Sunday, October 1, 2023

Upgrading SPMW Pullman Bunk Cars (Part 1) - New Paint & OwlMtModels Decals

It's been at least 20 years since I last worked on my Rivarossi SPMW Pullman cars, and I think it's about time to do some upgrades!  While not as perfectly accurate as the Walthers and Branchline plastic-tooled passenger cars of the early 2000s,  So, they can be had at swap meets and on-line websites second hand.

Starting Point & History

Time to upgrade my SPMW Pullman Bunk Cars!

One nice advantage of using the old Rivarossi cars is that they're not to expensive and they also have the non-air conditioned roofs!  The lack of A/C makes them perfect for modeling these bottom-grade tourist cars, several hundred of the older "Tourist" Pullmans were sold to the SP during 1948 in the lead up to the disposition of the 9000 Pullman cars to the railroads at the end of the year.  This makes since as the court's anti-trust order came in 1945, the railroads and Pullman had been negotiating exactly which cars would be sold off, scrapped, or would be bought for continued service after the Pullman company owned pool was broken up in December 1948.

Several other large batches of Pullman cars which the SP bought in 1948 were retired by the SP in 1953 as they wore out and weren't needed with the LW cars the SP bought in 1949 and 1950 for the Cascade and Sunset Limited.  Then another large group of HW Pullmans were retired from revenue service in 1955-56 after the discontinuance of all the SP's 3rd rank passenger trains at the end of 1954.  Most of SP's premier HW Pullmans didn't last past 1956 in regular service.  The remaining SP HW Pullmans were held, leased, in the new railroad owned Pullman Pool until the 1962-1966 time frame when the US Government finally cut off the requirement to keep a national pool of passenger cars for national emergency military movements.

SPMW System Outfit Consist, circa 1960 Lone Pine  - owensvalleyhistory,com - ebay47_lone pine_sml

While I'm keeping my modeling in the pre-1958 era, this consist certainly could have existed in Freight Car Red scheme before 1958.  So I'm going to do some upgrades to my old Rivarossi Pullman SPMW cars.

My original starting point for these three models were my 25-year-old models using MicroScale decals and minimal research materials, resulting in cars that were only retired in 1954-56.

One of my original SPMW Pullmans from the early 2000s. - Jan 2020 at LMRC, Jason Hill photo.
In the last 15 years SPH&TS has printed their series of Passenger Car book, including one dedicated to the SP's Pullman cars, which covers much of the prototype information.  Plus Pulllman Panorama has more information on Pullman series, arrangements, plan numbers, basic dispositions, etc.  And now in 2023, Ken Harrison has released his wonderful SPMW book with many photos.

Unfortunately, my cutoff has been circa 1953 for my fleet since I settled on steam-diesel transition era modeling and even with the Jawbone Branch's cutoff date now being pushed back towards 1954/55, these cars are really pushing the limits of my 'comfort' bracket for modeling.  Also one of the numbers I chose 25+ years ago should have been a 16-Section Tourist Sleeper, so basically totally the wrong basic model.


These issues have finally pushed me to redo my SPMW Pullman cars.  

SPMW 4807 before decalling, left side.

The cars that became the 4807 was repainted using a custom mix of StarBrand paint from P-B-L of SP Freight Car Red and I was out of the Light Freight Car Red, so I mixed in some Depot Buff to make the paint look like it's been sun-faded a bit.

SPMW 4807 before decalling, right side.

The car was easy to repaint.  I removed the interiors and roof/window section.  A piece of scrap sheet styrene was used inside the windows to keep paint from wondering around the already painted interior of the cars.

SPMW 4812 before decalling, left side.

The 4812 used a nearly straight mix of StarBrand SP FCR, which is actually quite a bit more saturated.  So I'll just say that this car's been more recently repainted to full FCR colors.

SPMW 4812 before decalling, right side.

The I had already painted the roofs aluminum/silver a number of years ago, so no need to do that again.  I did swap a couple of the roofs around again, to make the two FCR cars come out with aluminum roofs and the car below got the only non-aluminum roof.

They're Green?!

The third car received some special treatment, when I went back through Ken Harrison's SPMW book again, I found several photos of freshly retired Pullman Tourist Car.  These cars didn't receive FCR paint immediately, but instead continued in Pullman Green with patching for SPMW within a couple of months of being sold to the SP in 1948.

Left side SPMW 4866 before decalling.

