Photos by the author
The InterMountain end ladder assemblies are very finely molded, but have the coupler platform and grabirons molded onto the bottom frame. Using a razor blade, remove the coupler platform and grabirons and sand these areas smooth. Also remove the long horizontal grabiron as it is not the correct prototype shape. On the brake-end ladder assembly, remove the square bracket before removing the brakewheel housing from the bracket.
Drill four #78 holes in each bottom frame, directly below the ladders, and install two 24" drop grabirons. Make a new brakewheel housing bracket from .004 brass sheet, 18" high by 27" long, bent 90 3" in on each long end and mount on the end ladder assembly. Since the InterMountain ladders are for the taller Plate C car, the end ladder assemblies will need to be shortened. Make a cut just above the second-from-top grabiron. Remove the top molded-on grabiron from each top ladder assembly. A new 18" drop grabiron needs to be installed 6" below each top frame. Drill two #78 holes in each top ladder assembly and mount the new grabiron horizontally to each top frame (see Photo 15).
The sidesills need to be extended farther toward the end ladder assemblies. Using .040 x .040 square styrene strip, trim one end at a 45 angle to match the outside slope of the sidesill before mounting vertically on each corner. I was careful to this point to keep the Accurail end brackets on the end platforms. But after looking at the prototype, I realized the InterMountain end brackets were a better match, so off came the Accurail end brackets.
On each end ladder assembly, trim away the angle on the back of the inside vertical ladder brace, 12" from the top, to allow the inside vertical ladder brace to lay flat on the car end. The prototype end ladder assemblies are mounted slightly away from the body. Due to the geometry of mounting the InterMountain end ladder assembles to an Accurail body, the end ladders end up mounting directly to the body. Mount the end ladder assemblies, with the bottom resting on the coupler box, and the vertical end support angles mounted on the corners of the body.
Remove the end brackets from the InterMountain shell. The left brackets, square in shape, need to be shortened. After removing the raise flat piece, remove a small amount of material until the top of the raised rectangle is even with the top. Trim from the bottom until the height is 15". Mount a piece of .010 x .030 styrene strip horizontally of the bottom lip and then drill a #78 hole in the center of this strip. Mount the left brackets underneath each end ladder assembly. The right bracket, more triangular in shape, needs to be trimmed down to 12" high, 6" wide at the top, and 3" wide at the bottom before mounting underneath each end ladder assembly. There should be a small gap between each end assembly and the sidesill. Using green putty, fill in this gap on all four side corners so that the top of the putty is even with the top of bottom frame of the end ladder assembly. Sand the areas smooth and shape, as necessary, when dry.
On the prototype, the top of the side ladders actually mount on the inside of the body. Due to the thickness of the Accurail body, I decided to mount the top of the side ladder directly to the side sheet. After selecting a corner of the body, temporarily install one InterMountain side ladder to the end ladder assembly. Trim the top of the side ladder to mate with the angled end sheet while flaring the bottom of the side ladder as necessary for a straight fit before securing in place. Use an L-square as needed to keep the side and the end ladders square to the body. Drill a #78 hole in the side of the end ladder assembly, just below the end grabiron. Trim a piece of .010 x .030 x 6" long styrene strip to match the width of the side ladder and mount below the end ladder. Drill a #78 hole parallel to the first hole in this added side ladder piece. If the hole is not right at the bottom of this piece, trim as needed. Install a 24" drop grabiron. Repeat this process for the three remaining side ladders (see Photo 16).
The right end ladders have a horizontal brace extending from the top of the halfheight ladder to the outside edge of the right diagonal brace. Form two horizontal braces from .010 x .030 flat brass x 21" long. Form a 3" offset, 6" in from one end. Mount each brace horizontal, with the 6" end before the offset mounted on the outside of the right diagonal brace, and extending out to the back of the top half-height ladder, making sure the offset is toward the inside of the car.
On the brake end, there is a diagonal brace that runs from the back of the brakewheel-housing bracket to the end flooring. Form a diagonal brace from 3/64" styrene angle x 60" long with each end trimmed at a 45 angle. Mount, with the angle facing the right side, with the top of the angle mounted in the middle of the brakewheel-housing bracket and the bottom of the angle mounted between the brake cylinder and the left diagonal brace. Before mounting the brakewheel housing, sand the back of it to reduce its thickness in half. Then, mount it to the brass brakewheel bracket. There is a pivoting brake lever mounted below the brakewheel housing. Remove the molded chain from both ends of the InterMountain pivoting brake lever and trim the lever to about 6" wide x 15" long. Make a V-shaped notch 6" in from one end. Mount a 6" long piece of .025 styrene rod in the top, narrow portion of the pivoting brake lever bracket, located below the brakewheel housing.
