S.A. & A.P. 30' Flat Cars

Discussion in 'Flatcars' started by SAFN SAAP, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    I need to find a way to suspend or hang the camera from above on these vids and pics so my fat hands and fingers aren't in the way. When you figure it out, let me know:D
    I checked out that site, man they have a lot of different pigments. Which package do you use most on rolling stock?
    Tom Holley
  2. Sirfoldalot

    Sirfoldalot Frisco.org Supporter Frisco.org Supporter

    Nice movie there, Clint!
    Great job on the flats - I love the old stuff with arch trucks, truss rods, and the lettering they used back then.

    SAFN SAAP Member

    Thanks everyone. Next time, I will take the video from the front instead of looking over the shoulder. My camera is on the way out, so I need to get something new. Which way to go: movies or pictures??? That's like asking "To be or not to be?"
    I want to learn how to put music and such to the videos too. I hope that it helps folks with how to weather at least with these stains.
  4. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    iMovie is a great iPhone application and is probably available for other systems as well. Add text, sound, music etc.

    SAFN SAAP Member

    Later this morning, I will begin work on S.A. & A.P. 30' Flat 501. This is a special car. Y'all will soon see why.
  6. Joseph Toth

    Joseph Toth Member

    Hooray For Hollywood!

    Great Beginning Manny! Can you possibly show the products you use before applying the contents to the equipment to be weathered? I don't think the outfits would mind a "plug". Reading the labels on the jars helps us identify the product easier when we want to place an order.

    What about equipment right out of the shop that is on its first revenue run? I have noticed some model railroads with everything weathered in sight though new or rebuilt equipment in a consist is prototypical too and seldom modeled it seems.

    How about a depot in the process up being repainted too? Seldom modeled scenes but keeps things interesting.

    Keep up the great work. Look forward to much much more!

    Joe Toth

    SAFN SAAP Member

    Thanks for the compliments.

    I will post up pictures of everything I use when I build 501. As for these 30' cars, for the era that I run, you won't see any new. 30' S.A. & A.P.'s were built from 1886 to about 1895 and lasted on the roster until 1920 +/-. Since I model post 1911, they would be beat to heck and aged, seeing only minor repairs, not total rebuilds.

    When I build the 34' cars, then you'll see lightly weathered cars as they were built from 1899 to 1910. They're a whole different ball game.

    As for scenery, I will be building table, or starting on some soon. Then you'll see some scenery.
  8. Joseph Toth

    Joseph Toth Member

    OK, how about a flat car that just came out of the car shop with a few repairs like new replaced planks on the deck? I'm NOT going to let you off that EZ!

    Joe Toth
  9. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Manny, you've been challenged! Don't let it go:)

    SAFN SAAP Member

    Okay, I can do that. I'll even make the planks wider so that you can tell.

    SAFN SAAP Member

    Welcome to the construction of S.A. & A.P. 30 Ft. Flat Car 501. Here you will have a play by play blow of the construction from start to finish since some have been wanting to see how the construction of a LaBelle kit goes together. So I will oblige. There will be a lot of pics, which you shouldn't be surprised at since I love to post up pictures. Since this will be a tutorial, you will have a bunch to read. I will keep it as succinct and to the point without without rambling. Please feel free to ask questions. I will answer them to the best of my ability.

    To start with, allow me to give you some background on the LaBelle kit. This is LaBelle's 50 2-in-1 Flat Car kit which includes the materials to make two (2) cars. One car is just short of 36 feet, while the other is just short of a 33' car. All components of the car are wood, with the K Brake and foot stirrups coming from Tichy. LaBelle includes molded cast stake pockets with stakes already attached. I opted to use Grandt Line stake pockets because depending on your road, they are either attached via one u-bolt or two u-bolts, and are must more scale and detailed. I also opted to replace the wooden truck bolsters with cast metal bolsters from Bitter Creek Models. I also opted to use cast metal Needle-beams with Queenposts. They are more detailed and both add considerable weight to an otherwise weightless model.

    The kit is designed for Wisconsin Central and the Astoria & Columbia River Railroads'. The great thing is that with the simplicity of the kit, you can just about make any railroads' flat cars. A great asset to have is a period picture of the car. Having such a picture allows you to scale the car down precisely, and you can detail it more accurately.

