Critical Cars, Traffic Research

A C&O Insulated Boxcar Build

Completed model of C&O 5500, an insulated boxcar built in 1960 by the C&O shops. I modified the sill on a Branchline kit without having to do a full repaint.

Branchline Trains’ boxcar kits (not RTR) of the early 2000s remain one of the best values for models of rolling stock. I purchased this kit for maybe $10 at a train show. It was really intended to be a fleet filler, but I wound up doing a decent amount of work on it, resulting a nice car.

The prototype for this kit is an 8′ RBL with a Youngstown flush door based on a car built by General American in 1957. This basic design was purchased by many buyers, but by the early 1960s the 10′ door along with a cushioned underframe had become the preferred equipment, thus the 8′ plug door car may represent about a quarter of 50′ RBL equipment of the mid-1960s.

C&O 5613 at Lttle Rock, Ark. in the 1970s. George Elwood photo, used with permission.


In the back of my head I knew that C&O RBL and did show up fairly regularly in New England and that they had a decent sized roster of these cars but I wasn’t too sure it was a great addition. Research shows that the C&O did roster about 1100 RB, RBL and XMLI cars in 1966. Of these 248 were 50′ cars with 8′ doors, with 149 in the series 5500-5649. The most common car on the roster was a 50′ car with 10′ 6″ doors, there were close to 600. So the 5500s aren’t unusual cars, but certainly not the most common.

Insulated boxcars, like auto parts boxcars, were often part of pools of cars with other railroads for specific shippers. As a result a car from the C&O might be assigned to Miller Beer in Milwaukee and be shipped to Boston over a route of MILW-Chicago-NYC never touching the rails of its owner. Still, the origin road would have a disproportionate share of the cars in one of those pools and a large road like C&O would have most of its cars assigned to its own shippers, so let’s look at tonnage of commodities requiring insulation, but not refrigeration on the C&O to find a typical use.

By process of elimination, we can be sure that the second car of this Boston-Saxonville local turn at Natick, Mass. in the fall of 1966 is a C&O 5500 series RBL. The Saxonville Branch was home to many distribution related companies including the main Zayre distribution center – now the site of successor TJX’s headquarters. Donald Haskel photo, used with permission.

RBL Commodities on the C&O

Using the Freight Commodity Statistics we can get an idea of the top commodities originated, terminated, bridged or handled locally on many Class I railroads. Since the last year this data is available is 1963, I have to use that, but that should be close enough.

In a joint Dow, Pullman-Standard and C&O publicity photo showing a brand new PS-1 being loaded with palletized chemicals at the Dow plant in Midland, MI. Pullman-Standard Library/James Kinkaid collection, used under creative commons license.
CommodityTotal CarsTotal TonsTons FWDEst Fwd Cars
Food Products NOS in cans and packages33435104110734602311112
Soap and Cleaning Compounds321023986135891819
Malt Liquor (Beer)7162243811604571776
Beverages, NOS69343793102916
Estimated Forwarded Cars is the result of dividing forwarded tons by total tons per car (Total tons divided by total cars) – Source Freight Commodity Statistics of Class I Railroads – 1963.

This analysis clearly shows that canned and packaged food products are far and away the typical RBL type commodity originated on the C&O. Furthermore beer was not shipped to New England in volume from C&O’s territory. C&O would have had many cars in the Proctor & Gamble pool for soap shipments out of Ivorydale (Cincinnati), Ohio. According to the ICC Carload Waybill Statistics TC-3 report from 1965 though, the bulk of the soap shipments within the Official Territory were intermodal moves. This means that NYC’s Flexi-Van service from Cincinnati to Worcester and Boston would get the lion’s share of those moves. Still, I’ve found photos of P&G RBL loads at Framingham.


