Topics

Scratchbuilding a car in styrene


Fred Jansz
 

Hi all,
Since there's no model or kit commercially available of WP's first (1916) Pullman-built box car -and there won't be in the near future I understand- I chose to try to build one myself.
Since I'm not afraid to rebuild, refine, DCC & paint brass engines or kitbash existing plastic or styrene models and kits, I thought; well let's give it a go.

First problem I encountered was scribing the styrene horizontally, to resemble the 5 1/4" T&G sheating.
For this I used various tools, obviously all not suited for making a clean gap: knife, sharpened dentist pick, 'scriber'.
So the question is; how do you make a clean cut in styrene without damaging the edges?

Second problem I encounterd was the Z-bracing.
The 3" bracing is not available in HO-scale, 5" is, but widht is too large.
So I decided to make my own from strip sryrene.
At least I thought I could, since gluing these tiny pieces together to form a Z-shape is only possible when you're a robot.
However, I succeeded to produce exactly one 3" Z-bar in half an hour.

But now the third issue came along: how to resemble the hundreds of 1/2" SQUARE thin head bolts that were used to slap this car together?
I'm aware Archer makes more or less the correct size, but these are dots, not squares.

If the above problems could be solved, I could try -again- to build this WP car.
For the moment I called it quits.

The 15001-series car ran (renumbered) untill the end of WP and is a 'landmark' WP car that's dearly missed in my WP collection.
I even have drawings of the unique run board saddles that could be replicated as brass etchings.
Hope the pros in this group can give me some how to advise, so I can build this car following the Pullman drawings.
Thank you for your assistance.

best regards
Fred Jansz


Nelson Moyer
 

I score and snap styrene, then sand the bottom edge smooth. The top edge is usually square. I use a Tru Sander to square edges if necessary.

 

I was able to make replacement Z-channel for a stock car project by using brass strip of the appropriate thickness as a straightedge. Tape the brass to a flat surface, lay the first styrene strip with the edge against it, place the vertical styrene strip on edge against the brass, then place the cap strip on the brass overlapping the styrene. Run a tool along the glued edge to align and smooth the glue joint. Place weight on the top strip until the glue has set. I used MEK, but it’s too hot for making long strips, so you may wish to use Testors Liquid Plastic Cement which provides a longer working time.  Use the liquid sparingly for initial assembly, then go back and run a brush of Tenax along the joint to be sure it’s secure.

 

Tichy has  line of NBW castings that includes square nuts. Check to see if they offer the size you need. Looking at the prototype drawings, you’re talking about a lot of NBW castings!

 

Nelson Moyer

 

From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [mailto:main@RealSTMFC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Fred Jansz
Sent: Saturday, March 02, 2019 8:01 AM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io
Subject: [RealSTMFC] Scratchbuilding a car in styrene

 

Hi all,
Since there's no model or kit commercially available of WP's first (1916) Pullman-built box car -and there won't be in the near future I understand- I chose to try to build one myself.
Since I'm not afraid to rebuild, refine, DCC & paint brass engines or kitbash existing plastic or styrene models and kits, I thought; well let's give it a go.

First problem I encountered was scribing the styrene horizontally, to resemble the 5 1/4" T&G sheating.
For this I used various tools, obviously all not suited for making a clean gap: knife, sharpened dentist pick, 'scriber'.
So the question is; how do you make a clean cut in styrene without damaging the edges?

Second problem I encounterd was the Z-bracing.
The 3" bracing is not available in HO-scale, 5" is, but widht is too large.
So I decided to make my own from strip sryrene.
At least I thought I could, since gluing these tiny pieces together to form a Z-shape is only possible when you're a robot.
However, I succeeded to produce exactly one 3" Z-bar in half an hour.

But now the third issue came along: how to resemble the hundreds of 1/2" SQUARE thin head bolts that were used to slap this car together?
I'm aware Archer makes more or less the correct size, but these are dots, not squares.

If the above problems could be solved, I could try -again- to build this WP car.
For the moment I called it quits.

The 15001-series car ran (renumbered) untill the end of WP and is a 'landmark' WP car that's dearly missed in my WP collection.
I even have drawings of the unique run board saddles that could be replicated as brass etchings.
Hope the pros in this group can give me some how to advise, so I can build this car following the Pullman drawings.
Thank you for your assistance.

best regards
Fred Jansz


Jake Schaible
 

+1 for score and snap to CUT styrene.

