Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Modeling SP's Road Switchers (Part 2) - Medium Steam Engines

This is the second post of Modeling SP's Road Switchers, which I would classify as medium size.  In Modeling SP's Road Switchers (Part 1), where I covered SP 0-6-0, 2-6-0, 2-8-0, 4-6-0, and 0-8-0s.

In this post, I will focus more on the next group of engines heavier, primarily the medium sized Mk (2-8-2) type.  When these engines were built they were among the SP's biggest steam engines and were used in freight and some passenger service for the engines with 63" drivers.

The prices listed below would be what I would consider to be "Fair" market value for a model in good condition in February 2017 without DCC.  In most cases the low price would be for a model requiring a new paint job and the higher price what a model with minimal repainting would be "fair".

SP 2-8-2 Mikes


SP 3208, a Mk-2 class 2-8-2.  Photo from Eddie Sims Collection, used with permission.

The SP's smallest standard 2-8-2s were the 57" drivered engines of the Mk-2 and Mk-4 classes.  These two classes of engine outlasted the larger Mk-5 and -6 class engines.  The Mk-2s and -4s lived until 1954 and 1955 the various locals around Oakland, Tracy, Mojave, and San Jose.  They also show naturally up as heavy switchers around Oakland and Los Angeles.

SP Mk-2 Class - Sunset ($400-450) & Division Point ($900-1100+)


The left side of an Mk-2 Class from Sunset Models.

The right side of an Mk-2 Class from Sunset Models.

The Mk-2's were assigned to numbers 3200-3215.  These were built in 1911 with 57" drivers, converted to oil firing in 1912 and superheated between 1917 and 1919.  Several were rebuilt to Mk-4 specifications between 1929 and 1931.  Several of these engines lasted until 1954 and 1956, when finally replaced by GP9s in local service.

SP Mk-4 Class - Sunset ($400-450) & Division Point ($900-1100+)


The left side of an Mk-4 from Sunset Models with an extra "120-C-2" also from Sunset from a 2-10-2.

The right side of a Mk-4 from Sunset Models with the corrected cylinders.

The Mk-4s were assigned numbers 3216-3235.  These were built in 1913 and upgraded several times over the years.  Five engines built for the Arizona Eastern (AE 901-905) were transferred in 1921 and 1924 and numbered 3236-3249, bumping five of the SP 3236-series Mk-5s into the 3271-series. 

One quirk of the Sunset Models of the Mk-2 and Mk-4 class engines that they imported is that they swapped the valve gear between the two classes.  The models of the Mk-4s came with the slanted cylinders, more like the Stephenson valve gear, and the Mk-2s came with the piston valves in the standard outer position usually associated with Walschaerts valve gear.

Thankfully I was had one of each on hand.  I at first hoped that I could simply swap frames and they would fit on the other class boiler.  That however didn't work at all because the Mk-4 was about 12" scale inches shorter than the Mk-2.  What I was able to do is swap the valve gear between the two frames in about 20 minutes.  The photos below show the models after the corrective swap was made.

I talk more in-depth about the Sunset Mk-2 and Mk-4 models in my blog Correcting Sunset Models SP Mk-2 & Mk-4.

SP Mk-5 & -6 Class


The Mk-5 & -6 class engines were built with 63" drivers for mountain passenger assignments and also soon down graded to medium freight service.  Many were assigned to the T&NO (Texas Lines) and models of these are available with the signature "Dog house" on the tender for the brakeman.  I will be focusing on the Pacific Lines Mk-5/6s which did not have the "dog houses" primarily the Balboa Models which were the more common models.  Alco Models imported 2-8-2s that were only correct for one SP engine and with major rebuilding a second engine.

SP 3269 - Mk-6 - ALCo Models ($350-400)


SP 3269 with the Elesco FWH and piping in front of the stack.  Ryan Dora model & photo, used with permission.

SP 3269 and 3270 were odd-balls among the Pacific Lines engines as they're fitted with Elesco feed water heaters mounted across the top of the smoke box in front of the stack.  Alco Models has imported a model of the SP 3269.  The 3270 also was weird in that it was fitted with a longer UP-style smoke box.

The rest of the Mk-5s and -6s were basically identical.  Some were fitted with "Sport" cabs with their slanted front wall, while others retained their square cabs.

Balboa Mk-5/6 ($325-450)


Returning helper SP 3259 drifts light through Bealville at LMRC, San Diego.

The Mk-5's were built by Baldwin in  1913 and assigned numbers SP 3236-3249, but in 1921 and 1924 the first five were moved to the 3271-3275 series.  Most were rebuilt over the years with higher boiler pressures and other changes like super heating.  Most were retired between 1951 and 1953, with one lasting into 1956.

SP 3270 was also built in 1914 and loaned to Baldwin for the Pan Pacific Exposition in 1914 It finally entering service in 1915 on the SP classified as a Mk-5.  Its first rebuild saw it equipped with Elesco FWH in Dec 1920.  The SP 3270 was retired and scrapped in 1953.

