Anatomy of a rail car

I thought I'd share part of the process of converting a Bachmann combine into a freight motor. This page, like the model, is a work in progress. Unavoidable delays in construction -- like going to work -- will extend the project deadline. The car is the second one I bought for the project. My wife liked the first one ("Awww. That's so cute, you can't cut it apart.") that I bought a second one that was pretty well used and the first one is going under the Christmas tree.

I don't have a specific prototype in mind, although in the back of my mind are the "OX" from Cleveland, a McGuire snow sweeper, an IT box motor and several other photos I've seen on the web.



IT 1565 has a happy home at the Illinois Railway Museum. Nothing quite this posh for the Ohio River, but it gives you a good starting point for the imagination to take over.

The major problem in this project will be the trucks. I have a pair of USA Trains bricks, but the wheelbase is a little longer than I'd like it to be. I also have four small motors from Goldmine Electronics. They might just fit inside the envelope of the trucks that were under the car. We went to "Plan B" when I found a pair of Aristo railbus trucks on E-bay. The previously-mentioned motors will probably wind up under Car #10 when/if that project materializes. Would I like sprung trucks? NWSL trucks?? Sure, but they aren't in the budget at the moment.

At any rate, the pictures that follow document changes to the combine as it slowly evolves into what I hope will be one of the railroad's work horses.

The basic car body, sans roof and floor. Pencil lines indicate "cut here". Basically, the car will be made shorter by two windows and the sections rearranged.

 (Where'd I put the Band-aids?)

The surplus side windows will be salvaged for reuse in the ends of the car.
How the parts get reshuffled. Lettering will be removed with a combination of "Dr. Scat Cleaner for Typewriter Rubber Platen Roll and Type" and MicroSol.

(What do you mean "You should be wearing rubber gloves."?)

Reassembled shell. Styrene strips have been glued behind the seams. Some body putty applied.

(Of course the stuff "stinks" -- that's the best part, inhaling all of these solvents.)

First coat of primer applied to enhance blemishes for remediation. Styrene strip added at letterboard and car sill  to strengthen car shell.

("You better not be getting spray on my car!")

Some internal bracing has been added, and an interior partition will go on the far side of the baggage doors -- the A end of the car.
Floor has likewise been shortened accordingly. Piece of grooved styrene at baggage door location will provide extra strength -- and look pretty! 

(Subsequently added 1/8" steel plate to give added tractive effprt.)

Second coat of "claret wine" has been applied. Note holes above cab windows for marker lights. Headlight goes on the roof. Pole hooks will be off-set.
Brunswick  green is the accent color. Car interior is GM green (hey, can I help it that I worked in a bus garage?) Partition and interior ceiling are CSX tan. Step wells need some touch-up.

(Where does all of that dog fur keep coming from??)

Gave up on complicated lighting circuit. Battery box, on-off switch and one to "change ends" are located underfloor, about where the HL reverser box would be. Third switch will govern trolley/rail power source.
Roof was laminated from three layers of .020 styrene. 1st and 2nd layers are shown here. Leads are for head lights.

(What do you mean "cluttered workbench."?)

600 grit sandpaper and some thin strip styrene were added and painted gray to simulate a canvas roof covering. Brass strip and 5/32" tubing assembled to hold trolley poles and collect power.
The trucks - ART 29358. I removed the kingpin and filed the bolster flat. Made hole big enough for truck frame kingpin to fit into car. Drilled and countersunk truck frame.
Used 6-32 nylon flat head machine screw. Need something non-conductive as each half of motor casing carries same polarity as wheels. Note kingpin on assembled truck at rear. Also disassembled trucks and loaded in more grease, and lubed axle bearings as well. These are really nicely made units--and heavy as well.

(Too bad the company went out of business.)

How to mount the couplers.....Rube Goldberg to the rescue! I glued and screwed a piece of heavy 1/4 angle to bottom of steps. Small triangular block of wood wedged and glued between angle and car floor. Coupler shank built up. Used #4 sheet metal screw with spring to attach coupler by drilling thru back edge of angle and wood block. Spring reduces "drooping" of coupler. Added radius bar..
Pat, the freight motorman, has his Corona Corona Phosgene stoked and is ready to do battle.

Headlight detail at right.

Car more or less assembled. We still need the grab irons on the platforms. Front cab windows partially down in the pockets to prevent toxic buildup of cigar smoke.

M54 totes a short cut of hopper cars thru the snow and 10-degree weather.

Plow has been added for winter service!

Cut lever, rerailing frogs and flat coupler for hooking to passenger cars added since photo was taken.