CPAA 205021 – 60′ Greenville Auto Parts Boxcar

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Trade agreement with another country? Ship those cross-border auto parts with ease, in one of these!


The cars in question were Canadian Pacific’s first group of 60′ auto parts boxcars, built in March 1966 by the Greenville Steel Company, to help facilitate the Canada-US Auto Pact automotive trade agreement. They were originally lettered as CP cars, but later changed to CPAA for “International service”. The first block 205000-205025 were outfitted for auto engine service, and the second block of 205026-205034 for transmission service, both equipped with cushion underframes and large twin plug doors. CP would purchase subsequent 60′ boxcars for auto parts service, but from other American builders such as Thrall, Pullman Standard and ACF. Other additions to the auto parts fleet included both purpose-built 50′ boxcars and repurposed 50′ boxcars as well as larger 86′ hi-cube boxes. The last of the Greenville cars from this group were retired in 2007/2008. It’s hard to pin down which plants they served, but photos showing them at St. Therese would suggest at least some went to/from the GM plant there, that CP switched.

There’s a good selection of prototype photos of this car series on the Canadian Freight Car Gallery, as well as a photo one in its mid-late 70’s appearance in Canadian Rail Car Pictorial Vol. 3 Pt.1 (CP 50’+ boxcars).

Starting Point:

The starting point for the model is the “Greenville 60 Foot Box Car (Double Plug Door)” made by Robin’s Rails Inc, although it is the same tooling as the Con-Cor car. They made both double and single door models, but CP only had double door prototypes. This model old and out of production (released sometime in the 1980’s, a parts package in mine was stamped for July 1985) but not too hard to come by via the usual channels. The detail level isn’t up to par with modern models – the door detail is a bit flat, the rivets are a bit on the heavy side as are the ladder parts, and there was apparently a measurement error that resulted in them being tooled a bit shorter than they should be (half a foot-ish). The also underframe reflects prototype cars built with the 42″ truck bolster spacing, rather than the 46″ spacing CP’s cars were built with.

But despite those flaws, it’s really the only starting point for this particular prototype. Purchased by about a dozen railroads, these were the earlier Greenville 60′ cars built starting in the mid-60’s that cubed out around 6000 cuft, not to be confused with other offerings from them such as their later 7100 cuft cars of the 70’s, and the very large 86′ hi-cubes. There are a couple of pros with the car that make upgrading it easier. Not too much can be done about the minor height issue or all the rivets, but the underframe rails are separate from the underframe floor, making it a matter of a few cuts to rearrange the frame part to modify the bolster spacing. And, all the ladder and brake detail on the body are separately applied parts, making it easy to chuck them for finer or more detailed replacements.

It Begins: Body Modifications

As always, start off by stripping the existing paint off the body (I got a case of the lazy at the time, and elected to just sand most of the lettering off with 800 grit sandpaper and merely paint over it – it was a brown GTW car and was going to be brown anyway – but for most decorated cars stripping is the way to go).

The sills of the car were extended about 3.25 scale inches to reflect the longer truck bolster spacing. 0.020″ sheet styrene was cut to the proper parallelogram shape, re-enforced flush with some extra 0.020″ styrene from the rear, patched and sanded smooth to match the rest of the body.

The old ladders were too much on the chunky side, and chucked back in the box. Working from photos, Tichy ladders (from part #3033) were cut up into new 4-rug ladders for 6 of the corners. The two full-height B-end corner ladders near the brakewheel were made by splicing ladder bits into longer 8-rug ladders (the Tichy ladders are only 7-rungs), by drilling two small holes in them and using thin wire to fasten sections together. Note that if you’re doing a car with roofwalk intact, you’ll want two full height ladders on the opposite A-end corner as well. Holes were then marked and drilled on the body sides corresponding with the mounting pins on the backs of the ladders, and they were glued on the body (or one can just cut off the ladder pins and glue them right on).

