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Thread: Scratchbuilding frames/undercarriages and brake rigging?

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    Default Scratchbuilding frames/undercarriages and brake rigging?

    My brain's thesaurus isn't working but hopefully you understand.

    I'm looking at trying my hand at scratchbuilding some cars. Finding things like arrangement drawings, photographs of sides/ends/tops and so on seem pretty easy. And I'm fairly handy at taking a photograph and extracting measurements based on known dimensions and relative pixel counts, so that's not a real problem.

    Where I'm stuck is the underside. Center sills, cross braces, bolsters, brake rigging, draft gear, etc. etc. It's really hard to find a picture, even harder to take one (legally/safely), and drawings seem hard to locate, short of contacting the various historical societies for old data (which doesn't help too much when you're building a current car).

    What do y'all do for data on the underside of the car? In particular, are there sources of accurate data on brake rigging arrangements for various car types? Even better if there's some guidance on things like pipe diameters and such. But also, the more general frame and bolster design would be very helpful.

    Do you sometimes just make up something plausible out of thin air?

    At this point, for the car I'm starting with (Thrall 2743 gondola), I'm seriously considering buying the ExactRail HO model and using it as a reference. I have the book by David Casdorph, and while it's fantastic for the side details and identifying marks, it has pretty much nothing on the underside.

    But my question is intentionally more general, since this won't be the only car I try to build.
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    The only good photos I have seen are unfortunately from a derailment, you will see cars on their side sometimes, not sure what era you are looking at but if you could find articles from newspapers ect. might help?

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    If it were me, I'd be content to just grab the underside of a similar donor car and build around it. In other words, approach the project as a "scratch-bash", not exactly aimed at utter prototype fidelity. But if your aim is rigorous accuracy then maybe you do need to gather more info, and an HO example car isn't a bad option, though even that may include non-prototype allowances for things like deeper wheel flanges or greater truck pivoting (such as a higher vertical clearance to the underside of the deck, possibly also an allowance for coupler draft gear boxes). And if the HO car really is "fully" accurate, your N scale version might need to make some of those kinds of allowances, meaning you'll need to adapt.

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    For steam era cars I use the Car Builders' Cyclopedia, if I can get my hands on the correct edition. Not sure what the modern equivalent would be.

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    Is there not an N-scale version? https://exactrail.com/products/n-sca...3-gondola-djlx

    To your more general question -- can you look for pics of the underside of a goal unit in O-scale or HO, use the width of the car as a measuring stick (to get scale), and then estimate dimensions of the underside components?

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    Someone used to sell underframes.... I think it may have been Intermountain? Might look around and see before scratching anything
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mac View Post
    Sure there is, but where’s the fun in that?

    As for using the N model for reference, on the plus side I could run it, but the larger scale ones would be easier to measure accurately.


    To your more general question -- can you look for pics of the underside of a goal unit in O-scale or HO, use the width of the car as a measuring stick (to get scale), and then estimate dimensions of the underside components?
    I have looked. Not much joy. ExactRail has a close up of the underside of theirs but it only shows about a 10x10 foot area somewhere in the middle. It’s better than nothing but still incomplete.
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    Of course there are lots of different arrangements used for the underside of different freight cars. I do have a little piece that might help. This is a sketch of the arrangement of the air brake system on a typical freight car. It's not complete, but at least with this you can identify some of the pieces and parts and know what they're called.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	ABD Airbrake Layout.png 
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    This is for what the industry calls "foundation" brakes. That means that there is one brake cylinder that applies all of the brakes through a series of rods and levers, which are not shown.

    For a reference, you might want to consider the Freight Car Handbook from the publisher of Railroad Model Craftsmen. While I wish it included more information about the history and development of the cars, it does include excellent drawings many of which include underbody detail. Another possible source is the historical societies of the various railroads. I know that the Southern Railway Historical Association has some very good books and freight car drawings compiled from the drawings in their archives.
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    This is a general article on O scale "standard" freight cars with some photos.
    http://www.bigriverlines.com/Modelma...asic_Cars.html
    In the same way that @Tim R this Intermountain Instruction sheet for Reefers shows both a K Brake (I presume it is older) and the ABD brake layout:
    https://www.intermountain-railway.co...tock%20Car.pdf
    The CPR Historical Association has engineering drawings from various eras, as well as other railroad information.

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    What about contacting the builder if they're still going? all they need do is send you some construction photos of the car. Otherwisse the current manufacturer of a similar type of car.
    Cheers,

    Russ

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    I asked on another site I'm on (retired railroad / railway employees) and the universal response it the main train/brake pipe on all types of freight cars is 1 1/4" OD which is very fine in N. The branch pipe to the triple valve is slightly smaller. Brake rodding is about 1" but not as critical as trainpipe size.

    Hope this helps.
    Cheers,

    Russ

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    I think you were looking for freight but came across this site about Pullman passenger cars with underbody details so figured I would share:
    http://www.pullmanproject.com/Underbody.htm

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