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Converting Atlas’s 70 ton ore cars into Hon30 ore cars

From Al Sandrini
15 June 2000

I have converted several of Atlas’s 70 ton ore cars into Hon30 ore cars.
It was a simple conversion, and I think that I may have posted it on list before, but if not, here goes:

I purchased 12 of the Atlas 70 ton, drop bottom ore cars. I purchased the undecorated version as they were about 50 cents less expensive than the painted and lettered version. I took and sanded the sides of the cars down until they were paper thin. I sanded the sides and the ends. Sanding the ladders and all of the end detail from the cars so that I had a rectangular box.

I then used Evergreen scribed styrene and laminated it to the sides and ends of the cars. I don’t remember what the scribing spaces were, but they were about .0625″ spacing (1/16″). I laminated the styrene with the scribings horizontal (my first attempt was with vertical, and liked the horizontal scribe better—you may look and see what looks better to you).

With the “box completely” covered with HO scale dimemtional “planking”, I next cut the smallest piece of Plastruct 1/32 angle stock and framed in the planking. I put two pieces vertically in the center of the sides of the cars (back-to-back which made a thick shanked “T”. I then put angle around the top and bottom of the side pieces. Once this was completed, I cut pieces to fit at a 45 degree angle and go from the top on the ends to the bottom in the center of the cars. For the top of the sides and the ends of the cars, I used scale “plastic” dimensional strips the same size as the scribs on the Evergreen sheets and made my own angle pieces. I needed the top cap piece to hide the lamination. Once on the car, I carefully sanded the inside of the car to make the inner side of the new top cap flush with the inside.

Below is an attempt to show how the angle stock was placed on the sides of the cars. The angle here are too sharp, the car is too short, once stretched out to the correct length, it would look better. But the angle goes from top to bottom in the center, and from the tops on the ends to the bottom in the centers

    |\   ||   /|
    | \  ||  / |
    |  \ || /  |

On the ends of the cars, I just framed it like I did on the sides, except I only had the vertical back-to-back piece in the center of the ends, no extra bracing between the center and the sides of the ends.

I airbrushed the cars a dirty Tuscan/Rail Brown mix, added a piece of brass rod with a Kadee HO brake wheel soldered to it and the car was complete. I added a set of MicroTrains arch bar trucks w/coupler and the car was done.

As I continued to build the cars, I put truck mounted couplers on the ends of a 5 car set and have put dummy knuckle couplers between the cars. It is easy to see where the break is as a rusted MicroTrain glad hand hangs down between every fifth and sixth car.

There is no prototype for this car that I followed, but wanted a car that fit the image of what I thought my ore cars should look like.
Similar to the mine train cars on the mine train ride as Disneyland (I think). If so, maybe the Disneyland RR is the prototype.

Big Al from Cal

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