New Tichy ladders, end platforms, tack boards, and sill extensions to match the new longer wheelbase.

The stirrup steps that come with the kit are rather fine Detail Associates parts so they were used. Holes were drilled into the sill from the bottom and they were glued on with CA. At the same time, holes were drilled next to them and a U-ring (for any cable pulling, bent from 0.015″ wire) was installed near each stirrup.

I’m modeling a car without the roofwalk, so it was left off the kit (it too was on the chunky side). Instead, holes were drilled and two small Detail Associates NBW (nut-bolt-washer) parts were installed at the tops of the ends where the bracing was torched off, and a rooftop B-end grab by the tall ladders was scratchbuilt from bits of styrene and 0.015″ wire. I also nipped the corners of the top skinny rib at each end, as this one didn’t go to the edges of the car on the prototype.

CP left the brake rigging on the B-end mounted high (but at some point at least on one car had it relocated to the low position. It was scratchbuilt using a Kadee modern brakewheel, brake housing from a Proto 2000 gondola kit, small length of chain and 0.015″ wire. Styrene bits were used at the top of the housing to fill the mounting gap. The small brakewheel walkway was made from etched grating leftover from a Kadee kit, with flat staples bent into shape for the supports.

Extra end bits: ladders, stirrups, end platforms, end grab, NBW castings for roofwalk supports, new brake wheel, platform, top B-end grab, and some styrene bits on the lower ends.

A small short grab was bent from wire and added between the 4th and 5th ribs on each end (slightly offset on the B-end), and Intermountain tack boards were added to the ends as well as the doors, going by prototype photos. To finish off the body detailing, end platforms were added to the body just above the couplers by using some leftover roofwalk grating from the parts box, and small bits of styrene were added to the ends below to simulate the area around the cushioned underframe.

At “Shop Desk Yard” with some other specimens in for work.

Underframe Mods:

The underframe needs to be modified to get the longer truck bolster spacing CP’s cars had. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of this process, but with the frame part of the underframe separate from the floor:

On each, make a cut on the inside of the bolster mount right where it and the long section of the frame join. You should have two T-shaped bits with the bolster mount and coupler mount attached, as well as the long piece of the frame that goes between them (put this piece aside).

On both the T-shaped bits, measure along the frame 2.5 scale feet from the edge of the bolster, and make a cut. This should give you two sets of smaller T-shaped pieces (with the bolster mounts), and two pieces of frame with the end coupler pockets.

Now, (don’t glue anything down until the following modification to the floor!) reassemble the frame onto the floor, but just flip the T-pieces 180 degrees so the bolster mounts are closer to the ends of the car (remember to file and trim all splices to all the pieces join flush and straight with each other) and you’ll have the longer 46’3″ bolster spacing. Drill and tap for long 2-56 screws.

(Note: the Atlas ACF 60′ auto parts boxcar has about the same spacing, so one could aquire and modify an underframe from one of those to fit as an alternative. You’ll need to chop the ends down a touch as the Atlas underframe is longer on the ends).

TL:DR? Here’s the completed, modified underframe. Basically you just need to cut and flip 180 degrees the section between the two compass tips, into the orientation shown here. Also shown is the coupler box screw mod, and the messy underframe Dremel job (see below)

You may want to modify the end pieces of the frame that have the coupler mounts on them, as normally the couplers will need to be added before you glue those outer frame pieces to the floor. What I did was glue blocks of styrene between the frame rails right after the coupler mounts, drilled and tapped them and the floor for 2-56 screws, thereby making the frame ends removable for adding/changing couplers. You could also just upgrade this part with better detailed cushioned draft gear from Moloco. Kadee #58’s were mounted in the stock coupler boxes, which aren’t the most detailed but functional.

