Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Open Loads (Part 6) - Modeling WP 9002 with Steel Load-1126

This is the next post in the series of Open Loads articles I'm writing.  In Part 4, I looked at building  a Bridge Timber load for a Southern Pacific GS-gondola to match photos in Tony Thompson's SP Freight  Cars Vol.1.  In Parts 1, 2, and 5, I covered more generalized load topics, with multiple quick examples, but not much on the "how-to" aspect.  This post will change to specifically focused post on a single car and load combination, how it was modeled, the unique load built, weathering commentary, etc.  Then the next post will move to another specific car and unique load.

I should note that in some cases I've built multiple loads of a style to take care of several cars, as some loads would be replicated across several cars in a service or a train consist.

WP 9002 - WP 65ft Mill Gondola

The Athearn R-T-R model of WP 9002 is stenciled as newly built in June 1949, so for my era the car would be between "new" and maybe 3-years old during my modeling era.  The WP bought 50 cars in this series (WP 9001-9050), which show in the 1950 ORER.  This is why the exterior of the car isn't too weathered.  A bit of "running grime" is applied to knock the 'edge' off the straight black paint of the Athearn model out of the box.  I'm not sure if these cars had different trucks, which I could swap out to be more accurate, so for now the stock Athearn trucks will work.

Bad Order marks for the retaining valve on the car-side.

The Athearn model comes with longitudinal-mounted Ajax Power Handbrakes on the B-end.  I also put chalk marks on this side of the car pointing at the retaining valve, indicating a bad order valve or plumbing.

Chalk Marks...

WP 9002 ready for service.

Notice that I've already applied white and light gray chalk markings to the car.  The arrow on the lower car side points to the bleed release valve rod handle, which was always hard to see at night.  Even if I don't put the little 0.008" wire bleed handle on the model, running from each side under the triple-valve, at least I can have the arrow pointing at where it would be, which can be seen from a couple feet away from the model.

Another chalk mark on the upper side to the left of the "W" in Western Pacific, points a carman to a defective collapsible stake pocket on the interior of the car with the comment, "BO Pocket" in chalk.  Little details like this help the car feel used and somewhat abused.  Placing a "circle K", which was a fast way to write "OK" by carmen after the repair was completed could be used to show older repairs that have been fixed already.  Some of my cars have these types of chalk marks too, with an older looking Bad Order mark, maybe in fading gray chalk.

WP 9002 with chalk marks for routing back to CA, Pittsburg

On cars where I have good ideas about where the cars were assigned, I can chalk on them where I want the cars returned to, what routing the cars are being sent on, train symbols on which the car will move, etc.  The other place on the WP that I could send the car was the steel works over at Provo, Utah.  The cars at Pittsburg could easily be interchanged to the Santa Fe and routed to Southern California, supporting the building boom in the post-war years.

WP 9002 with Steel Load, chalk marked for San Bernardino on the Santa Fe's SCX-symbol.

The ends of the car are collapsible as well for over-length loads.  I decided to show on the WP 9002, that these ends would be subject to the same weathering actions as the interior of the car.  If the ends were in the lowered position, then the air born metal weathering factors (paint damage and rusting) would be happening on the exterior of the ends as well.

The Interior

I went a bit heavier on the weathering for the interior of the WP "Mill Gondola", which would primarily have been assigned to the WP's service at Pittsburg, CA's steel mill.  So despite the car only being a couple years old, I could see the interior already receiving a battering and extra weathering from hanging around the steel mill and moving steel loads.  Also the mill at Pittsburg, CA is on the confluence of the Sacramento & San Joaquin Rivers and the eastern end of the San Francisco Bay delta, subjecting the area to the damp, salty, and foggy conditions, typical of the eastern Bay Area.

Downward view of floor weathering on WP 9002

The interior was weathered with acrylic paints.  Initially a wash-coat was applied that changed the base color of the interior to ether a rust hue or more of a bare-metal gray hue.  Then closer to full strength acrylic paints were used by stippling the end of the brush to make concentrated rust spots and variations.