For making parallel GROOVES in styrene, I use a set of photoetched tools called an "Scribe-R" from RB Productions. Pricey, but these two toothed scribes come in an array of gaps, and allow far better results that I can make otherwise.  Found them on ebay.  Go light and let the tool do the work.  

Luckily, I've rarely needed to make an entire sheet with such.  Mostly I use them to clean up reefers after cutting off molded grab irons prior to installing new ones.  


Andy Carlson
 

I have a technique which I have used for making Z-bars for Single sheathed cars. Using a NWSL riveter with a 0.010" riveter, I make a row of rivets the length of a styrene sheet. After that I slice off the styrene almost to the rivet strips. Next I slice the rivet strips from the mother sheet of styrene to nthe desired width. Then one can attach this flat strip of linear rivets to the car side. Then a 0.020" x 0.020" Evergreen styrene strip along the edge furthest from the rivets completes the Z-bar. I know that the boards were mounted with carriage bolts from the inside, with often a square nut on the visible nface. This is something I can live without. mI have a picture of one of the subject WP cars after rebuilding in 1937 into na 8 panel stock car. The Z-bars are done in my mentioned manner. This stock car was assembled by Tom Lawler a long time ago with a kit I made even longer ago.

As for scribing single sheathing, I have not scribed lines for decades. A new Exacto #11 blade run the full length at an even pressure (important). After this step, knock down the raised edges with something smooth. This is my method as I have disliked scribbed board spacings for since forever. You may like having those grooves, if so my method would not be your choice.
-Andy Carlson
Ojai CA






On Saturday, March 2, 2019, 6:01:52 AM PST, Fred Jansz <fred@...> wrote:


Hi all,
Since there's no model or kit commercially available of WP's first (1916) Pullman-built box car -and there won't be in the near future I understand- I chose to try to build one myself.
Since I'm not afraid to rebuild, refine, DCC & paint brass engines or kitbash existing plastic or styrene models and kits, I thought; well let's give it a go.

First problem I encountered was scribing the styrene horizontally, to resemble the 5 1/4" T&G sheating.
For this I used various tools, obviously all not suited for making a clean gap: knife, sharpened dentist pick, 'scriber'.
So the question is; how do you make a clean cut in styrene without damaging the edges?

Second problem I encounterd was the Z-bracing.
The 3" bracing is not available in HO-scale, 5" is, but widht is too large.
So I decided to make my own from strip sryrene.
At least I thought I could, since gluing these tiny pieces together to form a Z-shape is only possible when you're a robot.
However, I succeeded to produce exactly one 3" Z-bar in half an hour.

But now the third issue came along: how to resemble the hundreds of 1/2" SQUARE thin head bolts that were used to slap this car together?
I'm aware Archer makes more or less the correct size, but these are dots, not squares.

If the above problems could be solved, I could try -again- to build this WP car.
For the moment I called it quits.

The 15001-series car ran (renumbered) untill the end of WP and is a 'landmark' WP car that's dearly missed in my WP collection.
I even have drawings of the unique run board saddles that could be replicated as brass etchings.
Hope the pros in this group can give me some how to advise, so I can build this car following the Pullman drawings.
Thank you for your assistance.

best regards
Fred Jansz


Bill Welch
 

For Fred and anyone wanting to do a Single Sheathed car, here is what I have done or suggest.

 

—Use .015 x .060 strip styrene to build up the side Board x Board on a base of at least .030 styrene sheeting. At 1/87 scale wood grain would be barely discernable so I drag the strip styrene over some 320 (or 220) grit sandpaper two or three times wiggling it as you drag it for variation. This is just enough texture and avoids being a caricature. Then mark one edge of the backside w/a Sharpie to make it easy to know which side has been textured. Next chamfer one edge of the sanded side by running a sharp blade along it a couple of times. This can be the edge you marked or the other edge but it needs to be consistent because the chamfered edge can be hard to see. By having one square edge butt against one chamfered edge a slight gap will be visible between each strip or board that I think replicates the subtle joint between the boards on the real thing.

