Sunday, January 20, 2019

A new load - Allis-Chalmers BZO-HV Oil Circuit Breaker

At Prototype Rails last weekend, I took photos of several things that I found interesting (or thought others might too.) One car and load that caught the attention of me and Bob Heninger was Eric Thur's PRR F30A flat car with a nice Allis-Chalmers BZO-HV oil circuit breaker, shown above. I am always on the lookout for interesting loads. The notes accompanying Eric's model indicated that he had purchased it on ebay. A quick search using my iPhone (while I was standing in front of Eric's model) revealed the seller, whose id is multiscale_digital_llc. There are many interesting items in numerous scales (not just HO) that can be used for layout detailing or flat car loads.

Unfortunately, the item was out of stock. However, on my flight back to New York, I contacted the seller and received a prompt reply that more would be available within a few days. As promised, I received a message a couple days later and placed an order. The order comes with what you see above (meaning double what is on Eric's flat car model.)

Joliet, Illinois, June 29, 1958, Bruce K. Meyer photo
I have a prototype photo in my collection of a very similar unit, included here for reference. Eric used the same photo as reference for his modeling. I will post my efforts here in future. I do plan to make a few modifications that I will share (note that Eric did, as well). Regardless, I highly recommend that you explore these offerings at ebay as they fill a great need for loads and details.

Above is a diagram I have included as reference that I found via google on the site

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Initial Layout Planning

Medford, Oregon, ca. 1950, John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library
I recently made a request (plea) on the Espee group on for Sanborn maps for Medford, Oregon. My query was met several days later with emailed .pdf files of the whole enchilada and extremely close to my modeling date of late 1951. I converted the files to images and roughly stitched them all together to create a "map" of the SP right of way through Medford with the corresponding adjacent industries included. This gave me the figurative blueprint I need to begin initial layout planning.

To backtrack a little, I have settled on Medford as the area I want to model. However, there are many caveats with that decision. First, I am not going to model it faithfully. In fact, while my fictional town is in the same area of southern Oregon, I have renamed it "Jefferson." The reasons are numerous, but fall into a few categories. At present, I have neither the time nor inclination to conduct the research necessary to replicate many buildings exactly as they were. My goal is to recreate in scale something that is "SP-ish" and "southern Oregonian" in nature. My primary goal is to create a highly plausible stage to feature and operate my rolling stock.

Industries and structures will certainly reflect the flavor of the area. However, I will draw upon commercially available kits that will be modified to suit the space or scratchbuild where necessary. The space? I will be building the layout as a switching layout in a spare bedroom. That will be the subject of many, many posts to come in future.

Below, I have inserted the Sanborn maps for the SP right of way in Medford as stitched and cropped by me and separated into six images. The files move from geographically roughly north-northeast to south-southwest in succession (or east to west on the SP) and in the same direction from left to right in each image. The red-bordered industries are ones that have piqued my curiosity to model. There are also a few photos from aerial surveys (I am pulling more of those as well). More to follow in the future...

Shell Oil Company of California

Gilmore Oil - Jackson County Oil Pavement - Richfield Oil

Tidewater Associated Oil
Note that the big lumber operation adjacent to the Tidewater Associated facility is mighty tempting, but I don't have the space necessary for that.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Wordy Wednesday - Photos from Prototype Rails 2019

After missing last year's Prototype Rails due to the vicissitudes of Mother Nature, I was really anxious to make it down to Cocoa Beach this year. Everything went off smoothly (including my first ever flights on JetBlue and their extra legroom was appreciated by this tall guy). The event did not disappoint, as always. Mike Brock and his crew kept things running smoothly, Marty Megregian maintained order in the display room, and Jeff Aley compiled a top notch lineup of clinics.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, here are approximately 23,000...

There were many fine tank car models on display. Tony Thompson brought this Sunshine General American Type 30

Butch Eyler has become synonymous with amazing weathering jobs using guache paints.

