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Over the last year, I have been working to put together a complete American Freedom Train in O scale.  I first found a complete set of the 10 K-line Display cars and their 2 Showcase cars.  This was followed by Lionel's 5 passenger cars and 101 entrance car, an MTH Baggage car 100 (to be modified to car 20), and a Legacy GS-4. There are a couple more Lionel cars to be acquired, but notably missing are the three 85' Flat Cars with the 10 concession trailers called "wagons" (Circus terminology).  I found three Atlas 89' undecorated Flat Cars that could be detailed to match the prototype.  The wagons would need to be scratch built.  Fortunately, decals are available for the 10 wagons, additional vehicles, and the Flat Cars.

I contacted Todd at Accuen Media and purchased a set of decals for the wagons.  BTW Todd created the website.  After pouring over the photos on the site and a few in All Aboard America, I started building.   I started with wagons 11, 12, and 14.   Along with wagon 20, they had 2 container doors and 2 cam lock/operating bars on one end.  So I started with Atlas Trainman 20' containers as the basis for these wagons.  

First I shortened the containers to their required lengths.  Dimensions are listed in in the Roster section.  Wagons 11 is 19' long, while 12 and 14 are each 17'.  Here I ran into a problem.  The decals are sized for standard 20' lengths.  You can build most of the cars to correct length except wagon 14.  The ticket information between the windows and the length of the fold up Tickets signs on the roof require a minimum 19' wagon length.  So 19' it is.  I shorted the wagons by removing a section in the middle and glueing the pieces back together with MEK.  It does not matter where you remove the section as long as you avoid the assembly screws.  Then I scraped off the 2nd pair of cam locks/bars with a chisel blade and sanded, filled with putty and sanded some more.  I attached 220 grit sandpaper to a piece of plate glass and sanded the top, both sides and the plain end until the surfaces were flush and some paint was removed (to allow better glue adhesion). I also sanded off the little nubs on the bottom that hold stacked containers in place.


I covered the sides, top, and end with 0.020" Styrene.  While these can be cut by hand using a straight edge and #11 blade, I used my NWSL Duplicutter.  This greatly increased speed and accuracy in cutting sheet styrene squarely.  I didn't need to measure the pieces.  I placed the container in the Duplicutter to set the size, locked down the slide, then inserted the styrene, locked down the bar, scored the styrene and snapped it.  When cutting the top, I inserted the container with the 2 side pieces in the Duplicutter.  This automatically sized the top to overlap the edges of the styrene sides.  Likewise I shimmed with a piece of styrene on one end when setting the long dimension of the top and sides so there was a slight overhang on the front of the wagon.  The front piece was recessed.


Before mounting the sides, I cut the window openings in wagons 12 and 14.  The decal sheets show exact locations for the windows, doors, and other details based on a 20' length, so I adjusted the window spacing. After marking the windows, I cut them out with 1/4" and 1/2' wood chisels, and filed the edges.  Pieces of 0.010" sheet styrene were glued to the inside of the windows.  To represent the doors, I applied strips of Evergreen #8204 HO Scale 2x4s to the door outline

I glued the top, then sides and front with MEK applied to the container.  The corners were very tight but the rectangular box was too plain looking.  I added Evergreen #291 1.5mm styrene angles to the top and front sides and #113 strips as window sills to add visual detail.

If you have never worked with MEK or other thin solvent based glues like Plastruct Plastic Weld, they are great to work with.  You apply it to one or both surfaces and press together.  They rapidly weld the pieces together.  Alternatively, you can position the pieces together and just slop the glue on the joint.  It will find its way into the joint.  IMPORTANT:  don't touch the glue soaked pieces until  the glue is dry or else you will leave a very non-scale fingerprint.  If you leave them alone, the slopped on glue with simply evaporate.   MEK evaporates so fast that with larger parts, you have to apply glue 2 or 3 times to the pieces before assembly.  These glues really enable you to build rapidly.

