Friday, December 13, 2019

Late Steam Era 36-foot Box Cars

Jim Gerstley
Several months ago, I mentioned that I would post a list of 36-foot box cars that would be useful prototypes for late 1940s to early 1950s modelers (meaning that these cars were still operating in reasonable quantities, either in gross numbers or as a percentage of the road’s fleet.) Without much fanfare, here is the list, along with some photos, and HO scale model references where known.

Al Armitage photo
*Canadian National Dominion/Fowler Patent single sheathed box cars - the CN's cars including subsidiaries are too numerous to chronicle in a sentence; it is sufficient to say there were over 33,000 cars with many subtle detail differences; HO scale models from Speedwitch K104 kits (five-foot door opening), Westerfield, True Line Trains/LifeLike Canada, AccurailMainline Modeler, November 1985

Roseville, Calif., Oct 24, 1952, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo
*Canadian Pacific Dominion/Fowler Patent single sheathed box cars - like the CN, the CP had a massive fleet, with over 33,000 cars for itself and subsidiaries; too many to delineate in a sentence or paragraph; HO scale models from Westerfield, Accurail (six-foot door opening only); Mainline Modeler, June 1985

George Sisk photo, Charles Winters Collection
*Other Dominion/Fowler Patent single sheathed box cars, including Erie, NYS&W, NC&StL, PGE, Wabash, Soo, and others - Westerfield, AccurailMainline Modeler, April 1986

Delaware & Hudson double sheathed box cars profiled through the link included herein - models may be kit-scratchbashed or old Funaro & Camerlengo kits; Railroad Model Craftsman, November and December 1987

Bob's Photo
Erie single sheathed box cars (different from the Erie's Fowler/Dominion cars and more numerous in the late Steam Era). These cars were built by Standard Steel in 1921 and assigned to 93000-93999. They featured hat section pressed steel structural members as shown on Erie 93132 above. - no models at present

Harry Zillmer photo
Illinois Terminal 8100-8199 series single sheathed box cars built by Mt. Vernon in 1928. Note the Dalman Two-Level trucks (without Barber Lateral Motion devices) - Sunshine Models kits

Paterson, New Jersey, ca. 1947, Sirman Collection
Louisville & Nashville double sheathed box cars. Over the years, the Louisville & Nashville had thousands of such cars, with many subtle and not so subtle differences in characteristics. By the twilight of Steam, they were concentrated in two series: 8000-8999 and 10000-11999. Note the extensive damage to the door frame and roof at left edge of door in photo above - Sunshine Models

Missouri Pacific Lines double sheathed and rebuilt box cars. MP had cars as shown above well into the late 1940s and 1950 with many rebuilt into distinctive all-steel cars like MP 120050 shown at the top of this post - Sunshine Models; Railway Prototype Cyclopedia, Vol. 14.

Bob's Photo
New York Central System (NYC, B&A, P&LE) double sheathed box cars - Funaro & Camerlengo (general site link - search by road for specific kits), Accurail. F&C had a kit for this B&A car with Dreadnaught ends (I had one and gave it away to a friend recently as I have no need for more than one B&A car and my one is a USRA-design steel car.) 

Al Armitage photo
Southern (Mobile & Ohio and Lancaster & Chester) double sheathed truss box cars. These were incredibly numerous (almost 15,000 cars) and some of the last truss rod cars built - WesterfieldFunaro & Camerlengo; Railroad Model Craftsman March 2004
*Russ Pinchbeck and the late Stafford Swain presented a clinic about the Fowler/Dominion cars on the RPM circuit circa 2003 and included a detailed handout.

Eric Hansmann's blog Notes on Designing, Building, and Operating Model Railroads has much good information about 36-foot cars (particularly the NYC System cars produced by Accurail) as he is a 1920s-era modeler and his need for these cars is obvious!

Below are a few models. From top to bottom, Westerfield, Speedwitch, Westerfield

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Chicago & Eastern Illinois Gondola

Zanesville, Ohio, April 7, 1956

This photo has always appealed to me. The low angle of both the lighting and photographic perspective afford a great view of the numerous details, including the distorted plate steel of the sides, as well as the weirdly arranged AB brake components (it is rare to see brake components arranged with the piping facing out towards the side of the car, rendering it vulnerable to damage.) Additionally, the load of large diameter pipe makes for a compelling prototypical lading to replicate, including the banding, wire, and hardwood dimensional lumber containment pieces. Lastly, as a rebuilt car, it represents an interesting modeling subject. It started life as a Caswell-type gondola before rebuilding with tight, solid wood floors, elimination of the GS drop doors, and replacement Dreadnaught ends.

The photo below illustrates what the cars looked like prior to rebuilding. I do not have photos of the cars as built, but it is my assumption that the Wine door locks were not in place when the cars were new circa 1912. This car was reweighed at the Danville shops in June, 1927.