Because I do generally consider 1946/1948 as the early edge of my modeling, I decided to repaint one of my Pullmans from FCR into this 'original' scheme when these cars came to the SP.  Specifically, I chose the 4866, which was converted in Feb'48 and was still in patched green scheme later that year when photographed.  Ken has a photo of this car in the book, which mostly matches up with the old Rivarossi models I'm using.  The car has single aisle windows, but one minor change is it has four full size windows on the A-end lounge room.  I don't really feel like rebuilding the windows, as I'd have to change the prism glass in the roof.

Right side SPMW 4866 before decalling.

It is hard to tell in the prototype photo if the letterboard was patched with SP Dark Olive Green or maybe black.  I pre-painted the black patch on the side and also the letterboard between the panel joints.  Then masked the lower center panel per the photograph for the reporting marks.  The old Pullman Green was custom mixed from StarBrand SP DOG, with a bit of black to get towards my 'standard' Pullman shade (less "warm" red-brown) and then Depot Buff was added to bleach and pre-weather the green color.  As this green coat is actually going directly over weathered FCR, it creates an interesting reverse-modeled appearance.  The letterboard was then lightly oversprayed with the 'Pullman Green' custom mix, which let much of the pre-shading black come through.  This effect is commonly used by aircraft and armor modelers to create special effects around panels and panel lines.  In this case to creating a color difference around the center letterboard panel, which would have been patched out.


So now the question is who's decals to use?  I've seen MicroScale's offerings, but they really don't give good return for the space of decal paper used.  Too much space is spent on very rare and specialized MW equipment that I don't even plan to own anytime soon, but not enough of the common car types.  I found an answer when Todd Allen Osterburg told me that he was developing several new SPMW decal set, which are now being offered by OwlMtModels and printed by Bill at PDC in Canada.  

SPMW Pullman Conversions - OMM #1224W

The OwlMtModels 1224W & WS set is available at OwlMtModels' new store-front.  The set is designed to decal up to three cars from the common number series of SPMW's Pullman bunk cars.  Included are "Occupied Outfit Cars" signs which can be fabricated to hang on the end-grabirons and on the switch stands of the track the cars are left on, effectively 'blue-flagging' the cars so they aren't coupled to.  Often these standing outfits when set up for 'camp' mode would not be moveible without some amount of work to stow and clear away the various stairs, ladders, water, electrical, etc connections to the ground. 

Examples of OMM's stencil reporting marks, and warning signage from OMM #1225WS set on B-50-2 Ready Boxcar.

OwlMtModels is also offering decal set #1225 SPMW Boxcars, which covers many assignments for B-50-8/10/11/12/13/14/15/16 classes. and #1218 for SPMW Supply Boxcars.

SPMW 4807

SPMW 4807 Decalled Left Side

The 4807 was lettered with 'typical' arrangement for reporting mark placement, and I chose to add the Danger/Peligro warnings, which tended to move almost anywhere along the lower car side.  The left side still needs a "LT WT" stencil applied to the left of the weight 152000 stencil. - Just noticed that I missed that when I took these photos.

SPMW 4807 Decalled Right Side

The SPMW 4807 still has some kludged roof vents, which I'll probably be removing.  The 4807 actually did have a T-smokejack which was closer to the center of the car, in the corner of the main 12-section part of the car.

Vents clipped off, sanded, and 'patched' with light gray GellyRoll gel-pen.

I went ahead and removed the extra centerline roof vents.  I used a sanding pad to roughly clean off the scars in the roof, but that of course exposed black colored original roof. 

I'll be doing some tricks to hide that.  I decided to try using the same Gel-Pens that I used for chalk marks to roughly get the same color on the roof, then I'll do some more roof weathering blending.  Might be interesting to draw in more of the roof panel lines on the un-detailed roofs.

SPMW 4812

SPMW 4812 Decalled Left Side

The SPMW 4812 is more 'typical' of the most retired Pullmans in Ken's book before the late 1958s when propane tanks for cooking and heating were cut into the side of the car.  Cars with these modifications are certainly interest, requiring ladder/stairs and doors, etc.  Many of the cars in the book also show swamp coolers and even fuel-oil tanks installed in vestibules with the doors sometimes removed.

SPMW 4812 Decalled Right Side

But these cars are pretty much done now.  I'll probably do a bit of weathering to slightly knock down the brightness of the white decals.

SPMW 4866 - "The Green One"

Left side of finished SPMW 4866 with patched reporting marks.