    For this project we will working off a picture taken of S.A. & A.P. 550, which was part of the 501-670, and 671-770 series. The 671-770 series are nine (9) feet wide cars, versus eight feet, ten inches (8', 10") for the 501-670 series. When converted into HO Scale, the two (2) inch difference is not noticeable to the naked eye. it is 1/100th of an inch, or 0.01. Any rivet counter out there who wants to measure, let him go ahead, so he can call 1-800-DEAD-GUY to confirm. So in this instance the full range of 30' flat cars for the S.A. & A.P. are available for us to model.

    Both series were built between 1886 and 1895. They were equipped with Janney Couplers, Mechanical Brakes on one truck, with outside brake rigging. Many cars survived in quarry service past 1911 when the Federal Government passed the Railroad Safety Act, than required all cars to be equipped with air brakes, and all necessary safety appliances, which included a manual, hand brake, foot stirrups on at least one corner of the car (usually the right side, facing) and hand grab irons, if warranted on the design of car. For the S.A. & A.P. flats, we will be installing the Westinghouse K Brake system and foot stirrups on each of the right sides facing, of the car.

    The S.A. & A.P. used the flat cars for quarry service, hauling large boulders to the foundries, hauling wagons, tractors, automobiles, and just about anything that could fit on the car. This particular model of 501 will be in revenue service for a lumber mill and will have an appropriate load destined for the saw-mill.

    The first thing I like to do is get all my tools in front of me so I can work cleanly and efficiently. Albeit as time goes on, I'm looking for this and that, with frustration, as I usually don't see it staring me straight in the face.

    Tools for this job include:

    1. Glues - Elmer's Wood, CA by Zap, Super Gorilla Glue
    2. Phillips Screw Driver
    3. Various files
    4. Standard and HO Scale Rulers
    5. Pin Vise with various size drill bits
    6. Multiple tweesers
    7. Pencil
    8. Micro-brushes
    9. Hobby knife with a new blade
    10. Several clamps of various sizes
    11. Cutting board

    The first step is to scale down the picture. You need to know the actual length of the car and an HO Scale Ruler to do this. Since the flat car is 30' in reality, measure the length of the car in the photo and either divide or multiply the real length (30') by the measurement on the HO Scale Ruler. This will give you a factor which you will use to determine the length of each piece from the end of the car.

    DSCN1156.JPG DSCN1157.JPG DSCN1158.JPG

    The flat car has a main body and two end beams. Taking both end beams against one end of the main body, measure out 30'. Any overage will be the section you need to cut off. In this particular case, the body section should be 3 15/16". I marked the body, then using a Miter Box, I cut the remainder off and put the small section off to the side.

    The next thing I do is make sure the measurement is correct. Again repeat the process. The car is now a scale 30' long end to end. Now you must sand the car. I use 3M 320 grit. The wood LaBelle uses likes peach fuzz, so sand accordingly. Once done, you will now add the end beams. Pay attention to your particular railroads flat cars. The S.A. & A.P. end beams run the height of the car. This requires a little addition of wood to the supplied end beam to meet this requirement. After cutting the extra end pieces, I glue them, then after about 10 minutes, I cut them to match the length of the end beam. Any seems will get sanded, and then painted, which will make them invisible.


    Next, I will add the bolsters...

    SAFN SAAP Member

    The next step is the most labor intensive part. I purchase bolsters from Bitter Creek. They are really nice, affordable, detailed, and add weight to the car directly over the trucks. However, one issue that needs to be addressed is the hole in the bolster which will not accept a 2-56 metal screw. It's a hair too large. To correct this, I drill the hole out to fit a Plastruct 90104 1/8" Poly Tube. This tube will tap 2-56 and will hold a 1/4" truck screw perfectly.

    At this step I use my Dremel in the workstation. I turn it down to the slowest speed setting. This allows me to hold the bolster while drilling. It is probably better to have the bolster in a vice or a holding mechanism than the hand.

    I drilled both bolsters out and then use a large file and clean the bolster top, bottom, and sides up of any flash. Now I get the tubing ready to install.

    DSCN1166.JPG DSCN1167.JPG DSCN1171.JPG

    Making sure that the bolsters will sit squarely on the flat car, I then insert the tube into the bolster and push it down till it hits the wood. Now I can see how much tube I will have that will hold the screw. I then take a micro-brush and swab the inside of the bolster hole with Gorilla Superglue. I place the bolster on the car, then insert the tubing again until it hits the wood bottom. I remove the assembly, wait about 2-3 minutes, then cut the tubing flush with the bolster top. A quick file will even out the tube with the bolster. This process is repeated for the other side.


