction for preparing a
banquet, "Wipe one Goose!"
I would urge Al to put his instructions and model photos on coated
paper! I really had my moments in trying to divine details on some of
the photos, despite the use of an Optivisor, a hand magnifier, and a
battery of Klieg lights.
The F&C instructions were rudimentary, pretty much boiler plate and
left a lot to the imagination ("detail underbody to the level
desired"- with no adequate outline or description of what the
underbody is supposed to be). No photos, and some of the drawings
were not carefully done.
I would urge all to incrementally invest some effort to make certain
that all parts can be easily identified from the written description
(I have groups of parts for which I still "have no idea"). For many
of you, this is not necessary, but for me, and certainly for the less
experienced expected to mature in the hobby having a clear and
complete foreknowledge of freight car anatomy and nomenclature (and
its variations) should not be presumed. (both W and S have at times
with referred to parts for which there was no adequate description as
to their identification, what they actually would look like, and/or
where they might go).
4)Quality of parts: All seemed to be equally sharply cast with only
minor "blobs" here and there inherent in the casting process-
easily fixed with sandpaper, and sharp knife. In fact, all really
looked good. The F&C underframe was relatively rudimentary, not a big
concern to me because of the massive fish-belly sides of the car.
Both the W and S were of gray resin, the F&C, white.
5) Completeness of parts: There were some small missing or needed
added parts in all three kits, but seriously so only in the F&C (the
entire roof was absent). I largely made do with what I could scrounge
about the house and barn to no great inconvenience. Foolishly, I
destroyed some essential parts because I did not adequately determine
what they were for. A quick email to Al Westerfield, and the the
parts were in the mail to me the next day. Wow!
6) Construction: The one piece Westerfield body was a time saver. It
required only minimum "finishing around the edges" prior to applying
The more conventional Sunshine "box" housecar construction went "on
the advertised", but only because I keep close to my heart those
corner gluing clamps designed to keep things square which were first
sold at the Naperville PM meet about three years ago. I was very
carefully to sand to size taped-together matching sides and ends.
However, I failed to flat-sand the roof underside, so that when I
glued on the roof there is an ever-so-slight gap between the roof and
one side (to be hidden, but with some effort).
Both the W and S cars would benefit by "stops" to more easily and
squarely position in place the car bottoms.
The F&C car assembly was a challenge. . One was instructed to "make
an open box" with parts the shape and sizes of which of which defied
any easy way to do so (the instructions were akin to being asked to
precisely making a square joint in mid air by two intersecting
unsupported lines). Again, the corner clamps came to the rescue.
Although it took time (about a half hour, at least) to set it up
precisely so that all parts were exactly square and level, it worked
(although I managed to glue the model to the clamps in two places-
not fatal, however).
The underframe/bottom, and the inside bottom overlay were both
greatly oversized and it took me some time to flat sand, cut, and
trim these to size. Again, the provision of "stops" in the body would
have been helpful in ensuring that the bottom was correctly placed
All of the kits had clearly marked locations for drilling for grabs,
etc. Both the W and F&C parts had well-defined "dimples" for
drilling, while the Sunshine kit did not.
I weighted the cars with rows of 1/2" NC steel nuts Goo-d to the
floors (I did not assemble the floor until all smell of the Goo had
disappeared). The W car had a steel plate weight that was inadquate
with plastic trucks (Accurail Andrews with Reboxx wheels). The S kit
did not come with a weight, but the metal trucks (Kadee with Reboxx
wheels) coupled with the steel nuts were quite adequate.
Weighting the F&C boom car is a challenge yet to be faced (trucks are
metal Kadee archbars with Reboxx wheels).
I installed Accumate Proto scale couplers (sans gladhands) and boxes
on all three cars- terrific! Not only is appearance and car-spacing
superior, the scale-narrow draft gear boxes make detailing so much
easier! (I cannot help but note that Ted Cullotta is using the same
on his fine ongoing modeling projects as written up in both RMC and
All of these cars are turning out to be pretty fine looking models-
entirely worth the varied efforts so far expended. I truly admire the
efforts that these several people still put into making kits for
models that we would ordinarily probably never see otherwise.
Although philanthropy is certainly not likely to be in mind, they are
doing their best to keep alive among us the crafts skills that have
been at the heart of this hobby for so long. I have yet to finish
off some of the more esoteric details of the two house cars, and I
have to fabricate a removable arch roof for the boom car (probably by
cold-moulding glued up layers of Strathmore paper). Then off to the
Get in there are build!
Denny S. Anspach, MD