Sunday, April 28, 2019

Forty-foot PS-1 12-panel Box Cars

San Diego, California, December 27, 1956, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo
In my various clinics on 'oddball' 40' PS-1s I have touched on the 12-panel box car variants (link to presentations). I have wanted to model a couple of them and will start expanding upon that here with the two prototypes I intend to replicate in HO scale. One is a Mississippi Central car and the other is a Nickel Plate prototype. The Mississippi Central has been released by Intermountain using their PS-1, which is not accurate for this car, but offered nonetheless, no doubt due the the attractive scheme and the sales it could generate. The Mississippi Central had 100 cars, nos. 5000-5099, delivered in June, 1949 by Pullman-Standard. Nickel Plate received 1,000 12-panel PS-1 box cars, nos. 6000-6999, delivered by Pullman-Standard in early 1948.

courtesy of Al Hoffman
The starting point for the Mississippi Central car is the original Kadee PS-1 with six-foot door opening. The biggest consideration aside from the specialties of the prototype (hand brake, running boards, etc.) is the 12 panels. More on that in the post on modeling the cars. It's a relatively easy car to model, though.

Until late 2018, the Nickel Plate car would have required a more formidable effort. However, the recent release by Kadee of the early version of the PS-1 makes things considerably easier. The main thing to be addressed, assuming one chooses to, is the underframe (aside from the number of panels, of course.) For the earlier cars Kadee opted to leave the underframe tooling from the original kit unchanged, even though it is not technically accurate. Early PS-1s used what was in essence a welded AAR underframe, while the Kadee model uses the later proprietary PS-1 underframe. I will cover my efforts to address that in the subsequent posts on modeling these cars.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Symington-Gould Chrysler Design High Speed Trucks

Vancouver, BC, December 11, 1950, Walter E. Frost, City of Vancouver Archives
In the early 1950s, Symington-Gould Corporation produced trucks to a design licensed from Chrysler. The trucks incorporated design features to mitigate the effects of lateral motion, as well as snubbers to smooth the ride at high speeds. The trucks saw limited adoption, with perhaps the most notable cars to be equipped with them being the 350 cars built by General American in 1950. Not only did the cars use the Chrysler trucks, but they were also equipped with the Duryea Cushion Underframe and Evans 'DF' (damage free) loading devices. After being used in lease service, many were sold to several railroads. GAEX 108025 is illustrative of one of these cars, with green sides, yellow band and stenciling, and black roof and Chrysler trucks. 

1953 Car Builders' Cyclopedia
1953 Car Builders' Cyclopedia
circa 1953, my collection
In late 1952 and into 1953, PFE converted 50 R-40-10 steel refrigerator cars for express service. Upgrades included steel running boards, electric air circulating fans, steam and signal lines, and high speed trucks (the trucks were secondhand from a Union Pacific test on stock cars). The cars were assigned to class BR-40-10. Twenty-five cars, nos. PFE 901-925, were equipped with Chrysler trucks, as shown above on PFE 913.

Replicating these trucks in HO scale is not all that easy. Twin Star Cars (website is no longer available) offered resin castings of the spring portion that nests in the sideframe (shown in the center of the photo above... not that great an image, but they weren't the main subject of the image and it's all I have). Tony Thompson profiled them on his blog. I was fortunate to acquire a couple pairs of Overland brass versions over a decade ago, which, of course, I cannot lay my hands on at this moment after my recent move. However, for those of you who do not have the Overland offerings or Twin Star Cars castings, American Scale Models offers a similar if not identical offering for the steep price of $39.95 (or in O scale for $69.95).  I plan to use my Overlands to model one of the GAEX cars. I will profile that build on this blog. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Wordy Wednesday - Santa Fe Composite Gondola Ga-22 ATSF 175218

Col. Chet McCoid photo, San Diego, California, November 6, 1955, Bob's Photo
Like many Western roads, the Santa Fe had a large fleet of GS gondolas with drop doors that could haul loose aggregate materials as well as "standard" gondola loads. The Santa Fe had 11,000 Caswell gons built between 1906 and 1926 as well as 300 taller Caswell gons added in 1927. In 1929 and 1930, the Santa Fe added an additional 875 composite GS gons total in three classes. The GA-20 (nos. 170600-170849) and GA-26 (nos. 169000-169199) were 50' cars from Standard Steel, while the GA-22 class (nos. 175150-175574) was comprised of 40' cars from AC&F. They all used corrugated drop doors with Wine door locks.

ATSF 175218, a GA-22, effectively illustrates the wear and tear that gons absorbed, especially composite ones. Note the damage to the wood as well as the dings in the steel on the sides.

HO scale modelers were fortunate to have resin kits available for these cars from Sunshine Models. I have a model for a 50-footer that I will build and chronicle here in the near future.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Great Northern Stock Car - a question

It has been a long time since I last posted, at least by my reckoning. My move to Brooklyn is mostly complete... I still need some additional furnishings and other things, but I have a place to come to, including a furry wagging tail to greet me. Being a new Brooklynite, I am reviewing tattoo artwork, nose rings, and handlebar mustache styles (ok, that last sentence is made up... for now).