This CN cylindrical covered hopper was also Butch's handiwork

Eric Thur displayed this colorful Frisco USRA rebuild from a Sunshine kit

He also modeled this interesting load of Allis-Chalmers circuit breakers... more on those in an upcoming post

Bill Darnaby of the Maumee Route fame has also become famous for his display of tank cars. This Union Starch model is from a Sunshine kit

Resin Car Works produced this Consolidated Chemical acid tank car as modeled by Bill

This UTLX Type X is also from Bill

Bill also brought another Resin Car Works acid car, this one decorated for Hooker

Not to be outdone, Steve Hile presented a clinic about Warren tank cars, as well as several models

Here is a closeup of one of the in progress models

David Vaughn models in O scale and displayed this impressive Nickel Plate (ex-Wheeling & Lake Erie) gon

This Comet Models wood craftsman kit from the 1939-1941 era is an oldie, but a goodie from Dr. Denny Anspach
Mont Switzer brought models of freight equipment from his beloved Monon, including this 1947-built precursor to the PS-1

Al Brown always beings several interesting models. This is his take on the tried and true Tichy flat car, lettered for NC&StL

He also showed a Tangent acid car decaled for GATX using decals from Dan Kohlberg

Roger Hinman built last year's Shake 'n' Take kitbash for an Erie auto car

Chuck Davis presented a master class in Lehigh Valley box and auto cars and displayed many fine replicas

Bruce Smith always brings several trains worth of models. This X26 is from Westerfield

Bruce also modeled this spectacular landing craft loaded on an ACL flat car (Tichy)

Fenton Wells displayed another Shake 'n' Take car. This WP rebuild is from a few years ago.

As usual, Bill Welch brought several in progress models, including this CNJ ARA box car with many scratchbuilt details

Bill also brought several Emergency box cars, including this Chicago and North Western beauty

Monday, January 14, 2019

Kitbashing Clinic from Prototype Rails 2019

As promised during the clinic, here is the link to my presentation file. Thanks to all who attended. It was another great event and I am grateful Mother Nature didn't intervene this year. See you again in 2020.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Wordy Wednesday - Baltimore & Ohio 1937 AAR Box Car M-55A B&O 465885

San Diego, California, December 26, 1954, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo
In 1942, the Baltimore & Ohio added 900 class M-55A box cars that hewed to the 1937 AAR design, but liberally took advantage of the ability to choose specialties including ends, roof, and underframe. The sides were the typical riveted ten-panel sides of the 1937 AAR design. The B&O opted for Carbuilder's (the generic term for a builder's proprietary-design doors, ends, roofs, etc.) ends and roofs. These specialties were Pullman-inspired as the cars were constructed by Pullman-Standard. As was a de facto standard for the B&O in that era, the cars were equipped with the Duryea Cushion underframe.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1943, FSA-OWI Collection, Library of Congress
The flat, riveted roof possessed a distinguishing "step" between the last roof end panels and the adjacent panels, as can be seen here. The end ribs were roughly triangular in cross-section, with a taper near the end corners, with the last bits of the ribs following the radius of the corner.

The top photo is another of my favorites from Col. Chet McCoid. It was recorded either very early or late in the day when the low light angle provided excellent and even coverage of the surface details. This car had not been repainted since it was built, so it has a dozen years of service reflected on its surface. Of note are the rather low crossbearers of the Duryea Cushion underframe and the XLT (or Tatum) slack adjuster, the rectangular appendage to the right of the AB brake reservoirs. John Tatum was a B&O employee and prolific inventor with many patents for railroad-related appliances, including this slack adjusting device. There is an article about the adjusters in Volume 44 of The B&O Modeler, including how to model these devices that were common to many B&O freight cars.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Shipping Grain by Box Car and Grain Doors

Litchfield, Minnesota, John Vachon, September, 1939, FSA-OWI Collection, Library of Congress

For far longer than seems plausible, the primary means to ship bulk (loose) grain was not covered hoppers, but box cars. Obviously, filling grain into cars that were loaded with the doors open required some type of accommodation to “trap” the grain and prevent it from spilling out onto the area below the car doors. What was needed was a temporary “block” that could be easily installed and removed trackside, with a minimum of tools and skill.
Vernon, Texas, 1948, Lee Russell, photo, CB&Q Railroad, Newberry Library
The solution was through the application of grain doors. These were pre-fabricated assemblies of wood planks that spanned to the door opening and were nailed in place, with the number appropriate to the type of grain being loaded. More dense (heavy) grains took up less space before maxing the car’s capacity; conversely, less dense grains used more of the cubic capacity of the car and required more grain doors to be used (capacity "fill" lines were stenciled on the inside lining of cars as shown in this and the photo below). The doors were stacked across the opening, edge on top of edge. 
Interior of Delaware & Hudson 1932 ARA box car
The doors were expected to be reused and were supposed to be returned once the trip was completed. The railroads owned the doors and provided them to shippers gratis. For a fee the railroads could install the doors if desired. The doors were to be routed back to the owning railroad. They were collected and sorted by owning railroad and eventually made their way back to collection locations at interchange points. The Western Weighing and Inspection Bureau collected doors at major terminals and returned them, even calculating usage fees.
Interior of Canadian Pacific 1932 ARA box car

