Monday, May 20, 2024

Green Bay & Western Single Sheathed Automobile Cars

April 12, 1954, Muscatine, Iowa, Rich Wilson photo, John Harker collection, Remembering the Rock Island facebook group files*

Awhile back, I posted about some Milwaukee Road forty and fifty-foot single sheathed cars. I hinted in that post that in addition to kits for the fifty-foot cars, I also was entertaining the forty-footers. Since then, I have done some pattern work for the sides of the Milwaukee cars, as I have drawings for both the 40 and 50-foot cars and there are a lot of similarities. 

Feb. 23, 1954, Cedar Hill Yard, New Haven, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo

Recently, an image popped up online that had me go looking through my photos to see what I had on the Green Bay & Western's single sheathed auto cars. The GB&W car in the image made me think "Milwaukee" and I wanted to see if my instincts were on the money. I was correct, but there is a very interesting twist. The GB&W cars were built at the same time and by the same builder as one of the Milwaukee's group of cars: the Bettendorf Co., circa late 1929 to early 1930. The GB&W received 50 cars total from Bettendorf in 1930, assigned to series 14000-14050 and 15000-15098. Cars moved between these two groups depending upon whether they had auto loaders installed. The 14000-series cars originally had the loaders, although by the 50s there were not loaders in either group and there are no differences noted in the Equipment Registers of the time.

circa late 50s; no additional information about this image

The twist is that while the GB&W cars are identical to the Milwaukee cars dimensionally and in almost all details, the GB&W cars have the panels adjacent to the doors swapped, which quite noticeably changes the overall layout and appearance of the car sides (excepting the wood vs. steel doors, too.) An examination of the various rivets on the side sill and side sill supports illustrates that the GB&W cars used the same underframe; it's just the sides that were modified. Below is a composited image for comparison of the two sides. I have already (excitedly) worked out all the specifics to make a second side pattern to add the GB&W cars to this project, including the later single door versions, like GBW 15082 shown above.) What a cool discovery!

* from John Harker: "Rich Wilson captured this view looking to the northeast of the Milw derailment that occurred on the RI in downtown Muscatine, Iowa on Monday morning April 12, 1954. The derailment occurred about 5:00 am. This morning view shows some of the derailed cars that stretch from about Iowa Avenue by the Hotel Muscatine back to the southwest where Rich was standing. I scanned and edited this image from an original Kodak red bordered Kodachrome slide."

Friday, May 17, 2024

A simple, effective tool


There are times when one needs to sand a surface that is not easily accessible by our pudgy digits, even if using something as ingenious as Tight Spot Sanders. I recently had need to do a little sanding in just such an area. Years ago, I had made (and misplaced) a functional little sanding tool. I decided to (re)make one. It's a simple thing. I used 0.125" styrene rod, sawed at an angle using a razor saw, a piece of 0.040" x 0.100" strip (0.040" x 0.125" would be more logical, but I am out of that size,) two-part epoxy, and sandpaper. Glue the strip to the angled face of the rod, let dry, then attach sandpaper to the bottom of the strip using two-part epoxy, let dry again, trim the edges of the sandpaper, and you're ready to use. You could make several using different grades/grits of sandpaper.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

NERPM is approaching!


The Northeast/New England RPM will be held at the end of this month, May 31 - June 1. It's exciting for many reasons, but perhaps the biggest is the new venue. The event will be held at the Sheraton in downtown Springfield, with all event-related activities now in the same area as well as top-flight food and entertainment (did someone request a bar?) right on site. The meet also boasts yet another great lineup of presenters. This event is now one of the longest running in the nation and has continued to grow and improve from its roots at the Collinsville, CT community center. It is now a top-flight event in every aspect: clinicians, display space and models, vendors, the facilities, and layouts on display. If you haven't attended recently, I heartily encourage you to come this year. It promises to be the biggest and best yet. Here are some links to photos from previous years' events:

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Pennsylvania Railroad 'Calendar' Lettering


Note that even though this car was reweighed last in January, 1951, it was repainted in 1954, but not reweighed at that time. Tom Martorano Collection

Beginning in 1954, the Pennsylvania Railroad updated their lettering styles for freight equipment. Gone was the simple serif ("Roman") style lettering with ball Keystone interlocking "PRR" emblem. The new lettering was bold by Pennsy standards, featuring large road name (for example, 13" for 40-foot house cars and 16" for 50-foot house cars) and included a larger, "shadow" Keystone emblem. 

