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Building PBL High Side Gondolas
Tom Troughton, MMR

This is a brief photo article featuring my efforts to construct four PBL High Side Gondola kits. I've had these cars sitting in my "things to be built" cabinet for a few years now and decided it was time to build them while taking a break from building structures.

Photo 1.
Up to this point in the process everything went according to plan. However, you can see a problem I encountered after installing a piece of .040" lead sheeting I substituted for the supplied piece of steel. If you look carefully you can see a small amount of air space between the bottom of the end beam and the top of the coupler floor piece. There should not be any gap between the two surfaces.

Photo 2.
I used a flat ended milling bit in a Micro Mark drill press to carefully reduce the thickness of the two center sills to the level of the bottom of the end beam.

Photo 3.
The center sills have been milled down to the same level as the lower side of the end beam. The coupler floor and draft gear sides can now rest on a smooth flat surface at the correct height.

Photo 4.
I based the side stake extension arrangements on photos in the Narrow Gauge Pictorial Album since I wanted variety in the car sides.

Photo 5.
This view shows some of the details that were added to the underside of the car.

Photo 6.
Here are the four gondolas after much work has taken place. I know I should have taken more pictures of the process, but I didn't force myself enough to push away from the work bench and take the cars to the posing table. Sorry.

Photo 7.
This is an end view of two of the cars. The one on the left has a scratch built retainer valve I had to make because the original one was lost on the work bench when it went flying off into "never see-it-again land". I drilled a hole in a scrap of styrene sprue material and secured a piece of the .008" wire into it with ACC. It was then filed, sanded and carved until it was about the same size and looked like the retainer valves on the other cars.

Photo 8.
This is a closer view of the car with the scratch built retainer valve. I think any errors on it will eventually be hidden by paint and weathering.

After going thru all the efforts to scratchbuild the retainer valve, I found the one I lost while brushing styrene scraps off my work bench. It looked better than the scratch built one, so I snipped the built one off and put the supplied one on in it's place.

Photo 9.
Rather than just leaving the train line end under the truck bolster, I opted to create the effect that it continues on to the air hose connection. I used a piece of copper wire from a telephone cable to complete the line. It was easy to bend and connect into the casting ring. It along with the complete train line piping was ACC'd into place and is quite solid. A short section of chain was added to the bottom of the brake wheel staff and ACC'd above the draft gear spring casting.

Photo 10.
The details of the underside are shown here. I tried something different, for me anyway, with the truss rods on these cars. The turn buckles were attached to the nylon truss rod material by running the nylon line thru one end of a turnbuckle and out the slot in its side. I then "carefully" melted a tiny flared end on the line that went thru the slot with the flat side of a soldering gun tip. The line was carefully pulled back thru the turnbuckle until the flared end was seated in the end of the turnbuckle. It was further secured with ACC being careful not to fill up the slot in the turnbuckle. The same process was used for the other end of the turnbuckle. When the model is painted and weathered, tiny pieces of wood will be placed between two pairs of turnbuckles in prototype fashion.

Photo 11.
In this underside view, concentrate your attention to the shutoff cock and piping in the line running from the train line to the brake cylinder. Instead of using the supplied styrene parts which I continued to break or knock off, I snipped the shutoff cock casting from the styrene piping material and carefully drilled a hole through it with a #79 drill. A wire was passed through that hole and adjusted to fit between the train line and cylinder. It was secured with ACC and now is very solid and almost indestructable by my misdirected thumbs and fingers. I added a small amount of ACC material to the right angle bends in the wire to suggest pipe elbows. Once they are painted, I believe they will simulate the actual fittings.

Photo 12.
Here's a shot of all four cars with their decals in place.

Photo 13.
I tried using a wire brush to scratch the Polly Scale paint, but it was too tough and merely dulled the surface. I did succeed in roughing the surface up on one of the cars with the point of an Xacto knife. However, I thought it was too rough, but because I was committed to this effect, I continued until the entire car was "scratched".

Photo 14.
The knife point really removed the paint and created a weathered side board effect. It was further weathered with a piece of sand paper that I glued to the end of a stick. I knew that I could reduce the rough effect with the final weathering layers of paint.

Photo 15.
Here's another view of the knife point scraping and gouging effect.

Photo 16.
Gondola No. 9298 did not receive any gouging at all. I would only weather it with additional layers of paint and other solutions.

Photo 17.
Here's another view of car #9298.

Photo 18.
The painting and weathering is finally competed. Here are the four cars posed on the modeling table.

Photo 19.
Car #1530 has see quite a bit of action. Once the decals were applied, all of the cars received an overspray of Polly Scale Engine Black and a sealer coat of clear flat finish. I then gave them a wash with the shoe dye and alcohol solution. A couple of them received a further wash with my rusting solution. This car received an additional wash of Ceramcoat Amish Gray paint. Once those coats were dry, I used artists coloring chalks on all the cars to tone down the shine that had developed.

Photo 20.
Here's another view of car #1530.

Photo 21.
This end view of car #9451 shows the results of the rust solution which accumulated in crevasses and along joints.

Photo 22.
I slit some strip wood and slid the tiny pieces through the slots in the turn buckles. Once in place, they were stained with the black shoe dye and alcohol solution.

Photo 23.
Here's a view of the cars in service crossing one of the many wooden trestles on the layout.

Photo 24.
The cars are now crossing the steel trestle at Hanging Rock.

Photo 25.
Bloody Gulch is the locale of this shot of the new cars.

Photos 26
High Side gondola #3298 displays signs of use and weathering after years of working in the high Colorado mountain country.

Photos 27 and 28
Here's two more cars used in coal and ore hauling service on the C&TT RR.

Photo 30.
The final picture shows the gondolas behind a C-21 as they are hauled to one of the mines on the Silver King Branch of the layout. I hope you enjoyed this photo coverage of their construction, painting and weathering.

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