Friday, February 26, 2021

Modeling SP B-50-series Boxcars (Part 3) - Plastic Options for B-50-8, -10, & -11

Continuing my researching and modeling blog post from May 2020 on the B-50-12, B-50-13, and B-50-14 classes, I'll be exploring backwards to the B-50-13's pre-WWI sister classes, the B-50-8, B-50-10 and B-50-11.

The B-50-8 is the first of the boxcars on the SP to be single sheathed and establish the 'look' on the SP and subsidiary companies.  The cars had wood ends with massive vertical posts.  The A-ends also had vertically sliding lumber doors.  Some had round roofs, but many had angled roofs of several types.

Accurail's SP 12020 with incorrect steel ends, but otherwise fairly close to mid-SP B-50-series wood sheath cars.

The Accurail wood door, wood end single sheathed boxcar models are an acceptable starting point for these two classes with some minor detailing work.

Roster of the B-50-8 Class Boxcar

Accurail 4000-series Undec Single Sheath with wood ends and doors with partial painting with SP Freight Car Red.

SP 24250-24749 (500 Cars) Built 1913 Standard Steel Car Co. with Bettendorf T-Section Trucks
GH&SA 37860-38359 (500 Cars) Built 1913 Standard Steel Car Co.
1000 Cars Total

Roster of the B-50-10 Class Boxcar

Accurail 4000-series unpainted.

SP 24850-25839 (990 Cars) Built-1916 Haskell & Barker Car Co. with Vulcan Trucks
CP 17682, 17741, 18252, 18255, 18481, 18789 (6 Cars) Built-1916 Haskell & Barker Car Co.
SP 18828, 24312, 24534 (3 Cars) Built-1916 Haskell & Barker Car Co.
PE 2525 (1 Car) Built-1916 Haskell & Barker Car Co.
1000 Cars Total

Roster of the B-50-11 Class Boxcar

SP 25840-26339 (500 Cars) Built-1916 Ralston Steel Car Co. with Vulcan Trucks
NWP 2160-2259 (100 Cars) Built-1916 Ralston Steel Car Co.
T&NO 38760-39057 (298 Cars) Built-1916 Ralston Steel Car Co.
GH&SA 28210, 38371 (2 Cars) Built-1916 Ralston Steel Car Co.
900 Cars Total

Retirement of the B-50-10 and B-50-11

SPMW 438 Scale Repair Car and SPMW 790 Scale Test car. - Eddie Sims collection

The B-50-8, B-50-10 and B-50-11 were being retired in larger numbers by 1950 and a good list of the cars can be found in the Southern Pacific Maintenance of Way Jan 1, 1956 Roster, which the SPH&TS has published in their quarterly magazine The Trainline.  Many of these cars went to Bunk, Kitchen, Supply, Tool, and other similar non-revenue services.

In Closing

SPMW 2272, a resin B-50-6/9 class car showing the obvious difference from the later B-50-8, -10, -11 class cars.

Just to clear up the question of what th earlier B-50-6/9 class cars were double sheathed cars look like.

I look forward to building several of these cars for both revenue service on the Jawbone Branch and several more in SPMW Supply Car service for LMRC.  Stay tuned for both future projects.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Thursday, February 25, 2021

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 13) - A Bridge Too Far?

Deciding to model the Jawbone Branch has certainly opened some interesting doors for my research.  As usual the scope of my research is going far beyond what I plan to be able to fit in the space I have... and know will fit.  Still, some aspects of the research are just cool.

Ramp to Nowhere

North end of Owenyo, notice in the far right, the ramp for the SG to get above the NG's "Pit" track - Rich McCutchan  - - slim rails63_sml

Further digging around after posting Part 11 on Fuel Dealers, has shown that the transfer at Owenyo was largely over by the 1952 time frame with the closure of the Natural Soda Products Company about 2 miles south of Keeler, which used the last five fuel-oil tank cars on the SPNG.  Note; small 'trestle' ramp in the foreground of the photo above is for the NG to climb for loading engines or equipment onto the SP SG flatcars for movement to Bakersfield shops for work.

Owenyo Pit track - Raised SG over NG "pit" - Dennis Burke collection

Photos show the north leg of the wye at Owenyo was elevated about three feet above ground level, and in later years by 1959 the track was elevated higher to about 8-9 feet above the surrounding area.  My current understanding is this was done when the SPNG track, known as "the Pit" was filled in and returned to roughly the natural grade.  The Pit was created to allow various fuel and oil to drain into the narrow gauge tank cars.  Some cars were suitable for gasoline, while others were for fuel oils.

The far east end of the branch for my planned layout... Will I go out the window?

Too bad that my space doesn't allow another 15-20" to include the ramp up to the standard gauge track above 'the Pit', but then again some dreams just fly out the window.

Owenyo #1 NG Ramp on my first go at laying out the track centers.  This panel was flipped over and redone a few days later. - Jan 28, 2021.

The exact position of the SG diving into the transfer pit is up to the exact placement of the two switches on the main track and the house track switch diverging into the pit.  As of Feb 25, I have my specs for SP No.7 switches updated so I can lay it out this weekend and cut the SG roadbed for the pit.

Lone Pine

As I've dug a bit deeper with help from several of you on-line, the interesting parts of Lone Pine do stand out as a traffic point for the fuel-dealers. Also there are some cool photos of a SPMW outfit which was at Lone Pine around 1959+.  Lone Pine seems to have been one of the destinations for the remaining tank cars in diesel and gasoline service, which then went up to Bishop by truck or other points as needed.  In the end, it's probably better that I don't model Lone Pine.  While it would be a neat place to model, I can't do everything.

Jawbone Branch SPMW Outfit?

SPMW Outfit at Lone Pine, after 1958. - ebay47_lone pine_sml

Maybe I can still have a backdated model of the 1959 Lone Pine 'outfit'.  I generally don't plan to model the SPMW 'Gray' era, post-1958.  So my plan for modeling any of these cars will be done in SP Freight Car Red.  I already have several of these generic model types.

F-50-Series Flat Car

SP F-50-series flatcar painted in the post-1958 MW Gray scheme. - Lone Pine outfit - - ebay47_lone pine_sml

It seems this tool-flat is some flavor of Bridge and Building assigned car.  Probably having a diesel compressor or generator and what appears to be water pipes in great abundance.  Also some form of small tank with stand legs on the upper level.

SPMW 2054, One of the OMM flatcars painted in MW Gray.  Little kitbashing could be turned into the car above.

I'll probably look into making the flatcar from the Lone Pine outfit, as it is a very visually interesting model with all the 'stuff' piled on it!

Ex-Pullman Boarding Cars

SPMW 1815 it appears in the Lone Pine outfit is a very old 12-1 without A/C. - ebay47_lone pine_sml

There are about three non-airconditioned Pullmans, probably WWII vintage "Tourist Cars" which Pullman got rid of after the war. 

Here's the next two SPMW Boarding cars. - ebay47_lone pine_sml

Here's the other two ex-Pullman HW Boarding cars, little grainier in this enlargement, but probably also 12-1s, as they have no A/C ducting.  Looks like they both have stoves installed to keep the crews warm in the high desert nights.  It is also possible this is an extra gang moving around doing work on the Jawbone.

SPMW 5506 - 12-1 Rivarossi Pullman repainted to MW boarding bunk service.

These two models were built many years ago from Rivarossi HW 12-1 cars.  No NERS A/C ducts were installed, so this base-model is probably ideal for use as obsolete, ex-Tourist Cars, turned MW cars.  I'll probably do a blog post on some of these cars and which cars they came from.

SPMW 5524 - 12-1 Rivarossi Pullman repainted to MW boarding bunk service.

I also started a conversion of a Rivarossi 12-1 into a 14-section MW car a number of years ago and never finished it.  Perhaps I will soon and put it with this 'outfit'.

Water Car

SPMW water cars at Owenyo - Sept 19, 1950 - Chard Walker photo - Mike Massee collection - (cropped photo)

The far car in the photo above is a CS-25A tank car with the high walkways, like the car below.

SPMW 7419, CS-25A class, somewhere on the SP system. -  Eddie Sims collection

As usual, there's a CS-25A tank car in the outfit providing water for the boarding cars.  I'll probably use one of my WSM models for this service.  I've covered some of the SP's use of water cars on my blog post SPMW 7419 A Canteen for Desert Railroading.

Tool or Bunk Box Cars

SPMW 714 - Accurail 40ft wood sheath boxcar (B-50-13/14)

SPMW 1616 - Tool Car - MDC/Roundhouse 50ft A-50-5/6 stand-in.

SPMW 63 - Bunk - MDC/Roundhouse 50ft A-50-5/6 stand-in, still with side doors.

Towards the far end of the outfit, it would seem there's at least two boxcars, it is difficult to see if they're 40ft boarding cars of some type or if they might be the 50ft ex-A-50-5/6 series tool cars or bunk cars.

A Bridge Too Far?

Owens River Bridge 1/2 mile north of Lone Pine, CA. -

I've mentioned adding the Owens River Bridge, located 1/2 mile north of Lone Pine, to the layout to several of my friends.  Both of them immediately said, "YES, Do it!"  

Proposed CAD model with 45ft approach bridges.

I'm still on the fence about it... if it will be trying to push too much into the west bridge module of the layout across the western door.  The prototype bridge is about 100ft with two ~50ft approach deck bridges.  

Fairchild Aerial Survey photo of Lone Pine with the bridge. - North to the left.

Top View of CAD model.  The spiral easements are not included on this CAD model.

My curve standards call for 1/4x12" spiral easements, which means that the 48" curve will be ending right at or on the deck bridges, and the remaining 6" of spiral will extend onto the bridge from the Bartlett side, and the "High Line" trestle switch will be right at the abutment on the Owenyo side.  Pretty tight quarters.  Trying to jam things in is one thing I promised myself not to do on this layout!  It always tries to creep in somewhere.

Another option if I just want the bridge is to put it below Little Lake on the east bridge instead or on the north wall, along the bookcase.  However, then it really is out of linear order compared to Little Lake and Bartlett.

I will probably put off building the Owens River Bridge for the push to get the 'golden spike' driven with the trains operating.  As the whole section across the west door will be removeable... I could always replace it later with a module with the bridge on it.

In Closing

The modeling of the Jawbone Branch is still challenging and creating interesting points to consider.

Construction of my Mk-II Truss Framing with 2x2 joint blocks. Feb 22, 2021

Small design changes continue for the construction of the layout.  I've started mocking up the layout height of the Mojave Yard for 51" above floor, which seems to be pretty nice.  I'll be working on assembling sub-structures for the Owenyo and Mojave layout skins.

A query with the track crew at LMRC has refreshed some of my info for the switch standards.  So while I wait for the track parts to arrive, I can finish laying out the switches.  Maybe I can even get into cutting and gluing down the switch ties on the layout sections!

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 2) - Researching and Changing of the Plan

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 3) - Consists and More Bartlett Research

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 4) - Freight Car Roster

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 5) - Pulling the Trigger (Buying the materials for the benchwork)

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 6) - Q&A Continuing Design Tweaks - Working out the logistics for the staging yards other details.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 7) - Film & Construction Begins - Historic movie film clip of Owenyo Local and starting construction of the layout.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 8) - Little Lake Grows - More research materials have surfaced for my modeling of Little Lake.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 9) - Layout Material Changes - Shifting to MDF for the roadbed and moving the foam to secondary scenery uses.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 10) - Track Plan Details of Owenyo - A deeper dive into the buildings and track arrangements.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 12) - Cutting Time! - Cutting material and starting to assemble layout sections

Freight Symbols Over Tehachapi - Part 4 - SP Locals - Tehachapi Pass's SP Local Freights, several of which work out of Mojave.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 12) - Cutting Time

Here we go!  Time to make chips.... errr, sawdust.

