Getting the New Tangent Models O-59A Gondolas Layout Ready

I just bought two Tangent Models B&O O-59 Gondolas and they look fantastic. They are a very nice compromise for a layout model as opposed to an RPM model with full underbody detail. At $38.95 retail they have a lot of great features and B&O specific details. The coupler bodies are extended from the ends to replicate a Duryea underframe and it is roughly represented under the car. The underbody details are hidden from the side view, so the rough representation is a good compromise as it allows space for adequate weight, there are two. This was an intentional compromise by the manufacturer to insure the floor height was accurate to the prototype. Weight is always a problem for empty gons and flat cars and in this case I prefer their approach to making it look correct from the top and side, rather underneath. The carbody has separate grab irons, great hand brake detail, coupler lift bars, and a Tatum slack adjuster. I wonder if they would sell those Tatum slack adjuster castings for detailing other B&O freight cars? I’ll check. I have gotten a kind reply and the parts sprue is out of stock. I will edit when it is in stock. Tangent offers most of there parts sprues for only $3. it does appear the underbody details aren’t aligned with the slack adjuster, the underbody detail is at the other end of the car but on the same side. UPDATE MARCH 2022: National Scale Car offers HO scale Tatum Slack Adjuster castings as well as etched brass Tatum Brake Steps.

O-59A Builder Photo, BORRHS Collection.

I recently saw on a chat group someone state that an old Athearn Blue Box kit would be around $25 today, when adjusted for inflation. It gives some perspective on what a deal I believe these cars represent.

Getting them ready for my 1950 era layout starts with some basic steps, the first thing I do with every car is paint and install metal wheels. These models have great wheelsets included so a quick trip to the paint booth, a spray with Vallejo NATO Black, and they are ready for service. You can see in the photo how shiny they are compared to the paint mask that has been sprayed many times. This hasn’t happened to me before with other wheelsets, I would recommend washing the them with a degreaser as I got an unsatisfactory finish on several wheels and it appeared to be the result of some type of oil on the wheel face. Lesson learned. The trucks get a quick weathering paint job with a mix of Vallejo NATO Black and Hull Red.

While I have the trucks removed, I was hoping to burnish the coupler box interiors and add some Kadee 231 “Greas-Em” Dry Graphite Lubricant. The end detail makes it difficult to remove the couplers, so I will shoot some lubricant into the coupler boxes and exercise the coupler shafts to make it as smooth as possible. The cars are already equipped with scale couplers, bonus. I lightly brush painted them with some rust paint. Late note, I was using one of the gons on the layout to test track placement and a derailment caused a coupler box to come loose. They are actually glued in place and the screw only holds the cover to the box, not the car. I was a little disappointed with the two small spots of glue that secure the coupler box without a mechanical attachment, like a screw. I will use some styrene cement to reattach the coupler box using the original two pin connections and supplement it with some epoxy in other locations under the box to add some durability. I hope the flexibility of an epoxy held joint will help improve longevity as the styrene pin joint is small and rigid. UPDATE MARCH 2022: This joint didn’t hold up in service on longer trains. Tangent sent me a new couple box after exchanging emails and explaining the issue. I’ll paint, install, and see if it holds.

One of the preinstalled air hoses took at beating in the derailment so before painting with some rust and light grey on the “metal” parts, I installed some Hi-Tech HO Scale AAR Air Hoses 22″, part #6038. After drilling a #76 hole in the end sill I used canopy glue to secure the hose from behind to the sill. It took some careful trimming to remove the valve from the diagonal support that came with the kit. I secured the support to the body with styrene cement and CA. The joint with the rubber hose was secured with canopy glue. I use Formula 560 Canopy Glue from Zap as recommended by others. It’s durability will depend on me limiting derailments.

Next I weathered the body with a combination of thinned NATO Black overspray, Pan Pastels, and artist pastels. The very light overspray of Vallejo NATO Black lightens the basic black body color and dulls the stark white lettering to represent nine years in service behind steam engines and near steel mills. The interior gets attention with Pan Pastels, especially rust and brown tones. I also have a set of artist pastels and a very stiff, wide brush I use to add lighter colors. I will repeat this after DullCote overspray to make sure the car has an appropriate “in-service for a decade” look.

Final touches include creating some stencil updates to the reweigh and repack information with black decal patches and 1950 dates and B&O locations. I added a few chalk marks from Speedwitch Media’s Decal 135 – Freight Car Chalk Marks. I want these to appear less weathered as if they were written within the last year.

Finally I overspray with Testors dullcote and add some scrap donnage and other things found in gondolas constantly in service.

In addition to the B&O cars, I purchased a Lehigh Valley gondola with similar features. The LV car was a treated similarly to the others and I got to weather the wood decking using time honored techniques of gray, tan, and black washes. This car does not have Duryea underframe. For the body, the lighter red color allowed me to use some Tamiya 87131 Panel Line Accent Color – Black to weather the seams, structural members, and to highlight the details. I enjoyed using the accent color using the pin wash technique and will write further about it in a future blog.

A couple of nights worth of work and these cars are ready for service. Nice models at a fair price.

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