Saturday, January 28, 2023

Santa Fe Markers - Kitbashing OMM10002 for HW Chairs and LW Sleepers

Kitbashed OwlMtModels Marker Light installed on Santa Fe's 6-6-4 "Chama Valley" by Walthers.

I decided that I should get caught up a bit in my blog posts about the OwlMtModels 10002 Pyle National Gyralite Marker Light and Tailgate kitbashes.  The stock kit is good for SP, UP, GN, Amtrak, etc who used it after about 1954 until the built-in markers of the Amfleet and Superliners of the 1980s.  However, other railroads like Santa Fe, used their own marker lights, often home-built designs.  So let's see how I kitbashed the OMM kit into a Santa Fe "light box" style marker.

Basic assembly illustration of installation on a Walthers HW passenger car, by Jason Hill - Copyright OwlMtModels 2013

The main change to the assembly of the marker is in not using the Pyle-Gyralite housing for the LED, but instead to fabricate a new face plate from styrene sheet.  The sheet needs to be painted black, ideally from both front and rear to prevent light leaking through it.

The central hole is drilled for No.50 (same as 2-56 tap-drill size) to fit the LED's boss.  At this point I glue the plate over the LED with CA/ACC type glue and let it dry.

I cut the outside edges of the styrene plate are then trimmed to match the outside square body of the LED.  If I want a flatter profile to the LED, I file or sand down the boss on the LED to be only 0.005" or so proud of the styrene plate.  The sanded surface of the LED can be smoothed back into a lens with a layer of Canopy Cement (by Testors).

I glue the LED onto the gate part with ACC/CA glue.  There will still be light leaks around the outside of the LED, so I use some liquid electrical tape (black rubber goo) and fill in the outside edges to prevent light leaks.  I suppose a modeling putty might work as well, but I like the liquid tape as I am sure it will not cause shorts between the two conductors of the LED.

Unlit view of the modified tailgate and marker light, the black on the diaphragm is 9+ years of in-service rubbing on the striker.

The Santa Fe seemed to paint their marker housings silver or black, so either works in this case.  Once the LED is glued onto the gate, mask the face of the LED and then I can paint the gate and marker the finish color.

In Closing

Normal wiring of the LED, etc goes normally, per standard installations.  If a DCC decoder or DC directional lighting is desired, then testing of the LED to be sure the direction of current is needed.  As my markers were going to just be running on straight DCC with no lighting decoder, the polarity didn't matter.

Low-light view of Santa Fe rear marker on "Chama Valley", looking a little worse for wear on the light leaks after 8-9 years at LMRC.

Huh, I thought I did better aligning the grabs on the Chama Valley, but that was 9 years ago, and the car's seen regular service at LMRC.  So I'm guessing that the grabs got tweaked a bit and a few light leaks developed.  It also looks like the lower horizontal grabs are missing too... so the Chama Valley needs some shopping work to repair the little dings it's received in service.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SP 2701 (Part 3), Lighting a 60-CC-1 by Model Power - More installation blogging on markers.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

MILW Rib-Sided Boxcars (Part 1) - Accurail vs Rib Side Cars

Happy New Years...

well, two weeks late.  New Years Eve we had a very severe snow storm that knocked power out for 50 hours and no internet for another 5 days, so I couldn't really do a "New Years Blog" like I've done in previous years.  So it looks like 2023 is starting off a couple weeks late.  As I'm writing this, we're having more storms, more snow.  Soooo, it's time to hunker down over my modeling workbench and see what kinds of trouble I can get into in 2023!

Story of Two Boxcars...

In the last three years I picked up one of the new Accurail Rib-Sided boxcar kits.  These are signature cars of the Milwaukee Road of the steam era into the 1970s.  Recently, I pulled out the kit along with a club member's kit from Rib Side Cars (out-of-business now) that I was asked to build for him.  (Note, yes, I'm cheating in this first part from a blog post I started in spring 2022).

Out-of-the-box comparison of the Rib Side Car kit (top) and the Accurail re-tooled kit (bottom).

I've decided to build these two models side-by-side and see what changes Accurail has made to the tooling.  So enjoy the double vision build blog.


Rib Side Cars

Here's the box-end info on the Rib Side Cars kit.

