The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Castings! Part V, a closer look at the built-up examples

This summer I started a project (here) to work out making resin castings of two rare, vintage American OO models, the Graceline quad hopper and the Nason cast boxcar. Having now lived with the completed models for a little while it is time for a closer look.

The main thing to say I have had examples both models sitting out on the siding at the front of the layout to have a longer look for a few weeks now. The result is they are growing on me.

The one that I think is the most successful is the open version of the Graceline quad hopper. What initially motivated me to the project was I had six of the wood block bodies for this model, but with no sides. Then I also lucked into a built-up frame, missing a few parts, but someone years ago had the same idea to build up the car as an open model. Theirs probably fell apart, the cardboard sides were not stiff enough. This car won’t! In this photo it is seen between a Schorr twin hopper and a S-C twin hopper.

The car is not without shortcomings – I wish for example the hopper bottoms were a bit bigger, but that is the way Graceline made the car. Overall though, I think it is the more effective of the models. Assembly involves careful cleaning and cleanup of parts plus the use of clamps and super glue. The trucks on both of the hoppers are rebuilt, a mixture of vintage Graceline parts with reproduction parts and new wheels. The version with the wood block body is nearly as effective. With a load it will be fine.

In the third photo you might notice that two of the hoppers were made from different material on the wood block body. That is because all of the hopper bodies came to me with six hoppers instead of eight. No idea why. I thought even about making the car as a triple hopper, but decided the sides and bracing really require the quad bottoms.

The boxcar is seen next to an original Nason cast boxcar. This is an aluminum casting. I am fairly happy with the result but then there is the comparison with a Lionel car – which does look sharper to be sure, and they are very common. But if you set that aside it is a good copy of the original and gives a little spark of visual variety. The trucks that look the best on the car are Nason Dalman trucks.

The big challenge is making good castings of some parts. The sides of both models can be made pretty reliably and nicely. The boxcar brake wheel end and the frames of both models however basically always have visible bubbles. I understand that on a commercial level people who sell kits of resin cast models use vacuum chambers to eliminate the bubbles. This is not practical for me and my limited setup.

In any case though I have a few more parts I want to make molds of and will work out some kits. In the photos you will see some parts are different colors. The first type of resin I used was slightly different, the current, stronger formula being somewhat translucent. The other thing though is I add some color I had on hand to the resin but it ends up being a slightly different quantity each time. With practice it has gotten more consistent.

On to filling a few holes and painting soon!