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Scratchbuilt Reefer underframe plans - Milk Car

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  • Member since
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  • From: Loudonville, NY
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Scratchbuilt Reefer underframe plans - Milk Car
Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Wednesday, March 06, 2019 10:25 AM

As part of my NMRA Merit Badge award I am planning on scratchbuilding a model of the Borden "butterdish" milk car. These cars were converted from old reefers, so that is where I need to start. There are many pictures online, but the underframes are always dark and in shadows.

I have two articles from RMC on building the cars in HO and N scale but both used modified commercial underframes. I want plans to build the underframes from scratch.

Is anyone aware of plans or drawings for 40' reefer underframes that I could use to build my car? Scale doesn't matter. Thanks.

Modeling the D&H in 1984: http://dandhcoloniemain.blogspot.com/

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  • From: Omaha, NE
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Posted by dehusman on Wednesday, March 06, 2019 12:19 PM

A boxcar underframe will be similar to a reefer underframe.

Search for "railroad boxcar plans" or "railroad reefer plans"  or "railroad car plans" or "freight car plans" and select "Images" instead of "web".  Its much faster to scroll through pictures.

The problem is with the side frames, since it appears to be built on an Express reefer underframe, one with a drop center sill, a bit rare.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by doctorwayne on Wednesday, March 06, 2019 10:38 PM

The RMC article suggests using the underframe from an Accurail 4000-series single sheathed boxcar, and also notes that the endsills on those cars are very close to those used on the Borden cars.

Cal-scale (Bowser) offers kit 190-324, for express car brake systems.

The article also suggest that Athearn #53308 express trucks be used (although the price shown is ridiculous)....

 

If you decide to use the trucks shown above, but can't find them at a more reasonable price, contact me via PM.

The drawing accompanying the article doesn't show outside brake hangers, like those on the Athearn trucks, but you should be able to trim them appropriately.

These, also from Athearn, are mostly closer in detail to the drawing, but they have a much longer wheelbase...

Wayne

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, March 07, 2019 12:21 AM

 

doctorwayne
The article also suggest that Athearn #53308 express trucks be used (although the price shown is ridiculous)....

 

See if these arent a little more reasonable Cool

https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/athearn-ho-53308-50-express-refrigerator-car-truck-with-metal-wheels-set-of-2/

I just looked through the 1940 Car Builder's Cyclopedia and although there is one photo of a "butterdish" Borden car it is, as you say, nothing but shadows in the underframe. Likewise, underframe drawings are scarce. Plenty of cross section drawings but nothing in plan-view.

 Refrigerator by Edmund, on Flickr

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Thursday, March 07, 2019 7:37 AM

Thank you both. I might just buy an Accurail kit as suggested in the article and use it to build my own. The sources for the trucks are very useful, thank you!

Modeling the D&H in 1984: http://dandhcoloniemain.blogspot.com/

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  • From: Loudonville, NY
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Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Thursday, March 07, 2019 7:42 AM

gmpullman

I just bought the last pair that they had in stock. Thanks for the reference!

Modeling the D&H in 1984: http://dandhcoloniemain.blogspot.com/

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Posted by dknelson on Thursday, March 07, 2019 10:55 AM

Not directly helpful but I assume you have seen this entertaining online article about building butterdish milk car kits.

http://nyow.org/Articles/Butterdish/butterdish.html

The article has photos of the preserved butterdish milk car at the Illinois RR Museum, but there were actually several versions of the Borden car.  Straight topped with end fins, sloped top with end and top fins, fins removed during WWII, and a variety of copycat roundtop (no fins) milk reefers from Hood.

It should be possible to fabricate the fishbelly center sill and thus gain more points under the NMRA scoring system.  

As for getting a notion of basic underframe and brake system pipes and rods, Jeff Wilson's Kalmbach book on freight car modeling has a good "generic" drawing for AB and K brake systems. The book is out of print but commonly seen at swap meets. It is not of a fishbelly center sill car however - the main point is about the brake system.

One place to get a notion of underframe modeling is from old instructions to craftsman kits from Red Ball, Ambroid, Laconia, etc to be found on the HO Seeker website.  I know this is "modeling from a model" which the strictly prototype guys reject but sometimes you have to make do with what you find or you don't proceed at all.

For detailing purposes by the way note that as a "passenger [train] car" it seems the butterdish milk cars had airbrake lines as well as steam heat lines. 

Dave Nelson

 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, March 07, 2019 6:11 PM

Dave's mention of the steam lines emphasises the need to do as complete a job of the underbody details as is possible, so not only the appropriate brake components (as indicated in the link I posted earlier) but also all of the piping - don't forget the retainer valve and its associated piping, and the release rods to both sides of the underbody from the brake valve.  Also include at least the major rodding from the brake cylinder and the associated levers - due to the constraints of our models, it's difficult to actually model- and connect-to the trucks themselves, but if your underbody detail is as complete as possible and looks as if it would work as seen from an on-layout view, you should do fine. 

Here's a link to Accurail's fishbelly underframe which can be purchased separately. 

As for the steam (and signal and air) lines, Cal-Scale's Part #275 will get you them in plastic, or if you prefer brass, it's Part #274.

Wayne

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Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Friday, March 08, 2019 11:41 AM

Thank you. I reached out to Accurail to order their frame separately, if for no other reason than to copy it.

Modeling the D&H in 1984: http://dandhcoloniemain.blogspot.com/

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Posted by j. c. on Friday, March 08, 2019 2:53 PM

found a full underside drawing for a 40 ft fishbelly with wood sides pm my your address and will scan it and mail it to you,also found a 42 ft 6 inch one .

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