Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Modeling Accurail R-40-26 PFE 9785 (Part 2) - Minor Modifications

 While I've not done much since Modeling Accurail R-40-26 PFE 9785 (Part 1) - Basic Kitbashing & Assembly, I have decided to make a couple more small changes after looking closer at builders photos that Tony Thompson posted on his blog.  

Updated Accurail R-40-26 Kitbash.

This post is mostly for documentation of the next round of modifications.

Links to Tony Thompson's R-40-26 Photos

I'm posting these photos with direct links to Tony Thompson's blog for direct reference to the changes I'm making on my Accurail R-40-26.

Linked photo of left side from Tony Thompson's Blog on R-40-26s

Of the noticeable issues that I still want to address is that the notch under the right end of the lower door track actually extends under the door track.  Another is that the generator and mounting plate next to the circulating fan on the left side (A-End) of the car is only on the left side.

Linked photo right side from Tony Thompson's Blog on R-40-26s.

The right side of the car has no plate, and the notch extends all the way to the bolster.  There are also no gussets under the lower door track, which the Accurail car has.  I'm afraid removing them will make me start repainting a noticeable amount of the carside, which I don't want to do.  Lastly, and I don't know if I want to address any of these final notes, there are a pair of door stops and the large tack boards are located in a different position than on the Accurail model.

Additional Sidesill Notching

Marked notch for under door guide

Again, I'm marking the sections of sidesill to remove with a Sharpie marker.

Marked removing the B-end bolster notch which doesn't have the extra plate.

B-End bolster has full notches, so originally I only notched the sides based on the left side prototype photo.  Now that I've seen the prototype of the right side, I know that I need to remove a little more.

After cutting out the additional notches.

After completing the additional notching of the sidesills.

Removing Poling Pockets

Before the additional notches are cut and the poling pockets are removed.

It turns out that the R-40-26s were built after the end of poling pockets, so these cars shouldn't even have them.

After notch and poling pocket removed.

It turns out the poling pockets were very easy to remove with my P-B-L sprue cutters in one precise cut.

In Closing

Let's have a quick overview of how the Accurail model looks after the most recent minor modifications.

Right side of PFE 9785 after latest modifications

I may use a very sharpened Prisma Pencil to highlight the edges of the plug doors.

Left side of PFE 9785 after latest modifications

The next steps will be to work on the stirrups and get them ready to install.  I'll also need to do some center-of-gravity tests to see if the "core" in the body is adversely effecting the car's balance.  I may need to add some additional weight to the car's centersill around the brake details.

Jason Hill

Monday, June 27, 2022

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 31) - Wiring Owenyo Modules

Moving on from the last post (SP Jawbone - Part 30), it's time to start fabricating and installing the electrical wiring and cabling to power the modules.


Electrical plan for Owenyo

I started by disassembling the Owenyo #1 and #2 modules and one at a time moving them over to the support 'saw horses', which are boxes with a pair of 2x4s where I built the modules originally last year.

Drilling the Feeders

The feeders need ~0.075" holes for the ~1/16" 22 AWG wires with insulation. Holes were drilled outside of each rail section along the module. Marks with a black Sharpie for "North" and "South" rails with a simple "N" or "S". The north rails are to be wired with black insulation and south rails with red insulation. Marking the feeder holes makes it much simpler to prevent any cross wiring.

Feeders on the SG pit going down into the engine-transfer pit at East Owenyo.

Once the module is flipped over, the holes are marked on the bottom as well. Currently, as the modules are simple track-wise, I don't plan to run separate bus wires for each track (Main, Siding, House Track, etc) and simply connect the feeder 'drops' to the same bus wire pair.

Installing the Feeders

Road crossing between loading platforms at Owenyo with feeder holes marked and wires installed.

The feeders are made from 22 AWG.  At LMRC normally we cut the feeders between 12" and 18" long, stripping one end about 1/4" to solder to the rail and the other end about 1" to wrap around the bus wire and solder. On the Jawbone, I've decided to conserve a bit more length, as I don't want huge amounts of wire that I'll have to snug up to the bottom of the Owenyo modules. I made sure to leave an inch or two more length than I roughly figured would get the feeder to the back edge of the module, where the bus cable will be run.

Omega Feeder Wires (a.k.a. Cross Feeders for Closure Rails)

Omega wires with both ends threaded up through the feeder holes.

Omega wires are called because of their shape, that of the Greek omega character.  The purpose of these wires is to supply power from the stock rails to the inner closure rails of the turnouts.

I also marked these feeder holes on the bottom of the layout so when I was doing the underside work, there was no confusion as to what they were for.

Bus Wiring

The bus cable is made from 18 AWG and both ends are stripped and fitted with Molex pins crimped in place. The connector housings on the modules' west ends are fitted with male housings and female pins, while the east ends are fitted with female housings and male pins. The pins can be mounted either way in the housings. I decided to standardize the pins and housings in this configuration because after some testing, I found it was easier to remove the pins from the housings in this configuration.

Soldering It Up

With the modules inverted on the 'bench', I worked out the routing of the feeder wires. I drilled ~1/4" holes in the MDF cross bracing to keep the wiring up 'inside' the module as much as possible, keeping it from hanging down getting caught while working on it, moving the modules, or later over the staging yard below and catching on equipment.