SP 3271-3275 were the renumbered SP 3236-3240 which lasted into the 1952-1954 time frame.\

SP 3276 & 3277 were originally built as the AE 906 and 907 in 1917 and retired in 1953 and 1952 respectively.  The AE engines were fitted with a smaller sand dome, more like what SP 2-8-0s were fitted with and the position of the bell and the sand dome were reversed from other Mk-5s.

The Mk-6 class were built by Lima in late 1914 and were numbered in the series 3250-3269.  The Mk-6's were rebuilt back and forth to coal and oil over the years.  SP 3269 was fitted in 1921 with a Elesco FWH, one of only two SP Pacific Lines engines fitted with this type of feed water heater.  Most of the Mk-6's were retired between 1953 and 1954, with one lasting into 1957.  Many lost their FWH's during the early 1950s.

SP 3251 - Mk-6 - with Sunset 120-C-2 Tender ($100-150) 


SP 3251, an Mk-6 that lived for a long time based at SLO, and used on the King City Turn.

This model shows the forward sand dome and "Sport Cab" with the 120-C-2 tender from a Sunset 2-10-2

SP 3259 - Mk-6 - with Sunset 120-C-2 Tender ($100-150)


The left side of SP 3259 with changes including replacement MDC "Harriman" cab andwalkway changes.

The right side of SP 3259 with Sunset 120-C-2 tender.

SP 3266 - Mk-5 - with Athearn-Genesis 120-C-6 Tender ($80-90)


The left side of SP 3266 with FWH above the 4th driver and Ath-Gen 120-C-6 tender.

The right side of SP 3266 with Athearn-Genesis 120-C-6 tender. (weathering not complete on tender)

Other SP 2-8-2s


The SP also had some non-standard Mikes that they acquired second-hand from other RR's.  I will cover them briefly.

SP Mk-10 - Ex-Minarets & Western # Engines (SP 3296-3297)


The Minarets & Western Lumber Company at Pinedale, CA (near Fresno) was abandoned in 1935.  SP bought the two small 51" drivered Mikes and quickly assigned them to heavy yard switching duties in Northern California, at Dunsmuir.

Westside Models (WSM) imported (Sam. built) models of this class.  These models are more common to find than the Sunset Mk-2/4s, but unfortunately are much less useful if you're modeling areas other than Northern California or Oregon.

SP Mk-11 - Ex-Newaukum Valley # 521 & 522 (SP 3298 & 3299)


SP bought two more Mikes from Wm. Shenker, an equipment broker.  These two engines came via the dealer Georgia Car & Loco Co. in November 1940.  Both had 51" drivers and were retired in 1953 and 1954 in Brooklyn, OR.

SP Mk-7/8/9 - Ex-EP&SW Engines (3300-3324)


SP 3305 running as an Extra.  Eddie Sims Collection, used with permission

The Mk-7/8/9s were built for the EP&SW at ALCo in 1913 with high square cabs, which was a signature of the EP&SW's larger engines including the Mt-2s (4-8-2s).  The Mk-7/8/9s were assigned numbers SP 3300-3324.  Around 1930 they came west and were rebuilt to burn fuel oil.

These engines were retired between 1950 and 1955.  Many photos of them can be seen around Los Angeles, Oakland and Altamont Pass in the post-WW2 to mid-1950s retirement dates.  In later years these engines were also fitted with large 120-SC-class "Whaleback" tenders off retired AC-3s and AM-class engines.

North Shore Lines imported models of these Mikes, which are rather expensive if they can be found.

In Closing


SP 3202 switching at Owenyo, 143 miles from Mojave.  Eddie Sims Collection, used with permission.

That covers the mid-range of SP's Steam Road Switchers.  I'll cover working on some of these models in more detailed blogs in the future.  Next time, I'll cover some of SP's bigger engines, and some of the heavier passenger engines.

Jason Hill

Related Links:


Modeling the Shasta - A Passenger Assignment for an Mk-5/6

Modeling SP Mail Trains (Nos.55 & 56), the Tehachapi - Also used Mk-5/6s near the end in 1954.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

SP Cabooses (Part 1) - Ex-Coaches

In this post I want to cover two examples of SP's non-standard cabooses.  Both of these models are better than 10 years old, but are still relevant today.

SP 2850 returns to Bakersfield Yard from the west with a few GS gondolas and an ex-coach caboose, circa 1954.

The starting point for these two models are MDC/Athearn 60ft "Harriman" Coach.  I've discussed these models before in my blog post about SP 2701, which is a Model Power car.

The MDC model is too short among its other issues, so I try to keep the cars with major issues, like incorrect roof profiles and incorrect length out of situations where they'll be coupled to other more correct cars.  Putting cars with major issues of prototype fidelity next to correct cars will highlight the issues with the stand-in model.  This means that the MDC coaches are generally used as kitbashing fodder for other cars or used as express riders cars, cabooses, or local cabooses.


