Ulrich-- Gondola Build

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Ol' School
An Ulrich 52' 6" Composite Gondola Build.
Not a whole lot to this kit, (compared to an Ambroid or Ye O Huff & Puff kit,) but I'm going to do a bit of a kit bash on this one.......
All the parts bags are sealed... kind of lucky for a kit this old.

Here's the parts out of the bags. I've done some flash clean up on the side panels open frame work. It was pretty bad, took me about an hour to clean both side pieces, and I'm still not done, I've got some other files coming to get the small angles in the frame work.
The two screws in the below pic are supposed to be used for attaching the coupler boxes, and the modeler is to furnish #2 x 3/8 wood screws for attaching the trucks. The problem with the coupler box screws, is that you have to drill out the center post in the coupler box for the screws to fit. Well, that's not going to happen!
I'll use 1-72 screws for the coupler boxes and 2-56's for the trucks.
I drilled out the mounting holes in the bottom piece, oversized, filled them with a two part epoxy, and now I'll use a bottoming tap to form the appropriate threads. (four dots in floor piece)

For ease of painting and adding decals, I'm going to replace the wood for the center sill and cross bearers with styrene. Had to order the styrene.
The triangular piece of wood with the styrene is an experiment too see how well they glue up together. A few strokes of the edge of the styrene on the fine side of a nail file, with the slightest amount of Elmers white Glue-All. After drying, seems like a good strong bond.
What's your experience bonding wood to styrene?


Ol' School
I did some more work on the side panels, what ever it is that the factory boys used for that black primer/(finish?) is stubborn! I used a new small wire brush with brass bristles, and scrubbed the day lights out of the side panels, then a hot water & dish soap bath. I wanted what ever was on there to come off, if it was going to come off. Here's what they look like..... (the shiny spots on top of the angle braces are reflections, not bare metal) Actually, they looked like this before I scrubbed them....

That finish is tenacious! But, after looking at it, I'm going to keep it, I like it! It's already partially weathered!

Doing some work on the pressed metal end pieces, I used another wire brush and went over both sides of the end panels to cut the shine and give the surface some tooth for paint. The one on the left has been brushed, not the one on the right. (well, that's a crappy picture)


Ol' School
While I'm still waiting on the styrene, I did a bit more work on the end panels. Your supposed to push the grab irons into the end of the wood floor piece after all the sides have been assembled. Did you notice the size of the holes for the grabs in the pic in the previous post? They are HUGE, even for the "staple" type grabs furnished in the kit, let alone scale grabs from Tichy. I don't want daylight showing thru the grab holes, so the staple grabs I'm good with, I'll solder them in.
Here's the jig I came up with to hold the grabs in place while I soldered the back side of them.

I used my pencil soldering iron to get some solder on the back side of the grabs, and then used the resistance soldering machine to really jack up the heat so the solder would flow relatively well around the grabs and pressed steel panels.
Of course solder doesn't really like pressed steel, but the grabs are holding.......Any body have experience with soldering on material like these pressed steel pieces? Would like to hear.

Got the panels cleaned up, not sure how I got the one grab out of alignment


Sprue-n-Glue Victim
What's your experience bonding wood to styrene?
Personally, I use a medium CA on styrene to wood. I always diamond score the mating surface of the styrene with a #11 blade first. There's not a great shear strength in CA, but, I find it ample for most applications.
I have used Elmers white glue, as well. With that, though, I will still diamond score the plastic mating surface if possible. I don't believe any glue has a great shear strength on clean plastic without it being roughed-up, unless it melts right into the plastic. At the very least, clean plastic should be roughed-up with sandpaper before gluing.

A very interesting thread, bye-the-way!


Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
JERRY -- What kind of solder are you using? I have found that soldering paste works the best for dissimilar metals.


Well-Known Member
It is great to see an old kit like this being built up. Careful though, people will now be wanting them after seeing this, there will be no more deals on ebay;)
I use a thick C/A for bonding different materials, and as mentioned rough up the surfaces for some bite. If only you had some "Ambroid" cement :D

Keep up the great work!


Well-Known Member
Of course solder doesn't really like pressed steel, but the grabs are holding.......Any body have experience with soldering on material like these pressed steel pieces? Would like to hear.
Steel is extremely difficult if not impossible to solder to with rosin based flux. Especially "high alloy" , which is probably in the grabs (spring steel ) . Usually people that have "soldered" later find out that they've only bonded with the flux .

You could try an acid flux , just get rid of the iron tip, if you use one . I would try using a mini torch lighter (windproof) rather than iron to get enough heat.


Well-Known Member
You can get acid core solder at Home Depot or Lowes. Non Acid flux are generally used for electronics electrical , plumbing (copper ) type work . Acid core flux is used for metal work . You may have to rinse or neutralize the the joint after to prevent corrosion .

Tin / Lead ( Sn/Pb) solders have lower melting points than straight Tin (Sn) and are easier to work with. Straight tin (Sn) would have a stronger joint.