    Now using a vice grip and the 2-56 tap, I thread the bolster inserts. The plastic is soft enough that you can turn the bolster to create the threads. One or two passes will be enough to tap the tube. You must be careful to allow the tap to do the work. Force it and you'll strip the plastic.

    DSCN1178.JPG DSCN1179.JPG DSCN1182.JPG

    (I show a picture of the pin vice. The PV won't hold the tap snug enough, hence the use of the Vice Grips.)

    Next I make the markings on the bottom of the car for the location of the bolster centers. I already have this scaled out. The mark is 11/16" from the end of the car. I mark both sides accordingly.

    DSCN1181.JPG DSCN1180.JPG

    Next is the needle-beams with queenposts. These are cleaned up with the file and again, I mark the location of the beams, 1 1/2" from the end of the main deck, not the end beams. Neither the bolsters or the needle-beams are glued at this point.

    DSCN1183.JPG DSCN1184.JPG

    Check the set-up by placing the bolsters and needle-beams on the previously drawn lines. Perfect!


    Tomorrow, I will add the lower section of the flat car sides, tapering them to scale. I will add the buffer blocks on the end. I will add the Kadee Coupler Boxes, and begin the brake work.

    That's all for now.

    Thanks for looking.


    SAFN SAAP Member

    Back to work. Starting on the underframe and decking. You wanted broken boards' replaced. You're getting them. 2x10's, 2x8's, and 2x6's in various locations!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2012

    SAFN SAAP Member

    Good Morning Y'all,

    To start back up on the project, the first thing to do is drill the stay holes for the truss rods. On a real car, the truss rods go from end to end and have a special set of nuts that are used to tighten the truss rods. Truss Rods are what keep the car together. Quite often, if the car was to experience a heavy load, the car knockers would pre-load the truss rods. That is, they would tighten them to give the car a rainbow arch effect, so that when the heavy load was placed on the car, the car would flex back to its normal shape. This did not damage the car at all; instead, it kept the car in great shape.

    So, looking at the prototype picture, I have to determine where the truss rods "disappear" from out of sight. In this case, the scaled measurement is 4' from the Queenposts.

    Here is where I vary from the LaBelle instructions. LaBelle gives you fishing line for the truss rods. They want you to notch out the floor of the car and add a beam that has holes drilled in it and you thread the fishing line to create one continuous truss rod. You have to notch out under both bolsters. I opted not to do this.

    Using 0.010 Phosphorus Bronze wire from Tichy, I form each truss rod individually. I mark off the four feet, and drill holes through the bottom of the floor to put the wire into; acting as a stay. When the decking is on the flat car, the holes are closed creating a pocket for the wire ends to sit in. Simply glue and your done. I will explain more when it comes time to do the truss rods.

    DSCN1186.JPG DSCN1187.JPG

    Now it's time to put the decking on the flat car. The S.A. & A.P. car has a slight overhang of the planking. When the end beams were attached to the main body, they extended a little on each end out from the body. This creates your guide for the planking. The end beams on the car are a scale 9 feet, 6 inches.

    LaBelle gives you plenty of Tongue and Groove to do two cars and to spare. Do not be sloppy with your cutting. I save the left over pieces for extra projects. The T&G makes excellent chair rail board for inside depots or other projects.

    The T&G is a little wider than the 9' 6", so you need to cut it down. Once that is done, you can then install the decking. One aspect of modeling a flat car which is very realistic, is to install different size boards to represent replacements for damaged ones. On this particular model, I chose to use 2x6's, 2x8's, and 2x10's in the most common areas in need of repair. Regrettably, the Labelle kit is not see through. Otherwise, missing boards would be a perfect, realistic option for one to model.

    On this model, as you can see by the photos, that the boards have replaced missing/damaged sections. What is also realistic is that the replacement boards are not the exact width as the original decking. This creates a bumping effect on the decking which is totally realistic. Railroads repaired with what they had, not what was actually needed.

    Here, your imagination can work. I tried to picture what a damaged car repaired would look like and went to work. Cutting the T&G is easy since you cut in the grooves. Using a straight edge, you make perfect cuts.

    Use Elmer's Carpentry Wood Glue here. It's excellent. I strip a micro-brush and use the plastic as a blade to move the glue around. Make sure all areas are covered with glue. This ensures that the T&G won't curl on the ends, which if you don't secure, will do.

    Here is the result of the decking:


    Now I will be adding the buffer blocks, coupler pockets, and start working on the under frame.
  15. Bruce Adams

    Bruce Adams Member

    Okay, engineers, please help me out ... is that tension and arching of the car by the truss rods the same thing as "camber"?
    I ask because that was mentioned during our tour of the DeSoto, MO car shops, where UP was building tri-level auto racks on top of Canadian flat cars.

