A few months ago, I stumbled upon an old Ciment St-Laurent picture from the 80s (or very early 90s). I knew the plant was served by boxcars back in the 60s, but imagine my surprise when I found out such traffic was still in existence a few decades later.
The picture showed a pair of CN insulated boxcars from 280000 series and thus I knew I need HO scale models to fit the bill. Unfortunately, no exact replica of these NSC cars exists. Insulated boxcars had several features including fuel tank, heater, temperature control devices and other specific details. I had two choices. Start with a P1K NSC 50ft boxcar or try a kitbash. Since the first are harder to find and cost nowadays an arm and a leg, I felt the kitbashing way was the best.
I quickly found out old Bachmann 50ft boxcars could be used as a starting point. They are 100% accurate, but can easily be modified without too much pain into a believable model. Better, if you only want to build a regular NSC newsprint boxcar, it would be easier to do so and with less prototype compromises.
The main problem with the Bachmann shell is the moulded on details. I once tried to scrape off a moulded roofwalk and quickly found out it was no way to go. Also, the boxcar ends are quite wrong for the NSC prototype. I also didn’t want to remove the ladder details, too much pain for a passable result.
My idea was to use Intermountain spare parts to rebuild the model. I would only keep the Bachmann underframe and side walls. IM parts are cheap and high quality. For 2.50$, I could improve drastically the model. I used their 50ft PS roof and PS boxcar ends since they are close to NSC practice (5/4 rib pattern).
Roof panels didn’t align perfectly with Bachmann side panel rivet rows, but I found out later NSC insulated boxcar roof panels weren’t aligned too. I also altered the boxcar end. The upper rib was removed including rivets and other details. The next step was to bevel the rib ends with a file according to NSC practice. I puttied the holes with automotive glazing.
The various temperature control devices were built using phosphore bronze wire, pieces of styrene sheet and paper. New ladders, grabirons and brake apparatus are Tichy with Kadee brakewheel. Stirrups are metal A-line ones. When done, the car was ready to get primed in brown Krylon primer before getting a final coat of Model Master Acryl boxcar brown and a Future Floor Finish (Pledge) gloss coat for decals. More about painting and decaling later.
A big thanks to Glen and Wayne who were kind enough to send me old decals and dry transfers of CN insulated boxcars. These are discontinued Beavercraft and C-D-S lettering products. Let’s hope they have withstood the years well!