Several years ago I was given a Bachmann On30 flatcar which I had long planned to kitbash. As it turns out the Bachmann flat car is 25' 2" long a mere 2" shorter than the NCNG's flatcars 1 - 63 (odd numbered). Originally the NCNG cars began their lives as 24' cars of Carter design, over the years the cars were rebuilt, gaining over a foot in length. ICC reports list the cars as being 25' 2" in 1912. Herman Darr has done a wonderful drawing of these cars circa 1920, this drawing was reprinted in the 2007 Modelers Annual (Westlake Publishing). I began to wonder how well these cars could work for a stand-in for these cars. As it turns out there are a number of differences to the cars; the Bachmann model represents a 6 stick car (6 sill members) whereas the NCNG cars had 4. The location of bolsters, needle beams and stake pockets differ slightly from the NCNG cars, but fundamentally the dimensions are close enough. Despite these differences the conversion is fairly straight forward and can be tuned to any level of difficulty on the modelers discretion. Personally, I am known to be a bit of a rivet counter, while these cars aren't exact I decided to give this first one a full brake system and many other upgrades.
I chose to model this flat in a 1920s appearance which would simplify some areas in kitbashing. I began by removing detail I planned to replace on the model; the stake pockets, queen posts and ratchet/pawl detail. To do this I used a Xuron cutter to cut the larger details off. Once this is done I used a Sand Paddle Pointer from General. If you aren't sure what this is, you can see one here http://www.artistsclub.com/tools/tools_display.cfm?id=70000
. With little work, you can easily sand down the detail from the body and work a nice faux woodgrain in the plastic. With the details removed I began to build up the underframe. MacLeod western makes an NCNG flatcar detailing set which is perfect for this conversion, I also picked up the correct trucks and brake beams from Doug. Beginning with the truss rods, I began rebuilding the underbody to match as closely as possible Herman's drawing. The brake system represents a simple straight air system which was in use on the NCNG. The cylinder is slightly larger than scale, but was created by cutting a Grandt Line Westinghouse cylinder apart and using the details that come with it to construct the brake I needed. Using a set of Grandt pipe fittings and some brass rod I built up the piping system before securing it all into place. A benefit of the Bachmann car is the two part frame which, being a solid piece of plastic is quite sturdy. Removing it from the rest of the body, you can gain access to any angle one might need during this process. With the brake system in place I built up the coupler area with a little styrene. This car isn't destined to be operated so I was not concerned about fitting a Kadee coupler on it. Instead I will likely use an HO scale Sergent Engineering coupler as a stand-in for the 3/4 size couplers used on the NCNG. Now that I've gotten a good portion of the underbody complete I figured I'd share my progress this far.
Next up: Paint.