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A non-essential freight car: GN GS gondolas


tra rivets that didn’t show up in the photo, as well as the ladders. Then I took off the tabs at the ends, because well, it was easy to do that, too. I then replaced the stakes with new ones made from .030″×.030″ strip styrene, and added new tabs on the bottoms of the ends, shaped from .010″ styrene sheet. Holes were drilled for all the grabs, and I considered myself finished. That’s when I noticed the weld line down the sides of the cars should be much higher up than the one repre- sented in the kit. The old weld line was filled in and sanded smooth, and I made a simple jig from a piece of brass that fit between the stakes. It meas- ured a fixed distance down the side of the car to scribe the weld line on each panel. I had the sneaking suspicion, later borne out, that this weld is the end of a slope sheet inside the car, but without further information, I neglect- ed to model this hypothesis. With the weld line moved up, the ends didn’t look quite right, but they looked pretty good if I flipped them up- side down. This made the two ribs nearer the top than the bottom. Most of the rivets, the top flange, the brake platforms, and the brake housing came off the ends, and I created new top flanges with more .020″×.100″ styrene strip to match the flanges on the sides. By this time, I was truly committed, so I replaced the kit’s squarish end sills with more .040″×.125″ styrene strip rounded to match the car ends. There is a line of rivets above the end sill, and I was ready to leave them off until Greg Kennelly introduced me to Archers Transfers waterslide rivets. This is surely among the most useful new products of our time.


Now the sides and ends looked a lot like the picture, and I was pretty hap- py. The underframe was pretty murky in the photo, so I resolved to leave it alone. What changed my mind was that the center beams were a little crooked from having waited so long to get assembled, and my attempts to straighten them ruined them com- pletely. This precipitated scratchbuild- ing replacements.


The draft gear comes together with the body bolsters and is built for Kadee No. 5’s, which were the standard back when the kit launched. The prototype’s draft gear protruded out from the end beams by about a foot. Consequently, I chopped off the kit draft gear and used Accu-Mate couplers with their scale draft gear, fabricating a flange for their tops as in the photo. The next thing to consider was the


chains and the long door mechanism that spans the length of the car. The kit’s version of these is a wonder in


68 Great Northern GS gondolas T


he Great Northern Railway bought their first all-steel general service gondolas in 1918. Until then bulk loads had been moved in a variety of open top cars and in boxcars, all of them of wood construction. The major trade the GS gondolas were intended for was coal from the head of the lakes. The GN only passingly utilized hopper cars. Other bulk commodities could be transported in GS gons, of course, and many GS cars were equipped with stake pockets to support lumber and other loads.


75500-75999 series of all-steel cars were built by the Pressed Steel Car Company of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. As built, the 75500-series cars had pointed ends. The points were removed, apparently in the early fifties. At this time the openings at the bottom of the sides were plated over. This is the version René has modeled. The lettering scheme on René’s models is representative of the late 1940’s until 1956. At that time slant serif lettering was introduced, at first over mineral red paint


BUILDER’S PHOTO: ANDREW MERRILESS/LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA; PA-186515 After the first batch of 250 50-ton cars


built in 1918, another 500 all-steel cars were built in 1922 and then 250 70-ton cars were built in 1927 and 200 50-ton composite GS gons were built in 1929. The Depression of the 1930’s slowed down new car construction and the GN didn’t get more GS gons until 1937. The


and then over vermillion car paint with mineral red trucks. Towards the end of the 1960’s, cars could be repainted black with slant serif lettering and then, after 1967, black with Big Sky lettering. As a testa- ment to their longevity, in January of 1969 there were still 245 cars left in revenue service.–STAFFAN EHNBOM


The ends from the kit are turned upside down so the ribs are closer to the top like the prototype. To create the tabs near the ends of the car, score a line part-way through a piece of styrene and .060″ from the top. Glue these in place behind the last rib on each side and when dry, cut the diagonal edges to line up with the rib and close to the end.


SEPTEMBER 2012


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