Redball/Mantua Franken-Reefer Kitbash
Hello everyone! I've been lurking on Big Blue for a while as I've gotten back into modeling, and I would like to share my current project in HO.

At a trainshow today I found a pair of Redball cardboard carsides printed for the Michigan Alkali Company, and purchased them out of curiosity thinking that I might be able to do something with them eventually. A plan began to develop when arrived home and rediscovered a bag of Mantua reefer parts in the junk box that I had previously purchased (and forgotten about). Both are 40' wood reefers, and between the two of them I have the better part of a car, so I figured I would attempt to make something out of a couple bits of almost-somethings.
Here is what I have to work with:
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The cardboard sides are going to need bracing and support that the metal car's missing sides never needed, so the first order of business is to construct a a carbody to support and hold everything together. Using the underframe as a guide, I trimmed out the length and width of the car from 1/4" Basswood sheet to form the floor of the carbody. A test-fit revealed I was about 1/8"over-zealous with the razor saw, but a stripwood shim brought everything back into alignment. I then drilled holes in the carbody floor in-line with the bolsters on the underframe.

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At first I thought couplers might present a problem. The original coupler boxes are missing from the bag o' parts, but cutting the underframe down to make room for Kadee boxes would make aligning the car ends a more finicky process. Through some trial and error I found that a Kadee No. 213 box is just about the right size and shape to fit, and with some MDC trucks from the truck bin this car will at least roll right.

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With this project now looking quite feasible, I cleaned the metal reefer parts to prep them for some painting touch ups. I elected to keep the oxide red as it's plausible and I wasn't able to find any prototype information on Michigan Alkali's cars other than some lettering specifications. With that drying I turned my attention to bracing for the carsides, which I cut to length from 1/2" square stock and glued to the floor of the carbody and clamped to ensure a square and snug fit.

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Howdy. Nordk. I am sure we are all glad you have started a thread and spoke up. I will follow along here.  These older kits fascinate me, some I built so long ago I can barely remember them. 
Welcome to Big Blue
This is looking very interesting. I cannot wait and see what comes next.
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Nice to see you participating nordk.
I have some photos of S.F.R.D. and D.I.C.X. reefers for dry ice service, but nothing for M.A.X. That's not to say that Michigan Alkali didn't have such cars, simply that none are shown in the four volumes that I have, regarding reefers.

Those parts look like they'll build into a nice-looking car, so I'll be following your progress, too.


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