Generally, I try to keep the feeders separated where they connect to the bus wires. This is to keep anything from rubbing or shorting when I'm working on it. Eventually I'll cover the exposed joints with liquid electrical tape ("Goo", no - not the Walthers kind!) or shrink tubing. However, the "Goo" is much easier to apply after all is said and done, and you can't thread new shrink tubing down to the joint.

The bus wires are de-insulated for short lengths between 1/4" and up to about 1" by cutting around the insulation with my No.11 Xacto blade and then either peeling the wire off by laying the No.11 down a slicing a strip of the insulation off, before unwrapping the rest off for the exposed section. The other option is to make the two radial cuts around the wire, and then use the point of the No.11 to slice a cut down to the conductor and again peel off the whole insulator section in one piece.

Either way, the main bus is exposed and I wrap the 22AWG feeder wire tail around the exposed bus. Once a section of the modules' bus is wrapped and ready, I solder the joint. Usually at LMRC we'd use larger Wattage soldering irons for this, but at my home shop where I'm working on the Jawbone, I don't have one of those, so I'm using the American Beauty Resistance Soldering Iron station to good effect.

Applying the 'Goo'

At this point, I'm not applying the 'Goo' because I want to test everything and insure that I don't want to change any of the wiring, add any blocks, etc.

I can see that I pre-wired the Water Tank leg of the wye too soon, and if I want that to have a cut-out switch, then I'll need to splice in some more feeder wires and do so.

Feeders on the SG pit going down into the engine-transfer pit at East Owenyo.

 Also I noticed that I wired the North rail of the transfer ramp pit track (east end of Owenyo, not the trestle) to the frog of the House Track switch, so technically the North rail on the spur is actually the frog of the switch. I need to decide if I'm going to cut the heel rail of the frog and make it separate again, or change the rail to be wired to the frog. All other switches on the layout at the moment are dead-frog until I build the mechanism for throwing the turnouts.

Once all the above issues are sorted out, I'll go back through under the modules and apply the 'Goo' to the soldered joints and finish tidying up any loose wires.

Extra Bus Cable to the DCC/Throttle

I fabricated about 6ft of paired 18AWG black/red wires with a Molex connector on one end and spade crimp connections on the other end to fit to my old MRC 1370 DC throttle for early testing of the layout. This is wired to the same standard as the rest of the 6-pin connectors, Pin 1 and 2 are North (black) and South (red) respectively, so this cable can be attached to any module. I plan to just use 6-Pin connectors around the whole layout for track power, and add the actual connector pins and wiring as needed to get 12V DC+, lighting, 12V DC- (common), etc. if I want to light future buildings at Little Lake or Bartlett.

The NCE DCC PowerCab base plug will be initially placed roughly at the center of Owenyo/Mojave yards.  I may eventually get an additional small cab that could migrate around the completed layout.  I'll probably add a couple more cab plugs at the ends of Owenyo/Mojave and one each at Little Lake and Bartlett.

Adjustments to Track

After a year, the benchwork has some slight bowing or hogging, I think from the cross framing actually being tight and slightly pushing the ends up. I think much of this is actually the wood ties are slightly thicker and I didn't carve out enough for the rail joiners, resulting in a small 'ski ramp' at center joint at Owenyo (between modules #1 and #2). So I will be making some adjustments to the end of module ties and possibly adding shims if the top skin sheet itself isn't flat.

Interlocking Wye "Safety" Blocks

Because the wye tail is removable, I want the curved approaches to have block switches to turn them off or on easily. Normally if the tail is removed, I'll just have the approaches with the water tank and fuel tank/engine spot turned off, which will keep anything from making a dive to the floor.

Curved 'Engine Spot' track, easy wye leg. with notes on N & S feeder drop under the 'metal' firebox drip pan.

While photos show that a number of places the track has settled pretty deeply into the alleged "ballast", which is more dirt than ballast, but generally I'm trying to hide where the feeders connect to the rails.  Many places I've been able to hide it at road crossings, or in the case above, where the SP had put metal drip-pans to catch any fuel or fire dropping out of the engine when starting up after being left overnight at Owenyo.

SP 2758 "on-spot" at the engine servicing track at Owenyo.

The SP Trainline had a great story of a new fireman that had to take over warming up two 2900-class in Oregon for the days work.  The watchmen had left and both engines let their boiler pressures bleed down far enough that he had 'trouble' relighting them and getting enough draft.  The new fire wasn't burning all the fuel oil that he was putting into the firebox, and the burning oil dropped onto the ties and the story went south from there... it's a good read!

So it's pretty obvious why they put these metal pans under the where they spotted the engines firebox, and I'll be running my wires up to hide under the plates too!

Electrical plan for Owenyo

The wiring of the wye is going to break my regular wiring convention inherited from LMRC's training, which is to have the north rail always be the one that splits blocks off.  However, on the wye legs, the outer rail of the curve (towards the center of wye) already is gapped at the frog heels, so I won't have to cut more gaps.  

The electrical to the wye will obviously have a Molex connector which will keep the approach tracks powered. When the wye tail is removed, I will swap to another connector which is a set of jumpers which engages a switch to run the water tank track section.

Finishing West Owenyo

I still need to lay the west siding switch, which lands very close to the western edge of the Owenyo #2 module, so I'll be coming back to lay that switch and wire it once I get Owenyo #3 module built.  One advantage of this style of construction is that I can move ahead with other sections without building the next module.