Freshly cut materials for the Jawbone Branch!

I've started cutting apart the skin sheets which will form the top of the Owenyo sections of the layout.  The 2x4's under the layout here are providing a good flat surface to prepare the assembly of the sections on.  I maybe able to clear some of my longer workbench under Mojave Yard for the construction phase, but I'm not counting on it.


Designing the under structure for the layout started with the underside of Owenyo #2 module because it is one of the simplest of the layout's sections.  The main challenge is that with my designed 1.5% grade, the lower level staging yard of Mojave is only ~5.5" rail-to-rail below Owenyo.  I may be able to squeeze a tad more, but I'm leaving that to work out as I assemble the layout.

As with many aspects of this design, I'm including these little 'gifts' of 1/4" here and there to allow for slightly more space in case something has to move, or doesn't work out exactly as I measured for the CAD model.  For example when I had to change the wye from 24" radius to 26" radius, the west (south) switch had to move several inches.  Better to plan for some slight changes to happen during construction, than to plan yourself into a corner where you must make it work *exactly* as planned. "This track has to be exactly here.  Because it needs to go through this hole, and there's only 0.025" clearance for a cabforward's overhanging running board and cylinder next to this support column for the roof of the building... and don't forget we have to get over this reversing loop, but under that helix!"

Owenyo #2 section - Underside with bracing. - Feb 7, 2021 Design

The skin of the layout is made from the 1/4" MDF material.  The sides of the frame are also made from 1/4" MDF as well, cut to 1-3/4" wide strips.  I may laminate the long sides to 1/2" thickness if I decide it needs the strength.  The end plates are made from 1/2" solid MDF.  I'll be putting some alignment pins into the end plates later.

The middle braces and diagonals are also 1/4" MDF.  The complicated part comes from the need to scallop out the center sections where I'll prefer not catching my hand while reaching into the staging yard.

Owenyo Yard & Mojave Staging Yard with brackets. Feb 7, 2021 Design

Yes, I actually don't do everything in CAD!  This is a quick photo from my notebook where I was doodling ideas for the structural supports of Mojave and Owenyo.  The main concept here is not trusting the MDF to hold in a cantilevered condition.  The use of a simple angle bracket system isn't really an option with the Mojave Yard directly below the upper level.

The lower level will use some form of bracket to support the outer support arms up to the outer edge of Owenyo.  These vertical supports will come in directly under the support nodes of the upper benchwork, which should be strong enough to take the focused vertical weight bearing.  I want to be able to remove any sections of the layout to do work on if needed, so this design is reflecting that concept as well.

Bolts from the lower level into the wall support system probably will be a good idea to ensure that the whole thing doesn't come loose!  We also installed several inches of foam insulation and drywalled the interior, so each of the brackets will need to have a long connection into the fairly small horizontal studs to be secure.

Backdrop will be made from 1/8" Masonite, if I build the brackets after the fashion sketched out above, then I should be able to have the backdrop panel slip behind the Owenyo modules.

Owenyo #1 section - Underside with bracing.

The Owenyo #1 section is going to be a bit more complicated as it will need to support the cantilevered wye tail.  The overhanging section of the center wye area will be supported by a pair of diagonal 1/2" thick solid MDF.  The hole will be for a section of 3/4" plywood which should be strong enough to support the wye tail.  Again alignment pins and clamps will keep the wye tail in place and prevent it twisting.

The East (north) end of the #1 Owenyo panel.

The underside of the layout is marked up from an old version of my track plan that I transferred over to the MDF.  The updated version of the track plan, after some photo scaling and historic photo research is on the other side.  These lines show the shape of the structure which will be supporting this section.

The north side of the wye, center of Owenyo #1 panel.

The shot above and below show the sun-burst radial arms which will support the 23" deep base of the wye.  I could have gone with a square support system, but the triangular design will provide more twist and sheer strength.  I want to have 'strong points' where the weight of the section will be transferred to because the supports will be coming up from below or hung off the wall.

The west leg of the wye from the bottom.  To the left will be section #2.

Note in the photo above the slight change of angle in the over hanging section, which now aligns with the structural node point to the left.  I'll probably double-up this module's longitudinal frame pieces so that I can have these diagonal joints actually notch into the main frame.

I plan to assemble the structural frame for each module and get the sections mounted to the bracket system before working on mounting the track and switches.  Trying to get the track alignment within 0.5mm with the modules apart, and then trying to get it to fit is not something I'd look forward to doing.  I'll prefer to have the track in alignment and secured in place before I take the sections apart.  I plan at most joints to have rail joints already planned to be at those locations.  Most of them will be able to have rail joiners slipped in to or out of place if a section needs to be lifted out without separating it longitudinally first.

Another Pair of Plan Changes

Bookcase located under the East end of Owenyo. - Feb 2021

One last thing that I realized while I was going over the space in the shop was that the book case on the desk under the north tail of the wye has to stay about 2-3" away from the wall because there's a plug on the wall at that location.  This pushes the bookcase into the area which I planned to have for the curve between Mojave Yard and the east bridge across the doorway.

There are two options; I could simply account for the moved bookcase and shorten the bridge section a couple of inches.  However, I do have another location that I could put the bookcase in under Bartlett, which I think will be a better option.  I can still put in a custom upper case over the work table/desk custom fit around the layout's shape.

During this time, I also was looking more closely at the 60" height of the layout at Owenyo.  The bookcase under the #1 Owenyo section's top is 58.5".  Would the layout height really work for my height, reaching over it to work the switching moves, rerailing, etc.  This really dictates a layout height of 60-61".  If I do move and replace the bookcase, then I can lower the height of the layout to ~57", which makes the operations much better.  The new limiting factors become the distance to from the underside of the Mojave Staging Yard to the work bench below it, as well as the cabinet and the Lathe under Little Lake.

Mojave Staging Sections

Mojave Staging Yard, west end, the opposite end of the branch from Owenyo.