SP 998 - Caboose



My first introduction to this type of use for an old coach was in the VideoRails (Pentrex) SP 1941 film.  In the film we see a Mt-class 4-8-2 working a string of about 40 tank cars over the Suisun Bridge.  The SP must have been short on cabooses that day, or maybe the 60ft Coach was used on the train to get it to Sacramento for shopping.  In any case, it was an neat view of the train silhouetted against the sky as it worked its way through the massive bridge trusses.

SP Caboose 998, built from MDC/Athearn coach

The SP 998 was a one of the 60-CC-1 class chair cars converted to Caboose service on Dec 22, 1952 in LA, originally built as Chair car SP 2530, it was retired in 1957.

I did this conversion and added Tomar's G-G-R Marker lights to the rear corners of the vestibules for end of train service.  The underbody mechanicals looks much like the other Soho 60ft coaches I've been working on, such as SP 1005 and T&NO 777.  Walthers 8ft Pullman Trucks are used in place of the original MDC trucks that came with the car.  I have yet to add the battery box and brake systems to the SP 998.

SP 973 - Local Caboose



It should be noted that these cars may not match up to late 1940's and early 1950's agreements of what constituted a "Caboose" according to the Union Agreements.  Non-Union Cabooses therefore could only be used by crews that were not Conductors and Trainmen.  This restricted them to being used by "Yard Crews", Foremen and Switchmen on switching jobs near yards within what were known as "Switching Limits", not to be confused with operational "Yard Limits" under Rule 93.  These "Switching Limits" were defined in the Union Agreements as to which areas would be worked by yard crews and which would be worked by road crews on locals.

The towns of Edison and Oil City were within these "Switching Limits" of Bakersfield Yard.  As such any switch engine and crew could be told by the Yard Master to go out and work one of the outlying areas, for which they could pick up a "Caboose" to let the three or four men (Foreman and usually two or three switchmen) that couldn't ride on the engine out to the area where the work was.

Partially finished T&NO 777, a Soho 60ft 60-C-5 coach

This model is a bit of a stretch for my era, but it's an interesting example of a stand-in.  The Caboose SP 973 started life as the T&NO 794, a 60-C-5, much like T&NO 777, which I've covered in its own blog post.

Ex-T&NO 794, weather beaten and downgraded in 1954 to Caboose SP 973 at Bakersfield

This car has not received the new Walthers 8ft Pullman 4-wheel trucks like the SP 998 has, and retains the shorter 7ft MDC trucks.

Among the changes to this model, I divided the windows as best I could with small strips of plastic to simulate the paired window look.  The columns between window pairs is still too wide and there's no single window at one end of the car, but changing that would be a massive rebuild of the car body.

SP 2850 with GS gonds and ex-coach caboose.  Those of you that know the prototype photo will recognize this model shot.

In an undated photo I have of a 60ft coach being pulled into Bakersfield yard by SP 2851 (a 2-8-0), it shows a car very much like the 973, but both vestibule doors are open.  I cut out the doors from this model to replicate that.  I also added a smoke jack to the roof of the car to match the photos.

The other side of SP 973 with the battery box, and a broken window divider, which I replaced with a blank black panel.

A retired SP Bakersfield yardman that I talked to in 2005 said that there was an old 60ft coach that they used regularly on the Oil City switch job, so doing some quick research in Tony Thompson's SP Freight Cars Vol.2 on page 265, there's a table of all the 950-series 60ft coach/chair car conversions to use as Cabooses.  The SP 973 was converted at Bakersfield in March 1954, the earliest of all the SP's 60-CC-Series cars to be converted to cabooses.

The roof of SP 973, weathered with light earth colors to match the Bakersfield mud and dust.

This seems to be several years too late for me to model, but in the photo, the car appears to be in green, not freight car brown, so this is how I chose to model the SP 973, as if it was just patched for caboose service but not repainted.

A photo has since come to light showing that the SP 973 was repainted into full clean Freight Car Red when the conversion was made.  Perhaps I should change the number at some point, but it's not worth it at this point.

Mechanicals on the SP 973


MDC trucks and couplers

The mechanicals on this car are very simple.  I kept the stock weights in the area between the bottom of the body floor and the sub-floor that MDC made.  The truck centers were not moved.  The "Talgo" style coupler boxes mounted to the trucks were cut off, and mounted to the body.

Opened doors and diaphragms on the SP 973

The diaphragms are still the American Limited ones from the early 2000's.  The problems of them popping out aren't as noticeable on these caboose service cars because they are only coupling to freight cars, not other cars with diaphragms.

I hope you enjoyed this quick look at a couple of non-standard SP Cabooses.

