Monday, July 25, 2022

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 33) - Expanding Operations

SP 3203 with a protection tender starting test runs on DC-power under the new LED lighting!

So as I've dug back into the layout construction, getting excited about the projects with the LED lights working, getting DC track power set up to run an engine around Owenyo, and getting new freight cars starting to make operations actually happen... I started thinking more about the grand operations scheme for the Jawbone Branch.

Owenyo Operations!

San Joaquin #178 1953-09-27 ETT pg11, Owenyo Branch TT -SheldonPerry

It turns out that I started digging in the 1953-54 Employe Timetables and Owenyo was assigned the new system station number 3144.  Each station on the SP system received a unique number to ID it.  So this will work well, as it bridges forward into the concept of the SPINS maps, but in my modeling era!

Of course, it would be really fun to have more stations on the branch, but the following three stations is all I have space for with my current layout plans: Owenyo (3144), Bartlett (3130), Little Lake (3089), and Mojave (1579).

New switchlists... 

For 20 years I've worked with the LMRC's replica SP and ATSF switchlists during operations and setup.  The SP lists are usually printed on a light manila/yellowish cardstock.  For my purposes here, I have removed the colored paper and will with black/white artwork, which could be printed onto colored paper/card stock if desired.

Scanned LMRC replicated SP switchlist, "unfolded" to fit on 8.5x11" standard size page.

Basically I just put two scanned lists (front/back) side-by-side so that with one print, I can write in all the data for a full 64 car switchlist.  Now to make the modifications to the Jawbone Branch's needs...

SP Switchlist 1963 Oxnard - Cliff Prather Collection - fair use

So looking at this switchlist, notice that the 'Destination' column is filled out only with station numbers!

My notebook page sketching out the operations on the branch.

Here's what I came up with for the spot count and station/spot numbering for the Jawbone.

Trying it out... Oops, too late at night, Bartlett and Little Lake are in the wrong order!

So, let's make a 19 car switchlist for the train departing Mojave and then fill out the rest of the switch-sheet space with a station 'spot check' which will show all the work on the branch that needs to be done.

Conceptual changes filling in for the Jawbone Branch?

In the extra space at the bottom of the lists, I did a quick drawing for Owenyo with the SPINS style inspired spot numbers, which are added as a decimal after the station number on the spot-check list above.

In playing with this version, I've discovered that I'm not really sure I'll need exact spots for some of the spots, like #7 currently is redundant with #6.  So I'll probably move #6 over to the Stock Transfer and include the whole section of track from the west fouling point of the house track to the loader at #8.  Then spot #7 will be the whole stub spur which was a direct transfer between cars to the NG.  This will allow maximized flexibility to car spotting.  Also I'll probably do away with Spot #26 through 30, and reduce 22/23 and 24/25 to only single spots, despite two cars being able to physically fit.  This should allow for more flexible off-spotting of cars and allow me space on the spot list to show the cars as 'off spots'.

Expanding the World?

So, what's to be done with Mojave staging yard with this scheme?   Yes, I know now that it's Station 1579... but that doesn't really seem to be that helpful as nearly everything going west once it's done on the branch is just a "1579" car now.  Well, maybe not?

Mojave Yard work with through trains, Jan 14 1953, at LMRC Jason Hill photo.

From my time at LMRC's sessions, I like the operations at Mojave. For the SP, the Mojave based trains received traffic mostly from two SP symbol freights: Mojave Shorts East (MSE) and Mojave Shorts West (MSW).  The ATSF also interchanged at Mojave for cars going to the Jawbone and Searles/Trona Rwy from N-34 and BAW symbol freights.  Will I be able to create a similar experience with the Jawbone Branch version?

Looking at a 1954 ETT for the San Joaquin Division, Bakersfield is Station #1511 and Los Angeles Yard (Taylor Yard) is Station #3429, which are the two yards for the MSE/MSW to originate and terminate at.  From those yards the cars would be routed to the rest of the country, or coming into the Jawbone branch, all the cars would come through these two stations en route to Mojave.  So for my purposes, all my Agent at Mojave or Owenyo will need to know is if an outbound car from the Jawbone is going to 1511 or 3429, and to mark the list as such.

What is the "Jawbone's Mojave Yard" Now?

Well, now I'm starting to think about traffic routing out of Mojave Yard to the "rest of the world"... could I be do more with my "staging yard"?  

Here's the new scheme for Mojave's operations.

The yard is very simple, basically only being a pair of tracks working as an Arrival/Departure (A/D) track and a runaround track.  A stub caboose/mixed passenger track next to the far engine run-around at the west end, and three additional storage/staging tracks behind the A/D, worked only from the east end round out the yard.

