Slope Sheets and Hopper Body Assembly

Continuing to make progress on my hopper scratchbuilds this week, assembling the body sides and end sheets.

The above photo shows the layout of the end sheets on the styrene sheet, these were laid out and cut out at the same time as the body side sheets. The angles in this project make things interesting, but essentially it’s a fairly straightforward exercise in geometry.

The tops of the ends are completely straightforward being a simple flat panel, and with the .060″ square top chord extended around. The square stock was filed to fit and the ends assembled to the bodies.

Next step is installing the end slope sheets into the body. The main trick here is to be very carefully to install everything square.

  

I have a few more of the cars to work through this week yet, and then the next step after that will be to cut out and install the intermediate slope sheets for the central bay.

AC 8600-8629 Series Hoppers Part 1 – Background and Body Sides

AC 6056 at Wawa in March 1981. Slide from my collection, photographer unknown.

In the 1980s, the Algoma Central rostered three types of 100-ton hopper cars in Wawa iron ore service: 100 of the distinctive and unique round-sided black hoppers in the 8000 series, built in 1971 by National Steel Car, 300 of the green rapid-discharge hoppers also built by NSC (using an Ortner Freight Car design under license) in 1974-75, and 30 “standard” triple hoppers acquired secondhand from the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission around 1978.

The Ontario Northland hoppers were part of a 72 car series ONT 6000-6071 built by NSC in 1971 and were used in iron ore service from Adams Mine at Dane, ON to a steel mill somewhere in Pennsylvania. For this service, triple hoppers were provided into a pool by Ontario Northland, Canadian National and New York Central (CASO and TH&B cars). Around 1977 or 1978 this particular service to Pennsylvania had either changed or ended completely, and the cars either went back into general usage by their owners (CASO cars were likely renumbered back to original NYC & PLE source series) or were sold off. 30 of the ONT cars were sold to Algoma Central in 1978; I’m not entirely sure where the other 42 ONT cars went initially, but today they can be found on the New Hampshire Northcoast Railroad in New England. When first acquired, the cars were just given AC reporting marks and kept their original numbers for a few years, but were later renumbered into the 8600-8629 series sometime around 1984.

AC 8620 at Scotch Block (Halton Hills), ON October 18, 2008. Photo by David Graham. All the years of weathering have obscured the original colour and much of the lettering, but these cars were painted in the Ontario Northland’s dark green “Progressive” scheme.

While basically a standard design for a hopper, there’s no model out there that exactly matches this car. These are relatively modern welded cars built in the 1970s, but as they were intending to haul iron ore and rock, their size is much smaller than many other modern cars. Most models that are out there that are of an appropriate size tend to represent 90-ton cars a few decades older than these cars, with a different number of side posts/panels and riveted construction. One could accept a riveted car as a stand-in, but the difference in side panels causes issues for the spacing and placement of the lettering.

So, to solve this problem, I turn to my styrene supply to build a few of them for the fleet…

First of all, I spent time carefully working up my own scale drawings as a guide for this project. With the angles involved with the hopper bays, it’s a little more complicated of a build than a small shed or something. Using equipment registers I can find out the major overall dimensions, and using some relatively side-on photos available online, I was able to scale out a few dimensions and work up a drawing.

Actual dimensions of ONT 6000-6071 series, from ORER:

Inside Length 40’6″
Width 9’8″
Height 6’0″
Outside Length* 44’2″
Width** 10’7″
Height*** 10’8″
Capacity lbs 200,000
Cuft 2700

* Over couplers
** At top of side
*** From rail head to top of side

Basic undetailed scratchbuild hopper side.

The basic sides/end are constructed from .020″ styrene plastic sheet, with HO scale 4×4 side posts and an .060″ square top chord. To represent the angled bracing at the bottom, I cemented a strip of .060″ angle, open-side down along the bottom edge of the car side. (The bottom of the side posts are all cut off at a 45 degree angle with my Chopper.) General side dimension notes – top of side: 40’6″; top chord overhangs by 6″ for length of 41’6″; height of side: 7’6″, length of bottom of side: 31’6″ (length of bay cut-out: 4’6″), height of top ends, 2’9″.

Note the different spacing between the ribs at the middle of the car compared the outer bays – this was deliberate and I took a lot of time to try to make sure the panel widths were scaled out properly based on the prototype photos. I worked it out to about 25″ between the 4″ ribs (or 29″ rib centrelines) for the four middle panels and 30″ (34″ rib centrelines) panel width for the outer panels.

Since if I’m going to build one, I can build more than one; and if I build more than one, it’s efficient to build them all at the same time, assembly line style, so once I finish basic construction on all of the sides for the cars, I can move on to assembling the sides with the ends…

Note: for anyone working in N-scale, I found this model on Shapeways.

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.

AC_10608_Steelton_9_24_1983

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.

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.