Close-up of the interior side weathering of WP 9002.

As with most Mill Service gondolas, this car has an array of collapsible stake pockets along the interior of the sides, which can be used for securing the load with iron wire, wooden stakes, etc. as needed.  A well planned model load can make use of these standard stake locations and make the load appear to be using them to hold various stakes, etc.

The Load-1126

I've been numbering all my Open Car Loads with a serial number for inventory and keeping track of them.  There's no intrinsically historical meaning to this load's designation.

Load-1126 is made out of four Evertgreen Styrene I-Beams, 52ft long.

There's nothing really special about the basic construction of this load.  Typically, if possible, the shippers would lay down the I-beams on their sides.  However, for bigger beams like this load, keeping them upright would be better.

The Load-1126 is not really using stakes to secure the load, but wedging four wood beams (4x8" or 6x8" scale strip wood) under the load in four places.  Holes are drilled through the deck of the car by workers for the shipper, yes... the railroads and shippers were allowed to modify the cars by drilling or welding tabs for the securing of loads to a point.

The weldments for securing loads were supposed to be removed when the car was unloaded, but this rarely happened... More likely the load would have what was needed removed, cut off, etc. and the car sent on to the next load, where the shipper there would have to cut away any interfering weldments for their new loading plan.

Wooden blocking supports the load and keeps it in place.

But back to the Load-1126, I don't actually drill any holes into the deck of the Athearn car, as they will be hidden by the wooden blocks supporting the load on the deck.  Diagonal timbers and wedge-blocks keep the beam supported from swaying or shifting sideways, while the tie-rods clamp down on the top beam.

Integrating the Load-1126 into WP 9002

Overview of Load 1126 in WP 9002

All of my loads are designed to be removable and transferable to other models to replicate load and empty cycles.  This type of load where it's sitting inside a gondola doesn't really hurt of the load moves lengthwise in the car a few 1/8 of an inch.

Higher angle view of Load-1126 in the Athearn 65ft Mill Gondola.

In this case, Load-1126 is secured with four wood pieces across the top of the load by eight threaded rods, which are compressing the top wood beams into the four steel beams, and down to the wooden cross beam/separators under the load, before theoretically going through the floor and being secured below the deck

In Closing

Generally, WP cars like 9002 are a bit afield from my regular modeling interests, but they do create opportunities for interesting loads and bridge traffic on Santa Fe trains into Southern California or WP traffic around Northern California, Nevada, and Utah.

WAB 12017, one of the Wabash's 65ft Mill Gondolas.

The removable steel loads, 1126 in this case, can just as easily be moved to a WAB, B&O, PRR, SP, ATSF, etc 65ft Mill Gondola to increase flexibility and keep the same load/car combination from reappearing in operation sessions, which can get boring.

B&O 259798, Tangent Bethlehem 52'6" gondola with Load 1125, which we'll look at soon.

As the Load-1126 is only 52ft long, it can also be put in any of the many 52'6" gondolas from P2K, Tichy, Tangent, etc. that can be found from many railroads.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Open Loads (Part 5) - Lumber Loads on Flats & Gondolas

A friend send me an email asking more about Lumber Loads, so I'm going to expand what I talked about in Open Loads (Part 1) - Building Steel Loads, and talk more about the lumber loads this time.  

Fair Notice: I work for OwlMtModels and designed the HO-scale F-50-5/8/9/10/12 kits and also the series of lumber load kits shown on many of the cars below.  
While I am using many of these kits, other modeling methods for creating additional variety in loads is certainly welcomed.  I've built many loads from scratch or kitbashed other commercial loads to create loads before the OwlMtModels kits were available.

