Saturday, February 10, 2018

Coaches & cars for the EVRR

Attention Kmart shoppers! Follow the flashing blue light to the model railroad department where for the next 15 minutes you can buy a 3-pack of 1890’s N-scale coaches for the low, low Kmart price of just $9.99. Painted in Tamiya Luftwaffe Light Green, they’ll brighten up any model railroad in your home. Hurry over now! At this price they won’t last long. Have a great day and thank-you for shopping at Kmart!

[EVRR coaches by E. L. Moore]

No, as much as I wish, I didn't pick up these coaches at Alternative Universe Kmart, they came from a swap meet I attended last year. I bought them in March, painted them in April and then they sat neglected on my workbench for the rest of the year. But, on-and-off since the Christmas holidays I've been finishing them. I didn't want a year to lapse and still not have them done. I'm cutting it close, but they're now more-or-less ready to roll.
I scratched my head over what to do about couplers for a longtime. The coaches came with old Rapido-style ones and my loco has modern knuckle-couplers. I bought the coaches anyway as 1890's coaches have been hard to find, and the seller gave me a lower price because of the Rapidos. I decided not to refit all the couplers on the rolling stock to one type, mainly because of cost. I figured I'd replace a few on some cars so I could build trains and leave it at that. You can see on the upper chassis, one Rapido has been replaced so it'll couple to the loco. I did the same thing with the caboose chassis in the lower right.
[Bachmann's old time 4-wheeler straight out-of-the-box.]

The caboose is an old Bachmann item I bought this past summer at George's Trains from their resale stock. It's outfitted with Rapido couplers out-of-the-box and is rather toy-like, but with a bit of painting it makes an ok impression.
[On the EVRR you can get a sense of how small the caboose is.]

A 4-wheel caboose construction article was one of E. L. Moore's earliest publications. I sometimes wonder if a 4-wheeler was a right-of-passage for mid-20th century model railroad writers. Mr. Moore's was The Little Red Caboose that appeared in the December '61 issue of Model Trains. Bill Schopp also did one. 
William (Bill) Schopp's first publication of the many - likely numbering in the many 100s or into a 1,000 or so - he made over the course of his career was A Four Wheel Crummy for HO Railway that appeared in the July 1937 issue of The Model Craftsman. That issue, like just about all issues from the '30s, is eye-popping in its use of illustrations.

In the same issue is this Ideal Workshop spread. The depth and detail and optimism in that article is great.
I didn't shoot many photos during painting, but as you can see the coach roofs were sprayed flat black and some light washes of thinned flat black and smoke were used on the bodies for highlighting and weathering.
The road names were decals I printed with my computer. I'm not completely happy with the results as the transfer film was a bit thick and I couldn't get it to completely conform to the scoring in the coach walls. It turns out my friend Paul Zimmerman had a much better approach.
[EVRR coach #2 - photo courtesy Paul Zimmerman]

Paul built a gorgeous EVRR-based layout in the 90's and also kitbashed a few most-excellent coaches to ride its rails. He solved the road name problem with paper banners. I'll let him fill you in on what he did.
[EVRR coach #5 - photo courtesy Paul Zimmerman. 
Notice how in both of these models the weathering is subtle and effectively blends the piece in with the overall scene - not too much, not too little, just enough to suggest that it belongs.]

These are my N scale cars that I built in the 1990s.  They're by Bachmann, but kitbashed shorter and lighter.  The "decals" are rub-on white letters over black posterboard - then sized down on a copy machine, cut and darkened the edges.  Today, it'd be even easier on a computer and printer.

There's a third (not pictured); it came with the oldie train set that got this all started.  But I have some steep grades on the EVRR and I fit the third car OVER a Bachmann trolley mechanism!*  It didn't fit exactly; it bowed outward a little. Anyway, I wanted to share my cheapie method for the decals.  The long name is a strip, Elmer's Glued on; the number is on a "wooden plaque" (tiny bit of the paper).  Cheap!  Plus, they hide the cut marks on the kitbash. 

*I've got to see that trolley conversion!
Each of my coaches had a clear plastic block inside that provided the windows. They had to be removed in preparation for painting and were destroyed getting them out. For new windows I decided to simply smear Microscale's Micro Kristal Klear as per the instructions on the bottle inside the window frames.
The resulting windows are quite clear, but are wavy. I think that might produce a nice lighting effect once I find some lights small enough to stuff inside - I've simply friction fit the bodies over the chassis so they can be slid off for light installation. The picture up there shows that there are bubbles in the rightmost windows of one coach. That was easily fixed by slicing out the windows with a sharp, new X-Acto knife blade and applying Kristal Klear again.
The cars aren't too bad looking, but they aren't finescale items by any stretch of the imagination. I'd say they're impressionized and need a little more weathering once I've given them a few runs on the layout.
I have to admit I like the functionality of the Rapido couplers. It's true, they don't look prototypical, but the various types of knuckle couplers on the rolling stock I've accumulated so far have varying degrees of functionality: from works beautifully to decouples as soon as the train starts to won't couple at all. Rapidos work all the time.
The relatively harsh light emphasizes the need for further weathering.
Last summer I bought some resale box cars to start building out the fleet.
I wasn't picky about road names and couplers. I was more concerned about getting cars that were about the right era and were small enough to handle the EVRR's tight curves. The couplers on these are knuckle-couplers, but of a lower quality than those on the loco. Some have a tendency to decouple when the train's in motion.
I also bought a couple of resale freight cars from a later era - that's one on the left. They had body-mounted couplers, and that combined with the extra length, prevented them from negotiating the EVRR's tight curves.
[An N-scale mixed train on E. L. Moore's Eskale & Hontee RR]

All this is to say is that when I try to build up mixed trains I'll need to be careful about couplers and car lengths for smooth running.


  1. Paul writes: On my paper banners, the yellow lettering was a result of going over the Xeroxed, resized banners with a yellow marker. Today, I'd just print them out in color using a computer and printer. Back in the 90s, I laid them out in rub on lettering, ala Art Curren, but resized them on the copy machine. I'm not sure if pixelization was an issue then; I think the Xerox was more of a photographic reduction.