One interesting small detail is that the prototype 4866 had a non-standard stenciling applied to the car in the prototype photograph.  It had periods on the "M.W." which all other cars I've seen photos of didn't have.  I used the 0.5mm White Gel-Pen that I covered using for Chalk Marks last month's blog.

Right side of finished SPMW 4866 with patched reporting marks.

The under body of 4866 is still showing mostly FCR color for now.  I'll probably weather it darker as it would have had coming from old Pullman scheme.

Other Modifications

I am planning to make a couple more changes to these cars, as Ken's book has shown more of what these non-air conditioned Pullman Tourist cars looked like in SPMW service.  One of the big features about these 1948 conversions is that they do not have roof ducts.  Therefore they also shouldn't have the A/C equipment under the floor.

The Rivarossi models come with three battery boxes on one side, and another on the other side.  The prototype photo of 4866 shows the car does have the large water tank and the short-fat air tank, but nothing else hanging under that side of the car.  I'll probably cover cutting these boxes off in Part 2, which shouldn't be too hard with a razor-saw.

I will also say that these cars had some modifications from 25 years ago, including cutting down the fixed 'diaphragms' and not fitting any new diaphragm (which is correct for most MW cars), body mounting KD couplers on closer couplings, and rebuilding the bolsters to lower the car to more correct heights.

Thoughts of Post-1958 Outfit

SPMW System Outfit Consist, circa 1960 Lone Pine  - owensvalleyhistory,com - ebay47_lone pine_sml

Maybe I'll find another body, and do a post-1958 gray with black lettering version, just to do it for OwlMt to show what they'd look like.  I have this great photo of a gray SPMW Outfit at Lone Pine, which probably was stationed there as they scrapped the track back from the end of the branch at Owenyo in 1960, from the owens valley history website.  This consist has three of these older ex-Pullman 12-1 bunk cars without A/C.

In Closing

I'm going to wrap up this post at this point.  Just to point out, I only used the one set of OMM 1224W for these three cars.  Some creative cutting was used to get '80' and '81' and '72' to get the digits for the '07' and '12' number jumble to work out nicely.  '44's were cut up to provide the leading '4's for the '48' series cars.  Extra hundred series numbers pairs of '44' and '55' are provided for the 4400 and 5500-series cars.  We'll probably change future prints to have an extra 48 or two to help if you focus on these cars.

Completed SPMW 4866 with end-reporting marks too.

I'll probably come back and do a Part 2 with any last touch-ups I do on these cars.  Perhaps, I'll do it on the gray scheme...  At some point in the future, if I want to add lighting to these 'camp cars' so that I could do cool night-scenes on the Jawbone Branch, I may refit these cars with Walthers metal trucks as on SP 5199 (Part 1 & Part 7).

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Chalk Marks - A newer blog on using GellyRoll pens for chalk marks by clerks and carmen on freight cars.

SP 5199 (Part 1 - My build-blog on a 69-BP-30-1 from Southern Car & Foundry.

Freight Car Overview Index - A list of my modeling blogs on various SP & Multiple RR's cars, including many SPMW cars.

Owens Valley History - Website with hundreds of photos of Owens Valley and the Jawbone Branch, which I'm modeling.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Walthers 50ft Auto-Boxcars (Part 3) - GN 43952 Gets End Doors

GN 43952 renumbered into the 43000-series last post, is almost done with tare dates and chalk marks.  Just one little problem...

In the last article in this series, Walthers 50ft Auto-Boxcars (Part 2), I wrote about upgrading the historical standing of these cars by changing the road number into a correct series.  However, two of the cars I have are above the cutoff number of 43900, which means they should have end doors, or I'll have to lower the 'hundreds number to something below a '9'.  Given that 400 of the 500 cars are not end-door cars and I only have four cars, I should probably only do one car with the end door.

Edit: Thankfully Doug Polinder pointed out in a comment to me that: "the model is a Howe truss. GN's cars were Pratt." So at best these cars are really going to just be 'stand-ins' for the GN prototypes. Sadly this is one aspect that the ORER fails us, using it as the only research material.

Swapping Ends?

Sister car, GN 41951, with door end side-by-side.

I found a couple of ends the old boxes for these kits.  I also found the incomplete GN 41951 in one of these boxes, and needs some more work.  The extra end-doors were still in the boxes, so I was able to find one to use on the GN 43952.  Of course the new end doors weren't pad printed by Walthers, so I will of course have to decal the whole reporting mark on the A-end door piece.