So if this car is going to represent a food shipment to the Boston area, what would be some typical shippers? We can make some educated guesses by first figuring out where a shipment most likely would come from. Looking at the 1965 reporting for STCCs 203 (Food) and 2099 (Food products NOS), the states served by C&O rank as follows in terms of carloads in the waybill sample:

  • Illinois (95/270 = 365)
  • Ohio (64/111 = 175)
  • Indiana (34/78 = 112)
  • Michigan (60/26 = 86)
  • Virginia (35/18 = 53)
  • West Virginia (-/7 = 7)

While Ill., Ohio and Ind. rank high, C&O’s market share in those states is small compared to other carriers. In Michigan though, the ex-Pere Marquette routes dominated the agricultural region of the state giving them a strong share. While Michigan did not show up in the 1965 State-To-State moves of 203 or 2099 products to Massachusetts, it did pop at 11 cars in the 1963 data of Food Products NOS. Some searching turned up a few large Michigan shippers on the C&O:

  • Gerber, Fremont, Mich.
  • Michigan Fruit Canners, St. Joseph, Mich
  • Dailey Pickle, Saginaw, Mich.
  • Heinz (pickles), Saginaw, Mich.
  • WR Roach, Croswell, Mich.

Additional smaller canneries operated in Western Michigan (especially the fruit growing region around Traverse City). Long story short, I can realistically operate this car on my layout.

Branchline C&O RBL Model

With the rationale behind the model established let’s look the build. I already had three Branchline RBL’s on my roster when I acquired this one. In order to differentiate this one and make it a more correct model, I modified the sill with a fishbelly profile using plans that appear to be from this car in the 1966 Car & Locomotive Cyclopedia. I spliced the new sill on and cut away part of the old sill. To blend the joint line away, I applied putty over the seam and sanded it flush. I added a few rivets where the underframe met the sill and airbrushed on a coat of Vallejo Model Golden Yellow.


While not one of the prototype cars I was modeling, I used this 1965 photo at Watertown, Mass. of a 40′ C&O PS-1 as a guide for the paint patches and weathering. Leroy Dozier photo, collection of George Elwood, used with permission.

Weathering was a bit more of a challenge on this car than my typical boxcar. Brightly painted cars are just harder for me to do a good job on, so I sought to alter my techniques on this one. To try and get something that resembled the prototype photo I tried fading the paint with a wash of pastel yellow oil paint first. I wasn’t convinced this was going to work, so I only did it on one side. This was followed by a wash of raw umber oil paint and an application of Dullcote.

I had to mask several areas before applying the Pan Pastels since the road grime tended to settle in some spots and avoid others. Rivets seemed to suck up the dust and keep it from settling on the car. Plug door cars typically accumulate road grime on the door surrounding the door posts, but not directly under them. To properly mask this area I left the door posts off the car until I was done with the Pan Pastels.

Here is the initial Pan Pastel application with the rivet strips masked.
Masking removed and Pan Pastels blended with a large soft brush.

When I removed the masking, I colored the rivets with a colored pencil and sealed all with another application of Dullcote. Final detailing and painting included patched repack, reweigh and brake test stencils, Tangent uncoupling levers, Hi-Tech air hoses and a Kadee running board. All the extra work with the weathering was worth it. As for the faded yellow effect, it worked great and I wished I had used it on both sides of the car, I will just be careful not to build the paint up on the rivets next time.

This is, by far, the nicest job I’ve done weathering a yellow or orange car to date, so I wound up building a nicely detailed and needed car, while learning some new techniques in the progress…all from a $10 purchase, you can’t ask for more out of a project than that.


Critical Cars

BECCO Tank Cars

I came across these photos today while I was browsing Lee Dozier’s photos on George Elwood’s Fallen Flags website. The bulk of Lee’s rolling stock photos are from Framingham, Lowell and Watertown, MA during 1965-68, so they are an excellent resource for me. I almost went right by these, but some prior research kicked in and I put the puzzle together. BECCO was short for Buffalo Electro-Chemical Corp. and was a division of FMC. The company is still in business as Peroxychem LLC. According to the 1963 NYC Freight delivery circular, they had production facilities in Buffalo/Tonawanda, NY served by NYC and EL. It also shows they had a facility in Framingham, Mass. on the NYC, which was a distribution/packaging operation. Loads would have come east in BA-2/BA-4 and empties would go west probably in BB-1.