Two pieces of chain are attached to the pivoting bracket. The top chain runs to the brakewheel housing while the lower chain runs to the brake lever attached to the brake cylinder. Starting with the lower chain, make a small U-shaped hook from .008 brass wire and place through the end link on a 21" long piece of chain. Mount the hook and chain opposite the V-shaped notch. I used a little cyanoacrylate (CA) on the chain to keep it shaped straight before mounting the pivoting brake lever. Place the V-shaped notch around the lower portion of the pre-mounted .025 styrene rod, making sure the chain extends to the brake lever attached to the brake cylinder. For the top chain, again make a small U-shaped hook and place through a 15" long piece of chain. Then, mount the U-shaped hook on the end of the pivoting brake lever and secure the other end to the bottom of the brakewheel housing. I substituted a Kadee brakewheel due to its fineness, but the center of the brakewheel needs to be solid. Using green putty, fill the center of the brakewheel and sand smooth before mounting.
Form two new horizontal long grabirons made from .012 brass wire, each 72" long. Bend each end at a 45 angle, one end with a 3" leg and the other end with a 6" leg. Mount each grab horizontally with the angled ends mounted upward with the 6 " leg on the inside vertical ladder support and the 3" leg on the top of the inner half-ladder vertical support. Place an eyebolt in the drilled holes in the left end brackets. After securing, trim the bottom of the eyebolt pins even with the bottom of the brackets. Drill a #78 hole in each Kadee bottom coupler face, below where the coupler would extend from the coupler pocket. Form two coupler lift brackets from .012 brass wire, each 72" long. Bend a 9" leg 90, and bend the other end perpendicular with a 3" leg. Insert each coupler lever through the eyebolt and into the coupler face, offsetting both ends as needed.
The coupler platforms on each end are mounted slightly above the bottom frame on the end assemblies. Since the brake end does not have a notched opening in the coupler platform, one additional set of Gypsum (Diamond) coupler platforms are required in addition to the set included with the roofwalk. After trimming the mounting pins from the coupler platform, bend the ends and middle support at a 90 angle on the platform framework and remove the remaining supports and mounting pins. Secure the coupler platform to the framework and mount to each bottom frame (see Photos 17-23).
Start by removing the bottom rectangular piece from the bottom of each hopper. Make three reinforcing strips from .010 x .030 styrene strip, each 60" long, and mount perpendicular to the hopper at the weld line on the gate side of the hoppers. Note that the middle hoppers strip goes on the brake-end side.
The Santa Fe cars have Keystone discharge gates, matching neither the Accurail nor the InterMountain discharge gates. Start by reworking the InterMountain discharge gates (Step 1 in Photo 24) by removing the outside gate tracks and simulated locking rod (Step 2 in Photo 24). Mount two 3/64" angles x 42" long on the bottom edge of the gate, flush with the front of the gate. Then, mount two .010 x .040 styrene strips x 44" long between the angles at both ends. Use green putty to hide the seams between the strip on the front of the gate and the angle on the sides (Step 3 in Photo 24). Simu late the manually locking mechanism for each gate with two styrene brackets made from .020 x .060 styrene strip x 9" long, roughly shaped to match the prototype. Drill a #78 hole in each bracket and place a .012 brass wire, 45" long, through the holes in the brackets and secure to the inside of the angles and against the opening rod. The gate tracks were represented with small sections of CMA steel roofwalk, two narrow slots wide by four long slots, sanded to about half thickness and secured to the outside of the angles (Step 4 in Photo 24 & Photo 25).
Install the discharge gates with the front of the center discharge gate facing the non brake-end.
The GA-183 class cars have U.S. Gypsum (diamond pattern) grip-strut roof walks with 13 roofwalk supports per side, s even wide supports with six alternating narrow supports. When I started this project, a proper etched Gypsum roofwalk was unavailable. Keith Hapes at Plano offered to make one, and with the technical help of Eric Neubauer, the proper Gypsum roofwalk is now available.
Follow the Plano instructions for marking the pilot points using the Plano supplied template and "T" pin. After all the pilot points had been marked, drill at each pilot point with a #78 drill bit. Install the risers p er the Plano instructions, following the numbers on the template (see Photo 26).
The roofwalk needs to be bent before installation. Using the InterMountain metal roofwalk as a guide, bend the ends of the roofwalk for a raised center portion. Make a bend at where the end extensions meet the main roofwalk and then another bend 12" a way back to horizontal. The raised area should be raised just enough to place a .015 shim underneath. I forgot to add the four angle braces, mounted underneath the roofwalk between the end frames and the adjacent roofwalk supports, before painting. It will be easier if you add them now by placing four 3/64" styrene angles, each 24" long, 6" in from the outside edge and 4" in from the ends of the roofwalk, making sure the angles face out.
