HBM&S Anachronism - Wood Truss Rod Flatcar
The Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Railway in Flin Flon Manitoba (the town named after a science fiction novel) has been in continuous operation since about 1929. They have used a motely assortment of used equipment from all over North America including former interurban steeple cab electrics, a Minnesota logging Shay and GE 70 Tonners (see https://hudbayrailway.blogspot.com/2023/01/hudson-bay-mining-and-smelting-ge-70.html). As well they have had a wide range of second hand freight cars, many likely rescued from the scrapper.
Among these refugees were a pair of wood truss rod flat cars, #136 and #137. Their history is unknown, but based on their design features they likely are a product of the early 1900's. They rode on arch bar trucks and had no hand brakes. They did have early air brake equipment, and the wheels were chocked when they were parked.
Exactly how these cars ended up in captive service at a smelter in northern Manitoba is not known, but my hypothesis is that they were used during the construction of the railway from The Pas to Flin Flon in the 1920's by Dominion Construction. They ended up staying after the railway was finished as they were obsolete even in the 1920's.
HBM&S were well known to squeeze every ounce out of everything, and amazingly the two flatcars were still in service in early 2000 when I visited the area for work. I managed to get good photos of the cars and decided I needed to model them. In theory I could justify CN Dash 2 locomotives switching a wood flatcar, possibly even a Dash8-40CM or SD75I. These anachronisms are what attracted me to the HBM&S.
Juneco was a Canadian model railway manufacturer now long out of business. They offered a wood truss rod flatcar that was a good starting point for these cars. I acquired a kit many years ago and built it using my photos as a guide. I adjusted the stake pockets to match the prototype and added some other small details like NBW castings, uncoupling bars and end details. And then the car sat in a finished but unpainted state for about 20 years...
Recently I started working on some wood structure kits and I was playing with some wood staining techniques. I used a variety of different stains and thinned paints to try and replicate aged wood on scrap wood pieces. I found a few techniques I thought worked well and suddenly remembered the unfinished flat car.
I pulled it out and went to work. Thinned Vallejo wood, light grey and blacks were thinned with distilled water. I used different mixes on individual boards to get the colour variation commonly seen with old wood boards. The various metal parts and truss rods got an initial dark grey base coat followed by applications of Vallejo Game Effects dry rust, my go to for anything and everything rusty.
The flat cars had long ago lost any remaining paint and were basically raw aged wood with a few patches of red brown paint on some of the metal parts under the rust. A crudely painted road number was the only significant paint left. I used white paint and a toothpick to replicate this on the model.
The car will usually sit on a siding at my smelter, occasionally being pulled out to move stuff around the smelter. Unfortunately I think the prototype cars were scrapped in the mid 2000's so this is the only #136 left.
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