One problem with this aspect of the wiring is that I do have to come back and do at least one more round of lifting the modules out to do electrical work after it "could have been done".  However, with the path that I currently need to get the lighting up and working and for that I might as well do the track wiring for what I have, I think it's still a positive outcome.  It keeps me wanting to build the next step and get progress.  Building the Owenyo #3 module, which will hold the NG transfer trestle would allow me to run a wire bundle from the door over to the existing layout.

In Closing

The layout has been dark most of the last year because the 'cheap' 12VDC power supply died shortly after I installed it to test the lighting.  Without the good lighting I'd come to expect during the testing, it really hurt the desire to go back and do all the wiring and lighting again.  Especially because the overhead work with the lighting is most of what injured my shoulder and stopped the work.  So rather developed into a double-whammy of sorts.

The way the lighting's been without the new main LED lighting.  Hoping to get the good lighting up again soon!

Wiring is sometimes some of the more tedious and classically 'thankless work' that must be done on any layout.  It's also being combined with the technical part of properly lighting the layout as well, so lots of work that doesn't really show when the layout is finished.  That said, it's good to be back to doing some construction and work on the layout and after testing the lights in Part 29, I can once again see the layout light up properly. 

I look forward to getting the wiring and dimmer panel set up properly to run the lights and enjoy the layout space again.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Jawbone Branch Index Page - All Jawbone Branch related articles

Jawbone Branch (Part 30) - Electrical Supplies

Jawbone Branch (Part 29) - New Lighting Power

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Modeling Accurail R-40-26 PFE 9785 (Part 1) - Basic Kitbashing & Assembly

The PFE in the early 1950s started to expand their new car purchases into their use of sliding plug-door types for a better door seal and a larger door opening than the old 4-foot swinging plug-doors on the classic refrigerator cars.  The new sliding plug-doors first showed up on the PFE's R-40-26 class of 2000 cars, numbered 8001 to 10000.  Accurail released a model for an All-Steel Reefer #8500-series (Accurail kit #8504 and 85049 -3/pkg) of lettered for this class around 2012.  I picked up one of these factory decorated models around 2018.

Basic assembly and kitbashing completed on Accurail's R-40-26 as PFE 9785.

Tony Thompson wrote two articles on these cars over the last 10 years since 2012, (Kitbashing a PFE R-40-26) and (Kitbashing a PFE R-40-26: Update 2) by Tony Thompson.  It is interesting how Accurail's model of the R-40-26 is actually a model of the Fruit Growers Express version of the car, but PFE's mechanical department got along very well with FGE's, resulting in designs somewhat "crossing over" between the two companies.  Obviously PFE did make some minor changes and had their standard fittings applied instead of the customer specific appliances of FGE.

Thompson makes a comment that in 2012 other modelers who had checked the PFE R-40-26 against the color chips provided in Harley & Thompson's PFE book, didn't match.  Because the model I bought is about 6 years newer, it seems that Accurail changed their color and fixed that issue.  I have checked the Accurail model against my copy of SP Freight Car Painting and Lettering Guide by Harley and Thompson and the color now matches fine for the PFE "Daylight Orange" color.

One minor change that Thompson notes and shows in his blog post with a prototype photo is that the R-40-26s used a pattern of alternating center rivets at the vertical panel joints, while the Accurail car is only one one line of rivets at the sheet joints.  This would require adding Archer Rivet decals and possibly repainting the car, which is the route Thompson suggests for a most accurate model.  I don't think I'll take my kitbash that far, but I do want to add the more noticeable features, such as the circulating fans in the lower left carsides and removing the poling pockets.

What's in the Kit

Parts and sprues laid out for Accurail's R-40-26 kit.

Like most Accurail kits, they are very much a 'shake-the-box' type of kit.  The body is missing the ends, which need to be cut from their sprue and attached.  The car-end sprue also has the brake platform and vertical hand-brake chain, rod, and clevis between the two ends.  The coupler draftgear covers now have a screw hole molded into them, which is nice along with some parts for the AB brake system.  There's also now a sprue with the brake rigging, brake cylinder, and stirrup steps to supply the rest of the parts.  The brake wheel and flat steel weight were in the box and I didn't get them into this photo.

Interior Body Core!

Interior "Core" to which sides and ends are attached

When I turned the body inverted, I noticed that the car is assembled around a 4-slide "core" design concept.  Normally we've been seeing this style of construction on bigger passenger cars, such as the Walthers HW passenger cars that I've shown in such blog articles as Kitbashing a 16-Section Tourist Sleeper.  I decided to pop the sides off to do the side-sill notching that is mentioned in Tony Thompson's blog post about these models from 10 years ago.

Accurail R-40-26 disassembled with sides removed from core

Here's the car with the sides and core disassembled.  By this point I'd tapped the holes in the underframe and attached the trucks and mounted whisker-scale head Kadee couplers to the car.

Side Modifications

Interior of sidesills marked for cutting.

The sidesills of the PFE's R-40-26s were notched, thankfully Accurail molded in the maximum notching which cars could have.  The R-40-26 didn't have full notching, but it was close.  I used a Sharpie black marker to indicate where I needed to cut the side sills.  The only special locations were at the right end of the door's lower track outboard to the next molded notch and from the T in "LT WT" inboard to the next molded notch below the pre-printed reporting marks.  Note: The extra small black mark to the left, under the second C in "Pacific" is a mistake and I didn't cut there.

Modifying sills and cutting notches.