I decided to place some cars on the staging yard to double check track length.  This photo at the west end, showing the run-around crossover.  I may end up moving the crossover east a bit more than an engine length.  The run-around works out to about 22 cars long, which is well over my planned maximum train length that I expect to be able to pull up the 1.5% grade to Owenyo.

The Mojave Staging Yard height I believe can drop to 51", giving 6" rail-head to rail-head now, which should help the access into the staging.

Mojave Staging Yard, middle of the west section

I figure that the front track will be kept open as running track.  The next track is the A/D track for the Owenyo Local and any other cuts that need to be run around.  Tracks 3,4, and 5 are planned to be single-ended staging for storage 'off the active layout' or pre-staged trains ready to go onto the branch.

Mojave Staging toward the middle of the yard, west section.

Each of the rear tracks (3, 4, & 5) will end up being around 15-16ft long, at least thirty 40ft cars long (about 45ft coupled).  Note that SP in their time tables always calculated their sidings at 49ft per car during the 1940-1955 era, The lengths also included 120ft for an engine and caboose on sidings where meets would happen.

Originally my track plan called for only four tracks in the staging yard.  As I was finishing up the staging yard design in the last two weeks, I decided that it wouldn't be any more trouble to include another staging track in the yard, as I increased the width of the Owenyo Yard at the front edge for photographing.

In Closing

I'm going to close this post here, because I've been working on more research and layout construction, which will need their own posts.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 2) - Researching and Changing of the Plan

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 3) - Consists and More Bartlett Research

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 4) - Freight Car Roster

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 5) - Pulling the Trigger (Buying the materials for the benchwork)

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 6) - Q&A Continuing Design Tweaks - Working out the logistics for the staging yards other details.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 7) - Film & Construction Begins - Historic movie film clip of Owenyo Local and starting construction of the layout.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 8) - Little Lake Grows - More research materials have surfaced for my modeling of Little Lake.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 9) - Layout Material Changes - Shifting to MDF for the roadbed and moving the foam to secondary scenery uses.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 10) - Track Plan Details of Owenyo - A deeper dive into the buildings and track arrangements.

Freight Symbols Over Tehachapi - Part 4 - SP Locals - Tehachapi Pass's SP Local Freights, several of which work out of Mojave.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Modeling SP B-50-series Boxcars (Part 2) - Post-War All-Steel

While in general, I've not spent a lot of time or energy researching SP boxcars over the last 20-odd years of my modeling.  The new Jawbone Branch layout project has pushed some of this research back into my field of view relating to modeling projects which will need to be addressed at some point.  Below is a photo of one such car at the Owenyo trans-loading platform with a caboose in the background.

SP 102856 post-war B-50-28 boxcar receives bagged loads, possibly gypsum at SPNG Owenyo Transfer Dock 1954 - s-l1600_ebay01_sml (Cropped)

B-50-28 showing the 3/4 Improved Dreadnought End with the extra small rib at the top, and the Improved Youngstown 7ft door.  These cars had 10-panel sides and diagonal panel roofs.  IMRC makes this 10ft height boxcar, as Tony Thompson describes in his post about Paul Lyon Sr.'s Sunshine resin kit that he finished up.  So I guess I'll be keeping my eye out for one of these models.

SP Post-War Boxcar Classes

Pulling the following table information from Anthony Thompson's Southern Pacific Freight Cars, Vol.4 - Boxcars let's look at the explosion of orders and delivers of SP boxcars after WWII.


Built 7-9/194, Mt Vernon
    SP 97620-98069, 450 cars (classic black, all steel "Overnight" boxcars)
    SP 5700-5749, 50 cars - BX (Boxcar - Express, painted SP DOG for express service with passenger steam pipes and signal lines)

Totaling 500 cars total, all originally assigned to Overnight or full express service, later downgraded to regular boxcar service and repainted after TOFC business took over express operations around 1958.


Built 7-9/1946 thru 1947 Pressed Steel Car (1st group), remainder by Pullman-Standard (P-S)
    SP 20500-21499, 1000 cars
    SP 21500-21749, 250 cars
    SP 21750-22249, 500 cars
    T&NO 55700-56499, 350 cars
    T&NO 56450-57199, 500 cars

Totaling 1750 Pacific Lines cars, 850 Texas Lines cars = 2600 cars combined


Built 12/1947-1948 by P-S and AC&F
    SP 58920-59479, 560 cars
    SP 60250-60439, 190 cars
    SP 60440651189, 750 cars
    T&NO 55700-56499, 750 cars
    T&NO 56450-57199, 750 cars

Totaling 1500 Pacific Lines and 1500 Texas Lines = 3000 cars combined


Built 10/1948-3/1949 by P-S
    SP 100000-102099, 2100 cars
    T&NO 58500-59749, 1250 cars

Totaling 3350 cars in this class combined


Built 9-12/1950 thru 6/1951 *
    SP 102100-103599, 1500 cars
    SP 104100-105099, 1000
    SP 105100-105599, 500
    T&NO 59750-60249, 500
    T&NO 60250-61249, 1000

Totaling 3000 Pacific Lines, 1500 Texas Lines = 4500 cars combined


Built 8-10/1951 by SP Equipment Co. "SPE" (Sacramento Shops?) *
    SP 103600-104099, 500 cars

* 2000 cars of B-50-28/29 leased to T&NO in 1956-1957 and renumbered.  Returned Pacific Lines in the early 1960s. - Note from Anthony Thompson about these two classes.

B-50-30 (50ft-6in cars)

Built 9/1952-2/1953 by SPE (Sac Shops?)
    SP 109100-110099, 1000 cars


Built 1-9/1952 by SPE
    SP 105600-107099, 1500 cars


Built 2-4/1953 & 1953 by P-S
    SP 107100-107699, 600 cars
    T&NO 61250-62249, 1000 cars

Totaling 1600 cars combined


Built 2-9/1953 by SPE
    SP 107700-109099, 1400 cars

More Modeling Info

Again, I've not really pushed into acquiring the models to replicate these classes, so I'll put several links to Anthony Thompson's great blog articles on modeling these classes, both kitbashing and resin models.

