Saturday, August 15, 2020

Mahoney Refrigerator Line #808

I'm going to stray from R Street this time and talk about a modeling project in memory of a friend. 

A few of the members of the Sacramento Modular Railroaders came up with the idea to decorate a small number of reefer cars as a tribute to one of our departed members: the late, great Dan Mahoney (1942-2018). A set of custom ink jet decals were made for the project by Jim Collins featuring a ‘Mahoney’s Baloney’ meat reefer refrigeration line logo and reporting marks. As fun as the decals are, I ended up not using them. I wanted to go in a different direction. In my mind, the refrigerator car I built is part of a general purpose Mahoney Refrigerator Line company that hauls all sorts of things that need refrigeration during transport. Plus I built a non-meat reefer kit, so I needed a different back story. 

For the project, I built a Tichy PFE R-40-4 wood reefer kit (kit 4024) and decorated it with elements of Microscale Decal number 87-890 ‘Merchants Despatch Transportation Co. (MDT) Early Ice Reefers, NYC, GM&O, Lackawanna, Others’. I also used Microscale’s ‘Railroad Roman’ letter set to piece together the ‘MAHONEY’ part of the decoration.

I augmented the kit with some wire corner grab irons and some photo etched ice hatch brackets. I’m not sure where I picked up the photo etched parts; I’ve had them in my stash for years.  That I was able to quickly find my photo etched brackets is maybe the biggest organizational miracle in my entire model railroading career.

Model Assembly:

The kit was a fun build even though I had to overcome some significant part warpage in the floor, roof, and side parts. With a bit of coaxing, cursing, and lots of rubber bands, I persuaded the assemblage into a reefer shaped object that I was pleased with.  


The Tichy kit comes undecorated. For colors, I decided on reefer white on the sides and boxcar red on the car ends and the roof. I used Acrylicos Vallejo (AV) paints from both their regular line and their airbrush paints line.  I mixed a few colors for boxcar red. I don’t recall of all the colors I used, but the base was AV’s ‘German Red-Brown’. ‘Reefer’ white was just AV’s ‘White’ from their airbrush line of paints with a few drops of their ‘Sky Grey’ from their regular line. 


It’s been a very long time since I’ve I decaled anything. Thankfully, the process was easier and more rewarding than I remembered. Marshalling all the car side decals together, I staged them on the model and on a car drawing that came with the decal set. It all felt a bit ‘ransom note-ish’, but it helped me organize the placement. Sometimes during the actual decal placement, it was a little like herding temperamental, floating cats that didn’t want to get in line. The very small, white end reporting marks are made up of 5 different decals to make ‘M.R.X. 808’. So, for instance, I’d get the ‘X’ down and the ‘M’ would wander out of position. I found I had to be in a particularly patient mood to do this kind of work, but if I was in the right frame of mind, things came together quite nicely. I used a gloss coat on the car followed by a localized application of Microscale’s ‘Micro Set’ before getting the decals into place and their ‘Micro Sol’ to help everything snuggle down. A couple of coats of Tamiya clear flat from a rattle can further blended the decals into the model.

Tiny, Subtle Tributes:

I numbered the car ‘808’ in reference to August 2008 when Dan joined our club. The last bit of tribute to Dan is also the smallest. A car’s accurate weight markings are crucial for fair freight charges and cars were routinely re-weighed. The new weights would be painted in the car’s weight info on the side of the car and the location (a station code) and date would also be indicated. I decaled the re-weigh patch to include a New England re-weigh station code (‘R’ for Rutland, Vermont – Dan’s home state) and month/date reweigh date to signify his date of birth. These re-weigh decals came from a Sunshine Models PFE reweigh decal set.  The ‘R’ is from the ‘ROS’ for Roseville reweigh station decal. The ‘9’ and ‘-42’ are from different areas of the sheet.

Regrets, I Have a Few:  

There were are a few ‘learning moments’ with this project. Thankfully you can only see one car side at a time, and so you may not notice that the car numbers line up with the reporting marks on one side the other it’s closer to centered underneath the reporting marks on the other. The car weight stenciling is nearer the bottom sill on one side and a bit higher up on the other.  And finally the KC brake cylinder is in the wrong spot.  This is extra frustrating to me as I had it in the right spot at first and talked myself out of it and moved it to a different, and wrong, location. I blame the not-so-clear part locating diagram in the kit instructions. There is also some overspray from the car bottom that hit one of the sides. This, I’m telling myself, is just ‘extra weathering’. 


Here’s to Dan:

I don’t know what Dan would think of us building tribute cars in his memory. I know he knew we were planning on it, and he got a chuckle out of Mahoney’s Baloney idea. I can’t help but think his New Englander upbringing which, I assume, contributed to that reserved and understated nature of his, would be hesitant to have anything be a ‘tribute’ to him.  But tributes like these are useful for the living as we continue to mourn the loss of our friend. I know for certain he’d like that it got me to the modeling bench. Not only that, I was able to actually finish a project which is a real rarity for me. Here’s to you Dan. I miss you, buddy.    

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