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  • Modeling a Santa Fe ACF 4600 cf Part 1

    by Ken Edmier

    Photos by the author

    ATSF 314109, prototype for the model. Stoneburg, TX; March 1983.
    Model Railroading - April 2006 - Page 50

    Santa Fe ordered 1,000 American Car & Foundry (ACF) high-cube Center Flow covered hoppers in 1973, mainly for grain service. These cars helped eliminate the last of the 40' boxcars still in grain service. The cars were assigned the GA-183 class designation and numbers 313800-314799.

    The GA-183 class had three bays holding 4,600 cubic feet (cf), a 100-ton capacity, and a continuous trough hatch. They were delivered in Santa Fe's standard Mineral Brown paint with large Santa Fe billboard lettering. In addition to hauling grain, these cars were also used to haul potash and other commodities.

    Modeling Options

    Accurail makes a 4,600-cf Center Flow covered hopper model. While the Accurail model is nice, it is dated compared to recent covered hopper models with its thick molded end assemblies, non-etched roofwalk, and minimal brake detail. In addition, the model represents a late 70's/early 80s-built car with subtle detail differences from the GA-183 cars.

    Wanting to upgrade the Accurail model and correct the detail differences, I determined that InterMountain's 4,650-cf Center Flow covered hopper would make an excellent parts source. The Accurail car could be upgraded by using InterMountains end ladder assemblies and hopper assemblies. The hopper detail is much better on the InterMountain model as well as having the hopper bays extend correctly up into the carbody.

    You may be wondering why not just start with the InterMountain model. Accurail and InterMountain both offer 3-bay ACF Center Flow covered hoppers, but they actually represent two different prototypes. The Accurail model represents a Plate B 4,600cf car, which is 5" lower in height, 2.25" narrower in width, and 42" longer than InterMountains Plate C 4,650-cf car. Thus, although the cars are similar, they are also distinctively different.

    Stretched and modified InterMountain hopper section.
    Model Railroading - April 2006 - Page 51

    Getting Started

    Starting with the Accurail body, remove the roofwalk and supports, the end ladder assemblies and stirrup steps, but leave the end brackets on the ends. Fill any depressions or gouges in the roof with green putty and sand smooth (see Photo 1). On the brake end, cut the small angled piece next to the brake-cylinder hole and bend it vertically to make a complete vertical support. Fill the two semi-circular holes for the brake cylinder and the air tank with green putty.

    On the Accurail underframe, remove the molded brake levers and coupler boxes. After removing the coupler, spring and rear mounting post from Kadee #78 scale coupler boxes, drill through the center mounting hole with a #43 clearance drill. Drill each coupler hole on the underframe with a #50 tap and mount the coupler box with a Kadee #56 acetyl insulating screw. Trim the end of each screw even with the top of the underframe. Fill the space between each coupler box and the bolster with styrene sheet. Fill all slots and holes on the ends of the underframe as well as any gaps behind the coupler boxes with green putty and sand smooth. Then, cut right behind the bolsters at the front edge of the hopper bays and discard the center hopper bay section creating two end platforms. Using .040 styrene, make two splice plates 3' wide x 7' 6" long. These splice plates, which allow the new hopper assembly to mate with the end platforms, are placed on the top of the end platforms, overhanging 6" on the non-coupler ends.

    Install the ends into the Accurail body, using rubber bands to hold the ends tightly against the body until secured. Install the end platforms, making sure to place the end platform with the oval hole on the brake end. Again, use rubber bands around the shell to hold the end platforms tight. Using green putty, fill the small hole left in the end platforms in front of each end and the long oval shaped depressed area above each coupler pocket.

    Place a piece of .030 x .030 square styrene strip on each side of the inner body between the end platforms so the body offset is now even in height with the end platforms. To avoid seeing the complete inside of the car from the round access holes on each end, make two inner slope sheets, 7' 6" wide x 10' long, from .040 styrene. Secure them to the inside of the body on the upper slope extending to the splice plates on the end platforms (see Photo 2).

