Friday, June 19, 2015

Restoring an IHC GTW 50ft Double Door Boxcar

It is well known, I'm not the kind of guy to throw away anything I ever acquired. I never sold anything I ever bought and sometimes, I end up with pile of derelict stuff full of memories...

This afternoon, while I was looking for my Intermountain custom-painted CN 40ft boxcars for a weathering session. I stumbled upon an old IHC 50ft double door boxcar in GTW scheme. I used to see a lot of them as a kid and imagine my excitation when at age 8 or 9, I found one at my local hobby shop... Unfortunately, I discovered quickly that IHC was on par with Model Power, i.e. crap. I put the car back on its box never to run again until we started our club layout a few years ago.

At that time, Jérôme was on a spree to put Kadee on every car I ever own, including garbage like this 50ft car. Believe it or not, it even get a nice pair of Atlas trucks!

Crappy car with crappy weathering

The thing is this car is among the most unprototypical piece of rolling stock I have. The car is basically to short! I mean, it lacks at least 1 scale feet and looks like an extended CPR minibox car! Since I got recently a nice pair of Atlas NSC boxcars, I felt I would never run this car ever, but the call of mermaids was stronger.

As you can see, since I had no use for this boxcar, it was the first I ever used to practice oil paint weathering according to Mike Rose's method. Not my best, mainly because the original paint job is too dark and my dullcote fading was ridiculously overdone. Before I tried to hack and saw this boxcar, I used mineral spirit and wet sanded the most tenacious rust patches over the white lettering. Since I want to ket the lettering intact, I need to make it as white as possible. If you are careful enough, I must admit wet sanding oil paint weathering is almost a piece of cake.

Difference in height is striking!

So, I decided to splice the car and add some height here and there. Basically, a Frankenstein. No harm intended, if the car looks decent in the end, let's use it on the layout even if it is a foobie. But if it looks really bad, I just get more practice!

The first step was to cut the roof and add a 1mm thci styrene strip to give so height here. Habitually, you can see a small step on boxcar between walls and roof. IHC didn't bother doing it.

The next step was to add a 3mm styrene strips under the sides. Most old boxcars have some steel under the bottom rivet row. This one didn't had this feature at all. So now, the car is 1 scale feet higher and looks a little bit better compared to other boxcars. Sure, the doors are too short and lettering is oddly located, but I'm ready to let it be.

Bad details and weird roof

It may not be prototypical, but I'm still working from GTW pictures. This is why I cement spare Intermountain ladders.

Next step is to file down the sprue plugs in roof holes and add stirrups, brake wheel and grabirons. I'm quite lucky that Tamiya XF-8 blue is a perfect match to IHC color. When the car is repainted, the weathering process is gonna be quite a challenge to bring this blue to a faded baby blue.

Oh, and I still have two other 50ft boxcars to repaint and detail: a Bachmann and a Roundhouse. My goal is to model insulated CN boxcars. Those were in cement service in Villeneuve according to a few pictures. On again, not price winning cars, I feel they can be improved.

Still some weathering to be cleaned, but much better.

We can say what we want, but I kind of like those upgraded toyish cars. I feel more sympathy toward them than my most pricey RTR stuff. It's probably why I prefer to use locomotives and cars I weathered, kitbashed or scratchbuilt. At some point, they have a history of their own. They have a service life and were shopped in the true sense of the word.

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