Combine 21: Days 6, 7 &8: The Roof

This was something I have been both looking forward to and dreading at the same time.  Crafting the roof is fun, but making sure it is shaped correctly is a bit nerve-wracking for a beginner.

Combine 21 Roof Template

The first step was creating the templates from the instructions.  I cut the shapes out from the paper instructions, traced them on thin cardboard, and cut them out from that.  There are three templates: upper roof ends, lower roof ends, and inside the bar for the celestory windows.

Combine 21 Working on the Roof Template

The first step was to sand the ends down and checking that the template pieces “fit” with the curve I was carving.  The trick is to consistently check this fit:  you can always sand more if you need to, but you can’t easily add material back.

Combine 21 Carved Roof

The next step was to create the bar that starts above the celestory windows and curves down into the lower roof end.  Using the third template, I cut the bottom of the curve piece out before gluing these pieces onto the ends.

Combine 21 Curved Pieces 1

From this, I sanded these down to fit the curve of the roof I had previously created.  The last component was making a curved piece to fit inside the previous pieces.  I made each one too large and then sanded them down to fit them in.

Combine 21 Curved Pieces 2

At the end of this, my roof was complete.  It wasn’t quite as hard as I may have feared, but it still required being careful and taking steps.

Combine 21 Roof Finished

Now what remains is primarily side and undercarriage details.  The LaBelle kit came with a set of Tichy brake components, but there are no instructions for these.  I also need to order screws for the couplers and trucks to put them in place.

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Combine 21: Day Five: Celestory Windows

I added the bar onto the end of the car and “drilled” holes for the railings.  I used Mr. Xacto to carve the holes since they didn’t need to be deep.

The directions call for cementing the railings later.

The directions call for cementing the railings later.

Today was mostly about adding the little windows to the top of the car.  The first step was gluing the window strips in.

The roof as it comes in the box

The roof as it comes in the boxCelestory Windows Begun

Putting the little strips in to divide the windows took a lot of time, but using tweezers made it much easier.

Fortunately, my girlfriend has tweezers that fit perfectly inside the groove to align the tiny window posts.

Fortunately, my girlfriend has tweezers that fit perfectly inside the groove to align the tiny window posts.

My next post will outline one of the trickiest parts of building this car:  carving the ends of the roof.

Celestory Windows Finished

Combine 21: The Prototype

This was a valuation photo for the FJ&G.

This was a valuation photo for the FJ&G.

Combination coach 21 was built in the late 1880s or 1890s by Jackson and Sharp Company for the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad.  In 1916, the Fonda Johnstown & Gloversville purchased #21 along with coaches 26-29 from the DL&W.  The car was 59 feet 10 1/2 inches long, weighed 63,175 lbs (31 tons), and seated 38 passengers.  The coaches were scrapped in 1932, but #21 survived as the summer coach for the mixed freight service from Gloversville to Broadalbin.  When that service ended in 1957, the seats were removed and the car was placed in storage before finally being scrapped.

Photo courtesy of Paul K. Larner.

Photo courtesy of Paul K. Larner.

I seem to be lucky that LaBelle has produced a combine almost identical to #21.  The website and instructions do not say what specific model of car this model was based on, but it is definitely a Jackson and Sharp car.

A big thanks goes to Paul Larner for providing the photos.

Combine 21: Day Three and Four: Making Ends Meet

Friday was my primary day for working on the ends.  I noticed that neither end had windows, so I cut out windows on one of the ends to match the instructions.

End with Railings

It wasn’t until after I checked my reference photos, however, that I realized that Combine 21 has no end windows.  Fortunately, I just covered these holes with siding.  I also deviated from the instructions by adding wooden railings on the ends.

21 Final Ends

Today, I assembled the sides and the ends onto the base.  Everything fit well, and it was good to see how the rounded pieces on the corners really gave the car a nice finish.  My final project for the day was installing the baggage doors.  These would have been simpler if it wasn’t for my need to ensure complete accuracy.

The door comes as seen on the left, but #21 has the bigger rectangles on top, and these are divided into 8 windows as the piece shows.

Baggage Doors UnattachedMy first plan was to simply glue the strip onto the back of the current posts, but then it was recessed.  My second plan was to cut out a space to put a horizontal bar into the center, but the vertical pieces were too fragile.  My solution was to cut little pieces of siding slightly larger than the holes, squeeze them into the spaces, and then glue them.

See that little brown piece between the two doors?  That's about 1/16 of an inch long.

See that little brown piece between the two doors? That’s about 1/16 of an inch long.

