Christopher Brimley updated April 20, 2011


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  • Detailing and Weathering a B&O 50' N Scale Box

    Model Railroading - July 1998 - Page 36

    I often find the most common, nondescript, one might say "boring," rolling stock somehow the most interesting, especially when viewed in a typical consist. Maybe it's just me, but ordinary Boxcar Red, concentrated yard scenes with hundreds of cars with slight variations of hue and color, have a fascinating appeal.

    Almost 90% of these cars are lettered with purely functional white markings, very few with colorful billboard schemes, yet these were the real meat and potatoes of most railroads during the steam/diesel transition period. Such was the 50' Baltimore and Ohio box I dug up from prototype photos which I felt I could duplicate.


    Starting with a Micro-Trains carbody, one selected for its Boxcar Red base color, I stripped existing lettering by rubbing the surface with a soft cloth soaked in turpentine. One has to be careful to not remove background paint; too much stripping can cause the surface to bubble or distort. Once the car's lettering has been satisfactorily removed, the model can be altered and detailed.

    Numerous changes and added details ensured a different look to the Micro Trains model. Original wheel sets were discarded along with the N coupler, which was cut from each truck; the trucks, however, were retained. Micro-Trains low-pro file wheels, Z scale #905 couplers, and Precision Scale 0704 brass air hoses were installed once the coupler pin was cut off and removed. Although I chose to use Z scale couplers, N scale couplers can be used if desired. Although the plastic roofwalk may be retained, I removed the one on mine and filled in the resulting roof holes with putty, then sanded the surface smooth and flush. A Plano 50' etched steel roofwalk was substituted and cemented in place. Although wire grab irons should also be added to the roofwalk platforms on the ends, I chose to forego adding them on this particular model, as it is hard to notice this detail.

    The 8' corrugated Youngstown door can now be duplicated in a number of ways, whereas in the past one had to cannibalize a plain door from a 50' double-door box released by Micro-Trains a number of years ago. The position of the placards varies on the prototype, so check photos before attaching them with tiny droplets of Hot Stuff. Or you can use doors from other sources, such as those on the new Micro-Trains 50' auto box or the 8' doors on InterMountain's 50' double-door boxcar.


    Addition of Micro-Trains Z scale coupler and air hose. Sand carbody surface and styrene pieces, then cement in place with gap-filling Hot Stuff.
    Model Railroading - July 1998 - Page 37

    Once these additions are complete, apply a thin coat of Boxcar Red...the thinner the better since you already have the original base color. After the paint has dried, lettering may be applied. I used both CDS B&O 50' steel boxcar dry transfers (#350 & 357), checking photo references for positioning rather than relying on the diagram that comes with the transfers. Also, much of the superfine lettering often found on boxcars from this period can be improvised from Microscale decals. Graffiti, again cut from Microscale sets, was positioned on both sides of the car. Once all markings were set as desired, the model was sprayed with Dullcote. Weathering was then possible.

    A series of fine layers of weathering gradually aged the car. Thin oil washes were applied using dry-brush techniques with the tip of the brush. Then some pastel dust was applied between coats of fixative. A graphite pencil on its side was rubbed over the raised panel lines to create a subtle image of age and corrosion. A final coat of Blair Matte Spray fixative was used over the car's sides and ends. The trucks and roof should be weathered last and fixed with a light coating of Dullcote.

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