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  • Fun With AHM & Con-Cor Boxcars

    The same model modified in slightly different ways to produce two different prototype cars. The most obvious difference comes in the door design but there are others as well. - Photo and models by W.E. Darnaby
    Prototype Modeler - February 1978 - Page 40 width=

    by W.E. Darnaby

       The post-war Monon was very progressive and was determined to modernize. When it came time to reequip its freight car fleet the Monon turned to its Hammond neighbor, Pullman Standard, when the fleet of new 40' boxcars was ordered in 1946. These cars were of welded construction and had 6' doors. The Monon liked these cars and continued to purchase these, and similar cars through 1957. The cars were numbered 1 through 994 and formed the backbone of the Monon's boxcar fleet. From 1949 onward (includng car No. 501 and up) the cars were of the famous Pullman Standard PS-1 design. The PS-1 boxcar also came in the 50' version and the Monon purchased 50 of them in 1957, numbered 1701 to 1750.

       Fortunately for Monon modellers, both AHM and Con-Cor offer this car in HO scale with an example of each shown in Figure 1. The car on the left is the AHM and can be easily identified by its PS door with the raised panels. The Con-Cor car on the right is the same car and can be identified by its flat paneled door. Other than the doors, both cars are identical. This PS-1 is quite common on US railroads and is easily distinquished by its welded sides and distinctive ends with their large flattened ribs and single small rib above the large ones. This car was available with doors that varied from 6' wide to 9' wide. In addition to AHM and Con-Cor, Kurtz-Kraft also offered a model of the 40' PS-1 but these latter cars are hard to come by.

       As I mentioned above the Monon 40' cars had 6' wide doors. However the models have 7' doors and it is this conversion that I am going to show first.

       Besides needing an AHM or Con-Cor welded boxcar, as identified by the absense of rivets, you will need two 6' doors and some .010" and .040" styrene. Athearn 40' boxcar doors are excellent for this job and can easily be obtained from your dealer or from an older model. As shown in Figure 2, the door height has to be raised slightly to stay in the door guides of the AHM and Con-Cor cars. This is easily done by cementing a narrow (3 scale inches will do) strip of .010" styrene along the top of the Athearn door. For strength, I recommend that a slightly wider piece of .010" styrene be cemented to the back of the door so it overlaps the joint between the strip and door. When dry, take a small file and smooth out the joint on the front and all of the edges so the door will not hang up in the guides.

       Each door opening on the AHM and Con-Cor cars has a raised rib and a row of rivets along the left edge. These have to be removed and the best way I can suggest to do this is to cut as much of it off as you can with a modelling knife. Remove the remainder with 200 grit sand paper; finish up with 400 grit sandpaper for a smooth finish.

       To narrow the door openings, cut four pieces of .040" styrene 9 inches by 8 1/2 feet in size and cement in place along each edge of the door. A good straight edge on the styrene is important, lay a straight edge on the styrene holding an X-acto knife, point down, with the cutting edge trailing; scribe a line in the styrene along this edge. I do this repeatedly until the piece is cut off. A good straight cut on the styrene is important as it makes the job of cementing to and smoothing them into the car sides easier.

       To cement them in place apply some liquid cement to both of the edges to be mated and let the edges soften slightly. When soft place the pieces as shown in Figure 3. If the edges are pushed together firmly, soft styrene will squeeze out and make a perfect joint with no gaps. When dry, smooth out with 200 grit sandpaper, then 400 grit to make it smooth . If necessary, cut some of the styrene off the bottom of the filler piece so the gap for the tab on the underframe will fit into its slot.

       As a final modification to the body, file away part of the skirt at the right end of the lower door guide as shown in Figure 4 (compare with Figure 1). If you use the Con-Cor model, you will have to replace the roofwalk as Con-Cor's is wood and the prototype's is steel. I started using etched brass roofwalks made by Capital Specialties on all of my models; it gives an excellent effect. In using one of these roofwalks, I would suggest that you detatch the short lateral roofwalks from the ends (the entire roofwalk comes in one piece) as they are positioned too far in from the ends. I cut mine off and, using a couple of short strips of .010" styrene cemented to the roof for supports, positioned the walks closer to ends of the car. I would also suggest that these roofwalks be glued in place with an alfacyanoacralate cement. Finally, apply your favorite trucks and couplers.

    The door opening must be reduced to take the smaller door for this prototype since the size, as well as the design, changes. - Model and photo by W. E. Darnaby

    Door size is changed by adding material to the top. - Photo by W. E. Darnaby

    The installed door shows the narrower and higher door than was original with the kit and makes it much "different" than the kit. - Photo by W. E. Darnaby
    Prototype Modeler - February 1978 - Page 41 width=

       These cars were painted in several schemes over the years, two of these are shown in Figures 5 and 6. For "boxcar red", I suggest Floquil Boxcar Red with a few drops of Floquil Roof Brown added to get the darker shade of red that the Monon used. (I make a lot of Monon cars I have a bottle of Boxcar Red that has been beefed up with 6 to 8 drops of Roof Brown.) Note that one car has "CIL" reporting marks and that the other has "MON" reporting marks; the Monon adopted the name Monon as its official corporate name, instead of Chicago Indianapolis & Louisville, on January 10, 1956. Cars modelled prior to that date should carry CIL markings, after MON.

       The CIL car was lettered using Champ set HN-27 and Walthers set D552W (dimensional data). The "HOOSIER LINE" car was lettered with Walthers set 42-12 with Micro-Scale set RH-7 1 for the reporting marks. A word of advice about the Walther's HOOSIER LINE set: if used the way it was designed, it is difficult to do a good job as the white band tends to be splotchy and difficult to lay over the door and ladder. I have gotten better results by cutting away the letters from the white band, leaving a small white border around each letter. I paint a white band on the car and door and, after measuring where the letters should be positioned, I paint a small area with black paint just large enough for each letter where each letter is to be positioned. The individual letters are then positioned over the black areas; This way I minimize the amount of white decal used. After the letters have dried, I touch them up with white paint. To finish off the cars, weather to suit.