I first removed the plain A-end of the car.

The first step with the conversion is to take the floor out of the car, then carefully pop the old plain end out of the body.  Thankfully, 20-year-ago-me didn't soak the end with glue, to 'hard weld' it in like I generally do now.  So it was very easy to pop off and only a little cleanup along the top edge, under the roof.

GN 43952 with test-fitted A-End Door.

The new end's test fit is pretty good.  The end-sill opening around the draft box is rather tight, and I will need to press the 'snap pins' into the end harder when the glue is applied.  Generally the end-doors make the cars look more complicated, which is cool. 

However looking at 43500-series we find double-door 50ft boxcars which should match closer to the Walthers model.

Historically, many cars with end doors became problematic to keep serviceable, so many were fixed in the closed position or welded closed.  It would seem from the ORER 1950 that these 96 cars still had working end doors.

Interior view of the new End Door dry-fitted.

I applied Tamiya Liquid Glue to the four alignment pins and then wicked more in with the brush from the bottom edge up both hinge lines and some into the center.  Then pressed the end into the body carefully.  When the alignment pins were softened just enough with the glue, there was a small 'pop' and the end slid a little farther into correct alignment.  Before the glue dries, I have to be sure the whole end is properly seated.  I also wicked in some glue along the top edge of the end-roof joint, but not much more movement happened in that area.

In Closing

This has been a fun kitbash to balance out the four of these cars I have.  Of course, I'm not addressing the lower 43000-series cars, which were only single-door cars.  These cars still fill a great spot when modeling lumber train traffic into Southern California, of the early 1950s.

GN 43952 with the new door-end in place with road number decals in place and a few more chalk marks.

I had some fun on the chalk-marks on the new car end.  Specifically marking the locking bar mechanism and a hinge that was damaged, but looks like the carmen has chalked the OK for both.  This photo also  showed me that the "2" on the end out of alignment.  So I re-wet the decal and was able to adjust it before I used the MicroScale setting fluid on it.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Modeling Auto-Boxcars (Part 1) - Walthers 50ft Double-Door Single-Sheath Auto-Boxcars - An Overview

Walthers 50ft Auto-Boxcars (Part 2) - Renumbering GN Cars to Correct Series - Renumbering the Walthers GN cars into the historically correct number series for 1950 era.

Weathering NP 11661 - A Rapido Double-sheath Boxcar - Some basics of weathering with Acrylics on double-sheath boxcar.

ATSF 129872 WWII War Emergency Boxcar Weathering with Pencils and Acrylics - Continuing the weathering on a single-sheath boxcar with Acrylics.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Walthers 50ft Auto-Boxcars (Part 2) - Renumbering GN Cars to Correct Series

In the first installment of this series, I just did a general survey of the various Walthers 50ft Auto-Boxcars that I had.  Sadly many of them aren't correct, but in this post, I want to address one of the simpler fixes to get a couple of the cars into more 'historically accurate' number series.

One of the nearly completed Great Northern 50ft OB Auto-boxcars by Walthers, from the early 2000s.

These cars needed a bit of work, so lets look at what's involved with updating and correcting a couple of issues with the stock model.  I'm not going to get into the odd brake equipment arrangement in this post, as I don't think it's the first think I look at on a freight car like this.  Even if the model is going to be a stand-in, I would like the primary exterior visible parts of the model to be mostly correct, i.e. roof, ends, sides.

Edit: Doug Polinder pointed out in a comment to me that: "the model is a Howe truss. GN's cars were Pratt."  So at best these cars are really going to just be 'stand-ins' for the GN prototypes.  Sadly this is one aspect that the ORER fails us, using it as the only research material.

Historical Data

Pre-relettering look of the car in the GN 41700-series.

To find out if the car's even existed and had the right door arrangement, I turn to my Westerfield Models CD of ORER 1950 fleet data.  Under the Great Northern, I can see that they do not have the stock model road number listed.

Clipping from 1950 ORER - No 41000-series cars active on the GN this year.

Great Northern's entry in ORER 1950 does not show the 41900-series is empty by 1950.  However, don't give up hope on your model yet.  Search the rest of the company's roster.  There may be another series, or the original road number may have been changed during a rebuild, etc.

However looking at 43500-series we find double-door 50ft boxcars which should match closer to the Walthers model.

 The ORER does show 43500-43899 series show steel frame, 12ft staggered-doors. The 43900-43999 are similar, but also show full end door. The Walthers models come with end-doors as an option in the kit, so it would be possible to model either series if some minor decalling and renumbering was done.


So I'm doing some renumbering of the GN cars that I have into the 43k series, which should be easy to change the 1 to a 3.  The 43500-43899 and 43900-43999 show as XM (General service boxcars) in the AAR Mechanical classification column.

Removed the "1" with a No.11 blade scraping carefully.

I started the renumbering work with a No.11 X-acto blade carefully scraping the surface just down through the pad-printed ink of the "1".  If I go too far, a small drop of darkened FCR paint works to fix it, although the new "3" will be covering most any scratches that happen.

The new decal in place with a bit of water still around.

I'm keeping the renumbering simple with Micro Scale's Block Gothic Alphabet and Numbers, White #90051.  The 9" lettering is what I'll need to change the side road numbers.  If your decal collection has a more "GN" standard lettering style, then obviously it's better to use that.

Buckled End Joints

One of the problems of putting the optional ends on is getting solid joints in the corners.

Given that I built these models about 20 years ago and some of them saw years of service, getting knocked around, the ends were starting to come loose.  So I wicked in some Tamiya Liquid Plastic Glue, which is lower viscosity than water into the corners of the ends.  Then I carefully pushed the end in to get the mitered joint to close.  

After closing the end up with liquid plastic glue to secure it.

The end looks much better after closing the openings.  A little bit of plastic actually squeezed out from this process, but that's easily cleaned up.  I did a little wash with water and AppleBarrel 20512E Burnt Umber to dull down the new white decal to match my previously weathered numbers on the cars.

Adding Tare Station & Date

I also need to add some basic 'tare dates' to the cars.  This is a station code, month-year stenciled onto the side of the car, usually in the panel just inboard of the car's weight data block to show when the car was last weighed to 'zero' it.  This allows the clerks working the car scales to be accurate within 200 pounds of the car's loaded weight when billing cargo by weight.  The weighing also allows the railroads to detect over-loaded cars which are a safety hazard and could cause additional wear and tear on the engines, infrastructure, and bridges.

The Great Northern has a very odd system of station codes, using an alpha and sometimes a number as well.  Some of the great past researchers of railroad history have documented these codes and what they station they represented, so I'm able to 'build' plausible station tare date codes for my models.  One GN car that I've done already has A-1 on it.  I made it out of some spare 3" stencil white decal "A" and a "-1" from the January month of a decal tare data set.

Operations Notes

ATSF 140 BK-4-H Cliff Jan 8, 1953, (at LMRC in 2018, Jason Hill photo)

Most of these GN cars traveling to Southern California would be in the lumber trade with finished lumber in these big double door auto-boxcars.  The routing usually would be GN, then interchanged to the WP at Bieber, then to the Santa Fe at Mormon Yard (aka Fresno), before routing to Southern California on the Santa Fe on symbol 'GWS' over Tehachapi.  Eastward routed cars onto the Santa Fe, would be switched over to N-34 or BK-symbol at Bakersfield to Barstow, then they would be worked into the eastward symbols from there out of San Bernardino.

If it was heading to a Southern Pacific destination, the car may have be interchanged at Bakersfield to avoid additional congestion in the LA basin.  So this ends up being more of a Santa Fe-centric modeling post for today, but the skills are good to learn for any prototype modeler that needs to do renumbering of the freight cars.

Open Doors or Closed Doors?

GN 43741's Left side with doors closed, representing a loaded car.

One of the nice aspects of the Walthers model is the option to model the car with the doors open.  While normally, you don't want cars running around loaded where the stuff inside can fall out or be stolen, often the empty car doors wouldn't be properly secured.

While the Right side of GN 43741's doors are modeled open, for returning empty towards home.

This lead to a tendency for the doors to open themselves with the slack action in the trains.  On layouts with reversing loop staging, it is possible therefore to set up one side of the car as the "Loaded" side, and the other as the "Empty" side.  At La Mesa Model Railroad club, this trick is really only visible in two places (Caliente-Tunnel 2 and at Walong on the Loop).  

More Tricks!

For discussion during a video shoot with TSG Multimedia, I cut down a couple OwlMtModels 3004 lumber loads to make a lighter weight faux load for the Walthers boxcar.

In one of the TSG Multimedia videos I filmed a number of years ago on the new OwlMtModels 3004 lumber loads, I talked about putting them inside of boxcars in a cut-down form.

