Proto 2000 HO freight car kits

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by tetters, Jan 24, 2007.

  1. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    [sarcasm on]

    The kits Gents. Not built up. Ya know, they come in a box with some big pieces but mostly little teenie tiny ones instead of a finished product. sign1
    [sarcasm off]

    I was wondering if any one here has had any experience in building them and what kind of success they have had? I have some model building experience, so the idea of putting these together isn't really bothering me. Although I doubt the USS Defiant will be landing on my layout anytime soon. The cost savings to me is worth it as well. I've got about 14 of them to do with possibly another 8 on the way. Yes, I am a glutton for punishment. (If some of you remember I also want to handlay all my track work which is also about to start.)

    This is going to get interesting... and also take a while. Oh well, I'm in no hurry to get things done.
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I have done a bunch of them and like them very much. My only complaint is that I would prefer brass or stainless steel grab irons, steps, & ladders. It wouldn't be bad if they were used only on a home layout where I could build them once and never handle them again after putting them on the tracks, but having to transport them to shows to use on a modular layout has taken a toll on some of the delicate details. I would highly reccomend using sprue cutters to remove the parts from the sprue. In many cases the sprue is heavier duty than the parts it holds. By the way, buy all you can now. Kits seem to be fast becoming extinct.
  3. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Love their detail but they just are too fragile for the regular train show circuit I'm used to.
  4. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Thanks for the replies Gents. Is it possible to get brass parts for them? Those little bits sure do look fragile. Thanks for the advice on the sprue cutters.

    If you are looking for kits. There are a shyte load of them on ebay from different sellers. All going in lots of 8-10 in some cases. Some deco'ed some un-deco'ed.

    Just a heads up.
  5. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    The Proto2000 kits are not difficult to build, although the plastic grabirons, so I'm told, are tedious to install, either breaking or flying into space, never to be seen again. My first was a Mather stockcar, although the kit was in an unmarked clear plastic bag on the "used" table at the LHS. This was before the kits had been released by LifeLike, so I suspect that this might have been a pre-production sample sent to some dealers. It was undecorated, and had no trucks or instructions, but for $5.00, I couldn't resist.:thumb: Even without instructions, it was easy to build. However, I decided that the plastic grabirons were way over-size, so I plugged all of the mounting holes with styrene rod, then re-drilled for wire parts.

    I found some Proto2000 gondolas, on sale because of the unknown (locally, anyway) roadname, at another hobby shop. I stripped off the paint and lettering before building the kits, but again, I replaced the plastic grabirons and stirrup steps with metal parts. The brake gear for the underside is a bit tedious to cut from the sprue, but not difficult. These cars have good detail (on the inside, too), and the working drop-ends are great for over-size loads. I'd buy more of them if I can find them cheap enough. :rolleyes:

    This last car is actually sold as a Proto1000 car, but has free-standing grabirons and good detail. Currently, it's the only version of this very common car available, except for resin kits. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it was only offered as a ready-to-run car, and at $39.95, a bit too pricey for me. However, the first run of these cars were mis-lettered, with the dimensional data missing. LifeLike (Canada) offered to replace the incorrect body shells and the traded-in mis-lettered ones were offered for sale for a couple of bucks each. I picked up all six that the store had (I would have bought more, had they been available), along with six sets of replacement Simplex trucks. I cut off all of the grabirons, (36 per car) trying to leave only the bolt head detail, then plugged the resultant holes and re-drilled for wire grabirons, all of which I had to make from .012" wire, due to their non-standard size. Rather than strip the paint and risk losing all those bolt heads, I used a chisel blade in my X-Acto to scrape off the factory-applied roadnames. I also replaced the cast on stirrup steps (6 per car), and the brakewheel staffs, several of which broke during rebuilding, using metal parts. The roofwalks, which were about 6" too short on either end, as compared to prototype drawings, were also replaced. I built new floors from .060" styrene, then added brake components from my scrap box, along with wire rods and piping. The cars were airbrushed with Floquil paint, then lettered with C-D-S dry transfers.

    I also have some of their 50' boxcars, again, bought on sale,:rolleyes: and made similar improvements to them. In general, they make up into very attractive and protoypical-looking cars, but for me, the over-size grabirons detract from their appearance. It would have been simpler to remove cast-on grabs for anyone wanting to have free-standing parts, and this probably would have made these cars much cheaper to produce.

  6. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Those cars look fantastic Wayne. I have several of these cars right now with several more on the way. Including one of those gons. All waiting/needing to be built up. I figure if I'm going to customize them I might as well do it right and before I put them together (i.e. paint and new road names etc..)