Since these pictures were basically uncaptioned, it took a minute for me to realize what I was looking at but I did put 2 and 2 together. I did a check on Google Earth and found the building is still standing on the north side of the CSX Nevins Yard, although no longer a chemical plant. These three pictures now aren’t random tanks to me, but illustrate the fleet of one of the B&A’s mid-sized customers. Clearly, I need to add one of these cars to my roster at some point, the question will be how, models of welded 4000 and 6000 chemical tank cars are hard to come by. A tank built from Plastruct tube and domes on an underframe from another kit might be the way to go…something to think about.


Critical Cars

Freight Car Progress

As I was waiting for my Flexi-Flo cars to arrive, I cleaned up my spray booth to get ready paint their trucks and add a layer of Dullcoat. With a clean booth, I kept on going and decided to paint, decal and weather a couple of cars this winter’s hit list.

Both of these cars wound up on my roster as a result of studying shipments on the Grafton & Upton in May of 1965. One observation I made about the gondolas in this study, was the variety of lengths in the mix. It is easy to fall into the trap of modeling mostly 52′ gons, but in the sample there were cars of 39′, 40′, 41′, 42′, 45′, 46′, 48′, 49′ and 50′ lengths and they made up nearly 2/3 of the shipments. Both of these cars were selected, not only because they showed up multiple times in the sample and are significant cars on their respective fleets, but also because they help create some variety in my fleet.

B&M Magor Drop Bottom Gondola

A New Haven high hood Alco switcher moves a B&M gondola in South Boston April, 1961. Note switch tender and the open-air armstrong interlocking plant. Don Haskel photo, used with permission.

This car is an old Funaro & Camerlengo kit that is based on B&M and MEC’s 40′ drop bottom gons. The B&M had 1250 cars (92000-93249 – with 25 assigned Mystic Terminal reporting marks) while the affiliated Maine Central received 250 (3200-3449). The B&M fleet saw varied use but were mostly intended for the Eastern Gas & Fuel coke works and pig iron furnace in Everett, Mass (served both by B&M and B&A). The pig iron plant closed in 1956 and the coke works closed in 1960, but these cars were still fairly common around New England for years afterwards. For my purpose, it will represent a car in a joint NYC-B&M pool of empties for scrap loading within the Boston Switching District (Prolerizer in Everett and Schiavone in Charlestown).

A New York Central local heads east to the Coke Works, with a B&M 40′ gondola six cars back. The time and place is Draw 7 over the Mystic River on the Grand Junction Branch at Everett, Mass. circa 1959. Photo by Alan Thomas, collection of Dave Hamilton, used with permission..

By October of 1966 there were only 446 cars left in interchange service, with 313 of these rebuilt with solid steel floors and renumbered into the 9200-9899 series. As of this writing Pan Am Railways still has 5 of these cars in their short welded rail train and a couple others converted to wheel cars assigned to Waterville, ME.

New Haven freight bill for a pig iron shipment from Hanna Furnace, Buffalo, NY to Draper Corp., Hopedale, MA via LV-Easton-L&HR-Maybrook-NH-Milford-G&U – 5/15/65 shipped in B&M 9822.

I opted to model a rebuilt car, as they were more numerous and doing so saved me from adding all the tiny Wine door latch hardware. I used Proto 2000 plankless trucks, A-Line stirrups, Kadee #158 couplers, Tangent uncoupling levers and Hi-Tech air hoses to finish the model.

The one complication I had was that most of these cars featured a small McGinnis logo with a white B and and blue M – a decal that is not readily available in HO scale. I contacted Highball Graphics to see if a logo from another set was the right size. They asked the size and printed a bunch for me special instead. You can’t beat that kind of customer service! I painted the car Model Master Flat Black and weathered it with a wash of raw sienna oil paint followed by an application of Pan Pastels.

My completed B&M kit, the McGinnis logo was worth the extra leg work as it looks more at home in a 1960’s setting and gives me a one-of-a-kind model. After taking the picture I realized I forgot to add chalk marks, this has since been corrected.

