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.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Transition Era Texas Oil (Texaco) Tank Cars - Part One

In 1935 the sizeable Texaco tank car fleet, just under 6,000 cars strong, was sold to General American and leased back to Texaco. The reporting marks remained unchanged, using T.C.X. However, throughout the 1940s, as cars were repainted, the billboard "TEXACO" scheme was abandoned in favor a simple black car with only the basic information, like that shown on TCX 6852 shown above (Hamlet, North Carolina, October 14, 1951, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo.) 

TCX 6852, built in April 1929, also illustrates a couple of other details worth noting. The AC&F 10,000 gallon Type 27 tank cars built in the late 1920s had shorter, fatter tanks, similar to those of the Type 21 design, albeit with three instead of four courses and four tank bands. TCX 6852 is an example of such a 10,000 gallon Type 27. After about 1930, 10,000 gallon Type 27 tank cars featured longer, narrower tanks with only two tank bands. Another interesting detail are the Dalman two-level trucks without Barber lateral motion devices.

TCX 7892, built in May, 1927, is another AC&F 10,000 gallon Type 27. It illustrates the billboard scheme, with silver tank and black stenciling. I also included this photo because the details of the Texaco dealer (along with the Signal dealer at left) are notable for modelers, including the pumps, barrels, sign, etc. Will Whittaker photo at Woodland, California, December 17, 1939.

TCX 4154 also effectively illustrates the simplified post-GATC takeover scheme. It was built by Petroleum Iron Works in May, 1927. Hamlet, North Carolina, October 14, 1951, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo

This last photo is included because it illustrates an interesting Texaco detail stenciled on the ends of cars. Note the rectangle at the right of the tank head (end) containing "F" over "10". TCX 6852 above has "R" over "10", TCX 4154 has "R" over "8" and TCX 7892 also has "R" over "10" on the head. The numbers almost certainly refer to the tank capacity with "8" = 8,000 gallons and "10" = 10,000 gallons. While it is supposition the "F" might refer to fuel while the "R" could refer to refined products. No doubt, one of you can offer some additional details and/or corrections. Photo by Esther Bubley in Casper, Wyoming in 1948.

Information about decals for the GATC era to follow in Part Two

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Anatomy of a Tank Car - General American

The following pamphlet is something that I have in my collection of various materials. As noted from the cover letter, it was sent to Franklin Creek Refining of Franklin, PA, by Garland Smith, Manager, Repair Sales, of General American Tank Car. The photo above is a GATC Type 30 tank car, like the type profiled in the pamphlet. Photo from my collection

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wordy Wednesday - Omaha, Nebraska May, 1948

Click on the images to see a larger view.

This photo is interesting to me for a number of reasons. The unusual PFE painting arrangement on the -16 rebuild is one, but the other is that as an early 1950s modeler, I am on the lookout for 36' box cars that I can credibly include in my fleet; this photo shows two such candidates. The photo was recorded by Lee Russell for the CB&Q in May, 1948 in Omaha. The Rock Island freight terminal is visible, as well as the Bekins warehouse, among other structures. A couple of Rock Island truck trailers can be picked out flanking the PFE R-30-9 reefer in the background. Photo from the Newberry Library

PFE - R-30/40-16 - With 3,554 cars (nos. 73001-76554) the -16 rebuilds were the second largest group of PFE rebuilds, after the -9 classes. They employed Murphy solid steel roofs (with rectangular panels, as shown here) and retained wood ends. The extremely interesting detail in this photo is the 1946 style UP medallion by itself on the car side. According to PFE painting specifications, this style of medallion was always to be paired with an SP medallion, with both on each side of the car. This is a highly unusual, if not unique, application. HO scale models of the -16 rebuilds were offered in resin by Sunshine Models as well as styrene by Pacific Freight Enterprises

PFE R-30-24 67179 - the final group of rebuilds of the late 1930s and 40s were the -24 classes. They were unusual for the use of 'Harborite' exterior plywood sheathing (some other rebuilds of the era used this as well, notably many -9s refurbished during the same late 1940s period.) There were 2,610 -24s in total (nos. 65921-68532.) They were the only rebuilds to use Improved Dreadnaught ends and the last cars also received diagonal panel Murphy roofs. Preco FG-41 or FK-2 mechanical fans were installed, as well. Almost all of the -24 rebuilds used "built-up" 30-or 40-ton underframes, as the vast majority of the Bettendorf underframe cars were rebuilt in earlier classes. HO scale models were offered in resin by Sunshine and the MTH PFE reefer, while decorated as a steel car, closely resembles a -24.

WP 20529 - Western Pacific received 350 Modified AAR box cars from Mt. Vernon Car Manufacturing Co. in 1945, nos. 20201-20550. They had Youngstown Steel doors, Apex Tri-Lok running boards, Barber S-2 (20201-20350) or ASF A-3 Ride Control (20351-20550) trucks, and Royal Type F brake regulators. The placard boards were lowered fairly quickly, as illustrated by the one shown on the door of WP 20529 above. Sunshine Models offered resin kits and Intermountain has styrene versions of these cars.

UP 79420 - B-50-6 The Union Pacific and Southern Pacific both rostered large fleets of double sheathed box cars constructed to a (mostly) standard design. The UP purchased over 7,500 cars from various builders, constructed between late 1910 and 1913. The UP cars were interesting as the UP rebuilt many cars with Murphy or Dreadnaught ends, extending the service lives of many through World War Two. Thereafter, numbers dropped significantly, with most gone by 1949 and none in revenue service in 1953. UP 79420 is a B-50-6 with Dreadnaught ends, still in service in May, 1948 and adorned with the 'Road of the Streamliners' and 'Serves all the West' scheme. Westerfield offers HO scale resin kits to build all known variants of these numerous cars.

