UP 50' External braced boxcar

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Loveably weird
At the Beatrice, Ne. train show last year (next one comes up next month, I'm so excited!) I acquired a bunch of broken and/or unserviceable rolling stock for $5. One of the items in the box was this car. I wanted a subject to use to test out the new airbrush compressor I recently got, so I painted this boxcar red. And that's where I made my mistake! :oops:

It looked so good, I just had to decal it and get it suitable for the layout!
I bought a set of MicroScale decals for UP boxcars, set #87-494. I really like the look of these external braced cars, but they are a challenge to decal! The decals on the sides of the car have to be cut into pieces in order to fit between the braces. So far, I have only done the road name on one side of the car, but I think it came out fairly well. It isn't absolutely ruler perfect, but it passed the 5 foot test: If it looks good from 5 foot away, it's good enough! ;)
After giving the car a coat of clear gloss and letting it cure, I started fitting the decals. It quickly became apparent that the best thing to do was to put the "I"'s in the small space between two braces, and the rest of the road name to both sides.

A generous portion of MicroSet proved invaluable in getting the decals into place. I think they came out OK.

The "ON" looks like it could come up just a hair, but I have learned to know when to call it good enough! Below the second vertical brace on the left side of the car you can see a discolored spot. That is one of 6 spots where some genius glued the car body to the frame! :mad:
I got the body off and added 1-1/2 ozs of weight to the car to bring it up to NMRA standards. I do not know who made this car, there are no markings on it or the frame. I can find lots of cars with external bracing, but very few have 4 diagonals, most have only 2 or 3. The ones that did have 4 diagonals don't match other details. Oh, well.
I did find a pic of the 'prototype'. This car was built in 1913. Sadly, it had deteriorated so much that in 2017 the decision was made to move it from display and sell it for whatever could be gotten for it.

The pic came from here:


The lettering on this one is white, the model will have yellow lettering. This car has 3 diagonals, the model has 4. But it's close enough.
Ever notice how a simple project tends to grow? :confused:


Loveably weird
I know what you mean sometimes life gets in the way but take your time you're doing a great job on this you got an excellent start
Thank you. I appreciate that.
I got a little time this afternoon, so I added some more decals. I got the weight capacity and dimension decals applied, along with the door opening instructions. Some of these decals are not printed as neatly as I would have hoped. A bit disappointing for MicroScale! I'll let these dry and continue on this tomorrow.

I'm hoping (and pretty certain) that the door opening decal will settle down onto the rivets when the MicroSol is applied.

I didn't get the weight capacity decal (on the far left) trimmed quite close enough to set where I wanted it to on the model. I din't notice this until the decal was already in place, so I tried to trim a bit of the clear film off, and succeeded in putting a nice scratch in the paint! :mad:
After the decals are set with a coat of clear flat, I'll touch that up with a brush. Some weathering in that area should help to hide it as well. I think the road number is going to be 188687 because those are the first 6 numbers in the looong string of numbers on the decal sheet!
All of the build dates were much too recent for this car, so it got an "OM 7-54" decal, meaning it was serviced and re-weighed in Omaha in July, 1954. At least, that's what it means on MY railroad! ;)


Well-Known Member
The prototype car is a 40 ft car and you have a 50 ft car that's why there's an additional panel in the truss.
Also the prototype car looks to be a "restoration" that isn't particularly accurate, so I wouldn't go by that car in any case.

Heres's a better picture of a similar car.

Actually the UP and SP did roster some 50 ft cars like this one. Are there doors at one end? It's really close to an A-50-6 50 ft. automobile car, though Athearn took some liberties with it. It should be a door and a half, but there were many rebuilds and some lasted well in to the 1950's. Nice work. I like the outside braced cars. The have a lot of personality and weather up very well. good find!


Loveably weird
Actually the UP and SP did roster some 50 ft cars like this one. Are there doors at one end? It's really close to an A-50-6 50 ft. automobile car, though Athearn took some liberties with it. It should be a door and a half, but there were many rebuilds and some lasted well in to the 1950's. Nice work. I like the outside braced cars. The have a lot of personality and weather up very well. good find!
Thanks, Alan! I really like these outside braced cars as well. They do have a lot of personality to them, sort of like an eccentric uncle! :D
They don't have doors at either end, so I doubt they were used as automobile cars. The decal sheet does have some classification numbers, but nothing that even comes close to this cars era, so I'm not going to put one on.
I got the reporting mark and the "Be Careful" decals on, and the car number on one end. Nothing else on the decal sheet really seems appropriate for this car, so I think this is as far as I'm going for decals. Now, I just need to do the other side.

I've given the decals a couple doses of MicroSol, so they're probably as firmly attached as they're going to get. Once the rest of the decals are on, I'll give it a coat of clear flat and then do some weathering on it. I also need to find a brake wheel and get it onto the car. I have the roof walk painted, I'll install that before clear coating.


