Friday, April 22, 2011

Scratch Car Fever

In order to obtain the NMRA's "Master Model Railroader" certificate, I have to (among other things) build, from scratch, four railroad freight cars.  I'm not ashamed to say that I find this intimidating, but it's also a challenge, and I rarely back down from a challenge.  Over the past few weeks, I've been reading everything I can find about scratchbuilding cars, trying to understand how the frames are constructed, what detail parts are involved, etc...

Due to the holiday weekend, I was able to escape work early today, and soon found myself standing in front of my work area, looking at a pile of basswood strips.  One thing led to another, those basswood strips were cut into various pieces, and two hours later, I was looking at this:

Granted, it's only a flatcar, and I still have to stain/paint the frame, and install proper trucks, and couplers, and grab irons, and stirrups, and...  The point is, I've been dreading this task, and it turned out to be INCREDIBLY easy, and tons of fun.  I'm hooked...

The frame is a simple wooden box frame, with stringers for additional support.  The decking is individual basswood planks, pre-stained in an India ink/alcohol solution:

The truck bolsters are wood as well, sanded to shape.  The trucks I stole, temporarily, from a plastic reefer car.  I need to research the proper trucks for a wood-framed car from the early 1900's, and purchase the brake components and other details for the underbody.  Oh, and install a couple of additional cross-braces:

Once I'm satisfied that I can build a decent flatcar, I'm going to use this same construction technique to build a wooden caboose, like this one: