LOT 344 F FLAT CAR

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Canada Southern 482790 is a member of Lot 344 F flat cars built in 1916-17 (St Thomas, Ontario) for the parent Michigan Central Railroad.  They were lettered originally for the MCRR as 32750-32899.  In 1941 they were re-lettered for the CASO and given the road numbers 482750-482899.  At that time New York Central System open topped freight cars (hoppers, gondolas, flats) changed their color scheme from black to freight car red.

Canada Southern was a New York Central subsidiary in my era of interest.  Previously under Michigan Central control, the CASO provided an easy route through Southern Ontario from Niagara Falls to Detroit by way of St Thomas and Windsor.  I had this car in mind for carrying two CMP military 3-Tonner trucks.  This is not a Fillmore project – just something fun on the side I wanted to do although it fits the era well.

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This model started from decals, provided by Aberdeen Car Shops, that I purchased a few years ago.  In the write-up provided with the decals, it was stated that the Athearn 40’ flat car was a decent representation of this car, so I picked up an RTR one as well.  It had about the right shape and the right number of stake pockets.  It did have a vertical power brake wheel that could be cut off and a vertical staff brake wheel applied in its place.  An easy build for a change.

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I did not detail the underbody with brake rigging or better brake components as this is not seen from the exterior when on rails.  The trucks are the Athearn originals.  They are very similar to what was on these cars although not an exact representation.  Kadee Semi-Scale 33” wheels with rib-backs fit them nicely.  I soda blasted the trucks and wheels along with the underbody center sill and cross bearers as these are easily removed when the trucks are dismounted.  Sergent coupler height was bang-on and they fit into the stock coupler pockets without modification.

This stopped being such an easy build when I gave a closer look to the stake pockets.  They were a bit over-sized for my tastes, but removing them would leave slots on the side sills where the mold steel was for pocket holes.  At that point I thought that I would add strip styrene to the slots to build them up to the side sill surface.  Some of the side sill rivet detail would be lost.  It then occurred to me to check the car specs on Terry Link’s excellent Canada Southern website.  As it turns out there is a car diagram drawing showing that it was 9’0” wide over the side sills.  In measuring the Athearn car, I found it to be oversized.  This solved the slots problem; using 100 grit sand paper on a flat counter top, I removed about .020” from each side.  I successively switched to 200, 320, 400 and 600 grits as I got closer to size.  This cleaned everything off and made the car more to scale.  I also removed the moulded grab irons and poling pockets on the ends.  While I was at it, I removed .020” from the top face of the car, removing the plank detail.  The result was a bare shape where I could add what was needed.

I added planks from .020” x .060” strip styrene (scale 9’4” long) and they fit near-perfectly width-wise along the deck.  These were lightly sanded along their lengths with 220 grit paper to give them a bit of a wooden texture.  I added Tichy 18” straight grab irons to the sides and ends along with their stirrups (extras from the USRA Hopper kit). I also applied Tichy stake pockets; they are not totally correct for the prototype, but are finer looking and I’m good with that.  The tack board is .020”x.125” strip styrene.  At the ends, I built-up the draft box a bit with .030” x .030” strip and added poling pockets left over from an Atlas Alco HH600 kit.  The air hoses are from Cal-Scale and the cut levers are homemade from .012” brass wire and eyebolts.  The brake wheel is Tichy and the staff .020″ brass wire.

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The wheel chocks were made from .030”x.080” and .030”x.060” styrene strips per CASO 344 F prototype photo with CMP truck load.  The 3-Ton trucks were temporarily parked on the deck and the chock parts glued around the wheels using Tamiya Thin Cement.

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The car was given a light coat of Polly Scale Oxide Red especially on the sides.  To restore the rivet detail on the sides and ends, I airbrushed Testors acrylic Gloss over the areas where I would apply Micromark rivet decals.  Once dry, I added the rivets using the normal decal procedure.  I just cut strings of rivets that would fit in the areas needed – I did not count them ☺.  This wasn’t overly time consuming – it’s just like decaling a rail car with separate road number characters and with a lot of data stencils.  I think the rivet decals are quite effective, although there is a hint of the decal paper showing through the final paint (I did use plenty of Micro Sol).

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After the decals dried for a day, I sprayed a final coating of Oxide Red (the rivets are black color) and then another gloss coating for the lettering, numbering and data decals.  When this dried I masked the red car areas with Tamiya Tape which was a rather tedious process due to the stake pockets.  The underside was airbrushed Grimy Black.  The planks topside were sprayed Oily Black, then Roof Brown, then Grimy Black, and lastly Dirt; all as thinned applications (this didn’t turn out well – I think for my next flat car, I will paint the deck first in a medium grey and weather it somewhat before masking it to paint the sides and ends).

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So while I figured out what to do about the appearance of the deck, I removed the masks (I did lose a few rivets) and moved on to the decals which went on in the usual manner.  However, the lettering and numbering of those decals that inspired this build were way too small!  I had a set of Microscale Roman Lettering in White and chose a character size that would be closer to the prototype.  Even so, I feel this lettering is a bit on the small side as well, although a significant improvement over the decal set.  I used the data and other stencilling from the Aberdeen set.  Once dry for a day, I sprayed the car with Tamiya TS-80 Flat Clear lacquer overall.

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To weather the deck (again), I decided to try some water color pencils and just applied various browns and a medium grey to specific planks, covering all of them (hiding the previous airbrush job).  Then I sealed this with more TS-80 before I masked for the chocks which were airbrushed a mix of Testors acrylic RAF Dark Earth and Flat White.

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The rest of the car was weathered as follows: thinned Engine Black lightly sprayed over the deck and sides and more so on the ends.  Then thinned Dirt applied the same way to the deck and the lower part of the side sills.  This was followed up with an overall dry brushing with Testors enamel Afrika Dunkelgrau (a grey-tan color) to pick-out the details.  Lastly, I went over the deck surfaces once more with a light grey water color pencil, highlighting each board lengthwise.

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I enjoyed this build and I hope to attend the Toronto Railway Prototype Modellers meet next Spring with CASO 482790 and its load of CMP 3-Tonners.

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