Choosing a Model Car Fleet-SP Box Cars - this post includes pre-war and post-war SP box car classes.

Choosing a Model Car Fleet-Some Numbers - More info on fleet proportions. 

One Last Paul Lyon's Model - B-50-28 resin model as T&NO 59723

Conversion Parts for B-50-25 & -26 - Trainline Column & Decals

I hope you've enjoyed a this post, which is more of a quick reference guide to the SP Post-war boxcar fleet.  Right now more of my 'modeling' time is going into the design and construction of the new Jawbone Branch layout, but I figure the boxcar modeling will resurface.  Eventually, I'll probably be modeling them. In the meantime, I'll be on the occasional lookout for the IMRC 6-panel 10ft 0in boxcars as a starting point. The Accurail steel boxcars could almost work as a stand-in, but the 6ft door really starts to bug me after looking at the photos of the real thing.

As for this lighter than normal post, I'll probably come back and either revise this list, make a blog page for easier access, and-or post an update to this when I start modeling this series of cars.

Jason Hill

Sunday, February 14, 2021

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 11) - More Research into Fuel Oil Dealers

In my early posts (SP Jawbone Branch - Part 3), I mentioned that I planned for SP Company fuel oil shipments up the branch for the SPNG at Owenyo, Laws, and Keeler, plus I suspected fuel oil was also needed for the processing plant at Bartlett.  However in the last week or two, more information's been coming to light.

Balboa Mk-5, SP 3259 laying over on the wye at Owenyo next to the future site of the SP company oil tanks. - Jason Hill, Feb 13, 2021.

Several of the reference photos show engines laying over next to the oil tank.  Some of the notes mention that the SPNG engines were used to heat oil and power the pump house to move the oil over to the SPNG engines.  Some other research indicates that various types of oil fuels were transferred from the SG to the NG.  I'm still working out where exactly this was done.

Lone Pine, North to left, depot at left. at the right are four properties in question. - Fairchild Aerial Survey 1944.

The aerial photos of Lone Pine from Fairchild Aerial Survey shows that look very similar to what the bulk fuel dealers in Bakersfield look like (West Bakersfield - Part 1 - Laying Out Industries).  Last week I talked with Jim Sommerskier and he mentioned the following Drawing of Laws, which is found on the Owens Valley History page.  This shows four oil dealers; 
  • Union Oil of California - (Earlier Associated Oil)
  • Standard Oil
  • Richfield Oil
  • Shell Oil of California

I highly suspect that Lone Pine, the largest settlement in the area and with the railroad depot a couple miles east of the town, had the same four brands of bulk dealers.  While six miles to the north and on the (unpopulated) east side of the valley, Owenyo was the other half of the show, but mostly only for dealing with the materials and commodities needing to be trans-loaded from the SG to the NG or visa versa.

So what does this mean for Owenyo, as I do not have room for Lone Pine?  Well, the industries at Laws had to get their fuel through the interchange at Owenyo!  I'm still trying to nail down the research on exactly where in Owenyo this transfer from the SG tank cars to the NG cars would have happened.

The Natural Soda Products's soda ash drying facility needed fuel oil until 1952 when it closed.  Photos show at least 5 SPNG tank cars spotted at the processing plants, with an average capacity of about 3500 gallons per NG car.  This works out to 1-2 SG tank cars of fuel oil per spot for this operation alone.  The SPNG also used fuel oil to power their operations with oil tanks at Laws, Owenyo, and Keeler.

Cars for the Fuel Oil Traffic

Let's look at what models are available to use for this type of service.  I should mention that I have a small pile of tank cars in my fleet, so let's just start with what I have available to serve the Jawbone's newly found customers...

Standard Oil (UTLX cars)

General American Tank

Certainly one of the more colorful UTLX tankcar schemes - Tangent GA Type-17 10k tank car.

Certainly one of the best models on the market of late for a UTLX tank car is the Tangent General Aemerican Type-17 10k gallon tank car.  I am very happy to have picked up one of these Hercules Powder Co. cars which operated in and out of the plant at Giant, north of Oakland and would have operated in over-head movements on Tehachapi Pass.  This Hercules car will find its intended home at LMRC once I do a little finishing work and weathering on it.

However, for the Jawbone Branch doesn't really need this particular 'Billboard' paint scheme.  I may see if I can pick up a plain UTLX Tangent GA Type-17 car at some point... but let's look at what else I already have in the closet!

UTLX Standard X-series Tank Cars

Probably the best representative model for the UTLX fleet are the X-3 class of tank cars, which so far are only available in resin.  Unfortunately, I've not picked any of them up, so I'm leaving them out of this post.  I believe I started kitbashing a P2K 8k gallon car to stand-in for an X-3 about 20 years ago.  I may find it deeper in the closet one of these days!

I did start kitbashing a 6.5k gallon UTLX X-series tank car, so I'll show that.  One of the key spotting features found on the UTLX X-series cars is the wooden platform at the ends of the car, which filled in the area to the tank head.

UTLX 8302, a 6.5k gallon MDC/Tichy kitbash

Already on my work bench for several years is this model.  UTLX's unique style of the majority of their tank car fleet means that the only way to model those cars is with resin kits or kitbashing.

The UTLX 8302 is an MDC "old time" 6.5k tank with Tichy Train Group ACF tank car frame and 54" dome installed.  The tank has been changed from radial rivets to longitudinal sheet construction with Archer Rivets.  I still have some finish detailing to do on it one of these days, but I do like having some of the smaller tank cars which were very common in the 1940s and 1950s.

AC&F Tank Cars

UTLX 60350, a 10k gallon ACF Type-21 Proto2000 kit.

One of my small flock of Proto2000 tank car kits, is this 10k gallon version of the ACF Type-21.  It will also be an option for my Standard Oil needs.  UTLX did have some ACF and GA cars in their mostly proprietary fleet of cars from absorbed companies, however they were certainly fewer in number.