I received a query about the crossmembers on the Great Northern stock car kit (there are actually some people out there who build these things!) I thought I'd share the answer for any others in a similar situation. The question is how do the crossmembers sit so that the bottom (closest to the rails) is flat. The answer is that the stringers closest to the center sills should be notched. See photo. I hope this helps.

P.S. I have no more castings for these kits and am uncertain if I will have any more in the near future. My apologies if you were looking for one. The last ones went a few weeks back.

P.P.S. I expect to get back to more regular postings in the very near future. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

A dedication

Right before Thanksgiving last year,  I corresponded via email with Chester Fesmire about his remarkable blog dedicated to 1/87 (HO) scale vehicle modeling, Modeling in 1/87. He is one of the finest scale modelers I have ever come across, be it railroad, vehicles, aircraft, armor or any other subject matter. I had been visiting his blog and asked if he might consider adding a search box to aid me (and others) in trying to find things he might have posted about by searching for various terms. Chester said he would try, but he wasn't entirely tech savvy, so I walked him through the steps and we succeeded in adding the search tool.

I was also hopeful I might meet him at the Springfield show in late January in the area where the vehicle guys congregate in the Mallory building. Imagine my shock and chagrin to find that Chester passed away in December from terminal cancer. What an incredible loss and what an amazing person. While fighting cancer, he took the time to respond and help me out. I am deeply saddened by his passing and send my condolences to his family.

I encourage you to visit his blog to see the incredible legacy he has left us in digital form.

Image above lifted with the utmost respect from Chester's blog. Thank you, Chester.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

California Pacific Utilities Gas Company in Medford, Oregon

A little while back, I posted about some of the pieces of Medford, Oregon that I intend to replicate in my proto-freelanced town of Jefferson, Oregon. One of the industries I intend to add is the California Pacific Utilities Gas Company. The bit of the Sanborn Map containing it is shown here. I have been trying to trace the company history to no avail (I haven't tried that hard yet; my assumption is it was rolled into Pacific Gas & Electric at some point). 

While I have the ca. 1950-1951 Sanborn Map, I also have the 1956 aerial survey photo. A lot changed in those five years. The map and photo provide plenty of information for a very strong replica of this industry. One thing that has eluded me is knowing what tank car lines served this industry. In the absence of a definitive answer, I plan to go with a "market" solution involving many providers including Tidewater, Anchor, and Warren as well as some "generics" such as UTLX and SHPX.

The actual structure will be mostly scratchbuilt and combined with tanks from Walthers (they were discontinued for a time, but are currently available). In addition to the photos, I am referencing the article "Model a Propane Bulk Plant" by Paul Dolkos in the Model Railroader special issue, How to Build Realistic Layouts.

I hope to have this completed by the beginning of summer. Stay tuned...

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The New England Berkshire & Western

As many of you are aware from the postings on numerous email lists, discussion boards, and blogs, the New England, Berkshire & Western (NEB&W), the proto-freelanced layout operated by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) club, is facing an imminent and unplanned move to accommodate renovations of the dorm in which the layout resides, Davison Hall. To say the layout is an institution in the hobby is as gross an understatement as can be made. It is simply one of the best known layouts in the history of the hobby. Unfortunately, at the time I write this, it is not known where the layout will be relocated to and whether it will even survive in its current form. That is obviously a problem of great import to the club. I will not try to offer any additional commentary about that.

I would like to offer some sense of what the club and layout have meant as seen through my eyes. It is hard to convey the influence the club and its members have had on the hobby. A great professional coach is usually judged not only by his or her success as coach, but also by the tree of others who successfully carry the torch forward. If the NEB&W is a coach, its tree is enormous too. It has produced some of the most prolific students and writers that the prototype modeling community has seen, including John Nehrich, Jeff English, and Ben Hom, to name a few (and there are many, many others). Look through any magazine in the hobby during the 80s and 90s and it would be difficult to find an issue without a byline from a member of the RPI-NEB&W family tree.

For me personally, the club and its shop were a source of great inspiration. The arrival of the latest issue of Shoptalk was better than any issue of MR, RMC, Model Railroading or RMJ. While Shoptalk was brief, it focused on exactly what interested me and had a catalog of the things that I wanted to buy. I lived in Connecticut and went to college in Hamilton, New York in the late 80s and early 90s. Troy and RPI were about the halfway point on my drives to and from college. The shop had all the freight car detail parts, Sunshine kits (in stock!), RPI exclusive resin kits, Westerfield, plus decals, all in one place! For a prototype freight car modeler, it was the proverbial candy store. Additionally, for many years the RPI club hosted a large show in the field house with a collection of discriminating hobby retailers. While the shop and the show disappeared, the club's influence remained strong, including the web site that John Nehrich maintained, with all of the great Steam Era Freight Car info.

I hope that the club can quickly find a new home, get settled and start operating again soon. The influence of the club on me and my education has been enormous and I hate to see it in hibernation.