Sept. 5, 1954, Shenandoah, Virginia, Bob's Photo

One interesting and short-lived quirk was the script or "Calendar" style of numbers. As someone who really sweats the details of lettering and appreciates the nuances and beauty in such things, I have always been quite taken with these numbers, even though they are sadly out of my modeling era. They were drawn in January, 1954, issued in April, 1954, and seemed to have been phased out within a couple months. While it is entirely my conjecture, I am guessing that it was quickly discovered that the portions of the lettering that extended above and below the lines were a headache to align, adding time and cost to the stenciling process.

Paul Dunn photo, R. J. Burg Collection

There were also two other nuances during the same few month period. The "inside" of the "P" was a more square shape at the right portion of the "bulge" in the "P." Also, the lower upward diagonal in the "N" extended to terminate aligned with the horizontal line of the serif at upper left of the "N." These two nuances were also changed when the Calendar numbers were eliminated circa June, 1954.

Sept. 18, 1955, Brooklyn, NY

On a smaller route, such a stenciling oddity might have gone relatively unnoticed by researchers. However, given that the Pennsy likely repainted more cars in a couple months than many roads might in a couple years, there exist numerous photos of the Calendar scheme. It's cool enough to this student of type and typography that I might just model a car for the display case that features this beautiful example of railroad type.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

New York Central USRA Design Automobile Cars


Fayetteville, NC, Oct 12, 1952, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo

In 1922-1923, the Michigan Central added 4,000 automobile cars based heavily upon the USRA-design steel box cars that were the de facto standard box car of the NYC System from the 20s into the 50s. They had the same rather diminutive inside height (for an auto car) of 8'7". They were delivered in three groups: NYC Lots 440-B from Standard Steel (Hammond, IN, car nos. 96000-97999,) 464-B from American Car & Foundry (St. Louis, car nos. 98000-99499,) and 465-B from Standard Steel (Hammond, IN, car nos. 95000-95499.) They had auxiliary doors with a door opening of 10 feet. They were eventually renumbered into NYC reporting marks, series 189300-190999, 145400-146999, and 194000-195498.) Most (if not all) of the cars were built with Camel-Gilroy doors, like those shown on NYC 189735, above, and some cars, like NYC 189735, shown above, had their auxiliary doors sealed, making them into box cars. NYC 146479, shown below, had Youngstown doors and also received a replacement Murphy rectangular panel roof.

Fayetteville, NC, Oct 22, 1951, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo

Between 1930 and 1932, The NYC increased the height of many of these cars by adding plate steel sections at the top of the sides and raising the roof. An indeterminate number also received replacement Murphy rectangular panel roofs, as well, although photos show that many continued on with the Solidsteel roofs (lacking raised panels.) The raised roof cars were eventually assigned to series 194000-195498.

Charles Winters Collection

Paul Dunn photo, R. J. Burg

These three prototype images (above and below) illustrate how the cars appeared after the modifications. Note the Solidsteel roof and two extra Murphy end corrugations on the car shown below. 

crop of "Milwaukee Road, general view of part of Galewood Yard, Chicago," Jack Delano photo, FSA-OWI Collection, Library of Congress, call number LC-USW36-619

Years ago, I built a Westerfield kit to replicate one of the cars that continued on with its original 8'7" inside height, as shown above. While Broadway Limited released a specific version of the NYC System's USRA design box cars, Westerfield is still the only way to model many variants (including the most numerous varieties.) 

Sunshine Models also produced a kit to replicate the raised roof variants. These went out of production with the death of Martin Lofton. However, Yarmouth Model Works has resuscitated this model, with one-piece body casting.

