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ZM-16 Northern Pacific Steel Sill Logging Cars

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:48 pm    Post subject: ZM-16 Northern Pacific Steel Sill Logging Cars Reply with quote

Northern Pacific Steel Sill Logging Cars

Beginning in the late 1920s, the Northern Pacific Railway owned over 2400 of these steel center silled logging cars. They served system wide, and were not uncommon on other connecting roads. They hauled big timber from western states, and could be used for telephone poles and trestle piles.

GHQ is now offering three-packs of the kits (Stock Code ZM-16). Below you will find assembly instructions so that you too can have a group of these on your layout.

The ZM-16 kit gives you the basics for this craft train kit: pewter bodies, bunkers, underbody details, decals and brass etched brake wheels. Trucks, couplers, brass wire and silver bead ‘turnbuckles’ are not included.

The pewter parts look like this:

Begin by pre-drilling the holes that will be needed to assemble the finished model. GHQ recommends using Micro-Train Z-scale body-mounted couplers (Micro-Train Lines #202010) – it’s the only one that will fit! Set the body of the coupler housing in the notched slot on the underside of the body, and drill as described in the Micro-Trains coupler instruction sheet. The mounting screw is a 00-90 screw, so drill the hole with a #61 (.039”) bit. Take pains to avoid drilling all the way through the body!

Next, prepare the hole for the trucks. Use the Micro-Train Lines Bettendorf Trucks – without couplers (Micro-Trains Lines #302020 or #302025 low profile wheels or #310020 – 10 pack or #310025 low profile wheels – 10 pack). Again, avoid drilling all the way through the car! Start with a small bit, like that #61 you used for the coupler screw. Center the drill in the hole as shown below. The final hole should be drilled with a #48 (.075”) bit. Test fit the trucks, and then remove them and set aside while detailing the log car.

The post for the brass etched brake wheel will be made .015” brass wire (not included). Flip the car over to the top side, and find the dimple on the small tab at one end of the car. Drill a mounting hole with a #78 (.016”) bit in that dimple.

Preparing the Pewter Parts

Use a #11 hobby knife to remove the frames from the parts on the sprued (“tree’d”) pieces. Begin by carefully scoring where the “brake line parts” abut the mounting tabs. Next, remove the “log bunkers #2” from the sprues. Now remove the tabs that had mounted the “brake line parts” from the interior of the bunkers. Remove the “queen posts” and “log bunkers #1” from the other sprue.

Use the #11 blade as a scraper to remove any mold part lines that may be visible.

On the underside of the body there is a brake reservoir which has a small fillet that connects the funnel-shaped end to the body. That fillet can be removed using a sharp #11 blade.

Glue the “brake line part” casting in place, inserting the 2 pegs into the appropriate holes.

Glue the queen posts into the Queen Post Mounting Holes. The queen posts should be slightly splayed outward toward the ends of the car.

Rigging the Truss Rods

To fabricate the truss rods, you’ll need two pieces of .015” brass wire about 2.5” long. The center of each rod had a turn buckle. While a blob of glue or epoxy could be used to simulate this fitting, we recommend going to a bead store and getting a small bag of sterling silver “shimmer” beads. These are tiny tubes of silver and can be purchased in a number of lengths – for turnbuckles, get those that are approx. 3/32” (+/- .095”) long.

As shown in the picture below, bend about .2” of one end of the wire 90 degrees, and thread one turnbuckle bead onto the wire.

Slightly fold the “Truss Rod Mounting Tabs” on the car about 45 degrees toward the ends of the car. Hook the folded end of the wire against one mounting tab, string the wire over the notch at the tip of the queen post, and gently bend the wire to the appropriate shallow angle at that point.

Make sure the bead is in the middle, and string the wire over the other queen post. Again, bend the wire to the appropriate shallow angle. Grab the tip of the wire where it will turn under the second mounting tab, and bend 90 degrees. Trim any excess wire, leaving enough to firmly hook behind the pewter mounting tab. Apply a bit of ‘Super Glue’ to the folded ends and queen post tips to secure the wire in place.

Repeat these steps for the other truss rod. Once both are in place, slide the bead out of the way and apply a small drop of ‘Super Glue’ to the center of the wire. Slide the bead over the glue to cement it in place.

After both truss rod assemblies are in place, flatten the pewter mounting tabs down to the underside of the body as shown below.

Optional – You can fabricate foot steps for the corners of the car. While thin wire could be bent and holes drilled, the easiest method is to get a sheet of K&S brass etched mesh with a 3/32” grid (K&S #2705). Trim out one square for each of the four foot steps and glue to the sides of the wide car ends directly under the tab. The photo below shows these steps glued in place.

When it’s all re-assembled and painted, the underside will look like this.

Detailing the Top of the Log Car

Choose a set of log bunkers and glue them into the mounting holes.

Cut a 1/3” length of .015” brass wire and cement it perpendicularly into the Brake Wheel Post mounting hole. Trim one brake wheel from the brass etching – those with the spiraling spokes located directly above the copyright symbol (“©”) were most common. Glue the wheel to the top of the post.

A load of logs will look good on this car. Here we used some weed stalks that grew in the side yard in Minnesota - I’d bet you can find some in your area!

Painting and Decals

The cars in this class were either painted a boxcar primer oxide, or black. Our kit offers a decal that has all of the important markings.

Examine the photos for placement, but a brief outline may help:

• Centered on car side: “NORTHERN PACIFIC & car number”
• Before NORTHERN PACIFIC: “41 Ft. Steel Sills”
• After car number: “CAPY: 80000” & “LD. LIMIT: 88000”
• Left end of car side (wide end): “Built X-XX”
• Right End of car side (wide end): “LT. WGHT: 29000”

Trim each portion of the decal out individually – if you dip the entire sheet into water, you’ll get one big decal!

You can purchase these logging cars here on our website:

Did you enjoy this article? Was it detailed enough? Too detailed? Did it inspire you to make these logging cars? To make any other projects? We are putting some articles out there that get people to actually do some modeling in their model railroading. Our Zenmaster Series of articles sometimes involve parts that need to be purchased from us at GHQ, but most of them don't. Modeling techniques really flourish when they are shared with others. We are trying to share some of our best ideas and techniques with you. Please give us feedback, and share some of your own projects and techniques. There are definitely others out there who would love to see your work!
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Joined: 16 Jun 2009
Posts: 9
Location: San Diego CA

PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice post. I wish I modeled N scale, so I could justify a few of these...
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Joined: 30 Jun 2009
Posts: 1
Location: Fremont, CA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a beautiful car, I could like a string of them.
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