N&W G-5 Mill Gondola

N&W 90179 Worthington, OH 6/65. The car is carrying signal masts for installation on the Columbus-Sandusky line that the N&W had recently purchased from the Pennsylvania as part of the Nickel Plate-Wabash merger. Lynn Roberts photos, George Elwood collection, used with permission.

The other car I finished was a Norfolk & Western G-5 class 46′ mill gondola. Three showed up in Hopedale, MA during 5/65, so I had highlighted it as a potential car to model. That small sample aside, the numbers make this a statistically significant car by themselves. The N&W’s fleet of gondolas was the 5th largest in the US in 1966 at 12,047 cars (including ex-NKP, P&WV, WAB and VGN cars) and G-5 was their biggest class. Originally numbering 2,500 cars (88000-90499), they were built in five separate orders between 1952 and 1956 by various builders.

Freight bill pig iron shipped from Republic Steel in Troy, NY to Draper Corp. at Hopedale, MA 5/18/65 via NYC (B)-North Grafton-G&U shipped in N&W 88301.

This was a resin kit from Pocahontas Models, it was later offered by Speedwitch Media. Although it is still cataloged, it has been out of production for quite a while. I failed to acquire one when it was available, but managed to score an unopened secondhand kit at the Springfield Show a few years ago. It was another simple kit to build with a one-piece body. The one part that I did different than the instructions was the installation of the lading band anchors. The instructions called for them to be mounted on top of the top chord, when in fact they need to be mounted on the side. A detail shot of a car on the RR-Fallen Flags made this clear. I was expecting the assembly process on this part to be very difficult, but I figured a way to cut them from the fret leaving a mounting pin and a Glue Looper made the application of CA a simple, mess-free process.

Note the placement of the lading band anchor and tie down loops. Lynn Roberts photos, George Elwood collection, used with permission.

I used Kato 70-Ton ASF Ride Control trucks, A-Line stirrups, Kadee #22 couplers, Tangent uncoupling levers and Hi-Tech air hoses to finish the model. The choice of #22 couplers was because the car body would have had to sit too high with #158s. I also attempted to model the tie down loops on the top chord, they came out bad and I removed them. I skipped redoing them in the interest of actually finishing the model. I may fix this when I add a load to the car.

I painted the model with Model Master Flat Black and lettered it with the supplied decals. In retrospect the big “N&W” looks undersize, but I’m not aware of a source for correct size lettering. It looks OK as long as you aren’t directly comparing it to a prototype photo. The car was weathered with oil paints and Pan Pastels after sealing with Dullcoat. I masked off some lettering to simulate repack and reweigh stencils. Some chalk marks drawn with a white colored pencil completed the job.

The finished car, I tried to copy the weathering from the Roberts photo, but I may need to tone the light gray streaks down a bit.

While these probably took longer than they should have to finish, I’m happy to have two more check marks on my list of this winter’s projects. On to the next one.


Critical Cars

Now or Never

I’m sure most of us have one of those projects that never seems to get done (OK, maybe more than one in my case). Sitting on my shelf of started, but never finished freight car projects, has been a New York Central Lot 747-H Enterprise covered hopper. This was my first craftsman car kit, a West Shore Line model that I bought at Central Hobby Supply’s booth at the Springfield show back in the early ’90s.

The Enterprise cars were the largest group of covered hoppers on the NYC. As of October 1966 there were 1431 on the rosters of NYC, CASO, IHB, MDT and P&LE, this comprised about 1/3 of the  NYCS covered hopper roster. Lot 747-H itself contained 693 cars. The prototype Lot 747-H cars could be found hauling cement, feed, industrial sand, limestone and road salt on the B&A in the 1960s. Given the total numbers and wide usage, they are a necessary car for my fleet. At the time I was very excited to buy the car and start construction.

Alco RS3 5530 pulls the Framingham-Worcester local westbound at Cordaville, Mass. in April, 1966. It looks like a pair of Enterprise covered hoppers are in the consist, most likely for the cement distribution terminal in Westboro. Donald Haskel photo, used with permission.

