Sunday, January 30, 2011

Best Laid Plans-or Lemons to Lemonade

Per my last post, the new Aristocraft PCC brought a lot of new "juice" and excitement. My original plan was to purchase two of them, cut them up and produce an Illinois Terminal double ended PCC. Alas, the amount of cutting and reconfiguring was just too much, it would be easier just to scratchbuild one than to try and make one out of the Aristo bodies.

Of course in typical fashion, I had hastened to the local shop and purchased a pair of PCC's without looking first. So now I had a pair of PCC cars that I didn't especially want or need, and were something of a thorn in my side given the fact that while painted "Chicago", they weren't even close to prototypical.

I considered a couple of options, just sell the damn things and get my money back, paint and detail them into something unique that Aristo wasn't offering (at least yet), scrap the bodies and use the trucks to build a Chicago Rapid Transit 5000 series articulated elevated car (below)

I almost did this project, the primary thing that held me back was the big flanges on the Aristo trucks, the smaller rapid transit/streetcar style flanges are almost delicate in comparion on the prototype

(But I promise to build this at some later date !)

Anyways, it occured to me the obvious thing to do was build a "real" Chicago car out of the bodies. Chicago cars were longer and wider than all other PCC models, and had a third set of doors at the rear of the cars. It would be a relatively simple bash to add the length and doors, I didn't bother with the added width though. One nice aspect of the Chicago cars, they have full skirting, so the trucks are completely hidden,, what oversized flanges ??

One of the prototype cars, in a later CTA paint scheme.
Mine will be done in the blue/creme with red belt rail scheme,
like the car preserved at IRM.

So, with a plan, or at least an idea in mind, let the carnage begin !
The car is a total bitch to get apart, a billion tiny screws, the screws holding the body to the floor and power mechanism on one car were stripped and had to be drilled out, and removing the mega-thick window "glass" is a major job.

Stripped the cars down to basic body shells and fired up the X-Acto razor saw....
Oh, the humanity,,, I wonder if this is in any way a reminder of when the real cars were cut up for parts to build new elevated cars ?? (And yes, I know they didn't recycle the pre-war cars, only the post-war ones with the standee windows !)

I will say that the plastic Aristo molded the cars in is very workable, and takes MEK quite well.

Sharp-eyed viewers will see a bottle of Plastruct styrene cement, that stuff has been gone a long time, and I just keep refilling the bottle from quart cans of MEK bought from Home Depot. A lot cheaper, but be careful, it is nasty stuff, make sure you know what you're doing and VENTILATE !!

So, after a few hours hacking and slashing, mocking up, etc...

The basic concept....

Lot more to do of course, more filler, close out the skirts, sand smooth, prime/paint/etc.
All in all, not a bad job, relatively easy (my opinion only of course), but not for the faint of heart or light of checkbook. Several folks were shocked that I had just dropped $500 for a couple of trains and couldn't wait to hack them up, but for basically that same amount of money, I'll end up with a more prototypical car, and at least for the time being, something no one else has.
Fortune goes to those with the courage of their convictions I guess,,, and it don't hurt to have separate finaces from the wife either !

More updates as it get finished, and (surprise !), a bonus/smart-ass bash from the left-overs !

1 comment:

  1. I trust you're keeping it well away from any gasoline tank trucks... (evil grin)