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ZM-13 Twin Cities Rapid Transit #1302

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Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 673
Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2009 4:11 pm    Post subject: ZM-13 Twin Cities Rapid Transit #1302 Reply with quote

Building an N-Scale Trolley: Twin Cities Rapid Transit #1302

Having ridden on them as a child, I always had a soft spot in my heart for the yellow cars of the Twin Cities Rapid Transit’s trolley lines.

Restored TCRT #1300 at Lake Harriet Car Barn

The Minnesota Transportation Museum was, in fact, started in 1962 to save #1300, one of only two cars left from the old system. (For more information on the museum, visit ) Though the system had already diminished from its apex of over 530 miles of track with 1021 cars in the 1928, it was all brought down in 1957. Over 700 cars were burned that year.

Burning TCRT Trolley - 1957

Since my main interest is Northern Pacific in the forties, and since the TCRT trolleys ran past both the Minneapolis and St. Paul Union depots, it seemed natural that there was a place for TCRT trolleys in my scheme of things.

Minneapolis Union Depot - 1915

As many of you already understand, being a student of the Zenmaster, I know that nothing is impossible: some things are just more difficult. After meditating on the subject at some length I concluded that the best way to accomplish this model was by kitbashing two Bachmann Brill Trolleys ( #61098 shown below ),

The Bachmann Brill Trolley right out of the box.

and powering it with a Tomytec TM-01 mechanism from Japan.

Tomytec TM-01 Mechanism & what you can make from it!

With these components I could do a very authentic model that would fully capture the flavor of the standard TCRT cars.

The Chassis

The TM-01 mechanism gives you three sets of US prototype side frames for the trucks. These are press-on mounted side frames: tabs on the frames fit into notches on the trucks. One of the sets matched the TCRT car’s trucks.

Tomytec TM-01 Side Frame sets.

The wheelbase was too short, so I lengthened it by duplicating the oval ring that held the rear un-powered truck in the frame using Evergreen styrene.

Top: Unmodified Chassis. Bottom: Lengthened Chassis.

I cut two pieces; one for each side to hold the round mounting ring on the truck in place and cut the frame to move the truck further back.

Lengthened Chassis – Top View

Lengthened Chassis – Bottom View

I soldered extensions on the electrical contact strips so that they would engage the truck pick-ups in their new location.

Left: original Tomytec Pick-ups – Right: Modified soldered Pick-ups

The Body

Unlike the Bachmann Brill model, which has a double door on all four corners of the trolley, the TCRT cars only have doors on the right side. There are thirteen windows between the doors on the right side, and fifteen on the left side.

I needed two Bachmann Brill trolley bodies to give sufficient length and the correct number of windows for the TCRT car. After removing the shells from the mechanisms – simply grab the tool box and wiggle the body off the metal mechanism - I stripped the paint off the Bachmann bodies. ( The Bachmann shells are a light gray plastic, you’ll notice that in the photos ). On the first one, I sliced through the Bachmann body squarely, just beyond the eighth window using a razor saw. I filed the raw edge down until the mullion of the 8th window was still there. Then I cut the other Bachmann shell just at the fifth window, and filed until it mounted squarely onto the first body. Testor’s liquid styrene cement was used to glue the halves together. I made sure this joint was fully cured before modifying the sides any further.

The Twin Cities cars had scribed siding below the windows. On the right side (with the doors), the Bachmann Bombay-style siding below the windows was removed, using a razor saw and hobby knife.

Top: Right side, TCRT Trolley – Bottom: Bachmann Brill Trolley

On the left side, the Bachmann doors were removed and replaced with one more window on each end. Strips of Evergreen Styrene were used to fill the thin gap between these end windows and the cab front. The white Evergreen plastic is clearly visible in the photos.

TCRT Trolley (top) has no doors on the left side of the car, so spare windows were spliced in place to achieve the correct look.

Again, these modifications were glued together with Testor’s liquid styrene cement.

The Bachmann Brill windows have arched tops: the TCRT cars were square. I took a chisel nosed X-acto blade and ground it down to a narrower size and used it to chisel out the outer arches on the window. The inner sash windows were trimmed square using a #11 X-acto hobby blade.

The Bachmann steps were cut off and were replaced with longer steps fabricated from Evergreen styrene. Door extensions and steps framed by adjoining fender skirts.

Detail of the windows, door and door steps.

The roof corners were widened with styrene extensions to more closely approximate the prototype.