If a second person was to join me operating the branch could I cut down on what equipment I leave on the layout, specifically in the staging yard, I could make Mojave into a more functional yard?

Maybe I could have the second person (probably me) play the game of switching the arriving consists from MSE/MSWs into the train for the Jawbone Branch... and maybe if Track 5 is also available, the yard engine could then actually work a full track into the other locals that worked out of Mojave.  This would also be a place to "use" my other cars that aren't really going to work well for the Jawbone or other "through cars" which I don't want to show up on the branch too often.

Obviously switching the Mojave yard on my layout would mean pulling cuts of cars well into the station of Little Lake, as well as up a 1.5% grade, so I may have to use a couple of heavier than prototype switching engines, but that wouldn't be a bad thing as the real Mojave sometimes even pulled a big AC to do switching duties!

In Closing

SP 2335 mid-Owenyo direct transfer stub - Oct 1954 excurions - Alden Armstrong photo

I had been planning to have Track 5 for storing my excursion passenger train consist, but I may reconsider just keeping it on the track for the occasional time I may feel like playing double-heading excursion mode.  I like the idea of finding a way to make more operations on my existing track plan.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Mojave Based Locals - from my series of LMRC Operations blog posts.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 32) - Rebuilding LED Lighting Strips

What better way to celebrate the NightOwlModeler's 200th blog post than to make the post about rebuilding the Jawbone Branch's mockup LED lighting strips.

Time to return to good lighting!

For the last year I've been dealing with a shoulder injury which flared up when I started doing my over-head work mocking up the LED lighting strips for Owenyo.  Tonight I cut the LED strips into three pieces at the joints between the 3/4" plywood strips.  Then I took down the strips to start rebuilding them.  This is the first step in getting the "good" dual LED strip lighting for the Owenyo Branch.  Once I get this together, I'll start applying the LED strips under Owenyo modules to light Mojave staging.

Disassembly of Mockup

I used magnet wire to twist-tie the LED strips to the plywood strips.

This was pretty easy to disassemble the strips.  Basically I had to untwist the magnet wire which was holding the LED strips with the unpeeled adhesive backing in place for the mockup.

Clip leads attached and lighting the mockup LED strips to check which color is where.

OUCH!  I forgot how bright the LEDs are when I randomly dial in a voltage on the MRC 1370 power supply and clip-lead to the LED strip.  I took a couple tries to get the LEDs dim enough to photograph with them lit, but not blinding the camera!  It was fun to run the lights again for a bit for the first time in a couple months...

All the rippled and ugly buckled twist-tied LED strips.

I did make note with a Sharpie on each strip to mark "B" for Blue light strip and "Y" for the Yellow LED strip.  The Yellow LEDs is going to be pushed up against the ceiling with the Blue LEDs butted up against the lower edge when the strips are mounted.

A Time for Bonding

Locktite Interior Adhesive is applied to the angled surface of the plywood strips.  I used a putty knife to smooth out the bead of Locktite.  

Each LED strip was pressed into the bonding cement.  I basically had to press each one of the LEDs into the cement to keep them all on the same plane.  One of the worst effects of the twist-tied mockup was various LEDs not sitting in the same plane, causing hot and cold spots in the lighting.

The strips were already drilled for the mounting screws.  I've decided to mark the back side of the plywood to notch around some cable clamps, which will be running the wires for the LED lighting.

Blue and Yellow LED strips bonded to the plywood strips.  At some point in the future, I may end up painting the rest of the plywood black or something.  The interior of the ceiling in the shop/layout room is reflective silver from the insulation foam used in the roof.  So the whole "black theater valance" concept isn't really going to work, as the ceiling works more as a reflector, which should help in front of the lights.  The rest of the middle of the space will still use the reflective when I get the other lighting installed.

In Closing

Three nearly complete LED strips for lighting Owenyo.

Next time I'll get my 1/8" cutters in a Dremal and clear a small notch as marked behind the screw, then I can get into wiring each section of LED strip with Molex plugs.  I also need to get the main LED power control panel with the dimmer switches and the power supply mounted to.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Westerfield SP B-50-2 (Part 2) - Finishing the Body & Roof

In the Part 1 post about the SPMW 2257 we left off with the grab irons drilled and the sub-roof structure in place.

SPMW 2257 coming together with most grabs and roof installed.

The goal in this part is to get the body finished and detailed, hopefully take the car all the way to painting.  I may do some fun tricks during the painting and weathering, as I want this car to look like a car that's been out of regular service, wondering the harsh desert and southwestern US conditions for between 8 and 13 years.


Normally, I give some basic roster data, in Part 1, I forgot to do so!