The stock Athearn trucks were chucked for a set of Proto 2000 36″ trucks, with a Kadee grey washer on the bolster to level them up a bit. Relevant prototype note time: CP’s Greenville cars were rated as 263,000 lb (263k) cars and had 100-ton trucks (With 36″ wheels), other roads may have had identical cars with the same specs and trucks, or rated 220k with 70-ton trucks (and 33″ wheels) instead. Handy cheat: to work this out, simply add the Load Limit and Light Weight data values on the car below the roadnumber.

One important underframe mod that was required due to upgrading to prototypical 36″ wheels: equipping the model with said 36″ wheels brought the car to a proper looking ride height, but caused the wheel flanges to rub against beams cast into the underframe floor. One could just add a few more washers, but that would bring the ride height too high. The solution was to get a Dremel with a cutting wheel and grind off those frame members, and make small indentations in the floor to avoid any flange rubbing  (see that underframe photo posted above). Be careful not to go too deep as you may grind through the floor (a la that white bit of styrene).

Mounting the P2K 36″ wheels and trucks, and the piping added near the ends. One small modification I like to do to cars that might rock or wobble too much is add a small bit of spring from a pen on the inside of one screw, so that when it’s screwed in (not all the way) the spring dampens any body wobbling, while still allowing the truck to turn and rock freely. A spring on one truck is all that’s needed; the other truck can be left to rock unsprung.

Other underframe mods include adding trainline piping along opposite sides at the A- and B-ends by the trucks. This was fabricated from more 0.015″ wire. The stock underframe details aren’t the best and could benefit from better detailed parts if one so chooses to upgrade them with added brake rigging. And of course, don’t forget to add weight. The stock weight is a bit light, so one may want to add a few peel and stick weights to bring the car up to NMRA specs.

Paint Shoppe:

This order of cars from Greenville (GS) and CP’s first order of 205500-series 60′ Pullman Standard (PS) auto parts boxcars were the only two groups with large “Canadian Pacific” script lettering, underneath it “International of Maine division”. Apparently (at least on the PS cars) the scheme weathered poorly so cars often had ratty lettering painted over. I’d assume the same for the GS cars, but looking at a photo of a patched one in the mid-late 1970’s the base paint was still in relatively good shape. Perhaps it was just a general order by CP for all PS and GS cars with the large lettering to have it patched because of this, even if the GS paint job was more durable (many photos of the GS cars in the 90’s and early 2000’s show them still in their original albeit ratty and tagged paint, while photos of many of the PS cars show them having been repainted into different CP variations). It’s notable that two GS cars, CPAA 205002 and 205003, did get repainted in the late 90’s into the newly introduced CPR livery with the new beaver logos.

At any rate, I decided to do a mid-70’s patched car, so the paint would have been in decent shape and the patch job relatively fresh. One can apply the large CP script if one wants to model a relatively new car (I’m sure a few unpatched cars managed to evade patching, as some PS cars did) or if one wants to fade it in from under a patch (for ratty cars later in life).

After cleaning the body, it was sprayed with a primer coat and ready for painting. The era I model would have had any patches still fresh with no lettering visible underneath, so forgoing the script decals is easiest here (if one was to do a fade-through on a ratty car, apply the lettering after the body colour but before the patches, and lightly sand the patched area with 800-1200 grit sandpaper to expose the lettering under it). Since there were no decals to apply to patch over, I did the reverse since it was easier: I painted the whole car the “patch colour”, and then covered over the patch areas with painter’s tape, like so:


Then I tweaked the boxcar brown paint mix I was using to be a slightly lighter more yellow colour (to simulate faded roughly 10-year old paint), and then sprayed the body colour over the entire car.


Now, when you remove the masks over the patched lettering, you’ll have two freshly painted areas visible on a slightly faded car.

Look carefully, it’s there.

The roof was then masked off and sprayed silver.

After all the patching was sorted out*** (see addendum below), I reapplied the masking over the patched areas again and applied a few layers of a black wash by airbrush, focusing on the roof, rivet lines on the sides, and the lower area of the car to give it a slightly used but not abused or filthy look. Now when you remove the masks over the patched lettering, you’ll have two freshly painted areas on a slightly faded and car (I sprayed the patched areas with a light coat of black wash as well).

