One car that I’ve had on my most-wanted list for a long time was one of NYC’s 40′ boxcars with Despatch ends and roof from lot 858-B. This is a fairly simple kitbash from Branchline parts, resulting in a unique car.
NYC’s Despatch Shops Inc. (DSI) built thousands of cars with their own ends and roofs between 1956 into Penn Central, but lot 858-B (numbered NYC 42000-43499) was the only lot of 40′ cars (N.B. – the last 100 cars had Improved Dreadnaught ends). Except for 25 experimental PS-1s, they were also the only 40’ers on the roster with 8′ doors. This feature made them the preferred car for assignment for appliance service. By 1966 about 2/3 of the fleet had been reassigned with new numbers. I discussed these car assignments and NYC’s appliance traffic flows in an earlier post.
After stripping a Branchline kit using 91% Isopropyl alcohol, I followed Seth Lakin’s excellent article in the NYCentral Modeler e-zine. Rather than double the hill and describe the work needed, I’ll just direct you here. I followed his directions pretty much exactly, although I replaced the .010″ x .020″ + .060″ x .020″ sill beam with one made of .030″ x .020″ + .040″ x .020″ to cut down on the bill of materials. Other changes were the use of Hi-Tech air hoses and Tangent uncoupling levers.
Paint & Decals
For paint, I wanted to model a car reassigned to appliance service. Some of these cars continued to wear their original red, most were painted different versions of Century Green. I wanted to model a green car, but the problem I had was the lack of a Transco SL decal. I did find a picture of a car assigned to Westinghouse in the NYC System Historical Society’s archive that only featured an NYC style SL decal similar to the one in the Microscale set so I followed that.
I painted the roof, ends, and body prior as subassemblies. The body was my formula of Vallejo Emerald and Blue-Green. This time I replaced some of the White with USAAF Aircraft Gray. Decals were from Microscale set 87-58. I supplemented this with CDS Set HO-165 for the “858-B”, “return to…Appliance Park, KY” and “BLT 8-56” lettering and Microscale 87-xx for the “Lift handle to open or slide door” and “adjust brakes here” lettering. This gave me a car with a Westinghouse number and a GE return to location, but I’m fine with just getting close, at least it says “appliance”! Smokebox Graphics provided the paint patch and repack/brake test stencils.
I followed the picture, which appeared to be taken in the late 1960s for the weathering. I used raw umber oil paint for a wash and added some dark rust spots. Then I darkened the rivets with a dark umber colored pencil. After a coat of Vallejo Matte Varnish, I dusted on Pan Pastels – Burnt Sienna Extra Dark (couplers), Raw Umber (ends, trucks), Raw Umber tint (sides), and Medium Gray Extra Dark (roof and ends). The running board I used was a silver one stolen from an unweathered PS-1, I painted it black and then used a scratch brush to scrape off some paint to represent one with chipping paint. Lastly, I drew on chalk marks with a colored pencil.
With that, I had a car ready to haul appliances from the Midwest to Boston. This is another project with a good rendition of Century Green, I’m starting to feel comfortable that I’ve got this mix down enough to be brave enough to paint my Tangent cabooses. Not now though, I just have a couple more cars to clear the bench and I will start sawing wood again.
Seth Lakin, “Modeling a New York Central Lot 858-B Boxcar”, NYCentral Modeler, 4th Quarter, 2014 – Link
References: Ed Hawkins, “Freight Cars of the Fifties: NYC Despatch Shops Built 50 Foot Boxcars”, Railmodel Journal, February 1999