Caboose trucks

The Canada Atlantic’s trucks were for the most part swing motion. Even the cars made by Pullman came with a swing motion truck. As far as I know the only ones with a standard archbar were the 6000 box cars.

Here I’ve assembled the main parts of the bolsters. There is another layer representing the swinging, spring plank to go, and that will get the round holes. On the locomotive, I bodged together brakes that hung below, and never worked satisfactorily. This time, I’m going to hook them onto the bolster above the wheels. We’ll see how that works.

Looks like it’s time to fire up the casting process to make all those journals. Perhaps this time, I’ll cast the brake shoes as well. They were a nuisance to make last time.

Truck sideframes under development

Here are the truck sideframes. The Canada Atlantic used these swing motion trucks much later than other railroads. Because I am modelling in Proto:87, and most trucks would want modification anyway, I’m etching them.

Each sideframe starts as a single piece of metal, which I bend 18 times then solder together. They are self-jigged to come out reasonably accurately. Unfortunately, I changed the design ever so slightly – by making the bottom chord full-thickness instead of half – and now the design doesn’t work so well anymore. Three sideframes turned out okay, but the fourth was a disaster; so I am running another eight to the original pattern now.

When I go to redo the design again, I’m going to make it so the upper diamond is connected at both ends since this is the hardest part to pull off. I think I’ll also give the slot into which that tab fits a little more space so it has a chance to etch through. If I could figure out a better approach for the two fingers that line up with the bolster, I would, as well.

Incidentally, my company just launched a new family social networking site, It’s got nothing to do with trains, but maybe you’d like to check it out anyway.

Etchings for caboose

What a nuisance! I don’t recall having so much trouble with Press n Peel Blue etching resist when I did the trucks for my locomotive. Of course, reading back over those posts, I see that I used up five sheets of the stuff before I got one I was happy with. So, perhaps the memory is clouded with time.

As before, I checked in on Ron Hilsden’s page, and more or less followed his excellent instructions, minus the rock tumbler and the microwave. The key that I had forgotten was to sand the brass so it has a little tooth for the toner to stick to. Hopefully I’ll remember that next time. Other things to remember:

  • Make sure the printer cools down between pages, otherwise the PnP wraps around and jams inside.
  • Aim for smaller etchings. My printer (an HP 1200) varies by as much as .030″ over the length of a page. Best, then to have the two sides near to each other.
  • Use Ron’s tip of the .020″ dots to help line up the two sides
  • Sand the brass before printing to give a little tooth for the toner to bind to – bears repeating!
  • Let it cool completely before peeling off the backing

From left to right on the fret here, there are the end doors, the trucks (19 folds for each frame), the side windows, the cupola windows, and the steps. I toyed with the idea of etching the cupola itself, but decided it was easy enough to make from scratch.

Caboose mockup

The drawing is mostly finished now. For fifteen years, I’d been looking at that picture and thinking the cupola was centred, and the windows were equidistant from the ends. I’m so fortunate to have a side-on view: it’s rare for Canada Atlantic freight equipment.
When I built the locomotive, I got about half-way and thought, “Gee I could have verified the look of this thing with a cardboard mockup before I started.” Now, I’m doing this with everything. The mockup takes only minutes to make, and could save hours of embarrassment later. Even the little crossing shack got a mockup.
As a side bonus, I can let my two-year old play with them when I’m finished with them. They last for about five minutes in his hands – about five minutes more than the real model would last!
So now that I have the mockup, it still looks a little long to me. I can lay it right over the photograph and it’s perfect, but it still doesn’t look right.

The next project

I’m waiting for the weather to fine up so I can store stuff outside while I renovate the layout room. In the meantime, I’m tackling the Canada Atlantic’s standard caboose. Well at least I think it was standard: #2 and #4 looked the same, and I’ve not seen any photos of #3 or any of the others.

I started the drawing last night. It appears from scaling against the wheel that this was a 33′ vehicle, which sounds plausible. Doing a drawing is easy when you have a square view like this, although there is a possibility it’s foreshortened by the camera angle, so I might make the body a little taller.

One interesting feature is the repair in the side with a different type of siding. It looks like they replaced the original wide boards with the later beaded siding that we also see on the 6000 series boxcars.

General plans are to make the body out of styrene, use the same etched truck construction as on the locomotive, and etch the windows and perhaps the cupola, and end railings. The end railings are not particularly complicated, but I could make them very robust by etching them.

Caboose windows

I always find that casting and etching are a little bit like Christmas: I can never wait to try out the new part that I have produced so magically. Here, I’ve soldered together the two halves of the main windows. They are an unusual design, having a two-pane upper sash and four panes below.

The etching took forever. I guess the etchant has been sitting in my shed for about four winters, and that is probably too long to sit in a shed. So, it worked very very slowly, but eventually it worked. My technique leaves a little to be desired, and I can never count on anything that is supposed to be half-etched. I got lucky with the doors (I’ll show them another day), but less lucky with the steps, which dropped a couple of parts into the bottom of the etchant. Anyway, it is still a magical process, and I couldn’t create windows as consistent as these with styrene, so I guess I’m pretty happy.

I was sorely tempted to fold and solder up the truck sideframes as well, but I think I can leave them until tomorrow.