—For the braces I would use three different sizes of styrene. For the pieces that are attached to the side, I would cut strips of 0.005-sheet styrene to the appropriate width. These strips once cut to length and appropriate angles should be glued down directly to the side using sparing amounts of Testors to avoid distorting the very thin 0.005 styrene. Next tack down .020 x .020 strip styrene onto either glass or a smooth piece of steel w/Testors. This will hold the .020 x .020 in place while .010 x .030 strip is glued against the .020 x .020. Allow this to cure overnight and peel it up with a singe edge razor blade. This assembly is then cut to the correct lengths and angles and is then glued down to the .005 pieces already on the car side to complete the Z-Bar.

—The small square fasteners are difficult and fiddly. Three suggestions:

1.)   Have them photo-etched—consult w/others about this method

2.)   Make them with .005 styrene

3.)   Ignore the fact that they are square and use round rivet shapes either from decals or harvested from styrene

DO NOT wait to solve the fasteners issue to begin the side pattern.

Back to the side: Using the .060 wide styrene may result in the portion on the side being slightly too tall: To compensate either the top plate or bottom plate can be slightly undersized.

On the attached photo note the fourth board from the top is slightly inset. It is .010 x .060. I did this to provide texture and I think it works. Next time I might have two boards like this spaced out. In order not to have the .005-styrene pieces that span this board distort there is .005-shim.

Bill Welch


Dennis Storzek
 

A couple comments that date back to my pattern making days.

Don't scribe the side sheets. Build them of individual . 010 x .060 strip which can then be scraped to slightly different thicknesses, sanded to add grain, and the edges LIGHTLY chamfered to yield a hint of a groove. Best of all you can see what they will look like before they are cemented permanently to the subside.

The thinnest styrene strip, .010, is almost three times too thick for the flange of the Z bar that lays against the planks. If you use .015 thick strip and remove the .010 thick boards from the area, creating a .010 deep slot for the .015 thick flange. The resulting .005 step looks much more to scale.

As I recall sheathing bolts were 3/8", with nuts slightly under 1" square,  about .010 in HO. There are no NBW's made this small, anyway you don't want the washer. A scale size nut would fall through the common #80 hole. The easiest way to model these small square nuts is to make a square die for a rivet embossing tool and emboss them.

Dennis Storzek


James Brewer
 

According to my Evergreen Scale Models Styrene Handbook, their .060 converts to 5 1/4 HO inches.

Jim Brewer

On Sat, Mar 2, 2019 at 1:45 PM Dennis Storzek <destorzek@...> wrote:
A couple comments that date back to my pattern making days.

Don't scribe the side sheets. Build them of individual . 010 x .060 strip which can then be scraped to slightly different thicknesses, sanded to add grain, and the edges LIGHTLY chamfered to yield a hint of a groove. Best of all you can see what they will look like before they are cemented permanently to the subside.

The thinnest styrene strip, .010, is almost three times too thick for the flange of the Z bar that lays against the planks. If you use .015 thick strip and remove the .010 thick boards from the area, creating a .010 deep slot for the .015 thick flange. The resulting .005 step looks much more to scale.

As I recall sheathing bolts were 3/8", with nuts slightly under 1" square,  about .010 in HO. There are no NBW's made this small, anyway you don't want the washer. A scale size nut would fall through the common #80 hole. The easiest way to model these small square nuts is to make a square die for a rivet embossing tool and emboss them.

Dennis Storzek


Andy Carlson
 

Dennis-
I have always been in awe at the quality of the pattern making of your Canadian 8-panel box car. The Z-bars, as you have mentioned, look to have been let in a slot machined into the sheathing, making the exposed base part of the Z-bar very prototypically thin.
-Andy Carlson
Ojai CA

On Saturday, March 2, 2019, 10:45:56 AM PST, Dennis Storzek <destorzek@...> wrote:


A couple comments that date back to my pattern making days.

Don't scribe the side sheets. Build them of individual . 010 x .060 strip which can then be scraped to slightly different thicknesses, sanded to add grain, and the edges LIGHTLY chamfered to yield a hint of a groove. Best of all you can see what they will look like before they are cemented permanently to the subside.

The thinnest styrene strip, .010, is almost three times too thick for the flange of the Z bar that lays against the planks. If you use .015 thick strip and remove the .010 thick boards from the area, creating a .010 deep slot for the .015 thick flange. The resulting .005 step looks much more to scale.