Prototype Photo Analysis & History

Flats and gonds would often be loaded with rough-cut timber, sometimes dried, but often shipped fairly raw on open cars.  (Of course boxcar loads are a totally different topic and not really relevant as the cars are enclosed.)  The loads of Pacific Coast lumber were often shipped as "Rollers" which would leave the PNW areas and take the longest route time to a theoretical destination.  A carload of lumber probably shouldn't be on-car more than maybe a month tops.  My concept of "weathering" lumber, should be called more like, 'wood effects'.  

The railroads would have diversion points, set up in the tariff, at which the cars could be rerouted.  The lumber would be brokered in-route.  Once the load 'sold', the destination would be changed by contacting the railroad about to handle the car at the diversion point, between the car's location and the new destination.  This is mostly why the SP didn't want to be sending lumber trains over Donner, and much of the traffic came all the way from Portland down and east via the Sunset Route, taking the "long way" to get to the eastern states with the "rollers."

SP 4177 with First 671 East of Oakridge in 1947

In the Vanishing Vista (photo below) we see an AC leading a freight (Possibly PSS or OCM symbol) with a huge amount of lumber carried in a mix of flats, gondolas and auto-boxcars hauling any finished lumber.  Obviously, the blocks could have standard boxcars with paper or newsprint.

SP 4177 Lumber Drag 1-671 two miles east of Oakridge 1947 - Vanishing Vista postcard JT-63

In just this one photo, we have the following consist it appears:

1. L&N? double-door 50ft steel auto-boxcar, I'm not sure if this car is actually an autobox or if it is reloaded with lumber.
2. Fishbelly Flat (possibly SP F-70-2/5/6/7/10, etc)* - Random lumber ends towards middle
3. SP G-50-9/10/11/12 (Ulrich/brass) gondola - Some sort of darker (creosoted?) timbers
4. SP (or subsidiary) F-50-4/5/8/9/10/12 (probably) with large lumber stack
5. Fishbelly Flat (possibly SP F-70-2/5/6/7/10, etc)* - Shorter stack of lumber, probably a smaller order of lumber, not getting to cubic or tonnage rating of the car.  Possibly foreign 53ft 50-ton flatcar.
6. T&NO WWII Emergency Gondola (resin kit)
7. 40ft flatcar with full height 2-stack lumber
8. T&NO WWII Emergency Gondola (resin kit) - another of the same - lower lumber load, no side stakes? - Crates?
9. SP Steel GS gondola (probably) - RedCaboose - 2-stack lumber
10. SP G-50-9/10/11/12 (Ulrich/brass) gondola - 2-stack lumber
11. Fishbelly Flat (possibly SP F-70-2/5/6/7/10, etc)* or AAR 53ft 50-ton flat - 2-stack lumber
12. Fishbelly Flat (possibly SP F-70-2/5/6/7/10, etc)* or AAR 53ft 50-ton flat - 2-stack lumber
--- Rear portion of the train seems to be more medium height gondolas, various lengths, and similar flatcars with lumber stacks on them.

Note *: SP F-70-2/5/6 class would be possible, but were far fewer in numbers compared to the thousands of the later F-70-7 of 1949 and -10 class of 1953-54.  The -7 and -10 classes would be certainly be too new for a 1947 consist, suggesting foreign 53ft cars or the F-70-2/5 class which only numbered a few hundred cars.  NP also had 300 AAR 53ft flatcars which fit the physical description.

SP 1347 Switching Lumber Cars

SP 1347 switches a string of lumber cars - SP TIMR'46 film screen capture.

1. Probably SP F-70-6/7 class flatcar with fairly long 2-stack of lumber
2. Rio Grande GS gondola
3. Possibly another DRGW GS gondola
4. Flatcar with (5.) carrying over-length pole/pile load
5. Flatcar with (4.) carrying over-length pole/pile load - notice only two closely spaced vertical stake sets to pivot the long load around.
6. Flatcar with tall lumber load
7. Gondola with some form of load, possibly treated timbers or shaded load from boxcar on track to left.
8. Getting pretty hard to see past this point, but it appears a couple more lumber loads off into the distance.

