AC Covered Steel Coil Gondolas

One of the interesting variations of gondolas operated by the Algoma Central was their group of 52′ gondolas modified for steel coil service. These cars were outfitted with internal wooden bunks for loading the coils of sheet steel and three piece round steel covers to protect the contents from the elements. These covers were painted bright yellow, which on top of the standard black ACR gondola made for an eye-catching appearance. (Although as the covers got banged up during handling, they began to rust quite heavily and some later photos show hoods on some cars that are almost uniformly brown.)

AC 903 coil steel service gondola at Winnipeg, MB in the 1990s. James A. Brookman photo.

All told there were a total of 45 cars in this service by the mid 1980s. Roster listings are a little messy, but it appears the first 25 cars numbered 900-924 were delivered new by National Steel Car in December 1961. A total of 20 additional cars would be drawn from the 601-875 series for conversion in the late 1970s-early 1980s and renumbered 925-934 and 975-984. (Some notes in Official Railway Equipment Registers in the mid-late 1980s also show an additional 10 cars within the 601-875 series marked out as being fitted with coil bunks but not covers, and maintaining their original numbers.)

SeriesAAR Mech.BuiltNote
converted between 1980-84
converted 1979-80

As these cars are quite visually distinctive, and important to steel products service on my mid 1980s era layout, I’ve long wanted to model some of these, and have kicked around some ideas for scratchbuilding the hoods out of styrene tube, or styrene sheet wrapped around a former, but never got around to actually building any yet.

A couple of years ago however, I acquired an Elegoo Saturn 3D printer, and decided that these coil hoods might be well suited to that application. I drew up the designs from photos and was able to print out the hoods for several cars.

The hoods were printed in three pieces similar to the real ones, including the reinforcing ribs and stacking brackets as part of the print. The crane lifting brackets on the tops of the hoods were soldered together from brass wire and small bits cut from .005″ brass sheet.

After completion, the hoods were primed and then painted yellow (Vallejo Model Air #71.002 Medium Yellow) and installed on the cars. My 52′ gondola models are all from Rapido Trains, as they are the only ones that correctly match the spacing and number of side ribs, but the hoods fit other models of 52′ gondola as well. Two cars were painted from undecorated models using decals from Precision Design Co. which match the more rounded billboard lettering style on the lower numbered 900 series cars, while the rest of the cars were factory painted Rapido cars with just renumbering into 900 series numbers, which represent nicely cars renumbered from the 601-875 series.

My fleet of AC coil steel gons now stands at seven, a respectable number which should cover my operational needs quite nicely when combined with some CN and CP coil cars. Now all that remains is some weathering, and a proper layout to run them on!

Wawa Station Doors and Windows

Part of this project was done quite a long time ago, and then other projects got in the way for a while. After a big cleanup of my hobby workspace last weekend, I rotated the Wawa station back onto the workbench to actually finish off some detailing on this structure.

The station featured some unique windows in different sizes, so I drew and 3D printed the windows and entry doors for the station. With bathroom, operator’s bay, and upstairs hallway and kitchen windows all being unique sizes, and upstairs windows being frame mounted and ground floor windows mounted in brick, there are no fewer than a dozen unique windows and two doors (left and right versions) that were drawn for this project.

3D printed entry door

Having been designed following the architectural blueprints and printed, the windows were all primed and painted in the green colour I used for the station trimwork, and clear plastic installed on the back side with clear parts cement. The doors featured aluminum push bars in front of a large glass window. The aluminum bars and door locks were hand painted with a fine tipped brush.

Finished door after detail painting.

Once the windows were painted and had their clear plastic “glass” installed, it was a matter of carefully cleaning up the openings in the structure with a file to precisely fit the doors and windows, and glue them in.

Windows and doors installed on track side, except baggage room glass block windows.

The baggage room of the station featured glass block windows instead of framed windows. To model these, I scratchbuilt the glass block using some heavy plastic from some clear packaging. Lines were scribed at scale 6″ spacing, and the front side painted with light grey acrylic which was quickly wiped off the surface with a paper towel in order to just fill in the mortar lines between the “blocks” and leave the glass clear.

Mortar lines scribed into clear plastic for glass block windows.

After painting the mortar lines on the “front” of the piece, I flipped it over and sanded the back side with super fine sandpaper in order to rough up the surface and make it cloudy looking. Then the pieces were cut to size and filed to fit precisely in the window openings and glued in place using clear parts cement.

Finished windows and doors including glass block windows in baggage room. (Rear/street side.)

When gluing in the glass block pieces like this, push them into the opening from the inside of the structure, as any glue that gets on the rear/inside of the window will smooth out the roughed up surface and make a visually clear spot again.

The main details left to complete the station are the name signs and to re-do the gravel roof. The station was disused by the time period I am modelling, and it is possible that I should actually board up the glass windows for the abandoned structure, but for now I’ll leave all the windows intact.