The Akron, Canton & Youngstown railroad ran through northern Ohio from its namesake cities over nearly to the state line. It was one of the first railroads that really attracted my attention since it ran across the northern edge of Bluffton where I went to college. So when one of the members of the pirate's crew shared this photo, I decided that it needed to be modeled. Besides, I had some older 36 foot boxcars sitting around that were just begging for some attention.
The first thing that I needed to to was to "square up" the image so that it was easier to see. I have some computer that allows this to be donw rather quickly. It makes it a whole lot easier to read the car lettering from the original photo. The photo that I worked with was much larger than this one so the lettering was pretty easy to duplicate.
My software of choice for creating decals is my trusty Paint Shop Pro so I opened that and an outline image of the 36 foot boxcar that I planned to apply the decals to. The lettering looked a lot like that old stand-by font Arial so that was my starting point. Everything seemed to fit pretty well but I did have to modify the ampersand a little to make it look more like the one in the photo.
The next step was to circulate the tentative artwork to the crew and get their input on the things that I couldn't quite read from the photo. Here's where knowing what kind of info would be located on the car really helped. A couple of the guys offered some minor corrections that were made then the artwork was ready for printing. I fired up the old ALPS and ran off a couple of sets. I do this on almost all of the decals I print because it seems like no matter how careful I am, one of the elements of the set gets messed up and I'll need those spares. If I don't have any disasters, I can give the extra set to someone who would appreciate it.
The 36 foot boscar looked pretty good right out of the box but there were two horizontal bands on the door that I wanted to add. So I grabbed a piece of scribed styrene and made a couple of doors. Next, I applied the bands using some very small strip styrene and glued the doors into place. After the decals were printed, I applied them to the modified car and here are the results...
The rest of the assembly was per manufacturer's instructions and went very quickly. I do need to add the brake wheel and the car will be complete. Technically, this car is probably too old for my modeling era but it IS my railroad. :) So I can simply say that the car is at the end of its service life but still has a few miles in it. Most cars were retired by law at the age of fifty; this one would certainly be close.
So when you grab an old photo, take a good hard look at it and see if there are some minor details that you can easily incorporate into a model that you plan to build. It may be a door with certain bands like this one or a sign, a window or some other feature that would be easy for you to add. When you do, you will have a more unique model and one that is certainly closer to the railroads that we all like to model.