Union Oil of California - (Union 76)

UOCX 8006 starting from an unbuilt Proto2000 kit.

My Union Oil of California (UOCX) needs will be nicely filled by a couple of Proto2000 kits from the early 2000s.  Tony Thompson wrote several great blogs on building a Union Oil of California fuel distributor and tank cars.

Modeling a Bulk Oil Dealer (Part 1) - Tony Thompson blog post

Modeling Union Oil Dealer (Part 2) - Tony Thompson blog post

Adding a Union Oil Tankcar - Tony Thompson blog post on modeling UOCX tankcars.

Richfield Oil

Richfield - ROX - RedCaboose welded ACF-style 10k gallon tank car, New 1949.

This ROX car will be a nice model to run for diesel and fuel oil.  Given the 1949 build date, I'll probably be keeping these all-welded cars pretty clean.

Shell Oil of California

Shell Oil of California - SCCX - Another Proto2000 8k gallon ACF Type-21 tankcar kit

The Shell Oil cars often promote themselves with the herald, as shown above.  Several in a clip from a passing freight train at Walong during a wild flower excursion are sparkling clean.  Perhaps I need to de-weather the SCCX 1477 some!

In Closing

These new discoveries for me certainly has the chance to add at least 4 cars per week.  This is of course, depending on how much gasoline and other products the bulk fuel dealers of the Owens Valley need.

SP 4627 works a string of tank cars in the SP "70's Yard", some possibly heading to Lone Pine and Owenyo. - LMRC 1950's TT/TO session Jan 4, 1953.

Realistically, Laws/Bishop might not have needed a huge number of SG tank cars worth of petroleum products in a week, maybe each company sent a partially loaded SG car or maybe one car was only sent every two or three weeks.

Remember, each 8k SG car would need at least two 3500 gallon NG cars to carry the same load!  Perhaps a weekly car to Lone Pine was partly unloaded and the remaining <3500 gallons sent to Owenyo to be trans-loaded to Laws.

Tangent's stock photo of one of their GA 3-compartment tank cars, painted for GATX lease service.

Another option, which I'll need to look into with the ORERs is multi-compartment cars.  I know UTLX had 3-compartment cars.  I'd have to look if UOCX and ROX had them.  I believe Shell did have them, but not sure who the builder for those cars might be.  The traffic to Lone Pine and Laws would probably have been good examples of assignments which could have used 3-compartment cars with different fuels in each one.

The dates for the high point of NG rail served oil import was around 1929-1935.  After that the improvements in roads in the northern end of the Owens Valley allowed more shipments by truck.  This probably is what happened to the four commercial companies probably shifted away from the rail service.  Also with the closure of the Natural Soda Products plant in 1952, only five NG oil tank cars remained (SPNG 350, 351, 352, 353, 354).  In 1955 the SP consolidated the NG's operations to servicing the engines at Owenyo, further reducing the oil car fleet to only 352, with 350 being converted for water service.

So with the dates for the winding down of the SPNG fuel oil operations.  I may just invoke the time warp rule to keep it going.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 2) - Researching and Changing of the Plan

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 3) - Consists and More Bartlett Research

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 4) - Freight Car Roster

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 5) - Pulling the Trigger (Buying the materials for the benchwork)

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 6) - Q&A Continuing Design Tweaks - Working out the logistics for the staging yards other details.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 7) - Film & Construction Begins - Historic movie film clip of Owenyo Local and starting construction of the layout.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 8) - Little Lake Grows - More research materials have surfaced for my modeling of Little Lake.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 9) - Layout Material Changes - Shifting to MDF for the roadbed and moving the foam to secondary scenery uses.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 10) - Track Plan Details of Owenyo - A deeper dive into the buildings and track arrangements.

Freight Symbols Over Tehachapi - Part 4 - SP Locals - Tehachapi Pass's SP Local Freights, several of which work out of Mojave.

Monday, February 8, 2021

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 10) - Track Plan Details of Owenyo

In my previous posts, I cover some changes of the layout construction (Part 9) and some additional planning of what freight cars I'll be needing for modeling the 1950-53 era (Part 3) & (Part 4).  In the last week or so, I've found additional information in the form of period photos of Owenyo dating back into the 1940s and a couple into the late 1930s.  Also, as mentioned in (Part 8), I found the Santa Barbara UC GIS page for the Fairchild 1944 Aerial Surveys of the Owens Valley.

Note: These photos cover a plethora of different topics, so I'll be cropping and referring to these photos several times in the next few posts to bring out the various bits of details that can be found.

Track Plan Details of Owenyo

1944 Fairchild Aerial Survey photo of Owenyo - North roughly to the right.

All of this new information is allowing the refinement of my track planning at Owenyo and more information on the structures around the station.

SPNG Transfer Dump Trestle

The SPNG built a trestle over the SP standard gauge at the south end of Owenyo to transfer bulk goods across to the SG cars.  Reportedly the early maps show this as a 'Beet Dump Trestle' which would indicate the growing of sugar beets in the Owens Valley in the days before the Los Angeles Aqueduct removed much of the water flowing into Owens Lake and Mono Lake.

North to Right, 2021 remnants of Owenyo transfer trestle.

Measuring the remains showing in GoogleEarth shows the transfer portion of the trestle pit at about 275ft, or six 45ft coupled GS gondolas.  This seems to be born out by the cut of SG gondolas sitting out from under the trestle in the photos below.

My model will be able to handle about four 45ft coupled cars under it.  So I'll have to do some selective compression, but it certainly is reasonable.  Doubling the cut of cars going under the trestle dump certainly is another operational wrinkle to throw into operating sessions to load a couple more cars.

SPNG Trestle from SE side, NG track in foreground. 1939 -

Standing on the NG trestle looking north 1930s. -

Notice the culvert-trestle on the SG along the NG ramp trestle section at left.  That will be a fun detail to add to my model!  This photo certainly leads me to want to keep the sub-roadbed 1/4" MDF to as narrow under the track as possible for the SG.  Foam will make up the rest of the layout top, which will be sculpted down a bit here and there.

