Thursday, June 25, 2015

Improving a Roundhouse ex-Rock Island 50ft Boxcar

My never ending quest to improve my rolling stock while the canadian dollar is taking a plunge (now I understand why people call it the Loonie) and the recent hike in shipping costs is taking another step.

 Once again, a foobie was salvaged from oblivion. This old MDC/Roundhouse The Rock boxcar was bought is a keepsake from Jérôme's childhood. It was purchased in the mid-1990s when Quebec City still had local hobby stores with decent railcar selection.

I did my homework but didn't find any waffle boxcar in Rock Island fleet. This particular model has UP reporting marks, indicating it is a post-RI bankrupt car. This is particularly interesting since it fits our time frame. Another interesting fact is this boxcar could have served realistically the south central United States cotton market. Thus, it makes a good candidate for Dominion Textile which was served by a large array of colorful US boxcars in the early 1980s.

The stock model from Roundhouse wasn't that bad but the paint job, though correct, was minimal. Everything was painted blue and no lettering or reporting marks found on the car ends. I could have replaced the molded grabirons but decided to save me the pain. In fact, I felt retouching the paint would do more harm than leave it as is.

Modifications include replacing the brakewheel with a Kadee one, adding consolidated lube stencils, puttying and painting the roof aluminium, painting the car ends with white to indicate clearly it is a hi-cube boxcar and add a few more lettering. Some other details are adding A-line metal stirrups and painting the end platforms over couplers with aluminium paint.

As you can see, all those improvements are cosmetic and doesn't involve modifying the stock model. It's the proof a well detailed paint job can turn what looks toyish into something realistic as long as the model itself is decent (remember this horrific IHC boxcar I recently did).

Weathering was done in such way the car would look to be about 5 years old and well-maintained. Most pictures I found of ex-Rock Island blue boxcars shot in the 80s shown the blue didn't fade that much and there was little rust. I'm not a fan of turning every piece of stock into a rust bucket. In fact, I try to use various methods to make sure my fleet isn't uniform just like the prototype.

I used, once again, airbrushed washes of sand colored paint to fade the car, dark brown acrylic to add scratches and a very light wash of grimy oil paint. Weathering powders were used to add depth to the trucks and wheels. Honestly, I'm quite satisfied with the results as I feel I was able to keep things very subtle.


  1. You have done a fine job with this piece of rolling stock. Enjoyed your post...always nice to see what one can do to upgrade an older stock kit or car...George Dutka

    1. Thanks George! It's always fun and educative to work with older kits. You are somewhat more free to experiment without after thought than working on an expensive museum piece.