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Now caught up on school, I have a few hours to play around and start building a 1:32 scale flat car. Brian (Allegheny on MLS) created this flat car about ten years ago, and has made many modifications over the years. I think I am tinkering with version 10.0.

The pieces are all cut from basswood, and has been designed to use friction to hold the car together. Upon receiving it, I brought it home and took all the pieces apart, laid them out and last night, Karen took the photo below.



Brian sent me an article last year on making brake systems, and it will be my guide as I continue. If anyone would like a copy of it, please let me know. It is pretty big, I’m not sure I can post it here due to size.

Today I went to the storage unit and grabbed one of my Accucraft PFE refers, brought it home, tore it apart and stripped it of all brake hardware. Also removed were the trucks, couplers and rubber air hoses. Now I have some pieces in scale to play with. I am almost finished gluing the car together and will post a picture, along with all the gear stripped off the reefer.
 

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Jerry,

This is a test run at the moment, so we wanted to document progress here.

The frame has been glued together, most of it at least. The two side skirts will remain off until the end pieces are installed, and the decking. The pockets fit Kadee's perfectly, will work on spring. Also time will have to be spent underneath to find the correct spacing between the frame and the trucks so couplers match. Tonight temp tubing was used to take the pictures.


Enjoy:







The next round of pictures will be better focused.
 

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A little background on this project.....

I built Version 1 of this car back in 1978. It was a model of a PRR standard 40' flat car built in their Juniata shops in 1936-37. I initially was concerned about how to replicate all the 20 gazillion rivets as well - until I found documentation of an experimental run of 12 cars that were all welded from simple steel plate stock. That first car was built in 1:24 fine scale out of basswood. Where it is now is anyone's guess.


I lost interest in large scale for 20 years and finally started looking at 1:29 several years after we moved into our current home where I have a back yard large enough to build a good sized railroad (I also have a large basement for an N scale layout to justify all the stuff I've been buying for the last 25 years). After the LS bug bit again, I resurected the plans/data for the flatcar. I tinkered with the design, initially redrawing it for 1:29 and made several attempts at putting together a car - must have been through version 4 or 5.

Then about three years ago, someone offered me a tool at a price I just couldn't turn down - a CO2 laser engraver with a 20x38"cutting envelope.


While I had started off in LS by building a 1/2" scale car (anyone remember the article in the Feb 1974 issue of Railroad Modeler about the original Fairplex railroad? - it was 1/2" scale), I had always thought that 1:32 was the perfect marriage of scale to Gauge 1 track. Virtually everything in 1:24 had to be scratchbuilt but even 10 years ago there were some detail parts that were available in 1:32. Anyway, after I got the laser into my basement, I immediately went to work creating a version in 1:32. The sample I gave to Kent I think is #7 or #8 - I've lost track of the version numbers at this point. The 1:32 car is currently in version 12 as I keep tweaking the fit of various tabs and slots. I've also been adding holes and slots to the various subframe members for the brake rigging and piping.


About a year and a half ago, I was trading some info with several modelers on the west coast and was asked if I could build a version in 1:22.5 - in acrylic. Using CAD, it's not all that hard scaling something like this up, so I said "why not."

If only I had known.

I immediately started having all kinds of problems with the fit of the tabs and slots in acrylic. Where you could be off by as much as 0.005" in basswood and force fit a tab into a slot, acrylic in these thicknesses (1.5 and 3 mm) will crack if you try to force it. Flooding the area with solvent will allow it to fit by dissolving/softening the plastic, but, it gets messy. Making the slot bigger also gets messy as you need to use more solvent. A looser, sloppier fit also makes the frame much weaker and more difficult to square up. The frame I gave to Kent, when simply supported at the truck bolsters will hold over five pounds - with NO glue.


Anyway, after playing with if for over a year, I finally discovered that there was a flaw in the laser's firmware that caused inconsistent travel in the x & y-directions. The variation was limited to maybe 0.003" but this was enough to be very problematic for my design. After I convinced the manufacturer of the need for a revision, it took them another several months to tweak their software. It seems to be working better now, but is still not perfect.


At the moment, I'm on about version 8 of the 1:22.5 version in acrylic and hope to get the cars I promised out to the West Coast later this spring (only a year late - sorry about that, you left coasters!).

Jerry,


I think at some point I will offer them as a basic kit, but have no timetable for doing so. What scale(s) and material would you and/or others be interested in?

Jack,


Convincing rivet detail has always been a concern. Short of drilling several thousand holes (this could be done easily with the laser, though it would add quite a bit of cutting time - read: higher cost) to any model for sale that might ultimately be produced) and then inserting brass escucheon pins, there are not many options. Some people have done very credible jobs with globs of paint, but I don't have the steady hands this requires. There is a tool that military modelers use that lifts a bead of plastic from the surface, but again, you need to have steady hands. One way to do it would be to chuck the completed car into a CNC controlled glue-dispensing set-up - that would give you very precisely placed accurately sized globs of resin to represent rivets. At that point, though, it might almost be cheaper/easier to make molds to cast sides from resin like our Ninja friend Burl. As I had planned to build a string of 12-16 cars for myself, I was going to have stake pockets and several other detail parts photochemically etched from brass sheet locally. If there was interest in this kind of stuff, I suppose I could get additional sheets etched.


Kent,

I've been looking for the end sills - they were not in the box with the remainder of the car, so I will have to cut another set. Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure which version I gave you, so I will probably have to mail you 3 or 4 different sets and you'll need to test them for fit before glue up.


Brian
 

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Thanks for the tip Pete.
 

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A couple of options for rivets. First easy but tedious option is a simple styrene overlay for the sides that you press dimples into. Another variation would be vacuum formed styrene overlay with rivet detail. A tbhird option would be a simple resin casting either a complete side sill or a simple overlay. Same might be done for end sill detail.

Stake pockets could be etched as you mention but have you thought of having them cast? I made some 1:32 wood framed flat cars back in the early 1980s which used some simple cast stakepockets that had a large central peg on the back side. The side sill had holes that the pockets pressed into and were glued in place. They were crude at the time since I had little to work with but today they would be relatively nice and certainly cheap.

I don't know what other parts like brake are available but any of those parts might also be cast.

Jack
 
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