I think a lot depends on the wood and any treatments that it's had already.  Very dark loads are probably pressure-treated in modern day.  In older days, I would expect the darker loads to be creosoted, like I talked about in Part 4 - Bridge Timber Load.  "Dark" Lumber loads (without seeing them) could also be redwood... so there's also that, but often the redwood was worth shipping in boxcars.

Humping Lumber Loads at Taylor Yard

SP Los Angeles Yard (Taylor) with wrecker and F-70 lumber cars - May 4, 1952 David L Abbott photo - PRMA collection

Pretty amazing view from the top of the Hump Yard at Taylor (Los Angeles Yard) sending three lumber loads down the hump into the bowl.  The lighter orange-yellow lumber loads with iron wire or steel bands across the top of the two closest loads are a great help for modeling.  I think the second to the farthest top-tie on the closest car is a 'choker' wire which is tightening the top unit of lumber together, while the other ties are connecting the stakes at each side together, squeezing the load in place.

Modeling Cars & Lumber Loads

Flat Cars

I've already made an extensive SP Flatcar Modeling Index Page which covers all the classes I know that can be modeled or kitbashed in HO outside of brass. - Follow the link above for more information on the cars.  I'm only going to list a couple of classes below, but point out the ones that were often found in lumber loading.

SP 43745 with OwlMtModels 3004 Lumber Load demo.

In the pre-WWII years the SP flat car fleet was dominated by the 3000+ cars of the 50-ton, F-50-4/5/8/9/10/12 series 40ft 10in class.  They were owned by SP, PE, NWP, & T&NO.  The cars also covered the Blackburn Sugar Beet Rack service, drawing cars from T&NO as needed to cover loading on the Pacific Lines.  Over the years the PE cars were absorbed back into the parent SP roster as PE's freight loading dried up.  OwlMtModels also produces and sells kits for these flatcars.

NWP 4474 with 5/6 of a OwlMtModels 3004 Lumber Load kit.

The OwlMtModels 3004 kit is designed for narrow flatcars, specifically the earlier (pre-1918/USRA) cars like SP's F-50-series cars and gondolas.  The kit can be built in many configurations with hundreds of options for the pieces to avoid repeating loads appearing in your trains.  The NWP 4474's load here shows options to reduce the top stack to a single 'unit' of lumber, which greatly changes the look of the load and is prototypically shown in some photos.

SP F-70-7 flatcar (SPH&TS/RedCaboose) with kitbashed OwlMtModels 3001 Lumber Load

It is impossible to be sure, but I'm guessing these cars in the photo on the hump are examples of the 2050 new 1949-built F-70-7 class cars, which started to dominate the SP lumber loading of the 1950s. 


I've already made an extensive SP Gondola Modeling Index Page which covers all the classes I know that can be modeled or kitbashed in HO outside of brass. - Follow the link above for more information on the cars.

SP 151382 with creosoted Bridge Timber load.

Based on a photo in Anthony Thompson's SP Freight Cars, Vol 1 I scratch built this bridge timber load and showed it was constructed in the previous post of Open Loads (Part 4) - Bridge Timber Load.

SP 150143, a composite GS gondola from RedCaboose with OwlMtModels 3004 lumber load.

The OwlMtModels 3004 load also works well in the RedCaboose/IMRC GS gondolas, both composite and steel versions.  The composite cars were generally assigned to sugarbeet and wood chip services, but if the lumber mills needed to move lumber and the chip loading was down, a composite car could be grabbed to move the timber.

Mill Gondolas

The Southern Pacific branched out into 48ft and 50ft mill-type gondolas with G-50-13 and G-50-14 classes.  This was really the only longer gondolas that were owned until the first 70-ton gondolas were built just before WWII and into the post-war years.

