While many of my contemporaries in the hobby were salivating over layouts depicting West Virginia coal hauling railroads, it was the heavy interurbans on the O scale Crooked Mountain Lines layout built by Bob Hegge that struck me like a bolt of lightning.
At one time, the National Model Railroad Association offered a series of Heritage and Living Legends Cars in multiple scales – and Hegge’s CML was honoured on Car #14. These are no longer available from the NMRA, but I was fortunate to stumble across and acquire an unbuilt example of the S scale version:
As the above photo suggests, this was a custom print run of a Pacific Rail Shops boxcar (actually, Gold Coast Models according to the instruction sheet, but the two were related.)
While I’m a prototype modeller at heart, I have a soft spot for Hegge’s work. It greatly influenced my own journey in this hobby. So I’m happy to break my from prototype-mindedness, enact “Rule One” and let this model roam the rails. I’m not sure what it’s doing in Port Rowan – possibly, it delivered a load to Montreal or a point further east, and it’s been grabbed by the CNR to deliver another load en route to its home in the northwestern United States.
Given that the “prototype” for this model was an interurban railroad, I decided that this car would look really neat with what I’ll call “PE Brakes” after the Pacific Electric, which used a modified brake rigging system on some boxcars to allow them to negotiate tight curves. The big change from the conventional arrangement is that the rod connecting to the brake staff does not run through the truck (between the wheels) to the B-end of the car: It’s mounted along one side sill to allow the truck to rotate freely. This required an extra lever and a bunch of hangers and adds visual interest when the car is viewed in profile.
Sunshine Models produced an HO resin kit at one time for the Southern Pacific B-50-13/-14 series of boxcar, and they did a PE version that included instructions for building the PE brake rigging. The kit is no longer in production, but I was fortunate to acquire a scan of the PE brake rigging instructions. I transferred these to my iPad and got to work:
The rigging took most of an afternoon – in part because I had to translate instructions for a wooden prototype with fish-belly centre sills to a steel car with no fish-belly. The PRS kits come with a brake-rigging system that’s injection moulded in a single piece – piping, rodding, appliances, levers, hangers, etc., all in one. I cut away the piping and rodding, drilled holes in the various appliances to accept wire, and rearranged the pieces while trying to follow the PE instructions as closely as the different styles of frame would allow. I cut and sanded my own levers, and employed the common trick of cutting turnbuckles in half to use as clevises. There are three levers and a lot of clevises on this car.
I masked the sides to protect the CML lettering (which is the whole point of this particular car, after all) and then sprayed the frame (and the trucks, not shown) with tarnished black to blend everything together. I then built the rest of the car in the more conventional manner.
The change to the brake system is fairly subtle when the car is on the rails – but it does reward the sharp-eyed viewer:
The sharp-eyed will note that the NMRA’s tribute car includes a build date that reads “NEW 11-33” – quite remarkable on a style of boxcar that didn’t exist until 1937! I always knew Hegge was ahead of his time…