TCRT Trolley Roof and Details – note the styrene plugs used to widen the cab roofs of the Brill car. Two Bachmann roofs were sliced together to extend the length to the correct Twin Cities car length.

End windows were also widened as much as possible and new cross mullions were added both front and back. Other details were added in styrene.

Modified Front End Windows and Details

An NCAT trolley pole was added (available from N CAT, the electric train & trolley N-Scale group).

The Cow Catcher would hold snow as well as pedestrians!

TCRT used a distinctive pilot to sweep up any unwary jaywalkers. The Cow Catcher was fabricated from brass wire. The mesh came from my wife’s fabric stash. It is a twill, a standard product in fabric stores, glued onto the brass wire frame with super glue. After the glue had totally dried, I trimmed the excess fabric off the frame with a sharp hobby knife.

I glued two plastic strips inside under the windows as stops to hold the mechanism at the proper height.

The mechanism was airbrushed with grimy black, the body lemon yellow and the roof with boxcar red. Weathering, particularly a light black wash, was applied to give the walls the proper “texture.” The underbody detail was drybrushed with a light gray to both apply a dusty effect, and to highlight the details.

Signage and numbers were all made on decal paper using an Alps printer by Michael Livingston, a member of our local railroad group. The Pepsi Cola sign on the front was particularly important since all Twin Cities trolley carried one in the last years of the line. I loved the way they looked with all the advertising on them.

TCRT #1302 cruising on a private right of way.

I cannot say enough about the Tomytec mechanism. Both they and Kato make and sell mechanisms that make interurbans and trolleys of all types possible for the N scale modeler. By following the procedures listed here, almost any early juice line car that you may be dreaming of can be modeled.

As always, we ask that you please give us some feedback on this article. Did it interest you? Was it detailed enough? Did it inspire you to make this trolley? A different trolley? Another project? We are constantly trying to get model railroaders to actually do some modeling. Rarely is anything actually ready to run out of the box. Some kitbashing, or at least weathering, will always make something look better. In addition, it makes that model all yours. No one else will have the exact same model as you. If you aren't registered to use our forum, then register now**. Post some of your own projects, ask questions, answer questions...get involved in the model railroading hobby. The hobby grows when people share their work and techniques. Everyone benefits when you teach others how to do things. Someone may even be able to improve on what you have developed. Put some modeling in your model railroading!

Thank you for your support,

For further information on the Twin Cities Rapid Transit, including trolley plans, see The Electric Railways of Minnesota by Russell L. Olson (Minnesota Transportation Museum: Hopkins, Minnesota, 1976).

**When registering for a GHQ forum account be sure to mention something about model railroading, military history, military gaming/modeling, etc. in the "Interests" field of your profile. That will let us know that you are an actual person, and not a SPAMMER who just wants to plaster things all over our forum. All accounts are screened with human eyes. It may take a couple days to activate your account, but once you are activated you will be able to post whenever you like, and know that we are doing everything possible to keep your experience SPAM free.
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Joined: 15 Sep 2009
Posts: 2
Location: California, the land of fuits and nuts

PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Truly inspiring work Zenmaster!

I hope to someday do something similar to this for a Pacific Electric "Red" car! Like this!

It will take me a while, as I plan to do the station as well!
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On The Patapsco

Joined: 28 Sep 2009
Posts: 1
Location: Balitmore, MD

PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many thanks for posting this! I've been dabbling with N scale traction...I found this article very inspiring. More please!
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Joined: 21 Jul 2008
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hadn't seen this article until yesterday and now I have found that if you want a 1:1 scale car you likely can buy one soon as a part of Edwards Rail Car's Heritage line of trolleys...

Definitely a great article, I just hope that manufacturers will see the potential in these cars and try to bring out more!!! And, yes,.I will be considering doing a car along these lines myself sometime in the future.
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Joined: 21 Jul 2008
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bronzemeister wrote:

I hope to someday do something similar to this for a Pacific Electric "Red" car! Like this!

On the N-scale Traction group at Yahoo! Groups there is an album of shots of a model of PE 1034 in the Photos section entitled "ecox". You would have to be a member to see the shots but the model is quite nice. (For the two emails about the car do a search on "Pacific Electric".)

One thing he noted was that the Athearn/MDC Overton cars had rounder edges at the end of the roof, making these roof parts useful for such a conversion. While I haven't checked this out it may be one way of gaining a clerestory roof for a trolley model, even though several roofs would be needed for a longer car.
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