Building a Penn Central X58 50′ Box Car (Part I)

Back in January, I bought my first craftsman freight car kits from Rail Yard Models. During the Vancouver Olympics, I started working on the first project – a Penn Central X58 50′ box car. I will tell you more about why I chose a Penn Central freight car in a future post. For now, let’s start with unboxing the kit.

As you can see in the following picture, Rail Yard Model kits contains everything you need to build the model. Besides the obvious urethane body, roof, shear plates, bolsters, coupler pocket lids, the two piece bolster alignment jig and many smaller cast parts, the kit comes with trucks and near-scale wheels, brake hardware, etched metal parts, several strands of wire, styrene strips, brake hoses, decals and a CD-ROM containing a 60-page manual, line drawings and a 14-page history of the car.

The only things not included are couplers, which isn’t a big deal. The coupler pockets are designed for Kadee #78s but I am going to use Sergent couplers instead.

Unboxing the Rail Yard Models Penn Central X58.

Unboxing the Rail Yard Models Penn Central X58. (click to enlarge)

After consulting the history, I decided to model the Penn Central 361825. This car is from the first series built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1964 and was equipped with the Hydra-Cushion. The kit comes with parts to either model the Hydra-Cushion or the Keystone underframe details giving you the flexibility to model different versions of the car.

Penn Central X58 with Hydra cushion.

My X58 is outfitted with the Hydra-Cushion.

Installing the brake hardware is fairly easy. All you need to do is put together the plastic brake appliances and mount them using etched metal parts. Getting the brake piping just right was a little challenging because the instructions did not provide a bending diagram. In the end it worked out fine, though.

X58 with brake hardware and piping.

X58 with brake hardware and piping.

Adding the brake rigging wasn’t that hard either but I made one mistake when bending a brake lever support the wrong way. When I tried to fix it by bending it in the opposite direction, the part broke. Luckily, I was able to reorder the etched parts and Gene from Rail Yard Models quickly mailed them.

X58 with brake rigging installed.

X58 with brake rigging installed.

The doors are detailed with styrene rods and strips, which is easy enough. I didn’t measure the strips and inadvertently used one of the pre-cut door tracks as door handles. Once I discovered my mistake, I carefully removed the thicker strip from the door, removed remaining glue and replaced the handles with the correct strips. For the door tracks, I got replacement strips at the local hobby shop. Lesson learned – now I got my digital caliper handy at all times.

X58 door opener details.

X58 door opener details.

In the late 1960s and 70s, some cars including the PC 361825 had the hand brake lowered and the tall ladders cut down when the roof walks were removed. The manual provides clear instructions where the etched ladders need to be cut and how the hand brake needs to be modified.

Cut down end and side ladders.

Cut down end and side ladders.

The PC 361825 had its roof walks removed but the roof walk supports were left in place. The etched supports are bent into an l shape and inserted into holes I had previously drilled.

Roof walk supports without transverse walking panels.

Roof walk supports without transverse walking panels.

In part II, I will install the end platforms, hand brake, PROTO:87 wheels and Sergent couplers.

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