As I've mentioned before, I rely on prototype photos for inspiration. Being able to see something in a photo from my era provides both the motivation and the colors to recreate it in miniature. And so it was when I came across the photo below of a yard in Allentown, PA in 1975.
I could model every freight car in this photo and have already done the Lehigh Valley X58 boxcar, albeit in a modified version of the old Athearn BB kit. But it was the L&N boxcar in the lower right hand corner that caught my eye recently. I seemed to recall having purchased a similar car from the second-hand inventory at the old Tim's Trains a while back. Sure enough- I bought two of them. They are the old Intermountain kits that were part of a run done by the Louisville & Nashville Historical Society. I assumed the paint scheme and numbers were correct and a quick check with my good friend Stuart Thayer confirmed it. In fact, Stuart worked with Intermountain on the graphics for the kit. In addition to being a very accomplished modeler, Stuart is a long-time member of the L&NHS. He is also one of three members of the operating crew on the railroad that are dyed in the wool L&N fans/modelers. So it was only fitting that a few cars from their favorite railroad should show up occasionally during an op session.
I only made a few changes while building the kits. I added cut levers and wire grabs at the bottom right hand side of the ends and replaced the plastic stirrup steps on the left side of the sides. I also replaced the COTS stencils as the ones on the kit appeared too small to me. With the addition of metal wheels and an ACI label, the cars were complete.
The photo below shows the two cars after a trip through the paint shop.
The roofs of the kit were painted the same blue as the rest of the car. It was difficult to see in the original photo just what the roof looked like, but it appeared to have some peeling paint in addition to some faded paint with perhaps a little rust. I blew up the photo to get a better look and you can see what I found below.
I decided to paint the entire roof silver and then come back and add some blue to represent the old paint. I used Vallejo Model Air Aluminum followed by Testor's DulIcote for the base layer. I then mixed Vallejo Model Color Medium Blue with a little white and applied it sparsely using a cosmetic sponge. I got a little too aggressive with the blue and ended up going back over the roof with some Aluminum applied with a cosmetic sponge. Lastly, I added a little artist's acrylic burnt umber to represent rust in a few locations. The photos below shows the results.
The trucks were weathered with the usual combination of artist's acrylics and powders. Once a few waybills have been made up, these cars will be ready for revenue service!