Sunday, March 27, 2016

Bulkhead flats anyone? pt2

After getting the bulkheads assembled and painted the next thing I wanted to try, and something I've been wanting to try for sometime now, was to do something about those FAKE looking wooden decks that all flat cars seem to have. Ugh!

I knew it could be done using those peel and stick laser cut wooden decks.  I found some on eBay at $13.50 for a set of four.  That makes them around $3.40 per car, but the only drawback, I can only find ones to fit the MTL 50' flatcars?

I also read somewhere awhile back that it can be done using paint and weathering supplies, but couldn't quite put my finger on it where I seen this. So I turned to my old friend GOOGLE.

Weathering Bachmann On30 flat car decks.

I followed what he did with the exception of scraping the decks and moved right on to applying the white paint that was diluted just enough so that it flowed.  I applied the paint to decks without applying any dull coat for added tooth.  It seemed to grab just fine?

The author used a "Dye-na-flo" fabric paint for the coloring which I didn't have so I grabbed a bottle of brown and black acrylic as I wanted the decks to still have a brown color. 

After the white coat dried, I applied the brown/black wash coat.  I thinned it down but not quite as much as I did with the white undercoat.  This I brushed on and spread it out randomly and let it dry.  I went back a few times and added a stronger dose of un-thinned black and brown and spread it out a bit so as to give the look of oil spills and non bleached wood.  I think I could give them a bit more of this treatment because to my eyes they look a little light yet?

After only a few minutes, they were dry to the touch.  I might go back and add some black spots for grease marks as well as rust colored patches.  

Here is a comparison to what I started with and the semi finished models


Overall I'm very happy with how the decks turned out for a quick and dirty upgrade.  Next I need to get out the weathering supplies and attack the overall cars to make them look well used.   After that I need to look into making some different types of steel loads for them.

I wish I could find more of these old Red Caboose kits...  

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bulkhead flats anyone?

While I was getting the layout staged the other night another nagging issue arose.  I need to get some loads!  It'll make things a little easier for me to grab cars for the four manifests that feed El Dorado and easier for the El Dorado crew to sort the cars once the arrive in El Dorado.

So I started figuring what type of loads I needed and it came down to pretty much two car types: Flat cars and open hoppers.  Heavy Metal in Malvern needs three types of cars to which receive steel for the their manufacturing needs.  Right now I have Coil Cars, Gondolas, Flat cars and Bulkhead flats.

I have the Coil cars, Gons and flat cars covered but am lacking on Bulkhead flats.  I started looking around for a few more Bulkheads and couldn't believe how pricy they've become.  A little more snooping on the web and ran across how someone used the Red Caboose Bulkhead kits from years ago to convert some of their flats! Hmmmm?

I did a little digging through my detail supply and ran across three sets that I had picked up years ago.  Sweet!  Next I went to my flat car stash and found three Athearn 53' flats that shouted "Pick me! Pick me please?"

While the kits said they were meant for Kadee cars [Ha! That in itself tells you how old they are!]  I found they fit pretty good even on the Athearn cars!  Close enough for me.

So I grabbed the first car, a MoPac flat.

And turned it into this.  I had to mix some paint to get it to match the color on the car.

After I had them installed and painted I swapped out the Accumate trucks and couplers [again, this dates the cars! Now they come with Mchenry couplers, I believe.]  I had to do a little modification to to the car frame get the trucks to work properly.  First I had to grind off just a bit of thickness on the bottom of the end frames, just above the couplers.  The paint was pretty thick and the MTL couplers just touched the frame.  

Next I had to grind off just a tad off the top of the MTL trucks around the bolster hole because they were a bit thicker than the Accumate trucks.  If I didn't then the screw that Athearn uses to secure the trucks in place would press down tight on the MTL bolster and would keep it from rotating freely.  A pretty easy job, I just used a cutoff disk in the dremel and gently ground away until things fit.  Didn't need to be too precise about it as nothing shows.

The replacement trucks needed wheels sets so I snapped in some Brown MTL Medium profile wheels, Done!  Not a bad project and didn't take too long either. 

While the DRGW and MoPac cars have 10' heads, the TTX was an 8' kit.  Funny thing, all three kits had the same part number, even the 10' kits were slightly different as well.  The MoPac's head was even on the sides and the DRGW's heads had a lip that stuck out further than the outer upright beams? So with these three new Bulkheads Added to the fleet, I should have enough to get the loads delivered with ease.  Sure wish I could find some more of these?
The next thing I want to try is to paint the cheap looking plastic decks so they resemble weather beaten, sun bleached, oil soaked wood decks and give the cars a good coat of weathering.  Once that's done I can make some steel loads for Heavy Metal and this should make it easier for the crews and add to the look.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

More E 's and F 's will join the fleet...