As I recall sheathing bolts were 3/8", with nuts slightly under 1" square,  about .010 in HO. There are no NBW's made this small, anyway you don't want the washer. A scale size nut would fall through the common #80 hole. The easiest way to model these small square nuts is to make a square die for a rivet embossing tool and emboss them.

Dennis Storzek


Fred Jansz
 

Bill, Andy, Dennis & others, THANK YOU for pro-advice and inspiring me to take up this project again.
The 1/2" square bolts will be a bump in the road, but eventually we'll get there...

regards, Fred Jansz


Fred Jansz
 

Andy, I'm aware of Tom's car & picture.
However, I've never seen a picture of a BUILT 15001/26001-series boxcar of one of your kits.
Only these flat kit pieces.

cheers, Fred Jansz


Fred Jansz
 

Bill (and others),
if a Z-brace is named 3" or 5" on a drawing, does this only refer to the hight of the bar?
If so, what would be the width of those Z-shapes?
Would that be 3" and 5" too?
On this table from the Evergreen website it seems to be the case.
Fred Jansz


Fred Jansz
 

All,
found Plastruct makes .010 SQUARE rod (#90709), that could be used -cut in thin slices- to (almost) replicate my 1/2" square bolts/nuts on the 3" and 5" Z-shapes.
(they also make .010 round rod FYI # 90850).

cheers,
Fred Jansz


Bill Welch
 

Fred, will you please stop looking at that DAMNED Evergreen chart! As I said for your Z-Bars .005 for the base on the side of the car, then the .020 x .020 and .010 x .030 assembly glued to it to complete the assembly. You cannot avoid making these, otherwise you will not a scale appearance for these.

Bill Welch


Dennis Storzek
 

.010 square styrene is something I longed for for years. Not only useful for little hardware items like nuts but also window muntins. The trick is going to be slicing off accurate .005 long slices.

As to the dimensions of structural steel shapes, it depends... on whether you are trying to build models better than what is currently available, or just different prototypes. If just different, just measure other models and copy them. Someone else has already done the research.

If better you need to do more research. "Three inch zee" isn't a full description. Structural steel is typically designated by the height of the section and it's weight per foot (unlike rail, which is weight per yard). You need to find a general arrangement drawing that calls out the steel sections. From memory car posts were typically 3" x 6.7 lbs. Z. Armed with that info, Google "structural steel sections" and you should find a bunch of published tables that give all the dimensions. You will also find out how much thinner than you imagined everything is.

Dennis Storzek


Tony Thompson
 

Dennis Storzek wrote:

.010 square styrene is something I longed for for years. Not only useful for little hardware items like nuts but also window munitions. 

    Slater's "Plasticard" in Britain has offered 0,010-inch square styrene for years. I have a package and it contains LOTS of strips. I have only made a modest dent in it.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705         www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history






mrvant@rogers.com
 

For the Z-bars, would it not be possible to form them from thin brass sheet using a small bending brake? Bending the stiles for Pierre Oliver’s etched brass ladders comes to mind as a similar type of process. I’ve made several of those without much trouble. Lightly scoring the brass along the fold lines helps ensure they are where you want them.

Malcolm Vant 


Paul Woods <paul@...>
 

Hi Fred (and others)

I have created a folder in the Photos area titled 'Steel Sections', and uploaded images of three pages from the 1948 USS catalogue which may assist with achieving prototype fidelity....or at least with making us aware of how over-scale Evergreen sections are ;-)

Regards
Paul Woods
Whangarei, NZ


Earl Tuson
 

Bill Welch restates regarding modeling Z bar framing:

.005 for the base on the side of the car, then the .020 x .020 and .010 x .030 assembly glued to it to
complete the assembly.
Many (many!) moons ago, I had started an effort on an S scale single sheathed box car pattern, and I took
a slightly different approach in order to help pull the castings from the mold: instead of the “.020 x .020
and .010 x .030 assembly”, I used a S equivalently sized square strip and chamfered one edge. Upon
casting, the chamfer gave the appropriate “dark space” expected of the Z bar, but avoided the 90 deg
angles that would lead to premature mold failure. (Eventually, I used this technique with success on a
resin GN DS ARA Xm car side were the framing just shows below the bottom of the outer sheathing; the
molds held up quite well at those locations.)

