Creating a Frisco Early Era Billboard Boxcar the Easy Way

Discussion in 'Boxcars' started by Jim James, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    I'm creating an old Frisco boxcar with the old billboard style lettering using a cheap older Roundhouse 40' boxcar. I bought 5 used old time cars for only $22 at a recent train show with a project like this in mind. What makes this project easy is the use of a decal set from Westerfield. It's made for their sawtooth boxcar kit but will look right at home on my generic boxcar.
    First I seperated the floor from the body and removed the running boards and brake wheel. These will be replaced by a brass wheel and real wood running boards. I removed the doors and cut off the crappy molded on grab irons with an X acto chisel blade.
    Next I soaked the body and doors in a jar of brake fluid overnight and used an old toothbrush to easily remove all the paint. This left an awesome effect if modeling a derelict coffee boxcar rotting away in the weeds.
    Then I washed it off with soapy water and drilled holes for wire grabs using the old locations as a guide. I installed some home brewed grab irons and used a #11 blade to separate a few boards on the siding. Then I airbrushed everything boxcar red. Tomorrow I'll add the decals and weathering. Thanks for checking this out!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 28, 2013
  2. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    Thanks for posting this Jim,
    Brake fluid is an excellent paint remover isn't it? As I have had several pretty good paint jobs on my old Harley removed by a leaky front Brake Master cylinder:eek: Great to see you recycling those MDC cars.
    This is good stuff I need to PM you about a project I am thinking about.
    Tom Holley

    SAFN SAAP Member

    Nice job Jim. May I suggest that you move away from brake fluid and go with Scalecoat's Wash-a-way. It does the job a lot safer and will not harm the plastic. I use it and it is great. I highly recommend it. The car you have there is not an MDC, but is an old Train Miniature car.

    May I also suggest that you pick up Excel 22602, 22621 blades and Excel 24117A, 21017 chisel blades. X-acto has nothing on these blades. They are extremely tough and very, very, sharp. Anyone who gets these MUST EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION, as they are razor sharp, and work so much nice than the X-acto's. Get them in the 100 counts. Far less expensive than getting them in five packs.

    Are you going to add truss rods to the bottom? Change the AB brake system to the K Brake? Cut levers? Please share you plans. We're all ears. Watching your builds is a ton of fun and I think I can say, we all learn a lot from you. Thanks for sharing.
  4. Ozarktraveler

    Ozarktraveler Member

    Enjoying the tutoring on which tools to use and when.
  5. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Jim -
    This is my kind of project: taking an old cast-off kit and turning it into a specific prototype. I look forward to the finished product.

    Your modeling pace amazes me. How much coffee do you drink on a daily basis?

    Best Regards,

    SAFN SAAP Member

    He must be wired. He emptied a whole boxcar full of Hills Brothers. That's a lot of java!
  7. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    This is why I love this site. You guys are awesome. Yes, lots of dark black coffee and long winter nights make for some good modeling time.
    These boxcars had no truss rods but I will add the cut levers. I probably won't bother with brake hardware changes as this is "close enough" project.
    I wasn't sure of the manufacturer and guessed Roundhouse so thank you Manny. I can't wait to get the decals on tonight and see how she turns out.

    SAFN SAAP Member

    I know you are going to hate me, but don't use the sawtooth decal for that car. If you want a 40' Frisco steam era box car decal that is proper for that style car, then I can send you one.
  9. Oldguy

    Oldguy Member Supporter

    Sooooo, sounds like a Meteor article to be forthcoming????
  10. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    I don't like to spend too much time or effort on my projects and this one is no exception. Our power is out right now because of a big storm raging outside so I didn't get to the cut levers. Here's what unfolded before the lights went out. I had sprayed it down with gloss coat last night and added the decals tonight. I was just going for the look so keep that in mind. Then I built the running boards from scrap wood (thanks Sherrell) and added the top grab irons to them. I dry brushed white paint under the big letters to simulate paint staining and sprayed more boxcar red over it to fade the white lettering out. I added the brass brake wheel and sprayed earth along the bottom for some weathering. Rust colored chalk powder was brushed onto strategic areas to further the illusion of age. Finally everything was sealed with good old Dull Coate. My disclaimer: This was a quick fun project using scraps and old equipment to produce a credible model in the spirit of the early era. This is not to be taken as an exact prototype. The kits available for this era are very few and expensive and I needed some cheaper cars to expand my roster. I'm always experimenting. Thank you folks for the kind words and I hope others may be inspired to throw something together like this or to explore TOC Frisco equipment for your own layouts or dioramas. Oh, I highly recommend using an airbrush for painting and weathering. I'm just sayin'.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2013
    Ozarktraveler and klrwhizkid like this.
  11. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Jim, more great work. At this point, I don't really care whether there was a prototype; I just looks that good.
  12. gna

    gna Member Supporter

    Jim, nicely done! Good to show what one can do on a budget.
  13. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Here's a closer view showing the roof walk. Real wood looks much better than plastic. The second view shows how well the cheap RTR project car blends in with my Westerfield cars.
  14. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Well, Jim, you coulda fooled in in terms of it being a specific prototype. That goes to show what a few details and accurate decals will do!

    You also bring up an excellent point, in terms of expanding one's rolling stock roster. While I'd love to have a roster exclusively of highly-detailed resin kits, I'd not have any money left for motive power or scenery. This project demonstrates how one can easily fill out the rolling stock and have it still blend in very nicely.

    And, even if one doesn't have the resources or desire for resin kits, all it takes is some wire grabs, more accurate running boards and some good weathering to capture the look and feel of a prototype item.

    Glad that you have power back, too. Must've been a doozy as the storms rolled eastward.

    Best Regards,
    Ozarktraveler likes this.

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