    Now I have a ton of questions for you.

    When you say plugged the holes with styrene rod I'd be curious to know how you did this? Does styrene rod come in very small diameters that could be used to plug these holes or did you drill an oversized hole to accomodate the diameter of styrene?

    How did you go about making the grab irons and steps etc.? They look pretty delicate in plastic. What tools did you use and finally, what did you use as an adhesive to glue them in place?


  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The only grabs that are not available in brass are the ones for the 50 foot auto box car. They are a special design casting on the prototype. I've been brainstorming ideas on how to make those grabs out of brass.
  8. liven_letdie

    liven_letdie Member

    I absolutely LOVE P2K kits. When I got back in the hobby these are what really caught my eye. I have about 15 50' boxcars. 6 I bought RTR, 6 were timesaver kits and the other three were normal kits. I also have several of the gondolas and they are probably the nicest cars of the line when built. If you can get kits that are labeled timesavers. They really do make a difference. I usually bore out the grab iron holes with a pin vise to make sure I can get them in without a problem (a method used on intermountain too). The best thing is that the price of the kits has come down, I believe they were almost $20 each when released while you can get them in lots on ebay for as little as $4 a car. Patience is a virtue with these cars though so I usually make an assembly line of similar cars when building them as they have several substructures that are put together and need time for the glue to dry. I love em!!!
  9. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Shane, when I did these cars, the smallest diameter rod that I could find was .025", so the existing holes had to be drilled out, probably with a #74 drill bit (.0225") or #75 (.021"). I use lacquer thinner as a styrene cement, so a touch of it to the rod and another touch to the hole, and the softened rod in the under-sized hole gives a nice snug fit. After it hardens (next day is best), I re-drill for the .012" wire grabs. I understand that styrene rod as small as .010" is now available. I've never bothered to measure the holes cast into the plastic bodies, so I don't know if the smaller size rod will work or not. Many of the cast holes are "blind", so they'll need to be drilled through for the wire grabs anyway. Most freight car grabirons are 18" wide, and I usually buy these ready-made by Tichy or Westerfield. When I run out of pre-made ones, or need an odd-size, I make a simple jig out of .060" styrene sheet: basically, it's just a piece the proper width that can be held securely. Bend a piece of wire with a small "L" on the end, lay it over the jig and bend the long end parallel to the short end, forming a "U", then cut it off. I use an old X-Acto blade to cut the soft brass wire. If you want to make a "drop-style" grabiron, you need a second jig. This consists of a base of sheet styrene: I used a piece of .060" about 1 1/2" wide by about 3" long. On top of, and along one of the short sides, cement a strip of sheet styrene of a suitable thickness for the "drop" part of the grabiron: I used .050", which yields a drop similar to most commercially- available drop grabirons. Now, take a piece of .015" styrene sheet, and stand it, on edge, atop the base and alongside the .050" piece, then cement another .050" piece parallel to the first, trapping the .015" sheet temporarily between the two .050" pieces. Remove it from the groove thus formed, and set aside to dry. Now, using the same .015 sheet, cut a strip about 1 1/2" long and a bit narrower than the grabirons that you're making: this is a retainer. I made three such strips, one each for 18", 24", and 30" grabirons. When the cement on the jig has set, place a straight grabiron in the groove between the two .050" pieces, with the open ends facing up. Now insert the proper-width retainer into the groove and between the two uprights of the grabiron. While firmly holding the grabiron in place with the retainer, bend the two free ends of the grabiron flat onto the jig. Usually, the grab thus formed will benefit by having the bends sharpened a bit with smooth-jawed pliers, but if you hold the grabs firmly in place with the retainer while making the bends, the grabirons should turn out uniform in appearance.
    To fasten them in place, I first insert them all into the pre-drilled holes, then slip a spacer strip of .030" thick styrene, slightly narrower than the width of the grabs, between the grabirons and the car body. Holding the grabs tight against the spacer, bend-over the ends of the grabirons that are protruding into the car, then use c.a. to secure them in place. I remove the spacer before applying the c.a.
    Other than an X-Acto knife with a new blade for cutting the styrene jigs, and an old blade for cutting the brass wire, you'll need a pin vise and a #80 drill bit. (A #79 will also work, as I found out when my old pin vise would no longer grip a #80 :rolleyes: ) In fact, I find the #79 is what I now normally use, even with a new pin vise. While doing the six Fowler boxcars, with 78 holes per car, (72 for the grabirons, and another six for the roofwalk corner grabs), I broke only one drill bit, a real record for me, as I've at times used more than that to install one grabiron!:oops: Don't try to drill the holes using a Dremel tool, as even the slowest speed will heat up the plastic, causing an over-size hole.
    The plastic grabirons on the Fowler cars measure just under .020", those on the gondolas are about .022". With .011" roughly equalling 1", the .012" wire grabs are still probably a bit oversize, but in my opinion, the improvement in appearance is worth the exra work.
    While I make my own corner steps for passenger cars, for freight cars I prefer the ones from A-Line, available in several styles.
    Russ, I don't recall the style of the grabs on the 50' cars, but I redid all of mine with the simple drop-style mentioned above. If the ones you're referring to are bracketed grabs, Details Associates makes a very fine-scale rendition in Delrin, although these don't hold paint very well.

