Thursday, November 19, 2015

Modeling the Berkshire RPO Cars- Finishing Up

Finishing Up

Clearstory Inserts

One other advantage of using the Branchline kit as a core is that the roof clearstory sides are a separate insert part. The kit includes two choices of clearstory side inserts, one that has Ward vents and one that is blank for air conditioned equipment.

The kit inserts have a height of .165", therefore replacing them with a custom insert of ones' choice can easily be fabricated with .156" standard size styrene strips.

The photo below shows the inserts made for the 30' apartment RPO. The area with no windows is made from .040" x .156" plain strips, the area outlining the clearstory windows is also made from standard sized .040" thick styrene strips. The Ward vents were harvested from the kit inserts.

Making a Low Rider

I like Low Riders and have owned a couple, but in this case I am referring to the ride height of the RPO's and the trucks chosen to use under them.

The readily available truck that most resembles the General Steel Casting trucks of the prototype is the #99 top equalized truck from Bethlehem Car Works Kit Bits. These are a three piece metal truck with two side frames and a connecting bolster that screw together.

After assembling these trucks and mounting them under the car, the ride height was measured with a Kadee coupler height gauge and the result showed the car rode higher that it should.

To lower the ride height of the car by the dimension determined from the coupler gauge, that same dimension of material must be removed from the mounting pads on the back side of the truck side frames where the bolster mounts and secures to the side frames with screws.

Notice the thickness of the bolster mounting pads on the back side of the truck side frames of the truck to the right in the photo below. On the left truck the thickness of those mounting pads has been reduced the required dimension therefore lowering the bolster in relation to the side frames and effectively lowering the ride height of the car. The excess material was removed with a razor saw and finished with a fine flat file.

An added bonus to lowering the bolster is that the screw heads are not as visible above the top of the side frames as before.

Rivet Decals.

These RPO's are the first models I tried Archer Rivet Decals on and was pleased with the results.

These rivet decals are individual catalyzed resin droplets on clear decal film. The three dimensional aspect allows them to stand above the surface they are applied to simulating button head rivets. They are applied to a smooth surface before the top coat of paint.

The rows of rivets are cleverly arranged on the sheet to offer several different spacing opportunities by removing them from the sheet ether vertically or horizontally. One can pick out how these rows were removed from the sheet by comparing the sheet to the car side in the photo below.

The completed rivets.

The next two photos demonstrate how the rivets show thru the New Haven Hunter Green top coat of paint.

Below are the completed 15' apartment 45' baggage RPO and the 30' apartment 30' baggage RPO.

I hope some of the construction methods used to build these RPO's may be useful in the building of a model needed for your layout.


  1. Excellent construction and attention to detail. The completed RPO's look very nice!

  2. Joe,

    Thanks for sharing this RPO build. After reading through and understanding your construction techniques I have decided to build a Canadian National RPO used on their US subsidiary Grand Trunk in New England in a similar manner. I have one question though. What material did you use for the corrigated grills in small mail room windows?