The boxcar project is getting closer to completion. I added the grab irons using the Intermountain parts. They are a bit heavy, yes, but given the style of grabs, they will do until I learn how to fabricate finer ones to match the delicacy of the scratchbuilt ladders. (I welcome any suggestions for doing these.) I only have a few remaining details like stirrup steps, the brake wheel housing and uncoupling levers to add, along with removing those ugly claws on the bottom of the car door before touch up painting and weathering.
I’ve previously mentioned my dislike for the wide openings of standard coupler boxes. I built some center sill extensions from 0.250″ wide channels for the sides and 0.080″ x 0.250″ strip stock for the top. Several months ago, I made a jig for my drill press to mill off one of the flanges on the channel. I made another jig to mill the coupler key slots accurately. Both jigs were made from scrap styrene and took longer to design than to build and use. Now that I have them, these tasks are simple to do. Protocraft Type E couplers were installed and the height came out fine after the trucks were reinstalled. I plan to add a bit more detailing around this area to bring it up to speed. The couplers are simply held by a 2-56 screw and are easy to remove if needed. Oh yes, there is plenty of side-to-side swing with these scale extensions.
Having worked on this car for a couple of weeks, I learned a few things. (Get ready, Simon.)
One: Much of what holds us back in this hobby is our own fault. We willingly give in to fear or self-doubt or whatever you want to call it. As I’ve written before, it’s easy to look at the work of accomplished modelers and compare our own stuff to what they’ve practiced for over twenty years or more and just give up. This is stupid. (I’m sorry if that seemed harsh, but it is.) I’ve learned to have a little compassion. This car represents my skills at one moment in time, not for all time. Unless I get complacent and just stay at this level.
For this project, I applied skills that I already had and pushed at the edges of those I’ve yet to master. Clearly, there is room for improvement and some new knowledge to apply on the next car. And that’s the entire point of the exercise: to grow as a modeler and to learn something.
Two: We’ve lost the ability to be uncomfortable. We hate the feeling of being a beginner. We hate feeling incompetent at something, indeed anything. So much so that we simply refuse to try in many cases. This car and many others have sat around the layout, hiding from the camera for years because I had unrealistically high standards for their appearance. That, coupled with less than refined modeling skills where rolling stock is concerned, created this vicious cycle as Simon so aptly put it in one of his comments.
The cure is to start tackling such projects, knowing that my desired reach will exceed my grasp for a time, perhaps for a long time. It has nothing to do with an inability to learn and master such skills and everything to do with simply trying. Then doing it again and again, until the results are more satisfying. More than once I wanted to shelve this car again because of frustration. However, each new detail added provided some much needed feedback and fuel to keep going. Is it perfect? Hardly, but it’s close to being one car on the layout I won’t be afraid to have wander in front of the camera lens. Next week I hope to wrap this soap opera up.