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  • AT&SF 41' Heavy-weight Baggage Car in HO Gauge

    Page 26: Santa Fe Gas Electric M-J60 with Baggage Car No. 202 and AHM coach in drag. Model and photo by the author.
    Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 26 Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 27

    Yes, that's right, a 41 foot head end car for standard gauge, main line service! This must be one of the most unique cars ever owned by the Santa Fe. There were four, numbered 202 to 205. They were originally built in 1885 as open platform, truss-rodded baggage cars for the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe. The Santa Fe converted them to closed end RPO cars in 1907, then to baggage cars in 1911. According to John B. McCall's recent book, The Doodlebugs, these cars were rebuilt as baggage cars for use with gas electric cars, and they spent most of their last years in this service, primarily in Texas and Oklahoma. They all lasted into the 1940s, and McCall says that 203 wasn't scrapped until 1951. His book contains a photo of number 204 and a general floor plan. Another photo of 204 appears in and Frank Ellington.

    When I saw this plan I knew I'd have to have an HO model. Before I could collect all the scratch material I discovered that a LaBelle 1905 Baggage Car kit (HO-3) on hand had just about everything Volume I, Passenger Cars of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, by Joseph Shine required. The only question was how to cut the length by 20 feet. The style and details were very close to prototype other wise.

    In addition to the LaBelle kit, I used a set of Central Valley four wheel passenger trucks (Riveted, Model T-25), Kadee MKD-8 couplers, a Cal-Scale DC 300 brake set, Grandt Line "0" gauge 10" Queen posts (part number 70), Walthers six foot baggage doors (no. 166), Walthers diaphragms, and the usual assortment of styrene, strip wood, and wire.

    The plans included here are drawn from my model which generally follows prototype dimensions. However, there may be some deviation in details.

    Building the basic car body is a matter of shortening the floor, sides, and roof, and assembling per the kit instructions. Start with the floor by measuring 43 feet from one end and cutting it off square. Using the discarded piece, mark and shape the new end. Mark off and file down the rabbet on the new end. Now, draw a center line the length of the floor. Draw truck center lines nine feet in from each end. Draw the queen-post beam locations four feet on each side of the car center. Cement the "beams" in place at each end, and add the bolsters. To install Kadee couplers on the beams, cut off the two inner ridges for three feet in from the ends and drill a number 56 hole 18 scale inches in for a number 2 wood screw (see Figure 2). Save the final installation for later. It will be necessary, also, to notch one of the outer ridges to clear the "ear" on the MKD-8 draft box.

    To modify the sides, first fill in the existing door openings in the sub-sides with sheet wood. Also, fill in the gaps in the letter boards with strip wood, and sand them smooth. Now, find the center of the sub-sides and layout the new door, 7'-6" wide, and the same height as the old doors. Next, cut down the sides as shown in Figure 1. Cut out the doorways, and attach the scribed siding, clamping it or weighting it until completely dry.

    Since there are no clerestory windows, solid roof stock can be used, but I chose to cut down the kit roof. The roof consists of a top board, two side moldings, and two end blocks. I measured 43 feet from one end and cut it off square. I salvaged the end block by slicing off the top and sides and sanding it smooth. Then I cemented this block into the long piece of roof, with the curved end out and even with the end of the top plank. I clamped the block and top and used rubber bands to hold the sides in place. After this dried overnight, I sanded the sides and top to match the curve of the end block. Next, I cut a piece of 1/16" x 3/16" strip wood 42 scale feet long and cemented it over the clerestory opening, replacing the windows and the two''window castings" described in the kit instructions. Now, the roof can be shaped per kit directions.

    Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 28 Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 29 Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 30

    A word on wood sealing is in order. I use ScaleCoat Sanding Sealer with excellent results. I thin it slightly, brush it on, and rub it down with 3 ought steel wool. I try to seal sub-assemblies as I go. In this case I recommend sealing the sides now, while it is easy to rub down the siding, working with the grooves. One coat is usually adequate. The roof and underfloor can also be sealed now. And this is a good spot to paint the underfloor with a light coat of Grimy Black since you can brush even strokes without the details in the way.

    Next, the sides, floor, and ends are assembled per the LaBelle instructions. The ends are built up just as directed. When the cement has set, cut out the sub sides below the doorways and attach the sill and quarter-round posts. Seal the ends, doorways, and anything else that has been missed.

    To simulate the metal plated ends of the prototype, cut.010" styrene to cover the scribed portion of the ends.

    Turning to the underbody, the LaBelle queen posts were not long enough so I used Grandt Line "0" scale 10" posts which measure the required 24" in HO. The queen post beams are 1/8" x 1/16" strip wood which extend the full width of the car and flush with the siding. Notch the sub-sides if necessary. The prototype queen posts were right out on the edge of the car, just inside of the side planking. Drill number 65 holes for the queen posts as close to the end of the beam as possible without splitting them. Attach the queen posts with cyanoacrylate adhesive. When they have set, cut or file off the lip on the outer side of the base. I use nylon fish line for truss rods because it is easy to work with and very rugged. To install truss rods, drill a number 68 hole at the edge of the floor at the truck centerlines. Tie a knot in a length of fish line an push the end down through one hole from in side the car. Put cement on the knot and pull it into the hole. String the line to the other end of the car, up through the hole, across the car, down and back to the last hole. Do not string the line on the queen posts yet. Holding the loose end taut, start from the knot and work line as tight as possible between each set of holes in turn. When tight, push a wedge covered with cement down into the last hole from the inside. A flat tooth pick, sharpened, makes a good wedge. After the cement has set, trim the wedge and ends of the line close to the floor. Carefully lift the line and set it into the queen post slots. Then install the turn buckles. A drop of cyanoacylate adhesive on each queen post helps to hold the whole assembly in place.

