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I posted some photos of this car I recently completed on the 5/29 Weekend Photo Fun Thread, but thought I would put some more details and photos of what I did here.




I am sure I didn’t break a lot of new ground here, but some may find my construction techniques useful.  This is a Westside F34 flat car. It is of all brass construction, and comes painted with a brass-like color.   The first thing I did was disassemble the car:




A couple of the steps had fallen off, so I soldered them back in place using TIX solder and a Weller temperature control Soldering Station.  I took the wheel sets out of the trucks by removing the springs on one side (this was easier than I had thought, as they were not as tightly compressed, nor made of as fine wire, as the Atlas/Weaver trucks I am used to).  I painted the wheel sets with a mix of Polly Scale Railroad Tie Brown and Weathered Black.  I used a brush, avoiding the treads and the axle ends.  The wheelsets are in the plastic dish in the photo above.


By the way,  I like Polly Scale paints, and I shall miss them.  When my stock runs out, I shall adopt another brand of acrylics.  The one thing to remember about acrylics is they cure with exposure to air. So I always pour the paint from the bottle into a small container (a water bottle cap is ideal) and then quickly reseal the paint bottle.  That way you are minimizing exposure to air, and really importantly, not introducing air into the bottle every time you dip the brush back into the bottle.  Do not pour the contents of the cap back into the bottle!


I also wanted to maintain thoise neat looking prototypicallay correct coupler pockets.  They come loose from the car, and can be screwed into place in lieu of the Kadee boxes.  To make the Kadees fit these, I filed down the coupler shank from the factory thickness .110” to 0.085”. I added a sleeve around the existing coupler pocket boss. The sleeve was carved out of a Kadee plastic coupler box.  Sorry, I have no photos of this step!


I painted the car, trucks, and span bolsters separately. My only paint preparation was to wash everything in Dawn dishwashing detergent.  I figured the brass colored paint was as good a primer as any, so I painted the car with Polly Scale Zinc Chromate.  This is a PRR T&HS approved representation of PRR Freight Car Red.   I mix my acrylics 50/50 with clear flat, and add a drop of Dawn to the mix.  The clear flat provides additional binders to the paint, so it sticks well. At 35 psi, the mixture goes on very smoothly. I applied several light coats,  and used a hairdryer between coats.





 I let everything dry overnight after the last coat.   The resulting finish is rock hard. 


To apply decals you need a glossy finish.  I now use Testors Model Master High Gloss Clearcoat. It comes in a spray can, Stock number 2936:


This is an ENAMEL paint.  Do not use a lacquer based paint, such as Testors Gloss Clearcoat.  In the past I have tried various schemes to get a good surface for decaling, including Future Floor Wax, baking Scalecoat paint, Testors Glosscote (1361),  Microscale Gloss, and mixing clear gloss with the paint.   None work as well as this.  The four things the gloss enamel brings to the table are


1) A really glossy finish. Apply two mist coats, and then a heavy final coat

2) It is impervious to all decal solvents. Including Walthers Solvaset, Microsol, and Micro Set

3) It self heals after a light cutting with the tip of a #11 blade.  So you can cut criss cross slits all over your decal, and then apply Solvaset to get all the bubbles out.

4) It is impervious to the final dullcote lacquer spray


The only down side is you need to wait a full 24 hours for the enamel to cure. Sadly, patience is not a quality I have.  


Here is a close up of the car after a decal is applied, but before the flat finish has been applied:




 Go ahead, find the film!


I then applied three light coats of Testors Dullcote. 


The decals, by the way were from an old Champ set (CN-290) augmented with a set I had custom made by LBR enterprises.  I highly recommend LBR, who is a Forum Sponsor.  I did the artwork on my computer (which required paying for and down loading the proper PRR Clarendon fonts) and they printed the sheets.  Their decals are easy to apply, crisp, and quire robust.  In this photo the coupler pocket decal and end lettering is from LBR:




 Note the nice detail, including the cast lettering, on the trucks.  The couplers are painted with Rustoleum Camoflauge Black,  a light coat of Rustoleum Camoflauge Dark Earth,  then spritzes of Krylon Brown Boots and Rustoleum Terra Cotta.  No chalks were harmed in that weathering technique. And despite dire warnings to the contrary, the couplers work just fine.


I then weathered the car with mists of my weathering mix.  I have no idea what is in it, because it keeps changing. I know its about 10:1 clear flat to paint, and the paint includes some combination of Grimy Black, Roof Brown, Railroad Tie Brown, Concrete, and Reefer White.



That's it for the car.  For the load, I wanted something heavy that warrants the load capacity of the car, and interesting.  So I settled for some mysterious nuclear load.  Like the reaction chamber for a frozen fiber z-pinch fusion reactor.


In reality, the load is made from an Oil Mist Eliminator.  It is supposed to mount on the inlet of a vacuum pump to prevent oil from back streaming into the equipment:


How I got this one shall also remain a mystery. But suffice it to say it was no longer functional or needed.  I changed the through bolts to button head caps screws, and then painted the entire thing with Tamiya IJN Gray Green. (AS-29).  I painted the bottom of the slots you see flat black, and then painted some bridal veil flat silver, and wrapped it around the body.  I added a few I beams, and then mounted it on the car:




The tie downs were made from Beadalon 19 strand beading wire 0.015” diameter. 



This stuff looks just like cable, because it is!  I made the hooks using the components in this photo:




Everything came from AC Moore.   I used Tichy Turnbuckles at the lower end of the tie down.  I slip the Beadalon wire through the turnbuckle, extending it about 2” past. I add a drop of ZAP-A-GAP to the end. When the ZAP-A-GAP is cured, the bead prevents the wire from pulling through.   The last inch of the tie down cables are Elastic Cord (such as EZ-Wire) painted aluminum.  These keep the tie down cables taught. I tie a small knot in the cord, push it through the turnbuckle, and then insert them through the slots in the deck. I stretch the cord and then apply a crimp bead applied to prevent the cord from pulling through.


Other details are Grandt Line NBW castings, bass wood cribbing, and signs made on my computer. I printed them on glossy photo paper, and then applied Dullcote to taste.


I deliberately decided to only lightly weather this car, and apply no weathering to the load. I reasoned that since this car will end up inside a nuclear facility, it would have been cleaned somewhat.   And of course, the reactor is brand new.




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Last edited by John Sethian
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Originally Posted by christopher N&W:
It would be more impressive if I got him to sign a magazine version, but the stapled together mess of pages I have here will have to do.
Originally Posted by mwb:

Some good info here and it is worth a printout.

Probably could have gotten it published somewhere, too,


Be more impressed if you could get him to sign a blank check....

John, was just watching OGR's YouTube video of your layout and this car prompted me to search Google, glad I found it. Amazing work! And your layout is phenomenal, as a jersey native and huge Pennsylvania RR fan your layout is an inspiration to my future plans of building one myself. All the best, Paul

I know that this is an old thread that I just barely remember reading (and now wonder why I did not post this reply!) and thought at the time that the car very closely resembles an Athearn HO ERIE flat that I have had since before time began (around 1958, I believe; it was part of a birthday trainset gift). Over the years I have modified the car: removed the glued-on pipe load, converted it to KDs, added more weights in the underframe "slots", and maybe others, too. One thing I did not do (that I had seriously thought about) was convert it to roller-bearing trucks; those older Athearn sprung metal trucks/metal wheelsets are just too good to replace; even the similar sprung metal O scale ones from that era are hard to beat. Anyway, your Westside flat turned out very nice; I wish that I had the patience to do something like that.

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