Sunday, July 5, 2020

Four Years of Blogging and Counting (Review)

Welcome back everyone --- to another year of model building of the NightOwlModeler!  It's been four years now of blog posts and rambling thoughts.  Hard to believe it's July again already!

Not to dwell on the statistics much, but the blog shows it has been viewed over 186k times, probably 25k of those are 'bots' checking in and scanning the page.  Since March 2020, there are regularly over 4-5k views per month.  There are 115 subscribed followers who get emails when I post a new blog post to the page.  Hopefully the content will continue to be of interest and use to the community.

F-units await their next call from the ready tracks at (Taylor) Los Angeles Yard in 1954 - Nolan Black photo, Brian Black collection 

I don't need to mention that the last six months have been very weird.  But let us look at some of the fun projects that have moved forward!

Wrapping Up 2019 Posts

From July 2019 until December, most of the posts here related to more detailed descriptions of selected freight symbols and the backgrounds of the operational logistics of the 1950's sessions.

Trip to San Diego - January 2020

In January, I was down in San Diego helping setup for the Winter on Tehachapi 1950's TT/TO operation event.

Mojave Yard with freight in the No.2 Track and an ATSF N-34 behind the depot on the A&P Main. - Jan 23, 2020 

During my visit, planning for the town of Tehachapi pressed forward with new CAD drawings of the physical LMRC layout and more in-depth planning of how our aerial photos and 'ValMap' research could be incorporated.  The club's 'Chief Engineer' (and ex-ATSF Civil Engineer by profession) Tony Anderson's passing has meant that some of the historical integration and operational research designs have shifted to several other members who work together to decide the direction of construction regarding the constant scale railroad battle of historical accuracy vs selective compression.

Tehachapi just west of Green Street with the east No.2-3 Siding switch torn out to be changed. - Jan 2020.

The town of Tehachapi is one of the larger 'small towns' directly along the right-of-way along the Tehachapi Pass route.  The major operational interests that must be modeled is as follows:
1. The SP Depot at the beginning of Double Track at Green Street.
2. The two long westward sidings west of Green Street.
3. Changing the alignment of the east switch of the short No.3 Siding to match the historical photos and Val Maps.
4. Modifications to the No.3 Siding, lengthening it and making it double ended at the west end.
5. Keeping the space permitted between the east end of Tehachapi and the west end of Summit, which is about two miles (120ft in HO) apart, but only about 3ft in the modeled space.
6. Given Issue 5 (above), what industries can be modeled along the "North Side" between Green and Hayes Streets?

I'm planning to make a couple of posts about the design of Tehachapi and Monolith soon.

Back to Freight Car Modeling in 2020!

Pilot models of OwlMtModels Blackburn Beet Racks photographed at Caliente at LMRC - January 2020.

In 2020 I've been back at modeling freight cars.  The early part of the year was spent building pilot models for OwlMtModels' new Blackburn Sugar Beet Racks for their March release.

In early 2020 the blog posts shifted to kitbashing OwlMtModels F-50-series flatcars into other versions.

Overview of the three OwlMtModels F-50-series kitbashes
(Part 1) SPMW 7021A - A unique Rail & Tie Car from the Bakersfield Wreck Outfit.
(Part 2) SPMW 847 - Wheel Car assigned to Sacramento Shops
(Part 3) PE 3669 - Modeling the PE's unique brake rigging

Current and Future Projects

In recent months I've been working on a number of other freight car related projects.

B&O 106682 - P-11 Class Flat resin kit from F&C

B&O 106682 being built to match photos in the F&C instructions

I have a small stash of PRR 'FM' and B&O P-11 class resin flatcars to build, so this model of B&O 106682 is just the first of many.  I had to set these aside in 2013 when I had some eye problems, which made the application of the stake pockets nearly impossible and just had not returned to the project until now.

SPMW 2749 and Tie Loads

SPMW 3605 (top) and SPMW 2749 (bottom) being worked on, along with tie loads being stained.

Recently I've done some staining of ties and picked up my Ulrich truss-rod flatcar again which is going to be SPMW 2749, an F-50-6 class WWI built flatcar for the SP.  Converted to MW Service as a "Ready Flat" car, which could have seen all sorts of uses.

SPMW 810 - Ready Flat

A stand-in for SPMW 810 starting from Walthers-TM 42ft flatcar.

Years ago I started kitbashing Walthers/Train Miniatures 42ft flatcars into SP F-50-5/8/9/10/12 class flatcars.  However now that OwlMtModels has released those specific cars my old Walthers/TM models really should find new lives.

This is much as my repurposing of Rivarossi 12-1 sleepers from SP paint schemes assigned to my models of the Owl and other HW consists to Pullman "Tourist Cars" (TC) for more general use as 'extra cars' when I acquired a number of the newer highly detailed Walthers 12-1s in the 2011-2012 time frame.

The SPMW 810 will be a stand-in for the WWI built F-50-7 class flatcar with truss-rods added.  Yes, the car is only going to be maybe a 80% stand-in, with a number of 'errors' compared to a true F-40/50-7, but it will be suitable to give a new life to the body.

T&NO 23454 - F-50-7 - WWI Truss Rod Flat

T&NO 23454 stand-in from Walthers/TM 42ft flat.

My second Walthers/TM 42ft flat is being rebuilt as an F-50-7 stand-in for the few remaining revenue service F-50-7s that the T&NO still had in service in 1950.  In the following blogs on these cars I'll be going into how I modified the underframes to model the 'all steel' truss rod construction of these cars built in 1917.

SPMW 2676 & 701 - 'Supply Cars' from Tichy B-50-12 and Accurail B-50-13

SPMW 2676 B-50-12 (top) and SPMW 701 B-50-13 (bottom)

Those readers who have followed since my blog post about the SP Supply Trains will have already seen the SPMW 701.  However the car will be receiving some upgrades and changing to the correct T-section trucks.  While the old Tichy Andrews Trucks go back to SPMW 2676.  Both cars are receiving short grab-ladders to the left of the doors for Supply Car service.

Wrapping Up the 4th Year

So as seems to be the 'usual' way things go with blogging... your time never goes 'as planned', and I think that's certainly the best way to describe 2020 so far.  Nothing is 'going as planned'.  So as I go forward into the next year of model building and blogging there will be new adventures and I hope to wrap up some of the modeling projects that have been started.  Time will tell if those goals come to pass.

LMRC's Tehachapi with the East No.3 switch torn out and the work train there to continue the rebuilding 'Tomorrow'. Jan 2020.

For now, enjoy your time with family and friends, and the occasional model building project when you have a free moment!  Don't forget to try expanding your modeling horizons by doing a little kitbashing.  Make the model unique in some way that it's not just "another R-T-R model" that you built.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Modeling Bakersfield Wreck Outfit (SPMW 7021) - Part 1

Employe Timetable & Operational Ratings

SP Cabooses (Part 4) - Boxcar Conversions

Freight Train Symbols Over Tehachapi (Part 8) - Logistics


  1. Good on you! Great work, inspiring!

  2. Congratulations on the blog views number... Last I checked I'm not a bot (I think) and I'm subscribed to get the email updates to your blog — (which imho is one of the consistently nicest active SP model railroading blogs I'm aware of). Thanks for a great 4 years!


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