The B-50-1 was the second all-steel under frame 40ft standard boxcar design that the Associated Lines built.  Before the Harriman era, the first all-steel under frame 40ft boxcar on the SP was the CS-33 class.  Note that Pacific Lines subsidiaries were absorbed into SP reporting marks in 1928.

B-50-1 (1904-1905)
CP 84680-84929 (250)
SP 85280  (1)
SP 85281-85780 (500)  
OSL 9000-9249 (250)
OR&N 10000-10299 (300)
SPLA&SL 11000-11749 (750)
LW 32550-32649 (100)
ML&T 32650-32839 (190)
I&V 32840-32849 (10)
Total 2351 (SP Pacific Lines: 751)

B-50-2 (1906-1908)
CP 84930-85229 (300)
SP 85781-86230 (450)
H&TC 11000-11449 (450)
H&S 1000-1049 (50)
UP 70000-71599 (1600)
OR&N 10300-10499 (200)
CP 85230-85279  (50)
CP 88600-88749 (150)
I&V 32850-32859 (10)
LW 32860-33109 (250)
ML&T 33110-33359 (250)
SP 86231-86530 (300)
UP 71600-72849 (1250)
OR&N 10500-10999 (500)
CRYyP 900-949 (50)
CP 88750-89249 (500)
SP 86531-87280 (750)
ML&T 33360-33859 (300)
LW 33660-33859 (200)
OSL 9250-9749 (500)
UP & subs: 4100, SP Pacific & subs: 2500, Texas Lines: 1050
Totals: 7650+2310 cars!

GH&SA 34167, a B-50-4 in the early 1920s lettering scheme. - Model and photo by Kent Courtney, Thanks to Kent for use of the photo here!

B-50-4 (1909)
H&TC 11450-11749 (300)
GH&SA 33860-34359 (500)
SP 88400-88499 (100)
O&C 88500-88599 (100)
UP 72877-73326 (450)
SP 87281-87780 (500)
CP 89250-89619 (360)
OR&N 11000-12499 (1500)
O&W 10000-10499 (500)

Total: 2310 (SP Pacific Lines: 1060)

B-50-5 (1908-1910) *Built to experimental design, exterior looks like B-50-4
OSL 10000-10499 (500)
SP 16520-17319 (800)
SP 20500-21699 (1200)
SPdeM 9050-9149 (100)
FCdeS 10500-10599 (100)
Total: 2700 (SP Pacific Lines: 2000)

Total of all classes B-50-1/2/4/5: 15011 (SP Pacific Lines: 6311)

For SPMW assignments, these classes were converted to everything from outfit cars (Bunk, Foreman, Kitchen, Diner), to Tool, to T&M, to Shop cars, to Ready Flatcars.  Most of the outfit cars had doors and windows cut in them, likewise the Ready flats were cut down to the deck and generally didn't get any new stake pockets added to them, if if they did, the pockets were not to any standard.

Continuing Construction

Grab Irons

A-end grab irons installed.

Drilling out the lower side grab holes ended up springing the underframe sidesills, so I paused the drilling and applied a bit of thin ACC/CA.

B-end grab irons mostly installed.

Once these sidesill frame glue dries, then I'll redrill the lower grab iron on the side and endsills.

Right side

Left side

Assembling Roof

The roof panels were centered on the length of the sides, so the overhang over each end was equal.  I need to double check if there was fascia boards on the upper ends under roof.

I started by putting a small bead of ACC/CA glue along the tops of the sub-roof frame and car ends/sides.

Center joints of roof glued with thin ACC/CA glue.

I then wanted to fill the center seam with thin ACC/CA flowed in.  Excess is wiped off quickly with paper towel.

The thin CA was actually able to flow through the roof and was able to seal the interior sub-frame roof frame joints.


Underside with metal 33" wheels.

Since Part 1, metal wheels have now been fitted for the car.  Ideally, the Accurail Andrews trucks use IMRC wheelsets better than the longer Bowser wheels shown here, so I'll probably swap them out again.

In closing

Most of the remaining finishing work in Part 3 will be details: stirrups, hand brake, brake levers & rods, roofwalk and roof corner grabs.  Then I get to start working on the paint job, weathering, and decals in Part 4!

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Westerfield SP B-50-2 Kit (Part 1) - SPMW 2257 Ready Box Car

Monday, July 11, 2022

SP 140234 (Part 1) - Kitbash RC F-50-16 from F-70-7

This is a flash-back of modeling from four years before I started this blog.  I've mentioned over the last 6 years that I have kitbashed this car, but never did a blog on how it was done.  So let's crack open the old photos from late 2012 when I started working on this car.

F-50-16 kitbashed from shortened RC F-70-7.

For many years the best modelers could get was RedCaboose NYC AAR prototype 42ft, fish-belly 50-ton flatcar or even looking back to the Athearn tooled 40ft car.  

