Friday, March 20, 2020

Kitbashing OwlMtModels F-50-Series Flatcars (Part 1)

So, given that we're all down to recommended 10 people gatherings, it is a nice time to get back to my modeling bench... some minor unburying is required!  I've been wanting to get into some more serious kitbashing of OwlMtModels' F-50-series flatcars.  Oh, right and I'll be starting another Part 1, not finishing or continuing other posts.

Histories of Three Cars

In this batch of constructing three flatcars, I'll be building and kitbashing one OwlMtModels 2002 kit, two of either the 2002 or 2003 F-50-series kits, as I'll be replacing the trucks to match the prototypes.  The only difference in the kits is that the 2002 kits have T-Section Trucks supplied and the 2003 kit has a U-Section Truck, which were first applied to the F-50-10 class cars, and also started appearing after about 1940 as replacement trucks for the earlier classes' T-Section Trucks.

For those of you following my blog, yes you've seen the SPMW 7021A before... but I'm going to do it over again!

I've covered the basic construction in in my previous posts, including SP F-50-Series Flatcars by OwlMtModels Part 1 & 2 - Basic Body and Brake Details.  Several links are available to several videos that I shot of building the flatcars.  This post will mostly focus on these kitbashes aspects of the following cars.

SPMW 7021-A (top), SPMW 847 (middle), PE 3669 (bottom)

PE 3669 - F-50-8 with Blackburn Beet Rack

Modifying the OwlMtModels kit with PE's unique 45ft radius brake gear modifications.  I'm also assembling one of the OwlMtModels' new Improved 1924 Blackburn Sugar Beet Racks for use on the PE flatcar.  The PE owned 300 of the 2600 cars in the F-50-5/8/9/10/12 series of cars, so it should not be unheard of for a PE car to be used in beet service.  There are a number of photos showing T&NO flats on the west coast in beet service as well.


The PE 3669 will have the least modifications to the construction process.

PE 3669 with basic body assembled.  Laying out off-set brake components.

The main modification is moving the hand brake rods and chains to run around the outside of the B-End truck.

SP 12070, a TM Hart-Gondola, which I kitbashed has a similar arrangement for the brakes.

The photo of the PE 3669  is on Pg. 214 in Anthony Thompson's book Southern Pacific Freight Cars Vol.3 Automobile Cars & Flat Cars.  The photo shows the K-Brake assembly about half way out to the sideframe of the truck, judging by the shadows cast by the sidesill of the car.  The hand brake rod shifts out to the sidesill about even with the 3rd stake pocket inboard from the B-End with a small  lever which increases the mechanical advantage of the handbrake.

I moved the brake cylinder mounting bracket location around somewhat to match the position from the view of the photo on page 214.  Settling on it being in line with the normal bracket position, but pushed outboard about 15-18 scale inches, about half way to the sidesill.

PE 3669 with rough layout of modified brake rigging.

The new lever will go where the solid black line is, just towards the B-End (left) of the 5th stake pocket from the B-End.

The OwlMtModels kit contains two sets of Brake Cylinders and Hand Brake Rods; one is for the AB-System, the other for the K-Brake System.  With creative use of the second chain portion, the Pacific Electric version of these brakes can be suggested.  I'll carry this part of PE 3669 in the next installment of the blog.

Photo from the OwlMtModels' website of the new Blackburn Beet Rack.

I'll also cover building up a Beet Rack to match a photo from Anthony Thompson's Southern Pacific Freight Cars; Vol.3 soon!

SPMW 847 - Sac General Stores Wheel Car (Part 1)

Anthony Thompson's book Southern Pacific Freight Cars Vol.3 Automobile Cars & Flat Cars has a lovely photo of SPMW 847 on page 217.  Originally F-50-9 class, SP 43708, became SPMW 847 on 12 December, 1951.  In the 1956 SPMW Roster shows the 847 as a Misc Supply car The SPMW 847 was converted to a single-stack wheel car and assigned to Sacramento General Stores.

Given the late date of the conversion and high-mileage assignment in wheel supply service, the SPMW 847 is fitted with AB-schedule brakes and new U-Section AAR cast trucks.  In this case I'm using a set of Tahoe Model Works 209 'Barber Lateral Motion 50-ton trucks.  The truck pair that I am using came with code 88 tread metal wheelsets.