    Continuing the underbody detail, cut four pieces of 1/8" x 1/16" wood 7/16" long for bolster extensions and cement in place as shown in Figure 2. The brake detail is from a Cal-Scale UC 300 set. Install piping if desired.

    Central Valley T25 trucks are a close match to the prototype but they can be improved by cutting the side frames short as shown in Figure 3.

    Next, install the couplers as mentioned above. Be sure to notch the beams enough so that the coupler can move freely. Drill the bolsters with a number 56 bit for number 2 wood screws. Install the truck check coupler height. You will probably have to sand the bolsters down considerably to achieve the right height.

    Turning to the roof details, install two LaBelle roof vents. I filed down the rim of the heads in a hand drill until they looked more like the LaBelle plan. I modeled car number 202, which had a stove, so I installed the kit smoke jack 3/8" to the right of the doorway. The other three cars should have the stack capped off, a cylinder one foot in diameter, rising six inches from the roof, with a beveled top edge. The rain gutters over the doors are 1/64" strip wood or square brass, bent to a shallow vee and cemented in place. The clerestory vents measure 10" x 21". I made mine out of Kemtron brass screen, soldered to a frame of 1/64" square brass wire. I blackened the screen with Hobby Black, and masked it when painting the roof so it wouldn't get clogged with paint. I cut holes in the clerestory behind each screen and attached them with a rubber base adhesive. My roof is removable. I drilled number 50 holes in the roof end blocks on the centerline and epoxied 2-56 threaded rod in place. The rods go down through 3/32" holes in the floor, between the coupler and truck, and are secured with a washer and 2-56 nut. I cut away more of the center ridges in the beam, in order to recess the nut.

    My major deviation from prototype is the doors. These cars had doors with six 9" x 26" windows and a metal plate over the lower part of the door. Despairing of ever making six neat windows in styrene or brass, I used a pair of Walthers sheet metal doors with four windows (6' door, part number 166). I didn't think of add ing a plate of.010" styrene until too late. If you are dedicated, Figure 4 shows the prototype door. Both of the doors slide to the same end, the end opposite the stove. The upper track is a piece of brass' Z' bar, epoxied to the inside wall, and the lower track is two lengths of.020" brass wire epoxied to the floor. The outer wire just fits between the doorposts, flush with the inside wall, and the inner one is laid inside leaving a slot to fit' the door. After the cement has set, I dug out the track with the point of a sharp file until a smooth track emerged. A small handle of.016" music wire was soldered into number 76 holes in each door. The doors were not installed until painted.

    At this point I applied the first coat of paint. The color scheme is a black roof, Santa Fe Green body, black underbody and trucks. I brushed on a light coat of Floquil paint and rubbed it down with three ought steel wool. Complete cover age is not import at this point.

    The next step is the handrails. I used .016" music wire which is harder to bend than brass but more rugged. Locations are shown in the basic plan. The vertical rails at doors and ends are three feet high and the single rail left of the brake wheels are two feet. I attached the LaBelle brake wheels with an escutcheon pins through the hub and then through the end link of a piece of fine chain and into a number 72 hole in the end. A drop of cyanoacrylate adhesive inside the car holds it all. The chain is dropped through a clearance hole in the end sill and pinned underneath the floor. Next, the "L" shaped rails are added to the ends and four grab irons attached to the end sills.

    All steps were made from 1/32" x 1/64" brass wire and attached with escutcheon pins (see Figure 5). Note that only one pin was used on the corner steps. The outer (or bent) leg was filed to a point and pressed into a hole in the floor. A drop of cyanoacrylate adhesive was placed on each pin before it was (quickly) pushed home. This completes the car and it is ready for final painting.

    I painted the inside walls and roof with Floquil Reefer Grey and lightly stain ed the floor with Campbell Tie Stain. Exterior colors are Grimy Black underbody, Santa Fe Green sides and ends, Engine Black roof and trucks. I sprayed the final coat and finished with a very light rub with fine steel wool. The doors were painted green inside. Next, the car was sprayed with Floquil's Flat Finish and set aside to dry for at least 48 hours. The car was lettered with Champion Decal's set PH-8B. Figure 1 shows the placement of lettering as it appeared on car number 204 in 1940. I used Champion Decal-Set ac cording to their directions. After the decals were dry, I ran a new single edge razor blade down each groove in the siding to cut the decal film. Then I brushed Decal-Set over the decals again and let it dry for a day. Finally I gently washed the decaled area, dried it, and sprayed the whole car again with Flat Finish. I let this last coat dry several days.

    When everything was good and dry, I loaded the car with crates, boxes, and drums. I set a caboose stove under the smoke jack with a wire chimney. A bit of aluminum foil on the wall behind the stove makes a heat reflector and a small box of coal sits alongside. The windows were covered with acetate and the doors were mounted. Then a bit of wood was cement ed across the ends of the door tracks. Attach trucks and the car is ready to roll.

    The prototypical use for car 202 was to run it with a heavyweight coach or chair car behind a gas electric car but it will add character to the consist of a heavyweight passenger or mail train. It sure gets a second look when I tell a visitor "oh that - just another LaBelle kit!"

    Article Details

    • Original Author Gordon C. Bassett
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date December 1978

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