Project #11 - Kitbashing Techniques For 52 Ft. Flat Cars!

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KITBASHING TECHNIQUES FOR CREATING A 52 FT. FLAT CAR FROM A PAIR OF ARISTO-CRAFT 40 FT. CARS

 

Last reviewed and revised October 27, 2015 (When writing my articles, I have tried to be conscious of the time it takes to view them. Some modelers only have a dial-up connection to the Internet and sizeable image files embedded in the text can slow viewing down quite a bit. To counteract this, I originally kept my images hidden behind key words in the text so that you view them only when you click on those words. However, this feature has stopped working and I don't know how to fix it so if you want to see the images, please send me an e-mail at lawrence_d_cooper@yahoo.com and I will send you the microsoft word files!)

 

INTRODUCTION and OVERVIEW

OK. Here we go again. One more article in a series that describe projects that I have tried in order to satisfy my never-ending quest for rolling stock variety on my model railroad. This one is another, real kitbashing article, and, if you’ve read the article about how to do a 52 foot Gondola car from two Aristo 40 footers, you will see the parentage of this article, for the two projects are very similar indeed.

For those of you who have not read my earlier Gondola article and are not familiar with the term "kitbashing", it means the process of creating a new model by assembling parts from two or more other commercially available models. The process, as I know it, usually involves cutting, filing and splicing two body parts together to make a longer model.

In this case we are going to create a 52 foot flat car from two identical 40 foot Aristo flat cars.

I haven’t found a prototype photo of a flat car exactly like the model we are about to produce, because the Aristo flat has an inward flair on the bottom of the fishbelly sides. But flat cars usually seem so nondescript when in service that I decided to try it anyway. Besides, the project was so similar to the Gon, and the result so satisfying, that I can heartily recommend it to you, nonetheless.

The tools you will need for this project will be some sharp Exacto knives, several large and small files, some fine riffler files some sandpaper of varying grits, a fine bladed hacksaw, and small screwdrivers. You will also need a 1 foot by 6 inch perfectly flat board and some Testor's liquid plastic cement.

I am going to try to describe a method for making this car that will not require any significant amount of repainting. I am lousy at painting and have developed techniques that do a pretty good job without it. Whether or not you can follow this “no paint” method will depend on the paint scheme of the cars you use to start with. Some of Aristo's original paint schemes might not lend themselves to this approach but for those that do it is essential that you start with two identically painted cars. You are looking for cars painted so that their markings are essentially on each end and the middle is pretty plain. The flat cars that Aristo makes do not seem to have as many candidate paint schemes for this approach as the gons did, so I chose Pennsy cars because I could buy them in quantity for a great price. Later I found a Northern Pacific car that also lended itself to the method. Why not pick a paint scheme you think will work, try it, and send me photos of the finished product. I will publish them as examples with this article the next time I review it.

 

Beginning the Project.

For this project you will need two identical Aristo 40 foot flat cars. Lets start by completely (and I do mean completely!) disassembling each car. Track through the following steps:

1. Carefully remove the screws that hold the brakewheel staff from each end of both cars. You may have to gently pry the staff, with the brakewheel on it, out of it’s tabbed moorings. I found mine had not been glued so if I gently pried with a flat bladed knife, I could work them off without breaking the stem. (If you do break one, you always recover because the finished car will only need two but you will have 4 from the original disassemblies.) Put the brakewheel staffs in a small holding container, like a plastic baggy, so that you don't lose them. We'll call this the small parts baggy.

2. Carefully remove the drop stirrup steps from all four corners of each car. This is best accomplished with a flat bladed screwdriver by pushing the attachment stems from the inside of the car out until they can be pulled off easily. When you have them off, put them in the small parts baggy too.

3. Invert the car and remove the trucks from the underside of the body while putting the attachment screws in your small parts baggy. Remember that now would be a good time to improve these trucks by following the process outlined in my earlier article (IMPROVING THE SCALE APPEARANCE OF ARISTO FREIGHT CAR TRUCKS).

