MODELING: A Beauty from Jim Zwernemann

Each year Jim Zwernemann tries to build a new model to take to the O Scale March Meet in Chicago. This year is no exception.  He has created a truly unique freight car with some novel techniques.  As always Jim uses styrene to build the model.  The prototype was owned by Anheuser-Busch and carried the markings of St. Louis Refrigerator Car Company (SLRX). The company was a wholely owned subsidiary of the brewery.  Its function was to haul bottled beer from the company’s brewery to distributors around the country. The car was bunkerless meaning it didn’t have ice hatches and bunkers for ice.  The beer was kept cool by spreading crushed ice on top of the beer cases.  The cars had a drain system in the floor to void the melted ice.  The cars were built by and maintained the SLRX.

The car had truss rods and steel centersills.  Later cars had steel underframes without the truss rods.   Jim used a single photograph, ORER dimensions and a drawing of a similar car to build the car.  He has a proven skill for developing credible models with minimal data.   Many of us procrastinate building a model because we are lacking data or a part of something.  I am the worst at creating barriers from doing or finishing projects.

The base color is Tamiya white primer that comes in a rattle can.  The finish was applied in a series of thin coats.  Jim bought a set of Tichy decals for the project.   He found out in a test of the decal that they do not conform to an irregular surface.  He tried many different decal solvents but no luck.  The late Ron Sebastian had told Jim to use Tamiya extra strength solvent.  It didn’t work the way he thought it should. Jim called Tichy only to find out that their decals are not suitable for application irregular surfaces such as wood siding or riveted surfaces.   Well that is a big problem when you build the car and don’t have the lettering to finish.  The solution turned out to be simple. A neighbor scanned the decal sheet and printed a new decal using a laser printer on thin decal film.   Well the finished decal application is fantastic.  Several companies do offer custom decals using laser printers.  Keep in mind that the artwork is the intellectual property of the original producer.  Private use is ok as in Jim’s case.

The roof on this model is unique in way Jim constructed the surface using the foil from the tops of wine bottles.  It is a soft metal that was flatened out and formed over the roof edge.  Jim wanted to add nail head impressions on the roof edge.  This detail is often overlooked in models.

Jim used a combination of Model Masters acrylic paint and a Vallejo wash for weathering.  His technique the same as Lee Turner uses for subtle filtering on light colored surfaced.  The product used is Vallejo Dark Brown Wash (76.514).  It is a better color to apply over light colors like white and yellow.  The wash creates a subtle shading to the individual boards and hardware.

I want to thank Jim Zwernemann for sharing his latest project.


7 thoughts on “MODELING: A Beauty from Jim Zwernemann

  1. A use for all that zinc foil from wine bottle! Brilliant! And the nails along the sides and the roof edge. Also brilliant!

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