Allen Keller Builds Circus Flatcars

With spring approaching, the management of the Keljan Circus realized they needed more flatcars to get ready for the new season of performances. In winter quarters the circus crew had built several new wagons, but didn’t find a place for them on the existing flatcars.

The engineering crew decided to make the new Mt. Vernon style cars themselves using leftover pieces from an old kit. New sides were made from styrene with appropriate styrene angle side strengtheners. The top and bottom webs are 2×6 styrene strips. The new sides followed an old template from a retired car. The crew decided that this car did not need a lot of super-details to make it useable; after all this is a low-budget circus!



As you can see I added a hand brake, some grab irons, and stirrup steps. Just enough detail to make the car presentable.

The Underframe

The underframe was kept simple. It would not be seen because of the deep sides, so details were kept to a minimum. Extra weight was forced into the center sill and stuck in place with white glue. Everything was painted black.


Then another view shows the ends with placement of the bolster for the new trucks and space left on the end for the coupler pocket.


Admittedly the finish is a little distracting, but not to worry.


A little gray and tan chalk solves the problem!


Here’s a shot that shows this more clearly. There is just enough detail to show that the underframe is not blank. Most of the emphasis on this car will be the wagons anyway so this is one of those places that you do not have to super-detail. If you were building a contest quality model you would of course super-detail the underframe.

The Deck


The upper deck is scribed wood to represent individual planks. Along the edges are wooden rails that will support the wheels of the wagons. These rails were attached with white glue.

Painting the Car Sides


The sides were air brushed silver. Then decals were added and finally Solvaset was applied to make the decals snuggle down and attach to the sides of the car.


After the decals had dried, the sides were sprayed with Dull Cote flat finish. This seals the decals to the sides and protects them from wear and tear.

Adding the Sides


The sides were glued to the underframe with contact cement and allowed to dry. Then the end sills were glued on with the same cement.


The Finishing Touches


Now it was time to add the trucks with screws. Notice they’ve been weathered with the same gray and tan chalk.


After the trucks I added the coupler boxes on each end with screws and the car is ready to ply the rails.

The Flatcars at Work


The circus now has more capacity to hold the added wagons that were built over the winter months. And now at last the cars gets to work on the railroad.

Here are some closer shots.



And so with very little additional expense I’ve got two new flatcars for the Keljan Circus.

  • (will not be published)

No Comments