Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Restoring Old Boxcars From High School Days

When I was still a teenager, I acquired 2 modern 50ft boxcars. The first one was a MDC Roundhouse one, painted in CP Rail green newsprint scheme. The reason was simple, Pierre Dion's CP Rail layout was recently featured in Canadian Railway Modellers and I wanted to build up my CP fleet in the same way. A few months later, I bought an Athearn CN boxcar.

My first mistake was to try to repaint the CP car into CN colors. I didn't have any suitable decals and I tried to strip the paint using hobby paint thinner and a mini scrwedriver! Imagine the result! The car was now officially unuseable. Later, I stripped the paint with 90% alcohol. Much better. Then painted the car brown and lettered the car to QRL&PCo (which made absolutely no sense at all). A few month ago, I stripped the car again, replaced the grab irons with wire and added new A-Line stirrups steps. The car was then primed with brown Krylon paint. I didn't had suitable decals so I let it sit in my worskshop until last week.

From afar, this car looks almost decent...


My second mistake was to add handpainted graffiti on my CN boxcar back in high school. Worst, I used Testor Enamel to do so. The result was ugly and soon the car was demoted from my regular fleet. A few years ago, I removed partially the graffiti. My method was crude but at least, the car recovered a little bit. Where old Testor paint was too stubborn to lift off, I handpainted over it with boxcar brown. Scratched lettering, like the wet noodle, were restored using white paint. If was better than nothing, but seriously, the car was still unsightly.

Scratched lettering from stripping the grafitti and coarse brown patching.


Now, in March 2015, I have suitable paint and decals to restore both cars to their original splendor. Those 90s car kits aren't that bad. Detail is relatively good and they can be a nice complement to our new fleet. With some weathering, they should blend perfectly with the fleet.

A fuzzy attempt at restoring the wet noodle logo.

First of all, I must admit I'm going a little bit against prototypicalness here. CN did have almost similar boxcars in its fleet. They were acquired second hand from Railbox. Some were repainted soon after their acquisition, other took a while before receiving a coat of boxcar red. According to CNRphotos, the Roundhouse car would be a decent stand in for series 412000 built in 1980 for Railbox and probably purchased by CN somewhere in 1984 or 1985. In fact, one could also argue the car would also looks similar to series 413000 built new for CN in 1989. I set on the first one because it is more consistent with my 1983-1985 era.

One of my earliest (and botched) weathered steel roof panels


According to Richard Yaremko's Canadian Rail Car Pictorial , the Athearn car would be a decent candidate for series 419000 built in 1980 for Railbox and acquired by CN in 1984. There are a few discrepancies, including car ends corrugation, but the general look, rib details. doors and roof panels are almost identica and makes it a suitable model for an operating model. Also, among modifications, I removed the sliding door tabs. I always find working doors to be a gimmick that cuts on realism with oversized details.

Undecorated and upgraded Athearn boxcar prior to painting


Both car are to be primed with Krylon brown primer, painted with Model Master Acryl Boxcar Red and coated with Future floor finish prior decalling. The roof are sprayed with Krylon Metallic Aluminium. As said in a previous post, this spray paint does a excellent job at mimicking a weathered metallic roof.

I hope to complete the boxcars in the next days. They would be the last addition to the newsprint boxcar fleet. I see no need to add more cars since we now have 14 cars dedicated to this exclusive service. With Canadian dollars still in bad shape, I see no reason to acquire more expensive cars. In fact, bad economy has the advantage to be great to keep your creativeness alive.


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