Now it was time to build the undercarriages. The rear fixed undercarriage uses these parts:

(6) 9/16"  pieces #262 0.080" Channel

(2) 1 7/8" pieces #264 1/8" Channel

(4) 9/16" X 7/16" 0.020" sheet styrene "home plates" (Note: the 2 interior pieces are trimmed to fit between the 1/8" channels.  Drill the axle holes before assembly)

(2) 7/8" length #135 0.030 x0.100" Strips (one end cut at 45 degrees)

(1) 3/16" piece #262 0.080" Channel

The front undercarriages pivot.  I built mine to to appear that they could pivot, but they are fixed.   They use these parts:

(4) 9/16"  pieces #262 0.080" Channel

(2) 1 7/8" pieces #264 1/8" Channel

(4) 9/16" X 3/8" 0.020" sheet styrene "home plates" (Note: the 2 interior pieces are trimmed to fit between the 1/8" channels.  Drill the axle holes before assembly)

See photos for layout.



Here are the wheel parts:

(8) A-line 116-50104 HO Trailer Tires

(4) 5/16" lengths Plastruct 90606 1/4" tubing

(4) 1/4" lengths Evergreen 3/16" rod (drilled out for brass wire)

(4) 7/16" lengths Brass wire

Once I had the first one built, I used my NWSL Chopper to cut parts for multiple wagons.


A diagram for the tow bar is included in the decals.  This was constructed from 1/8" Channel with a 1/32" slice of #223 3/32" tubing for the hitch.


Two pieces of 0.020 Styrene represent the fold down Tickets signs.  Decals were applied and they were glued to the roof. I'm still looking for some suitable materials to make air conditioners for Wagons 12 and 14.


This was a challenging but fun build.  I will construct Wagon #20 from another 20' container.  The remaining 6 Wagons do not have Trailer doors and have a variety of shapes and details.   At a train show I just acquired some cheap 20' containers to use. The wagons are a lot easier when you have a nice square styrene box to build around.

Next I plan to modify the Flat cars, paint and decal them.  I will update the thread.



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Last edited by RRDOC
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I used the same Atlas 20' containers but instead of over plating with styrene I sanded the sides and to flat.  The undercarriage you built is almost identical to what I did, but I did simplyfy the towbar.  I used Atlas 68' flatcars instead of 85' cars due to clearance issued in my railroad.  The overall effect is quite good.  I have built 6 wagons and decaled a panel an bought from Diecast Direct.  Here are some pictues of my efforts to far.



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Good Afternoon Guys,

Great work on the wagons.   I'm in the same boat in having all the AFT items that have been produced in O scale so far by Lionel/K-Line(the 2 showcase cars).   Started to work on the flats,  wagons & vehicles a couple years ago,  but was derailed mostly by no time and different ongoing health problems.   I was going to go the same route with the containers but last year I was introduced to Hank(my future nephew) and things changed.   He is not into trains but IS into 3D printing and mentioned "I can probably print those".   So after about 6-8 months of us collaborating and emailing back and forth with Todd Schannuth(who owns the AFT website) we have made substantial progress.   The wagons are finished,  the Clark 40 forklift is finished and Hank is currently working on the 75 Chevy Blazer.   We are tweaking the decal dimensions to fit everything and are printing them ourselves.   We did not detail the undercarriages of the wagons like you guys did,  but concentrated more on the outward appearance of the wagons.   They are resin printed and I have just started working on them.   I will take some photos and post them this evening.   I have completed the Chevy stepvan.   I took an American Heritage Models diecast Rea express van and modified it to more closely resemble the AFT stepvan.   Cut out the struts in the side door windows,  cut and modified the chassis to accept the truck wheels(including the dually rears) from a 1934 Ford tanker replacing the chrome Saturn ring hubcaps.   Then repainted and decaled the van.   Here are some before/after shots.   More to follow


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Last edited by metalman

Ok Guys,

As promised,  here are the photos of the 10 AFT wagons as they currently sit.   After they were printed,  I let them cure/sit for about a month in a warm area.   Fixed a couple of small areas with plastic putty,  filed and sanded them smooth with 1000 grit and 4000 grit and gave them a couple light coats of Tamiya fine grey primer.   Also sprayed the letterboards and food concession marquee's with Tamiya gloss white where the decals will go.   When it gets warmer,  all the wagon roofs,  the food concession marquee's frames and some details will be sprayed aluminum as per prototypes.   The wagons will be sprayed gloss white on the areas where the decals go while the rest of the wagon will be satin white.   Everything will be finished off with clear satin.   I will hand paint the wheels/tires.   The first couple photos with 3 wagons are wagons 10,  11,  and 12.   The next few photos with 4 wagons are wagons 14,  15,  16,  and 17.   They are the ticket wagon and the 3 souvenir wagons.   The last few photos with 3 wagons are wagons 18,  19,  and 20.   They are the food wagons and the welding/maintenance wagon.