    SAFN SAAP Member

    I doubt it because truss rods are no longer in use. Everything is steel, so no support like the truss rod would be necessary. But, I will leave it to the "engineers" as you said because I'm just using common sense here in my reply.

    SAFN SAAP Member

    First thing to start the under frame was to add the buffer blocks on the ends. The buffer blocks scaled out to 7/16". Once cut, I rounded the ends on some sand paper. Locating the center point on the end beam, I then centered the buffer block and glued using ECWG. This was done for both sides.


    Next thing I work on is the underframe sides which have a taper on each end. Scaling out the taper comes to 5/8" in from the edge. Using a straight edge, I draw a line from the 5/8" mark to the upper opposite end corner, forming the lines of a elongated trapazoid. Using 320 grit sand paper, I sand the taper down to the line. This is the safest way to do this as a knife blade can cut short, or crooked and ruin the piece of wood.

    Once both pieces are cut, they are glued to the bottom outside rail of the main body to form the full sides of the flat car. One the glue has set, sand so there is no/little seam.


    Now I can start adding underframe parts. First I secure the bolsters and then the needle-beams. After they are glued, I added the Kadee 242 coupler boxes. These will house the 148 Whisker style couplers.


    Now I move onto the car's braking system.
  18. Bruce Adams

    Bruce Adams Member

    Hi, Manny.
    Thanks for the progress reports - they're really enjoyable!
    To clarify my question from before, I was wondering if the end result was the same, and if that's what camber meant in a freight car context. (I think the shop tour guide said they used shims...?) I've noticed that highway trailers have quite a vertical curve to them, even when loaded.
    Keep up the good work!

    Found it!

    cam·ber -(kmbr)
    1.a. A slightly arched surface, as of a road, a ship's deck, an airfoil, or a snow ski.
    b. The condition of having an arched surface.
    2. A setting of automobile wheels in which they are closer together at the bottom than at the top.
    intr. & tr.v. cam·bered, cam·ber·ing, cam·bers
    To arch or cause to arch slightly.
    [From Middle English caumber, curved, from Old North French dialectal caumbre, from Latin camur, perhaps from Greek kamara, vault.]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2012

    SAFN SAAP Member

    One step closer to finish. The brake rigging is completed.

    The first step in the brake rigging is the positioning of the brake cylinder. The cylinder is located between the Needle-beams and the levers are slightly below the NB's to allow movement.

    The main brake line is represented by 0.020 Phosphorus Bronze. The line is routed under the bolster and to the cylinder. The line bends represent it going through the underframe supports. The brake line is simply bent with a pair of needle nose pliers. Each bend is carefully checked by installing the pipe loosely into position. You simply make adjustments as needed. Once the line is in position, I glue it in place with drops of Gorilla Glue in obscure places.


    With the main lines in place and the cylinder mounted, the next step is to connect the levers. Two levers are used. One large, which is attached to the cylinder; the other is an equalizer. Tichy supplies two sets of these levers on a sprue. Each lever has a mounting slot in the center and the end of the arms for wire.

    To connect the levers, I use 0.010 Phosphorus Bronze, again from Tichy. Each joint is glued with Gorilla Super Glue. This process is a little time consuming as there is not much contact area for the glue, so you must make sure that it dries before attempting to connect the system.

    First I create the dog bone assembly with the large and small levers. Once that is dry and installed, I easily add the equalization bars to each lever. Again, using 0.010 Phosphorus Bronze wire, I connect the end of each lever to the bolsters. This completes the brake rigging underneath the car.

    The hand brake assembly won't be added till after painting is completed.

    DSCN1216.JPG DSCN1219.JPG DSCN1217.JPG

    Now for the last step: Formation and installation of the truss rods.
  20. Oldguy

    Oldguy Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Yes. The same reasoning as to why when one frames a wood floor or deck you always install them with the "crown" side up. As weight is added, the deck or floor will flatten.

    Truss rods were (are) a structural part of the car. Steel rod is very good in tension, so when load is applied to the flat car, the car deck wants to bow downwards. The force on the kingpost or queenposts would transfer the load to the truss rods. Since each end is bolted to the car ends, the truss rods will take the force, transfering part of the force to the wood framing, causing it to compress and strengthen, as wood takes compression very well. Or something like that. As the car ages, the turnbuckles could be turned, causing the car deck to flex up a bit or at least flatten.

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