The lack of notching between the left bolster and the reporting marks needs to be extended downward with a plate that held the axle drive belt to operate the circulating fan, which should be in the lower carside between the bolster and the capacity data, below the "FANS" and "STAGE ICING" stencils to the left of the road number.  It seems I'll have to go find some detail parts to model the fan and belt drive.

Basic Test Assembly

Underframe test assembled with trucks and couplers installed

I did glue the sides to the core, along with the two ends with ACC/CA glue.  I had to be careful during this time that the glue didn't squeeze out and also glue the underframe in until the glue dried.

Right side test assembled

The SP Medallion is always to the B-end by this era of paint scheme on the PFE cars.  This was to equalize the chances of exposure of the SP and UP heralds.  Originally SP's was always closest to the doors, and would be covered in all the publicity shots showing the car being loaded with food products!  The concerns were addressed and this reversal of the heralds on the left side was the result.

Left side test assembled

Overall the R-40-26 basic assembly has come together very quickly.  The flat steel weight (not shown) was fixed into the top of the underframe with RTV silicone without any trouble.

Underframe Assembly

Completed underframe with all brake parts and brake rigging installed.

The underframe is pretty much what I'd expect from an Accurail car.  This looks like a retooled version of their standard steel boxcar underframe, with a couple new slots cut for the dead lever of the brake rigging in the centersill.  It's good to see some improvements in the tooling over the last 25 years since my last experience with Accurail's boxcars of the 1995 era.

In Closing

Right Side PFE 9785

The next steps will be to finish up the circulating fans and belt drives, and look closer at the heralds, which seem a little off to my eye.  Thompson's article from 2012 suggests new decals and with the body work, just repainting the whole car.  I'm going to see if I can do it without doing a complete repaint.

Left side PFE 9785

I'm also planning to install the steps, but not until the rest of the body work is done.  I still need to remove the poling pockets as well.  Modeling Accurail R-40-26 PFE 9785 (Part 2) - Minor Modifications

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Kitbashing a 16-Section Tourist Sleeper - Another series of kits using the 'interior body core' concept of construction

Jawbone Freight Roster - Update 2022-06-26 - Current list of freight car projects I'm working on for my Jawbone Branch layout.

Jawbone Freight Roster - Update 2022-06-26

A couple months back, I remember seen some questions about what freight car models I prefer.  While I'm not going to list my whole roster here, I think I'll go ahead and make a "short list" of the models I will be relying on to provide interesting variety for my Jawbone Branch layout.

Some of the cars I'm working on at Owenyo on my Jawbone Branch, 2022-06-25.

For those following my Jawbone Branch, I have listed some of these already in my SP Jawbone Branch (Part 4) Freight Car Roster article.  This post will be an updated and at some point I'll go through making a list including some basic quantities to show what I'm planning for my operations.  

Hopefully this post will give you some ideas of the variety of foreign boxcars and how to expand your fleet in general as well.


Most all foreign road boxcars would be in general service bringing in supplies or possibly reloaded for shipment back towards their home roads.  Outbound loadings off the Jawbone for foreign cars could have been low enough that a sizable number of the inbound foreign loaded cars were probably returned to Mojave, LA or Bakersfield and maybe as far as Roseville to be routed for potential reloading.

SP 3237 switching several foreign boxcars at Bartlett on the Jawbone branch - Leo Barusch photo - Inad Akeb Collection

The first car behind the engine is a Seaboard boxcar.  I might get a resin model kit for one of these someday, because it's clearly documented as having this example on the Jawbone during my era!

WWII War Emergency Boxcar - IMRC

ATSF 129782 BX-38

ATSF 129782, Bx-38 class from IMRC (RTR)

A few years ago I learned that Intermountain was producing the WWII Emergency Boxcar.  I had to wait for another run, but then I was able to snag one example.  I love the funky composite door on this single sheathed car.  I'm looking forward to doing a bit of weathering and putting this car in service!

ATSF 129782 Weathering with PrismaPencils and Acrylic Paints 

PRR X29 & ARA 1923 Standard Boxcar - Red Caboose

One of the most common freight cars in the early 1920s was the PRR's tens of thousands of the X29s were built and lasted many years.  About 1/3 of the X29 fleet was rebuilt heavily into X29B class cars with new AAR-style wider bodies by the 1950 era, so I may eventually either kitbash or get a resin model of one of those, but here are two of my plain X29s.

PRR 100305 - X29

Back around 2006 I was unable to find any of the Red Caboose PRR X29s, but was able to find a pair of gray "Battery Service" PRR MW X29 kits.  The plan was to repaint them and use Speedwitch PRR X29 decals on them.

PRR 100305 weathered Red Caboose kit.

One of the kits I started building this model around 2007-2009.  This one made it as far as being painted and lettered as PRR 100305.  It will be one of my X29 class boxcars to use in general service on the Jawbone or send to LMRC.

PRR 100305 - 2022 Update

A bit of light work over the decals with my fiberglass brush to de-weather it.

I decided after studying more photos over the last 10 years, that I'd over-weathered the lettering on the car.  So I de-weathered the lettering with my fiberglass brush.  Note that there's no need to strip and repaint a car because of a little over-weathering.  I did experiment with patch-painting the door as a replacement with some PRR FCC, trying to match closer to the Red Caboose pre-painted model of PRR 100813 (below).  I think it's slightly too orange and not quite as a good a match to the nearly Zinc Chromate Primer red that the RC car is painted with.

One small mistake is that when I was de-weathering, I went a little too deep on the LD LMT and LT WT stenciling, scratching down to gray plastic, so those decals will have to be touched up.  I'm looking forward to weighting the car, putting on the rest of the grabs, and details to get this long-toothed X29 car in service.

PRR 100813 - X29

PRR 100813, a fresh kit X29 from Red Caboose kit.

I was finally able to pick up a decorated PRR X29 kit about 5 years ago, so this will be a 'cleaner' X29 model for my fleet.  It is too bad that I've not come across one of the RC X29 models with the 'patched sides' which most X29s were fitted with after rusting out after around 1940.  It seems that version is very hard to find in PRR lettering.

CGW 85240 - ARA 1923 Standard

CGW 85240 from Red Caboose tooling, IMRC RTR version

In late 2019, I was able to find a non-PRR X29/ARA 1923 clone.  Note this version from RC has the common prototype steel patches along the lower sides to fix the rust problems that many X29s had in the later years.  I'll probably see if I can fabricate some partial patches on one of the ex-PRR Battery Car kits that I mentioned above, like the PRR 105305.

NYC Standard Steel Boxcar - MTH

The NYC ordered thousands of their new standard steel boxcar in early 1920s.  They continued to be built and pushed competition to become the ARA 1923 Proposed Standard Steel boxcar against the Pennsy X29.

NYC 111869

NYC 1923 ARA standard steel boxcar, by MTH (RTR)

The NYC still had 17,229 of these cars in the 1950 ORER showing rating at 55-ton nominal capacity, 2955 cu ft capacity!  While being replaced with newer post-war boxcars, these cars certainly still showed up regularly.

A minor note on these cars is that they require exceptional force to re-gauge the wheels to LMRC standards... ouch.  I'm generally replacing the wheels with IMRC wheels.

"ACF-Buffalo built 2,000 of these cars; assigned by NYC to Lot 489-B. In 1936 they were renumbered into the 107000-108999 series." comment on-line by Doug Chapman.  The 107000-108999 series in the builders photo shows with a panel door.  Obviously the group Doug is talking about is a slightly older series than the 111800-series shown here, but they were built to the same design, and I'm guessing the cars were rebuilt with new Youngstown style doors.

NC&StL 15337 - Fowler Boxcar - 6ft Door

New kitbash in process - 2022-06-20.

Kitbashing the new Accurail model from 2018 into NC&StL 15337, hopefully something that I can use on the Jawbone.

CP/SooLine - Fowler Boxcar 5ft Door

New CP/Soo Line 36ft Fowler from Westerfield

Yup, I'm building two flat-resin-kit Fowler boxcars.  I'm going to have to scratch build a new metal roof for the cars and get some after-market decals as the 'second hand' kits didn't have any.  This cars will probably for grain loading from the Mid-West and central Canada.

NP 11661 - Double Sheath

NP 11661, Rapido Double-Sheath box car - 2022-06-18

One of Rapido's excellent NP Double-Sheath box car.  These are R-T-R models, very nice with minimal upgrades needed.  I just dove into Weathering NP 11661 car in June 2022.  A short blog post covers the use of Prisma pencils and acrylic paints.

B&O 381303 - M-53

B&O 381303 M-53

I picked up a pair of M-53s from Fox Valley around 2011 when they came out.  They are very cool and unique cars.  I look forward to operating at least one on the Jawbone.  I'm working on several F&C Resin "Wagon Tops" for use on the Jawbone Branch.  So, they will probably make an appearance soon.

MILW 21078

Roughly assembled MILW 21078 by Accurail, still needs some of the detail parts added.

The Milwaukee's "signature" boxcar was known as the "Rib Side" box car because, well, it had ribs horizontally along its sides.  While the B&O's "Wagon Top" had the ribs vertically that covered the sides and the roof in the same piece of metal, the Milwaukee's rib-side cars were just another way of cover an all-steel boxcar.

The kits that I'm looking at are the slightly retooled rib-side car from Accurail, which originally was tooled by Rib Side Car many years ago.

A Note About My SP Boxcar Fleet

SP B-50-12, one of 1000 USRA boxcars assigned to the SP during and after WWI

Many of my SP boxcars I've already posted about between the Pre-War All-Steel Boxcars, Post-War All-Steel Boxcars, and my Modeling SP B-50-8/10/11/13/14 class 'standard' boxcars that the SP had 8,000 of basically each group.  So I'm not going to be showing those cars again here in any detail, but I do plan to have about 6 pre-war all-steel boxcars, a couple of the post-war at some point when I kitbash them, and probably 5-8 of the wooden single-sheath boxcars, including a pair of resin B-50-15/16s to build.  

B-50-15/16 Progress!

Sunshine B-50-15 boxcar under construction.

Upcoming Rapido B-50-15/16 RTR Model

Rendering of steel-resheathed B-50-15/16 in "Overnight" scheme from Rapido's website.

I also have some of the not-yet-released Rapido SP B-50-15/16s on order, which will round out my fleet of SP boxcars when they show up.  I want to get a little farther with the resin kits and I'll do a write up on the B-50-15/16 service history to help in selecting which versions are most accurate for your era.


SP Mike leads a train on the Jawbone with four gondolas, one piled high with white mineral/ore.

Probably 1/3 of the cars in an average Owenyo Local were gondolas.  On the Jawbone they were primarily assigned to mineral and ore loading.  Occasional loads of lumber could be coming in and maybe a load of pipe from the east or metal building kits, etc for the farming communities that were still hanging on.  There was also a small amount of lumber milling preformed at Bishop, so there could have been local lumber shipped on the NG and occasionally a carload out of Owenyo.

SP G-50-15/16/18/22 Enterprise GS All-Steel Gondolas

SP 151454, G-50-22, all-steel GS gondola.

The SP's all-steel GS gondolas were used on the Jawbone Branch for mineral and ore service, mostly dumped from the NG transfer trestle dump into the SG cars.

SP G-50-20/23 Enterprise GS Composite Gondolas

SP 150143, G-50-23, composite GS gondola.

The SP usually used the 2500 composite GS gondolas in sugar beet service around California and wood chip service in Northern California and Oregon.

UP G-50-11 Enterprise GS Composite Gondola

G-50-11 kitbashing from RC Composite gondola

At least one of these ex-composite cars which had been re-sheathed with steel sides was photographed at Owenyo, probably in ore/mineral service.  I'm looking forward to making some new ends for it and finishing up this car.

UP G-50-13 Enterprise GS All-Steel Gondola

UP 65003 G-50-13 RC steel gondola

It seems that the SP also sent UP all-steel gondolas up onto the Jawbone Branch.  I'm not sure what loading these cars had coming in, maybe coal or coke for the various mineral processing and general consumption by communities on the NG.  Possibly inbound lumber, unfortunately the photos don't really show loads for them.  I wonder if these cars were making empty somewhere else on the SP and were on their way back to somewhere like Los Angeles, and were sent for loading on the Jawbone with loads to LA or Long Beach, then to be handed back to UP at the LA area interchanges.

Greenville/AAR 52'6" 70-Ton Gondola

First produced for the Erie RR starting in 1940, the design for a 52'6" mill-gondola with drop ends quickly became the standard for thousands of cars produced during WWII.  These cars continued as an industry standard for nearly 20 years.  By the post-war years, cars of this size would probably be bringing fabricated steel products to California and in my case the Owens Valley.

NKP 66031

Walthers/Proto2000 gondola is a great example of the standard 70-ton gondolas built during WWII.  The NKP 66031 is one I fitted with a track cleaning slider block and covered in my blog post Disguising Track Cleaning Cars (Part 1) - P2K Gondola.  

NYC 712675

Walthers/Proto2000's 52'6" as NYC 712675.

The NYC 712675 is another example of a P2K 52'6" gondola that I put a slider pad under.

SP G-50-13 Kitbash

SP 94248, a kitbashed P2K G-50-13

This is my original 1990s G-50-13 kitbash using a Proto2000 kit, shortened with a Athearn fishbelly centersill installed.  I based this kitbash on a photo in one of the MircroScale SP decal set.  That's about all we had before the wonderful Tony Thompson SP Freight Car book series came out about 5 years later.

Other Mill Gondolas

SP G-50-13 50-Ton 48ft Gondola

Westerfield G-50-13 with Tangent Dalman 2-Level trucks.

Speedwitch SP G-50-13 resin gondola.  I'm planning to finish up two of these cars.  These resin models are more accurate to the SP prototype than my kitbash from the late 1990s.  These cars were used for steel and lumber loading.

B&O 259798 O-59

Tangent "Bethlehem" 52'6" gondola.  Thanks to Tangent offering the Bethlehem and all-welded Greenville mill gondola (below) in the last 5-10 years, we have several more options now to run cool "rust-belt" gondolas to bring machinery and supplies to the our modeled areas around the US.

PRR 373417 G31B

Tangent G31B class PRR gondola, built to the new all-welded design post-war from Greenville.  The PRR had about 9,200 52'6" gondolas in 1950 with more on the way, such as the G31Bs!  Certainly could be common to see one wondering on to the Jawbone Branch.

USRA 70-Ton Gondola

"The USRA version was based, with few if any changes, on a pre-USRA design built for W&LE and later owned by NKP. USRA versions and copies were built for B&O (0-27 & O-27a), NYC, P&LE, PMcK&Y, PRR (G25 & G25b), and RDG (GMK & GML). It's an utterly essential freight car for Eastern modelers, with thousands of examples carrying various liveries. Available from Walthers or Westerfield. Westerfield is the superior model. Erie also had a somewhat longer version of the same design. This info came to me from a well known Hagerstown rail historian who prefers to avoid the limelight."  Quote from Tom Davidson

PRR 316083 G25

Weathered PRR 316083, circa 2006.

Walthers 46ft USRA gondola.  The PRR had about 10,000 46ft long gondolas in 1950 in addition to the 52'6" cars mentioned above.  That's a LOT of gondolas!  So I figure I should be able to justify having a couple of examples.

This car's one of my favorites with weathering on the interior with Prisma Pencils, sketching the look of the collapsed stake pockets.  This photo shows the car with one of the large tank loads, also from Walthers.


Flatcars did show up in photos of the Jawbone Branch.  Probably mostly used for shipping machinery, possibly lumber loads into the Jawbone Branch.

F-70-6/7/10 Class - 53ft Flat - RedCaboose or SPHTS

SP 140500-142549-Series

Example of an F-70-7 class riveted car. - RC RTR model shown

I have a couple of undecorated kits from SPHTS for the car shown above.  I plan to make F-70-2/5/6/7 class cars from the kits.  The F-70-7 was certainly the largest class with 2050 cars built in 1949!  See my SP Flatcar Index page for more details on roster info.

SP 142617

SP 142617, F-70-10 class welded car - SPHTS kit

The SP continued to need 70-ton flatcars and ordered another 1000 cars, which were delivered in 12-53 and into early 1954.  This series of cars lacks the rivets, but also has these large T-shaped exposed steel structures of the top of the bolsters and draftgear.  One of these F-70-10s was photographed moving SPNG 1 (diesel) to and from the shops at Bakersfield for mechanical work.

I have a couple of the F-70-10 models, but they do push my 1953 modeling cutoff date into 1954.  If I'm pushing much into 1954, then the Jawbone Branch may need to be worked with an RSD-5 instead of the Mk-2/4.

F-50-5/8/9/10/12 Class - OwlMtModels kits

Some prototype photos clearly show several SP/UP F-50-series flatcars on the Jawbone Branch in the local freight.  However, from the angles of the photos it is hard to see if they are SP, UP, or SPMW.

SP 38892 F-50-8

SP 38892 F-50-8 - OwlMtModels kit

This SP F-50-8 originally was owned by the PE and transferred over to the SP reporting marks in 1940.

SP 43745 F-50-8

SP 43745 F-50-9 - OwlMtModels kit

PE 3669 F-50-8

Kitbashed PE 3669 F-50-8 - OwlMtModels kit

The last batch of PE F-50-series cars was being absorbed into the SP reporting marks in 1950, so it's possible to still see a PE car operating under the SP ownership during my layout era.  

SPMW 3605 F-50-5

SPMW 3605 assigned to T&M gangs - OwlMtModels 2002 kit.

I don't think I'll be using SPMW 3605 for the Jawbone MW "outfit" which was photographed at Lone Pine, which had a rack over-head, fuel tanks, compressors, etc.  

SPMW 215 F-50-5 

Lone Pine SPMW Outfit F-50-flatcar - owensvalleyhistory,com - ebay47_lone pine_sml

I've done a new car to make this car, which is really cool!  I think this car was used for water service department.  Lots of tubes, looks like 3-4" pipe.  Some sort of compressor or generator is located under the rack.

SPMW 215 - custom-built rack on OMM F-50-series flatcar.

It is a cool looking car!  Of course I've back-date this to FCR, pre-1958 era version.  I still need to build the detailing parts to go on the deck.

F-40-7 Class - Kitbash Walthers/TM 42ft

T&NO 23454 - F-40-7 Kitbash

T&NO 23454, kitbashed Walthers/TM flatcar with kitbashed OwlMtModels beet rack, sagged to match the hog-backed flatcar.

In the early days of the Jawbone Branch, the trestle dump at Owenyo was shown as a "Beet Dump".  However, early on in the Jawbone there was still shipments of beets out of the Owens Valley, before the water was sucked up and sent to Los Angeles in the LA Aqueduct.

I have several of the F-40/50-7 cars that I'm kitbashing.  One revenue car is T&NO 23454 which is fitted for use with a modified OwlMtModels Blackburn sugar beet rack.  I've gone ahead and weathered this flatcar and rack fairly heavy dust/dirt from the beets being dumped out of the rack.

SPMW 810

SPMW 810, Walthers/TM kitbashed with new truss rod underframe.

The other is SPMW 810 which will probably see most of its use either on the Jawbone Branch or Tehachapi with the MW forces supplying material or Track & Maintenance gangs.  At this point, I'm still working on the details, replacing the cast-on grabs, mounting new stirrup steps.  Truss rods are also going to be installed.

SPMW 810, Walthers/TM kitbashed and weathered with new trucks & truss-rod underframe.

Here's a photo of SPMW 810 after the underframe trussrods and stirrups have been installed.

I've posted a blog article on these two cars as SP F-50-7, (Part 1) - A Stand-in for WWI Emergency Flatcars.


AC&F Type 21 8k & 10k Gallon - Proto2000/Walthers

HTCX 1621

Harbor Tank Car Line 1621 from Walthers/P2K ACF 8,000 Gallon Type-21 tankcar

Harbor Tank Car Line was based out of Los Angeles, CA and would have been a common shipper of petroleum products over the Tehachapi Pass and on the Jawbone Branch, probably to stations such as Lone Pine, which show having fuel dealers in the aerial photos of 1944.

UOCX 8018

Union Oil of California 8018 from Walthers/P2K ACF 8,000 Gallon Type-21 tankcar

Union Oil of California (UOCX) was another large oil company in California which would have been supplying petroleum products to the Jawbone Branch, probably to stations such as Lone Pine, which show having fuel dealers in the aerial photos of 1944.

UTLX 75022

UTLX 75022 from Walthers/P2K ACF 8,000 Gallon Type-21 tankcar

Standard Oil moved their products under the UTLX reporting marks.  These cars show up many places around the country, and were also provided to other companies needing leased tank cars.

AC&F Type 27 8k Gallon - IMRC

SCMX 918

SCMX 918, an 8,000 gallon ACF Type-27 tankcar.

A few years ago I was able to pick up another Shell Chemical Company ACF Type-27 tank car (SCMX reporting marks) kit.  These cars are longer and smaller in diameter than the earlier Type-21 cars of the same capacity.  The plant at Bartlett may be able to receive loads from Shell Chemical, if not the acid service cars by Tangent (shown below).

PQCX 111

PQCX 111 - IMRC ACF Type-27 8,000 Gallon Tankcar

Another example of something I could maybe send to Bartlett... I'd have to do more research into Silicate of Soda, and where it was used.  P.S. This is what the SCMX 918 will look like when built-up.

HTCX 1739

I also have a Harbor Tank Car Lines lettered kit that has been partly built for almost 20 years, Gasp!  Basically it just needs metal safety appliances installed.  At some point I'll finish it for some additional variety in my tank car fleet.  I'll also do some de-weathering to minimize the brush strokes from 17 year old me, and re-do some better weathering on the top with my current bag of weathering tricks.

ACF Welded (1949) 10k Gallon - RC

ROX 10015 - Richfield Oil

Richfield Oil, ROX 10015 - RC (RTR)

I'll probably do a little finishing work on the Richfield tank car and use it for gasoline and fuel oil service to the Jawbone Branch.  Because this car represents the start of post-war all-welded tank cars, I'm going to keep the weathering to a minimum.

Acid Tankcars - Tangent

While not as likely as petroleum products on the Jawbone, there may be some precident for cars like this serving the plant at Bartlett (modeled) or the US Navy Base at China Lake (which I'm not modeling).

GATX 81082 - Stauffer Chemical

GATX 81082 in Stauffer Chemical Corp acid car - Tangent (RTR)

I picked up a couple of the Tangent Stauffer Chemical Corp cars for the sulfuric acid service to Trona and West End.  While I probably won't regularly need these cars on the Owenyo side of the Jawbone Branch, but I like the look of these cars and may be able to occasionally send one to Bartlett.  These cars were pretty new in the early 1950s, so I'll be keeping them fairly clean.

GATX 54539 - General Leasing

GATX 54539 - general lease scheme acid tank car - Tangent (RTR)

The General American Tank leasing company kept a number of their cars in general service black scheme.  These could be seen just about anywhere in the country for any of the assignments these cars are suitable for.  I picked up one of these to mix up the cycles of the two following scheme cars.  I may still get to send one of these cars occasionally, or a Stauffer car to Bartlett.

GA 1917 Tankcars - Tangent

UTLX 10673 - Hercules Powder Co.

Tangent GA 1917, painted as UTLX 10673, assigned for service with Hercules Powder.

While Hercules Powder works had a plant located along the San Francisco Bay at Giant, these cars could show up over Tehachapi.  I guess I should have nabbed one in the plain UTLX scheme, but these came out a couple years before I started on my Jawbone Branch layout... so unless I finish one of my two undec's as a UTLX, I'll have to live without.

SP (Ex-EPSW) or UTLX Lease

GA 1917 10k gallon undec RTR Tangent model

I have two of these Tangent 10k gallon 1917 tank cars undecorated, but painted black from the factory.  I planned to do them both as SP's ex-EPSW 10k gallon cars which were absorbed in 1924, which would require some kitbashing to the dome platform walkways and ladders.

As they are undecorated, I may decide to do one in UTLX scheme to supply the Standard Oil needs on the Jawbone at Little Lake and Owenyo.  My mind is not made up to which scheme at this point in June 2022.  Given the difficulties in getting good quality SP Tank Car Decals over the last year from Tichy, I may have to open up to other ideas and options regarding these cars.


I've never been much of a reefer modeler, so I don't have many finished cars to show off and only one currently in progress that is painted.

R-30-9 Red Caboose

PFE 92990

I have one of these kits that I built about 23 years ago.  I may get some photos of it at some point, but for now my PFE fleet of the Jawbone will have to be other models.

R-30-18 P.F.E.

PFE ?????

One of the late Terry Wegmann's PFE R-30-18 kit.  I look forward to building this model.  Jay Styron has recently built two of these models and they look very nice.

R-40-2/4 Tichy

PFE ????? & ?????

Tichy Train Group standard PFE flat plastic kit.  I'm currently assembling two of them.  I'll do a separate update on them.

R-40-26 - Accurail

The newest PFE reefer that I'll be using on the Jawbone Branch is one of the R-40-26 class plug door cars.  I saw Anthony Thompson's great blog post reviewing the Accurail model (Kitbashing a PFE R-40-26), (Kitbashing a PFE R-40-26: Update), and (Kitbashing a PFE R-40-26: Update 2) , which is a pretty close stand-in, nearly accurate model. - Another model I'm looking forward to actually building following Tony's articles!

PFE 9785

Left side of roughly assembled Accurail PFE 9785, R-40-26. 2022-06-24

I've started the kitbash by marking and cutting out the notched lower sidesill of the car.  If I want to go all out with the kitbash, I'll need some other items such as belt-driven fans.  Some other details, like the small routing card boards and stirrups still need to be attached.  I will say that the hand brake details and underframe details went on very easily and look good.

Modeling Accurail R-40-26 PFE 9785 (Part 2) - Minor Modifications

The Heralds look a little weird, so I may see about using some decals from MicroScale or other good artwork decal sets to touch up the lettering on this model.

In Closing

Some of the newer freight cars I've been working on in 2022 at Owenyo on my Jawbone Branch

This has been a bit of a long blog post, but I hope it inspires my fellow modelers out there to try some kits a little farther out of the comfort zone than your regular shake the box kit.  For those RTR and shake the box kits, try snazzing them up with some upgraded decals, chalk marks, and weathering to help add some variety to your fleet.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SP B-50-15/16 - Upcoming RTR models of SP prototypes from Rapido

SP Flatcar Index Page - Link to page with SP flatcar classes and what models are available.