Another northward photo at a later date without the NG turntable. -

A nearly duplicate photo, but several years later, after the NG turntable has been removed.  Looks like the SG also has a new black steel water tank up near the wye.  Even long-distance photos can be used to pull additional details to detail a model railroad.

NG Trestle looking north at crews unloading. - Dennis Burke photo -

A nice color photo showing the way the scenery will be colored.  Also the stark color of the material being dumped out of the NG cars into the SG gondolas at the trestle.

Details abound, GS gondolas shoved under the trestle. -

Great detail photo.  Including the multiple prominate signs appealing to the crews to, "STOP - TRAINMEN MUST NOT RIDE CARS BEYOND THIS POINT".  Really?  I had no idea there would be a problem with continuing to ride the cars *under the trestle!*

3D CAD view of the west (south) end of my new 2/3's length dump trestle. (Feb 7, 2021)

One wonders if they ever shoved an NG gondola off the end of the trestle into or onto standard gauge gondolas.

SPNG 9 with water car working the NG cars on top of the trestle. -

Here's a photo from the SG side of the trestle.  This will be the side my model will be viewed from.  The backdrop of my planned layout will require cutting off the trestle well before the NG could get down to 'ground level'.

A photo documenting a good plan to have the derail at the bottom of the transfer trestle! -

Here's a nice view without any cars in the way.  A string of SG gondolas are waiting at the far end of the trestle.

SPNG 22 shoving cars up the trestle. -

SPNG 18 with a water car on the NG trestle -

A nice side view of the ramp section of the transfer trestle.

A nother photo of SPNG 22 shoving A-frame gondolas up the trestle. -

  Notice the last solid bent under the SPNG 22's tender.  The bents to the left of that with the SG in the "Basement" have been constructed more like a tunnel bent to clear the larger SG gondolas.

In the later years, SPNG 1 (diesel) shoving A-frame gonds up the trestle and dumping into SG cars. -

The trestle dump was used up into the last days of the operations at Oweno.  Here SPNG 1 works the trestle dump.  I don't plan in modeling into the era when SPNG 1 was placed into service, but this is a great action shot of the number of men needed to operate the dump cars on the trestle.  Looks like a fun job! (Yikes)

Unfortunately, my layout and space constraints will prevent me from having much of the ramp section of the NG going up to the trestle.  Perhaps 6" or so of the part not over the SG track below in the pit.  Also I'll only be building my model about 180ft long, not the prototypical 275 odd feet, which the aerial photos show for the footings.  The number of bents will be reduced to 12 on ~17ft centers.  Should be fun to finish researching and then building.  I'm still planning to adjust the size of the pit in width, I think it should be wider than what is shown in the CAD rendering.

Livestock Transfer Platform

Great detail photo of the stock transfer platform with the sloped deck. -

The SP transferred livestock at Owenyo between the NG and the SP's fleets of stock cars.  This photo is great to show that the platform is not level, but inclided to account for the difference in deck heights of the two gauges of cars that it serves.  This view from the standard gauge side, obviously given the points of the switch right in the foreground to the little pocket track stub spur, north of the stock transfer platform.

View looking North on the NG main.  Stock transfer platform at left. -

Interesting photo above showing a T&NO stock car at Owenyo.

Another view from the top of cars on the turntable lead. -

In this shot it appears that a string of empty A-frame gons are being left on the stock transfer track after being pulled off the transfer trestle.

"South" Transfer Platform

Looking North, a great view of the "South" and "Middle" transfer platforms. -

Time to count telephone poles.  It looks like there are talk-back speakers rigged to the tops of some of these poles.  I wonder if the phone booth looking shacks on the platforms at the base of the poles are phones to call the yard office or yardmaster regarding what they've just been squaked at from the speakers on the poles.

Gypsum bags being transferred by hand-truck from the SPNG boxcars to SP 102856, B-50-series post-war boxcar. -

These two photos are great examples of the hand labor moving bags of gypsum across between the NG boxcars to the new post-war SP 102856.  Looks like I need to pick up a post-war boxcar... sigh.  I'll be using these photos to sort out the width of the platform based on the width of the boxcars, I should be able to work this out pretty accurately.

Great view of SP 102856 post-war B-50- boxcar loading bagged gypsum from the NG boxcar. -

Note: the better angle to see inside the little "phone booth" at the base of the telephone pole with the talk-back speakers on it.  Also it is interesting that there is a safety railing installed where there are no steps and a slight raised block at the edges of the deck to keep the hand trucks or workers from stepping back off the edges.

"Middle" Transfer Platform

This shot appears to be taken from the talk-back telephone pole on the "South" transfer platform. - ... owenyo dennis burke_sml_r

This photo would appear to show another view of the 'scheduled' passenger train.  There's at least one steam engine in town, sitting back on the north curve of the wye, next to the oil tank
1944 Fairchild Aerial Survey zoomed in on the wye area.  The two large buildings on the mid-lower-left are the depot and hotel.  (Right to North)

There's also a road crossing through the platforms to the left, just this side of the RPO car.  This road figures into my track plan changes, as it aligns with the depot off to the right with the Train Order signal.  The depot will really only be modelable as a 'flat' against the back drop.

Ore Transfer Bulk Bucket Lift (Perlite, Soda Ash, etc)

The SP SG and NG seem to have set up a mechanized transfer elevator with buckets to transfer the various minerals and ores to standard gauge boxcars.  It shows on the Fairchild Aerial Survey from 1944.  Some photo captions say that this was used for Perlite, which sounds about right, but perlite wasn't being mined and shipped until around 1950, and the following years.  So it was probably built for transferring other ores and minerals before the perlite came around.

North Side

Canvas chute to load the materials into the SG boxcars. Probably using grain doors. Photo circa 1956-1959+. -

Cool shot from the roof of a standard gauge boxcar showing the canvas chute to guide the ore and minerals into the standard gauge cars.  Notice the angled braces off the north and south sides of the shed with the sheet metal cover.  I'm guessing that there was a mechanism like a boxcar door roller, which would move the chute north and south to align with the door of the boxcar.

