The first time I saw one of these cars was about 2:00 A.M. while visiting the MoPac operator in Austin. The KSA set out an Ft-P loaded with farm equipment. Luck held as the car was only spotted else where in town and not interchanged. Thus, I was able to measure and photograph it. A few months later a friend called to tell me that another one was on the way south. This one was a Ft-O loaded with a scraper.
The Ft-O and P classes are identical. The Ft-O was built in the first part of 1929 and the Ft-P was built at the end of that year. They are numbered in the series 90501-90850. Where the class numbering break is I don't know.
The Ft-J is very similar in construction to the Ft-O/P. It is 44'6" over the deck whereas the Ft-O/P is 50'. The Ft-J was rebuilt at least twice (1930 and 1941) and again later when converted to work service. A picture of the Wt-J is in Santa Fe Diesels and Cars. It was numbered in the series 93151-93250.
The starting point for these cars is at least a pair of Train-Miniature flatcars; or from six cars you can have 5 Ft-J, O/P flatcars. (How will be explained later in the article.)
There will be one major discrepancy for each class of car from the prototype, but it is something I feel that can be comfortably lived with. The Ft-J will be about one foot too long; and the Ft-O/P will have thirteen stake pockets instead of fourteen. If you insist on the fourteen stake pockets the car will be 53'6" over the deck which is just too long to represent the prototype.
This article will cover the making of an Ft-J or Ft-O/P from a pair of T-M flatcars. Judicious use of the scrap ends will make another Ft-J or O/P flatcar, three end to end make one car.
For an Ft-O/P cut one flatcar on the scribe line 24'3" from the end and the second 26' from the end. These lines are shown in fig. 1. For the Ft-J cut one body on the scribe line between 22'6" and 22'9" from the end and the second body on the scribe line 23' from the end. These lines are shown in fig. 2. To cut the bodies, I use the Xacto aluminum miter box and large razor saw. Use a 1/4" X l" strip of wood to hold the body for cutting.
After cutting the bodies, clean the flash from cutting. Check the fit. Is the cut such that the new body will be straight? Is the spacing of the stake pockets across the joint correct? (Use one of the scrap pieces for a measure.) Sand or file the top of the decks smooth from the casting sprue in the center, the rachet and pawl for the brake staff, and any high stake pockets and flash along the edges of the side sills.
The prototype cars sit lower on the trucks than the T-M cars are engineered. (3' 10" for the Ft-O/P and 3' 11" for the Ft-J versus 5' deck to top of rail.) To lower the car the end sill will have to be notched to accept the coupler pocket on the underframe. Clean the flash off the coupler pocket sides. On each end being used line up the underframe to mark that part of the end sill to be cut away. Cut away the part of the end sill where the coupler pocket will go flush to the bottom of the deck.
Take an underframe for each car and cut off the two body bolsters and coupler pockets. Discard the remainder of the center sill. Trim the bolster so that they will fit inside the side sills of the body. Ream out the hole in the bolster so that the bolster coupler fits over the projection for the truck screw and is tight to the underside of the deck. After you're satisfied that the fit is as it should be, cement it in place with a solvent type of cement. Drill through the deck for the coupler plate mounting screw, using a number 50-52 drill. File the projection for the truck screw on the body flush with the body center plate on the bolster.
A piece of 0.060" styrene 7' 3" wide is used to join the two ends together. It is 27' long for the Ft-J and 31' long for the Ft-O/P. Keep it 3' from the bolsters. Join this piece to the two ends using a solvent type cement. Do this assembly on a smooth flat surface such as a surface plate or piece of plate glass. This joint should be allowed to set at least overnight. These cars sit so low that care and some liberties have to be taken in order to get the necessary wheel clearance. If you don't leave the clearance now, you'll just have to get out the motor tool and rotary burrs later.
After this first splice piece joint has set cut a piece of 0.040" styrene 8' wide to go over it. This piece is also 27' and 31' long for the respective cars. Install this piece centered on the car over the first piece.
While this joint is setting cut the side sill web plates from 0.030" ABS as shown in fig. 3 and square the edges. Note that the ends are chopped off to give wheel clearance. These are inset 16" from the edge of the deck side sill. Install using a solvent type cement. Reinforce at the point where the taper begins with a piece of 0.060" styrene about 1/4" wide, long enough to go in between the two side sills. This will give a nice box to put weight in later on.
The Ft-O /P has angles stiffening the web. The Ft-J didn't have these judging from the photos of the Wt-J cars in tie service. For these I used Plastruct 3/64" angle stock. The interesting thing about their installation is that they all face the same way. When looking at the car broad side, the leg of the angle sticking out will be on the right for all five angles. Cut 10 pieces of angle a little over 1/4" long and install as indicated in fig. 3. After the joints have set trim flush with the web plates. (I find that a pair of Lambert Rail Nippers is excellent for this.)
The flanges are made from 0.010" styrene. Cut two strips 6" wide for the Ft-J and 9" wide for the Ft-O/P. Join them to the center section of the web plate first. After this joint has set, join then to the tapered sections, and trim the excess at the ends. The flanges are flush with the inside of the web plate for the Ft-J and with the projecting legs of the angles for the Ft-O/P.
Install your favorite couplers. The trucks for the Ft-J are Kadee Andrews and for the Ft-O/P Bettendorf. Check for wheel clearance and trim away any plastic that limits the truck movement except for the coupler pocket.
Using Cal-Scale brake wheels and 0.020" wire make the brake staff as shown in fig. 4. Install the brake wheel and staff.
Give the entire car a coat of Barrier or Shield Coat. When this is dry spray it with a coat of mineral brown. After this is dry give it a semi-gloss to gloss clear coat in order to obtain a good surface for decalling.
The placement of the lettering on these cars is different today than when the cars were built. The models show the lettering as the cars were built. Fig. 5 shows the placement of the lettering today. After the decals have set, protect them with a flat or semi-gloss clear coat.
The deck is made from 1/32" thick by 1/16" scribed basswood. Cut pieces from the sheet 9' long (deck width). Trim a pair of them to the length of the deck. I finished them with some dirty paint brush cleaner before installing them on the car.
After the decking is installed, weather the car to your preference, and it is now ready to enter revenue service.