Things started out well enough, but a covered hopper is a poor choice for a first resin kit. As work on the car progressed, problems started to pile up and mistakes compounded on themselves, eventually I became frustrated enough that the car was pushed to the side. A couple times over the years I’d gone back and tried to finish the project, solving some problems and discovering new ones. Each time it went back in the box and on the shelf. Over the years I’ve gotten much better with craftsman kits, but I never did finish this one. This Spring, trapped in the house with Coronavirus restrictions, I figured it was now or never to get this one done for good.

The two biggest issues I had were with the ladders and the channel ribs over the bolsters. The car sides were designed so that strip styrene was to be cemented to them to acheive the thin cross section of the channel flanges. Long story short – this didn’t work at all. Eventually I gave up, carved off what was on the car and replaced the entire channel with an Evergreen styrene channel. The single piece would be much more durable even if it was a hair too wide. In the process though, the surround rivets were filed off so they had to be replaced with resin surface decals.

The ladders were also designed to be fabricated, from strip styrene and .020″ wire. I tried to build these a couple different ways over the years and again traded off realism for durability in the end. I cut one of the stiles off of a Tichy ladder and used that instead. They angle in a bit to the center of the car but I got them together without going insane and they are solid.

I tried to upgrade the rest of the detailing on the car as I went along, but some problems couldn’t be fixed without causing irreparable damage. This included:

  • piping and detailing to the B-end
  • hatches – they should be much taller
  • .020 wire for end grab irons and hatch handles

The unpainted car showing the details I upgraded from the kit parts. This included the a Plano US Gypsum running board, hatch latch bars, channels, rivets, dust guards, towing staples and ladders.

With construction finally done, I painted the car Model Master Light Gray and decorated it using Wabash Custom Decal’s set #105. This set does one Airslide and one Lot 747-H car lettered for either P&E or NYC. Mark Vaughn has sold this decal firm, but is back in business under new ownership. As of mid-2020 these are still available.

NYC 881200 747-H 11-71

A good weathering job can hide a multitude of sins, so I put some extra effort here. Using 1970 photo of a prototype car for a guide (shown above), I started with a wash of burnt umber oil paint over most of the car. After this cured I streaked a very light gray mix down the car sides. Titanium white oil paint takes forever to dry, so this was set aside to cure for about two weeks. I came back and added the paint patches and decals for the repack, reweigh and brake test stencils. I then sealed everything with Dullcote and gave a light dusting with Pan Pastels to blend everything together.


While the craftsmanship no longer represents my best work, I am really happy with the results. The gray for the paint patches is too dark, but that was intentional to make it stand out. The Pan Pastels give it a chalky look that looks better in person than in the photo of the finished car. Time to check this one off and move on to the next project.


Critical Cars

Critical Cars: General American’s G-85

Walthers’ introduction of a G-85 flatcar fills a major hole for those of us who model the 1960’s in HO scale. It’s unique design combined with the total number built make it a stand out in Sixties train consists. Prior to Walthers’ announcement of these models I had already identified them as a necessary car as they showed up in both Super Van and mail & express service. In this post I’ll review their history, how they fit into my plans, the models themselves and how I finished them.


The G-85 was introduced in 1959 as a successor to the early Clejan flatcars. The design was different from the standard channel-side flatcars in several ways. It featured an exposed center sill with decks on each side for the trailer wheels. The decks sat lower than the center sill allowing a 12′ 6″ van to fit within plate C clearances (15′ 4″ height) without requiring 28″ wheels. The design is easy to identify in old photos as there is virtually no side sill.