This car will be modeled with the setup to SP's earlier wheel car arrangement with one row of wheelsets resting outside of a pair of longitudinal guiding blocks.  In the reference photo, SPMW 847 has 10 wheelsets fitting between the bulkheads.  These wheels must be 36" passenger wheelsets because 11 33" wheelsets can fit easily on the model, which is the correct length.  At this point, I'm not sure if I'll make a 11 wheelset 33" load or if I'll find a way to make the correct to the photo version with 10 36" wheelsets.  Part of the 'playablity' of the model in operations, possibly including unloading at Bakersfield's extensive wheel shop, would probably mean 33" wheels were the norm, as not many passenger cars were rebuilt at Bakersfield!  I'll certainly go ahead and finish the model with the prototypical 'Sacramento Shops' assignment stenciled on the side of the car.  I'm sure Sacramento Supply cars went to Los Angeles and possibly even farther, as Sacramento's wheel foundry supplied the whole system.

By the late 1950s SP changed to double rows of wheelsets resting in alternating cradles over steel perforated deck plates.  The 1956 SPMW Roster doesn't show it specifically fitted for wheel service.  Some cars in the roster are shown as "Misc Wheels" or Misc DD Wheels" as their assignment.  I'm guessing that the cars marked as "DD Wheels" are the double rows of wheels, where they are staggered in a 'rack' on the flatcar deck, rather like the Tichy wheel car add-on kit.


While much of the SPMW 847's build is stock, I've moved around some of the steps to allow heavy modification to the parts or their assembly.

SPMW 847 with the edges of the overhanging deck cut away near the ends of the car.

The Deck is narrowed at the ends for the future mounting of the bulkhead braces which come several feet inboard of the bolsters!  Given that I'm working on three very different flatcars at the same time, I made sure to keep the underbody of each car clearly marked with the reporting marks!

SPMW 847 needs the sub-deck blocks and overhanging deck cut back at the ends of the car for the new bulkhead braces.

My changes to the 847 will be fairly extensive.  This involves removing the sub-deck blocks  from the ends of the sides for the new short bulkheads to be attached.

The Stake Pockets are also cut down to match the size of the sub-deck blocks in the center of the car.

The stake pockets in the middle of the car are cut down even with the sub-deck boards and will be filled and reshaped to match the sub-deck blocks to appear solid the whole length of the center of the car.

Normal Carbody Assembly - Sides, Ends, weight, etc.

I'm leaving off the Roping Staples at this point, so they don't get knocked off or in the way as I do the later kitbashing.

Installing the Weight Cover with ACC directly to the weight.  Underframe Centersills are next.

I've found a couple of models that have been assembled without gluing the weight cover to the weights have 'puckered' the 0.010" styrene sheet around the UF centersills and cross beams.  For these three cars, I'll be gluing the weight covers to the weights with ACC.

Underframe Centersills installed and brake components coming together too.

The photo of the SPMW 847 in 1953 shows the car with AB-schedule brakes, so I'm using the appropriate parts from the kit.

Correct trucks for SP F-50-10/12 and some replacement trucks on earlier classes, such as F-50-9, SPMW 847 in 1953.

and replacement U-Section AAR trucks, but not the supplied Accurail pattern truck.  Tahoe Model Works makes the correct truck (TMW 209) which is a pattern with the Barber Lateral Motion installed.

Installing TMW 209 trucks on the SPMW 847 to match photos.

The rest of the modifications wait until I have the sides and ends glued to the deck.  This strengthens the sidesills enough to be worked on as one large unit.  It also makes hanging onto the carbody easier.

Detail view of plugging the Stake Pocket cutouts in the Deck.

The SPMW 847 shows in the photo that the stake pockets are removed, the sub-deck blocks are made continuous, thus the deck is relayed and overhangs the sidesills for the whole length of the deck between the bulkhead braces.

Here's the contrast of the stake pocket cutouts being plugged (bottom) and open (top).

I'm using the left over trimmed off sections of the overhanging deck from the ends of the SPMW 847.  I chose and cut the plugs to match up the plank lines as best I can.

Finished plugs and the deck.

A little bit of filing and light sanding to smooth out the plugs cleans up the reconfigured deck.

SPMW 847 with stake pockets filled with Squadron White Putty.

At this point, I'm going to set SPMW 847 aside until Part 2.  The last steps for the body will include making and installing all the grab irons, the roping staples and the stirrup steps.  I'll probably also install cut levers and air hoses to the car as well.

However, the next major step in construction will be making the bulkheads and longitudinal gauge blocks for the wheelsets to sit over, just inside of the wheelsets.

SPMW 7021A - Rail & Tie (switch) Relief Car

This is going to be my 'New' OwlMtModels replacement for assignment to the Bakersfield Wreck Outfit, replacing my 15-20 year old kitbash using a Walthers/TrainMiniature flatcar.  Originally F-50-5 class, SP 41224, the prototype car was converted to MW service at Bakersfield for the Wreck Outfit on the 19th of October, 1939, showing as a Tool car in the Derick Tender (DT) catagory.

My original SPMW 7021A, with scratch built over-deck rack.  I'll be trying to do a better job of this with the new build.

While the Tie-Rack on my original Walthers/TM SPMW 7021A was a blast to build, the new one will be built without any good side shots of the car from Bob's Photos, only three 'over spray' photos of the adjacent cars in the Bakersfield Wreck Outfit show the last couple of feet of the 7021-A.

Yes, this is SPMW 7021B, however at the far left you can see the end of SPMW 7021A! - Eddie Sims collection

As the car was converted in 1939 and I don't have a good photo of the the sides of the car to see which brake system it had on it, I'm selecting the K-brake system for the SPMW 7021A.  Many revenue cars kept the K-brakes past the replacement date for interchange of 1953, into 1955 being used on the SP and its subsidiaries.


The changes to the basic body of the 7021A will be mostly from  involve removing many of the characteristic sub-deck support blocks, but not removing the stake pockets.

SPMW 7021-A with marked Deck Overhang for removal.

The first step I took on the deck modifications to the 7021A is removing all of the overhanging deck sections.  I went ahead and mounted the underframe centersills and some of the cross-beams below the weight cover.

SPMW 7021A Underframe detailing

I went ahead and put on some of the rest of the underbody assembly before cutting off the Sub-Deck Blocks.

SPMW 7021A K-brake brakets, Kadee 0.015" Red Truck Washer.

Vulcan Truck Change

The photos of SPMW 7021A that I do have show it to have Vulcan Trucks, so I'll be changing out the T-Section Red Caboose trucks for Kadee Vulcan Trucks (KD-573).

Vulcan Truck Kadee-573 assembled with the clip on the screw to keep it together.

I'm using one of the new 'HGC' versions of the Vulcan truck, not the older cast metal sideframe version with the very fine wire springs, which create a un-prototypical see-through look to the spring package in the truck.

Kadee Truck Collars, on the left is stock version, on the right is the shortened version, cut down by 0.035"

I've modified the bolster hat collars to allow the trucks less rocking left-right, but still able to turn, per-LMRC standards.  I also installed the height shims for the Accurail trucks provided in the OwlMtModels kit, although these are shaved down to only be the shim, and allowing the KD collar to form the center bushing.

I scribed the top and bottom with a No.11 X-Acto blade, then easily cut them on the score marks with my fine P-B-L flush-cutting sprue cutters.  A quick few passes with a mill file clean up the remaining board ends, even with the inner edge of the Stake Pocket cut-outs.

The completed narrowing of the Deck Boards.  End gaps will be rescribed later.

The process of cutting out the sub-deck blocks is fairly easy to do by scribing with an No.11 blade along the edge of the narrowed deck between the stake pockets.

Process of removing the Sub-Deck Block - left to right, block, scribed block top, scribed through block and removed.

Continue the scribes, until the block is loose.  try not to carve away the stake pocket mounting rivets or the stake pockets themselves.  The SPMW 7021-A didn't have any of the L-brackets under the blocks left, so I'll take the whole block down to the sidesill frame.

High-angle view of the SPMW 7021A with Sub-Deck Blocks removed.

Here's two photos of the car with the Deck overhangs and Sub-Deck blocks removed.

Side view of the car without the Sub-Deck Blocks and upgrade to the Kadee Vulcan trucks.

As with the other two projects, this completes the main body kitbashing to the SPMW 7021A.  The next major steps of this kitbash will be building the new over-deck Tie Rack.

In Conclusion

While the basic OwlMtModels' F-50-series flatcars are very cool on their own.  I've wanted to do some kitbashing!

I've enjoyed sitting down and starting three new projects that I've been pondering building since OwlMtModels released the F-50-5/8/9/10/12 series flatcars in 2017.  I hope these photos encourage more modelers to attack as 'simple' or 'complex' of kitbashes as you'd like with these kits.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Modeling SPMW 7021 the Bakersfield Wreck Outfit (Part 1)

Modeling an MOW Supply Train (Part 1)

Modeling SPMW cars with Musical Parts (Part 1)

Thursday, March 12, 2020

SPMW 7021 - Bakersfield Wrecker Outfit (Part 1)

The phrase "Call the Big Hook!" One of the most dreaded calls to be issued over the Southern Pacific's division telephone line.

An example of a nasty wreck at Guadalupe on the SP's Coast Line. (Guadalupe, October 1952.) - Mac Gaddis photos, Brian Moore collection

Somewhere out on the railroad a mishap has occurred.  At the Division Point at Bakersfield the switch engine at Haley St. swings over into the PI Yard east of the depot and down into the 'Wrecker' track, pulling a string of six cars out, then down to the caboose track picking up the next available caboose and crew.

SPMW 7021, the center piece of the Bakersfield's Wrecker Outfit. - Eddie Sims collection

The next available engine pulls out of the roundhouse ready track and comes out to couple on.  The road engine tests the air and heads out to the wreck.

Interesting the ATSF boxcars on the 'Valley Track' north of the 'Wrecker Track' in the photo above!

SPMW 7021 Wrecker Consist

LMRC's current 2019 Wrecker consist with SPMW 7024 protecting until a new 7021 wrecker set is built.
The January 1, 1956 SPMW Roster has a lovely collection of the information of the wrecker outfits at that time.

Excerpt from SPMW Roster Jan 1, 1956. SPHTS Trainline re-print of Roster

Many years ago I found the consist of the regular Bakersfield wrecker as of January 1956.  The really amazing bit for these roster files is that it tells you what the origins of the cars are, when they're retired and converted to MW service and what they are used for.

The 'kind' being listed as "DT" indicates that they're Derick Tenders and the cars are marked as "RELIEF TENDER" on their sides.

SPMW 7021 - Crane

The SPMW 7021 is a 160-ton steam 'wrecking' crane.  The 7021 was fitted with a steam engine headlight over the back of the counter-weighted crane body.  This light is used when the crane is leading the wrecker outfit being pushed ahead of the outfit.  Usually the outfit is reconfigured for the salvaging operations on-site.  This allows the crane to be shoved deep into the wreck site and allows maximum reach.

My basic starting point for such a crane is Tichy Train Group's 120-Ton wrecker crane.  However there's several problems with the 120-ton model to represent SPMW 7021, a 160-ton crane.  The 7021's boom is several feet longer and the rear portion of the crane is substantially bigger.  I was able to kitbash the longer boom using parts from a second Tichy crane.  The internal web of the crane boom is painted white on the 7021.  I'm not sure why, but it seems that this was unique to the 7021.  Perhaps the Shop Foreman or someone supervising the wrecker decided they wanted the extra visibility of having the boom painted white.

SPMW 7021A - Rail & Tie Car

SPMW 7021A - built from TM Flat with scratch built upper structure.

An ex-SP 41224, an F-50-5 flatcar, fitted with short ends and rack over the deck.  This model was roughly kitbashed in the early 2000's off one distant photo.  While I still haven't found a full broadside photo of this car, both ends have appeared in photos of the adjacent photos of the other outfit cars.

SPMW 7021A's upper deck, which was pretty visible on the 2000's photo that I have of the car.

I built the ends of the car out of Accurail metal boxcar ends, cut in half at the horizontal rivet rows.  This is not correct from what I can see now in the newer photos of the car ends.  They should be wood with vertical wooden stakes.

My SPMW 7021A at Magunden

The side stakes should be short, and removable so that the rails can be pried out and dropped to the ground.  The grab irons should be hung off the upper structure, and allowing the stakes to be lifted out.  Along with the standard rails of 39, 36, and 33 feet, I believe the car also carried guard rails, frogs, and points to repair or replace switches at the wreck site.

Here's the end of SPMW 7021A showing the stub-stakes and the grab irons hung from the over-deck rack - enlarged SPMW 7021B photo from Eddie Sim collection

The vertical brake wheel probably was still being used, although it's possible that it was replaced with a 'power' brake option by the 1950s, as the SPMW 7021J had mounted.

3/4 overhead view of the SPMW 7021A

I believe the open truss area above the rail storage area was used to store ties across the car.  The long bin in the top of the car was for longer switch ties.  This would also help explain the large walkways along the tops of the rack, so that the ties could be pulled out of the bin and then tossed over the side to the ground.

Future SPMW 7021A

SPMW 560, "stock" F-50-5 Supply Car by OwlMtModels.

I'm considering building a new SPMW 7021A using parts from OwlMtModels' F-50-5 kit.  This will be again a substantial kitbash and scratch building project to make the new tie rack.  I'm sure this will be a fun project when I have some time to sit down and enjoy doing it.

SPMW 7021A kitbash as of April 1, 2020.

Don't worry!  If I do the new 7021A, I'll be blogging about it too!  The info's gathering for my kitbash of the new SPMW 7021A!

SPMW 7021B - Tool Car

SPMW 7021B - Tool Car, post-1958 photo, SPMW 7021A to the left and 7021J to the right - Eddie Sim collection

The SPMW 7021B was originally CRIP 4915, a 50ft express reefer.  It would seem that it was wrecked itself in 1930 and rebuilt into the Bakersfield Wrecker's "Tool Car".  It still rides on its 8ft wheelbase express trucks.  The striker plates and mountings for the buffer snubbers are still in place.

I believe the whole upper body of the car has been removed and a new structure based on SP's single-sheath boxcar body is applied to cover the working tool space inside.  The UC-brake system is still in place on the underframe.  So it seems that the modifications are all above the frame level, except the small tool rack slung under the left side of the car.

It took me many years to locate the two photos of this car that I now have in my collection.  I will probably end up scratch building the model of this car.  Possibly using an old Athearn 50ft express reefer frame and trucks.

SPMW 7021D - Bunk Car

Left side of SPMW 7021D, ex-72-D-2 diner converted to Bunk car.

The SP 10005, an old 72ft diner was retired in December 1948 and converted to a bunk car for the wrecker crews.  My model has been kitbashed from an MDC 60ft coach and stretched with parts from a second coach and some blank wall material.  The length of 72ft is measured from the inside edges of the doors, overall the body is more in the 77ft range as with the later SP diners which didn't have vestibules.

SPMW 7021D - Right Side.

I'll be doing a bit more refinishing of the car sides on this model at the joints where I made the kitbashing reassembly.

One of the sad things about modeling the era that I do is that these 72-D-series diners were retired just before or were almost being retired during the era I model.

SPMW 7021F - Bunk Car

This was my first attempt at SPMW 7021F, but it is incorrect because the body is still wood.

I don't have a photo of SPMW 7021F that I can show presently.  It was converted from SP 10042 in May 1940 from an even older 72-D-class diner, which was built as a truss-rod passenger car.  During the 1910's the car was rebuilt with steel centersill and the upper body was rebuilt in steel, creating the appearance of an all-steel diner, but with the truss rods retained - betraying her origins.

Building a model of this car will be a challenge.

SPMW 7021J - Tool "Crane Tender"

Left side of SPMW 7021J.  Water tank to the left, a 600-odd gallon fuel oil tank is incorporated in the structure to the right.

The 7021J is one of the other really cool cars in the Bakersfield wrecker outfit.  This car came from an A-50-6 (I believe) SP 62027, which was retired in June 1944.  I started this model from an MDC-Roundhouse 50ft single sheath boxcar (auto car) underframe.  Currently it has a pair of Dalman 2-Level trucks, but the prototype should probably have replacement U-section AAR trucks per the new photos I have of the car.

Right side of SPMW 7021J

The 7021J sides have been made from scratch with strip styrene.  New tool boxes are hung from the bottom of the sidesills.  A wooden deck was made from scratch and four rails were mounted to the deck.  In all photos I have of the car two sets of shop/wreck trucks are carried on the rails of this car for recovering disabled cars from a wreck.

Water tank end of SPMW 7021J enlarged from 7021B photo - Eddie Sims collection

The car still needs a bunch of piping, grabs, stirrup steps, etc to be added.  This is the regular car which is coupled to the 7021 crane.

Again the SPMW 7021 photo from earlier, but showing the other end of SPMW 7021J now. - Eddie Sims collection

While shown in the roster as a simple 'Tool' car, it seems to actually serve as the crane's 'boom car' idler as well.

In Closing

Hopefully this post will function as a good primer to Wrecker Outfits which live at division points across the SP system.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Modeling an MOW Supply Train (Part 1)

Modeling SPMW cars with Musical Parts (Part 1)