OwlMtModels 3004 Lumber Load inside Walthers DD boxcar.

So that's always an option too if you want to show an open door as the load and claim the closed door is empty!

SP 67789 with a stash of 3004 lumber loads hiding inside at King Lumber in Bakersfield, at LMRC. Jason Hill photo circa 2018.

Another option is the photo below, where I staged a photo at King Lumber to show the car being unloaded.

Pondering future options, it might even be possible to put magnets inside the lumber load to remotely move them back into the ends of the car to hide them. - Although, I've not actually tried this --- yet.

In Closing

The majority of my cars are now in good shape residing in the 43000-series!  However, one now has a new problem.  Next time I'll be having a closer look at the 43900-series cars which need end-doors.

Redecalled GN 43952 with tare date added.

This car is now renumbered to the correct 43000-series from the 41000-series, however now the 43900-series should have end-doors.  Not a problem as these cars came with the option for end-doors.  So I'll be digging out the old spare parts from 20 years ago to rebuild the A-end of the car, seen at left in the above photo.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Modeling Auto-Boxcars (Part 1) - Walthers 50ft Double-Door Single-Sheath Auto-Boxcars - An Overview

Weathering NP 11661 - A Rapido Double-sheath Boxcar - Some basics of weathering with Acrylics on double-sheath boxcar.

ATSF 129872 WWII War Emergency Boxcar Weathering with Pencils and Acrylics - Continuing the weathering on a single-sheath boxcar with Acrylics.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Open Loads (Part 9) - West Coast Loading of Foreign Gondolas & Flats

Some of you might be wondering why a West Coast modeler is doing multiple lumber loads for foreign East Coast gondolas. 

What to do with all the empty East Coast cars?  Reload them! - Jason Hill photo at LMRC, San Diego.

Well, I do like modeling equipment that would have been seen over Tehachapi Pass, which includes the lumber load traffic from Oregon and Northern California to Los Angeles and much of it was then sent east to El Paso and beyond.

A sizable number of the cars in this traffic flow were 'rollers' which were brokered en route and were sent via the longer route down out of the Pacific Northwest to Southern California.  This allowed more time before turning east to sell the load of lumber and diverted to the customer, which was preferred by the shippers.

Prototype Operating Considerations

From the collection of Dan Holbrook, the SCO C507 (May 1950 issued) includes notes that both LV and PRR allowed their gondolas on the west coast to be moved north or south to find loads that can move the cars back east of the Mississippi River, towards home.  The C507 also includes B&O, BLE, CNJ-CRP, DL&W, Erie, NYC-PLE, NKP-WLE, PWV, Reading, Union, and WM, so for western modelers, don't be afraid to load your empty foreign gondolas with lumber loads!  - This is one of the reasons I've been building lumber loads for my B&O, Erie, NYC, and PRR cars.

I will also say that in my other research it would appear that some of these roads also allowed their flatcars to be reloaded also, so I'll be mentioning that at the end as well.

Some of the 1950 SCO directive from the eastern roads is probably a carry over from the WWII directive for the flatcars to be nationally pooled 'for the duration', which was found to be useful in some commercial revenue applications in the post-war era into the 1950s.

Note, some of these cars are repeating the use of the same loads in other cars... but that's to prove my point about being able to use a single set of loads to add variety to a single set of operating routing.  I've taken to index numbering the loads so I can keep track of them. I will be using their ID numbers in these photos so you can see which loads are swapping to other cars.

So let's have a look at some examples:

Tangent 52'6" Bethlehem Gondola

Load 1145 - B&O 259798, Tangent 52ft Gondola with full 3-stack OMM 3005 Lumber Load kit. 

The Tangent Bethlehem 52'6" gondolas can trans-load the lumber loads between them without any problems to create variety in the operating look of the trains.  This is an example of a B&O car.

Tangent 52'6" AC&F Gondola

Load 1145, 2 Stacks - PRR 372468 with two smaller stacks of lumber from OMM 3004 kit.

Tangent also produced this ACF 52'6" Gondola on the PRR these are G31Bs, which numbered in the 10's of thousands!  So by the early 1950s a very common East Coast type of car.

Load 1164 - This load is about 5/6s of an OwlMtModels 3005 kit.

This load is 5/6s of the OwlMtModels kit, configured in 2-3 stacks with 48" tall units.  Wooden cross bracing is replaced with 6lb fishing line 'iron wire' between the stakes over the load.

Load 1145 - Here's the full 3-stack 3005 kit in the PRR gondola.