    From the InterMountain body, carefully remove the hopper-bay section using a new #18 chisel blade and sand the side and end edges as needed (see Photo 3). InterMountain has modeled the lower hopper sections as bolt-on pieces while the Santa Fe cars are welded on. Carefully remove the bolt and flange detail, along with the side supports for the discharge gates, from each hopper.

    The Accurail body is 42" longer then the InterMountain body and is evenly divided between the hopper bays. After cutting the InterMountain hopper section into three pieces, make two spacers 21" wide x 8' 9" long from .040 styrene. Make a top support piece from .040 styrene x 8' wide x 28' long. Attach the inner side of an end hopper to the top support approximately 5' from one end. Secure a spacer against the inner side of the hopper and the top support, then the center hopper, the second spacer and the second end hopper. I used metal siding styrene to represent the corrugated panels between the hoppers. Form two panels, each 4' wide x 8' 9" long, making sure the corrugation of the siding runs perpendicular to the ribs on the hopper bays. Before mounting, bevel the sides at an angle to match the slope of the hoppers. Then, add 1 oz. of weight to each hopper (see Photo 4).

    Trial fit the InterMountain hopper section into the Accurail body, trimming and filing as necessary before securing in place. Check to see if there are any openings between the hopper section and the body and fill with styrene strip and/or green putty as needed (see Photo 5).

    New InterMountain hopper section in the Accurail body.
    Model Railroading - April 2006 - Page 52

    Each end has two pieces of bar stock mounted at an angle. Cut four 27" long pieces of .010 x .030 styrene strip and mount between the diagonal braces and the side sheets. The ends also have splice plates where the diagonal braces meet the body, but these are absent on the Accurail body. The InterMountain body has these splice plates, so carefully remove the four splice plates, using a #18 chisel blade, and remount on the Accurail ends.

    Remove the molded-on pulling eyes and fill the pulling holes near the ends of the sidesill with green putty, sanding these areas smooth when dry.

    Non-Brake-End Detail

    After removing the small styrene block in the right-hand bottom corner, drill a #62 hole right where the block was. With a small cut file, file the hole into more of a vertical oval. Drill a second #62 hole in the bottom corner of the right diagonal brace. The nonbrake-end linkage consists of a brake lever, a bracket and two clevises with rods. The brake lever is .015 x .080 x 36" long styrene strip, with the sides tapered and the ends rounded. The bracket is .015 x .042 x 24" long flat brass, bent 90 3" in on each end. After securing a Precision Scale clevis on each end of the brake lever, attach a 36 " long piece of .019 brass wire onto the round end of each clevis. Secure the brake lever to the underside of the bracket. Then install the linkage with the brass wire through the holes and the bracket secured to the end platform with the back of the brake levers about even with the diagonal braces (see Photo 7).

    When this car was built, a sheet-metal cover covered part of the linkage next to the sidesill. Since the detailed prototype photos I had showed these covers removed, I left them off the model. These covers can be modeled using .003 brass sheet.

    Brake-End Detail

    Remove the mounting pins and drill out the two air line holes on the InterMountain air tank with a #78 bit and mount between the angular mounts, flattening the ends as required, with the bottom of the air tank resting on the diagonal braces. Remove the rear mounting pin and the lever from the InterMountain air cylinder, making sure to place the vertical lever in a safe place for reuse. Make a brake cylinder bracket from .005 brass sheet, 12" wide x 18" long, bent into a U-shape with a 12" center and two 3" legs. Drill a #78 hole in the back of the air cylinder before mounting on top of the U-shaped bracket. Mount the air cylinder with the bracket 9" away from the back of the body and just off the right diagonal brace.

    The defect holder and the brake diagram plate are located between the brake cylinder and the sidesill. The defect holder is .020 x .040 x 12" long styrene strip, and the brake diagram plate is the same size, but with the ends trimmed to an angle. Mount the defect holder just off the sidesill, even with brake cylinder, and mount the brake diagram plate between the defect holder and brake cylinder, even with the top of the brake cylinder.