I was fortunate to have one of the Sunshine kits in my stash and decided to start building it. As it's a flat kit, one has to assemble the sides and ends and then add the roof and floor to complete the basic assembly. I did all that, following my usual process, the most important part of which is to true up the sides first (equal length and square edges... it's been awhile since I have detailed that process, so I will post about that in the next couple weeks, with commensurate detail.) The biggest hurdle, as shown in the photos above, was that the lines of the peaks of the ends did not match that of the roof. To overcome that, I finessed things into place. My approach was to glue [ACC] the roof to one half of the top of the ends and also one side. You can see in the photo of the end of the car, how the roof is attached at the left, but the right portion is raised (not yet glued.) I let the half that was glued dry thoroughly and also augmented the joint with some 0.125" square styrene on the interior of the body where the side and roof abut. I then repeated this process for the other side. This resulted in a clean and strong assembly with the underside of the roof matching the peaks of the ends. I will continue this build in a future installment.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Rock Island USRA 40-ton Box Cars and Rebuilds


As-built, but upgraded with AB-schedule brakes, ca. 1947-1948

The Rock Island received a rather large allocation of 2,500 USRA Specification 1003-B forty-ton, double sheathed box cars. They came from several builders and were assigned to the series 155000-157499. The Rock Island rebuilt two blocks of 400 of these cars in their Armourdale (1936) and Blue Island (1940) shops, creating all-steel cars assigned to the 134000-134799 series. The underframes, ends, and Andrews trucks were retained, although the ends were augmented with small 'blank" sections to increase the height, resulting in a 5/5/blank/5 Murphy configuration (from bottom to top.) New sides from Youngstown Steel and Murphy rectangular panel roofs were applied. They also received Youngstown doors with early Camel Roller Lift fixtures, AB schedule air brakes and power hand brakes. Interestingly, the Rock Island actually continued to operate a greater number of "un-rebuilt" cars than were rebuilt. 

Note that the Rock Island also received some secondhand rebuilt CNW USRA box cars, but those are not the subject of this post.

ca. 1949, courtesy of the late Bill Welch; other info not known by me

This photo illustrates some of the features, including steel sides of eight, irregularly spaced panels, Youngstown doors, AB brakes (with all three main components on the same side of the center sills,) and Andrews trucks. Note the retention of grab irons instead of ladders. These Rock Island cars had the recessed side sills typical of steel-sided cars rebuilt from wood or composite cars.

Ogden, Utah, May 30, 1959, Will Whittaker photo

In the 1950s, the Rock Island sold cars to the Ft. Dodge, Des Moines and Southern, with very little change in appearance, except the diamond emblem and reporting marks.

Why am I posting about this? Well, over the past several weeks I have been working on one of the Sunshine Models kits for these prototypes. There are a few details that I am opting to change as part of my build. They include:

  • add rivets to exposed angle at end of car sides (more on this in subsequent posts; see photo below)
  • the kit's doors have later-style Camel Roller Lift fixtures. I am going to replace this detail with an early-style hardware
  • Grabs will be created by bending 0.008" wire
  • Running boards will be scratchbuilt from strip styrene to achieve a gap between the boards
  • I will use a Universal power hand brake and wheel to more closely match the prototype
  • Decals to be printed from my own artwork (the Sunshine lettering used a generic sans serif font for the majority of the stenciled data that is a poor match for the Rock Island's lettering)
Progress to this point has involved assembly of the major body parts and little else. I can report one issue that I encountered: the rectangular-shaped underside of the kit's resin roof casting was too long to easily fit into the car body. Instead of what would have been a fairly tedious process of removing resin material from the underside of the roof casting, I put the resin roof casting aside to use on a project where it fits into a car body and instead used a far more easily modified styrene part. The photos below illustrate the removal of material to facilitate a good fit, showing both modified and unmodified IMWX/Red Caboose parts. More details to follow in subsequent posts...