Jason Hill

Related Links:
SP 2701, 60-CC-1 from a Model Power Coach (Part 1)

SP's 60-C-5 (Part 1), SP 1005

SP's 60-C-5 (Part 2), T&NO 777

Index SP Heavyweight Passenger Car Models

Athearn/MDC 60ft "Harriman" Baggage Car (Part 1) - Mechanicals

Sunday, February 12, 2017

SP 10250-51-52 (Part 3) - Track Cleaning Pad

In SP 10250-51-52 (Part 1) - Diner-Lounge 1949 Conversion blog post, I started to modify the diner unit to the 1949 San Joaquin Daylight configuration as a Diner-Lounge and also start to retrofit the Kitchen unit to the pre-1951 look.  This was followed shortly by a following post SP 10250-51-52 (Part 2) - Diner-Lounge 1949 Conversion where I go into depth on building a new lounge section for the diner.

Kitchen, SP 10260, refitted with a slider pad

In Part 3, we are returning to the Kitchen Unit, SP 10251.  I'm also including some photos of other MTH Kitchen units in-service at LMRC in this post.  The kitchen units have a very large water tank under the rear third of the car to supply the kitchen and pantries.  The tank hangs pretty low over the track and is a good candidate to modify and convert to hide a Masonite track cleaning pad without detracting from the look of the passenger train.

The water tank under the stock MTH Kitchen Unit.

Removing the Tank


This is actually a pretty easy conversion.  First start by removing the water tank from the bottom of the floor of the car.  I covered this briefly in Part 1 in terms of removing the tank.  This is most easily done by removing the kitchen shell, followed by the interior, which will expose the two mounting studs in the floor.

Here's the Kitchen unit with the tank removed and a section of Masonite pad cut for a 40ft freight car.

The pad that I'll be using is cut from 1/8" Masonite panel.  It already has the leading and trailing edges chamfered to ride over any uneven sections of track work.  This pad was a bit too long for the space allowed under the car between the truck and other underframe equipment boxes.

The underframe of SP 10251 with the tank removed.

The only other major modification to the underframe structure that I made was to remove the wire "pipe" running between the frame members.  I had to cut one end of the wire with my Dremal cutoff disc so that I could remove it without damaging the underframe sills.

Modifying the Masonite Pad


The pads that I stared with were cut to fit between the trucks of a 40ft freight car.  The kitchen installation will require the pad to be shorted to match the length of the prototype car's water tank, which is 1.900".  I did this with a razor saw.  A quick pass to put a chamfer on the cut end was easily done with a file and my bench sander.  The pad is 1.135" wide.

Building the Pad Structure


I did some quick measurements of the floors ride hight and bottom of the underframe ride hight also.  This would form the basis of the calculations of figuring out the heights for the pad and guiding structure.

The various parts laid out before I started working on building the pad.

The first step in building the pad suspending structure is cutting the "Centerboard" which will ride between the frame members of the underframe.  A "Centerboard" is a movable keel on sailboats which slides within a box or trunk.  This pretty well describes the relationship between the box formed by the sills of the underframe and the new guide structure for the pad, which I will refer to as the centerboard.

"Centerboard Trunk" of the Kitchen Unit, prepared for the pad to be test fit.

I also want to plan for the possible replacement of the Masonite pad without completely building a new pad structure, so I made a top-plate for the pad from 0.020" styrene sheet, cut about 0.06" narrower than the pad is.  The pad was mounted to the top-plate with RTV Silicone, which should provide some flex to the joint, which ACC-type (super) glues will not.

I marked the centerline of the top plate  and marked offsets 0.06" off the centerline so I could see the marks as I mounted the 0.125" wide Centerboard.  The Centerboard was then glued using liquid styrene cement (I prefer Tamiya brand) to the centerline of the top-plate.

RTV Silicon, the Masonite pad, and  styrene "Top-Plate" both of which are scribed to provide some tooth for the cement.

The bottom of the top-plate is scribed with my carbide scribe tool to give some tooth for the RTV Silicon cement to hang on to.  A very small amount of cement is applied to the top of the pad and clamped to the top-plate until it dries.

The Centerboard is a piece of 0.125"x 0.250" strip styrene cut to be 1.850" long or about 0.040" shorter than the span of the hole between the cross frames of the underframe.  This will allow slight forward and backward freedom of the pad while remaining trapped between the underframe members and the skirting of the car.

I was planning to suspend the pad and structure from the holes in the cross beams of the underframe using 6lb. test fishing line.  To do this I made some small brackets from 0.125"x 0.250" styrene strip.  I cut them square at one end and diagonally on the other between 0.300" and 0.170" with the tapered side towards the middle of the pad.  Later I will drill a hole for the fishing line rigging.

During test fitting at this point, I didn't like how exposed the pad was and being able to see the top of it.  I plan to paint the top and sides flat black, but I want to do better simulating the side of the water tank.

I add a couple of 0.188"x 0.020" styrene strips down the side of the top-plate which will ride inside the skirts of the car.