    Drill a #62 hole in the bottom corner of the right diagonal brace. With a small blade, cut the hole into more of a vertical oval. Drill a second #62 hole in the left-hand bottom corner. The brake-end linkage consists of a short, bottom and top brake levers; a support angle; a support block; and two clevises with rods. The short brake lever is .015 x .060" x 18" long styrene strip with one end rounded. The bottom brake lever is .015 x .080 x 66 " long styrene strip, with the sides tapered and one end rounded. The top brake lever is .010 x .030 x 78" long brass strip. Start forming the linkage by securing a Precision Scale clevis on the round end of the short lever and attach a 60" long piece of .035 styrene rod to the round end of the clevis. Attach the bottom lever to the top of the short lever with a 6" overlap on the straight ends, in line. On the rounded end of the bottom lever, attach a clevis over the bottom and top lever and then attach a 30" long piece of .019 brass wire on the round end of the clevis. Place a slight bend in the top lever before securing the opposite end to the top of the clevis on the short lever. The support angle is 3/64" styrene channel x 20" long, with each side trimmed to about a third of the original size and secured to the bottom lever just off the overlap with the small lever. The support block is .020 x .020 x 15" long square styrene strip, located 12" off the opposite clevis (see Photo 8).

    Brake-end detail, in-progress. Note the added splice plates at the top of the diagonal braces, taken from the InterMountain carbody.
    Model Railroading - April 2006 - Page 53

    Install the brake linkage with the brass wire through the left-hand hole and the styrene rod through the hole to the right of the diagonal brace, with the brake levers located directly under the cone-shaped section of the brake cylinder. There are two braces that run through the brake linkage. Drill a #78 hole directly in front of the brake cylinder, aligned with the top of the oval opening for the first brace. The first brace is .015 brass wire x 42 " long, with one end bent 90 with a 6" leg and the other end bent with a 9" leg. Place the bracket, with the 6" end, between the top and bottom levers and place the 9" end through the drilled hole and secure in place. Drill a #69 hole to the right and a little back of the top of the oval opening for the second brace. The second brace is .010 x .030 x 45" long brass flat, with one end bent 90 with a 3" leg and the other end bent with a 6" leg. Place the bracket, with the 3 " end, between the top and bottom levers and place the 6 " end through the drilled hole and secure in place diagonally with the far end just to the left of the right diagonal brace.

    Take the InterMountain vertical lever, set aside from above, and remove the attached brake linkage. Enlarge the formed notch to fit onto the end of the brake-cylinder rod before securing the vertical lever with the lower end of the lever through the oval hole. Cut a piece of safety chain 6 " long and secure between the vertical lever and the bottom brake lever. Using .040 x .060 styrene strip, form an angled piece to fit between the vertical lever and the coupler box (see Photo 9).

    The retaining valve and control valve are mounted on two separate brackets, both mounted on the right-hand side of the end platform. The retaining valve is mounted on a 3/64" styrene angle x 24" long. Drill three #70 holes in an L-shape so that the angle faces outward and toward the brake cylinder. The base of the angle is located 6" away from the side sheet and 15" away from the face of the end platform.

    The control valve bracket is made from .005 brass sheet, 9" wide x 21" long, bent into a U-shape with a 9" center and two 6" legs. After trimming away the molded air lines from the InterMountain control valve, remove the protrusion opposite where the molded air lines were. After removing the bottom mounting pin, drill five #76 holes, two rows of two with one in the middle, in the panel were the molded air lines were. The control valve needs to be reduced in size by trimming the top, bottom and the sides of the left and right panels to a finished size of 3" x 3". Then, trim the left and right panels to be 6" each in length and then slightly round the corners. The control valve should be about 18" in length when completed. After mounting the control valve on the U-shaped bracket, slightly trim, at an angle, the corner of the two legs on the side of the control valve with the five holes. Install the bracket with the holes facing toward the air cylinder, with the end of the control valve just clearing the retaining valve angle.

    There is a horizontal support angle between the carbody and the end assembly made from 36 " long 3/ 64" styrene angle. Place the angle above the brake cylinder on the outside of the left diagonal brace, mounted 27" above the end platform and even with the end platform vertically.

    Using .015 brass wire, run two air lines from the air tank to the top two holes on the control valve. Run another air line from the back of the brake cylinder to the lower right hole. Place an air line support bracket, made from 9" long.010 x .030 styrene strip, on the back side of the horizontal support angle to the air line.

    The train air line runs along the bottom of the right sill (when looking at the brake end). Drill six #78 holes at the following distances from the brake end platform: 7' 6", 14' 6", 21', 29', 33' 3" and 42' 6", and install six eyebolts. Drill a #76 hole through the bolsters, 6" away from the coupler box for the train air line to pass through. The train air line was made from three pieces of .015 brass wire. The center piece runs from the back of the bolsters, along the bottom of the sill through the eyebolts, crossing over on the non-brake end between the hopper and the bolster. The two end pieces run from the front of the bolsters to even with the face of the coupler boxes. Drill a #50 hole in front of the control valve and next to the brake linkage. Run an air line, using .015 brass wire, between the lower left hole on the control valve and the train air line.

    Make a horizontal retaining valve bracket from a .010 x .030 x 10" long styrene strip, mounted at the top of the angle, offset away from the control valve. The retaining valve is from an InterMountain PS-1 boxcar-body detail set. After removing the retaining valve from its mounting bracket, mount the retaining valve to the underside of the bracket and then run the last air line between the retaining valve and the center hole on the control valve with .015 brass wire.

    The air release rod runs underneath the control valve and through three brackets. Form three brackets from .010 x .030 strip styrene strip, each 9" long. Drill a #78 hole near the top of the bracket before rounding the top of the bracket. Start by placing the first bracket on the inside of the right sill, to the right side of the control valve. Place the second bracket on the backside of the horizontal support bracket, between the air line support bracket and the diagonal brace. Using .008 brass wire, form a small loop at one end by wrapping it around a #74 drill bit. Feed the non-looped end of the wire through the first and then through the second bracket, bending as necessary to go under the control valve, before securing the wire to both brackets. After inserting the third bracket onto the wire, form the second loop at the proper location for the bracket to be mounted to the inside of the left sill. After forming the loop and trimming away the excess wire, secure the bracket in place (see Photos 10-11).

    Cut location for creating longer roof hatch. On the top hatch, keep the ends and discard the center. On the bottom hatch, keep the center and discard the end pieces.
    Model Railroading - April 2006 - Page 54

    Roof Hatches

    The Accurail kit comes with a smooth trough hatch, but the Santa Fe cars were equipped with a ribbed fiberglass trough hatch manufactured by A. O. Smith. The InterMountain kit includes the proper ribbed trough hatch, but it is too short as the prototypes hatch length is 48' 17/32". A second InterMountain ribbed trough hatch can be used to make it the proper length.

    After removing the mounting pins, make two cuts on the first InterMountain hatch for the end sections, about 16 ' 9 " from each end, and discard the center section. This should place the cuts, from each end, between the fourth and fifth hinge/latch bars and in the center of the second and third raised hatch rib (see top of Photo 12). Make two cuts on the second InterMountain hatch for the center section, about 14 ' 9 " from each end, and discard the end sections. This should place the cuts, from each end, just to the right of the fourth hinge/latch bar and just before the first raised hatch rib (see bottom of Photo 12). Using plastic cement, secure the ends from the first hatch to the center of the second hatch, making sure the hinges are all on the same side (see Photo 13).

    Remove the raised trough area on the Accurail body with a #18 chisel blade and sand smooth. Using a pencil, draw a semicircle were the ends of the raised trough area used to be. Using these semi-circles, center the ribbed trough hatch on the roof with the hinges on the left while looking at the brake end. Use green putty, as needed, to fill any gaps at the hatch joint locations and sand smooth (see Photo 14).

    We finish up this project next month with the end-ladder assemblies, discharge gates, roofwalk and finishing.

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