4. Now we need to remove the phillips cut washer headed screws that attach the sides of the car to the underframe/floor. Remove both of these screws (one per side) now and put them in your small parts baggy.

5. With the car still inverted, you will see the two very tiny phillips cut round headed screws in the side of each end of the car, each one through a small metal plate. Remove both of these screws and put them in your small parts baggy.

6. Now turn the car on each side and remove the the 4 small phillips cut round headed screws from the four corners of the end of each car. These screws run through a small metal plate like the one on the bottom of the car. Put the screws in the small parts baggy.

7. The end frames on both ends of each car should now come off by sliding straight away from the side and floor. Put these parts in a different parts baggy for safe-keeping. We will call this the large parts baggy.

8. You should now find that the sides of the carare not attached to the bottom and they disassemble themselves naturally. (In other words, the darn thing should fall apart now.) In some cases you may find some glue has been used to attach the sides. If so, you should gently break the glue joint by prying from the bottom and clean up the burrs on all pieces from the pried separation. Set the car sides off to the side. We will work on them later.

9. Now go back to the end frame castings in your large parts baggy. Gently remove the lower grab irons and put them in you small parts baggy.

10. Lastly, locate the metal plates that were used as attachment points to the car underframe/floor. These plates extend through the plastic to the inside of the piece and can be pressed out from the inside, removed and placed in your small parts baggy.

11. Replace the car ends in the large parts baggy. We don't need to do anything with them.

12. Place the car underframe/floor on your workbench and carefully pry off the brake rigging. The air reservoir should come off with no trouble but the rest of the brake rigging is glued in place and these glue joints will need to be gently broken. Put the brake rigging pieces in the large parts baggy.

13. This should now leave you with a bare underframe/floor.

Well there, you did it! What you have now is an assemblage of parts that could be described as a kit for two 40 foot long gondola cars….and we are going to bash those two into one car that is 52 scale feet long.

 

The Surgery Begins - The Sides.

Here is where we get into the "bashing" part of "kitbashing".

There are many ways to splice two pieces of plastic together, and the method that I use is very situation dependent. Usually I try to hide my splice lines in some hidden corner of the piece, but when that is not possible, or is too much work, I locate my splices in the middle of a flat area where they can be puttied and filed without disturbing any other detail. The method we will use for the car sides is a modified version of this second approach.

Our final joint lines on the sides of this car will be in the middle of a side rib and, if this work is done with care, no putty will be required and only touch up painting will be needed.

Start by labeling 2 of the sides you have as "A" and the other two as "B".

From now on, all my descriptions of left and right will assume that you are looking at these pieces oriented with the top of the side away from you, the bottom closest to you and the outside surface of the car up facing the ceiling.

Take the two "A" sides and locate the 3rd stake pocket from the left. This stake pocket should have a long rib under it, which we will call rib #5. It is just inside (toward the center of the car) from where the bottom of the side starts to angle up. Locate the space between the 4th and 5th rib, just left of the 3rd stake pocket, and cut the short end of the side off with your hacksaw blade by cutting through this space. You should cut as close to the 5th rib as you can without running the risk of slipping and cutting into the 5th rib itself. Eventually, we will be filing this piece down so that only 1/2 of the 3rd stake pocket and 5th rib remains.

Now take the two "B" sides and locate the 3rd stake pocket from the right, with the 5th rib from the right running under it. Again, this will be the long rib just inside (toward the center of the car) from where the bottom of the side starts to angle up. Locate the space between the 4th and 5th rib, just right of the 3rd stake pocket, and cut the short end of the side off with your hacksaw by cutting through this space. You should cut as close to the 5th rib as you can without running the risk of slipping and cutting into the 5th rib itself. Eventually, we will be filing this piece down so that only 1/2 of the of the 3rd stake pocket and 5th rib remains.

You can put the short pieces you just cut off in the scrap bin. We won't need them for this project.

 

If you have questions about this article, please contact lawrence_d_cooper@yahoo.com 

 



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