I’ve never been keen on wood as a modeling material, but I would like to try an American Model Builders caboose kit. And in this new series of posts, I will attempt to have a go at their #851 Nickel Plate Road Wood Caboose (http://www.laserkit.com/laserkit.htm).

“But he’s a New York Central modeller, so why the NKP 1000-series caboose?” My modeling now is just period pieces as standalone models and not for my layout. I like the look of these 1000-series crummies. I do have AMB’s #879 NYC 19000-series Wood Caboose kit for a future project.

I am very impressed with the kit – it is very well packaged.

The instructions are fairly extensive – here is a downloadable PDF file of the instructions (with AMB permission):

The instructions are excellent, although they do not address truck or coupler mounting. But that’s not a problem if one has built a railroad car kit before.

With railroad modeling, you really don’t know what you are getting in a kit.  Some are pretty bad, unlike the super-nice kits that scale aircraft and military miniatures modellers can choose from.  However, it didn’t take long to realize how much care and thought was put into engineering and manufacturing this kit.  It looks great. Here’s what you get:

The inner wood substructure sides, end walls, floor, a polystyrene under frame, wood center & end sills. The under frame is marked for the truck locations and, although not apparent in the photo below, there are scribed lines to align other components for easy assembly.

The exterior sheathing, window frames, trim, running boards and center sill & bolsters cap. The grab iron holes are spotted!

The roof supports, rafters, stringers, roofs, and peel ‘n stick roofing material. To the right is a full set of cut window glazing and, below it, ladders, brake wheels, and end rail details.

A jig for bending grab irons!

The detail is very good.  And I like the under frame a lot – not that it’s detailed, more that it is styrene.

I’m most impressed with the end handrails! This material is only .016″ thick.

The small details include, from top left, resin AB brake components, laser wood bolster beams, metal smoke jack, cast resin steps (my kit included an extra), cast metal needle beams with queen posts, truss rod turnbuckles, and lastly, cast metal NKP-unique marker light housings. Good news, so I don’t have to scratch these – they even have depressions for MV lenses. .015″ diameter wire is also included.

Being completely inexperienced with these kits, and wood, I have some concerns. The main one being a worry over humidity causing warpage over time. I have read articles from other modellers who have built these kits – some have used sanding sealer, shellac, or Tamiya Fine Surface Primer (spray can). The kit instructions only recommend that the model should be airbrush painted – which is what I do anyway.

I have had some really nice experiences airbrushing AK Interactive’s Real Colors lacquer paint. I think a lacquer paint is more preferable over acrylic. I may be wrong, but I think acrylics can be porous and a may not seal wood. In any case, my current plan is to airbrush paint the entire wood body and cupola with RC001 Flat Black. I’ll probably do the whole model in this, as a sort of primer/sealer and pre-weathering all in one step.

Since I’m new to this, I promised myself that I would follow the instructions carefully. However, I see that the glass must be installed before the roof is in place. The underbody is not removable while the inner substructure has a solid wood floor. This calls for painting the exterior of the body around the windows, installing the windows and masking them. Then the roof is fixed in place. I’d rather install the windows at final assembly, and I would like a separate under frame for ease of painting, so I’m going have to find way around this.

Another area of concern is what kind of adhesive? Instructions call for a thickened CA, so that’s what I’m going to use. I have no experience with CA and wood. An acceptable alternative is Elmer’s, but I’ll use what is recommended. Much of the fastening is with peel ‘n stick parts where the adhesive is already in place. I better pay close attention when assembling the parts to ensure that they are nice and straight/square and in the right place the first time!

A very good kit to start with – way to go AMB!

Hope I don’t screw it up…