Sunday, January 21, 2024

Comparison of 12-Panel Box Cars - Southern Pacific and Great Northern

Many years ago (longer than I can believe) I built the model shown above* and patted myself on the back for having made an SP class B-50-25 12-panel 10'0" inside height postwar AAR box car. Truth be told, it's an acceptable outcome. However, it is many years later and I am now an SP modeler and this B-50-25 model no longer scratches the itch. Why? Well, there are numerous differences between the GN 12-panel box car (the basis for the Intermountain kit used to make the B-50-25) and the SP and T&NO's B-50-25 and -26 classes of 12-panel box cars.

First an interesting point: while the GN 12-panel box cars garner lots of attention, the SP had a sizable fleet of 12-panel cars and if confined to the inside height of 10'0"/10'2", the SP/T&NO cars were more numerous, at 3,475 for the GN vs. 5,600 for the SP/T&NO. 

There are several well-documented differences to these prototypes: the end panels on the GN cars were welded together while they were riveted on the SP/T&NO. The side sill support tab sections on the GN cars were welded to the underframe crossmembers while they were riveted on the SP/T&NO. The door stops on the cars were different for the GN vs. SP/T&NO. The GN cars used Murphy diagonal panel roofs while the SP/T&NO had rectangular panel roofs. These differences alone add up to these being quite different looking in aggregate (not to mention the early Improved Youngstown doors on the SP/T&NO B-50-25, with their wide overlapping sections.) The Intermountain models skew all of these detail differences in favor of the GN cars, making an SP/T&NO model a compromise on many levels. I did address many of these things in my model shown above, but the difference in the side construction was not addressed. Here is what that looks like (click on the images to see a larger view)

March 22, 1959, Hamlet, NC, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo

June 6, 1948, Wilmington, CA, courtesy of Paul Koehler

Yes, these differences are subtle, but when added to the ledger of other differences in roof, ends, doors, side sill support sections ('tabs') and additional details, it all beckoned me to take the plunge and fix everything. So, I have created new side and end patterns to be incorporated into a full kit with one-piece resin body, accurate side sill support 'tabs' for the different builders (they were different!), correctly spaced ladders, etc. for the B-50-25/-26. Stay tuned as these will be available this year from Speedwitch.

*one interesting thing I found when making decals for the B-50-25 is that the Pressed Steel cars (which the model is based upon) used a zero for the 'O' in "SOUTHERN PACIFIC" lending a pronounced oval shape to the character, as opposed to the more rounded "O" as shown in the prototype photo of B-50-26 SP 59057, shown above. The prototype photo of SP 21264 is shown below

November 9, 1947, Reading Allison Hill Freight Terminal, Harrisburg, PA, Bob Charles Collection, Kalmbach Memorial Library

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