The On-Line Magazine of Rideable Model Railroading

  NUMBER 177


© October 16, 2011   

 ©Discover Live Steam. This material may not be published, rewritten, or redistributed without written permission.

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Southern Pacific Project in 1.5" Scale - Part 2
Continued fro
m Part One


 Written  by Gordon Payne

In Part One I talked about how I assembled the body of my one-eighth scale SP gondola. With the body essentially done, it looked very much like a gondola, but still needed details. Even the most basic details change the appearance of a model, but I wanted to add as many details as possible to simulate the look of a real car.

I used 1/16" x ½" aluminum for the ladders, with PSC 2 ½" D-style grabs. The side ladders have ¼" nylon spacers to hold them away from the sides, while the end ladders have ½" spacers.

With the ladders in place, the car looked even better. Unfortunately, I somehow mis-calculated how many grabs I ordered, so I fell one short. PSC also provided the stirrup steps. I used the older-style PSC brake wheel and mounted the housing to the end with 2-56 x ¼" screws and bolts. I painted the entire housing (inside and out) before I assembled it in the hope that it would prohibit rust. I live within a few miles of the Gulf of Mexico and our seasons tend to be quite damp! At this time I added the ¾" angle to the tops of each end and the coupler release rod brackets.

I turned the car over and started the brake details. It took me about two hours to drill holes in the air reservoir, triple valve and cylinder, but the miniature bolts make the parts look great. PSC provided all the brake parts except for the brass rod, which I got from Lowe's.

I used 1/8" brass rod for the brake links and 3/16" rod for the air lines. I soldered the pieces of 3/16" rod together with ¼" pieces of brass tubing for strength. I also soldered the anglecock valves to the air lines and the smaller lines from the triple valve and reservoir to help them stay put. My knowledge of real trains is limited so I did the best I could in the set up of the lines between the major components. Whether I am right or wrong, it looks very complex! I then formed and added the coupler release rods, made from 1/8" brass.

I painted the entire under frame with satin black spray paint. I painted the rest of the body, including the inside, with a fresh coat of Valspar gloss brown. This brown is slightly lighter than the Rustoleum I used on an SP hopper project, so even brown cars have some variety. The roller bearing trucks are from Mountain Car Co. They have a heavy-duty look to them and the bearing caps turn as the truck rolls.

The next day I added Connie Miracle's vinyl lettering. This is only my third lettered model. I have a knack for getting one or two blocks of lettering crooked, but the overall effect is still pretty reasonable.

Connie was able to make each block of letters fit the space between ribs. I am very happy with the result. The lettering set included lots of small blocks detailing wheel and brake type, and blocks like "No Step" and "Keep Off." One detail I like best is that she included my home town and the date I started the car in the lettering.

In all, it took about six good days of work to build this car. I plan to use it as I construct more of my railroad and as a riding car. While scratch-building is lots of work, it is nice to stand back and see what you can accomplish.


Written  by Gordon Payne

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