Several years ago I got in contact with a custom painter to have a few E's and F units painted up in the Rock Island's Maroon with a yellow wing as well as some Red and Yellow units to help fill in the gaps in my fleet.  While most of these older covered wagons were retired by 1975, a few soldiered on until the end.

Even though I'm modeling beyond the shutdown, I still wanted a few of these to add some color and interest to the roster.  There's just something about seeing a covered wagon lashed up in a string of hood units or leading the hood units!

About two months ago I learned that my painter had passed away and I worked with several great folks to see if I could get my stuff returned, which I was able to, thanks guys!

I started looking around for another painted shortly after receiving my shells,  I made contact with a few of them and asked for some estimates.  Once I settled on one I began to do a little work on the shells since I was in a holding pattern on my kitchen cabinets yet.

I've added details before but this time I wanted to try some body work which meant filling in some holes.  I have used Squadron Green putty with mixed results. Recently I was told to try some Bondo Spot Putty which was suppose to dry a little faster and not shrink as much.  I was also told that I should try and fill the holes with styrene as much as possible then putty in the remaining gaps, makes sense.

Well I got things gathered up: some BLMA horns, styrene, my touch-n-flow applicator, a sharp Exacto blades, a pair of snips and sprue cutters.  Then I sat in front of the computer for several hours examining the pictures I've collected over the years until I decided on which units I wanted and what each unit needed for detail parts.

Here are the four units that I want to add to my roster, all of which will be in freight service.

Now, one thing I've learned over the years, be it right or wrong, was "Less is More".  I add just enough details to make it say Rock Island.  This generally includes the unambiguous 5 chime air horns, cab shades, and a firecracker antenna and maybe snow plows.   But one thing I don't get into is lift rings, handrails, grab irons......the finer details.  I suppose one could call this the 3' rule?

Anyway, I started the process by removing the airhorns.  To fill these in I used .030" x .030" styrene stips that I kind of tapered on the ends so I could wedge them into the holes. Once I got them wedged in,  I placed a small drop of MEK from the touch-n-flow applicator and waited a few seconds for the MEK to soften the styrene and shell, then I pushed them a bit more until I could see they filled the slide in a bit more.  This worked good because while they were soft, they conformed to fill the holes completely and then I let them dry.

After getting the F7A to this point, this image from the movie "A Fish Called Wanda" came to mind!

Then I snipped the styrene as close as I could and began smoothing them off with a file and then fine sandpaper.

This worked great as I did not need any putty to fill the holes!

I needed to fill in the lower headlight on the F units, so following the same technique.  I found a small chunk of styrene from a model sprue and filled it to fit much like I did with the square styrene strips and repeated the same process. It worked like a champ!   

After the holes were plugged and sanded smooth I added the details.  First I added the BLMA 5 chime horns to all of the A units.

On the F7A I went a little further and I added a pair of flared spark arrestors as well as a rooftop radiator that I made from scratch.  Wasn't anything special and did not follow close to a prototype, mainly because images of the rooftops are rare and hard to find.

Once the radiator and arrestors were in place I added some very small screens to the them to add a bit more detail.

Next step, off to the painter. 
Normally I have no issue with painting my own locos, but these E's & F's have curved stripes and I just don't feel like tackling them at this time.  Plus it will give me a chance to scout out a new painter...

Monday, March 14, 2016

Graphite for better conductivity?

Since my last post where I mentioned that I planned to use some Graphite to help with dirty tracks, I had some comments about it so I did a further reading and thought I share a bit more about it.

The original thread on N was "Best Track Cleaning liquid" where a poster asked what everyone used to clean track?  One poster, Paul S. mentioned how he uses Graphite.
My first thoughts and questions were about reduced tractive effort or slipping?

He replied:
"None at all, Allen. If someone finds that's occurring, then it's a sure sign they have applied too much. Clean the track once, apply a few swipes of graphite here and there (must be from a graphite stick, not a pencil). Then let the trains distribute the graphite.
This topic has been delved into on the Model Railroad Hobbyist forum and in the MRH e-zine. I was a "slow adopter," having been a staunch No-Ox advocate. No more!

Here are two links of interest:

It's the micro-arcing between the rails and the locomotive wheels that creates most of the black crud we see on nickel-silver rail. The graphite, being a conductor, almost eliminates this problem."