Nelligan 11-70 Milford, CT for Maybrook
A westbound Penn Central train at Milford, CT in November, 1970 with a cut of TOFC up front. From the headpin the consist includes a Pullman low deck PS4PB (Trailer Train class F89A), G-85, AC&F Lo-Dek Hitch Hiker (TT class F89) and another G-85. A G-85 carrying a 12′ 6″ van was no taller than a standard boxcar and enabled the New Haven to run piggyback service into New York. (Tom Nelligan photo used with permission)

The trailer hitches were located within the center sill. When collapsed they sat completely below the top of the sill allowing for container loading, making it an all-purpose car. The center sill also contained a stow away area for container pedestals. The G-85 could also be modified for Flexi-Van loading (see photos of the GATC demonstrator car page 33 of the 6/62 Railroad Model Craftsman). In fact the first Mark III Flexi-Van was actually modified SP 511216, a GATC C-85 (the Clejan/auto rack hauling version). That said, the SP experiment was a unique car as far as I can tell.

Southern Pacific C85
SP 511216 at Los Angeles, CA in 1961. This was the first Mark III flatcar.

Southern Pacific C85 July 1961 Central Headlight
The Mark IIIs were the version that replaced the hydraulic system on the car with a tractor with a hydraulic arm. This reduced weight and maintenance costs.

Overall the total production of the G85 and its successors the G85A and G89 totaled about 5000 units. About half the units were on the Trailer Train roster by 10/66 with Pacific Fruit Express, Santa Fe and Southern Pacific also having large fleets. You can also download a more detailed roster here: G-85 Roster

The G-85 on the Boston & Albany

While the NYC’s intermodal services are more remembered for its Flexi-Van container operation, it began hauling TOFC in 1962 and expanded greatly in this field after joining Trailer-Train in 1964. By the time of the Penn Central merger TOFC might have represented a third or more of their intermodal loads. As a result, GTTX cars, as well as foreign line G-85s from AT&SF, SP, SSW and PFE, could be found on B&A Super-Van trains on a regular basis.

10-66 Headlight TOFC terminal in Boston
A tractor loads a Santa Fe trailer on a G-85 at NYC’s original Boston TOFC ramp. Before acquiring a PC-70 packer at Beacon Park, NYC utilized a portable ramp located off the Sears Lead by the freight houses. Prior to the clearance project NYC handled Boston TOFC at Framingham. The G-85’s lower deck height and heavy center sill are easy to identify. (image taken from the July 1966 Central Headlight, courtesy of Terry Link, used with permission)

A higher profile use of the G-85 on the NYC was by REA Express. REA had a fleet of 55 G-85s equipped with steam and signal lines for use in passenger trains. Several of these cars were assigned to regular service between Boston, New York and Chicago on NYC mail and express trains. They stood out among the other cars in these trains and are absolutely necessary to model certain mail & express trains.

1966 M&E Ashland, MA
Eastbound Mail & Express (probably #148) at Ashland, MA June 1966 with a REX Unit-Haul G-85 trailing a Flexi-Van flat just ahead of the rider coach. Photographer unknown, scanned slide from my collection.

To handle four 20′ containers, these were equipped with the Steadman side-transfer loading system. Steadman’s system was similar in some respects to the Flexi-Van but featured rollers that allowed containers to slide off the car and was powered by a hydraulic ratchet mechanism. Long time readers of Trains may remember that John Kneiling championed the use of the Steadman system as part of his integral container train ideas. For better or worse, this was one of their only sales of their technology.

REA Express Unit Haul containers being unloaded in Chicago, IL 6-17-67 as the 20th Century Limited departs and the station switcher makes a move with an empty Flexi-Van flat. Note the REA Express truck with chassis.  (detail of Ted Ellis photo, used with permission). Steadman’s patent below illustrates how the system worked.

The Models

Walthers used the same general design as their earlier Flexi-Van models with a cast metal sill with styrene parts cemented to it. The weight of the car is 3 oz., well short of the NMRA recommended weight of 7 oz for a 12″ long car. This is to be expected since there is hardly any place to weight. Containers or trailers will add about 2 oz., so 2 oz of weight inside those is needed to get them up to spec.

Walthers has included specific details for each road name offered. These include hardware for the original piggyback version (with different nameplate arrangements for each owner), a REA side transfer container car and the later VTTX conversions.