The visible "end" of the side that is nested in the angle formed by the side and end had rivets on the prototype. These will be simulated with decal rivets on the model. Also, note the "blank" end panel added to the rebuilds, as noted in the text above

Friday, March 29, 2024

Valley Forge RPM 2024


Fred Lass had an extensive display of his steam modeling, including this C&O K-2 cobbled together from Mantua, Cary, and Bachmann components (photo below is also of the same loco)

This past weekend, I attended the Valley Forge RPM in Malvern, Pennsylvania. It was the best one in my memory and it was also the largest, with over 300 attendees. I managed to absorb more clinics than I usually do, and they were all top notch. I particularly enjoyed the presentations by Todd Hermann (LNE Catausqua branch layout,) Bill Schneider (NYO&W layout,) and Matt Herman of 3D Central (3D printing.) There were also an incredible number of fine models in the display room. I photographed a bunch that happened to catch my eye. They are presented herein. Enjoy! P.S. next year's meet will be RPM East in western Pennsylvania, as these unaffiliated events run biannually - the Valley Forge RPM (Philadelphia area) in even years and RPM East (Greensburg/Pittsburgh area) in odd years.

Jerry Dembeck displayed several models, including this Armour reefer built from a Sunshine kit

Shannon Crabtree weathered this Intermountain RF&P box car

Thomas Smapes (spelling?) Sr. had several fine pieces of Western Maryland O scale brass that he had built

Gary Stroh displayed mainy fine weathered subjects, such as this Southern covered hopper from Athearn

Mark Kerlick repped the western PA crew with many models, including this E-L from Walthers, with full-length handrails and spark arrestors

There were many cars with interesting loads, such as this modified well car with axles and wheels shipped by CP-KCS as modeled by John Brown

Bob Stetser showed off a PC 70-ton AAR flat (Protowest kit, he thinks... and I agree) with containers from Shapeways as well as scratchbuilt fraiming and Tichy bulkheads plus decals from the scrap bin

Tom Devenny always has some nicely weathered models to display. One of this year's is GTW 50-foot AAR box car from a P2K kit

This Soo caboose is based on an Athearn blue box car with plated-over windows, Microscale decals, nice weathering, and other details, by Lou Papineau

Jamie Isett displayed this big modern diesel... I confess I don't even know what JRIX and several searches yielded no results. I just thought it looked impressive

This amazing Conrail caboose is the work of Aaron Heaney

Bill Chapin displayed a model of the New Canaan station, based upon the Branchline kit with scratchbuilt platforms, roof trim, and chimneys as well as many replacement windows of correct size

Yet another station... this model of the NYO&W Middletown, NY station and headquarters was built by Jim Dalburg (back in 1968!) Oh... he also built the train

This O&W gon is the work of Bill Schneider. It was drawn by Bill and 3D printed. The decals are his work, too.

This nicely detailed Atlas Southern B23-7 was heavily detailed by Sherm Everlof

Andrew Coniers scratchbuilt this impressive model of Fabian Coal on the Reading Co.'s Newtown branch.

Billy Dale brought an impressive roster of completed freight cars, including this F&C covered hopper of a Lackawanna prototype

Chuck Davis presented a clinic aboput modeling steam and had many finsihed models on display, plus this in-progress steamer

Thomas Richards had an impressive display of 3D printed Soo Line "Wheat Line" North Dakota
 depots. They are exquisite!

Ron Giordani stripped a BLI heavy Mike of all details, then built out a Wooten firebox and added a "gazillion" brass parts to create this stunning CNJ model

Eric Hansmann had his usual display of numerous 1920s-era freight cars, including this Westerfield model of a Pennsy X23 box car

Butch Eyler always brings along a large number of expertly weathered cars. This is one example

Dennis Lippert also had a TON of freight cars on display, including this AC&Y combination door PS-1

Steve Holzheimer also showed some love for the AC&Y with his model of an S-2 purchased secondhand from the Nickel Plate

Allen Underkofler used a laser to cut the pieces to make this PRR tool house 

Alan Mende had many CNJ models to show off, including this E-2 class 0-8-0, based upon a Mantua Alco 0-8-0 with details removed, frame modified to accept 55" drivers, and new details from Lee Town, CalScale, and Precision Scale added to create a stunning replica. The tender is from an NWSL USRA 0-6-0