East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

September 2010

BVM Hopper Cars - 2

Once my Boulder Valley hoppers were primed, I lettered them.

My lettering scheme is very simple ... just a number on each side and on each end. I use laser cut stencils and acrylic craft paint to letter my rolling stock. My intention is for the numbers to appear to be hand painted by shop personnel, but not too messy or illegible. I stippled the paint through the stencil with a small, dry brush. Once the paint was dry, I removed the stencil and touched up as needed.

The primed and lettered cars were then sprayed with a heavy application of Testor’s Dullcoat lacquer, and immediately dropped in a box containing rottenstone and soapstone dust. The box was closed up and shaken to assure complete coverage. The cars were removed and allowed to sit for about an hour.

The loose dirt was knocked off the cars, then they were cleaned up with a relatively stiff synthetic paint brush and a can of compressed air.

I applied Bar Mills rust and weathering powders with a small brush, alternating between the rust powders, then going over the same area with grimy black to kill some of the brightness in the rust colors.

The car on the left has had the rust and black powders applied. The car to the right has had the powders applied and also received an alcohol and black ink wash. Very little ink is necessary in the wash, as the powders provide most of the toning.

Very little of the Bar Mills powder is necessary. Very light touches of color will show up pretty intensely on the model. The alcohol wash will blend and knock back the colors to a degree. The alcohol also attacks the Dullcote varnish, causing it to randomly haze and cloud.

After the alcohol and ink wash, I sprayed the cars with fixative and repeated the dust application. Less dust sticks to the cars when they are sprayed with fixative than with Dullcote.

After cleaning, enough dust remains on the cars to blend the coloring and highlight the details.

I tapped and drilled the underframes for Kadee number 58 couplers. The coupler boxes fit nicely into the pockets once the “ears” are trimmed off.

This view shows the enclosures under the slope sheets that contain the buckshot, and the brake wheels applied.

The cars are ready for service on the P&EBR. I used BVM trucks and wheelsets which track very well and put the couplers at precisely the correct height.

In hindsight, the weathering procedure I used on these cars was messy, and probably should have been done outdoors. I had quite a mess to clean up at my modeling bench after these cars were completed.

These were my first resin kits. BVM’s parts were precise and clean and the instructions were excellent, making these cars a good project for a beginner.

BVM Hopper Cars - 1

Several years ago I purchased a Two-Pack of Boulder Valley Models hopper cars from John Weigel. I had no real experience building resin kits, so the unopened box sat on my shelf for a long time.

In the meantime I completed the trackwork on the P&EBR, and began running trains. In order to move coal from the transfer with the Chesapeake & Ohio to the mill and shops at Piedmont, I needed some hoppers. I finally opened the BVM kit and scrubbed all the resin parts with soap and water.

All the parts of the kit were well made, and the instructions were excellent. Being inexperienced at this, I followed the instructions pretty precisely. One of the early steps in construction is installing all the wire grabirons, which required drilling mounting holes in the car sides.

The carbody was built up from the frame. I found a flat, steel work surface helpful for making sure all parts were aligned while the glue set. I used ACC “slow cure” glue to assemble the cars. If this was “slow”, I would hate to see “fast”! I only had about 10 seconds of wiggle time before the parts were bonded together permanently.

Once the carbodies were complete, I began assembly of the hopper doors. I found the quick grabbing glue particularly troublesome as I was trying to adjust and align the position of the doors.

With the bodies of the hoppers close to completion, it occurred to me that they were very lightweight, and there was nothing in the instructions about adding weight.

My single major departure from the assembly instructions was to add two small enclosures to each car. I used styrene sheet to add a small floor and wall to the frame directly below the slope sheets.

Inside each of the enclosures I caulked a line of buckshot in place. The shot are small enough to not interfere with the placement of the slope sheets, and they add a considerable amount of weight in a very inconspicuous location, lowering the center of gravity of the cars as well.

Before installing the slope sheets, I spray painted the cars with dark gray primer. I also primed the BVM trucks I had purchased and assembled for these cars, and blackened the wheelsets in Micro Engineering Rail Weathering solution.

It was when I was fitting the slope sheets in place that I realized the end sections of the cars were slightly warped. I had to do some creative filing and sanding in order to get tight joints where the slope sheets met the car ends.

The cars were ready for lettering and weathering.