In 1948, paper grain doors were introduced by Signode. Their use was gradually adopted throughout the 1950s. In the early 1960s, box cars with small grain doors built into the larger sliding doors were introduced, a simpler and cleaner option compared to wood or paper grain doors. Also, the introduction of covered hoppers for grain transport in the 1940s and 1950s initiated the overall decline of box cars for grain transport.

Sunshine Models provided a set of resin grain doors as a handout to attendees of one of the Naperville meets. While these are nice, scratchbuilding a set would also be a simple proposition. There is a drawing of a Northern Pacific grain door on page 57 of The Model Railroader’s Guide to Grain by Jeff Wilson from Kalmbach. In addition, much of the material presented here is drawn from that resource. It is highly recommended as are the other titles in that series

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Wordy Wednesday - New York Central PS-1 NYC 169664

This photo of NYC 169664 seemed vaguely familiar to me when I looked at it a couple of days ago. Strip the paint, change the hand brake to a Miner hand brake, and then repaint it like Lake Superior & Ishpeming PS-1 LS&I 2242 that I profiled on this blog a few days ago and you would have the same car. They used the same New York Central-style placard boards, including their locations, the same welded-on roping loops, and the same arrangement of the lower corners, including push pole pockets, side sill angle sections, and "un-PS-1-like" uncoupling devices. So, as I modify my Kadee model of LS&I 2236, most or all of those changes apply to NYC 169000-170499 specifically depending upon the doors, as well as to NYC 170500-172499. The cars in the 169000 series were essentially from the same Pullman-Standard lot, 5965 for NYC 169000-170499 and 5965A for LS&I 2226-2275. Details for the NYC cars are noted below. If the 50 cars of the LS&I are a little too obscure for your tastes, perhaps the 3,500 built for the New York Central in 1950-1951 are more to your liking.

Note the New York Central paint data triangle at lower left of car side on NYC 170750. This is the earliest instance this blog author has seen of the paint data triangle in use. This car was built in February, 1951

Between 1950 and 1951 the New York Central received 3,500 40' PS-1 box cars from Pullman-Standard. The details are as follows:

*7-panel Superior door with third panel from top wider than other panels

There were also 1,000 cars delivered in 1948 and 500 cars delivered in 1952. These are each different and not covered in the data presented above.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Thoughts on "In Praise of Mediocrity" on this first day of 2019

I have been thinking about something on and off for a few months now. It hasn't consumed me, but it's been there lingering. The September 29, 2018 issue of The New York Times included an opinion piece by Tim Wu, titled "In Praise of Mediocrity." Mr. Wu's premise is that the reason that most Americans do not have hobbies as we did decades ago is not because we lack leisure time*, but for an entirely different reason: "We're afraid of being bad at them." He posits that seemingly everything we now do comes with an "expectation of excellence." We have been culturally programmed that we can't have casual pursuits; we must practice these leisure time activities at the highest level.

"But there is also a real and pure joy, a sweet, childlike delight, that comes from just learning and trying to get better." This is his counterpoint. I could not agree more. I learn something new from every project I undertake. However, as someone who is always trying to produce the most accurate replicas possible, and one who I humbly submit already practices the craft of my hobby at a fairly high level, I do not see how the pursuit of excellence detracts at all from my joy and delight. If anything, it is what provides those very comforts since it is excellence on my own terms, not anyone else's. If it failed to deliver satisfaction and pleasure, I wouldn't do it any longer. I find that the very fact that it is a hobby and the fact that I continue to do it makes it pleasurable. Why else would I?

How do you feel about the approach you take to our hobby?

*Mr. Wu is not a social scientist and presents no hard data to back up his supposition regarding free time. I think that in the aggregate, we do have less leisure or free time, as expectations with jobs and careers have morphed dramatically; the internet and smart phones have allowed us to be "on" as much as we want (or can tolerate) and employers carry this expectation. Those same changes have affected how we view (either actively or passively) leisure time and hobbies. The distraction of the TV was a speck on a gnat's behind compared to the distractions offered by the collective Youtube, Hulu, Netflix, cable, Amazon et al universe. It's a lot easier to do nothing...