Most of the metal cars that I have seen (Athearn and Varney) use the grab irons to hold the ends on to the wood floor , usually the ends are put on and the grabs pressed into the wood. Soldering it may not be necessary . If you do solder it , be careful about having much solder on the back side .

If I were going to do it , I think I would heat one side of the metal with a torch/lighter , remove the flame and apply the solder to the backside . you don't want to soot up the area your working with.

BTW : I use the reflow solder paste Sherrel mentioned for building turnounts and soldering brass , Its much easier to use than trying to hold a roll and the rail and a torch all at the same time.


Ol' School
Styrene pieces made it in. I had mentioned above about experimenting with Elmer's glue bonding styrene/wood, and CA. The CA is much more effective, so I'll be using that for the styrene/wood bonding in this build.
I cut & glued the center sill on the floor panel. You can see that I have drawn center lines on the panel, even though Ulrich printed the location marks on it. Everything you can do to help with centering components is a plus. The other kits I have done, there was no printing what so ever.

The cross bearers, uh oh, there is a bit of a problem. Measure carefully!
Instead of 5/32's tall, what I got is 3/16's tall. Only a 1/32 difference......but, that's not looking too good. That should be flush.

Were the cross bearers abut the side panels, the extra height in not a problem, only on the center sill. So my options are, to go with them like that,
(not,) file the end down, or get the correct styrene. I'll at least file a few pieces down, test fit them, see how they look. (The correct styrene is coming)
Here is the miter box that I used to cut the styrene. I want the ends that abut the center sill to be as square as possible for gluing. I mounted it on a piece of wood for ease of handling.



Ol' School
use the grab irons to hold the ends on to the wood floor
Sort of on this kit. The end panels go into slots on the side panels, and then you are to install the grabs in the end panel into the floor. The kit came with double the grabs for the end, so I've removed the previous soldering the grab irons attempt, cleaned up the end panels, and I'll install the new grabs after the end panels have been installed. This pic is the inside of the panels. The smooth strip at the end of the corrugation is the part that slips into slot in the side panels.

I filed several corners of the over height cross bearers down to see how they looked up against the center sill, mmmm, correct size material is on the way.
Here is the truck bolsters and coupler pockets mounted in place.

The smaller files showed up so I can do a bit more work dressing up the open frame work of the side panels. I thought the files that I had were small, (left side) but look how small these new ones are(right side.) This might seem unnecessary, but that's ok, that's how I like building cars...😉



Ol' School
Some more work done on the gon. sides. Used the new files on the open brace work.

Yes, that is the new small file, tip will fit in there just far enough to file the opening edges square so they have a nice uniform profile to them. The flash was pretty heavy in them. I dropped the ball there and didn't get a pic of the flash. FYI....those fairly new to modeling in general...flash is the excess metal that flows out of the seam of a mold when a part is cast. That's a sign that the mold halves didn't fit together very well

Started to do some filing, and the tip of the file kept hanging up...well what th....? Under the optimizer, I could see that the tip had a slight hook to it.
Looking at all the files that had pointed tips, they all had that hook. I'm guessing something that has to do with were the file was attached to the sprue, and when it was broke off, it left this little hook, essentially leaving the files useless. I guess ya get what ya pay for, huuuh? o_O

Alright, got the file tips dressed up, took care of the small frame-work openings. One thing though, be careful when using these files, it wouldn't take much to break the tip off, which is exactly why I bought these things.
Here's the top & bottom edges filed up.....
There's that groove I was mentioning, lower rt., were the end panel fits in.



Ol' School
I wanted to show you this real quick, the handle/holder for the new file set. The other end of the handle has storage. I won't keep the files in there though, every time they rattle around, it takes some of the edge off the files. The real bonus though, is the collet. It will except a drill bit from a #51 (.067 inches,) to a # 40 (.098 inches.) .....You'll have to convert to fractions....... which is far bigger than any pin vise I have.

I got these 5" brass bar clamps (made in Japan no less,) with the files. I wanted a way to hold the assembled pieces together, so the clamps!

Pins hold the side panels to the floor panel.
I'm not so sure that I want those pin heads showing, they are huge! Ok, maybe not huge,...big!......
A close up of the clamp & pin hole.... (clamps fits nicely)

I'll have to look at alternatives for attaching the sides to the floor panel, I don't think I'm going to like those pin heads showing......


Well-Known Member
Jerry - You have some fine modeling tools there. I have owned one of those same saws for about 10 years now and have never changed out the blade. Although I don't have a miter box for it.
The gondola is looking great and will be a fine addition when done. My hat is off to you for taking on one of these older craftsman kits. They are a lot of fun.
Perhaps some fine wire for attaching the floor?
Back when my eyes were better I used sewing pins for bolts by filing the head flat and shaping a square then taking the corners down to give it the eight sides. Not for the rivet counters with hubble optivisors , but looked great on the finished project.

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