Finished track slider cleaning pad and structure.

The whole pad and structure assembly is painted with flat black spray paint.  I made sure to keep the cleaning surface down on the paint bench to keep it as clean as possible.

Pad fitted to the bottom of one of the Kitchen Units, ready for service.

At this point I elected not to rig the fishing line as I wanted to see how the pads preformed.  I also did not add any weights to the top of the pads, allowing them to ride with only the weight of the Masonite pad and the few bits of styrene on top.

Evaluating the Results


The pad not visible under SP 10260 in this lighting.

Two pads were completed for use at the La Mesa Model Railroad Club January 2017 TT/TO 1950s session.

SP 10260 with completed pad sticking out somewhat into the layout lighting in this view.

 I am still pondering about narrowing the width of these pads slightly, to make them less obvious.  In some staged photos the existing pads are pretty well camouflaged.  After the test runs it seems that the dirt marks from the traversing the curves shows within about 0.05" of the max width of the pads, so not much could be gained from narrowing them.  Making a pad too narrow will allow it to fall between the rails and derail the car as it exits the curve.

The pad from one of the kitchen units after only two laps!

The pads did their job as can be seen from this photo above.  I mounted a pad on each of the two MTH Triple Unit Diner sets worked out very well.  The pads caused no issues during testing or over the weekend event.  I took these photos after each car traveled two laps with fresh pads.

With the black carboning brushed off, it's ready for the next trip

A quick scrub with a wire brush and they're good to go again!

In Closing


The cleaning pad is barely visible in this photo in the shadows under the Kitchen Unit.

Being able to remove the pads from the car quickly and easily is one vote for not rigging the fishing lines to keep it captive under the car.  I will have to see how these preform in the next few months.  Perhaps rigging it with the fishing line will not be too much trouble.  Time will tell.

In the SP 10250-51-52 (Part 4) blog post, I will go into more depth with completing the Lounge-Diner interior module for the SP 10250.

Jason Hill

Related Links:
SP 10250-51-52 (Part 1) - Kitchen & Diner-Lounge 1949 Configuration

SP 10250-51-52 (Part 2) - Diner-Lounge 1949 Configuration

MTH Daylight Passenger Cars - Review & Mods

Index of SP Lightweight Passenger Cars Models

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Trip Over Tehachapi on SCX-BI

In January 2017 I was in San Diego for the annual Winter On Tehachapi TT/TO Operations event at La Mesa Model Railroad Club in Balboa Park.  I touched briefly on the Overview of 1950s LMRC Operations in my blog post a few months ago.  I know most of my modeling is SP related, but some of my posts relating to the operations will also include Santa Fe trains and operations, as they are inseparably linked to the SP operations of the pass.

Extra 4290 West with Dead Head Equipment consist at Winter On Tehachapi, January 2017.

On the first day of the two day event I worked at the East Staging Yard for 12 hours.  I didn't get a chance to take many photos, but Sunday I was able to work on the Hill Pool and took a train over the pass.

Waiting for the Call


The operations have many people working jobs that never involve touching the throttle.  One of those jobs is the "Crew Caller."  The Crew Caller works to keep track of the available crews for the Chief Dispatcher who coordinates the planning of trains 4-6+ hours in the future.

"Marking up" on the crew board is the first step to being assigned to a train.  When I marked up, I was about sixth out.  When a Crew Caller's on duty, crews wanting to get a train have to stay in the general area of the crew lounge or be sure the Crew Caller knows where they can be found.  One of the major elements that help this process is to know where you stand on the call order.  Every 10-15 minutes I would drop by the crew lounge and see where I stood on the board.

As a long time Operations Dept member at the club one aspect of the sessions is to train new crew members who will be qualified to run solo.  These instructional trips are made with a "Pilot" who is experienced who shows the "Student" how the operations work, filling out paperwork, reading the documentation and Timetable, in addition to helping the student learning the stations of the physical railroad.  Most of our solo crews stay with the title of "Engineer" during the trips.  The Chief Dispatcher sometimes calls trains with up to four engine to work to the train and help it over the summit at Tehachapi.  Usually on the large trains one of the crew also double as a "Conductor."  Students making their first trips are sometimes called "Conductor", sometimes "Engineer" mostly depending on style of instruction of the Piloting crew member.

A new prospective member B.A. McKenzie came to the session and was invited to work with me as the Pilot.  On paper, McKenzie would work as the Conductor, but in practice I would be covering the instructional aspects and McKenzie work the engine.

Taking the Call


The carbon copy of the crew call "soup ticket" for the SCX-BI freight train

The "Soup Ticket" or call slip instructs us what time to report for duty, which terminal, and the engine assigned.  The train we're assigned to is the Santa Fe's SCX-BI, Southern California Expediter.  The "BI" is the date symbol for the 29th day of the month.  The SCX symbol starts at Richmond California with cars to San Bernardino and Los Angeles.  Traffic was also interchanged at Stockton, Calwa, and Bakersfield.  The symbol is also one of the two lowest priority symbols over the Tehachapi Sub Division, and often instructions are issued to the SCX to pick up or set out cars along the way.