  10. dsfraser

    dsfraser Member

    You guys need to know about stretching sprues!

    Get a short candle, and light it. Find a length of sprue, maybe 3" long, without any gates. Twirl it about 1" above the flame until it starts to get soft, then remove it and pull it apart, gently. The faster you pull the finer the filament. With practice you can get a fairly long length of rod perfect for filling holes.

    Also, the plastic will keep it's shape through this process, so you can also get half-round, square or rectangular, and triangular strips, even tubes, by starting from suitable stock. It's an awesome technique if you do much building.

    Scott Fraser
  11. HOseeker

    HOseeker New Member

  12. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    I made one last nigh and left about halt the detail off. There noway I could even see the grab irons much less apply them and all the detail underneath, who ever sees that stuff. The rest of the kit looked fine
  13. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Wayne, the 50 foot auto boxcars do use bracketed grabs. At scale sizes, I think the difference between the plastic in the p2k kits and delrin would be trading brittle plastic parts for not much stronger delrin parts that are difficult to paint. The bracketed grabs have 2 steps per bracket. I'm thinking of cutting the brackets out of brass shim stock, tinning them, and then soldering 2 of them one on each side of a pair of grabs. Of course the other choice is to forget the prototypically correct grabs and just install standard wire grabs. I had so much trouble gettingthe stirrup steps installed with out breaking them and I had A-line steps in my modeling supplies box so they got the A-line steps from the "get go."
  14. nhguy

    nhguy Member

    I like them. I have done over a dozen of many types. The tank cars can be a bugger. I only have 51 more to do. And Branchline, and Tichy, and Eastern Car Works, and .......
  15. radar

    radar Member

    just started a ps-2 covered hopper car on step 4 grab irons so i found if you drill out the cast holes to a #74 it makes life easy, as to get the D%*$ things off the sprue ?
  16. EngineerKyle

    EngineerKyle Member

    Funny I should stumble across this thread tonight. I just bought a P2K 50 box and the very drop end gon you showed, Dr.

    The LHS was giving them away for 6.99 each. I thought I'd try them out and go back for more if I liked. The metal wheelsets alone are worth half that!




    I did'nt need sprue cutters for these. I guess I'll hafta invest in a pair now!
  17. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    A little late, but here's my $0.02...

    The first kits I built when I got back into MR about 5-6 years ago were a couple of the P2K 8000 gal tankers. What a pain...! I broke almost every grab, and eventually replaced them outright with wire grabs. I do not recall the manufacturer, but they were a great fit for the exisiting holes using gel CA. The NBW castings required their own hole, and I have to admit, I did not add them all...! ;)

    The next tankers I built were the same 8000 gal jobs, but in the "TimeSaver" version, where many of the sub-assemblies are done for you (underframe, trucks, dome), but you still need to put the grabs on yourself. This time I did not break a single grab. I attribute this in part to additional experience (it was a few years later), and to actually following the directions...! :rolleyes: :D

    I have also built, or am in the middle of building, a Mather stock car, and two mill gons (non-TimeSaver versions). The grabs are still a pain, but if you are careful, you will be fine.

    The details on these kits are fantastic - e.g. the mill gons have drop ends, and interior details. I just wish that P2K (now Walthers) would give up on the plastic grabs and include metal ones in the kits instead.

  18. radar

    radar Member

    Yes excatly what Mr.MasonJar says need to start an e-mail campaign!!!!
  19. hd8091

    hd8091 Member

    There are some good ideas out here. The only thing I can add is when I am cutting the small parts off the spruces is that I heat the end of my exacto knife and melt them off.It seems to be a lot easier for me . I keep a small alcohol lamp burning beside me as I work and it goes very quickly. This is especially good for the wrap around railing on the tank cars.

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