So I found a few sticks on eBay and and have applied a bit on the layout before the next session to see if it helps or not. After reading the actual MRH article and watching the video, I think I'll re-apply some in the manner in which the guy in the video did.

It almost sound too easy and simple, but what do we have to lose?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Crew call?

Last night Doug came over and he got the last of his chips installed.  While he was working on them, I continued cleaning the layout up for hopefully another Op Session.

To date, all the tracks are cleaned except the 8 staging tracks for the through trains.  I still need to clean off the boxes and other minimal crap that's sitting on the workbench layout from small projects and eBay sales.

After reading a thread on N about what is a good cleaning fluid to use for cleaning the rails, one poster mentioned No-Ox and another said he nixed No-Ox in favor of using a 4B Graphite stick. I picked up a few off of eBay to give them a try.  He said that it helps with the conductivity of the rails so I thought I'd give it a try this time.

I've used a bit of it the other night while screwing around with the S2's.  One issue I seen already, and kind of figured on, was it may reduce tractive efforts if too much was applied.  In the last video I posted showing the single S2 pulling twelve cars it started to slip.  I think was due to the fact I had applied a bit too much, but I took care of it with a quick swipe of a clothe.  Last night I went around to specific areas and applied a bit more and then ran some trains to help spread it out.  So we'll see how well it works.

As for the troublesome S2, it's fixed and I've ran it to break it in good, so it will used to switch out Malvern this session. Have a sneaking suspicion there may be a fight to see who's gonna pull the Razorback trick, gonna get some popcorn ready!

Other than that, that's about all for now....  

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Atlas ALCo S-2 in the shop for repairs

I was so excited back when Atlas announced their new ALCo S-2 switcher in N scale, I could hardly contain myself as this is exactly what I was looking for.  An ALCo switcher for Malvern, this would complete my all ALCo fleet on the W&OV!   
I was really Jonesing for it and it seemed to take forever to get it to the shelves, and when I finally arrived I had several disappointments.

The first thing was it wouldn't run on the layout as a DC loco (I didn't go with sound).  It would just short the system out, so I had to wait for a chip to arrive. The second issue it had was after I got the chip installed it would only pull about 5-6 cars. Grrrrr!

Knowing it would do better from what others had said I began to do some research.  Several posters on a couple of forums mentioned they had the same problems, one said that both axles were spinning freely in one truck, the other said there was something on one of his gears that made it ran with a twitch and what he found was a "Mark" on one of the gears.

When I flipped my unit over to see if any of the axles were spinning freely, I found just the opposite. The outer axle on the truck under the cab was seized up and would not spin at all.  As matter of fact, there were also two small flat spots on both wheels because I had let run for a spell to help break it in!

As Wyatt said to me about this "Now you have a true to life sound: Flat spots!" Great!

So I began to tear the unit apart but got stuck when it came to removing the truck from the unit.  A little help from Chris333 on TRW with an explanation on how to unhook the wires from the board and drop the truck out and I was off and running.

Here is the unit with the shell and cab removed.

In the middle of the board on the both sides, you can see two little black clips that snap on to the board that pinch the wires to the board from both trucks and the motor.

The trucks come out similar to the way all Atlas trucks come out of the chassis, there are two little tips that hold the truck in the chassis.  If press slightly on one with a screwdriver, it pops right out.

Here is the truck removed from the chassis and the wires from the board.

The truck after you take it apart.  The wires are soldered to the axle cups.

It's kind of hard to see, but on the top wheels where the glare is, those are the flat spots I added.

Overall it wasn't too bad to tear down, but I feel it should be added as a requirement for the NMRA MMR achievement program just to get the trucks re-assembled, lol.  

Thanks again with help Chris!

After having it apart I inspected everything as closely as I could and didn't find anything that would make the axle seize up like it did?  So I re-assembled and put it back on the track to test it and hoped for the best.  Success!
Now it ran smoother and pulled more than 5 cars!!!

I also installed the chip in the second S-2 I picked up and MU'ed them for a quick test to see what they would do.  One note, in the video with the single unit you'll see the single unit slipping. This is because I also tried using some 4B graphite sticks to help with track conductivity that another member on NSN (Paul) mentioned, but I think I may have gotten a bit too much on the rails which caused it to slip a bit.  After wiping the rails quickly to remove some of the graphite, it did run a bit better without as much slippage.

So now my W&OV fleet of ALCo's is complete!  The W&OV job is going to be highly sought after on the next Ops session...