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Kit-bashing N scale 68' wood coaches

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  • Kit-bashing N scale 68' wood coaches

    This is a project I have very much enjoyed doing these past several months. I hope it is appropriate to post it here.

    From these to this:

    The manufacturers do a great job providing freight equipment of most eras but, there are huge gaps when it comes to passenger equipment. I wanted some older wood coaches for my B&M steam to pull but, the only things available are those not so great Bachmann old timers, the 36' MDC Overtons, and the 50' MDC Overtons. I bought a pair of the latter though they were not what I really wanted but, close examination convinced me the desired 68 footer could be had with a few judicious cuts, some sanding, etc and......... it worked. My methods may seem unorthodox to some of you but, they’re easy for me so..... it’s the way I did it! To start with, I made no effort (after trying on just one car) to remove the factory paint. By using PRR and ATSF cars, I had no trouble covering the old paint with B&M maroon, coach green, or Pullman green. It’s your call on this. The car will end up measuring a little over 70' but will hardly be noticeable.

    What you need:

    2 MDC 50' coaches

    Razor saw (miter box helps)

    X-ACTO knife w/#11 blade

    flat sanding block (I have a 4" x 6" piece of 1/4" ply with sandpaper glued to it)

    Tenax or suitable plastic glue

    .022" brass wire

    Squadron putty

    Paint and decals of your choice

    Caboose chimney (optional)

    Part One

    Most of these cars come assembled but a few are available as kits (kits being easier to work with since they are, for the most part, disassembled, but not necessary for our task). Carefully, disassemble both cars to their individual parts: roof, frame, body, trucks, glass insert, weight, queen-posts and truss rod pieces. The weights and “glass” insert are a tight fit but, they can be pushed out with a small screw driver, pushing up through the coupler pin holes, carefully, alternating ends until they are out. A couple cars I bought were assembled with glue so it took a little more effort and time. The roofs will pop off with a little steady pressure under the overhang on the ends. Slide a #11 blade between the sides of the body and clear plastic insert to loosen any glued areas. Turn the car upside down and put a small screw driver blade in the holes on the bottom and give it a few light sharp taps and the weight and insert will come loose. Work carefully. Set all parts aside for future work.

    The parts:

    (Before you start surgery, there is a decision to make. Note that each car has a “blind” window space on one end. This was possibly where there was a washroom, closet, or stove to warm the car (pre-steam heat). Decide if you want to have all windows on both sides, a blind window on one end or both, and make your cuts accordingly.)

    It never seemed right to take a saw to a perfectly good piece of rolling stock but, once you overcome the shock, care fully cut the two car bodies as so:

    Body #1: Place the “glass” insert inside the body to give it strength while you cut. Put the body into the miter box and cut through the car, cutting between the 14th and 15th windows, cutting closer to the 15th so as to give you some sanding “adjustment” material.

    Body #2: Repeat the procedure, this time cutting between the 6th and the seventh windows, again, cutting closer to the 7th.

    Roof #1: Place a roof onto body section #1 in its proper orientation and, using the length of the altered body as your guide, cut the roof through. It’s OK if the roof section is a tad longer than it should be as this will give you a sanding cushion later when assembling the roof.

    Roof #2: Repeat the above step to get the other roof section needed.

    After cutting:

    Part two:

    This next step takes a little time and patience so, don’t rush it. Using your flat sanding block, sand the cut edges of both car body sections, trying to be as “square” as you can. Sand each until you are happy with the looks of the join. To help keep things square, place the weight into one of the sections and then trial join the pieces. The weight fits tight enough so that it will hold both pieces in proper orientation. When you are satisfied with the fit, run your liquid cement on the joins inside the car body and set aside to let it weld properly. If you have been really careful about the joins, you will not need to use any “filler” here as the join will look like the space between boards. Otherwise, a little squadron putty will fix any unsightly gaps.

    Do the roof the same way, sanding the ends to be joined square, trial fitting often to be sure it looks good. When it looks right, cement the joins but, be careful you do not cement the roof to the car! Set aside to weld while you smooth up the rough edges of the clear insert. Sand enough off these so that they will drop easily into the car body. There is no need to cement these but, of course, you may if you wish! When the roof is strong, use your filler to fill in the cut lines, let dry, and sand smooth.

