Boom Car Scratchbuild

Here’s the second gondola car in progress. This one will end up becoming AC 10588, which is one of several cars modified as a boom car for one of the ACR light diesel cranes.


Completed sides for 10588

Rebuilt from one of the cars in the AC 4804-4850 series, the additional unique features of this car include the angled cut offs at each end which allow the crane’s boom to clear and swing over the car. Also, slightly hidden inside the car’s side walls appears to be several equipment lockers as well as a support frame for the crane boom to rest on in transit.

ACR from Blair 001 (2)

AC 10588 with crane 10215 at Steelton yard in the 1990s. Blair Smith photo.

This evening I managed to assemble the sides of this car with low ends, and also applied the basic end bracing to both cars. Major parts still to be done on both cars is the entire underframe and floor (obviously) and the finer details like grab irons. Then of course the additional equipment storage lockers for both cars.


Both bodies assembled (sides and ends). Still needs floor and under frame.

ACR Home Built 40′ Gondolas – Drawings and Scratchbuild

In the late 1940s, the Algoma Central Railway’s car shops rebuilt 250 old 40′ flatcars into gondolas by fabricating new bodies on existing underframes. This fleet comprised two unique series: AC 4601-4803, 203 cars with 39’5″ inside length rebuilt from late 1946 to late 1947; and AC 4804-4850, 47 cars with 40’10” inside length rebuilt in mid-1948. In addition to the extra one foot of length, the latter cars can be visually identified from the former by a different spacing of the side ribs. These cars lasted in revenue service into the 1970s by which time most of them were retired, but several cars remained in work service for a longer time.


AC 10591, ex-4601-4803 series gondola in work service as a bucket car for the railway’s diesel host in the early 1990s. Photo courtesy Blair Smith.

As “new”, the cars were painted in a simple black scheme with what is probably the first usage of the black bear logo on freight cars. The logo was ringed in red, and a partial example of a 4601-4803 series car in original paint can be seen on the left edge of this 1956 photo. (Another 350 brand-new 48’6″ gondolas were also acquired in September 1947 from National Steel Car in the AC 3501-3850 series, and also painted this way when new.) Meanwhile, this 1979 photo of AC 4849 shows the paint scheme they wore in the 1960s-1970s.

Obviously such a strikingly unique car with those open fish-belly side sill reinforcements is just begging to be modeled, and this home-built car is just the thing to help capture the character of the railway. To that end, I’ve used known overall dimensions from ORER listings (thanks to Railwire user “Kisatchie” for looking up some numbers for me as my oldest copy is from 1975 which no longer includes either of these series) and photographs to try to work out some sketches and a “reasonably close” scale drawing.


Side elevation drawings comparing AC 4601-4803 and 4804-4850 series gondolas.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been slowly working on a pair of these cars – one each of each type. Both will become support cars for my diesel crane: bucket car 10591 (ex-4601-4803) and boom car 10588 (ex-4804-4850).


In progress model of 4601-4803 series car.

The sides are .020″ styrene, with side posts consisting of a .040x.040″ strip on a .010x.060″ bottom flange – although it appears the ribs on the prototype car are actually a Z-angle. The drop side sill is .040x.060″ strip and the top chord is .010x.080″ strip.

Stay tuned for more progress on what should be a very unique pair of cars.

Work Car Wednesday #2


These two interesting gondola cars are support cars that would be paired with one of the railway’s light diesel hoist to carry buckets and other attachments and supplies for the crane.

The above car, AC 10588, is a boom car; it carries crane supplies and a clamshell bucket, and would be coupled directly to the crane while in transit, with the crane’s boom positioned and tied down over this car. Notice how the corners of the car have been cut off at an angle to allow the crane boom to swing over the car. AC 10587 has been identified as an almost identical car.

The second car below, AC 10591, is labelled simply as a bucket car. Loaded with no less than four different clamshell buckets, it also features a storage area at the close end for related supplies. The yellow car coupled at the far end is bunk car AC 10607, which was assigned as a crane operator’s sleeping car.


Both of these two cars are also rebuilt from older Algoma Central gondolas from the series AC 4601-4803 or 4804-4850, which were (re)built by the AC’s car shops in 1946-1948 from older 40′ flatcar underframes.

Both photos courtesy of Blair Smith.