NW C31 Caboose 518538 - From Atlas N&W Factory Model
Finally.... I don't remember when I started on this silly thing but it started out to be a one or two evening project. It has probably been at least 18 months.....
The right side view shows the main changes: Moloco cupola, repainting the roof to blue, replacing the small window with a large one, relocating the smoke jack, and replacing the trucks with Kadee ASF Ride Control (these are stand-ins until I find something closer to the prototype).
The model is sort of a salad bowl of mismatched colors... the blue on the main body is the factory paint from Atlas; the cupola is painted Des Plaines Wabash blue; and the roof is painted Modelflex Santa Fe blue just because it was all I could find to match or at least be close. The numbers are from the old Champ set, and are a more orangish color than the factory lettering.
Big difference in appearance in the roof view. The C-31s as built had the roof painted blue; later this was discontinued and the roof was left unpainted galvanized steel, but with blue overspray from the sides visible. It was never solidly painted silver the way the Atlas model is done, or at least I've never seen any evidence to that effect.
The Moloco cupola was designed for the Atlas wide vision caboose to convert it to a standard cupola. But Atlas subsequently did the standard cupola, but in the paired window arrangement so the Moloco kit still comes in quite handy to correctly model the N&W.
Plano makes an etched detail kit for this caboose, but all I wound up using was the end platform etchings and step etchings. The roofwalk is nice, but not the right end configuration, and I decided that the Atlas ladders looked pretty good and left them alone.
The left side of the C-31 has the small bathroom window, so it's correct out of the box. As built, they had coil spring trucks with open box roller bearing trucks that had apparently been rebuilt and salvaged from scrapped hopper cars. I applied the Kadee ASF trucks as interim stand-ins.
As long as the kit has been around, this is the first Moloco cupola I've finished. I could have done a better job of mounting the windows. But then again, almost every "clear glass" thing I've ever done could have been done better. Odds are the next one will be better. A little better anyway.
Lovely illustration of the Modelflex I had to apply by brush to touch up the roof. I won't be doing that again. Brushing Modelflex ranks right up there with picking nose hairs in terms of enjoyability. It's like trying to spread refrigerated butter on soft white bread. This caboose still needs the grabs installed on top of the cupola, and some weathering which ought to help minimize the color mis-matching and some of the finish flaws. The next one will be better... and there will be a next. N&W had 200 of these, and in my modeling era, there was a nice balance, close to 50-50, between the original blue ones and those that had been rebuilt to C-31P and repainted red.
This is a stock Atlas caboose straight out of the box. It's a nice stand-in for a C31 and above and away the best model ever attempted of this class. But there are a few "generic" aspects Atlas chose for their model which need to be changed. The biggest and most obvious difference is the cupola windows, and the Atlas model comes with more common leaf-spring type cabose trucks.
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