In the past, I've talked about some loose-knit email groups that I belong to and some of the things we have discussed. One group of guys have a particular interest in older style freight cars... wooden cars from the early 1900s up until about the time of the Great Depression when steel cars began to rule the rails. Well, this group was the basis for my interest in Van Dorn car ends.
Van Dorn produced some experimental stuff that was used in early car construction. One of those items was a stamped metal freight car end that was made up of concentric circles for ribbing/strength. They were among the first metal car ends used to replace wooden ones but for whatever reason, the design never really caught on. Some Pennsy cars, Illinois Central cars and Southern Pacific cars are the only ones I've ever seen with the unique Van Dorn ends. Here's a picture of a model of one...
I began my model by first looking for something with concentric circles on it. I tried food containers, rubber cane tips and even experimented with small O rings but nothing looked right. So I enlisted the help of a family member who is a machinist by trade. He was able to cut me four pieces from aluminum that were based on the measurements I gave him. Without his help, the project would have been over right then and there.
Once he gave me the pieces, I was in business. I took an Accurail double-sheathed wooden boxcar and cut away the ends. I then smoothed the cuts with a file and stood the car on end on a piece of glass so that the roof walk supports on the end wouldn't touch. I placed the aluminum blank in place and cemented two pieces of square plastic stock on the inside of the car to hold the blank flush with the end. Note that I didn't glue the end itself just yet.
After the glue dried, I looked at the arrangement I had and realized that at least a portion of the rings protruded beyond the end of the side of the car, so I added a thin strip of stock to each plastic strip on the car's ends. This caused the aluminum blank to stick out about 1/16"; just about right. I filed the edges of the blank to round them off a bit to make for a better looking end product then using some CA, glued them into place and let them dry.
From here on out, it was easy to finish by adding the ladders, some wire for grab irons and a brake wheel & staff to complete the model. The rest of the kit was assembled according to the Accurail Instructions.
I'll need to add some decals and a finish coat to cover & protect them then the car will be ready for my railroad.
Like the Vulcan ends that I presented a few months ago, this will certainly be a unique piece of rolling stock to add to my layout. No, it isn't quite in my era but some cars seem to somehow survive long past their normal life span. I guess one of those cars will be on my layout.