Sunday, June 29, 2014

Modelling CN Woodchip Cars

Revisiting an old railfanning trip made was enough to decide to tackle a very old project of mine.

Freight trains on Murray Bay Subdivision were quite simple during the post-50s era until the late 2000s. A typical consist from the 80s and 90s was made of 50' newsprint boxcars lettered for CN, CV, DW&P and GT (The Good Track Road logo was a staple back then), a few bulkhead flat cars for lumber, grey hoppers (cylindrical, traditional and Procor), kaolin slurry tank cars and a few gondolas. Difco and ballast hoppers weren't a rare sight from time to time. But one of the most iconic car was the 60' woodchip car. Most of them were lettered CN Rail, that short-lived "modernization" of already modern CN logo.

I always wanted to get these cars in HO, but it never materialized. As I already said, it was evident for me - at least for the last 15 years - that some day, I'll have to scratchbuilt the car myself. So today, I decided to make one in HO scale, using Sketch Up, a few pictures and general dimensions from a CN Freight Equipment Catalog. It is based on a Transcona design built in 1982, car series 878XXX. Many Canadians use the Walthers model as a stand-in, but I find it ugly and it isn't enough similar to the prototype to be a decent representation of a car type I liked.

The model was designed using Shapeways design guide for their White Strong & Flexible material. Not a great looking material, but affordable for a first prototype (about 48$). I made it as a 1 part car, using an old MDC Roundhouse Railbox car as a template for few details. The relatively simple and orthogonal shape of this specific car makes it easy. The goal is to only have to add Tichy ladders, metal stirrups and grabirons, couplers, trucks and brakewheel. The brake parts are included directly on the model. They are relatively concealed by the carbody and I'm not that crazy about wasting time and money on undeframe detailling that is barely seen from a normal line of sight. If you want to take a look at the 3D model.

The model I design isn't perfect. Crucial real data wasn't available and there's some discrepancies. However, I feel the model is fairly accurate (0.5mm to 1mm). All in all, I expect the car to cost about 60$ when detailed, decalled and painted. It is a little bit pricy, but when you think prototypically correct canadian cars are are often 45% to 50$ per car, it sound good to me. Scratchbuilding them from styrene would be extremely tiring and less detailed. No thanks.

The next problem is to find (read to make) suitable "CN Rail" decals for these cars.

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