There aren't many options when the full load is used, basically just the height of the units used.  The AAR standards say not to make units less than 30" and not more than 48".  Some cars in photos are not stacked out to the cubic limits of the car, as sometimes 'wet' or 'green' wood would weight much more than expected.  So there is some rhyme and reason for why cars appear to be "under loaded" in the same train.  Remember also that some of these cars are heading home towards restricted vertical clearance home-roads.  If the car makes it all that way as a 'roller' without being sold, then it will have to navigate the Plate-C Clearances, so on those cars, be sure to cut the stakes down and not load the car too high, even if cubic and weight allowances aren't a consideration.

Load 1065 - Fully wooden-braced 3005 kit.

This load is made up of 36" tall units in a 2-3-3 configuration.  Wooden bracing is used on this load, with two full stake sets outboard of the central top units.

Proto2000/Walthers 52'6" Greenville (WWII AAR) Gondola

Load 1145 - Proto2000/Walthers Greenville 52'6" WWII-built gondolas.

The Bethlehem and ACF cars by Tangent don't have collapsible stakes pockets on the interior of the sides, but instead moved to strap tie-downs along the top edge of the sides.  Proto2000/Walthers gondolas (NYC below) have molded collapsed stake pockets, which narrows the interior size of the car slightly, which means that full-size stakes can't be used effectively there on the OwlMt Lumber Loads.  Also providing actual stake pockets, instead of just wedging in the stakes for the cars that have no stake pockets, mean that it's possible to line up the stakes with the theoretical pockets if they were deployed.

Load 1065 - Swapping loads to the NYC P2K gondola

I will be building a couple more loads, one will specifically be with stakes to align with the stake pockets of the Proto2000 gondolas.  I will also be using the notched stake option, so that the load is more freely fitting, so I can easily remove the load from the car without catching the stakes on the carside.

Tichy 52'6" WWII Emergency Composite Gondola

Load 1145 - Tichy NYC 52'6" WWII Emergency Gondola with OwlMtModels 3005 3-stack load kit.

Tichy also makes a compatible composite WWII gondola, which can be loaded with lumber.  These cars are fun to weather with the contrast of wood sides with steel structure over the top.  Some railroads resheathed these cars in steel after the war-time material restrictions were lifted.

Walthers 46ft USRA Gondola

Load 1159 - Walthers 46ft USRA PRR 317083. one of the thousands of G25 class cars.

Chalk marks on the car side are used to align the stakes to the load.  In some ways this cuts down the positional options of the loads, but if the loads are kept as A/B stacks, then they can be transposed or rotated in multiple arrangements to vary the look of the same load.

Load 1169 - Another PRR G25 with a steel-top-banded load which has started to shift noticeably.

This load is the subject over the previous Open Loads (Part 8) post.  The load uses the ChartPak 1/64" tape for the high-tension steel-bands across the top of the load.  I modeled this load as a shifting stack of lumber.  Thankfully the load therefore is not centered around the stake sets, which should stay aligned with the car's pockets... and allows off-set arrangements if I rotate the two stacks or transpose their positions.

Load 1169, transposed - LV 27202 is another Walthers' 46ft USRA gondola.

In this photo with the Walthers LV model, the loads have been transposed outwards from the car's center.  The load's still shifted, but the two stacks aren't to the point of impacting each other.

Load 1159 again, this time in Erie 15503, a stock Walthers 46ft USRA Gondola.

As can be seen, just changing the loads around a bit creates new looks to the cars, thus making each train look unique, even if you've not re-blocked the train.  Just changing which load goes in which car and how, will make your sessions 'feel different' from a visual stand point.

Load 153 in NYC 501536, another Walthers 46ft Gondola

I'm not sure if the black NYC gondolas are correct for post-WWII cars.  The stock Walthers model comes with a tare date of 1947, so might be right.  Any NYC modelers are welcome to tell me if it's wrong.  In any case, NYC cars certainly were available to reload and send towards home.

The Load 153 is one that's actually designed to fit a Red Caboose steel GS gondola, but it works well here too, although the stakes don't line up with the car's pockets, so these would have to be wedged in against the car's sides.

Foreign Flatcars?

