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 26' Flatcar in Fn3

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
BreizhSteamer Posted - 07/24/2020 : 05:07:18 AM
Hello everyone,

long time no see - yet, I've managed to keep going with model railroading. This year has seen some new life pouring in those old projects.

I've started building a flatcar for my semi-fictional railroad company. And since I've drawn many inspirations from these forums, I'd like to share something in return.

For our next operation session I'd like to contribute a few waggons of my own. In that way I will stick to my intentions, that is to focus on a complete train for the time being.

One better starts small. That's why I've picked the construction of freight waggons, precisely: flatcars. The reasons are natural:
most US freight waggons based on flatcars or were closely related to them. Furthermore they make the easiest waggons to model, apart from disconnects and skeletons.

First order of the day is research: How were flatcars constructed? Which dimensions and particulars come into play? How are they built as models?
The web offers a host of construction reports on waggons and flatcars, you can even find some for my Fn3 scale.

After some looking around, I zeroed in a model of a prototypical length of 26'. The Old Machinist published drawings on pixorails, the image file has such a high resolution that one can print it for almost any scale.
Courtesy to Union Pacific Historical Society I've got the permission to construct my model based on those diagrams.

The drawings are printed on large sheets of paper. Courtesy of Union Pacific Historical Society http://uphs.org

On the web site made by Bernhard Schröter, US-Models of 1900, there are several construction reports on building flatcars and gondolas.
Those are constructed in H0, but with such a perfection that one can learn a lot of hint and tricks that still apply for greater scales.
Many thanks for those reports, they do help a lot when one is beginning and making the first own steps!

And of course, there's still Gerd's Waldbahner-Blog, where he relates how he constructs and continually improves his flatcars built for 5' railways.
There, one can find invaluable hints that really ease the way and avoid a lot of frustation.

You can find the whole story and high-res pictures on my website: https://zamit.eu/en/2020/07/new-construction-reports-flatcars

Next week, construction is up.
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Michael Hohn Posted - 03/04/2021 : 09:39:58 AM
Looks good!
BreizhSteamer Posted - 03/04/2021 : 05:13:32 AM
After finishing the stake pockets, I'd like to address the lettering. Encouraged by the good results of lettering the freight crates, I've created stamps for the railroad company, waggon number and some technical numbers. And I managed to find flexible 3D printing filament, namely TPU.

This time I'm luckier with creating the printing files. I start with the shorthand symbol of the Lead Road Railway Company. They feature a font size of 11 mm in order to catch the eye on the waggon. The 3D file exports straight away and the printing passes without issues.

Lettering-stamp "L.R.RY." made from flexible TPU.

Next I print cyphers from zero through nine to be used for the waggon numbers, with the same font size. And since I don't want to print one stamp for each waggon, these are printed en bloc and then cut to singular cyphers. Easily done so with a pair of scissors.

Lettering-Cyphers made from flexible TPU.

Just as with the crates, applying the lettering is a single working step: the stamp is coated with acrylic paint and pressed carefully, but firmly onto the side sill. The TPU really makes good on its promise, the flexible stamp allows for sharper contours. However, if one uses too much paint, it will overflow. Fortunately, a botched lettering can be wiped off with a wet tissue and one can try again. For picture-perfect results, the wiped-off spot can be lightly sanded and recoated with the waggon's paint. However I find that even on prototypical railways a lettering job might fail without the waggon getting repainted.

The somewhat faint imprint is smoothed and filled with a brush. Less is more because the imperfect lettering has the air of weathering.

Touching up with a brush after applying the stamp.

And then there's the specification of weight and maximum capacity. Thanks to the help of the fine folks around here, I could quickly settle on plausible numbers. One learns with every step of the way. These numbers are printed in two rows with the smaller font size of 5 mm.

Unfortunately, the 3D printer doesn't agree with these small prints. I managed two tries with several cyphers or letters incomplete and on top of that two rounds of frozen printing programs. At last, I got one tolerably usable stamp. I'm probably going to try again in the next weeks in order to get a better result. As described, sanding, repainting and relettering won't be a problem.

Capacity and weight; unfortunately, the 3D print isn't perfect.

