Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wordy Wednesday - New Haven 0-8-0 3430 at Hartford



This photo has always been a favorite of mine for a few reasons. Given my affection for freight cars, the nice string of interesting cars is an immediate draw for me. However, as compelling for me is the location. I grew up in the Hartford area so I have always had an attraction to its railroad-related history. Of particular interest has always been the large Morgan Street freight house and the tracks near it. This train is making its way from Hartford towards its crossing of the Connecticut River and its duties in East Hartford. I will post an exceptional photo of the Morgan Street freight house and yard in a future installment. That photo alone should provide all the motivation one needs to replicate it as a switching layout. The photo is reproduced below with numbered callouts to aid in identification of the subjects. Interestingly, the locomotive and every identifiable piece of rolling stock with the exception of the MILW gon, P&LE box car and the flat car was or is available in HO scale (references noted in parentheses) 


1 — New Haven Y-3 0-8-0 — The New Haven had 10 USRA versions of the 0-8-0 followed by an additional 25 copies purchased after the war, nos. 3400-3434. (W&R brass or Proto 2000)
2 — Chicago and North Western Emergency box car with Youngstown doors and Viking roof (Sunshine Models or Intermountain)
3 — Milwaukee Road composite gondola; class not known
4 — Pittsburgh & Lake Erie  ‘late’ tall New York Central USRA-design steel box car
5 — Santa Fe Bx-38 Emergency box car (Sunshine Models or Intermountain)
6 — Delaware Lackawanna & Western rebuilt steel automobile car (Yarmouth Model Works)
7 — Seaboard Air Line G7 composite gondola (Sunshine Models)
8 — Southern Railway 1937 AAR box car (IMWX, Red Caboose or Intermountain)
9 — unidentified flat car with tractor load
10 — Canadian Pacific Fowler box car (Westerfield)
11 — New York Central USRA-design steel box car (Westerfield or Broadway Limited)
12 — American Refrigerator Transit wood refrigerator car (Sunshine Models)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Personalizing" Scrap Loads

Ever have that moment when you are at a layout and you see that same load that is on every other layout you've visited? Me too. I decided that I would try to minimize my reliance on the same cookie cutter loads that everyone else has. I want a scrap load, but the options are limited. How to be different? Personalize your load. I have been gathering scrap material for several years to complete a "stock" scrap load. The bag shown above illustrates this material. It is the spiral material from drilling resin, which simulates scrap material from large machining of metals, sprue bits that look like raw metal, wire and other various shapes that also resemble scrap metal. In the aggregate, these can all be added to the top of a commercial scrap load to make it unique. Give it a try.

The load above, which I made years ago, could use some toning down, as well as signs of oxidation. However, it effectively replicates scrap metal from machining operations such as milling. I didn't do such a good job "containing" the silver overspray. My next effort will be much better. I will show the results here. The car is a Westerfield model of a PRR GRA.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Wordy Wednesday - Santa Fe Refrigerator Despatch ARA-inspired refrigerator car SFRD 24132


These two photos were finds on ebay several years ago. They were undoubtedly recorded to document the shifting of the lumber load on the adjacent flat car, either by a curious photographer or for actual railroad purposes.

The Santa Fe purchasd large quantities of ARA-inspired refrigerator cars (based upon the ARA design for the double sheathed wood box car, which the Santa Fe ordered in classes Bx-8, -9, and -10.) The first group was assigned to class RR-5, 900 cars built in 1927 by American Car & Foundry and Pullman Car & Manufacturing, car nos. 23451-24350 (there were 100 nearly identical cars with divided ice baskets in class RR-6, nos. 24351-24450). SFRD purchased an additional 1,900 similar cars between 1928 and 1931, classes RR-7, -8, -9, and -11, nos. 24451-26350. 

In the period immediately prior to the US involvement in World War Two, many of the cars received improvements, including AB schedule air brakes and new Murphy rectangular panel roofs. Not all cars received these upgrades. Note that SFRD 24132 shown here still had a staff-type hand brake to go with its AB brakes and new Murphy panel roof.

Most of these cars were rebuilt into all-steel cars between 1950-1953, classes RR-49, -50, -51, and -53, but that is a different story...

References: Santa Fe Railway Rolling Stock Reference Series -- Volume Two, Refrigerator Cars, Ice Bunker Cars 1884-1979, Jordan, Hendrickson, Moore, and Hale

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Kit stash musings


"Looking south in the 'C' Yard of the Southern Pacific yards," Los Angeles, ca. 1960, B. J. Mahoney, U.S. President's Railroad Commission photographs, Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University
A couple weeks ago, there was a discussion on the Resin Freight Car Builders list about the quantity of unbuilt kits in peoples’ stashes. One extremely valid point raised is that for many of the resin offerings, it is wise to buy when kits are available as there is no guarantee they will continue to be available. Sunshine Models is a case in point. However, the opposite perspective is, when does one have enough kits? Many of us keep collecting long after rational thought dictates applying the brakes. I have devised a solution that allows me to stick to a game plan and ignore all of the shiny new objects, except those odd ones that truly strike my fancy. All others are strictly off limits.

My solution was to create a spreadsheet and identify at the highest level how many of each car type I thought necessary to meet my plans. I began by creating categories for box cars, automobile cars (1-1/2 and double door cars), gondolas, flat cars, refrigerator cars, tank cars, hoppers, and covered hoppers.

If you are following my lead, you may have already diverted (ore cars, anyone?) However, if you are still following you will likely choose a different path now. At this point, I assigned high level quantities for each car type. My choices are/were dictated by my selection of railroad and region, as yours will be, as well.

I followed the decision about overall quantities of car types with allocation by railroads and/or leasing lines. Given my choice of the Southern Pacific in southern Oregon in a timber and agricultural region (which I wrote about previously), I selected significant numbers of SP box cars, automobile cars, flat cars, and gondolas, as well as Pacific Fruit Express reefers.

With my home road car selections filled in, I moved on to the primary interchange lines’ and regional partners’ cars. These included major players such as Santa Fe, Milwaukee Road, Great Northern, Northern Pacific, and Union Pacific, as well as Spokane, Portland & Seattle and Western Pacific.

Next, I moved on to the “monsters” that had to be addressed. These included Pennsylvania Railroad box cars, automobile cars, gondolas, and flat cars. Ditto for the New York Central. I also had to include Baltimore & Ohio house cars.

With these selections made, I then began to fill in the gaps by judiciously arriving at the cars I wanted from all the other roads. While some of these warranted multiple cars for the same road, this was also where I could exercise my whims and choose those shiny resin cars as well as the signature cars. However, the counterpoint is that I often had to limit my choices to one or even zero cars from roads in which I was interested. However, this discipline is what keeps the shelves more “modestly” stocked (I am aware that 390 cars would seem immodest to some; had I not gone through this exercise, the total could easily be double that number). It also allows the flexibility to add that must-have car when it comes along (the must-haves shouldn’t be every monthly release from Kadee, as that defeats the purpose of this exercise!)

One thing, of course, is that this entire process is not set. If the landscape of available freight car models changes, I can adapt accordingly. However, having a plan keeps me from straying too far in my purchases.

Additionally, different cars will see different levels of utilization. Many of the SP and PFE cars can be used in every session, since they will be ubiquitous and not stand out among the field of cars. Other cars, such as the ITC 36’ single sheathed, Rutland double sheathed, and Soo ‘Sawtooth’ box cars, Oscar Mayer and Grand Trunk reefers, as well as the McKeesport Connecting gondola and Owens-Illinois ‘Duraglas’ covered hopper, should be run more sparingly as operators will naturally remember them as they are more unusual prototypes.

I hope that my process can help you arrive at some realistic (and finite) goals for your fleet.