Notice that a pair of reefers are on the short SG pocket track.  Also notice the SPNG 1 diesel in the background, which appears to be in red/gray, so this is probably around a 1959 photo.

South Side

Great shot of the mech-bucket elevator shed in service loading an OWRN boxcar. - Chard Walker photo -

Here's a great shot of the dust flying around the transfer bucket elevator.  The Fairchild Aerial Survey 1944 photo, shows this whole area over-exposed as white, probably from all the dust all around the area.

This shot also shows a pair of SPMW water cars off at the far left at the SG water tanks.  The Owenyo depot is on the right side, but I'll not be able to model that, as I believe it will end up too far into the backdrop.... I'll get to paint it on the wall or as a flat.

SPNG 18 works by the NG boxcars unloading bulk material into the bulk bucket transfer shed. -

Slightly different angle, but closer view of the same area.  This shot gives an acceptable view of the intake doors on the east side for the NG cars to unload into.  There possibly is a door on the ground to dump into as well.

Time is closing in quickly for Owenyo now... all the buildings and infrastructures being razed. - Rich McCutchan -

Great view of the structure around the transfer bucket machinery.  I'm planning to work out drawings for this loader, if I can't find some plans have already been made.

This is a nice detail view of the "west" switch of the SG wye's high switch stand.

Gantry Transfer Crane - Hand-Powered

Looking South, from the north showing the Gantry Crane - 1937 - Eastern California Museum -

Another great view of the Gantry Crane, in a future post I'll be covering any details I can get off these boxcars.  It seems that the NG ran diagonally from the pinch-point under the crane out to the two transfer platforms to the north and south.

Looking North at the south side of the Gantry Crane - 1940 -

Lots of NG gondolas moving bulk soda ash across to SG boxcars.  Lots of details can be gleaned from this photo regarding the NG's company buildings and details in the area between the SG and NG, which I can probably model.  It appears that there is a stack of 'grain doors' this side of the transfer platform.  Seems they might be used to hold the bulk shipments of soda ash.

SPNG engine pointed south at Owenyo, next to the crane - Sept 1954 -

SPNG engine with combine 401 moves by on the NG main next to the Gantry Crane.  Many NG boxcars and gondolas form the background to this photo. 

North side of Gantry Crane, looking South, while transferring power poles from SG to NG cars at the Gantry Crane.  Dennis Burke - ... dennis_burke13_sml

While this photo is here to show the Gantry Crane, there are a bunch of other things to see in the photo, such as the water tanks.  The auto-boxcar is loaded with some sort of crane in the SP A-50-series at right.  The transfer platform details, the other car bodies on the west side of the track in the distance past the two water tanks.

Time to trans-load some flatcars at Owenyo! Eastern California Museum -

Good view of the loading operations and the details of the hand-operated gantry crane.  All sorts of additional operations are pointed to in the photos and the captions at's photos. 

This appears to be an F-70-2/5/6/7 series 53ft flatcar with the power poles on it at the left.  The NG cars are being loaded for over-length poles with idler cars on each side.  A very cool photo!

October 1954 Railfan Excursion

SPNG 18 & 9 ready for the excursions in 1954.  Notice the HW Pullman cars lettered for Southern Pacific on the SG main track, one of the SG steamers in the background there.  - Eastern California Museum -

These photos are interesting in showing the population of Owenyo exploding with the arrival of a SG passenger train of fans coming to ride the NG equipment.  

Great photo from Oct '54 showing humans with the transfer platform! Eastern California Museum  -

The above photo from the tender of the SPNG 9, there's some good info to pull from the photo with the boxcars at the transfer platform North of the Gantry Crane.  I believe I'll be able to scale the ends of these platforms from the size of the people and track gauge.  I need to work these points out so that I can most accurately scale the platforms that I will build on the model.  Given how narrow some of these platforms actually are, I might be able to have more SPNG trackage than I originally planned to have.  Probably at least one track to place SPNG boxcars on to stage the scene.

In Closing

Jawbone Branch track plan Feb 7, 2021.

In this track plan, I've redrawn the whole Owenyo area with corrections for the lengths of the trans-loading platforms and better positioning of the western most NG track, which will run along right next to the wall.  Unfortunately, I just don't have the room for 2-3 extra NG tracks between the platform and the depot and other buildings on the east side of the NG tracks.  I'll probably be 'modeling' the front face of each of the structures as 'flats' against the backdrop, so at least looking at it from nearly chin-level, it will look ok.

Here's a lower angle view, similar to what a visitor will see of the yards at Owenyo - Feb 7, 2021

There should be a number of company dwelling structures, carbodies, etc to the west (south compass, right side from this view) of the wye, which will be between the viewer and the SG trackage.  The exact edge of this benchwork curving out into the wye is still up for grabs as to how much I will leave and put buildings on between the viewing area and the operational part of the layout.  Too much and it risks getting klutzed by the switching crew!  As I start building, I'll probably leave that area un-cut for the current time until I feel out how much I can safely put in that area.

I'm still working on some track changes at Little Lake, putting in the siding and arranging the buildings.  In the next post I'll probably go into more detail on that or the structural issues of stacking Owenyo and Mojave yards.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 2) - Researching and Changing of the Plan

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 3) - Consists and More Bartlett Research

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 4) - Freight Car Roster

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 5) - Pulling the Trigger (Buying the materials for the benchwork)

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 6) - Q&A Continuing Design Tweaks - Working out the logistics for the staging yards other details.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 7) - Film & Construction Begins - Historic movie film clip of Owenyo Local and starting construction of the layout.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 8) - Little Lake Grows - More research materials have surfaced for my modeling of Little Lake.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 9) - Layout Material Changes - Shifting to MDF for the roadbed and moving the foam to secondary scenery uses.

Freight Symbols Over Tehachapi - Part 4 - SP Locals - Tehachapi Pass's SP Local Freights, several of which work out of Mojave.