Ever Wanted a Longer Flatcar than 40’?


Turn two 40’ Aristcraft Flatcars into a 52’ (and a 28’ from the ends)
Keith Stratton

 
 
This article describes, step by step, how to ‘kitbash’ two 40’ flatcars to make an impressive 52’ flatcar (with or without bulkheads) and to use both cutoff ends to make a fun 28’ flatcar. The same technique can be used on Gondola’s as well.
If you are a fan of long rolling stock then this article was written with you in mind!
First off, I model in 1:29 scale, which means I have a lot of Aristocraft and USA Trains rolling stock. It has been nice to see longer cars being introduced over time such as boxcars, grain cars, tank cars and intermodal cars to name a few, but when it came to flat cars and gondolas everything was 40 feet and I wanted something longer…
Unable to find any articles on the various G scale forums, I purchased a twin pack of Aristocraft bulkhead flat cars and started what was to become my first kitbash. It occurred to me that I should prepare an article for this project, as others may want longer flat cars as well. For those of you who want longer gondolas, the same process can be applied.
First is a picture of the flat cars right out of the box and placed side by side to show where the cuts will be made.
All of my rolling stock has metal wheels and body mounted Kadee couplers (#830 in this case) and the first thing to do was remove the Aristo coupler and cut off the coupler mount on the truck. Then sets of metal wheels were installed. The plastic wheels make great gondola loads without being too heavy! The trucks can now be set-aside until the end of the project.
Unable to find any articles on the various G scale forums, I purchased a twin pack of Aristocraft bulkhead flat cars and started what was to become my first kitbash. It occurred to me that I should prepare an article for this project, as others may want longer flat cars as well. For those of you who want longer gondolas, the same process can be applied.
First is a picture of the flat cars right out of the box and placed side by side to show where the cuts will be made.
The placement of the cut needed to be determined such that all of the mounting tabs would work and the spacing of the stake pockets would remain consistent. As can be seen in the photographs, I decided to cut through the middle of the 3rd stake pocket, which also keeps the cut going through the deepest portion of the side sills.
Next up, dismantle the cars! A helpful hint is to have a small container to hold all of the screws. The disassembly can be done in any order but this is how I took them apart:
1. Remove the bulkheads (if your flats are so equipped, if not, go to #2) and set them aside as they will be reinstalled at the end of the project. Secure the mounting screws in place with some painter’s masking tape so you don’t misplace them.
2. Flip the car upside down and remove the end sills and be sure to keep them in pairs according to their road number. There are two small screws underneath and two on each end. This is only necessary if you are going to mount Kadee #830 couplers. The raised mounting pads will need to be shaved/milled down to about 1/16th of an inch, otherwise the couplers will be too low. In addition, an opening will need to be cut into the bottom half of the removed end sill to accommodate the coupler gearbox. I first mark the pocket opening height on the end sill with the use of a Kadee coupler height guage. The method I have found to work well is to first place a cloth on my drill-press table and then place the car upside down on it. I then chuck up a small Dremel end burr and adjust the table height until the bottom of the burr is at the mark scribed for coupler box. Use a coupler box to mark the width of the opening and then turn on the drill-press and hand feed the car into the burr. The opening has already been cut in the end sill in the photograph and now the coupler base is being milled to the matching height.
3. Now it is time to remove the brake linkages and one air tank. Note, this method will not have all of the underside molded-in piping line up, but that was not important to me.
4. If you can separate the side sills then do so now, also the decking if it can be pried off the bed. I’ve found that some come off readily while others are glued firmly.
5. If you are unable to separate the pieces above, then you will need to make your cuts in a miter box, unless you have a band saw with a very thin blade. A saw blade the width of a Zona saw or an Atlas Super Saw works well. You want to keep the waste (kerf) down to a minimum.
Make your cuts and then place the mating pieces together for a test fit. You might need to do some filing here. I used the bed of my cut-off saw to do the filing. Secure one piece, then place a file in the saw’s blade opening and then slide the opposing piece up against the other side of the file. By filing in this manner, both surfaces become parallel to each other and will make an excellent fit.
6. Line up both sides of each car and glue them together with extra thick CA glue. This will give you time to apply the glue to all of the surfaces and then mate them together with enough time to adjust the alignment of both halves.
7. Once both halves are together, cut some Styrene stiffeners (3/8" wide, 1/16" thick and 1 ½" long) and glue then across the join in the side sills.
8.Cut some styrene into pieces to enclose the space between the main frames that span the join and the other two beside it.
9.Paint the sill stiffenersmentioned in #7 and the covers in #8. I used Rust-oleum Satin Black 7777 to repaint the entire underside. This gives it a less glossy finishand blends in any excess glue that might be showing.
10.Now it is time to reinstall the brake linkages. As you can see, the welder is adding the linkage extension. The 28 foot car is in the background.
11.Replace the wheels; check the coupler height, add the brake wheelstanchionsand you are ready to roll.
This picture shows all three versions that you can now run on your layout. The top one is the 28 foot version made from the two cutoff pieces (if you remove the bulkhead ends they make excellent idler cars). The middle car is a stock 40 foot version and the bottom one is the 52 foot extended version. I still have some decal work to do, but for all intents and purposes, the project is now done.
This was my first kit bash as well as the first article I have written. I hope you find it helpful as it sure does make a fine looking car once it’s done. The rivet counters may say that there was never a prototype of this style flatcar that was 52 feet long, but what the heck, this hobby is supposed to be fun!
Keith Stratton – CCO (Chief Custodial Officer)
KD Rail