A place where my pattern fell down, however, was that I failed to chamfer the sheathing boards as both Bill
and Dennis have suggested. While I wasn’t about to use scribed siding, my square edge sheathing boards
just blended into one another. Trying to offset their outer surfaces slightly just did not work; the look
simply did not match what can be seen in photos. It became a bit of a caricature. Thank you, Bill and
Dennis, for that simple tip that never dawned on me.

Bill, similar to your technique, I lightly sanded the sheathing boards. I suspect you’ll agree that it’s not the
“wood grain” that is important to us, just that they reflect light differently than the “steel” parts do.

Earl Tuson


Dennis Storzek
 

I've always been a proponent of some wire brush or scratch brush work on some of the boards, although others do not agree. I have toned it down over the years, however. I have heard the argument that the sheathing was never that weather beaten in service, and I agree. However, it was very common for flat sawn boards to lose paint in a characteristic pattern caused by the band's of hard grain, an effect we cannot duplicate. I feel the overly deep graining yields a shadow effect that comes close. One nice thing about doing the side with separate strip is the effect is visible while the strip are still loose, so they can be rearranged or even some replaced before they are finally cemented in.

Dennis Storzek


Andy Carlson
 

Lumber used for freight car sides is milled from logs which have many concentric rings, with inter-spaced softer wood between these rings.

Mill workers will call the rings "Summer wood", wood which grows very slowly, at least in the West. The wood between these summer wood rings is often called "Spring Wood", and as the name implies, grows during the periods of fast growth for the trees.

Since this wood is totally cylindrical, cut slabs of lumber will have very different ring compositions. What is called "Flat grain" are lumber slabs which have layers running of many parallel summer wood planes. At the surface of these pieces of lumber, the surface of the wood is high in spring wood with the the rings exposed from the cut often in oval and circular appearances. This lumber is of lower value, as the opposite boards called "vertical grain" are more desireable. Vertical grain lumber is milled about 90 degrees from the spot of the log which gave us the flat grain pieces. Flat grain boards are the boards which we usually see as very silvery gray on car sides as much of the paint has dissapeared. The softer spring wood will react more to moisture than the summer wood. This is seen often in aged single sheathed cars where the missing paint seems random but close inspection will reveal the different wood surfaces I mention.

In the 1970s I worked on a Victorian house in Eureka, CA for the state. Before the attic area was insulated, I asked the Cal Trans project engineer what to do with all of the rough sawn one-by boards used for attic flooring. He said remove it and trash it. I was given permission to keep it for myself. Every piece was flat grain, much cheaper in the time where quality wood work was a craft, and probably a mill worker was given the planks for cheap, or free.

As I have posted before to this list, I have noted that pictures of even well weathered car sides of single sheathed cars were problematic in counting the number of horizontal rows of boards to determine board width for scale drawings. I often had to jump from panel to panel to maintain an accurate count. Contrast this with how easy it is to count the boards on almost all resin single sheathed cars. I have often thought that the best modeled single sheathed car would actually be smooth sides, and all of the markings of the boards would be from paint, or decals printed from actual photos.

Years ago, a builder of a resin kit purchased from me complemented me on the quality of the car's kit, but was critical of how the single sheathed car looked to be of steel inner sheathing replacement. He had used generous amounts of Floquil paint, and my very subtle board separations was lost with the thick paint. I prefer auto lacquers and AccuPaint, which does much less hiding of details.


Happy modeling, everyone,
-Andy Carlson
Ojai CA

On Sunday, March 3, 2019, 8:01:19 PM PST, Dennis Storzek <destorzek@...> wrote:


I've always been a proponent of some wire brush or scratch brush work on some of the boards, although others do not agree. I have toned it down over the years, however. I have heard the argument that the sheathing was never that weather beaten in service, and I agree. However, it was very common for flat sawn boards to lose paint in a characteristic pattern caused by the band's of hard grain, an effect we cannot duplicate. I feel the overly deep graining yields a shadow effect that comes close. One nice thing about doing the side with separate strip is the effect is visible while the strip are still loose, so they can be rearranged or even some replaced before they are finally cemented in.

Dennis Storzek