Thankfully the box info does include the info on which car numbers this kit should be!  This is one of 1000 cars built for the MILW, and also notes the "Route of the Hiawathas" slogan paint scheme.

Box art on the top, pretty nice artwork.

Let's open the box...

Parts of the Rib Side Cars kit.  There's also a grabs and screws/coupler bag.

The kit has earmarks of tooling similar to the old CB&T Shops kits of the 1990s.  This kit was purchased in the 2006-2007 timeframe based on the lable on the bottom of the box.  Two different doors are included.  One a Youngstown and the other more of a Superior/RibSide style door.  I'm not sure if it's a Superior door or a Milwaukee design door, which actually matches the ribs in the carside.

EB Products Bettendorf trucks and decal numbers come included in the kit.

The trucks included are sprung with metal wheelsets.  These trucks may be replaced before being put into service with something more like the Accurail Bettendorf AAR trucks, which are not sprung.

Accurail's Version

Accurail's Box info for kit #3992, MILW 21078

The Accurail #3992 kit is lacking much of the detail regarding which version of the car we have here exactly.  If I look at the website and cross check against the kit number, I can work out which version this car is... but it would be nice if they had a bit more text stating which version this is.

At least it does include the slogan info "Route of the Electrified Olympian", but no info as to the size of this group of cars, though the number at NEW date of 7-40 on the model indicates this is the preceding group of cars, below 21188, which is the RSC kit group's lowest number in the 1943-44 built group of cars.

Here's the contents of the Accurail kit spread out.

The Accurail kit comes with a ladder and detail sprue, roof piece, and a steel roof walk sprue.  Accurail Bettendorf AAR trucks are included, along with steel axled plastic wheels and Accurail couplers, which will be replaced with KD couplers.

Direct Comparison

I should note at this point that these two kits are of slightly different prototypes.  The Rib Side Cars (RSC) kit is a "short rib" version, which stop short of the grabs and ladders, and the Accurail kit I picked up is the version with the long ribs, extending all the way to the car end.

Rib Side Cars (Top) & Accurail kit (Bottom)

The RSC body has holes for separate Tichy Train Group grab irons, while the Accurail model has their typical thin cast-on grabs.

The Accurail car has the ribbed doors cast as part of the body and no option for the Youngstown door version.  I'm not sure if any of the long rib cars had youngstown doors.  Some research will need to be done before I select which doors will be going on the RSC kit.  There are also some slight differences to the right ends of the door tracks in the tooling.


Both cars have the same underframe, down to the cast-on frame members, large injection gate, and brake gear mounting holes.

Comparing the underframes of the two models. RSC top, Accurail bottom.

Structurally the models are almost identical, the Accurail car even still has the RSC ownership tag in the BL end of the car, although the Accurail model also has their ownership marks cast into the interior of the car body and roof.  Other than that, I can't see any tooling changes to the underframe part of the mold.

MILW 21078

The unnumbered short-ribbed car was returned to it's owner before I did much construction on it in 2022, so I'll only be showing construction work on the MILW 21078 (Accurail kit) from this point on in 2023.

Underframe of MILW 21078 - probably with misplaced Reservoir. - Oops!

The AB Brake components were then attached.  The parts are rather crude and I may eventually decide to add the other brake lever and rods to super detail the UF.  The arrangement of the main reservoir is rather strange that it's not on the other side of the underframe.  This may be a mistake that I didn't notice until writing this, so before the car enters service, I may end up correcting that by Part 2.
I worked on the trucks and couplers.  I'm not going to cover in detail here other than to say that I used Kadee scale-head couplers along with IMRC wheels in Tichy "Bettendorf" AAR cast trucks.

Floor weight installed with RTV Silicon.

I glued in a floor weight with RTV Silicon.  Note the coupler screw holes drilled all the way into the interior and tapped for 2-56 screws.

Left side of MILW 21078 on her trucks.

Once the basic body mechanicals were assembled, I then worked on cutting the ladders and brake staff rod from the sprues and gluing them to the body of the car, following the instructions.  Pretty simple stuff, nothing really to write home about.  Hopefully the ladders don't get knocked off, I suppose if it becomes an issue, I could drill and pin them in place with some 0.012" PB wire, which should help the sheer strength of the joint.

A-End with lumber door.

The small lumber door on this car will probably be put to great use on the Jawbone Branch, as I expect this MILW car will be bringing in lumber products from the PNW.

