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Building a Small Turntable

Scratchbuilding Rolling Stock with Styrene

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Past Articles

Converting a Sunset SP P-8 Pacific to Proto48

Gene Deimling Constructing an ATSF Bx-27 boxcar

Tom Mix Another Method to Make Rivets

Tom Mix Scratch Building Some Drivers

Robert Lerners's Tank Car Conversion

Dan Ellis's South West Industrial Railroad

Part 2 of
Tom Mix's Locomotives

Tom Mix's Locomotives



Working Coupler Pocket for the San Juan Type-E Coupler

Improving San Juan Type-E Coupler

Bottom Operating Cut Levers

Peeling Paint

Canvas Roofs

Wire Grabs


Proto48 Article:
Constructing an ATSF Bx-27 class boxcar from an Intermountain AAR 1937 boxcar.

By Gene Deimling


The Santa Fe had a liking for Duryea cushioned underframes on the freight cars. A number of cars were built with this design. One such class was the Bx-27 which built to the AAR 1937 design. The road purchased 1500 cars from Pullman June 1936 (136500-13999) and another 500 from AC&F on April 1937 (138000 - 138499).

The prototype ATSF photos of 137099 and the Duryea underframe were supplied by Pat Duffin and were obtained from the SFRMHS archives at Temple. They are being used with the permission of the source. The photo of car 138467 was supplied by Dr. Richard Hendrickson. The model differs from the prototype in that the bottom horizontal

I decided to build the car since the underframe created an interesting appearance and the large map and slogan lettering used by the Santa Fe is a must for any steam-era modeler. The project uses a square corner version of the Intermountain kit. I suppose you could start with an Atlas ready-to-run car if you wanted.

Step 1
Cut away parts of the cast on underframe parts. This means carving away the cross-member that is adjacent to the door. I end up removing the flat plate detail on the floor boards as well.

Step 2
I estimated the spacing of the cross-members using a photo of the car and a couple of rough sketches that appeared in the 1940 Car Builders Cyclopedia. The space I chose is:

5' 11" from the center of the bolster to the first cross-member

5' 10" from the first to the second

Step 3
The cross-members are made out of Evergreen 0.06" angle and a 0.015" X 0.06" strip. They are assembled into a "Z" shaped structural member. If you study the prototype underframe, you will see how the cross-members are assembled. The photos shown below are of the partially completed model and an actual Duryea underframe being built for a reefer.


Step 4
First install the center sill. It is made from 9" wide strip of styrene and spaced 14" apart. The piece runs the full distance from the bolsters. The channels are capped with 0.010" sheet styrene with rivets impressed at three scale inch intervals. This strip is 21" wide. The prototype Duryea underframe is from a Santa Fe Rr-21 reefer. It is not exactly the same as the Bx-27 but it does illustrate how the pieces look.

Step 5
The body bolster is capped with rivet impressed 0.010" styrene.

Step 6
The coupler pocket and frame extension is made from 12" channel spaced 12" back-to-back. I cut a slot in the side to represent the prototype pocket design. The channels should extend 13" beyond the car end. I installed a 0.015" sheet across the channels to close in the top. There are two guides on top of the frame that were made from 0.015" by 0.060" strip. The coupler pocket face was made from 0.020" sheet. The end of the frame is made from a piece of the channel stock with a wedge cut out. You cut away the top flange and then taper the channel center. The top flange is glued back together on the desired shape is attained. I installed some 0.030" diameter Tichy rivets to the channel.

Step 6
The cross members are tied together with some 3" angle stock. This will be used to support brake parts later on in construction. You will need to add small triangle shaped tabs since you have moved the cross member location. I had removed the cast tabs when I prepared the body casting. I added a Tichy 0.025" rivet for detail.

Step 7
Once the basic underframe is done, I start detailing the sides. The first step is to add a strip of rivet embossed three inch wide piece replacing the poorly formed details of the stock body. You will notice that I filled the grab iron holes in the sides as well. The prototype riveted the grab irons to the body rather than a bracket attachment normally found on AAR boxcars. The photo shown below is of a nearly complete car. It has a few extra details added such as 0.020" Tichy rivets, Chooch tack board, defect box, Chooch ladder and the wire grab iron formed from 0.015" brass wire. Notice how the Duryea ends extends out the end of the car. The air hose has to be mounted on an extended bracket. The bracket was made from some 0.060" strip brass. I added a tapered piece of 0.015" styrene to the top of the brass. The air hose fitting is from the Back Shop AH-305. The parts are hard to come by but worth the effort. The train line is made from 0.033" brass wire.

Step 8
I used a detailing set from Chooch Enterprises #610. It provided the ladders, tack boards and Camel door hardware.

Step 9
The next step is to install body weight and roof. I use large galvanized steel washers from Ace Hardware for weights. The roof is added next. At this point, I usually rework the rivet detail on the roof end. I add a rivet strip to cover the seam between the body and roof casting.

Step 10
The trucks and coupler go on next. You want to adjust the height of the car once you have your truck of choice installed. I used San Juan AAR Double Truss trucks and their Type-E couplers.

Step 11
The brake system needs to be installed next. The basic parts for the AB set are from San Juan as are the clevis. I used the brake levers in the Chooch #610 set to complete the components. The piping and rods are done is 0.020" brass. Note that the train line crosses over the top of the underframe rather than through. It does call for some fancy bending to get it over the top. I made a support platform for the air reservoir out of some 3" channel.

Step 12
At this point you can mount the trucks and start on the door details and some of the finishing details. I usually leave the door details to last since this reduces the chances of the delicate latches and guides being damaged. Examine the unpainted door area to see what parts were added. The tack board is from Chooch. It is much finer in detail than the stock IM part. The door latches and Camel guides came from Chooch #610 set. I made the small tack board from strip styrene. The handle is made from brass strip. The hold up better than the cast plastic parts found in the Chooch set. I built up the left edge of the door stop to form a channel that overlaps the door edge.

Step 13
The stirrups were made from strip brass and blackened prior to installation.

Step 14
The roof walk is made up from 0.030" thick by 0.100" strips with wood grain added. I drilled the boards and added styrene rod to simulate the carriage bolts used to mount to parts. Don't install them until after the roof is painted black.

Step 15
I painted the model using Floquil ATSF Brown on the sides and ends. The roof and underframe were painted Floquil Weathered Black. The decals are a combination of Champ for the map and Microscale for the rest. The Champ film is very thick and the lettering is not very opaque. Weathering was done using Kuras weathering washes of rust and black. I used think wash of earth to highlight parts of the underframe. The trucks had some oil stains added around the journals and wheel faces.