I know of at least one photo of a B&O 40ft P-11 class car loaded with lumber in San Diego, circa 1955.  San Diego actually had sawmills to cut up large log rafts brought down by ocean-tug from the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.  So it's hard to tell if the B&O flat was a 'roller' from the PNW which was diverted to San Diego because the lumber was sold, or if it was a foreign car being reloaded for movement eastward towards home.  In the end I guess it doesn't really matter, as either would be a reasonable explanation of what the car was doing loaded with lumber at the southern edge of the USA.

F30A Flatcars from Bowser or Rapido

PRR 475237 with a pair of lumber stacks over the trucks.

Here's some examples of PRR F30A flatcars from Bowser loaded with the new OwlMtModels 3003 Lumber Loads.

PRR 475260 with a couple of centered stacks. - Looks like the brakewheel got smashed, gonna have to get a carmen to fix that up!

While these smaller 2-stack loads wouldn't be taxing the 70-ton capacity of the Pennsy flats, it was a way to get some extra lumber moving east if these were 'rollers' and cover some future order from a yard along the way.

Again PRR 475260, this time with a much higher board-feet count load.

In this load, I kitbashed some of the panels into a very long load, and then did a couple of more regular stacks.  The 50ft deck length of the F30A makes "fully loading" it a bit trickier, but possible with some creativity.

A high-view of 475260 with a load of older 3001 lumber loads, in this case with iron-wire banding.

Don't forget you can build centered stack loads, like this one too.  I suggest putting some of the separator pieces lengthwise to tie the bottom of the load together for strength.

P2K/Walthers 52'6" AAR WWII Standard Flatcars

C&NW AAR WWII Flatcar loaded with lumber. (Walthers/P2K flatcar, OMM 3003

Other cars from the mid-west could also be reloaded, as it would be easier to send them home.  However, this would not have the SCO authorization from the owner to send them empty anywhere in the western US to find that load.  So these would be locally unloaded near the lumber loading areas of NP, GN, UP/OSL, SP, etc. and then sent out as needed, hopefully towards home rails!

A heavy load of lumber, probably near the capacity for the 50-ton NKP flatcar.

Here's an Nickle Plate example, this car would be a 'long east' car working its way back towards home.  If it was a 'roller', it could probably show up just about anywhere in the country with this load.

Balancing the Message

Obviously, the 'home roads' would have to provide their own cars if enough 'foreign' cars couldn't be used.  This results in the mixed consists that are what we see most of the time: home road cars, interchanged partner roads, and then the really far from home cars that have been reloaded all mixed together.  

SP 4177 Lumber Drag 1-671 two miles east of Oakridge 1947 - Vanishing Vista postcard JT-63, Jason Hill collection

In the photo above, we can see many different railroad's cars mixed in this consist.  For Southern Pacific trains leaving Oregon, interchanges would be from the friendly NP, and less friendly UP, CP,  CN.  The GN and WP were at the time more friendly with Santa Fe's connections, but they certainly would still interchange if the customer had ordered the routing to go via the SP.

The advent of hump yards allowed for better sorting by destination of interchanged cuts, but even then the 'rollers' are going to be a wildcard as to when they will be sold and need to be cut out of the train.  Usually the diversion points would be a place which had the yard facilities to handle breaking up the consist anyway.

In Closing

The east coast sends the rust, the west coast will return the favor with splinters.  So it's fun to have both removable steel loads and lumber loads for the same pool of cars, then you can mix up sending them away from home loaded and either send them home empty or reload them with local products.

An overview of the lumber loads shown above. - Notice specifically the differences: wood paint/coloring, shifted loads, and bracing with wood, iron wire, and steel bands.

Another point of variation is not building all the loads with identical methods of bracing, or even style of bracing.  Unless you're modeling a lumber mill shipping 20 carloads of lumber under the same crew and foreman, the different mills would each load their cars differently.  Mill A might have started using steel banding and palletized loads on flatcars, but the rest haven't except for Mill C, which only uses them to connect the top of the stakes.  Mill B is still using iron wire between the stakes, while D, & E all are still using wooden bracing because they have the extra scrap hardwood pieces.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Open Loads (Part 8 ) - Modeling High-Tension Steel Banding on Lumber Loads

Open Loads (Part 7) - Shifted Lumber Loads - What happens when your load moves?

Open Loads (Part 5) - Lumber Loads on Flats & Gondolas - Examples of Open Lumber Loads.

Open Loads (Part 2) - Lumber in Boxcars - Ideas for building lumber loads inside boxcars.

Lumber Load in Gondola SP 160522 - MDC Kitbash - Modifying OwlMtModels 3004 Lumber Load for gondola with false-load below gondola sides.