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  • St. Louis Southwestern Wood-sheathed Boxcars

    BY RICHARD HENDRICKSON

    Right: Similar in design and execution to the popular World War I USRA "standard" 40-ton double-sheathed boxcars, the example shown was one of 2500 similar cars owned and operated by SSW.  Many of the cars were rebuilt by the railroad's Pine Bluff (Ark.) shops and some were in service up until the late 1950's and early 1960's. - Photo: Collection of Richard H. Hendrickson

    Left: This photo illustrates the model version of the SSW wood-sheathed car as modeled by the author, using techniques and material outlined in the article.  The car represents one which was rebuilt by Pine Bluff shops in the early 1930's and was produced by kitbashing an existing Athearn 40-foot wood-sheathed boxcar.
    Prototype Modeler - October 1985 Page 38 width=

       Still in good condition into the mid-1950's, this St. Louis Southwestern wood-sheathed boxcar began life in 1924 as one of 2500 cars similar to the World War I USRA standard design for 40-ton double-sheathed boxcars.  Originally numbered in the 31000-33499 series, many were rebuilt as shown here in the early 1930's at SSW Pine Bluff (Ark.) shops. As the rebuilt cars were increased in height by 20 inches, 2-rib panels were added in the middle of the original 8-7 corrugated ends.  The rebuilt cars were numbered 36000-38499, with the last three digits of their numbers remaining the same. Many of these cars worked to the late 1950's.

       The model depicted here was kitbashed from an Athearn 40-foot wood-sheathed boxcar.  World War II era lettering is from Champ (herald and reporting marks) and Microscale (dimensional data). The Athearn car was modified as follows:

    (1) Roof. Ribs and panels were removed and the surface was filed flat; a new roof of .020" styrene was applied; U-section ribs were made of styrene strip stock.

    (2) Roofwalk. Northeastern wood roofwalk and end platforms were installed.

    (3) Ends. New ends were made by combining parts cut from Gould USRA type 5-5-5 ends, with two center ribs made of strip styrene. Placard boards from Detail Associates.

    (4) Handbrake. Cal-Scale Ajax type; Cal-Scale brake steps.

    (5) End ladders. Cannonball Car Shops castings.

    (6) Grablrons. Northeastern formed wire grabs were installed after the cast-on grabs were removed.

    (7) Steps. Formed from flatware staples.

    (8) Underframe. Athearn 40-foot flatcar underframe with cross-bearers were removed and reworked to fit the boxcar body.

    (9) Air-brake equipment. Cal-Scale KC-type. Note: some cars retained the KC equipment when rebuilt, others received AB-type. All rebuilt cars were equipped with AB-type brakes by the early 1950's.

    (10) Side sills. Athearn side sills were removed and new sills fabricated of strip styrene were cemented in place.

    (11) Body reinforcement. Sheathing was recessed and reinforcing plates made of .015" sheet styrene were applied.

    (12) Doors. Doors were made by combining parts from two sets of Train Miniature wood doors with added bracing of strip styrene. The latches and handles were from from brass wire.

    (13) Bottom door guides and stops. Made of track spikes!

    Article Details

    • Original Author Richard Hendrickson
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date October 1985

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2 comments
  • BARRY PETERS
    BARRY PETERS Another great little kitbashing article. One of my favorite aspects of the hobby is taking common, inexpensive kits like this Athearn and making a really nice. layout-usable freight car that stands out from it's original form. I really miss mags like Prot...  more
    May 24, 2012
  • marty makarick
    marty makarick great article
    May 26, 2012