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)

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