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