    The standard 40' P-S steel box car purchased by Monon. - Photo and model by W. E. Darnaby

    The standard 40' P-S steel box car purchased by Monon. - Photo and model by W. E. Darnaby

    The modification required to change the 40' car (upper photo) to the 40' car (center photo). - Model and photo by W. E. Darnaby
    Prototype Modeler - February 1978 - Page 42 width=

    The assembled 50' car illustrates the necessary elongation of both body and underframe. - Model and photo by W. E. Darnaby

    The modification necessary to the underframe to make it match the elongated car body. - Model and photo by W. E. Darnaby

    The completed car, after painting and weathering, is right at home on any road. - Model and photo by W. E. Darnaby
    Prototype Modeler - February 1978 - Page 43 width=

       Making the 1700 series cars is more in volved but it is not difficult. Actually, the AHM car is the best for this project even though the Con-Car body is correct; you will need the raised panel door off the AHM car. What is needed, in effect, is to add the length of one side or roof panel to either side of the door to increase the length of car by the length of two panels. This will result in a car that is slightly short (by about 2 1/2 scale feet) but it isn't really noticable unless you like to measure everything. Making a car that is the full 50' long would require cutting apart the roof and sides separately and lengthening each one, I don't feel that it is worth the trouble. Now, referring to Figure 7, cut the center section just beyond the fourth roof rib from the center of the car of 10 1/2 scale feet from the edge of the door. I care fully measured off the mark where I want to make the cut and scribe a line or groove in the side of the car with an X-acto knife - be sure it is square. Using this groove as a guide, cut through the side of the car, a stroke at a time, with a razor saw. Repeat this operation for the opposite side of the car (be careful to measure off the same exact distance or the car will not be cut square). After cutting through the two sides, take a rule and knife and scribe a groove in the roof connecting the cuts in the sides; cut through the roof with the saw. After cutting away the ends set the center section aside.

       To make the end pieces, the second body should be cut off at the ends at a point just before the third roof rib from the end of the car (a 9 1/4 scale feet from the end of the car). Once again be careful to measure off the exact same distance to your cut to insure that it is square.

       After cutting off the ends, there should be three pieces which make 12 side panels instead of 10 panels. Before assembling the three places, take a file and sandpaper to clean off the edges of the cuts. To check the cuts and see if the pieces fit squarely, hold the pieces to be mated together up to a light and look for light showing through. If there are any large gaps, square off the edges by taking a piece of 200 grit sandpaper, laying it on a flat surface (such as glass) and carefully rub the mating surface on the sandpaper in a circular motion. Repeat this until you are satisfied. If the gaps are significant, use a file to remove material before using the sandpaper.

    Prototype Modeler - February 1978 - Page 44 width=

       When you are satisfied with your fits, take your favorite plastic solvent and coat the edges to be mated. Let it stand for a moment so the solvent softens the plastic; press the pieces together. If you have let the plastic get soft enough it should squeeze out from the joint when the pieces are pressed together and form a bead of plastic on the surface of the car, this will fill in any gaps. Assemble the pieces carefully and be sure that all of the details on the car sides and roof line up properly as shown in Figure 8.

       Set the body aside and turn to Figure 9. Take one of the floors and cut the center out of it by making saw cuts just beyond the fourth crossmembers from the center using the crossmembers as guides for making the cuts square. To make the end pieces, snap the center piece into place in the body and measure off the remaining distance to the ends of the body, cut these lengths off the ends of the second floor. Cement these pieces to gether using the same method as on the body.

       After the body has dried, smooth out the joints so they become invisible. First, use 200 grit sandpaper to remove the beads of plastic formed on the surface. When this is removed, it should leave an invisible joint. Finally, smooth out the surface with 400 grit sandpaper so a smooth surface results for painting. To finish off the body, rebuild the skirting as shown in Figure 8. The edge closest to you in Figure 8 has been rebuilt with .020" styrene and the edge farthest away unmodified for comparison. File away the skirting not needed and replace with styrene.

       To make a new roofwalk, use the same method as on the floors. Cut a center section from one of the 40' roofwalks approximately equal to the length of the body center section and place on the roof using the existing pegs and holes. To make the end pieces take one end of the re maining roofwalk and position it so that the end peg lines up with the end hole in the roof and cut off the necessary length to reach the center section of the roof walk. Repeat for the other end. An al ternate (which I prefer) is to use one of the etched brass roofwalks by Capital Specialties. They are excellent and give a super effect. If you use one of these, it will have to be modified as the car is slightly shorter than 50'. The lateral walks will have to be cut off so the roofwalk can be cut short and lateral walks applied to the car separately instead of in one piece.

       To finish off the car apply your favorite trucks and couplers and paint. Figure 10. I have found that the AHM trucks are suitable if you cut off the coupler and replace the wheelsets with Kadee's. I painted the car with Floquil Boxcar Red that had a few drops of Roof Brown added to match the shade that Monon used. As this is a Hoosier Line car you have to paint a white band across the top of the car for the Walther's 42-12 decal set. This set comes with CIL reporting marks, you will have to get MON reporting marks from the 42-33A set or Champ HN-27. In addition, the MONON in the 42-12 set is too large for this car but the larger MONON from the 42-33A set is correct if the letters are cut apart and spread out a little. Finally, weather to suit.

       This car is easier than it looks and it is very satisfying to have a car that is reasonably correct and that few other people have.

    Article Details

    • Original Author W E. Darnaby
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date February 1978

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