My partly completed "stand-in" F-50-16 using the RC 42ft AAR flatcar (7-2022).

However both of these other options lacked the short spacing of the stake pockets between the bolster and the end of the car and the overhanging deck, which was a signature on many later designs of SP flatcar.

Prototype Research - Flashback to 2012!

In late 2012, I was working on kitbashing a 53'6" Red Caboose/SPH&TS F-70-7 70-ton flatcar into a shorter lighter-weight 40'10" F-50-16, which was the smaller sister.  Both classes were built in 1949.

SP 541778, renumbered F-50-16 at Walong in 1971 - Charles R Lange (Cropped) used with permission

SP 140000-140499 (500 cars)
T&NO 24650-24749 (100 cars)
Total 600 cars

Renumbered during the consolidated 6-digit SP freight car numbering system, circa 1956 to 541000-series.


Red Caboose F-70-7 Underside
SP F-70-7 with center underframe cut out for track cleaning slider

For this project I started with an unbuilt Red Caboose/SPH&TS F-70-7 kit.  Shortening of the sides, floor, and deck to 40'10" in length.

Cutting Up F-70-7 Parts

F-70-7 pre-cutting

I marked where the center point of the car will be.  The resulting sides will be trimmed down to final length and glued together.

NWSL "Chopper" used to cut sidesills squarely.

The Chopper was used to keep the cuts square starting off.

Spliced sidesills after gluing together.

Finished sidesills ready to be assembled into body.

Top of marked floor for cuts

My plan on this project was to cut the underframe, keeping the center and ends for the F-50-16.

Bottom of marked floor for cuts

Ideally the cuts were made just inboard of the outer set of crossbeams and just outboard of the inner set of crossbeams.  I marked the B-end of each piece.

Floor cut into five pieces, three to become F-50-16.

Three F-50-16 floor parts set back next to each other.

Time to glue it all back together... but the sidesills will control final length.

Centersill Frame
Centersill-Underframe marked for estimated cuts.

Fish-belly centersill cut apart.

Centersill parts for F-50-16.

The cut pieces will be sanded or trimmed down to make the final fit of the underframe centersills.

53'6" deck cut down for F-50-16's 40'10" length deck.

Deckboards are one of the main features witch will control final length.

Assembly Into F-50-16

Glue the sidesills together into the full length of the 40'10" deck length car.

Sidesill gluing to B-end floor.

I started by gluing the completed sidesills to the B-end floor piece, accounting for the depth of the steel floor weight.

Applying Tamiya liquid glue to side-floor joint.

Making sure the glue joint is good and solid weld of the two pieces together.

Whole side gluing with floor and weight.

Checking the flatness of the car with the steel weight in place.

B-end floor, both sides and both ends glued together.

Here's the completed frames (side and end) around the B-end floor.

Both floor ends, endsills, & sidesills glued together.

Insert the A-end floor into the completed frame.

Top of assembled body with center floor section installed.

Glue in the center section, splitting the under-lenght space to each side of the center section.

Roughing out the positions for the brake rigging under the car.

Center floor section inserted into opening.  AB Brake system check-fitted before centersills are installed.  The centersill frame was installed without problems, but I seem not to have taken photos of that step.

Jump in Time

I missed taking any more photos of the applications of the stake pockets, couplers, etc.  I some medical issues in early 2013, and wasn't able to do fine detail work for about a year or 18 months.  So at some point over the following 2-4 years I did some more body detailing, applying the 24 stake pockets to the car and underbody.


SP F-50-16 painted standard SP FCR.

I masked the deck and sprayed the body with Star Brand SP/UP Freight Car Red.

SP 140234 Underframe, completed after painting.

Underbody painted with FCR, and oversprayed with some weathered/grimy black color (custom mixed).  Note at this point the car still has "shop wheels" which are plastic.  They will be replaced with metal before entering service.

F-50-16 deck weathering with a little FCR overspray at left.

As the F-50-16s were new in 1949, the decks should still be in good shape for the majority of my modeling era of 1948-1954.  I used ny techniques, but in a minimal way to keep the deck from looking too beat up.

In Closing

SP 140234 decalled and waiting for final detailing with grabs, stirrups, and brake staff.

Decals came from the upgraded SPH&TS set included.  I'll need to piece some bits of data together for 50-ton weights (not 70-ton) and the car class.  The final details, like grab irons, stirrups, hand brake details, etc still need to be applied and touched up with finish paint.  Then a bit weathering will be applied.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Athearn 65ft Mill Gondola (Part 2) - SP 94296 G-70-4

Athearn 65ft Mill Gondola (Part 3) - SP 160023 G-70-6