Building the FR Gunderson Husky-Stack Car
In the first part of 2001, Freudenreich Feinwerktechnik (FR) released the Gunderson Husky-Stack container car, the first commercially-available Z-scale modern-era American freight car. It's 68 scale feet long, with a 48 scale foot-long well, designed to accommodate Marklin containers - it's a great match for the American Z Lines C44-9W. Made from photo-etched nickel-silver, this beautiful model is both strong and delicate. It's available fully built and detailed by Harald himself, or in kit form.
The following instructions are from my experience building my FR Gunderson Husky-Stack kits.
In this article:
Feel free to write me if you have any additions or corrections to this page. Click on any photo to see more detail.
Before You Begin
Here are a few general getting-started tips for building photo-etched nickel-silver, stainless-steel, and brass kits:
Fortunately, I've come up with an easy and safe way to do it!
Obtain a length of 0.10" x 0.10" L-shaped brass channel from your local hobby shop, and glue it to a scrap piece of wood (hot-melt glue works very well here).
Folding Tool TipThe Small Shop sells "The Hold and Fold Photoetched Parts Workstation," a tool used to aid in the bending of photo-etched kits like this one. Since this article was written, I have purchased and used one of their "Hold and Fold" tools, and have found it to be absolutely indespensible. If you build more than one photo-etched kit, this tool is a must-have!
Repeat for the opposite side. The etched details (shaped like three trapezoids) should end up on the outside of the car.
Bend the first fold 90o upwards, so that the angled contours are flush against the sides of the car. Bend the second and third folds downwards, both 90o, so that they follow the sides of the car. Bend The fourth fold 90o upwards, and the fifth and final fold 90o downwards.
The photo shows the end of the car folded correctly (see step 7 for details on the tabs).
Before soldering, however, eyeball the chassis from each end, making sure it's straight and true - if it is tweaked, take this opportunity to gently twist the chassis until it has been straightened out.
I've found it easiest to hold the tip of the soldering iron against the outside of the car, while melting the solder on the inside. Soldering is done on the bottom for aesthetic as well as structural reasons.
Lastly, reinforce the lower deck joint with a fillet of solder (see this closeup for details), which should help prevent breakage due to fatigue.
The lower treads, glued in step 12, will not only cover up any solder you put here, but will provide further reinforcement as well.
Now is a good time to make sure once more that the chassis is straight - if it isn't, twist the chassis until the front and rear decks are perfectly aligned. If the chassis is at all tweaked, it won't sit evenly on the tracks, and will derail if you do so much as look at it cross-eyed.
Note that each pin should be centered in the indentation, and should be perpendicular to the deck.
(The the bolster pin in the photo looks off-center, but it's only an illusion.)
Bend the ladders and brake wheel stand as shown in the photo. Next, twist the hand rails on the ladders so that they point outwards when mounted on the chassis. Be very careful not to bend or twist any of the pieces too much; at the same time, make sure the hand rails are all as close to vertical as you can make them.
Here, the tiny piece shown next to the brake wheel stand was accidentally broken off when I tried to bend it down.
Whether or not you break it, though, it must be glued in place between the stand and the wheel (as described in the next step).
Harald recommends reinforcing the tongue with a tiny bit of solder before bending, and then re-melting the solder (with a soldering iron or butane torch) to permanently fix the tongue to the stand.
This works very well!
Next, place the ladders on the outer corners, with the hand rails pointing upwards, putting a tiny bead of CA glue under each of the tabs. Lastly, glue the brake wheel to the stand; the photo shows all the details in place, except for the brake air reservoir.
All that's left are the treads, but since they don't get painted, they'll have to wait.
If you're decorating your cars in the classic TTX livery (see below), use Floquil "Reefer Yellow" (#110031).
As for the other schemes, I can obtain the proper paint colors if anyone asks.
Lower treads: Gently bend up the two steps on each of the lower treads, as shown in the photo. Test fit the piece before gluing, and adjust the steps as needed. Note the tiny tab on the tread and the hole in the chassis to which it mates; you may have to trim the tab if the hole is blocked by the bolster pin. Place a tiny dab of glue on each point of contact, including the edges of the steps, and glue the tread into place.
The ten little tabs bent in step 7 are the only contact points for the upper treads, so make sure they're fairly uniform at this point.
Test fit the piece before gluing; you may have to trim the long tips to get the tread to rest square on the deck.
Put a tiny dab of glue on each tab, and attach the tread.
Use an X-acto knife to cut out each decal, removing as much of the border as you comfortably can. Then, submerge the decal in room-temperature water for a minute or so, until the decal comes loose from the paper backing. Use a pair of tweezers to carefully apply the decal to the chassis, and then soak up the excess water with a piece of toilet paper. If the decal dries before it is positioned correctly, a little bit of water can be used to loosen it.
To protect the decals, I recommend brushing a tiny amount of Microscale Liquid Decal Film over them (just past the edges of the decals).
Once the film dries, you shouldn't be able to notice it.
The Husky-Stack container cars, made by Gunderson, Inc., are available as either stand alone single units (with a set of wheels and coupler on each end) or as three unit sets with solid draw bars and shared wheelsets between the center and end units to accommodate unusually heavy double stack container loads. The additional wheelsets on the Husky Stack cars afford additional capacity and braking ability, allowing heavier loads than with conventional, articulated double stack cars. With it's low center of gravity, it can handle a single 48-foot container, or two stacked containers.
Right now, information on these cars is scarce. There's no specific details on the Gunderson, Inc., site, and finding photos has been difficult. However, the Intermodal Modelerís Guide, both Volume 1 and Volume 2, has lots of detailing info on the Husky-Stack cars.
I've been able to find a few photos of the different paint schemes in which the Husky-Stack has been seen:
I'll post more details on colors when the information becomes available. (Thanks to USA Trains for the photos.) Comments are welcome!
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