Thursday, October 21, 2021

Kitbashing Mystery SPMW 215 (Part 2) F-50-series Flatcar (Extra Gang Outfit)

In the last post (SPMW 214 - Part 1), I covered some of the basics of my guesses of what this car and outfit were doing at Lone Pine, California after 1958.  

Pondering the Context

I've spent the last week or two pondering with several friends the prototype photo, I now believe this photo very likely could have been taken around 1960 and the abandonment of the Standard Gauge railroad between Lone Pine and the then abandoned narrow gauge interchange at Owenyo.

Given the outfit photo shows three HW 12-1 sleepers turned into bunk cars, this is a very large outfit "gang", so large that I doubt this was regularly assigned to the Jawbone Branch regularly.  Instead it is probably a "Extra Gang" which moved around the system to where ever they had larger projects needing more hands.

Here's the outfit in question at Lone Pine: tool/tender, 12-1, water car, two 12-1s, two boxcars, water car. - owensvalleyhistory,com - ebay47_lone pine_sml

So, what's the story then for the "Extra Gang" at Lone Pine in the photo?  Sadly we don't have anymore info on the photo than this is Lone Pine, and the date being after the SPMW cars changed to light gray paint, which puts this after 1958.  The only serious work on the branch than I can think of after 1958 would have been the scrapping of the SG track to Owenyo, and removal of the Owens River Bridge.  Notice that there is a "Occupied Outfit Cars" sign hung from the left grab iron next to the cut lever, showing that this track is basically blue-flagged at the time of this photo.

I think this tool flatcar in the foreground story is that it very well might be a crane tender, the track gang probably had a small crane, 25-tons or less, which is self-propelled, maybe even a self-propelled Burro crane, running around at the end-of-track with the crews.  So I think the flatcar with the rack has probably been shoved back against the outfit once the gang got setup on-site for the work.  As the "Extra Gang" is working more as Track and Maintenance (T&M) assignment.

Changing Numbers & Assignment

So at this point I made the decision to change the car number that I'm modeling.  Originally I was going to model SPMW 214, an F-50-5, which was assigned to Ready Flat service in 1956 roster.  By changing to SPMW 215, also an F-50-5, converted in 10-1950 and assigned to T&M in the 1956 roster.

Adjusted decals for SPMW 215 & "T&M" stenciling now.

This was an easy change to do.  I blanked out the "4" from both sides and the "Ready Flat" stencilling with Polly-S Freight Car Red and Apple Barrel Chestnut paint.  The new "5" decal and "T&M" stencil applied.

Additional Deck Weathering

SPMW 215 deck weathering, more mud on the main deck and stains on the rack deck.

I decided to do a bit more deck weathering to the upper rack with the "flicked droplet" method with some dark gray-black washes.  Also the main deck had some additional black applied under the rack and some more mud colors applied under where the 3" pipe load will go, on the right side of the open deck.

In Closing

The change in perspective on the prototype usefulness now calls into question the usefulness of this model on my 1953 Jawbone Branch layout.  

SPMW 4049 - upgraded Walthers-TM 25-ton Crane.

Thankfully, the La Mesa Club fleet can always use another crane tender, in fact the SPMW 4049 25-ton Crane could use one, so I'll probably finish this model and pair it up with that crane.

Jason Hill


  1. Just a wild guess, might they have been enlarging the capacity and/or run-around tracks at Lone Pine to replace the run-around tracks, etc. out at Owenyo?

    1. Good guess, but from what I know of Lone Pine, after 1958, it was all down hill for the branch. Certainly between 1958 and the tearing up of the track between Lone Pine and Owenyo, there wasn't anything of interest until the tearing up in 1960. Also the full consist of MW in gray paint would suggest the later date.


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