A second engineer is called for our 2-10-2 helper, ATSF 3854.  The Soup Ticket shows the helper being picked up at Bena and help us up the mountain to Summit.  Missing on the Soup Ticket is the Way Car (Caboose) that was assigned to the train, which was listed on our switchlist paperwork as ATSF 2035.

ATSF Yard at Bakersfield

Next, as we report to the Santa Fe Bakersfield yard office, the switch lists were handed over to us.

Page one of our freight's consist

The SCX arriving into Bakersfield set out four cars for the BK and BTX symbols heading to Kansas City and Texas.  The cars added were four general service cars and seven 'RD reefers for Southern California destinations.

Page two of our freight's consist

The SCX today has only been issued orders to set out one car at Mojave and no other work.  So, after the trip over the Hill, we can't forget about this last bit of work before we take the train to the staging yards of Barstow.

The Yardmaster at Bakersfield told us that the Hostler would move the engine out from the staging yard.  One area that the Santa Fe Yard is still lacking is the roundhouse and engine servicing area.  As of January 2017, the small staging yard of Landco is used to store all the road and helper engines.

Register Check


The Register Check is a major foundation stone that most crews forget to do properly.  As we have a few minutes until our engines are hostled out for us to the train, B.A. McKenzie and I head over to fill out our paper copies of our Check of Train Register tickets.

Check of Train Register tickets for us took two pages.

The Check of Train Register are filled out to prove that all sections of the last 12 hours of scheduled trains have arrived and are complete.  Any outstanding sections or late running scheduled trains will be shown during this check.

We're using Employee Timetable 9, supplement 2, effective Dec 21, 1952 for the operations.

We started with Eastward First class trains, followed by the Westward First class trains, then the Eastward 3rd class trains.

Eastward Tehachapi Sub page of ETT9, S2

Refer back to these two images during the following trip to see how the trip unfolds.

Westward Tehachapi Sub page ETT9, S2

I instructed B.A. McKenzie to include everything on this check because we do not know what the Dispatcher will be authorizing our train.  If we are authorized as an Extra, then we will need to know about the 3rd class trains, while we do our work.  Special Instructions for the Tehachapi Sub do not require an Extra to clear schedules other than First class trains.

Getting on the Road


As of 1:20AM all of the trains that should have arrived at Kern Jct. had.  We went back to the Santa Fe yard at Bakersfield to get on our train.

ATSF 140LAC approaching Kern Junction, with the interchange tracks to the right as we cross Sumner St.

We pulled out of the yard with our 36 car train and headed over to Sumner St. where the Dispatcher held us until 2:15AM to run as First 802.

At 2:18AM a proceed signal is displayed by the Towerman at Kern Jct. for us to pull up to the tower and catch our orders as we head out of town.  We receive our Clearance and Train Order No.5 at Kern Jct.

Clearance for First 802 at Kern Jct. with Order No. 5, Dec 30, 1952

The Clearance issued to us shows that we will run as First 802, scheduled to depart Kern Jct at 2:15AM, displaying "Green" signals.  This provides for the Dispatcher to run a Second Section up to 12 hours late on our schedule.  The one order we received is Order No. 5, which is shown below.

Train Order No.5, Dec 30, 1952

Reading our orders, we have a "Care Of" order that the Dispatcher wants to "Mail" to a train that is stuck between open Train Order offices.  In this case we are ordered to hand off the mailed order to Extra 4290 West at Walong.  It did strike me a little weird that the Dispatcher would mail an order to us at Kern Jct. for a train that is stuck 45 minutes away, but our's is not to reason why, just to do and... well, hopefully not die!

The order we carry gives three westward Extras right over Second 802, so not really our issue as the three Extras are not given rights over us on First 802.

Operator D.F. Willoughby at Kern Junction as we depart with waycar ATSF 2035 rolling by in front of the tower.

There was some confusion before we left about the care-of order being pulled, and then returned to us again.  Hopefully they gave us the right orders.  The orders we had issued and cleared to leave with tell us that there are at least three extras (Extras 6202, 4290, and ATSF 212 West) out there, but as we're a Third class train, they should be in the clear for us at various points along the way.

On the Road


2:27AM - Magunden


Our waycar 2035 charges by as ATSF 3518's headend brakeman lines the crossovers for its return to Bakersfield.

Just out of Bakersfield we see the Extra Arvin Turn working the night shift on the branch at Magunden.  Santa Fe used small and medium steam engines on the branch during the 1940s and early 1950s.  After we pass, ATSF 3518 will return to Bakersfield with a string of loaded reefers from the potato packing sheds on the branch.  The regular Arvin Road Switcher crew will be back on duty at Arvin about 6 hours for the day shift.

