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The "Close Enough" NCNG 25' Flatcar

The "Close Enough" NCNG 25' Flatcar

Postby Andrew Brandon » Sat Jan 23, 2010 9:25 pm

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.
SortaFlat 1.jpg

SortaFlat2.jpg
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Re: The "Close Enough" NCNG 25' Flatcar

Postby dsp&p_fan » Sun Jan 24, 2010 3:56 pm

You're off to a nice start. Do you plan to add brake levers?

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Re: The "Close Enough" NCNG 25' Flatcar

Postby Andrew Brandon » Sun Jan 24, 2010 4:04 pm

Michael,

I will be finishing up the brakes when I do final assembly, I am waiting on the brake beams and levers from Foothill Model Works. I just finished painting the majority of the parts, the weather has turned on me so I am not able to do anymore paint work tonight. Later I will be assembling the trucks once I clean the treads on the wheels and such. I have a mess of oxide red parts scattered around for now.
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The mantra of "close enough"

Postby John Coker » Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:37 pm

Great work, and a a great idea, Andrew. We can make perfect cars, if we live long enough!
The NCNG used their flatcars a lot, mostly carrying mine splints and timbers. The road also owned some Ex-F&CC flat cars as well.
An interesting aside- did the NCNG employ straight air? The abscence of a triplle valve on some equipment raises the question. However, the ex- F&CC cars and some others had triple valves. You cannot run both together, unless you design a double system, like the WSLCo. had. The West Side Lumber Co. had both triple valve air AND straight air. This can be done by running the straight air through the retainer orifice. Two brake pipes need to be employed for each system. However the retainers were unusable, unless the streaight air was cut out by means of a cut-out valve. Photos show WSLCo. equipment had two air hoses, and this is why.The D&SNG uses this set-up, and actually studied the WSLCo. set-up. The ICC outlawed straight air early, unless there were two separate systems, but some exceptions were made for narrow gauge. The NCNG could have been under California laws, which did not tighten up till 1953, when the Diamond and Caldor was shut down because they still used link-and-pin.
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Re: The "Close Enough" NCNG 25' Flatcar

Postby Andrew Brandon » Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:21 pm

John,

The NCNG used straight air beginning in the earliest days of the railroad. I have dug up newspaper reports and old photos indicate the locomotives were built with Air Brakes, the passenger cars arrived from Canda with Westinghouse Air and Miller Couplers riding atop standard gauge trucks. I had to do a little digging on the topic, thankfully Herman notes the brakes on his drawings. It seems that the NCNG kept using Straight Air until the end of operations, Herman notes that the F&CC boxcars had Westinghouse KC cylinders converted to straight air. Several of Herman's drawings I dug up noted this same change. What the changes entailed I am not aware, it seems that whatever was changed isn't obvious to the casual observer. This would also explain why only the "best" of the NCNG cars were sent to Pearl Harbor, they must have fixed up those cars which could have been converted back.
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Project update

Postby Andrew Brandon » Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:08 pm

I got enough clear weather to proceed with the first steps of painting the car. The prototype cars would have been an Oxide Red, Herman Darr suspects they were using a simple "Barn Red" paint for their cars. I choose to paint this car with the red I use on my V&T models, which it is actually Floquil Zinc Chromate Primer, the deck is Model Master "Dark Tan". Once I have the rest of the details added to the car I'll do some touch up paint and then give the car (excepting the deck) a good spray of Glosscote. In the previous images you might have noticed a V&T flatcar lingering in the background, this car has received the same treatment. The trucks are assembled and thankfully I found the journal box lids for this pair of trucks. This project has been on hold for nearly 5 years now, I had conceded last week that I would need to buy another set while awaiting brake beams and levers. Serious digging through boxes of loose detail parts turned them up.

Up next: stake pockets and NBWs.
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sortaflat3.jpg
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Re: The "Close Enough" NCNG 25' Flatcar

Postby Andrew Brandon » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:05 pm

I finally started adding detail to the flat and with a half hour's work we're starting to get somewhere! ;)

sortaflat4.jpg


I will be bending and hopefully installing the grab irons later today. With that done I'll do some touch up paint and we're ready for decals.
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Re: The "Close Enough" NCNG 25' Flatcar

Postby Andrew Brandon » Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:32 am

It'd been a while since I'd worked on this model. I was finally able to order the parts I needed to complete the trucks. The Foothill Model Works trucks are a wonderfully detailed set of trucks, however I suggest taking care during assembly. The trucks as I assembled them required a bit of sanding and filing to get the assembled truck to have the proper width for the brake beams. I've been told there is a new version of the truck on the way which will have less assembly required. As this car will not be an operating piece, I adjusted one of the brakes to apply friction on the wheel preventing it from being completely free rolling. Brake levers on the truck have been assembled based on a photograph from the Foothill Model Works site, as they mention this arrangement isn't how the levers were prototypically connected, however it looks the part and doesn't interfere with the operation of the trucks. While this model wont see layout operation, it may get moved from time to time by less than delicate hands, having play in the trucks is a must.

This image also shows off the painted under-frame. If I were to build this car for operation, I would remove the intermediate sills (which the prototype didn't have) making a perfect place to hide a little weight. Also the brake system isn't completed just yet, I have the final levers to add, which will be done as I near completion of the model.

Up Next: decals and weathering.
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