D&H 24062 - These cars were profiled in a previous post. Since that posting, I have located the article from the November and December, 1987 issues of Railroad Model Craftsman.

CN 523497 - This cars was one of the over 16,000 postwar AAR-design box cars purchased by the CN between 1947 and 1957. CN 523497 was from a 1,500 car order (nos. 522500-523999) from Canadian Car & Foundry delivered in 1948. They featured pre-War Youngstown steel doors, 4/4 Improved Dreadnaught ends with a shorter top rib, Murphy rectangular panel roofs, Barber S-2 spring plankless Stabilized trucks, Ajax power hand brakes, and 8-rung ladders with integral sill steps on both sides and ends. Intermountain has produced the correct end in styrene, as well as Speedwitch in several mini-kits (Erie and P&WV postwar AAR box cars.)

L&N 11147 - Louisville & Nashville rostered a large fleet of 36' double sheathed box cars during the Steam Era. L&N 11147 was part of a group of 500 cars built in 1923 by Mt. Vernon Car Manufacturing Co., nos. 11000-11499. Sunshine offered HO scale kits for some cars and there have been articles over the years about kitbashing models, usually beginning with the MDC model as a starting point. There is another HO scale resin offering in the works.

ATSF 272464 - Bx-46 (272000-272977, 978 cars) rebuilt in 1945 from Santa Fe's ARA-design double sheathed box cars in classes Bx-9 and -10. There were also rebuilds in classes Bx-41 (270000-270134, 134 cars; from Bx-8), Bx-42 (270500-271033, 534 cars; Bx-9/-10), Bx-45 (271600-271949, 350 cars; Bx-8), and Bx-49 (272978-273914, 937 cars; Bx-9/-10). The Bx-49 cars were different in that they employed postwar 'Improved' Dreadnaught ends.

UP B-50-20 - The UP converted 886 of the A-50-6 class automobile cars to box cars in 1934-1935 (500 cars, nos. 350000-350499) and in 1940 (386 cars, nos. 350500-350885). The cars were distinctive for their size and single sheathed style structural members, but with steel where wood boards were normally used. Westerfield offers HO scale resin kits to replicate these distinctive cars.

Monday, November 11, 2019


I decided to post a couple photos that will serve as ground zero for my extremely modest apartment layout. I have benchwork in place! Yes, it's prefab and yes, there's not much to it. I have to make some embellishments and customizations. It is my hope that many of you will see what I have done and it will stir you to get started on something. What I am doing is quite modest, but it is better than the alternative and it gets me in the game. I will post more in the coming couple weeks about how I customize this setup. I am modeling a medium sized town. Absent secondary tracks, the mainline run through is approximately 160". Have to start somewhere, right?

Yes, that is a fine Spanish Tempranillo that you see...
Yes, for those of you with keen eyes, it is Ikea's Ivar shelving. However, I will be incorporating several customized wrinkles that should make interesting. Track plan coming, too.... stay tuned!

What you see so far are:
7 - 20" X 70" side frames
9 - 20" x 33" shelves
6 - 17" x 33" shelves
1 - 89" corner post
2 - 30" corner shelves (I will be adding one more, at least)

One of the many wrinkles that I will be incorporating is eliminating the posts between the top shelves so that I have a continuous unobstructed flat layout surface, as well as making a custom accommodation for lighting. Also, the top shelves are at about 50" which is a little high for some tastes, but I am tall...

P.S. I know I need a few shims and yes, I did think about putting adjustable levelers into the bottom of the legs. However, I am in an apartment and want to be sensitive to marking the floors, so it will be old school cedar shims for now.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

McKeesport Connecting Railroad 1000-series 50-foot Gondolas

ACF Industries, Hawkins/Wider/Long Collection
The McKeesport Connecting Railroad was part of the U.S. Steel family of railroads and its very modest fleet of cars reflected that affiliation. It received 100 fifty-foot gons from American Car & Foundry in 1941 that were similar to cars received by other USS roads. The cars were placed in the 1000-1099 series. They had fairly low sides, steel floors, fixed Dreadnaught ends, and fishbelly center sills, among other details. They were painted in a decidedly gray (not black) color: Scully #320 black graphite and as delivered featured a Pratt & Lambert "Vitralex" red circle as part of the company monogram.

The cars did have some unusual details, many of which are called out in the graphical photo overlay above. Note the grab arrangement in the in service photo below.

John W. Barriger National Railroad Library flickr site, TRRA of St. Louis album
Funaro & Camerlengo offers HO scale resin model kits for these cars. There are a few details that need to be addressed/corrected for an accurate model:

  • Grab iron mounting arrangements at corners of sides and ends (note that these were simplified for many cars by the early to mid-1950s; scratchbuild on model)
  • USS-style towing loop/jacking pads and route card holders (spare etchings from Speedwitch B&LE box car kit)
  • Universal 5700 XL power hand brake with M1704 wheel (from Intermountain covered hopper kit)
  • Collapsible stake pockets (model includes them; prototype did not have them; will model a car with a load to hide interior, but must remove rivets from exterior of sides)
  • Red circle in the as-built scheme (small custom decal project!)
I will highlight the modeling of a car in coming posts. Here are photos of my model in its current state (not very far along!):
Reservoirs and AB valve installed and piped with 0.010" wire
Floor glued in place; not collapsible stake pockets (not correct for this prototype)
Etchings for towing loops/jacking pads and route card holders

Other photos:
MKCRR 1029 - Ed Wilkommen Collection of Lake States Railway Historical Association - note replacement Equipco hand wheel
MKCRR 1042 - Jack Whitmeyer Collection (small image)

I plan to bring this to Cocoa Beach as a finished model, including pipe load

BIG thank you to Ed Hawkins for his help with the prototype information