36′ Wooden Box Bunk Cars

Like every railway, especially those with extensive trackage through remote areas, the Algoma Central rostered a number of bunk cars to use as crew cabins for work crews working on construction or maintenance projects. Many of these cars are customized and home built for specific needs, usually from retired passenger or freight equipment.

The Algoma Central had a number of such cars converted from their old 36′ boxcars originally built in the early 20th century. There appeared to be a number of these in the 10600-10620 range, with a few others scattered elsewhere in the 10000 series work car numbering. A few of these cars were still in service in the early 1980s although starting to be replaced by pre-fabricated bunk units on flatcars (some of which reused the same numbers), and hoistman’s bunk car 10607 was even still in service in the late 1990s at Steelton yard.

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Engineman’s bunk car AC 10608 (above, Ted Ellis photo September 24, 1983) is a good example of the typical configuration of the ACR’s bunk car conversions from the old 36′ boxcars; although from the photos I’ve collected of about 4 or 5 different examples of these cars each one is slightly different from each other in the specific details.

Since I’ve been working on a few crane support cars, I’ve also wanted to have that old hoistman’s bunk car (AC 10607) to match up with the crane equipment set (also, that particular car was repainted in a VERY eye-catching bright yellow in the early 1980s). And if I was going to build one, I was going to at least build a second one.

I actually started these around Christmas, but during January and February I basically did absolutely no modelling as I was working on some home improvement projects. However with some of the work out of the way, lately I’ve been able to dive into this project again and make some progress on this pair of bodies.

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(Left/rear AC 10608 Engineman’s bunk, right/front AC 10607 Hoistman’s bunk)

Each of these two cars are based off of specific prototype photos to match the subtly different details of the cars. (In this case, primarily the end doors on 10607, and differences in ladder details (still to come). Otherwise, the side door and window arrangements on these particular two cars are virtually identical, although other cars had some variations.)

The bodies are fairly straightforward, being built from .040″ scribed styrene sheet. The roofs so far are plain styrene sheet with some internal bracing to maintain the proper shape along the length of the car with some scale 1×8 for the fascia strip along the top of the body at the eaves.

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The windows were definitely the most involved and time-consuming part of the project so far. Not having anything that would match both the small windows are larger windows by the doors (I probably could have used some Tichy windows for the smaller ones) I scratchbuilt all the windows entirely from styrene strip. The single small window shown above is 12 individual pieces of styrene strip.

After cutting a scale 24″x24″ opening for the window, the outside of the window was trimmed with scale 1×4″ strip (with a piece of scale 2×3″ for the thicker horizontal sill). The inner frame (sash) of the window was made up of individual .030″x.030″ strips and the window mullions were painstakingly assembled by three pieces of .020x.020″ strip carefully cut and filed to fit exactly in the opening. (An exercise in patience and precision if there ever was one.)

This completes some of the major work on the body however. There is some additional detailing to do, and the doors need to be fashioned and all the ladders/grab irons added to complete the body details and then the roof and underframe will need to be completed yet. I’m looking forward to getting these a bit more detailed and sitting on trucks. I think some of these cars will come together into an interesting looking collection of old cars for a work train at Hawk Junction.

AC 306 Painted and Assembled

This Sunday I had the advantage of having pretty much the entire day to myself and spent the afternoon masking and painting my modified troop sleeper-cum-baggage car. Earlier in the week, the sides were assembled into the body frame and the body, roof and pipe were separately primered and painted “Aluminum”. Sunday afternoon was spent masking and painting the letterboard stripe (CPR Tuscan/Maroon) and the underbody and sills (flat black).

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Once the paint had set and the masking was removed, I installed the window glass (using the original clear parts from the Walthers model for the existing windows and a sheet of clear styrene across the baggage door windows using a bottle of Microscale Kristal Kleer I had on hand (which seems to be more or less basically just regular white glue…?) and then installed the roof. The final bit of assembly involved installing the (previously bent and painted) air? pipe down the roof centreline, gluing it into holes above the end diaphragms, and tacked down at a couple of points to the roof carlines to keep it straight and attached. A small weight was placed on top to hold the pipe down while the glue dried.

With the body painted and assembled, one of the last tasks was to letter the car, which in this case consisted of only adding the car numbers to the four corners of the car using some of the extra digits from the number jumble in the Black Cat ACR passenger set. The railway never did get around to actually applying their name to the maroon stripe on the real car either, so that completes the lettering of this car…

A few final details remain such as stirrup steps below the baggage door and a light (passenger cars usually stayed in pretty good condition) weathering job, but this car is nearly complete!

Troop Sleeper Baggage Conversion Body Modifications and Details

So this project has been on the shelf for a long time. A very long time. I last wrote about this here in September 2013, and even that was to recount work that I had done before I actually started this blog. So far, I’ve posted about scratchbuilding the new doors, and briefly about plating some of the existing windows and vents (the easiest possible part of the job). Some of the work of cutting out the new opening had been started, but never fully cleaned up.

So recently I’ve pulled this out and started to finish that off.

The original troop sleeper configuration has a narrow personnel door in the centre, with single windows on either side. The new baggage door takes up part of this space. So the new opening needs to be marked and cut out, but also parts of the original openings need to be completely filled in. This involves filling in the windows with sheet styrene and removing all of the detail around them, as well as some of the same for the very top of the original door, which was slightly higher than the new sliding door. I used some styrene strip along the inside of the new opening to frame it up and unify the edges where the old window openings were, although this also helped correct some sloppiness in my original cut.

Then body putty was used on all the seams and areas around the door and window fill areas to fill and smooth things out, and everything sanded smooth. A bit of a rounded bevel was also filed into the door posts, although the top edge was left as square as possible.

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The new rivet strips along the door posts were added using Micro-Mark 3D rivet decals. The small plate above the door was added using an .060″ wide strip of .005″ styrene with more Micro-Mark decals for the corner rivets. (In older photos this plate seems to have mounted some sort of hook/hanger above the door, probably to assist in hauling up express cargo. It appears though that this hook was removed by 1980s era photos of the car I’m modelling, so I don’t have to try to bend wire into such a small feature. Phew.)

This is really getting this car starting to look like something now, and is pretty much down to a few coats of paint for the next step…

Generator End Details and Body Trim

A few more steps forward on these cars in getting the bodies finished up this week.

End details have been added with some electrical plugs from a Detail Associates locomotive M.U. stand detail kit, and the step platforms scratchbuilt from styrene sheet and strip. Mounting holes for all of the end of side grab irons have been located and drilled out, but these will be installed later after the bodies are painted. The final remaining details yet to be done on the ends are adding the brake wheel and hardware to the “B” end of the car, and adding ventilation louvers on the end doors using the 3D louver decals from Micro-Mark, which I do have on hand.

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One of the interesting visual features of these cars is the sheet metal overhang over the ends; I replicated this with .005″ styrene sheet wrapped around the roof of the car. The trim work on the upper fascia of the car side and the corners was also cut from .005″ strip, and then the joints were filled and sanded down. (And rounded off on the side corners.) I also added a few more pieces of .005″ sheet (barely visible at the far ends of the cars) for the roof hatch where the steam exhaust vents are mounted.

This project may pause for a bit while I work out how to do the roof vent/stack details (try to scratchbuild, try to draw up some parts for 3D printing?) but there is also some minor underframe work to be done yet as well.

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.