B-End with power hand brake and brake step installed.

I still need to put on the brake wheel itself as of these photos being taken.

In Closing

Right side of MILW 21078, still needs tack-boards added.

I still need to glue the roof on and then put on the roof-walk end supports and tack-boards.  In the next part I'll be covering finishing up of the MILW 21078, maybe doing some weathering as well.  It should be fun, but I'm not looking forward to doing weathering outside during the blizzards we're having in Nevada right now!

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Freight Car Overview Index Page - All my freight car related blog posts in one place

Milwaukee Rib Side Cars - Article by Randall Hammill - Comparing Exact Rail, IMRC, Sunshine, and Accurail/Rib Side Cars.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Open Loads (Part 6) - Modeling WP 9002 with Steel Load-1126

This is the next post in the series of Open Loads articles I'm writing.  In Part 4, I looked at building  a Bridge Timber load for a Southern Pacific GS-gondola to match photos in Tony Thompson's SP Freight  Cars Vol.1.  In Parts 1, 2, and 5, I covered more generalized load topics, with multiple quick examples, but not much on the "how-to" aspect.  This post will change to specifically focused post on a single car and load combination, how it was modeled, the unique load built, weathering commentary, etc.  Then the next post will move to another specific car and unique load.

I should note that in some cases I've built multiple loads of a style to take care of several cars, as some loads would be replicated across several cars in a service or a train consist.

WP 9002 - WP 65ft Mill Gondola

The Athearn R-T-R model of WP 9002 is stenciled as newly built in June 1949, so for my era the car would be between "new" and maybe 3-years old during my modeling era.  The WP bought 50 cars in this series (WP 9001-9050), which show in the 1950 ORER.  This is why the exterior of the car isn't too weathered.  A bit of "running grime" is applied to knock the 'edge' off the straight black paint of the Athearn model out of the box.  I'm not sure if these cars had different trucks, which I could swap out to be more accurate, so for now the stock Athearn trucks will work.

Bad Order marks for the retaining valve on the car-side.

The Athearn model comes with longitudinal-mounted Ajax Power Handbrakes on the B-end.  I also put chalk marks on this side of the car pointing at the retaining valve, indicating a bad order valve or plumbing.

Chalk Marks...

WP 9002 ready for service.

Notice that I've already applied white and light gray chalk markings to the car.  The arrow on the lower car side points to the bleed release valve rod handle, which was always hard to see at night.  Even if I don't put the little 0.008" wire bleed handle on the model, running from each side under the triple-valve, at least I can have the arrow pointing at where it would be, which can be seen from a couple feet away from the model.

Another chalk mark on the upper side to the left of the "W" in Western Pacific, points a carman to a defective collapsible stake pocket on the interior of the car with the comment, "BO Pocket" in chalk.  Little details like this help the car feel used and somewhat abused.  Placing a "circle K", which was a fast way to write "OK" by carmen after the repair was completed could be used to show older repairs that have been fixed already.  Some of my cars have these types of chalk marks too, with an older looking Bad Order mark, maybe in fading gray chalk.

WP 9002 with chalk marks for routing back to CA, Pittsburg

On cars where I have good ideas about where the cars were assigned, I can chalk on them where I want the cars returned to, what routing the cars are being sent on, train symbols on which the car will move, etc.  The other place on the WP that I could send the car was the steel works over at Provo, Utah.  The cars at Pittsburg could easily be interchanged to the Santa Fe and routed to Southern California, supporting the building boom in the post-war years.

WP 9002 with Steel Load, chalk marked for San Bernardino on the Santa Fe's SCX-symbol.

The ends of the car are collapsible as well for over-length loads.  I decided to show on the WP 9002, that these ends would be subject to the same weathering actions as the interior of the car.  If the ends were in the lowered position, then the air born metal weathering factors (paint damage and rusting) would be happening on the exterior of the ends as well.

The Interior

I went a bit heavier on the weathering for the interior of the WP "Mill Gondola", which would primarily have been assigned to the WP's service at Pittsburg, CA's steel mill.  So despite the car only being a couple years old, I could see the interior already receiving a battering and extra weathering from hanging around the steel mill and moving steel loads.  Also the mill at Pittsburg, CA is on the confluence of the Sacramento & San Joaquin Rivers and the eastern end of the San Francisco Bay delta, subjecting the area to the damp, salty, and foggy conditions, typical of the eastern Bay Area.

Downward view of floor weathering on WP 9002

The interior was weathered with acrylic paints.  Initially a wash-coat was applied that changed the base color of the interior to ether a rust hue or more of a bare-metal gray hue.  Then closer to full strength acrylic paints were used by stippling the end of the brush to make concentrated rust spots and variations.

Close-up of the interior side weathering of WP 9002.

As with most Mill Service gondolas, this car has an array of collapsible stake pockets along the interior of the sides, which can be used for securing the load with iron wire, wooden stakes, etc. as needed.  A well planned model load can make use of these standard stake locations and make the load appear to be using them to hold various stakes, etc.

The Load-1126

I've been numbering all my Open Car Loads with a serial number for inventory and keeping track of them.  There's no intrinsically historical meaning to this load's designation.

Load-1126 is made out of four Evertgreen Styrene I-Beams, 52ft long.

There's nothing really special about the basic construction of this load.  Typically, if possible, the shippers would lay down the I-beams on their sides.  However, for bigger beams like this load, keeping them upright would be better.

The Load-1126 is not really using stakes to secure the load, but wedging four wood beams (4x8" or 6x8" scale strip wood) under the load in four places.  Holes are drilled through the deck of the car by workers for the shipper, yes... the railroads and shippers were allowed to modify the cars by drilling or welding tabs for the securing of loads to a point.

The weldments for securing loads were supposed to be removed when the car was unloaded, but this rarely happened... More likely the load would have what was needed removed, cut off, etc. and the car sent on to the next load, where the shipper there would have to cut away any interfering weldments for their new loading plan.

Wooden blocking supports the load and keeps it in place.

But back to the Load-1126, I don't actually drill any holes into the deck of the Athearn car, as they will be hidden by the wooden blocks supporting the load on the deck.  Diagonal timbers and wedge-blocks keep the beam supported from swaying or shifting sideways, while the tie-rods clamp down on the top beam.

Integrating the Load-1126 into WP 9002

Overview of Load 1126 in WP 9002

All of my loads are designed to be removable and transferable to other models to replicate load and empty cycles.  This type of load where it's sitting inside a gondola doesn't really hurt of the load moves lengthwise in the car a few 1/8 of an inch.

Higher angle view of Load-1126 in the Athearn 65ft Mill Gondola.

In this case, Load-1126 is secured with four wood pieces across the top of the load by eight threaded rods, which are compressing the top wood beams into the four steel beams, and down to the wooden cross beam/separators under the load, before theoretically going through the floor and being secured below the deck

In Closing

Generally, WP cars like 9002 are a bit afield from my regular modeling interests, but they do create opportunities for interesting loads and bridge traffic on Santa Fe trains into Southern California or WP traffic around Northern California, Nevada, and Utah.

WAB 12017, one of the Wabash's 65ft Mill Gondolas.

The removable steel loads, 1126 in this case, can just as easily be moved to a WAB, B&O, PRR, SP, ATSF, etc 65ft Mill Gondola to increase flexibility and keep the same load/car combination from reappearing in operation sessions, which can get boring.

B&O 259798, Tangent Bethlehem 52'6" gondola with Load 1125, which we'll look at soon.

As the Load-1126 is only 52ft long, it can also be put in any of the many 52'6" gondolas from P2K, Tichy, Tangent, etc. that can be found from many railroads.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Sunday, December 25, 2022

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

A friend send me an email asking more about Lumber Loads, so I'm going to expand what I talked about in Open Loads (Part 1) - Building Steel Loads, and talk more about the lumber loads this time.  

Fair Notice: I work for OwlMtModels and designed the HO-scale F-50-5/8/9/10/12 kits and also the series of lumber load kits shown on many of the cars below.  
While I am using many of these kits, other modeling methods for creating additional variety in loads is certainly welcomed.  I've built many loads from scratch or kitbashed other commercial loads to create loads before the OwlMtModels kits were available.

Prototype Photo Analysis & History

Flats and gonds would often be loaded with rough-cut timber, sometimes dried, but often shipped fairly raw on open cars.  (Of course boxcar loads are a totally different topic and not really relevant as the cars are enclosed.)  The loads of Pacific Coast lumber were often shipped as "Rollers" which would leave the PNW areas and take the longest route time to a theoretical destination.  A carload of lumber probably shouldn't be on-car more than maybe a month tops.  My concept of "weathering" lumber, should be called more like, 'wood effects'.  

The railroads would have diversion points, set up in the tariff, at which the cars could be rerouted.  The lumber would be brokered in-route.  Once the load 'sold', the destination would be changed by contacting the railroad about to handle the car at the diversion point, between the car's location and the new destination.  This is mostly why the SP didn't want to be sending lumber trains over Donner, and much of the traffic came all the way from Portland down and east via the Sunset Route, taking the "long way" to get to the eastern states with the "rollers."

SP 4177 with First 671 East of Oakridge in 1947

In the Vanishing Vista (photo below) we see an AC leading a freight (Possibly PSS or OCM symbol) with a huge amount of lumber carried in a mix of flats, gondolas and auto-boxcars hauling any finished lumber.  Obviously, the blocks could have standard boxcars with paper or newsprint.

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

In just this one photo, we have the following consist it appears:

1. L&N? double-door 50ft steel auto-boxcar, I'm not sure if this car is actually an autobox or if it is reloaded with lumber.
2. Fishbelly Flat (possibly SP F-70-2/5/6/7/10, etc)* - Random lumber ends towards middle
3. SP G-50-9/10/11/12 (Ulrich/brass) gondola - Some sort of darker (creosoted?) timbers
4. SP (or subsidiary) F-50-4/5/8/9/10/12 (probably) with large lumber stack
5. Fishbelly Flat (possibly SP F-70-2/5/6/7/10, etc)* - Shorter stack of lumber, probably a smaller order of lumber, not getting to cubic or tonnage rating of the car.  Possibly foreign 53ft 50-ton flatcar.
6. T&NO WWII Emergency Gondola (resin kit)
7. 40ft flatcar with full height 2-stack lumber
8. T&NO WWII Emergency Gondola (resin kit) - another of the same - lower lumber load, no side stakes? - Crates?
9. SP Steel GS gondola (probably) - RedCaboose - 2-stack lumber
10. SP G-50-9/10/11/12 (Ulrich/brass) gondola - 2-stack lumber
11. Fishbelly Flat (possibly SP F-70-2/5/6/7/10, etc)* or AAR 53ft 50-ton flat - 2-stack lumber
12. Fishbelly Flat (possibly SP F-70-2/5/6/7/10, etc)* or AAR 53ft 50-ton flat - 2-stack lumber
--- Rear portion of the train seems to be more medium height gondolas, various lengths, and similar flatcars with lumber stacks on them.

Note *: SP F-70-2/5/6 class would be possible, but were far fewer in numbers compared to the thousands of the later F-70-7 of 1949 and -10 class of 1953-54.  The -7 and -10 classes would be certainly be too new for a 1947 consist, suggesting foreign 53ft cars or the F-70-2/5 class which only numbered a few hundred cars.  NP also had 300 AAR 53ft flatcars which fit the physical description.

SP 1347 Switching Lumber Cars

SP 1347 switches a string of lumber cars - SP TIMR'46 film screen capture.

1. Probably SP F-70-6/7 class flatcar with fairly long 2-stack of lumber
2. Rio Grande GS gondola
3. Possibly another DRGW GS gondola
4. Flatcar with (5.) carrying over-length pole/pile load
5. Flatcar with (4.) carrying over-length pole/pile load - notice only two closely spaced vertical stake sets to pivot the long load around.
6. Flatcar with tall lumber load
7. Gondola with some form of load, possibly treated timbers or shaded load from boxcar on track to left.
8. Getting pretty hard to see past this point, but it appears a couple more lumber loads off into the distance.

I think a lot depends on the wood and any treatments that it's had already.  Very dark loads are probably pressure-treated in modern day.  In older days, I would expect the darker loads to be creosoted, like I talked about in Part 4 - Bridge Timber Load.  "Dark" Lumber loads (without seeing them) could also be redwood... so there's also that, but often the redwood was worth shipping in boxcars.

Humping Lumber Loads at Taylor Yard

SP Los Angeles Yard (Taylor) with wrecker and F-70 lumber cars - May 4, 1952 David L Abbott photo - PRMA collection

Pretty amazing view from the top of the Hump Yard at Taylor (Los Angeles Yard) sending three lumber loads down the hump into the bowl.  The lighter orange-yellow lumber loads with iron wire or steel bands across the top of the two closest loads are a great help for modeling.  I think the second to the farthest top-tie on the closest car is a 'choker' wire which is tightening the top unit of lumber together, while the other ties are connecting the stakes at each side together, squeezing the load in place.

Modeling Cars & Lumber Loads

Flat Cars

I've already made an extensive SP Flatcar Modeling Index Page which covers all the classes I know that can be modeled or kitbashed in HO outside of brass. - Follow the link above for more information on the cars.  I'm only going to list a couple of classes below, but point out the ones that were often found in lumber loading.

SP 43745 with OwlMtModels 3004 Lumber Load demo.

In the pre-WWII years the SP flat car fleet was dominated by the 3000+ cars of the 50-ton, F-50-4/5/8/9/10/12 series 40ft 10in class.  They were owned by SP, PE, NWP, & T&NO.  The cars also covered the Blackburn Sugar Beet Rack service, drawing cars from T&NO as needed to cover loading on the Pacific Lines.  Over the years the PE cars were absorbed back into the parent SP roster as PE's freight loading dried up.  OwlMtModels also produces and sells kits for these flatcars.

NWP 4474 with 5/6 of a OwlMtModels 3004 Lumber Load kit.

The OwlMtModels 3004 kit is designed for narrow flatcars, specifically the earlier (pre-1918/USRA) cars like SP's F-50-series cars and gondolas.  The kit can be built in many configurations with hundreds of options for the pieces to avoid repeating loads appearing in your trains.  The NWP 4474's load here shows options to reduce the top stack to a single 'unit' of lumber, which greatly changes the look of the load and is prototypically shown in some photos.

SP F-70-7 flatcar (SPH&TS/RedCaboose) with kitbashed OwlMtModels 3001 Lumber Load

It is impossible to be sure, but I'm guessing these cars in the photo on the hump are examples of the 2050 new 1949-built F-70-7 class cars, which started to dominate the SP lumber loading of the 1950s. 


I've already made an extensive SP Gondola Modeling Index Page which covers all the classes I know that can be modeled or kitbashed in HO outside of brass. - Follow the link above for more information on the cars.

SP 151382 with creosoted Bridge Timber load.

Based on a photo in Anthony Thompson's SP Freight Cars, Vol 1 I scratch built this bridge timber load and showed it was constructed in the previous post of Open Loads (Part 4) - Bridge Timber Load.

SP 150143, a composite GS gondola from RedCaboose with OwlMtModels 3004 lumber load.

The OwlMtModels 3004 load also works well in the RedCaboose/IMRC GS gondolas, both composite and steel versions.  The composite cars were generally assigned to sugarbeet and wood chip services, but if the lumber mills needed to move lumber and the chip loading was down, a composite car could be grabbed to move the timber.

Mill Gondolas

The Southern Pacific branched out into 48ft and 50ft mill-type gondolas with G-50-13 and G-50-14 classes.  This was really the only longer gondolas that were owned until the first 70-ton gondolas were built just before WWII and into the post-war years.

SP 94248, kitbashed shortened P2K gondola, before repairs and upgrades in 2022.

The SP 94248 is a shortened Proto2000 gondola.  I built this car in the late 1990s, making it one of my early cars put into service at LMRC.  I also have Speedwitch's SP G-50-13 under construction, so at some point it will have some articles on it and some form of load for it.

Empty SP 94296, part of pilot class G-70-4 of 65ft gondola, I usually load this car with over-length wood or steel loads.

The next classes of SP mill gondolas built were these big 65ft cars.  These cars were primarily used in steel and lumber services.  The 65ft cars really are narrower than more conventional length gondolas, so stacking cut lumber wasn't really suitable.  Instead long narrow timbers, poles/piles, and very long timbers were loaded in these cars, often with idler cars.

SP 160588, G-70-6 with a scratch-built load of pole/piles of debarked trunks.

I used tooth-picks to fashion the round stakes on this load.  The pole/piles really should be tappered.  Now that I have a good lathe, I could dismantle this load, chuck them up, and profile these to look like a proper debarked tree trunk.

Idler Flatcars for Over-length Loads

SP G-70-4/6/9 class gondola and F-50-16 at Walong in 1971 - Charles R Lange

Here's a prototype photo from Charles Lange with a 65ft gondola and two 40ft idler flatcars about 20 years after my modeling era, but the load is timeless, some 90ft approximately telephone poles or piles.

SP 140195, converted Athearn 40ft steel flatcar. Notice the overhanging piles from the adjacent mill gondola.

Many years ago, I put a wood deck on an old Athearn 40ft flatcar to stand-in for SP's 1949 built F-50-16 class of 500 cars.

SP 140234, kitbashed RedCaboose F-70-6/7 into a 40ft F-50-16 class car.

More recently I kitbashed a SPH&TS/RC F-70-6/7 into the shorter flatcar.  I like using these or the OMM F-50-5/8/9/10/12 class as idlers when they're not loaded with lumber.  Foreign cars could also be used as idlers.  I covered this model in a previous blog post - SP 140234 Kitbashed F-50-16 from RC F-70-6/7.

Post-1950 SP Gondolas

Starting in 1951 SP ordered pairs of 52ft 6in mill-type gondolas, the first pair G-70-7 & -8 were built with all-welded construction.  The -7s came with fixed ends and 5ft IH sides, while the -8s came with drop-ends and 3ft IH sides.

SP 160522, kitbashed stand-in SP fixed-end gondola of G-70-7 from MDC/Roundhouse Thrall 50ft gondola.

A number of years ago I kitbashed an MDC/Roundhouse Thrall 50ft gondola.  The ends were replaced, small fish-belly sides were added.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a spare body at the time to increase the height to the proper 5ft, so for this model the stock MDC 4ft IH had to do.  I used spare RC G-50-22/23 ends to replace the much more modern Thrall ends.  Proto2000 trucks were used on this stand-in model.

Tangent SP 160132 with 5/6 of OwlMtModels 3005 kit load

Then a couple years later, Tangent produced a great model, which is correct for SP's G-70-8 of 1951-built 52ft 6in gondolas.  Both G-70-7 and -8 were delivered in an experimental all-black scheme.

Tangent SP 160172 with 5/6 of OwlMtModels 3005 kit load.

By 1953, the next classes of SP 70-ton gondola, the SP returned to FCR for the G-70-12 (3ft IH sides with drop-ends) for their gondolas.  The herald background however also lost the black circle, receiving only the stencil for the herald.  Gondolas like this show up in many of the SP freight train photos.  A similar class (G-70-11, iirc) was built following the G-70-7 standards of fixed ends and 5ft IH sides.

Reloading Foreign Cars with Lumber?!

PRR 373417 with 5/6 of OwlMtModels 3005 kit load - in natural sunlight

Why and how would a Pennsy gondola be reloaded on the west coast with lumber on the SP?  Reloading of  under Service Car Orders on West Coast.  Service Car Orders were issued up to about every two weeks with special instructions on which railroads wanted their cars back ASAP, specific instructions to allow or not allow reloading and directions for such.  In this case, let's look at C507 from 1950.  I don't know for how long this order was in effect, but it shows that it was allowed and at least the following railroads authorized reloading on the west coast.

"Specifically C507, effective May 6, 1950 to Northwestern, Centeral-Western and Southwestern regions, terminal switch lines and GM&O, IC, and Wabash covering gondolas of B&O, BLE, CNJ-CRP, DL&W, Erie, NYC-PLE, NKP-WLE, LV, PWV, PRR, RDG, Union and WM, directing cars of this type of ownership to be sent home empty except cars located west of Continental Divide may be loaded to any destination east and those east of Continental Divide may be loaded to Chicago, Peoria, St. Louis or east."

Specifically interesting to read is the list of railroad owners allowing this action.  Also that this applies (for our purposes here) to the cars that have already reached points west of the Continental Divide, aka, San Diego, Los Angeles, Bay Area, Portland, Seattle, etc.  Most of the traffic from these roads would have been shipping steel materials for the post-war building up of the west-coast cities and even the early Interstate Highway system bridges, etc.  Therefore large numbers of these cars were making empty and were heading back to the eastern US empty, thus a great pressure was applied to find suitable west-coast loads going east to reload them with.

The SCOs often stated things like; "Car may be routed anywhere west of Continental Divide for destinations East of the Mississippi River."  For railroads along the East Coast, hopefully the car is going to find a load somewhere in the western states and loading for going across the country.  This would allow a suitable car to move laterally several hundred miles north or south to find a load, instead of just the division looking around and kicking the car towards home empty on record rights.  I want to do a blog post on freight car forwarding soon too, so I'm not going to go too deep here on that, so we'll come back to SCOs and record rights then.

B&O 259798 Tangent gondola with reloaded OMM 3005 south and eastward load to the Mississippi River and beyond.

Following C507, this B&O gondola could be reloaded with lumber.  So building steel and lumber loads to fit foreign cars like this is a great way to keep them earning money on your model railroad.  

Likewise NKP 66031 with slider available for reloading according to C507.

Proto2000/Walthers makes these great Greenville WWII all-steel mill gondolas for many railroads that bought them.  This is an example of an NKP car with track cleaner that I modified in my previous blog post about Camouflaging Track Cleaning Pads.  I'll probably be using this one on the Jawbone to help keep it clean with various eastern machinery loads to Owenyo.

C507 will also allow me to assign LV 27202 to lumber loading.

There were also smaller mill-type gondolas also fall into this category, such as this USRA 46ft mill gondola, by Walthers Proto-series, as I recall.  I'll probably take each of these cars aside and show examples of loads I have built for their car type, like I did with the SP 151382 with the Open Loads (Part 4) - Bridge Timber Load a couple months ago.

Lumber from Weird Places!

B&O P-11

A Bob's Photos shows a B&O P-11 flat, like 106682 loaded with lumber at San Diego, CA around 1955, I think the photo was in the Railway Cyclopedia issue on open loads.

San Diego received huge lashed log rafts which were sailed down from the Washington and Oregon coast by ocean tugs.  These rafts would be broken up and cut locally at the mills in coastal cities like San Diego.  I assume that the B&O flat made empty locally after dropping off a load of steel or marine machinery at NASCO shipyards, then was quickly grabbed with a load of lumber to send east.  It would be interesting to know if the car was sent east on the Santa Fe via Barstow or on the SD&AE, via Mexico and Campo to El Centro and the Southern Pacific.

I've not built the lumber load for the 106682 yet, but at some point I'll do a separate blog on it when the car is done.


PRR 475260, a Bowser F30A flatcar with OwlMtModels 3001 Lumber Load kit.

I'll also do a follow-up post specifically for the Bowser F30A flatcar with the OwlMtModels 3001 Lumber Load, which would also fall into a C507-type SCO.  While the C507 doesn't call out flatcars, I have seen photos of lumber loads on foreign flatcars in odd places around the west coast, so I believe that there were also similar orders issued for flatcars, like the C507 does for gondolas.

PRR 475260 with OwlMtModels 3001 Lumber Load

This load was fun to build, I went for the shallower sub-stickered load with additional seperating stickers within the lumber units.  I believe I heard somewhere, this was to try to help dry (or keep dry) the lumber load.  This load was a blast to build and also again adds more variety to a train of lumber loads. 

In Closing

Welded SP F-70-10 (SPH&TS/RC) with kitbashed OwlMtModels 3001 to fill length. - Still need to install all the bracing to finish this load and finish up the flatcar too.

Often a lumber mill in the PNW would stack and brace their lumber loads in the same way, but another mill a few miles away might do it differently under a different foreman.  So if you want to simulate loads coming from multiple mills, go ahead and try some new ways to rig the loads... Have some loads with all the stakes, while others are set up with only the minimal AAR required bracing for meeting interchange rules.

I look forward to doing some more single-car/load blog posts to expand this topic, but there's far too many to put all the loads in one post.  I'll probably cover some other types of loads in the future as well.

Jason Hill

Related Articles & Links:

OwlMtModels - 3001 "Wide" Lumber Loads - for post-1918 USRA "Wide" flatcars

OwlMtModels - 3004/3005 "Narrow" Lumber Loads - For gondolas and F-50-series "Narrow" flatcars

Open Loads (Part 4) - Bridge Timber Load - SP 151382 with removable load

SP 140234 Kitbashed F-50-16 from RC F-70-6/7

Freight Car Modeling Index Page - Overview of my modeling posts on freight cars and related topics