Loveably weird
I found a brake wheel and got that painted. My faithful assistant Wally held it for me while I brush painted it. A little paint got on his hand. He seems a bit irritated about it, but he hasn't said anything yet.

I installed the brake wheel and roof walk, then gave the car a couple coats of flat clear.

There are some places that it appears the decal may not be as snug to the car body as I would have thought. Every decal has had at least two coats of MicroSol, so I had assumed any shininess was due to the decal film. Two coats of flat clear still reveals some shiny areas, so I can only assume that there are air bubbles under the decal. I will try to poke the decals with a pin and use some more MicroSol, but since the decals have been clear coated I'm not sure how effective that will be. This is my first attempt at decaling a car such as this, so it's a learning experience as much as anything. We'll see how it goes!
Yep, the decals haven't snuggled down. Any time you can see that clear, shiny area, its not snuggled down. If MicroSol doesn't work, try Solvaset from Walthers.

Another trick I use is to apply the setting solution, then take a damp Q-Tip and, using the end, tamp the decal down into the cracks. You can also run a very sharp hobby knife or a razor blade along the "cracks" to cut the decal into little strips. That way it doesn't "bridge" across the crack.

CAVEAT: All of these suggestions have some risk. If you rub instead of blot the Q-tip it can move the decal, if the Q-Tip is too dry it can pick up the decal, poking or cutting the decal can warp or move it.


Loveably weird
Hi, Dave! I had actually thought of slicing the decal once it was dry, but didn't for some reason. I poked several holes into the decals, applied another coat of MicroSol, and while wearing a rubber glove, gave each decal a firm squeeze. That seems to have helped. I figure the clear coat would hold the decal in position while I squoze (is that a word? :confused:) it. I'll let this dry overnight and see how it looks tomorrow. I might need to repeat the process.

I guess this is how one learns, isn't it? :)
In the background to the left you can see the frame for this car. I've cleaned it with soap and water, just letting it dry now. The discolored area is one of the places the previous owner glued the frame to the body with plastic cement. :mad:
I'll paint the frame with a flat black color. When I cut the frame loose from the body, all the plastic locating tabs got cut off in the process. There is a plastic ridge inside the body on which the frame locates. Since there's now no way to secure the body to the frame, I'm planning to use some white glue to hold them together. That should hold them well enough, but still make separation possible should the need arise.


Well-Known Member
Looking good. Try putting some Pledge floor wax on them it might “wick” up under your decal and get rid of the silvering. Next time give your model a gloss coat first then put your decals on give the whole thing a light coat of clear let it set for a day or so then ducoat it if you want. From my experience if you keep using that Micosol it will disintegrate your decals.


Loveably weird
I gave this car a good coat of gloss clear before I decaled it. I think the problem is the gaps between the boards. But I got the decals looking pretty good now. See above post. I gave it another coat of flat clear today. I painted the frame flat engine black as well. Got rid of the off-color areas and it helped cover up some glue stains from the previous owner. These will dry overnight.
I'm thinking I'll give the entire car a thinned black wash, with maybe a drop or two of gray added. One thing that I've read or heard while doing research regarding washes is not to use any alcohol in the wash, but use a drop or two of laundry detergent to decrease the surface tension of the wash and help it settle into the cracks, crannies, and crevices. (Poetic, huh?)


Loveably weird
Wow! 2 weeks since I updated this! :oops:
I have been working on this.
Once the decals were in place and sealed with a coat of flat clear, I reattached the frame using a thin bead of Elmer's white glue along both sides. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, someone had glued the frame on using plastic cement. I had to get the bottom off because the car was much too light. In removing the frame, I also cut the tabs off the sides of the car. So in order for it to stay in place, it was necessary to use the white glue. The frame will stay securely attached, but can be removed if needed.
Once the frame was on, I gave the entire car a coat of a thin gray wash, about 10 parts thinner to 1 part paint. This 'faded' the color of the car.


Next I gave the car two coats of a thin black wash, again about 10:1. Once that was done, I airbrushed some Testors Flat Earth along the bottom edges of the frame. I was going for a nice dirty but not totally filthy look. I'm not completely happy with the way the black wash came out, but I'm not going to go back and redo it, either! The trucks still need a little work. Kadee metal ribbed back wheels fit those trucks perfectly!

The stand is a piece of wood that has 1/8" holes drilled in it for wood dowels. It makes a good stand for supporting cars. I drilled some .060" holes for a couple pieces of wire for this car. The wires go inside the screw holes in the coupler pockets and reach all the way to the roof. It works really well!
I'm going to let this sit till tomorrow, then give it a final coat of flat clear to seal everything. I think this junk box castaway came out rather well!

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