Saturday, April 16, 2016

CN Woodchip Gondola - The End?

If you are interested in this particular prototype, let me know (more details at the end of the post).

Hard to believe this project finally reached fruitition... It was a prototype and everything went wrong: bad material for the job, high cost, wrong decals, wrong scale proportions... just name it!

At some point, I truly grew dissatisfied with the model blatant mistakes. Since then, I made a correct 3D model, but didn't venture as far as print it. Making this car in Frosted Ultra Detail is gonna cost a lot of money. Making it out of styrene is quite feasible, but making a 10-car fleet would be a real chore.

Anyway, I spent more and time over this project. Instead of throwing it in the garbage bin, I decided to just complete it. It's just another foobie, but I think it is still much more plausible than Walthers woodchip cars.

The decals are a mix of several Microscale sheets mashed together and altered to look the part. Most knowledgeable people will quickly find out this particular car should be lettered "CN RAIL". Well, there's no commercial suitable decals for that so I settled on the regular wet noodle.

The weathering was a little bit experimental since I didn't have any oil paint at home at the moment. I decided to try Mike Confalone recipe by fading the paint with pastel. I used regular pastel, so the result is quite subtle. But that's OK because these gondolas were relatively in good shape back in the late 80s. Only by the mid-90s did they start to turn into rust buckets.

Several other shade of pastel were also used to give depth to both car ends: gray, tan and black. To be noted, to make sure the ribs would stand out, I took the pastel stick and directly rub it against them. It was quite garish, but once covered with the final dull finish, it would blend correctly I guess... And I was right.

I didn't want to use Dullcote on the model. I put several coat on it yesterday and it never really killed the shine on the model. So I decided to use Swanny's trick with Future. To get a very flat finish, you mix 3 part of Future and 1 part of Tamiya Flat Base. To be honest, the result is excellent. Not only the model got a very flat finish but it also slightly made the color to fade a little bit, which was the result I was looking for.

Unfortunately, I learned quickly that alcohol react nastily with the flat finish by whitening the finish. And unlike Dullcote, you can't make it disappear with a second coat of finish. So I had a lot of fun trying to hide my mistake. Lesson learned!

And I'll be honest, once weathered, the car looks gorgeous albeith for the obviously wrong proportions and lettering. But generally speaking, I think it will fool most people.

That said, I'm still intererested in building a prototypical fleet in the future, but for the roofless boxcars still have a long revenue service life in front of them on the layout. It will all depend if I can print new models at a decent cost and in a better finish. That means a second prototype in Frosted Ultra Detail or similar material will be required.

By the way, if anybody is interested in developping a more practical model of this iconic Canadian car, just contact me and let me know. With a custom made set of decals, it could be an easy model to build for any modelers.


  1. I think it looks very good. The weathering you have done really completed it. I'd be proud to have a car like that on my layout.

    I do think there is a gap in the Canadian model lineup that a good woodchip car would fill.

    1. Thanks Steve. You're absolutely right. Knowing how much the pulp and paper industry was central in many Canadian regions, it's quite disturbing no one ever thought about filling that gap.

  2. Yes really!, that should be a model to have ! there is a lot of them sored where i live. I've thinked to try make one in 3d print but i have to take dimension and some other info but i know nothing about 3d printing conception...

    You can email me at