The prototype Kewaunee Green Bay
& Western 40-foot gondolas were ex-Norfolk &
Western 9000-cars built 1909-1913. The KGB acquired the cars in
January 1936 and some of these cars remained on the KGB roster until
1964. The most notable spotting feature was the ten panels on each side
of the 40' long steel car.
Andy pointed out that modeling this car was on his to-do list and he
thought that a Model Die Casting (now Athearn) gondola made a good
starting point. We had a little back-and-forth discussion about specific
details, lettering and herald colors, we soon were off to our
We started with a MDC 40'
Steel Gondola. Make sure to get one of the flat end (not oval end)
models. The end panels are slightly larger than the interior panels on
the KGB cars, while the MDC model has equal-spaced panels; and the
prototype's outside dimensions are 39'-11" x 9'-9" and the top
of the gondola is 8'-2" above the rail, compared to the models
dimensions of 40'-9" x 9'-4" x 9'-2". Not exact, but close enough.
And close enough became my mantra for this project.
An undecorated car is ideal, but many of these kits are black with
minimal white lettering. I found a car pre-lettered for
"Maintenance of Way," so I started by soaking the plastic car
body in 70% isopropyl alcohol for about a day. A little scrubbing with a
toothbrush took off the paint.
The ribs on the kit extend below the bottom of the gondola -- a
characteristic of the Chesapeake and Ohio
prototype that the model is based on. I used a sprue cutter to remove
the extensions at each rib and also the stirrups at each corner and then
used a large file to smooth the bottom of the car body.
Next, I used a knife with an X-Acto
#17 chisel blade to remove the cast-on grab iron detail on the sides and
ends of the car body. There are four steps on the right and two on the
left of each side plus two on each end - a total of sixteen grab irons
to be removed. The areas were wet-sanded with a little K&S
Flex-I-Grit #320 sandpaper to smooth them.
I replaced the grabs and steps with Tichy
Train Group #3021 grab irons and A-Line
#29001 stirrup steps (style B). I didn't take specific notes of what
size holes I drilled with my pin vise for these parts; I used a dial
caliper (I just got a cheap one on eBay
last year, I've found it to be a very handy tool for situations like
this) to measure the wire size and then used one drill bit size larger
for the holes. The grabs and steps were secured with Zap
cyanoacrylate adhesive (CA). I had used Jet CA prior to this project; I
found the Zap adhesive much easier to use.
The underframe of the MDC kit is a metal casting. I used a motor tool
to grind down the noticeable casting sprues, but didn't add any
additional underbody detail. If someone wanted to take this project to
the next level, adding underbody detail would probably give the most
bang for the buck.
I glued the underbody to the plastic body with Zap CA and added the
brake wheel to the end of the car body. The basic car was ready for the
paint shop. I gave it a coat of Modelflex
#16-05 Weathered Black and then some Gloss #16-603 in the locations
where I would be decaling.
The car had standard GBW lettering so I was able to use a Scale
Rail Graphics GBW/KGB 40' wood boxcar decal set to letter the
car. These decals are very thin and I had troubles with the large
KEWAUNEE GREEN BAY AND WESTERN decal; it took several attempts to get
one of those decals down without tearing. By the end of the second side
of the car I developed the technique of putting the dry decals down on
the car side and then using a wet Q-Tip to release the backing paper.
The car number was cut from the boxcar number set, using the middle
digits of an "8100" from the set and then adding a
"7" to the left and an appropriate finishing number,
remembering that the KGB cars were odd numbers only.
Andy and I used two photos to determine the positioning of the
lettering. Interestingly enough, the cars were lettered differently! KGB
7177 had the CAPY data below the road number in the second panel, while
7195 had that data on the third panel. Andy and I both chose to model
our cars after the 7195 style, as that was the later photo and matched
the other open-topped cars better.
I used the largest dimensional data in the Scale Rail Graphics set
for the car; again, this was a "close enough" decision. A Microscale
or similar set could be used to get more exact data but considering the
accuracy of the basic car body and the scale I had no problem with using
the Scale Rail Graphics data.
My favorite use of the Scale Rail Graphics set was to cut out letters
from some end reporting marks to add a 'GB' AAR code to each side of the
car. The 'Caldwell Snubber' lettering from the decal set was used as a
filler in the far right panel of each side and a 'NOR 9-54' shop date
completed the "close enough" lettering. Two applications of
Microscale Micro-Sol set the decals in place.
Trucks & Weathering
The prototype had Andrews trucks so I added a pair of Accurail
#156 Andrews Trucks, sans wheels. Kadee
#58 couplers were added and the project was ready for weathering.
I used A.I.M. products Real Rust to weather the outside of the car. I
dribbled some rubbing alcohol on the inside of the car and sprinkled
some A.I.M. rust powder with a toothbrush on the inside walls of the
car. Modelflex Mud #16-73 was sprayed on the trucks and adjacent car
body and some Badger 16-08 Reefer Orange was sprayed on the coupler head
and over the lettering to simulate a light coating of fresh rust.
Finally the car was sprayed with Testors
Dullcoate from a can and I sprinkled a few metal scraps painted brown
and black on the floor of the car while the Dullcoat was wet to simulate
scraps from a prior shipment.
The trucks were fitted with Intermountain
33" metal wheel sets that were weathered separately and had the
treads polished with my motor tool.