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  • Elgin, Joliet and Eastern wood-sheathed truss rod box car

    Cyril J. Durrenberger

    Page 22: Scratch built HO Scale model of Elgin, Joliet and Eastern wood box car No. 7009. Note the weathering on the car. The prototype was built in 1907 and some still remained in revenue service as late as 1937. Model and photo by the author.
    Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 22 Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 23


    In 1902, Illinois Car and Equipment Company built 300 wood-sheathed box cars for the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway. The number series used for these cars was 700 to 7299. The cars were built with four truss rods and had end doors on both ends. Side door openings were 7'-6" x 6'-0". Inside dimensions were: length 35'-10", width 8'-6", and height 8'-0". These cars had capacities of 80,000 pounds and 2448 cubic feet. Their average light weight was 36,780 pounds; they were equipped with 5'-6" wheel base arch-bar trucks. A photo of No. 7063 appears on page 770 of the March 24, 1911, Railway Age Gazette. A diagram of these cars shows and end truss rod not shown in the photo of 1911. These could have been added after 1911 or the end truss rods could have been removed on this particular car. In 1922, 134 of these cars were in service, by 1930 only 16 were in service. All appear to have been re moved from revenue service by 1937.


    The model of this car series is scratch built. Construction techniques are similar to those employed for good craftsman kits on the market today, I build models to be used on my layout so they obtain the character of the prototype, but will operate well. Hence, a few details have been deleted that could be added. These include: brake piping and levers, air hoses, and uncoupling levers. All can be easily added if you want to take the time required. The Cal-Scale K brake set includes the brake components needed except for the pipes and an excellent diagram showing placement of all parts and pipes.

    Make the parts for the car body from 1/8" pine or other suitable Substance. The interior body should be 8'-6" wide. Cut two pieces 36'-0" long for the top and floor and two pieces 7'-6" long for the end blocks. If another thickness is used, adjust the dimensions for a total body height of 8'-3". Make sure all cuts are square. Sand one side of the floor and make sure that it is this side that faces out after assembly. Cut six sills 36'-0" long from 1/16" x 1/16" strip wood and cement it in place as shown in Figure 1. Actually, most prototype cars of this period used 5" x 9" sills so you could use these and decrease the body height by 4". This model was built before scale 5" x9" lumber was available. I usually make the sills slightly longer than the car body and trim the ends after the cement has set. Drill eight No. 72 holes in the floor as shown in Figure 1; these will be used for the simulated truss rods. Make the needle beams from 1/16" x 3/32" strip wood cut 8'-6" long and cement in place as shown in Figure 1. When the cement has set, drill eight No. 72 holes for the queen posts. Locations can be obtained from Figure 1. Next, cement the Grand Line 9" queen posts in place. Following that, cement the K type brake cylinder in place. Selley part No. 50 was used, but, as re marked earlier, the Cal-Scale set may be used. Now, add the brake levers and piping if desired.

    Fifteen pound nylon fishing line can be used for the truss rods. Cut a piece about 24" long (actual) and tie a knot in one end so it will not pass through the holes drilled for the truss rods. Thread the line through the hole nearest the side from the inside of the car and pull to the knot. Then, go to the hole on the opposite end and pull through toward the in side of the car. Pull the line taut, but do not place on the queen posts at this time. Continue threading through the remaining holes in this manner. Pull the after pulling through each line taut hole, being careful not to put too much tension on the line. After completing, knot the other end while holding the line taut. A cyanoacrylate type adhesive could also be used to hold the lines in place. See Figure 2.

    Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 24 Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 25

    Cement the body together making sure all pieces are square. I use white glue and rubber bands to hold the body together until the cement has set. See Figure 3.

    Cut a piece of 1/16" x 1/16" strip wood the length of the car body and cement along the centerline of the top of the car body. The roof will be cemented to this piece later.

    Cut the car ends from 1/32" sheathing scribed with 1/32" spacing. The bottom of the ends should cover the sills but the top should be 6" below the top of the body. The height of the ends should be approximately 8'-3". Cement the ends in place making sure they are properly located. A technique that I use is to make them a little wider than the body and trim them to size after the cement has set. Rubber bands can be used to hold the ends in place until the cement sets.