I purchased both a Trailer Train (GTTX) and REA Express (REX) car. Detailing was generally correct and to scale. Grab irons ans stirrups are molded on. One detail overlooked was the sway chain brackets. There use on Trailer Train cars was discontinued in 10/63 so cars built after that did not have them. At that point Trailer Train was in the G85A production though so this makes this car closer to a G85A. This is hardly a big deal because the G85A was essentially the same car with a deck that was 6″ wider.

Sway Chain G85 Panza
Closeup of sway chain bracket. (TTX photo, Jim Panza collection, used with permission)

On the REX version, Walthers modeled the Steadman tie down equipment and offered specially tooled prototype containers to match. The tie down equipment is semi-operable so it can represent both loaded and empty cars. This seems to have been more trouble than it was worth as it is hard to use and doesn’t hold the containers perfectly square.

Over the trucks they included the hardware that both supported and protected the steam line. Incorrectly, they included this detail on both sides of the car, while the steam line itself was omitted.

Upgrading Details

I made a few improvements to the models. For both, I cut off the pin to the uncoupling lever and added a Hi-Tech air hose. I replaced the cast on grab on the left side of each end and added a Tangent uncoupling lever at the same time. I left the right side grab, as securing it seemed like a frustrating proposition. I also left the stirrups alone for the same reason. Since I didn’t feel like scratch building or 3D printing new sway chain brackets, I decided to model a G85A and changed the number from 300347 to 301347.

For the REX car, I made the same detail upgrades as the GTTX car. In addition, I removed the unneeded steam line brackets on the side with the brake lever (one fell off when I opened the box anyway). I added a steam line using 1/16″ styrene tube. I used a photo of an NIFX flat from Model Railroader’s Guide to Intermodal as a guide. I bent the tube by heating it over a soldering iron and then wrapped it with masking tape to represent the texture of the insulation. When the steam line was complete, I pinned it to the crossbearers with .012 wire. The tape effect worked visually, but the seams were hard to hide and will probably age poorly. Time will tell if this step was worth the trouble.


I added an ounce of lead shot to the containers at each end. This brought the car up to 7 ounces. Then I glued all of the containers in place to keep square and from shifting around.


Lastly, I added a Cal-Scale steam and signal line set to the ends, because of the low deck a standard installation wouldn’t work. I drilled two holes in the sill for the air and signal lines to the right of the coupler. To the left I cemented the steam connection directly to the uncoupling lever with CA to tack it in place and then canopy cement for a lasting grip. While this is unrealistic, the finished product has a little give to it and gets around a complicated installation while looking good enough.

Closeup of end showing uncoupling lever, grab iron, steam, signal and air lines.


These cars ran a lot of miles in high speed service and were generally covered with brake shoe dust and dirt. I first airbrushed the trucks and couplers PolyScale Railroad Tie Brown. After airbrushing the whole model with Dullcote, I gave both cars a healthy dose of Pan Pastels. I also used oil paint to represent the grease on the hitches and rollers as well as rust and oil stains on the deck of the GTTX car.

Here is the completed GTTX model on the road after weathering and detailing, with a pair of trailers – a Walthers Flexi-Van and Athearn Freuhauf reefer decorated for CGW with Don Halffield decals.


From the sound of things, these sold out quickly, making them an excellent candidate for future runs. The detail discrepancies are hardly a bother considering that these are part of the WalthersMainline series and were available from discount resellers in the $25 range. The finished models make a welcome addition to my car roster. I can cross two projects off the list that had previously been slated as scratch building projects.


  • Wilson, Jeff Model Railroader’s Guide to Intermodal, Kalmbach, 1999
  • “G-85 85′ piggyback flatcar.” Railroad Model Craftsman, June, 1962, p. 33.
  • Kneiling, John G. “How to switch from boxcars to containers without wasting money on piggyback.” Trains, Aug., 1976, p. 40.
  • Kneiling, John G. “How to run a railroad in the Northeast.” Trains, Aug., 1974, p. 20.
  • Jim Panza Powerpoint presentation: