Railbus Body
Nelson Riedel, Nelson@NelsonsLocomotive.com
3/20/2017, last updated

The frame for the body is made of square steel tubes for the main body and aluminum angles and plates for the cab. 

The  Body Frame is welded together.  (File: Body Frame).  The gusset straps in the corners  keep the frame rigid. 

The skeletal frame is covered with plywood sheeting much like was done in house construction in the past.  (File: Sheeting). The red lines on the drawing above show the outline of the plywood. The plywood is attached to the frame using 10-32 flat head screws into tapped holes in the steel tubes.   The hole tapping was quick --- I put the tap in a hand drill on slow speed.  Once the plywood was attached the body was really rigid as required for over 400 lbs of load (heavy lid).

The next step was to apply the  3/4" X 1/4" siding.  I cut the siding from larger pieces of 1/4" thick basswood purchased at a local craft store.  The boards are glued and then tacked at the ends and middle with small brads.   The top and middle nails are covered by a trim stip.  I was careful to not make big dents around the nails at the bottom.  I applied the boards with the frame on the side so the boards were on the top and then put weighs on the boards to hold them in place until the glue dried.  I see I put a 1/4" board on the bottom of the window holes --- can't remember why.   The next step was to install the 3/4" X 1/4" window and door frame boards   These board are cut to a length for a snug fit and glued in place.  The front edge of the trim boards stick out 1/4" from the siding to create the effect of a frame trim.    

This is a repeat of a drawing used in the Frame section.  The drawing is accurate --- I made it early in the process and literally counted boards during the construction.  (File: Overview). The drawing is useful when zoomed in on the pdf file.    One of my early concerns was to not end up with some narrow boards at the ends or at openings that would be difficult to secure.  Note that the window pitch is exactly 7 boards or 5.25" 

I think the windows and doors are the most striking part of the Railbus.  I couldn't find correct size castings for doll houses, etc.  I actually tried several configurations for  the windows and doors before I found this approach that was easy to do and looked good.

This photo shows the inside of a window.    Note the strap that ties the sheeting between the windows to the piece below. I chose  to piece together the sheeting rather than cutting holes in a larger piece--- quicker and more accurate.

The window frames and trim form a lip for the glass (plastic) to rest against.  That is silicone caulk used to secure the window pane.
This shows a window in more detail.  The 3/4" X 1/4" trim pieces stick out from the siding 1/4"   The 3/4" plywood and 1/4" thick siding total 1".  There is a 1/4" wide and 1/2" deep lip behind the trim.

The simulated window or glass frame is made of 3/8" X 1/8" basswood. Can't  remember whether I purchased precut pieces or cut them from larger pieces.  The glass frame pieces are cut to be a snug fit  and glued to the back side of the trim pieces.  

The glass (plastic) panes are then installed in the recess behind frame and secured with silicone caulk.       

The door is made using the same technique  as the windows.  The lower panel is thin (1/8"?) plywood from the model store.  That panel provides the strength to the door.  
The rear door is made using the same techniques as the side door and the windows.   Recall that the upper frame tubes stick out from the back of the body to support the lid (roof over the rear platform).  Except for the outside 1", the top of the siding ends even with the bottom of the upper frame tube. 

Another point, the 1/2" sheeting plywood on the rear fits between the vertical frame tubes. 

The last pieces applied to the body are the black 3/4" X 1/4"  horizontal trim boards at the top and under the windows.   These boards cover the  best unseen joints.


I never made a drawing of the Cab & Nose, this one was constructed from the finished product.  (File: Cab & Nose).    The nose castings are for the RGS Galloping Goose sold by http://www.discoverlivesteam.com/forsale/1_braun/index.htm

I only use the top, front and two side castings.    One could contact "A Hobby Foundry" via link above and see if they will sell only the nose castings.

The bottom of the front and sides were cut down to the dimensions shown on the previous drawing to get a more appropriate profile.  The Goose used a fairly small engine but the castings are in 2.5" scale.     This bus likely used a large truck engine.

The hood was a bit rough but was easy smoothed on the belt sander.  Looks like there is some mud in the vents. 
The hood and sides are attached to the front via screws through flanges.  The mating surfaces are a bit rough but are easily smoothed on the sander.  At this point the alignment at the rear isn't very good.  I attached the the top to the cab first.  I then loosened the screws between the sides and front slightly, then aligned the sides at the back and attached them to the cab.  After the back end was secured I retightened screws at the front.    I  then applied epoxy on the inside of the joints between the sides and top.