In late 1951, there were 251 of the rebuilt cars in the 95000-95299 series plus an additional 45 cars in the same series, but equipped for auto frame loading. The 90000-90199 series had 200 rebuilds like C&EI 95643 shown above except they still had drop doors and Wine door locks. There were also still 327 cars like the one below in series 92000-94499. The cars that were still of composite construction could be kitbashed using Intermountain bodies with Westerfield Wine door locks and angle stock for the part attached to the drop doors that the locks secure in place. That totals 778 of these interesting gons in service in late 1951.

Pine Village, Indiana, circa 1928, Allen and Son photo

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Types for Lettering on Structures and Other Layout Signage

One of the things I am always on the lookout for is interesting types (“fonts”) that I can use to create specialized lettering. I have been particularly attuned lately as I have become more focused on structures. “Simple” sans serif types of the 1930s and 1940s have a more stylized look than the basic computer "fonts" of today. When I see a model structure that is to represent a period (e.g. late 1940s) structure, yet uses Arial or Helvetica for the sign that has the name of the business, it doesn’t look correct to my eye; it has a simple, anachronistic quality that screams, “I’m a model!”

The photo above of Utah Ice & Storage Co., May 9, 1928, by Harry Shipler/Shipler Commercial Photographers, is from the Utah State History project hosted by the University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott Library. While the PFE R-30-2 (at right) and R-30-13 reefers are interesting, my attention was also drawn to the lettering on the building at right in the image (for a better view, click on the image and note the red rectangle around the lettering.) I replicated the characters by tracing using a tight crop of the image, as shown below (the 'J' is a composite of the 'I' and 'S' while the 'O' is derived from the 'C'.) I plan to use the characters to letter a structure of an ice plant on my proto-lanced layout of Jefferson (based on Medford,) Oregon.

The two photos below (March, 1957, Chula Vista, Calif., Col. Chet McCoid photos, Bob's Photo,) illustrate another example of an interesting type that can be used for structure lettering. I initially purchased the photos for the subjects, a PFE R-30-9, above, and R-40-4, below, but stumbled upon the sign in the background. I found the style of the lettering compelling and I have need for a feed mill/ag supplier in Jefferson. So, after cropping, I pulled the images into Illustrator and created the "Willis-Burr Co." as seen below. I will finish the lettering for the details (Fertilizer, etc.) at a later time, but what's here illustrates my point.

The options for lettering are limitless and I have several others to be generated. Note that there are many font purveyors with period types available for download that can be used for these purposes. I tend to favor fee-based fonts over free downloads as I don't trust freeware to not have other malicious software embedded into it (my own cautious nature.)

Speaking of decals, I have two new sets for freight cars. They are D215 for the Virginian's 1916-built single sheathed box cars and D216 for the Minneapolis & St. Louis's ARA-design single sheathed cars built in 1930. Both have "cuts" in the lettering to accommodate surface details as on the prototype.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

A visit to the Valley Line

PDX-2 on the Shailerville Bridge at Haddam, Connecticut

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of operating on Chris Adams's HO scale layout (Valley Local blog) that replicates the New Haven's Valley Line from Wethersfield to Old Saybrook, roughly following the Connecticut River from Hartford to Long Island Sound. Chris has done an amazing job at recreating many of the signature scenes and industries along the line, circa the late 1940s. As someone who spent a good chunk of his youth in Wethersfield and thought long and hard about modeling the same line in the same era, I have always had a soft spot for this layout.

The freight house and the Chapman Company at Old Saybrook

I was tasked with operating the local freight, PDX-2, from Fort Yard in New London via Old Saybrook and up the line to East Haddam on October 13, 1948. Power was one of the New Haven's new Alco RS-2 road switchers, no. 0510. I didn't take that many photos (I was absorbed and forgot!) I thoroughly enjoyed operating the local, with its switching duties at Old Saybrook, Essex, Deep River, and Haddam. The layout operates flawlessly, allowing one to focus on the operational tasks and not worry about distractions from electronics, derailments, etc. The attention paid to not only the track and maintenance as well as the visual aesthetics results in a satisfying experience. 

Thank you to Chris for a great experience with good company. I can't wait until I am called to the duty roster again.

The passenger station and interlocking at Old Saybrook, looking west, towards New Haven and New York. The Valley Line branch is the diverging track in the foreground.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Load for the McKeesport Connecting Railroad Gondola

A little while back, I started work on a Funaro & Camerlengo McKeesport Connecting HO scale gondola. I have done a fair amount of work on the model since that post and will update on that in the near future. At the same time, I have been working on a pipe load for the model. The inspiration for the load is the photo shown above of a pipe load in a Mckeesport Connecting gon.

"Top" view of the load layers with four pipes over five. The top layer is at bottom

To create the load, I pulled out some straws that I "liberated" from Dunkin' Donuts years ago. I used them because they are quite rigid compared to other straws (McDonald's also has good, sturdy straws that can be used for loads.) I cut the full pieces to roughly 48 feet in length using a good paper cutter. The filler pieces are obviously shorter! If you click on the photo above of the prototype to enlarge it, you will see that the wood side pieces that help to contain the load have wire tying them together between every two layers of pipe, as well as on top. There is also banding around the entire load.