SP 94248, kitbashed shortened P2K gondola, before repairs and upgrades in 2022.

The SP 94248 is a shortened Proto2000 gondola.  I built this car in the late 1990s, making it one of my early cars put into service at LMRC.  I also have Speedwitch's SP G-50-13 under construction, so at some point it will have some articles on it and some form of load for it.

Empty SP 94296, part of pilot class G-70-4 of 65ft gondola, I usually load this car with over-length wood or steel loads.

The next classes of SP mill gondolas built were these big 65ft cars.  These cars were primarily used in steel and lumber services.  The 65ft cars really are narrower than more conventional length gondolas, so stacking cut lumber wasn't really suitable.  Instead long narrow timbers, poles/piles, and very long timbers were loaded in these cars, often with idler cars.

SP 160588, G-70-6 with a scratch-built load of pole/piles of debarked trunks.

I used tooth-picks to fashion the round stakes on this load.  The pole/piles really should be tappered.  Now that I have a good lathe, I could dismantle this load, chuck them up, and profile these to look like a proper debarked tree trunk.

Idler Flatcars for Over-length Loads

SP G-70-4/6/9 class gondola and F-50-16 at Walong in 1971 - Charles R Lange

Here's a prototype photo from Charles Lange with a 65ft gondola and two 40ft idler flatcars about 20 years after my modeling era, but the load is timeless, some 90ft approximately telephone poles or piles.

SP 140195, converted Athearn 40ft steel flatcar. Notice the overhanging piles from the adjacent mill gondola.

Many years ago, I put a wood deck on an old Athearn 40ft flatcar to stand-in for SP's 1949 built F-50-16 class of 500 cars.

SP 140234, kitbashed RedCaboose F-70-6/7 into a 40ft F-50-16 class car.

More recently I kitbashed a SPH&TS/RC F-70-6/7 into the shorter flatcar.  I like using these or the OMM F-50-5/8/9/10/12 class as idlers when they're not loaded with lumber.  Foreign cars could also be used as idlers.  I covered this model in a previous blog post - SP 140234 Kitbashed F-50-16 from RC F-70-6/7.

Post-1950 SP Gondolas

Starting in 1951 SP ordered pairs of 52ft 6in mill-type gondolas, the first pair G-70-7 & -8 were built with all-welded construction.  The -7s came with fixed ends and 5ft IH sides, while the -8s came with drop-ends and 3ft IH sides.

SP 160522, kitbashed stand-in SP fixed-end gondola of G-70-7 from MDC/Roundhouse Thrall 52ft gondola.

A number of years ago I kitbashed an MDC/Roundhouse Thrall 50ft gondola.  The ends were replaced, small fish-belly sides were added.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a spare body at the time to increase the height to the proper 5ft, so for this model the stock MDC 4ft IH had to do.  I used spare RC G-50-22/23 ends to replace the much more modern Thrall ends.  Proto2000 trucks were used on this stand-in model.

Tangent SP 160132 with 5/6 of OwlMtModels 3005 kit load

Then a couple years later, Tangent produced a great model, which is correct for SP's G-70-8 of 1951-built 52ft 6in gondolas.  Both G-70-7 and -8 were delivered in an experimental all-black scheme.

Tangent SP 160172 with 5/6 of OwlMtModels 3005 kit load.

By 1953, the next classes of SP 70-ton gondola, the SP returned to FCR for the G-70-12 (3ft IH sides with drop-ends) for their gondolas.  The herald background however also lost the black circle, receiving only the stencil for the herald.  Gondolas like this show up in many of the SP freight train photos.  A similar class (G-70-11, iirc) was built following the G-70-7 standards of fixed ends and 5ft IH sides.

Reloading Foreign Cars with Lumber?!