2:32AM - Bena


On the way out of Bakersfield we're scheduled to meet No.447, the westward Overnight express train heading to Bakersfield and Fresno.  Instead we reached Bena and the end of double track without meeting the Second Class train.

Arriving at Bena, First 802 stops next to the small company village.

While the head end crew waits for No. 447, the rear six cars of the train are cut away and our helper engine, ATSF 3854, moves to couple up.  The rear end crew takes a few minutes to lace up the air hoses and we do our brake test.

ATSF 3854 coupling to the rear of the train, before pulling forward to the forward section.

Engineer H. Paar will handle the ATSF 3854 with his own DCC throttle to help get our train up the mountain.  This requires skill and focus to shove the right amount on the rear of the train without buckling it or "string-lining" the cars around the curves.

A Bit of Train Watching


3:19AM - between Ilmon and Bena


SP 4185 leads No.447, the Valley Overnight, westward between Ilmon and Bena.

No.447 is late getting to Bena, so during the hour or so wait the head brakeman walkes over the bridge in hopes for a good shot of No.447 approaching Bena.  SP 4185 didn't disappoint with the shot above, charging along as she rolls off the hill towards the start of the Double Track into Bakersfield.

No.447's schedule is usually fulfilled running the VMW (Valley Manifest West), which is the LA-Fresno branch of the Overnight L.C.L. system of trains.

I snapped this lovely shot of SP 4185 meeting the ATSF 140 set with the Bena tank in the back round.

At 3:22AM, with No.447 out of the way, we have a few minutes to get to Ilmon before No.60 is scheduled to arrive.

The brakeman grab this shot as he scrambled to get over track side to re-board the FT set!

3:25AM - Ilmon


As First 802 heads into the siding at Ilmon for No.60, starting to close on us from the rear.

My camera had a bit of trouble capturing a clean shot of First 60 passing Magunden

Somehow there was a minor mix up, we're not told that No.60 was carrying green flags as it rolled past us at Ilmon.  We lined the switch to follow No.60 out at of the east end of Ilmon and make the run to Caliente.

No. 60 is the West Coast, I will be covering it's consist in more detail at some point in one of my Modeling a Consist series of posts.

3:41AM - Caliente


As the station comes into sight, we see the train order board is set for us to pick up orders.

Stopped Order Board at Caliente as the ATSF 140 rolls up to it.

The orders we pick up at Caliente are as follows:

Clearance from Caliente Dec 30, 1952 to First 802 for Order No.6 and No.7.

Ok, the Clearance shows two orders; No.6 and No. 7, let's see what the orders say.

Order No.6, Dec 30, 1952

It seems that due to some mix up we didn't get Order 6 at Bakersfield, and **FIRST** 60 didn't tell us that they're carrying GREEN flags!  *Sigh*  Well, at least we're on First 60's markers coming out of Ilmon, so we're not in any danger there as the Second 60 was 30 minutes behind the schedule of No.60, still a bit of "Yikes!" factor there.

Order No.7, Dec 30, 1952

Hmmm, looks like the knot at Walong with Extra 4290 West got sorted out.  We're ordered to take the siding for the three extras (SP 6202, ATSF 212 and SP 4290 West) at Cliff.  That should work nicely as Second 60 should be on us around then, maybe we'll have to go to Rowen.  If we're out of time though, we might have to "stab" Second 60 and wait for them to catch us so we can see their orders and move on their time to Rowen.  Have to see how the timing works out.

Well, best get on the move out of Caliente ahead of Second 60!

3:56AM - Allard


The dead heading Pullman consist of Extra 6202 West at Allard and a slightly confused crew looking at their orders.

A surprise met us at Allard, literally!  Waiting in the siding is Extra 6202 West with her train of dead heading Pullman sleeping cars heading towards the Valley.  They're supposed to meet us at Cliff... Ooops... well, thankfully no one got killed.

4:01AM - Bealville


First 802 rolling into Bealville

Having no issues as we charge up through Bealville at 20 MPH.

4:08AM - Cliff


Things were a bit busy at Cliff as we met Extra 4290 West with a SP DHQ of food service and coaches and Extra ATSF 212 West following hot on her heals with a freight.

Earlier in the day, waiting for our call, I shot this photo of the Extra 4290 West stuck at Walong.

4:20AM - Rowen


With the two final meets with the Extra 4290 West and Extra ATSF 212 West out of the way we head into Rowen siding to be passed by Second 60 running 30 minutes late, per Order No.6.  It's a Rose Bowl Special with four F-units and a P-10 class Pacific helping it on the point!

Second 60, running 30 minutes late, passes First 802 at Rowen at 3:32AM.

No.55's time is also approaching, so we plan to stay at Rowen for it as well.  However I capture this scene of No.55 meeting Second 60 at Woodford.

No.55 meets Second 60 at Woodford at 4:41AM, one minute late.