"Bottom" view of the load with five pipes visible

I built the load in three sets of two layers. The two lower layers are hollow to conserve straws as well as to provide a cavity for a weight. The bottom layer will be affixed to a sheet of 0.010" styrene. The wire between each layer will be created with black thread. The banding will be replicated with Chartpak drafting tape, 1/32" in width. The wood to contain the load will be 4x4 hardwood represented by 4x4 styrene strip. I created the load this way so that everything can be prepainted and "assembled" to simulate what is seen in the photo. The straw "pipes" were glued together with Gorilla Clear Grip adhesive. More as the model progresses...

The load loosely placed in the carbody (note that I have removed the rivets from the side of the car where the collapsible stake pockets were located, as these cars did not have the stake pockets even though the model does!)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Universal 5700XL Hand Brake with M2049 Hand Wheel

In my recent post on the Kadee early version of the 40' PS-1 box car decorated for New Haven, I noted the new Universal 5700XL power hand brake with M2049 hand wheel (and NOT the significantly more common M1704 hand wheel) on the model. Although it is incorrect for this particular New Haven PS-1 (or any New Haven car to my knowledge) it does have several applications. Here is a list of prototypes I have assembled (with photos in some instances) that I am sure is by no means exhaustive:
  • CNW Emergency box car (photo below)
  • CNW Modified 1937 AAR box car
CNW Emergency box car at left. Note top operated coupler
EJ&E Modified 1937 AAR box car at right. Note Barber S-1 trucks and Wine ladders
  • DICX 218 dry ice car (Mainline Modeler, March 1986)
  • EJ&E Modified 1937 AAR box car (photo above)
  • IHB 1937 AAR box car Lot 729-B
  • IHB Modified 1937 AAR box car Lot 730-B
  • MDT 500-series/8000-series refrigerator cars (Mainline Modeler, March 1986)
  • NRC 17000-series refrigerator cars (Mainline Modeler, March 1986)
  • NYC 50' AAR box car with end door Lot 693-B
  • NYC 10'0" inside height Postwar AAR box car Lot 737-B (many reassigned to Pacemaker service, photo below)
At left, the old way to simulate this style of Universal hand wheel, using a Detail Associates Ureco part, on a kitbashed model of an NYC Lot 693-B end door box car
Right, a postwar 10'0" inside height AAR box car from Lot 737-B transitioned to Pacemaker service
  • P&LE 50' AAR box car Lot 698-B
  • PRR X38A automobile car (photo below)
  • PRR X38B Emergency box car
  • SP and T&NO B-50-25 10'0" inside height 12-panel box car (car nos. SP 21500-21749; T&NO 54850-55199)
At left, a PRR X38A automobile car with Universal power hand brake and, at right, a closeup of the same hand brake on the lone X38B Emergency box car (note M2049 cast into the wheel at roughly 5 o'clock)
  • UP HK-50-5 Emergency ballast hopper (photo below)
  • some of the UP (and sister line) B-50-24 and -27 alternate center rivet (ACR) lightweight box cars may have used this version of the Universal hand wheel. Photos needed for verification
Union Pacific HK-50-5 Emergency ballast hopper

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Kadee Early PS-1 40' Box Car

Earlier this year, Kadee released an early version of the Pullman-Standard PS-1 40' box car. As seen in the photos, they tooled an entirely new car body with details to match the early versions. The basic model is shown here in New Haven livery (Kadee did an excellent job capturing the NH's freight car red color, as well as the black doors.)

The most notable differences are on the sides with the tabs and sill sections below the actual side sills. Notice not only the bolster sections within the green-rimmed rectangles, but also the sections that span the area below the doors. The early version is shown at top above (the NH car), while the undecorated car is one of the previously released models that replicates the cars circa 1949 and later. There were many subtle variations in these details prior to 1949. Kadee's model is tooled to represent one flavor, with 6" ship channel tabs at the bolsters, 6" x 3-1/2" bulb angle reinforcements under the doors, and 4" x 3-1/2" rolled angles at the crossties.

The early version of the roof on the newest Kadee car is shown at top, while the later 1949 roof is shown on the model at bottom. The difference is the absence of the corrugation in the end panels on early (roughly pre-1949 built) cars. Both iterations have riveted seam caps (there were prototypes with welded seam caps).

The early PS-1 end is shown at right. Note the absence of trapezoidal stiffeners at the top, the three-point bracket grab at right, and straight stiles on the ladders, as well as the grab below the ladder on the early New Haven car. Also, of interest is the Universal power hand brake, particularly the wheel, which is stunning and has never been offered in HO. Unfortunately, it is not correct for the New Haven's Universal hand wheel as shown on the prototype below. 

The underframe shown above is from the New Haven model. Unfortunately, it is not correct for early cars, as Kadee did not tool a new underframe. Early cars used what were essentially welded AAR underframes. The PS-1 welded underframe, similar to that shown on the model above, was introduced in 1949. The main difference was that in 1949 there were only four stringers total, as opposed to the six on the Kadee model, a 1951 introduction.