Steam Generator Doors and Windows

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been making slow but relatively steady progress on my pair of steam generator cars, with both bodies assembled and window and door trim installed. I’ve also managed to make the side and end doors and start adding the window sash detail. (The doors are completed on both cars, and the window sashes are complete on one of the two.)

The doors are a simple construction of .010″ styrene sheet cut and filed to fit the opening with the raised framing laminated on using .010x.040″ and .010x.080″ strip. The window openings in the doors were cut out after the trim work was applied and filed flush with the trim. Once complete the doors were cemented in place in the opening. The end doors were similar but without any of the strip trim work.

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The last step to finish the side windows is adding the window sashes inside the frames. I initially began to attempt framing this in with individual 2×4 and 2×2 strip, but after managing to get the bottom piece of the sash in all the windows, the process actually convinced me to pop them back out and take a similar tack to the doors and laminate the sash frame using .010″x.020″ and .010″x.040″ strip on a .010″ sheet backing and the VERY CAREFULLY cut and file out the opening. The .020″ thin sash frame is extremely fragile at that point, but once installed the effort is worth it and I found the process to be going much better than trying to build up the sash frames inside the opening from individual strips.

I have a few more windows to do on the second car yet before I move on to the next detailing stage in construction.

Algoma Central’s Home-Built Steam Generator Cars

When the Algoma Central dieselized in 1951-52, their varied roster of steam locomotives was replaced by a pair of SW8 switchers for duties in Steelton yard, and a fleet of 21 all-purpose GP7 road switchers for mainline power.

Unlike many other larger railroads that acquired some engines with optional built-in boilers to provide steam heat for passenger trains, the ACR opted for a standardized fleet of dual-purpose locomotives and none of their locomotive were ordered with steam generators. Instead, the ACR converted several cars in the Steelton car shops to act as stand-alone steam generators for passenger trains, allowing the entire locomotive fleet to be used in either freight or passenger service. Four cars, numbered AC 71-74 were custom built in the car shop on the underframes of old 40′ steel-braced wooden boxcars. One additional car, AC 76, was converted from baggage car 204, itself a conversion from a former US Army troop sleeper car from the Second World War.

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AC 72 at Steelton Yard in the early 1990s, courtesy Blair Smith. Coupled to the left and right are other steam generator cars converted from an old Northern Pacific steam locomotive auxiliary tender and a former US Army troop sleeper car.

I haven’t been doing much modelling work this summer on account of on top of the normal summer busyness I moved into a new home in mid-August. So there’s been a lot of preparation and settling in over the last while. Over the Labour Day long weekend however I was able to get a couple of projects out, and one of them is this scratchbuild of a pair of the home-built generator cars. AC 71 and 73 were retired and scrapped in the mid-late 1970s but 72 and 74 lasted in service through the 1980s and into the mid 1990s. Since the ACR locomotives did not have generators, every ACR passenger train would run with a generator car so I definitely have a need for some of these unique cars.

I actually started the sides and ends for this pair of cars quite some time ago, but have never wrote about them before now. The sides for one of the cars are almost complete, and the sides for the second car are still just blank rectangles requiring windows to be cut out yet. I did however do the basic fabrication for all four ends for the two cars. On the holiday Monday I was able to do the basic assembly of the first car using the completed sides.

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Sides and ends assembled, showing 2×6 ridge line for roof.

The dimensions for the sides and the window locations were worked out from photos and an ACR painting/lettering diagram in the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library Archives. It’s designed to fit over an Accurail underframe for their 40′ wood boxcar kit. (I’ve used this kit to model a trio of AC 3100-series boxcars, and these generator cars were built using underframes from retired cars from this series.)

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Basic car assembled with sides, ends and roof.

The sides and ends are cut from .040″ styrene, with basic end details added using various sizes of styrene strip. There’s a lot more to do there yet though, so stay tuned. The side windows have some framing trimmed around the openings using thin strip to replicate the prototype frame. More work needs to be done yet to actually model the window sashes within the frame, and to frame and model the doors.

Note that the car sides are not mirror imaged – the door is to the left-hand end on both sides.

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Detail of window framing.

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten so far, although I’m hoping to chip away at making more progress on this project over the next week or so. Probably starting with getting the sides for the second car completed so that both cars will be at the same point in order to progress forward with the finer detailing on both cars at once.

Lumber Wrap Assortment #11

Decker Lake (Burns Lake, BC) – ~2005-2012 *Revised*
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Domtar – ~2000-2010 *3.5′ Bundle*
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Nechako Lumber (Vanderhoof, BC) – ~2010
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Riverside-TOLKO (Kelowna, BC) – ~2005-2015
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Riverside-TOLKO (Kelowna, BC) – ~2005-2015 *3.5′ Bundle*
PDF | XLSXPrototype

TOLKO – ~2005-2015
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Freight Car Friday #55

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For this installment of Freight Car Friday we turn the clock way back to May 6, 1957 to look at one of the Algoma Central’s 48’6″ drop-end mill gondolas in its original 1947 as-delivered paint and lettering.

The lighting is a little dark and the image is of course in Black and White, so it doesn’t convey colour information, but this early spartan scheme (dressed up with the bear logo towards the right-hand end of the car side) features a black car body with white lettering – except the rings encircling the bear logo are in red. This paint scheme was typical of all AC steel gondolas from the late 1940s and was also applied to the home-built 39′ and 40′ gondolas in the 4601-4804 series.

While the billboard lettering with the ALGOMA CENTRAL name spelled out across the car side in 24″ tall letters and the bear herald in the centre is more familiar to most fans and modelers, and was applied to these cars n later years, the original delivery of these cars predates the first use of that lettering in 1958 on the new 52’6″ cars. (Also note that the familiar image of the billboard lettering is of a black car with white lettering, the original late 1950s version of this scheme had the car body painted brown. This only lasted a few years, and early 1960s repaints were in black.)

Photograph by Walter E. Frost, City of Vancouver Archives collection. (ref. no. CVA 447-1680)