I've had some headache with applying the waggon number since the single cyphers can't be aligned as precisely – the longer the stamp, the easier it is to align. And I really don't want to try that with the smaller letters and cyphers. However, I can reuse this stamp for every future flat car, so I don't mind too much. And now, the waggon really looks like it could enter service:

Flatcar No. 160 lettered for entering service.

However, there's one important and quite visible piece of operation security missing: the hand brake. I'm coming back to that next time.
BreizhSteamer Posted - 02/22/2021 : 03:57:01 AM
Thanks for the compliments, Rob! I just hope that I can live up to the expectations...


Michael Hohn Posted - 02/21/2021 : 08:37:55 AM
Originally posted by robert goslin

Mike, Great photo of M K & T 3951. Not sure why he's holding a tomahawk ?

Thank you, Rob. The hatchet is very curious. Maybe to remove wood, ropes etc used to restrain loads.
robert goslin Posted - 02/20/2021 : 11:50:58 PM
Great looking work so far Frédéric. Nice attention to detail.
Fascinating to read the last few back & forth replies from Mike. He certainly is knowledgeable about these things.
Isn't this forum great. Ask about something, and someone will know the answer.

Mike, Great photo of M K & T 3951. Not sure why he's holding a tomahawk ?
BreizhSteamer Posted - 02/19/2021 : 10:13:09 AM

yes it's going to be 3ft narrow gauge. Since I plan my railroad to represent a fictional 1920s short line, I'll go and try to add capacity and weight, but that will be it.

Thank you so much,

Michael Hohn Posted - 02/19/2021 : 10:11:41 AM

Sounds reasonable. It’s a narrow gauge car, correct? My information is for standard gauge cars. Going light makes sense.

Michael Hohn Posted - 02/19/2021 : 10:07:33 AM
Here’s a car built in 1891.

Notice how little lettering there is. If a car ran only on the home road there might not be anything more than railroad initials and number, and perhaps only a number.

BreizhSteamer Posted - 02/19/2021 : 10:03:34 AM

thanks for these additional numbers.
I guess I should err on the humble side, so I'd opt for capacity of 22,000 lbs. and weight of 14,000 lbs.
Sounds reasonable?

Thanks and regards,

Michael Hohn Posted - 02/19/2021 : 09:59:49 AM

I looked up some lengths and capacities and in general cars less than 30’ length had a capacity of 24,000 to 30,000 lbs. Regarding weight, a Virginia and Truckee car built in 1876 and surviving into the 1930’s was 29’ 8” in length and weighed 15,900 lbs.

BreizhSteamer Posted - 02/19/2021 : 04:43:01 AM
Mike, thank you very much for the example.
I intend to freelance a fictional short line in the 1920s, presumably using rather old equipment, so turn of the century or slightly before should serve me just fine.

I read "34FT 8IN" from that photo, that means my flat car is 75% its size.
Would it be acceptable to assume that capacity and weight scale down linearly?
That would place my car at a capacity of 37,500 (lbs, I assume?) and a weight of 17,000.

Thanks again,

Michael Hohn Posted - 02/18/2021 : 5:00:13 PM

Ignore the small “M.K&T of (Texas)” which was required for railroads with lines in Texas.

Michael Hohn Posted - 02/18/2021 : 4:49:36 PM
Depends on the year. Typically before 1900 railroads would letter flat cars with:

1. Railroad name, usually only the initials;
2. Car number;
3. Length;
4. Capacity.

They can also have the weight of the car and the car builder if not the railroad. Optionally the year built.

BreizhSteamer Posted - 02/18/2021 : 1:06:47 PM
Bruce, Mike, thanks for the very nice comments!

Now, guys, I'm asking for a little help here.
Next up is going to be the livery (right word? lettering?), that is getting the railroad's name, car number and other text onto the waggon.
What I'm trying to find out is which information must be placed on the waggon, which is optional and what means what...

Also I'm wonderig which weight and load limits would be fitting for a 26' car.

Any thoughts and advice would be very much appreciated!

Thanks and best regards,

Michael Hohn Posted - 02/18/2021 : 12:26:30 PM

Terrific job on the steps and stake pockets. I like the fact that your details function as intended.


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