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RailRoad Modeling
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Making stakes for Atlas O-scale flatcars
velotrain
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Massachusetts, United States
Joined: December 23, 2010
KitMaker: 384 posts
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Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013 - 10:59 PM UTC
For a current military load project, I wanted to have some stakes to use with the Atlas 50’ flatcar. These are in the Trainman series, so have overly heavy steps and rectangles of plastic to represent the space occupied by the corner grabs. I can’t speak for the hi-rail version, but the 2-rail car comes with Kadee-style couplers and good-quality, very smooth-rolling trucks.

On the plus side, I quickly noticed that there is actually a square hole inside the stake pockets. However, the inside opening is only 1/16” square, and using that size wood stock would mean an extremely wimpy looking stake. A note – I much prefer basswood to balsa for a number of reasons. It isn’t much more expensive, is much sturdier, and has better grain. Perhaps most important for projects such as this, is that it’s much more difficult to remove more wood than you intended when sanding, which can happen in a blink with balsa.

The external dimensions of the stake pocket are 1/8” wide, and 3/32” deep. I mostly used 1/8” square and 1/8” x 3/32” stock, although 1/8” x 1/16” can save you some time - if you don’t mind the shallow depth, which is less of a visual issue than narrow width. Here are some sample stakes.



Working method: Since we want a more robust stock for looks, but need a thin section to actually slip into the pocket opening, we need to remove some wood from around the “pin”. I started out using a flat jeweler’s file, but later decided that a 6” triangular file worked better. The main reason was that it was wide enough to cover the entire width I wanted to remove material from in one pass, which meant a more even surface than with the miniature file. Also, the increased heft meant that the work went faster.

Since the back of the opening is flush with the edge of the deck, you don’t need to remove any material on the back side. If using 1/8” x 1/16” stock, you only need to trim the two sides of the pin section. The pin should be between 1/4” – 3/8” deep (long), and all filed sides should be the same length. Assuming a stock wider than 1/16, I start by filing the front face to achieve the required 1/16” depth. I then use this to trim the sides, using the length from the first cut to guide me. The reason all three sides of the pin should be the same length, is so you don’t see the transition area (stake to pin) when it’s in the pocket. I suggest checking the status frequently, both to gauge how much is left to do and to see if you’re keeping the file level – or, are the edges of the pin parallel with the basswood stick.

The next photo illustrates an important point. You want to do your filing on the full stick of basswood, and only cut each stake to desired length after all work is complete. After successfully test-fitting the stake, I measure and mark the cut point, and then use a razor saw. You could also use a sharp blade. A mini file is appropriate for clean-up work. I sand the sawn end of the stake after removal, as well as the end of the stick so it’s clean for the next stake. It’s hard to tell, but the stick next to the file has only had the front surface of the pin filed down, and I still need to do the sides.



I wanted the stakes to use as an attachment point for loads, although seldom directly. While loads are often secured directly to the flatcar deck, for whatever reason I liked the idea of using the stake pockets. In the old days loads such as logs or pipe were often allowed to simply rest against the stakes, but that’s illegal now, and in fact stakes are rarely seen. This last photo shows the stakes mounted on the car. Atlas uses the same casting for bulkhead flats, and there are four shallow square holes in the deck for this at each end of the car. I’ve built a wooden bulkhead at one end, using these holes. 3/32” stock will fit without any trimming required, but I used 1/8” stock to provide a more robust look. I used an awl to create a dimple, then inserted the point of a mechanical pencil and twisted it a bit – to suggest a generic fastener.

Back when stakes were in common use, any available scrap wood was often used, or even sturdy tree branches, perhaps with one end squared off – so you would be prototypically correct in using miscellaneous material instead of dimensional wood. I’ve used stains of 90% isopropyl alcohol with a few drops of black or brown ink mixed in to lightly weather the wood. Additional coats would make it darker, but I wanted this to represent more-or-less new lumber.



The object in the middle of the car is 1/16” wide, black chart tape, which can be used to represent steel banding; this is available in art-supply stores. Note that it can be a bit fussy to work with, including inadvertent tearing if you put too much pressure on it.
JPTRR
Staff MemberManaging Editor
RAILROAD MODELING
#051
_VISITCOMMUNITY
Tennessee, United States
Joined: December 21, 2002
KitMaker: 7,772 posts
Historicus Forma: 172 posts
Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 09:19 AM UTC
Charles,

I look forward to your updates. Clever use of chart tape. I've used it for masking and boiler bands but never thought about other uses like this.

What will the load be?
velotrain
_VISITCOMMUNITY
Massachusetts, United States
Joined: December 23, 2010
KitMaker: 384 posts
Historicus Forma: 0 posts
Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013 - 07:00 AM UTC

Quoted Text



What will the load be?



Fred - look at the 1:48 #3 Campaign Gallery - here's an overview: