Monday, October 24, 2016

Building SP 5199 (Part 6)

When I left off with the build last (Part 5) I'd just finished the exterior of the car and drawn up the interior parts for 3d printing.  This time we'll look at the interior in more detail and how it was assembled.

Let's get the Postal Clerks to work setting up the interior of their RPO!

3D Printing Interiors

Normally I'm not a huge fan of replacing actual crafting and modeling with something made from a machine.  I believe in the hobby there will always be a place for the modeling craftsman in building a model.  I believe this series of blog posts about Building SP 5199 clearly show that there is still a modeler behind getting the model built and finished.  Currently no machine can do it all, and I'm sure for many more years this will be true.

CAD Model for car interior

The 3d-Printed parts were made by a friend of mine.  These are really "first articles" so I expect there to be a few small issues with fit and having never worked with an RPO interior I'm sure there will be changes to any future re-prints of these parts.  Let's have a closer look at the parts.

 Edit: Parts Now For Sale - These parts are now loaded to the OwlMtModels Shapeways store and are up for sale.  The 30ft RPO parts are in the 4031-4035 part number series, the overhead sorting box racks can be ordered in the cheaper White-strong-flexible material, while the all the parts are also offered in HDA resin-plastic.

Various 3D printed parts for the RPO interior.

On the right are two Letter Sorting Cases, Center are two Electrical Cabinets (one on the 3d printing stand, and one desprued), Top is one of the Train Baggage Man (TBM) toilet enclosers and desk.  Below that are two of the Cardboard Box Bins that go above the windows, below that are the two Bag Racks with pouches hung for sorting.  Bottom center is the sorting table which is set up next to the bag racks.  Bottom Left are three of the larger pouch-bags, one pair sit at each end of the sorting table.

About 20 minutes after I sent the drawings to be printed, I realized that the SP 5199 didn't use the same letter case as the floor plan drawing I'd used showed.  Not to worry, a quick redesign of the letter cases resulted in the correct case for the SP 5199.  The other cases are correct for several other cars I will be working on soon, so not to worry.  The correct case for 5199 was also sent to the printer.

Prepping the Body Interior

While waiting for the 3D printed parts to be done, I worked on preparing the shell and painting some of the rest of the interior walls.

Here the RPO Apartment is painted a lovely industrial standard Sea Foam Green.

I masked off the windows with tape and shot the inside of the RPO Apartment with StarBrand Sea Foam Green, which was the standard industrial color used all over in the 20th century.

The baggage end painted with Tamiya Wooden Deck Tan

I decided to change the colors a bit for the baggage section, using Tamiya Wooden Deck Tan to contrast against the TBM's toilet walls and electrical cabinet.  The door glazing has not been installed yet.

3D Parts Arrive

About a week passes... Here, I've shot some of the parts with paint and start to mock-up how they will fit in the car.

The basic parts that will be visible immediately behind the side windows.

Here the interior parts are placed on the interior floor of the car to check how it all fits.
Some researching from various videos and clips and color photos from restored RPO cars, such as Santa Fe's 60 at Orange Empire Railroad Museum, showed the colors that I should use.  I painted the walls with StarBrand Sea Foam Green along with the TBM toilet walls and electrical cabinets.  The desk will be a darker brown along with the cubby holes.  The bags and sacks will be a light gray and the racks the bags are hung from will be black.  The overhead sorting bins will be a Freight Car Red (FCR) color (a medium brown) with Sea Foam Green on the bottom.  The front faces of the letter case will be Sea Foam Green, with the sorting desk being the medium brown (wood).  I shot FCR from above and this caught on the lips of the sorting case, highlighting each pigeon-hole on the rack.

Sorting Table

One of the things that 3d printing does not do well at is thin features or columns, wires, and other free standing items.  The stanchions and bars used to mount the sorting tables on would certainly not work to 3d print.  I planned to have holes marked in the under side of the sorting table to drill out, then solder up the stanchions and bars from 0.015" phosphor-brozen wire and mount them into the sorting table.

Using the Jig to make the Stanchion for the Sorting Table.

Installing the stanchions and bars to the sorting table.

Detail photo of the second Stanchion

I made a jig out of styrene to hold the bars in place while I made the top of the stanchion and then the vertical part of the stanchion.  The trick became I had to solder up the second stanchion while it was assembled into the sorting table!  In this view I've already glued the larger sorting bag pairs to each end of the sorting table and painted the table with Roof Brown.

Newspapers were also sorted into the Bag Racks, so here's a bunch of 0.010"x 0.020" styrene "Newspapers rolls" to stack.

I designed the Bag Racks and other parts that mount next to them to be short and require shimming to match up with the window sills of the RPO body shell.  It will be much easier to shim up parts than have to sand down a completed set of interior parts.

Here's the fully finished interior parts with letter bundles on the case desk and newspapers on the large sorting table.
The floor of the sorting case module is painted Roof Brown as well as the vertical ends of the letter case.  Further research has shown that there should be desk drawers under the letter case desk, however these can't be seen on the completed car.  Such details can be added to the next round of CAD drawings and prints.  Also notice the styrene across the back of the TBM Toilet compartment.  This is to keep the 3d print straight.  Having a U-section print this size tends to warp, so future prints will have an enclosing bar to help keep the part more stable and provide a mounting surface to the car's interior wall.

Window Safety Bars & Security Bars

A simple styrene jig for soldering brozen strips and 0.015" wire parallel for the security/safety bars.

All RPO cars had safety and security bars installed on the inside of the RPO windows to prevent break-ins.  These are very prominent when viewed from the outside.  Many brass RPO models have these soldered in place, but they are too close to the window for even a thin piece of clear window material to be slipped behind.

Here, I gently pry the bars from the jig.

I soldered the wires in place with my small iron.  Additional vertical strips are added to fit between the windows.

Additional vertical strips installed and cut to length.

Once the sets of bars are ready, I taped them to the inside of the windows while aligning them.  A few drops of canopy cement attach the vertical strips to the inside of the car.

Gluing bars in place with canopy cement.

Here we see the bar assembly installed on the car.
The bars tend to breakup the view of the interior of the car, but only when there is strong lighting outside the car.  At "night" when the car's lit, it would be obvious that there's no interior.

Wrapping up Part 6

Here's the right side of the car, with the safety bars installed and trucks remounted.

I'm going to leave it here for the moment.  In Building SP 5199 (Part 7) Finishing I will cover installing the pickups, the rest of the interior, and lighting.

Jason Hill

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Modeling Mail Trains 55 & 56, the Tehachapi Mail

Another Easy-to-Model "Pike Size" Train Consist
Trains No.55 & No.56, The "Tehachapi" Mail train

An MT-3, 4341, leads a short Tehachapi Mail based on the photo on pg.78 in Southern Pacific in the Bay Area, by Drury.

Originally called the Tehachapi, Nos. 55 and 56 dropped to a no name "Passenger" in the time table after WW2.  I will be continuing to call it the Tehachapi in this post to avoid confusion with other generic SP "Mail" trains.

The Tehachapi Mail train was the main US Mail and Railway Express Agency connection between Oakland and Los Angeles.  The Owl (Nos.57 & 58) and the San Joaquin Daylight (Nos.51 & 52) would carry some faster mail & express but was very limited in capacity and train length, while the Tehachapi Mail could adjust its length and consist to suit the day's needs.  Sundays tended to be lighter with the weekend originating mail and express dropping off on Saturday and Sunday and picking back up Monday night.

The Coast Mail's nickname of "Sad Sam" is indicative of how fast it worked on the Coast Route.  The Tehachapi, Nos.55 & 56, would take over 20 hours to get from Oakland to Los Angeles or vice versa.  These were certainly not the fastest trains over the rails, often hot perishable and express perishable traffic would be routed on faster schedules if possible, but not always.  The article 'Where'd You Get that Dirty Hat' by Strong in SP Trainline Issue 68, pg 23, has a great story of riding No.55's coach from Saugus to Allard the night of the '52 earthquake.

Remember also that these trains also handled the checked baggage of passengers from the premier trains on the same routes.  Passengers would check their baggage the night before they would leave on the San Joaquin Daylight.  The same thing for the Coast Daylights (Nos. 98/99) and the Coast Mail Nos.71/72).  If everything was on time, the mail trains would arrive a few hours before the premier trains so the baggage would be waiting for the passengers just as they're getting off.  Often this checked baggage would be in trunks with all the various labels and stamps of where it had been,  Too bad that whole style of travel is gone now.

My previous links to modeling particular train consists:
Modeling the Shasta
Modeling the Owl (Part 1)
SP HW Psgr Car Index

Engine Assignments

SP's MT-class 4-8-2, 4351, shown as an example of the usual "Valley" engine assigned to the Mail.

The Tehachapi was usually pulled by an MT-class (4-8-2) engine or a larger P-Class (4-6-2) between Bakersfield and Oakland.

No.56 led by SP 4110 brings a pre-1939 Tehacahpi Mail into the old Central Station. Photo from Eddie Sims Collection

Over Tehachapi Pass it would be assigned an AC-6/12 class road engine and whatever was needed as a helper. Sometimes even another AC-class helper when the train was very heavy from holiday traffic.

In the last year of operation, the Tehachapi Mail used MK-class engines like 3259 over Tehachapi Pass.

Later in 1955 just before the Tehachapi was cut-off and annulled from the time table, regular engine over Tehachapi Pass for the last year or so of operations was an MK-class (2-8-2), as the train was down to only 4-5 cars.  The Owl and San Joaquin Daylight took over most of the traffic from what was left of the Tehachapi.

Consist Order, Circa 1952

An example of a UP car that could have been used as the Seattle or Portland car. Stand-in model by MDC/Athearn RTR.

No.55 (Los Angeles to Oakland)
1 Bag/Express LA-Bakersfield - S/O with Storage Mail for Bakersfield (usually a 70ft car)
2 Bag/Express LA-Oakland
3 Bag/Express LA-Sacramento
4 Bag/Express LA-Mojave - S/O & P/U Storage Mail & Express daily except Sunday. (No S/O Sunday AM or P/U Sunday PM.
5 Bag/Express LA-Portland (Return on No.60)
6 Bag/Express LA-Seattle (Return on No.60)
7 Bag/Express LA-Oakland
8 Bag/Express LA-Oakland
9 Baggage (Working TBM) LA-Oakland - This would be a "star baggage" if available for the Train Baggage Man.
10 RPO 30ft Apt/Baggage LA-Oakland (SP 5215 or SP 5216 regularly assigned) Ex-Sunday
11 Rider Coach LA-Oakland (Through Car)
12 Local Passenger Coach Fresno-Oakland

No.56 (Oakland to Los Angeles)
1 Bag/Mail Oakland-LA
2 Bag/Mail Oakland-LA
3 Bag/Express Sacramento-LA
4 Bag/Express Fresno-LA
5 Bag/Express Oakland-LA
6 Baggage (Working TBM) Oakland-LA
7 RPO 30ft Apt/Baggage Oakland-LA (SP 5215 or SP 5216 regularly assigned) Ex-Sunday
8 Bag/Express Bakersfield-LA - P/U at Bakersfield (Car added here because of ease of switching)
9 Rider Coach Oakland-LA (Through Car)
10 Local Passenger Coach Oakland-Fresno

The No.55 consist includes two or three cars from Portland and Seattle, via the Klamath to Oakland. The Seattle car would be from a pool of UP, NP, and GN baggage and express boxcars.  The Portland car would be from a UP, NP, and SP pool.  These cars returned north on SP's No.60, West Coast, connecting to the Passenger Local (No.201) that connected at Gerber with the Klamath for movement north.  These cars add a great amount of color to both the Tehachapi and the West Coast consists!

I will quickly add that the above are the basic consists.  These consists could swell during heavier traffic times due to holidays or express perishable movements. Consists length also dropped by large amounts, usually on Sundays, as the US Post Office didn't work on Sundays and many shippers wouldn't be shipping REA goods on Saturday or Sunday.

These off-days would propagate across the passenger, mail, and express systems across the country, resulting in some trains not having this car on a Wednesday - why is it not here on a Wednesday?  Well, because when the car would have originated half way across the country it was a Sunday and that car doesn't depart on a Sunday.

It is interesting to note that the RPO/Baggage cars were not run on Sundays.  Also on Sunday several of the connecting, express forwarding, or P/U & S/O carloads would not be entrained either.  The resulting consists were down to

Cars in the Consists

Headend Cars - Perishable Express Reefers

Stand-in Walthers 50ft Express reefer, repainted CNW Green (REA Hunter Green) and decalled in the early 1950s scheme

Often SP's Mail trains also would handle express perishables in express reefers.  These would not always be PFE cars, although a good number of the originating loads on the SP would use PFE's fleet of Express Reefers.  Often Transcontinental Mail trains would handle foreign line reefers coming west or returning east.  Nationally the pool of Express Reefers was always rather tight, so if there was a load near by local REA Agents would try to get whatever express reefer cars they could get on site by the required date to make the shipments happen.

Walthers 50ft General American express reefer painted for PFE.  By the late-1940s these cars had roof platforms I've not installed yet.

Very nice models by BLI, Walthers, and Athearn are on the market for the Railway Express Agency's basic 50ft round roof express reefer by General American.  Walthers and Branchline (Atlas) has made some of the REA's 50ft all-steel express reefers.  Walthers has also made the Pennsy's unique R50b express reefers, so you can add some variety to your express reefer fleet.

Walthers PRR R50b #2561 rather weathered and chalk marked from travels around the country.

Do try to pay attention, some of the models produced are lettered "Freight Service Only".  This means the car is NOT equipped with steam and signal lines for passenger service, therefore is not suitable for operations in a mail train such as the Tehachapi Mail and would have to be handled on a train more like the SP's Overnight or other high-speed scheduled freight train.

Headend Cars - 40ft Baggages & Express

One of the Express Boxcars I did a long time ago from an Accurail AAR boxcar with modified Athearn "express" trucks.
The SP rostered a number of these B-50-24 class express boxcars.  Tony Thompson has done an excellent job discussing these on his blog here on Tony's Modeling SP Passenger Trains: Part 4 Express Boxcars.

This older model that I did is still painted in Floquil Pullman Green and MicroScale decals (SP Overnight & Express Service cars, which for this car is correct.  The Accurail car is at best a stand-in for a proper B-50-24 in resin or maybe RedCaboose's model.  At the time I was a poor high school student or freshman in college, so had to go with what I could have on hand or for $10.  I don't actually plan to retire this model anytime soon, as from the side view in a passenger consist it looks pretty good.

The truck modifications were made by cutting off the outside brake hangers from the older Athearn Express Trucks that came from the older (pre-R-T-R) 50ft wooden (round roof) Express Reefer kits.

Headend Cars - 60ft Baggages & Express

60-B-1 thru -8
SP 6190 before my 2016 upgrade and renumbering program for it.
Both these 60ft Baggages are MDC cars (Now Athearn R-T-R) with varying levels of kitbashing done to them.  I discuss this in my MDC 60ft Harriman Baggages (Part1) blog post.

60-B-9 & -10
MDC Kitbashed 60-B-10, SP 6233, after my 2016 shopping when I repainted and decaled it.

It's worth pointing out here that the vast majority better than 60% of SP's headend fleet was 60-B-1 through -8 series cars.

A few 60-B-series cars were modified during the 1930s or rebuilt from RPOs with 6-wheel trucks for storage mail service.  This loading was VERY heavy compared to standard REA or Company Baggage loading with mail stacked to the roofs of the cars.

Headend Cars - 70ft Baggages & Express

70-B-1 thru -9 series Baggage Cars & 70-BA-4 & 70-BA-5 Auto-Baggages
Soho model of SP 6444, a 70-B-9.  This model's not finished at this point.
SP also ordered about 150 70ft baggage cars and baggage-automobile cars built.  Many of SP's 70ft baggages were upgraded in the early 1950s with stars above the number indicating improved Train Baggage Man facilities on the car.  Usually an effort was made when making up the train to assign the 'working' baggage on a train one of these improved cars.

The while I've kitbashed a model of these cars from parts left over after building the SP 6190, a better model for these is the Soho brass car.  Golden Gate Models is also planning to import some of these cars in 2017 in plastic.  I talk about their models on my blog post HERE.

I plan to do a quick build blog on these Soho brass models soon.

70-BH-series and 80-BH-1 
An in-progress photo of SP 7220, a 70-BH-1 Horse-Baggage from MDC parts.

Horse Baggage cars were few in number, only about 37 cars built in four classes.  These cars are easily recognized by the three doors on each side.

I'm currently working on two kitbashed MDC models for 70-BH-1s.  At some point I will discuss these in a build blog specifically about Horse Baggages.

Ex-70-BP-30-4 Retired RPO-Baggage
SP 6102 is a heavily kitbashed 70-BP-30-4 built from MDC Baggage and RPO parts

The SP over time retired some of their RPO cars.  When retired the SP would paint out the US Mail Railway Post Office lettering.  Some cars also were rebuilt or had baggage doors cut in the RPO section.  SP 6102 is one such car that was retired, but at the time of the photo that I'm modeling it from it did not have any other work done to it.  The RPO fittings inside and outside (catcher arms) were removed.

The model started life as the double baggage doors from a 60-B-9/10 and rearranging the RPO windows from a 60ft MDC RPO.  The extra windows at the baggage end were scratch built from clear styrene and sheet styrene forming the sashes.  I cover more on my blog about the SP 6102 Kitbashing an RPO from MDC/Athearn Parts.

Mechanically the car is the same as the other discussed on this page MDC 60ft Harriman Baggages (Part1) and the trucks are installed the same as the SP 5199, SC&F 69-BP-30-3 RPO (Part 1).

Paint is StarBrand SP Dark Olive Green and the lettering is ThinFilm's SP set 87-160.  Chalk marks are added with a carbide scribe and Prisma pencils.

70-B (ex-EPSW) Baggage (11-cars)
Ex-EPSW 70ft Baggage, SP 6515

This is one of the 11 ex-EPSW 70ft Baggage cars that the SP acquired in 1924.  Renumbered into the 6500-series they continued to serve around the SP system (6510-6520).  I've seen photos of 70ft clerestory baggage cars in the Tehachapi Mail, Starlight, and Shasta.  Several received improved TBM facilities and stars over the reporting marks.

The model started life as a clerestory Walthers ACF 70ft Baggage.  Amazingly the car is basically correct except for some slightly different vertical rivet strips on the car side.  I'm not going to worry too much about that.  The door size, placement and details are correct.

Mechanically I did my usual tweaks to the trucks, body mounted the couplers, and added a 0.080" weight down the center sill to help the tracking slightly when run with other heavy brass cars or at the headend of a long 16-18 car passenger train.

Finish is painted with StarBrand SP Dark Olive Green and MicroScale decals in the pre-1946 scheme.  The car is more heavily weathered, per a photo of the SP 6515 at Oakland in 1951-1952 still in the old lettering.

Note cars of this series receiving post-June 1946 lettering "SOUTHERN PACIFIC" on the letterboard also had their doors shortened and a full length letterboards installed. - Therefore, the Walthers model is most correct for pre-1946 lettering.

RPO/Baggage with 30ft Mail Apartment

SP 5215 & 5216 - Rivarossi HW 1920s RPO-Baggage
SP 5216, ex-EPSW 555, a 66ft RPO-Baggage.
The SP 5215 and 5216 were the RPOs regularly assigned in the early-1950s, both were ex-EPSW 66ft RPOs with a 30ft Mail Apartment.  These cars stayed with the Tehachapi until they were converted to baggage-express cars in 1954.

This model started as a Rivarossi HW "1920" RPO-Baggage.  While usually not associated with SP, these EPSW clerestory-roofed cars with deep centersills were none the less prototypical for SP after the EPSW was absorbed into the SP system in 1924.  These two cars were the only all-steel RPOs the EPSW owned and it is interesting that they both came west and were assigned to the same train.

The prototypes had 8-window baggage doors.  I've not done that upgrade to this model yet.  Also planned will be upgrades to the interiors and window bars, etc.  So far the car has been mechanically up graded with Walthers trucks and my standard basic plastic bolster design (like on the SP 5199 build).  The weight of the car has been increased with just a lead centersill weight.

This is by far one of the easiest very close to prototype RPOs that someone could model.  Most of this car modeling was repainting it with StarBrand SP Dark Olive Green paint and this car actually needed the MicroScale SP Passenger Car decals.  The SP 5126 had the a shorter set of letterboard lettering than the SP 5215 because the 5216 had a slightly higher baggage door that extends about 1/3 of the way up into the letterboard.

69-BP-30-3 or 70-BP-30 - Protection RPOs
If the SP 5215 or SP 5216 was unavailable, a 69-BP-30 or 70-BP-30 would be pulled from the pool to protect the assignment out of LA or Oakland for the Tehachapi Mail.  I've not seen any photos of these two EPSW cars running on other assignments, so it seems they did stay on the 55/56 train.

An example of a protection RPO for the Tehachapi Mail (Nos.55/56) a 69-BP-30-3 from SC&F resin kit.

If you want to be more generic then with your Mail train or flexible with your cars to model different trains, I would select one of these two alternate classes which were by far the most common "main line" RPOs used by the SP after WW2 until the mid-1950s on the Mail trains on various routes.  The Overland and Klamath as I understand it used 60ft apartment cars, so keep that in mind as well.

Rider Coach

The SP's Mail trains generally used a single rider coach on the rear of the train for whatever poor soul had a company pass or otherwise didn't care how long it took to get from point A to point Z.  These cars were nothing fancy (think basic Grayhound bus!) no food, no additional frills.  The Conductor and Rear Brakeman rode in the coach.  The Mail trains in general became basically the last mainline "Accomodation" train.  The article 'Where'd You Get that Dirty Hat' by Strong in SP Trainline Issue 68, pg 23, has a great story of riding No.55's coach from Saugus to Allard the night of the '52 earthquake.

Below are several options to model various SP coach classes:

60-CC-Series Non-A/C Coach (a.k.a "old" Chair car).
Non-A/C 60-CC-series Chair cars like SP 2701 could have been assigned to 55/56 as the through coach.

The SP had 32 old chair cars in class 60-CC-1 that never received A/C.  Several of them with smoking rooms were converted to All Day Lunches and then later to News Agent Chairs, but were never equipped with A/C.  One was refitted for Commute Service and several more were converted to MW or sold to the SPdeM in 1928.  The Model Power 67ft coach works nicely as a stand-in for these cars.  I discuss this more in my build of SP 2701 (Part 1 and Part 2) is an example of one such car that never received A/C and was never officially down-graded to a coach, however these cars were quite obsolete as Chair Cars after about 1940.  All the SP's 'nice' chair cars were upgraded with A/C and often upgraded to "Deluxe" status between 1937 and 1941.

These old Chair Cars therefore were left to soldier on acting as coaches and bounce around on assignments away from San Fransisco's Commute Pool where the SP wanted highest density seating possible in those cars.

60-C-Series Non-A/C Coach
SP 1190, a 60-C-3/4, model is a modified Ken Kidder coach.  This model is still painted in pre-1946 and is pretty crusty.

SP's large fleet of coaches were very commonly used as rider cars and local coaches on the SP's mail trains.  This pool was made up from the 556 coaches built for the SP between 1909 and 1925.  The 60-C-3 & -4s, shown above, and the later 60-C-5,-6,-7,-8-,9, & -10s, shown below were the two main styles of 60ft coach to be found.

More common would be rider coaches such as SP 2178, a 60-C-9, such as this Soho Model.

Some SP Mail trains had a second coach for part of the trip.  This was true on SP Nos. 55 & 56 to service the US military installations along the eastern parts of San Fransisco Bay.  On No.56 the extra coach was dropped at Fresno as most of the passenger traffic was off the train by then.  The same car would probably have been picked up by No.55 later in the day for the return trip to Oakland.

The Coast Mail (Nos.71/72) often carried a second coach as well for the coastal military bases.

Modeling Operations - Set Out & Pick-Up Cars

SP 6102, ex-SP 5138, a 70-BP-30-4 rests at Bakersfield after being set out of No.55 or No. 58 last night.
Full carloads of Mail were dropped at intermediate points along the routes of many Mail trains.  Bakersfield received two regular carloads a day, except Sundays, and sent out two cars a day, one to LA and one to Oakland.

To model this on the La Mesa Model Railroad Club layout we use four cars in this cycle.  We have assigned certain cars to this cycle, which makes it easier to pick out which cars are the "working" cars when the train is in the station.

SP 6233, an SP 60-B-10, shown as an example of cars usually used for P/U and S/O cars at intermediate stations.

The Tehachapi had an hour scheduled to work at Mojave alone loading and unloading mail at the station.  Mojave's Mail Set Out baggage car was rather interesting, as it was only done in one direction.  No.55 would drop (set out) one baggage at Mojave 6 nights a week.  It would also pick up one baggage car 6 nights a week.

The regular Mojave switch engine, SP 1310, couples to a T&NO baggage at the freight house for No.55 to pick up.

On the model this means we need to have three cars in this cycle; one at Mojave for P/U, one to Mojave for S/O, and one car returning on No.56 to start the cycle the next day.  Many photos show lonely 60ft 60-B-1 thru -10 cars sitting at various stations worked by the mail trains.  The 60ft 60-B-9/10 by MDC or 60-B-1-thru-8s by SC&F are good for these set out cars.

Ex-EPSW 70ft baggage, SP 6515 rests at Bakersfield waiting to be picked up by No.56 or No. 57 later in the eveing.

Bakersfield is also a hotbed of perishable traffic originating, often No.56 will fill with a few extra carloads of express reefers or perhaps holiday baggage cars or express boxcars loaded with the mail rush from Thanksgiving to Christmas each year.

There's always room to adjust your operations to fit what cars you have or what extra cars you want to use to keep things 'interesting'.  Also, don't forget that during peak seasons second sections of regular passenger trains would be put on to move the extra Holiday Mail & Express or perishable blocks of express reefers when the regular "slow" mail trains weren't fast enough.

A Modeled Example Consist

In the past I've tried to include an actual consist that was recorded of the train I am discussing, however I don't have an historical consist.  Follow the links on the car numbers to my modeling blogs on building that model.

This is the consist photographed at top and below:
SP 4341, Mt-3 class 4-8-2 (Sunset Models - Brass)
SP 6233, 60-B-10 (MDC 60ft baggage, light kitbashed)
SP 6515, ex-EPSW (Walthers 70ft ACF baggage) - see modeling info above
SP 6189, 60-B-2 (MDC 60ft baggage, heavy kitbashed)
SP 5216, 66ft RPO/Baggage (Rivarossi 1920s RPO/Baggage) - see modeling info above
SP 1005, 60-C-5 non-A/C'd "Chair" Car, used as coach (Soho brass) "Through" Rider-Coach
SP 2701, 60-CC-1 non-A/C'd "Chair" Car, used as coach (Model Power) "Local" Coach

The Tehachapi would have normally used two normal coaches, not old "chair" cars, so this would have been unusual.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any of my coaches done in time for this photographing opportunity.  If one old 60-seat "Chair" car was used in the consist it would most likely have been the through car and the "local" car would have been a standard 72-seat configuration coach car.

Markers into the Night

"Chair" SP 2701 (60-CC-1) and old "Chair" SP 1005 (60-C-5) bring up the rear of this Tehachapi Mail consist.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about SP's Tehachapi Mail train and getting some ideas about how to model your own mail and local service SP passenger train operation.

My previous links to Modeling particular train consists: Modeling the Shasta blog, Modeling the Owl (Part 1), SP HW Psgr Car Index.

Jason Hill

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

SP 2701 (Part 2), 60-CC-1 from a Model Power Coach

Well, some progress has been made on the SP 2701 since Part 1 of the build.  I will also mention that I've done some improvements to my SP HW Passenger Car Index page with new example photos and a few new car classes represented now.

Interior & Walls

Leading this update is the construction, painting, and installation of the chairs and some partitions around the toilets, and painting of the interior.

Interior added to SP 2701 - Note the dark green window shades.

I should first mention that I used dark green manila filing folder material for the dark green window shades on this model.  Some SP coaches, All-Day-Lunches, and News Agent cars had this.  Best to look at photos to see which cars had it, and which had a light tan shade.

Similar strips of PSC seats prepared for SP 1005.

The seats are Prescision Scale Co. 33312.1 (Chair Car) seats, they are injection molded in pairs with small legs on them.  I started with the uncolored gray seats, and painted the floor strip of .400" x 0.020" strip styrene a nice shade of "Seafoam" green from StarBrand, which is actually a pretty good match for the interior color used on Athearn's Streamlined 77-C-3 chair cars.

I then masked the floor and painted the seats with a mix of Freight Car Red (FCR) also StarBrand.  This again was a pretty close match for the colors used on the MTH and Athearn Genesis Daylight chair cars.

The seats were glued to the styrene strip 0.460" apart.  At the front end of the car there will be a set of seats looking back, however I did not install those at this time.  The lighting bar-strip was not glued in and I removed it for this part.  Checking the drawings I glued the seating strips in to get a good location compared to the windows of where they line up.  This is really a matter of choice, as the Model Power is missing one large window.  So in the middle of the car you can either let the seats not line up with the windows and have the right number of seats, or you can have the wrong number of seats, but line up with the windows.  I chose to have the right number of seats, and oh well about the windows.  I might have decided to go the other route in hindsight... but it's too late now! - (More on my thoughts of changing models after the fact).  At this point it's not reached a high enough mark on the "Really Annoying" Meter to worry about.

Photo from before the interior was installed - Notice the major hole... WATCH YOUR STEP!

Styrene sheet was added down the middle of the car as well to cover the major holes that were left in the Model Power body tooling.  This will help hide the holes as seen in the photo below.

SP 2701 with interior mounted and partitions around the ends of the seating area.

The partitions are 0.02" sheet styrene cut 36" wide and even with the top of the carside.  Notches are cut in the edge nearest the carside for the roof flange to clear.  Extra scrap squares of sheet styrene are glued over the "end windows" in the car interior.  I am not sure why both MDC and Model Power (copied) have these end windows into the toilets... Not kosher for 1910 certainly!  Probably they did one set of tooling for the end windows in the end wall of the observation car and put them in all their models as a general endsill wall.

The left end window (bottom left in the photo above) is also is covered with non-"Magic" Scotch Tape, which causes the "fogged" look, usually associated with the toilet windows on coaches and chair cars not fitted with expensive "etched" glass or prismed windows.  This can also be seen below.

Another view of the interior, also we can see a bit of the roof with the vents painted.

The soldering tabs can be seen above at the end of the LED strip.  The wires from the trucks and markers will attach there.

I'll end this update with a photo of the car showing what the car looks like without installed marker lights.

Non-marker end of the SP 2701

In some ways installing the markers after the HiTech Diaphragms are installed is more of a pain, but on this model it will need to be done.

That does it for now for Part 2 of the SP 2701 build.  In Part 3 I'll be showing the installed OwlMtModels marker kit and finishing the underbody frame and installing assorted detail parts.

Jason Hill

Monday, October 17, 2016

MDC/Athearn 60ft Baggage (Part1) - Mechanical

I've hinted at the process for upgrading the Athearn/MDC (35 year old tooling) Harriman Baggage cars before, but let's have a more in-depth look at these cars that still can be made to look and work very well.  For more information on what models are available and other classes of cars check out my blog page Modeling SP Heavyweight cars here.

SP 6047, one of my 60-B-9/10 class cars made from a MDC/Athearn Harriman Baggage

Like many of the models that I'm discussing in this blog, the models that I'm looking at are upgrades of models I've had for a long time and occasionally a new model as well.  The SP 6233, T&NO 611, and SP 6190 were all built in the late-1990s with very sketch information about numbering.

Here's an MDC kit still in the box
Let's look at the old Roundhouse or Model Die Casting (MDC) kit for a minute.

These parts assemble into a car that looks something like this below...

Note the truck are short and WAY too far from the ends of the car compared with the corrected car below.

Here's my 2016 rebuilt SP 6233, with correct trucks and bolster centers.  (I've not installed the diaphragms in this view).

Let's look at the prototype cars briefly -

Prototype History

Southern Pacific and Union Pacific during the early 1909 began upgrading their head end express baggage cars with all-steel cars.  These arch-roofed cars became generically known as "Associated Harriman Lines" cars in general even though cars built after 1913 would technically not be "Harriman" cars because of the breakup of the Associated Lines.

Here's a typical SP Mail Train with a mix of Harriman 60-Bs, ex-EPSW 70-B, and an RPO, followed by two 60-C coaches.

The orders for new all-steel baggage cars included about 487 cars by the end of "heavyweight" car construction in the mid 1930s.  The orders for 60ft cars amounted to 300 new steel baggage cars with several more being converted back and forth between different combinations of Baggage, RPO, and RPO-Baggage.

60-B-1 thru -8 (60ft Baggage, 1st thru 8th Class) - about 233 cars built

My original kitbashed MDC 60-B-1/8 class Baggage car before repainting in 2016.

In 1909 the SP's first of eight classes of 60ft baggage were built to almost the same standard.  Externally these looked almost identical, except for the roof fittings, conduits, etc.   SP controlled the orders for the Central Pacific and the Oregon & California in addition to itself during this time.  That is the reason the SP's baggage cars are scattered over 3 number series for the same class of car.  In the late 1920s the SP consolidated the reporting marks (O&C and CP) under SP marks.  Thankfully the number series were originally planned so there were no conflicts in doing this.

Of the SP's 300 60ft baggage cars built, over 85% of cars had this arrangement of two 4'-10" doors on each side.  Only 37 cars were built to the MDC/Athearn standard of one large and one small door, and 5 of those were rebuilt as RPO cars.

While my model of the SP 6190 is a kitbash and works out pretty well, the main problem is that only using MDC parts you can only make one of these from two kits.  The second can be turned into parts for other things.  So to replicate the 85+% of the 60ft baggages on the SP and get a good represeation of the headend fleet a fair number of Southern Car & Foundry #1003 resin models will be needed.

60-BD-1, -4, -6 (60ft Baggage-Dynamo) - 15 cars built

The SP also ordered several classes of 60ft Baggage-Dynamos with generators for the early use of electric lights in the passenger trains.  These were later phased out when all the cars in the trains had their own battery boxes and axle generators on-board each car.  The 60-BD-4 and 60-BD-6 were built off the 60-B-4 and -6 standards respectfully but with partitions and the generator installed at one end.

The 60-BD-6 cars had a single window at one end on each side for light next to the generator.  Most had differing ventilation designs in the roof that changed the look from the standard 60-B-1 class cars.

60-B-9 & 60-B-10 (60ft Baggage, 9th and 10th Class) - 37 cars built

SP 6233, a 60-B-10, built almost out-of-the-box MDC kit from about 1995.  Repainted and detailed 2016.

The last two classes of SP 60ft Baggage cars built with arched roofs were the 60-B-9 and -10.  Again these two classes were spread between the OC, CP, SP and two for the T&NO.  These cars only account for about 12% of the SP's 60ft baggage car fleet.  Actually less because of rebuilds of other types of car to follow the earlier door design and the rebuild of 5 cars to 60ft RPOs of 60-P class.

Unfortunately while these models are easy to come by, only about 1 car in 10 should be of this class on the SP.

Other Road Cars - UP, C&A, IC

UP 3008, MDC/Athearn RTR, modifed - not correct because it should have 4 of the single doors & none of the double ones.

Several of the other Associated Lines ordered baggage cars of the Harriman 60-B-1-type design, or modified the designs to suit their needs after the breakup in 1913.  I will not be covering these in this post.  The mechanical and detailing aspects of course will transfer to cars of other paint schemes.

What Cars to Model?

I quickly didn't like the colors that MDC offered the cars in during the 1990s.  While it actually wasn't a bad color, it didn't match at all with the other colors I could paint other cars.  This first batch of cars were repainted several times over the years.

SP 6233 in MicroScale decals & Floquil before repainting in 2016.

My early cars (SP 6233, T&NO 611, 6190) addressed this based on the SPH&TS's reprint of the 1933 SP Passenger Car Roster & drawings book.  These were VERY rough reprints of the rough dimensions of the various SP passenger cars in service as of 1933.  They did not cover the upgrades in the mid-late 1930s with A/C being installed, many cars still had gas lighting, and only a few had electric lights at that time.

T&NO 611 after "weathering" attempts to correct Floquil Pullman Green to SP Dark Olive.

It turns out that T&NO 611 is a bad number for me modeling 1940-1955.   My research now shows the T&NO 600-604 would be better numbers for a 60-B-9/10 T&NO car.  As of October 2016, I'm not sure exactly where I got the T&NO 611 number even.  The MLT (T&NO) had Nos 113 and 114 both as 60-B-10s, and no other cars until the 600-604 group were reassigned Pacific Lines cars in 1931.

Another example of modeling with what data you have was SP 6190.  Everything was fine with that car in 1933 according to the SP Roster...  It turns out that it was wrecked and written off by the mid-1930s.  So for my 1946-1955 modeling date, this number doesn't exist anymore.  As far as I can tell no other baggage car rebuild or renumbering placed another car in the SP 6190 slot before 1955.

As of this writing, I've not yet decided a new number for the 6190.  T&NO 611 is to be repainted as the SP 6236 and one of the future MDC cars, sister to the SP 6047 will become the T&NO 601 to keep my Texas Lines modeling up!

Basic Mechanical

Again I feel I should mention that the majority of these models I'm discussing were started about 20 years ago.

All of these cars have Kadee Couplers mounted to the body.  I would highly recommend following my descriptions on how to install Diaphragms first before installing the couplers.  Because these models were either built a long time ago (20 years) or acquired from other people, they don't reflect my current standards on order of assembly regarding passenger car couplers, diaphragms, etc. but is meant to show options of how to rebuild the truck mountings.

Mechanical Changes - Option I - 1990s Modeling Choices

The cars as offered by MDC had a wheelbase between truck centers that was too short (based on a design for a coach with end step wells).  So that is the most offensive thing I've seen in the "stock" models.

I redrilled a new bolster hole outboard about 8ft from the ends (at the corners) of the car.  This helped but the shorter MDC "Harriman" trucks - really more of an Express Truck - with a 7th wheelbase looked really WRONG.  The longer 8ft wheelbase was really needed.

I then retrucked the cars with ECW 8ft Pullman trucks.  These trucks lasted less than 5 years before they were worn out and dropping wheelsets.  The trucks were made of plain styrene and not engineering plastics.  While they kept the cars running I was looking for replacements by the early 2000s.

Mechanical Changes - Option II - Walthers I

Walthers 920-2124 Pullman 8ft Truck

The next option that came up was Walthers' new 8ft Pullman 4-wheel trucks (now 920-2124).  These look great, and roll well... but have a funky bolster design to match the Walthers plastic HW passenger car line.

Here's the rebuild bolster on SP 6190 with a Kadee No.5 Box Lid and Evergreen tube bushing. (Note the old bolster)

The early mechanical rebuild for these cars worked converting to the Walthers trucks.  I added a strip of styrene about 0.100"x0.188" to the center of the underframe and redrilled the bolsters.  New slices of Evergreen styrene tubing where used to form a bushing for the much larger Walthers bolsters screw hole and a telescoped tube inside to keep the 2-56 screw.

Wheel clearance patches ground down with burr tool in my Dremal - This car doesn't use the Kadee Lid bolster.

On one of the cars, I guess the plastic was thinner or something, but I needed to grind away some of the floor as I could see rubbing marks from the flanges of the wheels and the car wouldn't roll.

Assembled Walthers Truck under T&NO 611 after repaint into SP 6236 during 2016 rebuild.

I didn't like the fact that I had to use a Kadee fiber washer to keep the larger holed truck on.  This was not a design I've repeated after I found the newer methods to do this better.

Here's an overview - or underview of SP 6236 (ex-T&NO 611) showing 15 year old underframe strip styrene

While the simple strip styrene underframe beams are rudimentary, they do work mechanically and can be upgraded later with additional brake and underbody detailing.  Also as you can see, these Walthers Trucks have been in service now over 10+ years and have nicely polished wheel treads.

Mechanical Changes - Option III - Walthers II

SP 6047, a 60-B-10, finished except for Diaphragms & Stirrup Steps.

The SP 6047 is an example of a newer model.  I acquired this model from a friend who build a new underframe from scratch in styrene.  I usually don't go to this effort as it's not visible during operations and sometimes if not planned correctly can later hurt car performance.

If I were assembling a kit today or rebuilding one of the R-T-R Athearn models I would probably heavily gut the underframe mechanically and build a simple one like the SP 2701 Chair car has on my blog from a last month.

Underframe rebuild & weighting on SP 2701

Walthers Truck modified with block of styrene for SP 1005 Coach on the MDC Baggages I use 0.02-0.03" Styrene Sheet

The above photo shows a truck modified for use on SP 1005 and on SP 2701, where I needed a thicker block of styrene on the truck.

Mechanical Changes - Option IIIa - Walthers IIa

Some underframes need deeper centersills than others.  One of the options that I'm using concurrent with the above option is keeping the sheet that I glue to the Walthers 4-wheel truck thinner, only 0.025-0.030" thick and building up the underframe more.  I don't have a handy photo for this technique on a 4-wheel truck, but imagine the same as above mixed with the look of the SP 5199 Bolsters, but with a thin sheet on the truck bolster instead of a 0.080"-0.100" thick block of styrene.  I will add a few picture the next time I build this thinner version.

SP 5199 Bolster

New "Thick" bolster being installed on "old" Walthers Metal passenger car underframe for customer.

On the SP 6047 car, a new bolster was built that was designed to use the current version of how I build the bolsters.  Instead of using the large hole and trying to get a bushing for it.  Instead I glue a plate of styrene over the opening.  Then mark a center point with my Carbide Scribe and then drill for clearance over the screw and Kadee No.5 lid.  These lids make great bolster hat bushings ready made if you can afford the extra 0.02-0.025" hight in the bolster.

Athearn's R-T-R Models - a Brief Overview

Athearn R-T-R Model, slightly modified, still with original Express Trucks. As far as I know, no 60-B-9 or -10s were ever painted in Daylight.  The only 60ft baggages were Daylight were the earlier 60-B-1 thru -8s with two smaller 4'-10" doors.
The prior owner of the newest Athearn cars I acquired modifed the underframes enough that I can't really show what the new Athearn underframes look like stock.  They're basically a dressed up version of the original MDC floor, but with substantially new tooling on the details and bolster bosses for truck placement... however they still didn't fix the truck center issues!

On my stand-in UP 3008 (I know, I don't have a photo of it handy) I was able to fix this by reversing the 6-wheel trucks that car was rebuilt with and made it look pretty much correct mechanically.  Athearn actually did their homework on that and put 6-wheel MDC trucks under the car!  The other car, UP 908 that they offer in the TTG scheme, I think I basically used one of the coupler pivot holes and made a new frame/bolster block to accept the Walthers Truck as on the SP 6047 and SP 2701.

Correct Walthers 8ft Pullman Truck 920-2124 (Left) and Athearn 8ft Express Reefer Truck (Right)

Here is a quick look at the differences in the trucks.  On the left is the replacement Walthers Truck, on the right is the R-T-R Truck that comes with the Athearn model now.  The Athearn truck is really belongs more under a 50ft wooden arch-roof express reefer.... which is another build altogether.

Roof opened to show the neat magnets to snap the roof on!

I like the magnetic attachment of the roof.  However on models I'm going to do complete rebuilds on, they're too hard to make line up again after splicing the bodies and roof sections.  Also I am usually using cheap E-bay MDC kit parts not new $40+ Athearn R-T-Rs for kitbashing fodder.


The Mail Train heads off to deliver the mail and express to points far and near, rider cars are SP 1005 and SP 2701.

 I will leave the MDC/Athearn 60ft Baggage Cars (Part 1) - Mechanical upgrades here.  When we rejoin this project we will look at installing the diaphragms, remounting the couplers, and other upgrades to underbody detailing and the roof vents in Part 2.

Jason Hill