Below, see the .pdf of my roster spreadsheets for reference. A keen observer will note that some reporting marks are merely placeholders for to be determined prototypes/models and other prototypes are listed where there are yet to be produced models (I do have plans for those).



Friday, November 2, 2018

Rapido Northern Pacific 10000-series Double Sheathed Box Cars



The Rapido Northern Pacific 10000-series double sheathed box cars have been eagerly anticipated by HO scale modelers since they were announced a couple years ago. Their arrival is yet another example of a signature car being produced in injection molded styrene, although this is the most esoteric, with previous cars such as the B&O Wagontop and Milwaukee Ribside box cars representing highly recognizable prototypes. The NP cars are no less significant, but are certainly more subtle. The fact that they even exist in a medium other than resin reminds of moments when my late friend Richard Hendrickson would say, “these are the good old days.” We are being confronted with riches we never imagined.

The roof is the finest version of the NP style produced to date
Certainly the most distinctive feature of these cars and for that matter, most NP house cars of the 1920s, was the trademark radial roof, with extremely narrow seam caps. Rapido has quite faithfully and delicately replicated this characteristic. Accentuating the roofs are finely rendered "wood" running boards (note: I prefer styrene over wood, particularly laser cut wood).

The lumber door detail is captured nicely on the model
The car body is no less well-detailed. Rapido expended great effort to correctly simulate the grooves on the double sheathed wood siding. The result in convincing. The doors, including the top tracks for the hangers and the guides are nicely recreated in scale, as well. The Murphy ends with seven corrugations in the top panel over eight in the bottom are nicely detailed. The lumber door in the A end is faithfully replicated.

Note the spring-like tensioning device that was common on NP brake arrangements
The difference-maker in a car at a $50 price point is the detailing. The cars feature wire grabs, with the lower ones on the side and end ladders incorporating the hybrid “straight-drop” configuration of the prototype. The two grabs at the left of the side and the hybrid grabs appear to be of a different material and are also about 0.002" thinner diameter wire, approximately 0.011"-0.012" vs. 0.013"-0.014".

The Miner 'Ideal' lever style hand brake is extremely well done. The pipe from the pressure retaining valve is large
The Miner ‘Ideal’ lever hand brake is a thing of beauty that I hope will be made available as a separate part. One area of criticism (and it is common with most manufacturers’ models) is the pipe for the pressure retaining (“retainer”) valve. It should be about 0.008". It is significantly more pronounced on the model, no doubt in the interest of durability and moldability. It is an area I will improve. The sill steps are exceptional, being fashioned from metal, and following the shape and contour of those on the prototype.

Note the finely rendered sill step and the hybrid "drop-straight" grab iron
The trucks are the only other area where I can express reservations. While they include separate brake shoes and generally follow the prototype, the detail is a little soft in comparison to the offerings of Tahoe Model Works, Kato, Kadee or Tangent. I would like to see this area improved on future Rapido offerings. The truck mounting is also a little "wonky". Even with the screws fully tightened, the trucks had a loose quality. Perhaps the integral screw-washer arrangement as well as the mounting post mitigates this in operation. Nonetheless, it doesn't seem all that "tight". I hope that my concerns are overcome in practice and operation by clever engineering. One other nit: I would encourage manufacturers to lead the push to 0.088” tread wheelsets. They operate the same as code 110 sets. Make the change!


The AB brake system as added to these cars circa the 1940s is faithfully replicated. While the styrene piping and rodding are compromises, they are rendered as delicately as can be expected. A nice touch is the NP tensioning mechanism visible as a spring-like device in the detail photo included above. Rapido has done a good job at capturing the layout of the prototype. Kudos here!


Rapido is to be commended for producing a fine model of a significant prototype. If online comments are any indication, they are already sold out. I hope it is an indication of success.

I purchased a pair of undecorated models and am waiting for decals (one model to have and a just-in-case extra). I will highlight the finished model in a subsequent post after I paint, letter, and weather it. I will also document the changes and enhancements I make. Yes, there are a few to be made...