PRR 373417 with 5/6 of OwlMtModels 3005 kit load - in natural sunlight

Why and how would a Pennsy gondola be reloaded on the west coast with lumber on the SP?  Reloading of  under Service Car Orders on West Coast.  Service Car Orders were issued up to about every two weeks with special instructions on which railroads wanted their cars back ASAP, specific instructions to allow or not allow reloading and directions for such.  In this case, let's look at C507 from 1950.  I don't know for how long this order was in effect, but it shows that it was allowed and at least the following railroads authorized reloading on the west coast.

"Specifically C507, effective May 6, 1950 to Northwestern, Centeral-Western and Southwestern regions, terminal switch lines and GM&O, IC, and Wabash covering gondolas of B&O, BLE, CNJ-CRP, DL&W, Erie, NYC-PLE, NKP-WLE, LV, PWV, PRR, RDG, Union and WM, directing cars of this type of ownership to be sent home empty except cars located west of Continental Divide may be loaded to any destination east and those east of Continental Divide may be loaded to Chicago, Peoria, St. Louis or east."

Specifically interesting to read is the list of railroad owners allowing this action.  Also that this applies (for our purposes here) to the cars that have already reached points west of the Continental Divide, aka, San Diego, Los Angeles, Bay Area, Portland, Seattle, etc.  Most of the traffic from these roads would have been shipping steel materials for the post-war building up of the west-coast cities and even the early Interstate Highway system bridges, etc.  Therefore large numbers of these cars were making empty and were heading back to the eastern US empty, thus a great pressure was applied to find suitable west-coast loads going east to reload them with.

The SCOs often stated things like; "Car may be routed anywhere west of Continental Divide for destinations East of the Mississippi River."  For railroads along the East Coast, hopefully the car is going to find a load somewhere in the western states and loading for going across the country.  This would allow a suitable car to move laterally several hundred miles north or south to find a load, instead of just the division looking around and kicking the car towards home empty on record rights.  I want to do a blog post on freight car forwarding soon too, so I'm not going to go too deep here on that, so we'll come back to SCOs and record rights then.

B&O 259798 Tangent gondola with reloaded OMM 3005 south and eastward load to the Mississippi River and beyond.

Following C507, this B&O gondola could be reloaded with lumber.  So building steel and lumber loads to fit foreign cars like this is a great way to keep them earning money on your model railroad.  

Likewise NKP 66031 with slider available for reloading according to C507.

Proto2000/Walthers makes these great Greenville WWII all-steel mill gondolas for many railroads that bought them.  This is an example of an NKP car with track cleaner that I modified in my previous blog post about Camouflaging Track Cleaning Pads.  I'll probably be using this one on the Jawbone to help keep it clean with various eastern machinery loads to Owenyo.

C507 will also allow me to assign LV 27202 to lumber loading.

There were also smaller mill-type gondolas also fall into this category, such as this USRA 46ft mill gondola, by Walthers Proto-series, as I recall.  I'll probably take each of these cars aside and show examples of loads I have built for their car type, like I did with the SP 151382 with the Open Loads (Part 4) - Bridge Timber Load a couple months ago.

Lumber from Weird Places!

B&O P-11

A Bob's Photos shows a B&O P-11 flat, like 106682 loaded with lumber at San Diego, CA around 1955, I think the photo was in the Railway Cyclopedia issue on open loads.

San Diego received huge lashed log rafts which were sailed down from the Washington and Oregon coast by ocean tugs.  These rafts would be broken up and cut locally at the mills in coastal cities like San Diego.  I assume that the B&O flat made empty locally after dropping off a load of steel or marine machinery at NASCO shipyards, then was quickly grabbed with a load of lumber to send east.  It would be interesting to know if the car was sent east on the Santa Fe via Barstow or on the SD&AE, via Mexico and Campo to El Centro and the Southern Pacific.

I've not built the lumber load for the 106682 yet, but at some point I'll do a separate blog on it when the car is done.


PRR 475260, a Bowser F30A flatcar with OwlMtModels 3001 Lumber Load kit.

