Assembling the Core Frame

To help you with assembly of your model, I have produced the following set of instructions which are based on of my experience in assembling similar models. What is presented here should not be viewed as gospel but to augment the instructions which came with your kit. Ultimately it is up to you to determine how you will assemble your model.

As with everything to do with model railroading, there is more than one way to do something, the trick is to find the method that works best for you. In this case I have found it most beneficial to perform the heavy building tasks first then tackle the delicate parts. All too often I have broken off some finer detail parts while hacking away at another part of the model. Thus the approach we're taking on this model is to build the car body first then add the detail parts such as grab irons and brake detail later.

The common architecture for these wooden cars is to have an inner core built to which the outer car skin is applied. This core is made up of floor (part 2), two risers (part 6) and a roof (part 7)
Image courtesy of Labelle.

Step 1 - Prepare The Floor Panel

Locate the floor panel and the floor diagram in the instructions. Identify the location of the truck bolsters, the needle beams (which hold the truss rod queen posts) and the stringers (if separate). Transfer these dimensions onto the floor panel using a scale ruler, square and pencil.
A word of caution, the diagram in the instructions might be slightly off scale so you may need to adjust your measurements accordingly.


Here the locations of the bolsters, queen posts and stringers hvae been transfered to the floor panel.

Use a pair of dividers to mark parallel lines, this is far more accurate than fiddling with a ruler and pencil.


In some kits (e.g. Labelle) the longitudinal stringers are pre milled into the floor panel.

Here you can see the two pencil lines identifying where the queen posts will be installed
The truck bolsters have also been installed.

Step 2 - Assemble Body Core

Locate the floor panel (from step 1), the two end risers and the roof panel.


Here are the four pieces laid out.

We will glue one end riser on at a time. Line up all edges between the riser and the floor panel. User a wood type glue such as yellow carpenters glue to fasten the pieces together.


Line up all edges.


I used a lead weight to hold the two pieces together while the glue set.
Use a square to ensure the riser is perpendicular to the floor.

It is extremely important that all pieces are plumb, square and joints are tight for everything else will depend on a solid base.

Step 3 - True Ends

Once the glue has firmly set on both risers, run the sides over a piece of fine sand paper (120 - 180 grit) to ensure the edges are in alignment.


Carefully sand the edges.
Do this slowly to ensure you don't end up with a taper!

Step 4 - Install Roof Panel

Locate the roof panel and dry fit it over the floor assembly. Confirm all roof edges line up with the end risers. You will want to confirm the lengths as well as width.

Using clamps or rubber bands, perform a dry assembly without glue to confirm your ssembly process and clamping method will work. Once this is verified you can assemble for real.
Set the assembly aside to allow the glue to set over night.


Here the brass (horizontal) clamps ensure the riser sides and roof line up. The black clamps hold the top down while the glue sets.

For this model, rubber bands were used to hold the roof panel in place.

Step 5 - Floor Stringer Installation

With some kits (e.g. Taylor) the floor stringers are not milled into the floor panel thus you will be required to add them separately. Now would be a good time to do this.
Cut the wood strips to length according to the kit instructions and install along the pencil lines you had drawn earlier. A neat trick to help to accurately position the stringers is to set your dividers to the desired dimension then run them along the edge of the car floor and the stringer. Of course looking down the length of the stringer will ensure there are no bows, etc
Apply clamps or weights and set aside until the glue sets.


Using the dividers to accurately position the stringers.

Clamps hold the stringers in place until the glue sets.

After the glue has set, remove the clamps/rubber bands. If the ends are not perfectly smooth, rub it back/forth over your fine sand paper while on a flat surface. Remember building the balance of the model is dependent on thw quality of the body core.


Your car assembly should now look something like this.

Step 6 - Truss Rods
The final step is to drill the holes for the truss rods

The purpose of the truss rods in the protoype is hold up the floor. This is done by tieing the ends of the chassis together and providing support under the floor. Thus the rods start at the end sills, pass over the truck bolsters, then head down diagonally to meet the queen posts. They then head across horizontally to the next queen post, then back up over the next bolster then to the end sill at the other end of the car. Tightening the nuts on the end of the truss rods along with the turn buckles will apply an upward pressure on the car's floor.

We will be replicating the truss rods on our model but will need to make some concessions in order to not fowl the trucks, etc.
Our trus rods (made from fishing line) will not actually reach the end of the cars but will pass though the floor panel shortly before the truck bolster.
To determine the location of these holes, dry fit the bolster and truck, then identify where the truss rod can pass from the queen post to the floor without fowling the truck wheels.
Now drill the clearance holes for the trusss rods.


The truss rods on this car slope down at such an angle as to not interfer with the wheels on the truck.

After inspecting our HOn3 Labelle kit, we determined that the truss rod holes could be located next to the bolsters yet would not interfer with the truck wheels or swing motion.


The truss rods holes are drilled at an angle beside the truck bolsters.


This Web page is maintained by Grant Knowles and was last updated on Sept, 2015.