October 2003 - Page 26
ACL 31003 received only light weathering.
Weathering was done using the Q-tip method (described
in the text) prior to installing the ladders and grabs. The ladders and
grabs were then weathered with a brush after being installed.
Keeping things simple is desirable. If a finished model looks right based upon available photography, and the technically competent among us verify that it is reasonably accurate, then to me it is right and I am satisfied.
Modeling from photographs is a nice way to build railroad models. However, one must have adequate photos to work with, which may at first appear to be a problem for some modelers. If you are accustomed to taking models out of the box and with a bit of weathering placing them into service, then prototype modeling may seem daunting because of this. No doubt, prototype modeling calls for research, but research need not be an insurmountable obstacle. If you model the contemporary, then take your camera and head out to capture your favorite prototypes on film (or smart media cards!). If you model railroads and equipment that no longer exist, then there are many sources of photography including a myriad of fine books. So, if one intends to become a prototype modeler then one must accept that added time will be required to research prototypes to be modeled.
I worked this way for many years. However, while some prototype modelers have taken on research as a hobby unto itself, I only do enough research to prepare a credible (not perfect) model. I strive to get key components in the right places, then lean heavily upon the paint finish and weathering to make a model appear realistic. Also, I will not sacrifice reliability for detail. All models that I built must be able to stand up to layout use with no more than normal minimal maintenance.
Before moving on to building our models I want to make mention that the internet is probably the most useful resource for obtaining information, photography and other data that I have ever encountered. There are numerous groups on the internet that you can join. These groups are made up of some very experienced modelers that enjoy sharing their resource materials and their experience. I belong to several and highly recommend this media to you. I have thousands of photos that I have acquired that I am more than willing to share (at no cost) via email. Those of you dismissing the computer as a model railroad resource are missing out on one of the most fun and most useful aspects of this great hobby.
The million-dollar question is what does it take to model the Atlantic Coast Line class O-31 boxcars? I first discovered the Branchline Atlantic Coast Line O-31 boxcar kits while surfing Branchlines web page on the internet. When I saw the ACL O-31 listed there I thought at long last. Sigh...yes, there must be a model railroad god. I immediately placed my order. When the models arrived I was not disappointed. The factory applied lettering is excellent accurate, opaque and very sharply applied. Even with years of experience with decals I could not have matched this quality (even if decals were available).
I started work by comparing the Branch-line model to photos of the prototype, looking for differences and for items that could be upgraded on the model. As it turns out, the Branchline kit very closely matches the ACL class O-31 prototype in both detail and paint. There is only one minor and correctable exception that I will get to in a moment. The model is offered numbered for
26 MODEL RAILROADING OCTOBER 2003