A long time ago, someone sent me a photo of a Wheeling & Lake Erie freight car with this unusual vertical ribbed end. It's called a Vulcan end. At the time, my friend Gary Straub & I decided that this wouldn't be all that hard to duplicate using a piece of Evergreen ribbed styrene. I believe the original had eight ribs; the siding I bought for the car had the same number in the same width so it should be easy.
The original car is an old Train Miniature product. TMI was a very innovative company who might have been slightly ahead of their time in terms of freight car production. As far as I know, they were the first company to use interchangeable mold pieces to make cars with different sides, roofs, ends and doors. But things didn't go well for them and the line was eventually bought by Walthers.
It was fairly simple to use an Xacto chisel blade and remove most of the end of the car details. From there, a sanding block removed the rest and I was left with a very smooth car end. Next, I cut the ribbed siding to the proper width then made two blanks for the ends. The car's roof has a bit of a peak to it so the blanks were trimmed to fit. I put them in place and marked the bottom with a pencil and cut them off. It took a wee bit of filing to get them the same length but that was simple enough. I glued the pieces in place using plenty of solvent type plastic cement, clamped the ends securely and let them set overnight to cure.
It didn't take much work after that with a file to get the ends perfectly flush with the bottom of the car. The only thing remaining on the new car end piece was the taper at the end of each rib. The bottom was easy enough to sand by simply holding the car at a shallow angle and sanding on my trusty sanding block. The tops I had to do by hand and they took a little longer and were a bit more tedious. If I had it to do all over again, I would have sanded those tapers before attaching the new ends to the car. Live and learn.
From the proverbial scrap box, I found some ladder stock and added end ladders as needed. I didn't have any grab irons so cheated a bit by cutting off a small section of ladder stock and using that for the two grabs on each end of the car. The scrap box also produced an old brake wheel and I had plenty of wire laying around to form the brake shaft from then glued them into place using a drop of CA cement. The platform was another scrap of plastic from the scrap box and the modifications were complete. The original car had tack boards on the ends; I don't know if I'll add them or not at a later time.
The only other change I made to the car was to remove the claws on the bottoms of the doors. They were pretty big since the doors actually opened and closed. Besides, they drove my friend Ray nuts! Can't have Ray in a bad mood, so off they went. A couple of coats of paint and the car is now ready for decals then will join my freight car fleet. It will certainly be different than the others on my layout; as far as I know, no one makes a commercial kit with this kind of car end.
Gary passed away several years ago and obviously never got to see the finished car. But each time I see that car, I'll think of him. Gary was a great guy and is missed by all of us.