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  • Santa Fe Bx-32 Class

    by P. J. Student

    Page 46: The author's Santa Fe Bx-32. The modified sill, strap steps, wood running board, are excellent examples of a little work going a long way.

    Page 47: A Bx-32 was the first of a long line of Santa Fe freight cars to bear the famous "map " paint scheme. The curved line map was. replaced in just seven months with the straight line map which lasted until 1947. Photos accompanying this article are by the author.
    Prototype Modeler - August 1977 - Page 46 Prototype Modeler - August 1977 - Page 47


    The Santa Fe Map and Name Train Slogan paint scheme for freight cars was introduced to the railroad industry in the September, 1940, issue of Railway Mechanical Engineer. The model for this new paint scheme was a Bx-32 box car, 148304 specifically.

    The April, 1947, issue of the Railway Equipment Register shows that this car was in a series of 1734 cars (1482000-149933). 1723 of these cars were still on the roster in 1947.

    Back in a n early issue of the Santa Fe Modelers Association Newsletter Dick Hendrickson mentioned that the Bx-31, Bx-32, and Bx-36 cars are identical so you can build any one of these three classes from the following information.


    Begin by removing the running board and upper door guides from an undecorated or stripped Athearn 40' box car.

    Remove the gusset plates at the bottom of the sides and the sill steps. Leave the polling pocket tabs alone for now. Next, shave off all the end detail. I find it is best to use a number 5 or 6 X-acto knife handle with a number 18 blade but that may just be a personal preference. Hold the body against the edge of your work bench and shove the knife into it. Remove any remaining material with 60-grit sand paper or Emery cloth or a 12" bastard file.

    Take a pair of Silver Streak (now Walthers) Youngstown ends and clean the castings of flash. The bead at the top needs to be removed. Wrap about three layers of masking tape around the castings to protect the rib detail and file off the bead with about a 6" single cut mill file. This will leave a nice, polished surface.

    Using your favorite contact cement, cement the ends in place centered from side to side and flush on the bottom. Set the body aside while the cement sets. While you have the contact cement out add additional weight to the top of the car floor to meet your weight specifications.

    Athearn cars come with a "straight" center sill while the prototype has a "fish belly" center sill. Begin by removing the cross-bearers and air brake equipment castings from the underframe. Save the air reservoir. Remove the flange from the center sill. Make two web plates as shown in Figure 1 from .015" ABS or sheet styrene. Join these to the center sill keep ing the tops flush with a solvent type cement.

    After the joint has set, notch the center sill to the profile of the new web plates at the bolster. Cut a piece of .010" styrene 27" x 28'-6". Begin joining it to the web plates on the slope of one bolster. After this joint has set, bend the flange plate down and join it to the straight part of the web plate. After this joint has set, finish by joining it to the other sloping part of the web plate. Set the underframe assembly aside and return to the body.

    Cement the floor to the car body.

    Cut two pieces of .015" ABS or styrene 1'-0" x 39'-10". Join these, one per side, to the flange on the car floor. Cut two more pieces 8" x 39'-10". Join these to the outside surface of the other two pieces. This forms the inset side sill. After the joints have set, sand or file the bottom edge flush with the polling pocket tabs.

    Cut twenty pieces of Plastruct 3/64" "T" section 3/16" long. Cement one of these below each rivet line and door post. After these have set, trim them flush with the bottom of the side sills. (I find a pair of Lambert Rail Nippers ideal for this.)

    The end ladders are a Con-Cor product. Use ACC cement to attach them to the ends. The car has an Ajax brake housing. Use ACC cement to attach a Cal-Scale housing to one end cenetered about 1'-4" from the centerline of the end. Below, center a brake step 10" x 30". Form a vertical handbrake rod from .020" brass wire. Cement this to the end of the chain on the Cal-Scale casting.

    Cement sill steps on the four ends of the side sills. I used Con-Cor sill steps; NWSL also makes a fine sill step or you can form them from .010" x .030" brass strip stock.

    Install couplers of your choice in the underframe. Cut off the projection on the bolsters as the correct trucks for this car are Kadee Andrews. Also, it helps if you first tap the holes in the floor with a 2-56 tap before installing the trucks.

    Install the kit supplied weight. Trim the ends of the bolster to fit inside the new side sills. Install the modified under frame and trucks. Check for coupler height.

    Install the doors and upper door guide.

    Clean the air reservoir to the basic cylinder. Flatten half of one head to take a .010" mounting bracket. Cut a piece of .010" styrene 1'-0" x 1'-3". Cement this to the short part across the head, then cement this to the inside of the side sill 10'-9" from the A end on the right side.

    The running boards for this car are wood. The parts for these can be made now, but I don't install them until after I paint and decal the car. Cut a piece of scale lumber for the running board 42'-0" long (this can either be milled running board or built up from scale lumber). Trim the latitudinal running boards to seven full boards. Cut four pieces of 1/32" x 1/16" basswood 3'-0" long. Cement 1/32" edge 1/16" inset on the under side of the latitudinal running boards. Add roof grab irons of .020" wire.

    I paint the running boards with the same mix of mineral brown is use for spraying.

    Dip the car in alcohol to remove the oil and grease from handling during assembly. Spray the car with Barrier or Shield coat. When this is dry, spray it with mineral brown. (Mineral Brown can be mixed with equal parts of Tuscan Red and Box Car Red.) After the entire car has dried, a good semi-gloss to clear gloss coat should be used to obtain a good decal base. Decal the car with Champion's curved map set (available from Marketing East, Inc.) as shown in the photos. After the decals have completely set, give the car a flat to semi-gloss coat to protect the decals.

    Install the running boards and weather the car to your preference.

    Article Details

    • Original Author P.J. Student
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date August 1977

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