Picking the right colour can be a headache, as often a colour from the jar is good for a new car, but not one that’s either faded or seen some service. For the body colour used, I used a custom mix of brown made starting from Model Master rust, MM black, with some MM International orange and some TLT CP/SOO red. For the patched areas I used a similar mix, but a bit more red & black added to slightly shift the colour. The roof was sprayed with a mix of Tamiya aluminum silver, with some grey and flat white added to the mix. The black wash was a drop of Model Master semi-gloss black in about half an airbrush cup of water (one can vary this for greater or letter effect, or apply more layers). Once all the painting was done, the car was clear coated in preparation for decalling.

***Painting addendum time:

There were a few minor issues with the primer coat I applied sticking to the smooth body properly (it wasn’t a primer per se, but Model Master Rust, as it covered the base paint fine and the final coats were going to be brown anyway), so when I was applying some of the CDS decals the painting tape I used to help keep the decal paper on ended up pulling up some of the paint, and as this was an older CDS set the decal paper stuck to and pulled up a few bits of paint as well! Also, while masking the patchout at varous stages the same thing happened with the painter’s tape. Patchy model = conundrum time. Rather than strip the whole thing to re-detail and re-paint, I painstakingly repaired the small areas of paint that were pulled out by the tape, and took more caution. Normally this isn’t a problem with a good purpose-made primer like Tamiya Fine Surface Primer (bulletproof as a primer coat on plastic and resin), or even most acrylic paints I’ve used as primer in the past such as TLT and Pollyscale greys, but for some reason the MM coat wasn’t up to snuff.

The repair process I used was basically removing any loose flaking and sanding the edges of the “paint hole” with 800 grit sandpaper, then cleaned the area of any sanded residue, and sprayed a good coat of the brown body colour in the general area of the paint hole. After it dried, I sanded more to blend the edges in, cleaned the surface and sprayed again. Once happy, I gave the area a light black wash to match the rest of the car and shot on clear in preparation for decalling. Time consuming, but it saved stripping the car and starting back at square one. Ironically enough, when applying CDS decals again over these patched areas they were fine and never pulled up with the decal paper or tape – perhaps sanding the smooth body helped paint adhesion.


With the painting sorted out, it was time to break out CDS set 498 (CP 60′ Auto parts boxcar) which provided the reporting marks, numbers, capacity data, and some door lettering. The dimensional data and some other door lettering came from Microscale 87-2 (Data, gothic) set. The dimensional data block on both my CDS sets weren’t usable – some of the smaller lettering was missing or had flaked off the dry transfer sheet, a common problem with some of the smaller lettering bits on CDS sets.

CP typically had rather spartan lettering on most of their leased and American-built cars. This car a good example and there’s nothing really fancy here, although lettering fonts tended to vary depending on the builder.

Additional bits were AEI tags from an old Rapido sheet, and the “206” block lettering which came from a custom set (but could probably be put together numbers from with a generic decal set). The seemingly random codes such as that were door or spotting location codes, indicating to crews where a particular car should be spotted at a plant or warehouse. On more recent shots of these cars you’re likely to see a number of them that have been patched over and resprayed in different spots on the car, as assignments or locations changed. Also, one would often find a white square with assignment or return to/home shop details (e.g. Return to GM Oshawa).

Once all the decals are applied, Microsol’ed, dry, and/or rubbed down, spray the car the clear coat of choice to seal, and apply more weathering if desired. Now’s a good time to add any extra fragile bits such as air lines and cut levers to the ends (I still need to get some for this one).

Foto Time:


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Ready to ship some new engines to auto plants for installation in that 60’s boat, 70’s rustbucket, 80’s jalopy or 90’s winter beater.


About mrdan8530

The power of a thousand monkeys on typewriters is all for naught without the knowledge to pen.
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