No.55 is a westward "Passenger", which was once called the Tehachapi before it lost its name.  I cover the Consists of SP Mail Train, the Tehachapi, in my blog.

4:53AM - Woodford


First 802 rolling to a stop in Woodford siding

Again, with traffic cleared for us to move, we slide into the clear at Woodford to water our steam helper and for Third 60.  It's approaching 5:01PM and our helper engineer needs to go, I take over the helper at that time.

ATSF 3854 cuts away and backs down to take water at Column No.1 at Woodford.

About fifteen minutes pass at Woodford watering the helper and waiting for Third 60 to show up.

At 5:07AM SP 4292 leading Third 60 races our helper, ATSF 3854 slowly moving to recouple to the train.

Just as the ATSF 3854 finishes taking water, Third 60 comes into sight.  After a short air test we're under way again.

5:11AM - 4th Crossing


4th Crossing Bridge of Tehachapi Creek at 5:13AM.

First 802 snakes its way up the mountain curves several interesting photo opportunities present themselves, like this one above at 4th Crossing of Tehachapi Creek.

5:16AM - Walong


Here B.A. McKenzie watches as the head end of our train ducks into Tunnel 10.

Not much happened at Walong as we just rolled along.

5:20AM - Marcel


Again with the major passenger traffic cleared out and no other freights near us we cruised along.

A long view of First 802 rolling through the uncompleted scenery of Marcel

5:22AM - Tunnel 14


B.A. McKenzie watching ATSF 140 heading into the West Portal of Tunnel 14.

Sudden heavy snow fall between Tunnels 14 and 15.... or wait, just new plaster mountain sides.

5:22AM - Tunnel 16


Tunnel 17, 16, and 14 with First 802 spread out through the uncomplete tunnel scenery

It's good to see the scenery on the layout moving along to get the four upper tunnels for our trains to peak-a-boo through.

5:25AM - Cable


Some of our other crews looking at our train exiting Tunnel 17 approaching Cable

5:28AM - Tehachapi - KI


ATSF 140 rolling into Summit

We met a set of ATSF Light Engines West (LEW) waiting for orders at the west end of Tehachapi No.2 siding and a freight waiting on No. 1 siding.

5:30AM - Summit


We stopped and dropped our helper, ATSF 3854, at Summit Siding.  Things got a bit busy as I shuffled several other helpers around at the Summit Wye.  I moved it west to Tehachapi No.2 and coupled it to a pair of Geeps to head west to Bakersfield.

First 802 was on the move as soon as they finished their air test on the rear section of the train once the helper was cut out.  Double Track main tracks between Tehachapi and Mojave allow us to move with the traffic flow and not worry about any opposing trains.  No.58 was still about 15 minutes behind us at Summit, so on we rolled.  I was still busy with dealing with the helpers between Summit and Tehachapi so wasn't able to get any photos during this time.

Cameron


I did have a chance to grab this quick shot of No.58, the Owl, charging through Cameron.

No.58 with two AC's at Cameron

 I cover Modeling the Owl's (Part 1) 1946-1950 in my blog from last year.

5:57AM - Mojave Yard


Trains stacked up waiting for No.58 to clear

We did beat No.58 to Mojave, as we pulled in we headed into the yard to drop our one car set out.  ATSF 239 was already in the yard with the N-34-BI waiting to leave.  An SP freight held the No.1 track as well.  We signed into the Train Register that we'd arrived, the time was 6:10AM, we'd been on duty about four hours, twenty-five minutes so far, and still had to do several more moves and run the train to Barstow.

Our one setout, UP 454629, a plain XM for assignment to loading by the Agent at Mojave.

After No.58, the Owl, departed, we asked the Mojave Operator for the APB block between East Mojave and Sanborn (the first siding on the ATSF line to Barstow.  The SP Yard engine was busy at the other end of the yard, so we have make the setout from near the rear of our train.

The ATSF 239 was going to follow us out of Mojave, so we held the authority on the APB block and departed after picking up the rear of our train and making the air test.

Tying Up


Our train tied up in the Boron Staging yard at 6:45AM after about five hours on duty.  Not a bad trip over the Hill, a few delays but nothing too bad, meeting eight trains plus several more at Tehachapi waiting for clearance kept us busy checking the time table.  Four to five hour trips are about average now for trains over the model of Tehachapi Pass.

First 802, ATSF 140, rolling between Bena and Ilmon.

I hope you enjoyed the insight into the trip of the SCX-BI as First 802 across the Tehachapi Sub Division.

Jason Hill

Related Links:
Overview of 1950's TT/TO Operations at La Mesa Model Railroad Club

Modeling the Consist of the Owl, 1946-1950

Modeling SP Mail Consists, Nos. 55 & 56, Tehachapi Mail

Links to Robert Bowdidge's Blog about Train Orders:
"Operating at Tehachapi"

"Lessons Learned at La Mesa"

"Training Wheels for Train Orders"