Once I figured that out, I put the door inside the car and added the bottom and sides.  I covered the bottom rectangles with extra siding placed on the inside.

Sides Attached

I am very glad that I have this forum post to follow along with, as the instructions are not always clear and it is very helpful to see the model complete at different phases.

I received photos of #21, and I will post them along with a thorough history of the car next time.

Combine 21: Day Two: Windows of Opportunity

The good news about the windows I wanted to add is that they are all the same size as the pre-cut ones.  The bad news was that I accidentally glued in the filler strip on each side before cutting them out.

The original directions have these sections of the cars completely covered in siding.  The filler pieces make the surface flat for the siding.

The original directions have these sections of the cars completely covered in siding. The filler pieces make the surface flat for the siding.

I used the other side to mark a template of where the actual hole should be cut (about 5/16 of an inch from the baggage door, at the same height as the others).  I cut out the lower big window before moving on to the upper small window.

I straightened the sides after carving the hole.

I straightened the sides after carving the hole.

Once that was done, I scraped away the surrounding filler wood to give room for the frame.  I used leftovers and scrap to fabricate the sides of these windows.  For the bottom edge, I used some of the railing that the instructions had asked to previously remove.

Keeping the blade flat along the side made this easy to cut off.  If I had been thinking, I could have left the little piece I needed on, but reattaching it worked fine.

Keeping the blade flat along the side made this easy to cut off. If I had been thinking, I could have left the little piece I needed on, but reattaching it worked fine.

I tried to just notch the window out of the siding, but the wood split along the grooves.  Attaching the siding as three separate pieces still worked out well.

Window and Siding

Saving your scrap wood is a good idea, because I’m finding certain areas where it is proving useful.  In my next post, I will showcase my work on the ends.

...and the windows are done!

…and the windows are done!

Combine 21: Day One: A New Hope

This kit scared me.

LaBelle Kit

I know that with my endeavor I will be taking certain leaps-of-skill, but it was still a bit overwhelming to see the LaBelle HO-12 kit in its box.  Many small pieces, many unlabeled bits of wood, etc.  Once I actually started, however, it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought.  I’ll write a full review on this set once I complete it, but I think LaBelle have done a good job.

My only previous experience with modeling includes helping my dad with small pieces of his layouts and working on model cars, so I really am learning as I do this.  I’m even making things a bit more challenging in certain ways.

LaBelle Combine Subside

LaBelle Combine Subside

Unfortunately, there are no publicly-posted photos of the real FJ&G Combine 21, so I will have to use this photo of the completed LaBelle model for reference.  The secret to this kit is to really analyze the directions and the included schematics.  They didn’t make sense to me at first, but after about 15 minutes I started to understand them much more.

I began with adding the window posts, which are the little vertical pieces of wood that go in between the windows.  These are easily cut with Mr. Xacto by lining the blade parallel to the raised edge and pressing down.

The finger on the right is pointing at the window post I have just installed.

The finger on the right is pointing at the window post I have just installed.

The siding has ribs which has ribs that are easy to cut along, but here is where I began to deviate from the instructions.  Combine 21 has 11 windows on both sides, but the kit car has 11 on one side and 10 on the other.  Additionally, 21 has a window on each side of the car where you see the DLW logo in the completed kit photo.  This meant cutting out my own window and creating its frame.

Combine 21 Window

I will have photos of this process for the next post.

Building: Accurail DL&W Hopper

Accurail DLW Hopper Kit

Even as a beginner modeler, this kit was much easier than I figured it would be.  Most of the construction focused on the air brake reservoir and end assemblies, and some pieces did not require any glue.

The instructions say that parts are “press-fit”, but the quality of fit varied.  I needed to use glue for the air reservoir, triple valve, weights, and brake wheel, but the doors on the bottom snapped into place very tightly.

Top: one end before adding the framework.   Bottom:  the other end with the brake equipment and framework added.

Top: one end before adding the framework. Bottom: the other end with the brake equipment and framework added.

People have suggested that I use metal wheels and Kadee couplers instead of the included plastic ones.  I have ordered Kadee #5 couplers and Intermountain 33″ wheels and will be adding those this coming week once they arrive.

The instructions for this kit were fairly easy to follow, and the quality of the car seems very good.  The only tools I needed were my x-acto knife and Zap-a-Gap CA+ glue.

The next project will be the LaBelle combine.  The advice I have received suggests constructing the model before painting due to the possibility of glue removing paint from parts (and it is also what the instructions recommend).