This shows the rear end.  I must have attached it to the cab when the paint was still a little wet.    Had to pry the pieces apart.   When attached to the cab the nose-cab unit is very strong and rigid.  I milled out slots in the bottom of the front and installed tabs of 1/4" X 1/8" bar stock (visible in first photo) with the intent of hold the front of the nose with a couple screws through the tabs into the deck.  Turns out that a couple screws from the bottom of the cab into the deck keeps the entire cab-nose assembly in place.

It's very difficult to make a 2- D drawing of the cab frame that is easy to understand.    Unfortunately I didn't take a photo of the bare frame.  If one is really interested in the details they can print the file  (File:Cab Frame)   or use a pdf viewer to zoom in on details.   The frame is built up of aluminum angles and flat stock and angles.  The pieces are held together with #2 machine screws.  The easiest way to describe is to describe how I put it together.  It's sort of like assembling a toy on Christmas eve from instructions translated to English poorly. 

I did the front first as follows: Attach the two angles C to angle A.  Attach flat B to angles C.  Attach angle D to angles C.  Attach angles E to angles  A & D and flat  B.  Note that angle  A is an usual size I found in the scrap box.  A smaller angle such as 1" X 1" can be used and additional  flat strips similar to B to make up the difference on the  front.   Angles E are an unusual size (McMaster).   Square 3/8" bars can be used instead of the angles.  

The sides are next.    Angles H are attached to Flats F & G.  Flats F & G are attached to angle A.  Angles I are attached to angle D.    Flats J are attached at the top to angles I and at the bottom to angles H.   Angles K are attached to flats J  The last thing is to attach angle L to angles K.

The last task with the cab is to apply the siding.  I used 1/4" thick siding on the main body.  I used 3/16" thick siding on the cab.  I started by installing the 1/2" wide board at the front of the sides with the front edge even with the frame angle. The second board was the 1/2" wide one behind the door.   The front edge  of this second board sticks out to the front of the frame aluminum plate by 1/4" inch.   I then  installed the other three siding boards.  All the boards are glued to the aluminum frame with epoxy adhesive.   The door outside pieces are 1/2" X 1/8"    The two side pieces and top and bottom pieces are glued to the 1/8" lip on the siding.  The lower panel made of 1/8" plywood is glued in place next.  The top of the panel is 1/8" below the top of the cross piece.  The cross piece is glued to the panel next.  The plastic pane is installed last.

The front vertical siding is all 3/4" except the two ends  that are 1/2" wide.   I installed the two end pieces and the three in the middle first.   The pieces above and below the windows were next.  The six lower  3/4" pieces were installed last.   There is a 1/8" lip for the pane on the outside edges and 1/4" on the top and bottom.    The pane can slide under the angles in the middle  to give the windshield extra strength.     

This shows the installed siding.  As noted elsewhere, the nose castings were attached to the cab before the paint was dry.  The bare spots are hidden when the nose is attached.
Nothing unusual here except that the dirt in the corners.  The frame plate extends into the main body to the rear of the last siding board.  The depth of the extension is excessive.   The frame plate could be cut off even with the notch at the top.  Angles K & L would need to be moved forward.   
Lots of those angles are visible here.
Another perspective.

This beats the cab to death. 

The roof is the last part of the body.    It is merely a piece of 3/4" plywood with the edges covered with 3/4" X 1/4 basswood strips like used for the siding.  The plywood is attached to a pair of 1/2" square steel tubes that serve as a hinge.  The image above shows the roof superimposed over the body frame with sheeting image (the red represents the sheeting).   When I built it I failed to leave a gap between roof tubes and the frame tubes.   After painting both parts there was negative clearance.  Most of the paint scarped off the surfaces between the tubes.

The seats and swivels are from WalMart.com.  The swivels must be set up from the roof about a half inch to prevent the seat from scraping the lid when rotated.  I tack welded the bolts that attach the swivel to the lid on the swivel end to make attachment easier.    

The original construction had a control panel at the front.   That is changing as  I move the control  of lights, horn, etc. from switches on the panel to the new controller handset.  I'll describe the new configuration in a later section.


Additional information is at the following links:

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