Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Modeling SP Supply Trains (Part 3) - Boxcars

In my previous two blog posts on SP Supply Trains, I first looked at the general layout of the Supply Train operations and consist of a standard train (Modeling SP Supply Trains - Part 1). Then in the second post, I covered one of the unique SP 80ft wooden combine which was repurposed as a supply train office and caboose (SPMW 740 Supply Train Caboose).

A screen capture from the SP Company film "This is My Railroad - 1946" showing the SP's vast supply system

In this post we're going to look at two of the SP's vast fleet of Supply Boxcars which roamed the SP system. It should be noted again in this post that these cars were also used in the 'standard supply train' but also were more free roaming between the SP's General Shops, Division Shops, and to specific points for supplying other company forces (T&M, Rail Gangs, B&B, etc.). So these cars can show up in regular low to medium priority freights and also be switched at your larger yards and sent over to the local MW Store House and Supply Yards.

The Models

SPMW 701 - Accurail Single-Sheath B-50-13 (stand-in)

SPMW 701 patch lettered for "SUPPLY CAR" service. - Note the T-section trucks!

Specifically, I'm going to look at modeling SPMW 701 with an Accurail single sheath boxcar. Note that most of the SP cars are best represented by models with wooden doors and wooden ends. Some cars were later upgraded with steel ends, but most photos seem to show them keeping their wooden ends very late. B-50-13/14 class cars had variations of early Dreadnought-style ends and some hand round roofs.

The Accurail model I started for this project happens to be a model with 7-8 Murphy Ends, which I have not found any prototype photos for. This and the damage to one of the poling pockets, may make the ends a candidate for replacement at some point in the future.

The SP retired vast numbers of B-50-13 and -14s to MW service, with probably half going into Supply Car service.  I've not finished tabulating the number of them from the SPMW 1956 Roster, but needless to say, starting about 1949-1950 the SP began replacing their wooden boxcar fleet with a vengeance, scrapping the older MW boxcars that had served in these functions through WWII.  Remember this was also permitted by the large acquisitions of new all-steel boxcars after WWII in 1948 on wards.

The SPMW 701 still needs to be finished up with 3 pairs of stirrup steps and the a brake wheel installed.  It should be noted that to the left of the door is the new grab iron ladder and it will have the 3rd pair of stirrups under them for accessing the car without a platform.

SPMW 701 before adding the "SUPPLY CAR" decals to the left end of the car.

The weathering on SPMW 701 is fairly heavy currently.  I don't really feel like repainting the car, which would require redecalling it like the SPMW 2676 (below)... I'll probably go with the concept that this car was 'patched' out first to the SPMW Service with the "MW701" under the old SP reporting marks and received a quick stenciling of the "SUPPLY CAR" on July 27, 1951.

The model of SPMW 701 also has upgraded AB-schedule brakes (standard for Accurail stock models).  It also has some Tichy Andrews trucks, which I must have scrounged for it about 10 years ago.  Note that these trucks were traded to the SPMW 2676, as Andrews trucks were fairly rare on SP's cars outside of the standard USRA B-50-12 boxcars.  The B-50-13s seemed to all keep their original T-section trucks until at least 1950+ from the photos I've seen in Tony Thompson's Southern Pacific Freight Cars Vol.4 Boxcars.

SPMW 2676 - Tichy USRA B-50-12 - The last of its kind?

IMRC R-T-R model of B-50-12 class, SP 26948, commercially built-up from Tichy Train Group kit.

The SP 26240, class B-50-12, was assigned to SPMW service in 1944, so by my modeling era of 1948-1953 the car will be out of regular revenue service for 4-7 years.  I chose to decal the car as being reweighed at LA General Shops in August of 1948 at which time it will probably be fairly lightly weathered, if it received a repaint in either the 1948 or 1944 shopping.

The B-50-12s seemed to retain their as-delivered Andrews-style trucks until the rebuilding of 650 of the 1000 cars of the class in 1949.  It is unclear how many of the 350 other cars were retired to MW service before 1949.  However, it appears that the SPMW 2676 appears to be the ONLY B-50-12 still in MW service on the SP by 1956.  Sooo, this makes it rather rare bird.  Normally I don't like modeling the "One and only" car, but since I had the USRA boxcar kit, it is correct for this car, and I want to build several more cars for "Supply Service", I'll make the exception to my 'rule'.  Also according to Tony Thompson's blog post about the B-50-12A class cars, many were XMs assigned to auto parts not requiring forklifts.

SPMW 2676 starting as a raw Tichy USRA boxcar kit.

The SPMW 2676 basically is a standard Tichy USRA kit built up with 5-5-5 Murphy ends.  In the picture above, I've started despruing the two centersill members and the two bolsters.  Construction basically follows the kit instructions, except that I'm using roofing/flashing sheet lead for the weight instead of the 'nuts' which raise the center-of-gravity too much for the LMRC standards (and my liking).


Grab iron locations center marked with a carbide scribe before drilling with No.79 drill.

Looking closer at the modifications to SPMW Supply Car service mostly consists of adding a ladder and stirrup to the left of each side door.  The A-Line stirrups will be attached from the bottom after the weights are installed in the car.

SPMW 2676 with grab irons installed.  The thin molded plastic side below the door has fractured.  This will be fixed later.

I decided to glue my doors on the SPMW 2676 closed.  Tichy tries to provide a method for making the doors positional-able, however I didn't feel like dealing with it.  The examples assembled by IMRC do have the doors able to be opened and closed.

Painting SPMW 2676

Painting the SPMW 2676 with standard SP Freight Car Red from Star Brand.

The car is painted with SP Freight Car Red (FCR) and a off-black underframe, with spots of FCR overspray.  The trucks also get a shot of FCR, which will have weathering applied over it later.  Note that the SPMW 2676 was retired to MW service in 1944, well before many SP cars were fitted with AB-schedule brakes (not required by ICC/AAR until 1953).  Therefore, my model will still have K-brakes for company service.

SPMW 2676 with some scribed weathering on the right door.

Once the door was distressed a little, I went back with some lightened FCR and over-sprayed the areas.  The lightened FCR also gives a nice faded color, so I applied that to the roof of the car also.

Decalling Finished on SPMW 2676

Right side of SPMW 2676 with decals applied.  Note the resprayed area over the door.

The decals came from MicroScale 87-911 for the car data, 87-155 SP MoW Equipment set, and 90031 Railroad Roman Condensed White alphabet set.  The "SUPPLY CAR" lettering on some prototype cars has noticeable over-spray around the stencils, so I may add that later.

Left side of SPMW 2676 with decals applied.

The "SUPPLY CAR" lettering on these two cars is applied one letter at a time.  I used one of the horizontal board line edges to help align them.  In prototype photos the lettering isn't exactly straight either, so this thankfully doesn't have to be perfect.

SPMW 2681 screen capture from 'This is My Railroad, 1946, Steam Version'.

Notice the low "L" not being quite as high as the top of the "Y" next to it.  Also notice that the SPMW 2681 (above) only has Capacity and Lt. Weight (Tare) stenciled on it.  The Load Limit stencil, which is usually the second line of weight stenciling has been dropped.  I therefore cut out the LD LMT set of decals on my model of 2676.

SPMW 2676 end lettering with the "2676" applied to the crown of the top rib!

The end lettering is applied on the top rib, which is a delicate process to get the decal resting level and centered on the rib, then very carefully applying the Micro Scale MicroSol to the decal and getting it to curve down over the shape of the rib.  Also finding a "26" in my collection of number jubbles seemed excessively impossible.  So it was also done one number at a time and then set.

At this point the last bits finishing of the car still need to be done.  Brake lever guide rods, stirrup steps, brake staff, etc. which will be added and touched up with a brush before final weathering.

Blog Post Edit:

SPMW 2681, SUPPLY CAR after my repaint and decal in 2023.

Just as a side note to this post.  A friend asked me to recommend some SPMW car numbers for Accurail wood door, wood end boxcars to make a SPMW Supply Car for his layout.  I'll probably be working on designing a couple of small detail parts for upgrading the Accurail car to be more like the SP Standard B-50-8/10/11 classes of car.  The B-50-13/14 really should have pressed steel ends, which is not the same as the Accurail model.

Here's the short list of cars form the January 1956 SPMW Roster, published in the SP Trainlines.

SPMW B-50-8, -10, & -11 boxcars converted to Supply Service as of Jan 1, 1956. - Information SP Trainline with notes from Thompson's SP Freight Cars Vol4. Boxcars

This list covers most of the cars up until the later B-50-12 through 16 which were being converted to SPMW service after 1950-1951 roughly.  Hopefully this list will give you a set of quick numbers to choose from to build your Accurail SPMW Supply Car.

In Closing

Considering all the cars in the SPMW system, the Supply Cars were probably one of the assignments which had the best mechanical condition cars and moved the most miles.  This is shown also as they're also pulled from the newest classes of cars being retired, where the car is not needed, but still in good shape mechanically.

One of my favorite aerial photo cropped from the Bakersfield SP Trainline article showing the Division Storehouse and Material Yard around 1957-1958.

The railroad used these Supply Cars to move their own supplies as freight in trains.  For a large layout like LMRC, I'm forecasting that we could easily use 5-10 cars in this service alone, with 3-4 cars worth regularly heading to the Storehouse at Bakersfield, the Carpentry Shop, or the Car Shops on a regular basis.  Remember that Tehachapi was also the main 'bridge route' between Sacramento General Shops and Los Angeles General Shops, both of which were shipping supplies to other Division Shops farther out both directions on the SP system, so overhead movements of a couple Supply Cars every day to other points would not be out of the question.

LMRC's version of SP Bakersfield Storehouse and what Material Yards we'll be able to model.

These cars probably would be kept in good condition as they were running between main shops.  Therefore they couldn't get 'too bad' of mechanical or weather-proof condition, which is one reason the 701 should just have dust and dirt on it, not signs of mechanical failures or leaks.

Currently (July 21, 2020) progress on SPMW 701 and SPMW 2676.

As stated above, I'll be doing some final finishing work on both of these models.  The SPMW 701 still needs to have its "SUPPLY CAR" stenciling applied on the other side.  Stirrups will be installed along with other minor details before these two cars are put into service supplying the railroad!

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Modeling SP Supply Trains - Part 1

Modeling SP Supply Trains (Part 2) - Caboose

Plastic Modeling Options for SP B-50-12/13/14


  1. Thanks, Jason. I have a couple of these kits floating around in the Kit Closet-maybe I need a supply car for the Friant Branch.

  2. Now, if I had the time, this looks like a great project, to add to my car roster.


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