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@RRDOC posted:

Thanks Rolland for pointing me to the decals.  Your work inspired me. They look great.  I will check out Diecast Direct for the panel van.   I have only found 1 Chevy Blazer in O scale.   It is a 1969 Blazer, 1:43 and way overpriced.   I may have to bite the bullet.


I have the '69 Blazer and the windows plus other detail points are not correct for the '75 K5 Blazer used on the AFT.  There is a Matrix '78 Blazer that, while still slightly off, is much closer (and much more expensive).  Here is my '69 that I tried painting, but I will get the '78 and have a better painter do it.


@metalman posted:

...The wagons are finished,  the Clark 40 forklift is finished and Hank is currently working on the 75 Chevy Blazer.

Is your nephew printing these items?  I have not found a 1:43 model of a forklift that even remotely looks like the '72 Clark IT-40/Type G.  If he is making one of these forklifts I may ask to see if he will make another.  Here is the one I bought and painted and will use until I find something better.


I have all the decals but I am not going to use them until I get more correct vehicles and have them painted a lot better than these.

I do not plan to take the wagons or vehicles off the AtlasO 89' flatcars for any kind of static display, so I am not looking for the other cars.

I like what you are doing with your wagons.  My wagons are being 3D printed for me by Alan (Alanrail).  The ones in these pictures were test runs and not the final products.  The GGD combine was modified and painted by Tom (forum member Krieglok).

I corresponded with Todd Schannuth many years ago then forgot about using him as an asset to help in the design.


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Last edited by CAPPilot


Really nice job on the wagons and van.  Having poured over photos of the prototype, I can say your models are spot on.  Since you are printing your own decals, did you make each wagon its correct length?  That was the only limitation imposed by Todds excellent decals:  some of the wagons needed to be a little longer than prototype.  If I recall, the wagons were 3 or 4 different lengths.  I'd love to see the Clark forklift.  I was not looking forward to attempting a scratchbuild of it.


Good Morning,

Ron,  I don't know what happened but I sent you a private email through the Forum some days ago but I never heard back.   I had looked at that Matchbox 69 Blazer but it's just not right and it's 1/43 instead of 1/48 and is too large as all the wagons,  stepvan,  and forklift are 1/48.   I'm sure Hank will do a great job designing & printing the 75 Blazer in 1/48.    All my vehicles will also be just riding the flats with no static display.   Tom did a great job on the 76 tool car.   I also have a GGD heavyweight baggage car and a combine car waiting in the wings for the 76 project.   I don't know if Hank will have time to be printing any additional vehicles as he and our niece are getting married this summer and are in the process of building a house right now.   We may be able to add these files to the Forum 3D printing depository-I'll have to discuss it with him.

Bob,  yes we had a dickens of a time with the prototype wagon lengths as they range from 15' to 19' and looking at photos of the prototypes is deceiving because of some of the photo angles.    After going back and forth,  including with Todd Schannuth who provided us with many additional photos from his collection,  Hank and I got the wagon dimensions as close as possible using the 1/48 scale or 1/4" per foot.   So the model wagons range in length  from 3 3/4" to 4 3/4" with the #10 office wagon being the shortest.   Wagon heights are all the same except for the #18 and #19 food wagons which are taller due to the framework of the advertising marquee around the tops of both wagons.   We did cheat a bit on the width of the wagons as we made them a bit narrower than the prototypes  based on the width of the Atlas O 89' flatcars I'm using.

Hank is tweaking the decal dimensions to fit the advertising letterboards and our wagon dimensions since we are printing the decals ourselves.

We got a couple great front/side views of the Clark forklift to work with from Todd and I also scoured the internet and found the actual major dimensions from a Clark brochure.   Hank came up with a 3D print that is basically a small kit and works out great.


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Last edited by metalman

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