    Joining the body parts:

    Part Three, Preparing the frame:

    Turn the frame upside down and place it on something that will allow the railing on the ends to “hang over” and not get damaged. Then using a sharp x-acto knife, score the frame on the outboard side of the frame member holding queen posts. Do this on both sides of the queen post section. After scoring a few times, the sections can be snapped apart, just as if you were cutting styrene. You will now have three pieces, one center section with the holes for mounting the queen posts and truss rods, and two end sections. Smooth up any rough edges, and place one end section in its proper place on the underside of the car body. Be sure this section is pushed as far towards the end of the car as it will go, leaving the proper amount of platform extending beyond the car body. Repeat for the other end section. Next, center the queen post section under the car body. When you are happy with the look, run your liquid cement on all joining areas and set aside to weld while you make another decision. If you are fastidious about how the underside of your rolling stock looks, you may want to take the leftover frame and cut pieces to fit into the areas on your car between the sections you just glued in. I didn’t, since only the little plastic people working on my layout will have the opportunity to look up under the car and see I left them out! I preferred to save the extra frame for a possible future project.

    Mount the truss rod assemblies in the holes in the center section. I glued them in place with a dite of CA cement. Snip off the sections from the queen posts that would normally extend to the bottom of the car as, they are now too short. From your brass .022" wire, you will need to cut four pieces, approximately 16.5 scale feet in length. This part is a little “fiddly” and required that I cut and fit each piece individually. Using a drop of CA on each end of the wire, butt one end up to the queen post in the proper orientation to the secion between the posts and place the other end in the hole in the floor just inboard of the bolster bar. Repeat for the other three sections. Let the CA harden for a few minutes before further handling.


    Part Four, assembly and finishing:

    Now, you can assemble your open platform wood passenger car. Be sure the weight is inside the car and the grooves on the edges are facing up. (The clear insert sets into these grooves.) Place the clear pieces inside the car. Carefully, put the roof on the car. The fit should be snug enough to preclude the need to glue. Attach the trucks with the pins. If you opt to have a stove inside, with a pin vise, drill a hole in the proper place and mount a caboose chimney. Some of my cars have them, others do not showing they may have been “shopped” and steam heating installed.

    Your car can now be inspected for any “rough” areas needing your attention. To prepare for painting (and I highly recommend using a brush here), remove the roof, glass insert, and trucks. I painted the body E.L maroon, which is a close match for B&M maroon. But, I also used NH Hunter green on one, coach green on another, and Pullman green on still another.... colors that, at one time, appeared on these cars, although probably not all in the same time period! Paint the body according to your own railroad’s specs. I used grimy black on the steps, platform, roof, underbody (including truss rods) and trucks. After decaling, I sprayed the body and roof with dullcote. When they were dry, I reassembled.

    Before Paint:

    Ready for decals:


    Other styles possible with the MDC cars:

  • #2
    You really did a nice job on those cars!



    • #3
      Thanks, Chuck. I appreciate the compliment![:I]


      • #4

        Very impressive.

        I have saved this for while I model in HO there are great instructions here for any scale.

        Also I model the Alaska Railroad and a lot of the passenger cars have to be kitbashed from other cars so I am sure I will benefit from your tutorial.

        Has this work been published for I would think some magazine would be interested in what you have accomplished.

        Thanks again for posting this.
        <img src="" alt="" /><br /><br>John Bagley<br /><br>Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.


        • #5

          Terrific work! Thanks for the detailed explanation. I am always fascinated with the work of other modelers. It is inspirational.


          • #6

            An excellent tutorial on your kitbash. :up: Thanks for sharing. I like that you furnished a bill of goods. You N guys are amazing.


            • #7
              Thanks for the kudos, gents. I appreciate it.

              John.... Paul Graf suggested I contact one of the N mags, which I did but, frankly, I found the requirements (especially the photography part) quite intimidating and a put off.



              • #8
                Dick, this is an excellent tutorial. If you don't mind, I want to post a copy of it in the forum's Archives when I get a chance.


                • #9
                  Thanks, Mike, and of course I don't mind.... it will be an honor![^]

                  Apparently no pictures for a while as RailImages seems to have exceeded its bandwidth.