Center the roofwalk and secure in place with CyanopoxyTM, making sure to keep the simulated joints on the roofwalk panels aligned on the wide supports. The Plano roofwalk set includes metal roofwalk grabirons, but I substituted bent .012 brass wire inserted in the Plano mounting holes.
Before installing the top end ladder assemblies, trim away the spacers on the back side, the two pins on top, and the angle on the back of the inside vertical ladder brace. Trial fit each top end ladder assembly, trimming the three vertical legs until the top frame fits under the roofwalk, and then secure to the vertical legs on the bottom end ladder assembly, the body and the roofwalk. Fill the joints with green putty and sand smooth as necessary. Relocate the supports for the outer roofwalk extension as needed.
Install A-Line stirrup steps on all four corners of the car by placing one end against each end bracket and mark the drill hole locations for a #72 hole. After drilling each hole, trim away one mounting pin on each stirrup step before securing in place, making sure the stirrup steps are mounted against the end brackets.
Plano freight-car lift rings were used for the pulling eyes with the tops filed flat. Mount the pulling eyes with the outside edge located 5' 2" in from each corner and the top 3" mounted on the bottom of the sill. The tackboards are from an Eel River freight-car detail set, cut down to 10" x 18" and thinned before mounting, and placed on the bottom sills 9' from the left end (see Photo 27).
Mask the Plano coupler platforms before priming with Primer Gray. After priming, paint the complete car with Santa Fe Mineral Brown, mixed from two parts Maroon Tuscan Oxide Red and one part Light Tuscan Oxide. After the paint has dried, remove the mask from the coupler platforms and spray with Testors Glosscote for decaling.
Prototype pictures were used to match the lettering, and the decals used are shown in the Decal Table. The only decals I could find for the hopper bay lettering were from a discontinued Herald King set. This lettering tended to be hard to see as the car weathered, so they can easily be left off. You may also need to adjust additional information like the reweigh date or lube plates to reflect your modeling era. Decal setting solution was applied after setting each decal in place (see Photo 28).
Instead of applying the traditional Dullcote after decaling, I used Flat Clear Acryl to seal and protect the decals during weathering and also to provide a nice fading effect (see Photo 29).
One of the fun parts of prototype modeling is weathering the model to match the p rototype. I have learned that it usually takes multiple weathering steps and methods, and this model was no exception. Start by applying a grime wash, one part Railroad Tie Brown and one drop of Weathered Black, to the complete car using the Q-tip weathering technique. Add two parts water and apply with a small brush, one section at a time. Then, use a dry Q-tip to remove the wash, waiting only about ten seconds. A wet Q-tip with decal setting solution can be used to remove more of the wash, but be careful around the decals. Additional streaks of grime were done by drybrush ing on the grime and feathering with the Q-tip. Apply very lightly and build up as desired, working in an up-and-down pattern (see Photo 30).
The prototype car has horizontal scrape m arks in the center of the side carbody. Using two Quick-Grip clamps, secure a steel scale ruler at the bottom of the reporting marks (see Photo 31). Using a scriber, score along the edge of the ruler. A second score line was added 6" higher, but only in parts of the Santa Fe lettering and in the last two panels (see Photo 32). With a very fine tip brush, paint the score line with Railroad Tie Brown in the non-lettering areas. For the white lettering areas, paint the score line with rust and then drybrush different shades of rust and feather with a Q-tip (see Photo 32). The last weathering step is to airbrush the hopper bays and underbody, and dust the rest of the car with the grime wash (see Photo 33). When finished, let dry and seal again with Flat Clear Acryl.
After removing the mounting peg on the Kadee air hoses, drill a #78 hole where the mounting pegs were and bend each air hose to slightly curve inward. Paint the glad hands and angle cocks silver before mounting the air hoses on each end of the train air line. Paint the end loops of the air release r ods white. Lightly drybrush the chain below the brakewheel with rust and also highlight the glad hands and angle cocks. Highlight the tackboards by drybrushing with a little grime.
After removing the trip pins from Kadee #78 couplers, airbrush the couplers with the grime wash and then drybrush with a little Rust before installing in the coupler boxes. Athearns Genesis trucks were substituted for the kits trucks and wheelsets. The wheelsets were painted with the grime wash and then drybrushed with a little Rust to give each wheelset a different rust/ weathering pattern. Highlight the trucks by drybrushing with the grime wash and highlight the springs with Rust. Before installing the wheelsets, paint the brakeshoes on the trucks with the grime wash and install the trucks. Check the coupler height and adjust as necessary.
Although this car was a lot of work, none of the changes and upgrades were very difficult, and the results were very much worth the work. I would like to thank Eric Neubauer for his technical help and Keith Hapes from Plano for making a correct roofwalk available for this car.