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Building PBL Drop Bottom Gondolas
Tom Troughton, MMR

Back in August of 2004, I decided to tackle the construction of four PBL Drop Bottom Gondola car kits. Upon opening the kit and seeing all those intricate and highly detailed components, I was a bit intimidated because this kit looked like it was the most detailed of the previous PBL car kits that I've assembled in the past. However, after looking over the instructions and carefully studying the parts, it didn't seem as though it was going to be too difficult if I took my time.
This document starts after the basic box and underside of the car was assembled. It does show the many details this car has and how everything went together.
The three preceding photos of the wheels show results of the progress I used to blacken and weather them. The plated wheels sets were first given a bath in Ferric Chloride solution. That's the liquid used to etch printed circuit boards. The etching solution was rinsed off the wheels with clear water and then they were placed in a gun bluing solution to darken them further. After the bluing solution was rinsed off, the wheel sets were given a final brushing with a, "sweet and sour," rusting solution.

One drawback to this wheel coloring procedure is it allows the wheel treads to pick up dirt from the rail head quicker because the plating has been removed. While the process creates a great looking wheel weathering effect, the drawback of dirtier wheels is less than ideal. I'm not doing it any more.

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