Building a Boxcar


Construction begins with the major structural parts. The sides, floor and ends. Be sure to select siding material that will be fairly strong on it's own...nothing less than .030" thick. Choosing siding with the same thickness as the spacing of the scribed sides, .040" with .040" spacing for instance, and allowing the walls on the end to over lap and fit flush with the side walls avoids unsightly corner joints. Attaching the outer floor joists to the sides adds strength and gives the floor something to rest on.

The center joists and the draft gear block are assembled and added as one piece. Care must be taken to place the center assembly correctly as the couplers and trucks must align with the center of the car. Two more joists are then installed.

Experience has taught me that unless you are John Allen and you are expecting sagging roofs then extra strength here is a good idea. As you can see the inner roof is the size of the open top of the car while the outer roof should overhang the sides of the car at least 3 scale inches. The trim at the top of the car has already been glued in place. Do not attach the roof at this time.

Once the sides are completed it is time to move to locating the queen posts and truck bolsters. Begin by locating and marking the center of the car from end to end.

Just measure the center and lightly scribe with a blade. If the Queen Posts are 8 feet apart then measure 4 feet either side of the center and make another mark. Set the queen post beam against these marks and glue in place squarely centering the beams. When the glue has thorougly set up drill for the queen post castings and glue them in place.

Measure and mark in the same manner from the car end to locate the center of the truck bolster this is the line also for the holes to be drilled for the truss "rods".

Drill the holes where the truss "rods" would pass under the bolster. Knot the end of a piece of nylon fishing line about three feet long and pass the unknotted end thru one of the holes on an outside corner from inside the open car body. Pull the line through to the knot. If you are using a turnbuckle casting, now is the time to thread one on to the line...These are really tiny and almost as bad as NBWs to hold onto so I leave them on the spru while I thread them... Now pass the end of the line through the hole on the same side on the opposite end of the car Let the line rest on the Queenpost beam...it will be mounted on the casting later. Pull tight and thread the line through the next hole over and repeat the process through all the holes. When you are finished the line should be running into the last hole and through the open car body.

Once the line is completely threaded it has to be secured at the end. It is impossible to see this in the photo but essentially, using tweesers, (Imagine you are a surgeon) loop the end of the line under the nearest crossover, pull tight and make a simple knot. I usually apply a drop of ACC to this as I am not the greatest maker of knots in fishing line. The idea is that it should be secure enough to never come loose.

At this point the truss line should already be fairly taught...Even so, the first photo here shows how a wedge of styrene run under the crossover adds a bit of tension. Using a tweezer, pull the line up and onto each of the queenpost castings Take care to be sure the turnbuckles are between the beams. This should take any remaining slack out of the line and make your truss "rods" straight and strong. Center and position the turnbuckles so the open sides are perpendicular with the car side, a tiny spot of ACC on one end of each will keep it in place.

Now is the time to install extra weight. Here I am adding 1 1/4oz. using adheasive backed lead weights from A-Line...It is very important to get this weight centered carefully in the car.

Now the roof can be glued in place. Also, the truck bolsters and Kadee coupler pockets are installed. The bolster is .060 x .080 strip about 5 scale feet long and butted to the back of the coupler box. Since the job of the bolster critical to the proper tracking of the car it must be perfectly centered and on a plain with the horizontal line of the car. After the bolster is applied and the glue quite set-up then mark a spot approximatly 5 scale feet from the end of the car and centered side to side and drill a hole for a 1/4" 2-56 screw to mount the truck. Kadee washers can be used to adjust the height and level of the car if needed.

The end "Lumber" doors have been added with the associated hardware along with the end corner irons. The roof walk on this car is built up using .030 x .030 styrene for the cleets overlayed with .030 x .060 strips.

While full brake rigging is not a detail I always include, I installed it on this model while I was finishing the B end details. Note the addition of the air line to the valve on the B end.

The rest of the details have been added and the car is nearly finished. The grab irons on this car are actually Tichy ladder rungs glued directly to the car side, another technique that won't be found on a contest quality model but the effect is a ladder rung bolted to the car.

Grandt Line corner irons, NBWs, hasps and bronze wire for pipes, cut lever and brake staff.

I have been developing a technique for adding outside brakes to trucks. These standard archbars from Tahoe Model Works come with semi-scale wheels and a snap fit inside brake set. Take the brakes out and cut them apart. Glue a block of .060 x.080 styrene into the recessed under side of the truck and attach to these two strips of .010 x .060 just longer than the trucks wheel base. use ACC to glue the brakes on these strips being careful that the brake pads are just off the wheel tread. Then glue a strip of .030 to the end of the brake beam to represent the "brake beam". Mount to the car using washers if neccessary to adjust the height of the car for proper coupler alignment.

The car is completed with the addition of the air hose and Kadee scale head whisker couplers.

Dissassembled and set on the painting stand. I like to paint in the recessed areas and behind any details where the spray paint might not hit evenly. Then the entire car is painted including the trucks. I am using PolyScale boxcar red to avoid toxic fumes. The car is oversprayed with gloss coat and decaled then oversprayed with dull coat.

Reassembled and weathered the car is ready for service.