    Cut the sides from 1/32" sheathing with 1/32" scribing. Cut the sides a little longer than necessary and trim to fit after the cement has set. Two pieces will have to be used for each side, so cut the pieces so t he joint comes somewhere behind the location of the side door. Cement each piece, one at a time. Use a piece of scrap (similar to what the body was made from) with rubber bands at each end to hold the sheathing against the body while the cement sets. After setting, lightly sand all edges of the side to eliminate any overhang.

    Make the end facia from 1/16" x 1/8" strip wood 9'-0" long. It should be shaped to the contour of the roof. See Figure 4 and 5. Cut notches in the sides at the upper ends to receive the end facia and cement in place.

    The roof is made from four pieces of 1/32" sheathing scribed with 3/64" spacing. Each piece is 4'-9" wide. Cement one piece in place at a time, making sure the roof hangs over the sides and ends. The roof should overhand the end facia by about 2". Make sure the edge of the roof is parallel to the car sides.

    Add the side facia made from 1/32" x 1/16" strip wood. The roof overhanging the facia should be 2". If the overhang is greater, carefully sand the roof edge until the overhang is correct.

    The side door is cut from 1/32" sheath ing scribed with 1/32" spacing. It should be 6'-3" x 7'-6". Cement the door in place and add the upper door guide made from.040" x 1/8" strip wood cut 12'-3" long. The lower door guides are made from rail spikes. Two are inset 5" from each edge of the door and one is located 4'-3" to the right of the door. Drill holes before these are added to prevent splitting the wood. For each door, make two braces from.020" x 1/32" strip wood cut 6'-3" long. These are located 1'-0" below the upper door guide and 1'-0" up from the bottom of the door.

    The end doors are made from 1/32" sheathing scribed with 1/32" spacing. They should be 2'-3" x 3'-6". Cement in place and add the upper door guide made from.040" x 3/32" strip wood cut 4'-6" long. The lower door guide is made from 1/32" x 1/32" strip wood cut 4'-6" long.

    Make the buffer from a piece of 1/16" x 3/32" strip wood 2'-0" long. Make the body braces from Card stock. The ones located on the lower corner of each end are 9" square with the wrap-around on the side portion measuring 9" x 15". The upper braces are 6" x 12" on the side and the end wrap-around portion 6" x 9". They are located 4'-0" from the bottom of the car. The end truss rods were located at this point if one wishes to use them, I did not. They can be made using two Grandt Line, 3" queen posts on each end and suitable wire for the rods. Drill holes for the nut and washer castings and cement in place. These should be located with the same spacing as the truss rods, 6" up from the bottom of the car. Several manufacturers make suitable castings. Next, add grab irons and steps. I used North eastern grab irons on the sides and ends and formed the roof grab irons and steps from staples.

    Make the running board from three pieces of 1/32" x 1/16" strip wood. Cement these together with card stock pieces spaced 2'-0" apart. Total width of the running board should be 21". I make a jig to make up the running boards since I build a number of cars_ Draw two straight lines 21" apart on a piece of scrap wood then cement pieces of scrap strip wood along these lines with space between_ Mark off lines spaced 24" apart perpendicular to the long lines. Place the three pieces of 1/32" x 1/16" strip wood running boards between the spaces leaving equal distances between the pieces. Cement the card stock pieces in place. See Figure 6. Cut the pieces a little longer than necessary and trim the running board to length after it has been cemented together. This makes for a neater end. The running board should be long enough to give a 6" overhang over each end. When the running board has been completed, cement it in place.

    Make the brake staff brackets from surplus Kadee plastic coupler pockets (see Figure 7) or use the one supplied with the Cal-Scale set. Drill the bracket to accept the brake staff. Cement the brake wheel (Selley No. 267) to the brake staff. Cement the brake platform (Selley No. 48) in place. Now, add the brake staff.

    Gently, lift each truss rod lying on the frame to the queen posts. Cement the turnbuckles (Selley No. 643) in place. Add the bolster made from 1/16" x 3/16" strip wood and 3/32" x 3/16" strip wood as shown in Figure 8. Drill holes for truck screws and add the coupler pockets. Remove some material from the bolster if the car sits too high.

    Use Box Car Red to paint the car sides, ends, and roof. The underbody and trucks black. If a weathered effect is desired, use washes of these colors to paint the sides. Decals came from the Champion Decal road set and dimensional data from Walthers Old Time Dimensional Data Set number D619W.

    Use 5'-6" wheel base Arch Bar trucks. Several manufacturers make them.

    Article Details

    • Original Author Cyril Durrenberger
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date December 1978

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