I'll also do a follow-up post specifically for the Bowser F30A flatcar with the OwlMtModels 3001 Lumber Load, which would also fall into a C507-type SCO.  While the C507 doesn't call out flatcars, I have seen photos of lumber loads on foreign flatcars in odd places around the west coast, so I believe that there were also similar orders issued for flatcars, like the C507 does for gondolas.

PRR 475260 with OwlMtModels 3001 Lumber Load

This load was fun to build, I went for the shallower sub-stickered load with additional seperating stickers within the lumber units.  I believe I heard somewhere, this was to try to help dry (or keep dry) the lumber load.  This load was a blast to build and also again adds more variety to a train of lumber loads. 

In Closing

Welded SP F-70-10 (SPH&TS/RC) with kitbashed OwlMtModels 3001 to fill length. - Still need to install all the bracing to finish this load and finish up the flatcar too.

Often a lumber mill in the PNW would stack and brace their lumber loads in the same way, but another mill a few miles away might do it differently under a different foreman.  So if you want to simulate loads coming from multiple mills, go ahead and try some new ways to rig the loads... Have some loads with all the stakes, while others are set up with only the minimal AAR required bracing for meeting interchange rules.

I look forward to doing some more single-car/load blog posts to expand this topic, but there's far too many to put all the loads in one post.  I'll probably cover some other types of loads in the future as well.

Jason Hill

Related Articles & Links:

OwlMtModels - 3001 "Wide" Lumber Loads - for post-1918 USRA "Wide" flatcars

OwlMtModels - 3004/3005 "Narrow" Lumber Loads - For gondolas and F-50-series "Narrow" flatcars

Open Loads (Part 4) - Bridge Timber Load - SP 151382 with removable load

SP 140234 Kitbashed F-50-16 from RC F-70-6/7

Freight Car Modeling Index Page - Overview of my modeling posts on freight cars and related topics

Sunday, December 18, 2022

SP 65ft Mill Gondolas (Part 2) - Upgrading SP 160550, G-70-9 w-Tangent Trucks

I've covered the Athearn-RTR (a.k.a. Blue Box) 65ft Mill Gondolas before in two posts SP 65ft Mill Gondolas (Part 1) Overview from 2016 and Car Standards (Part 1) - Weight, Rolling, & CG Allowances from 2022, where I mention these cars as an unique example of some of the CG Allowances. 
I've been meaning to get around to doing a deeper dive into individual cars and this conversion since about 2018.  My family 'excitement' in 2019 and then the ensuing world experience since 2020, has kept me on other things.  However, in late 2022, with the recent work on Modeling SP 94248 (Part 1) - Upgrading a 1990s Kitbash, this work on the SP 160550 is a quick one-evening project to complete after looking up the data in Anthony Thompson's SP Freight Cars Vol.1, which I had open anyway for SP 94248's work.

SP 160550 with original MDC trucks

I picked this car up around 2004-2005 with a number of sister cars when Athearn brought them out.  As I recall these were some of the newer cars that Athearn released just after they were taken over by Horizon Hobbies, which lead to some shuffling of the product line.

The work back then to put one of these cars into service was pretty much limited to replacing wheelsets with IMRC 110-tread wheelsets and Kadee couplers.  Given that my personal cutoff date at the time was Spring 1953, these SP G-70-9 cars were basically brand new deliveries from Greenville Steel Car, the builder.  The tight timing of the construction of the cars and my era limited the weathering to the trucks and a very light coat of dusty/grime on the exterior of the drop end doors.  I can always add more later...

Prototype History

SP 160550, in service at LMRC - July 2016 photo

The prototype history of SP 160550-160649, the 100 cars of  G-70-9 class were built in early 1953 by Greenville Steel Car.  Previous classes G-70-4 and G-70-6 were built to the same basic body design with slightly different trucks in 10-1942 and 6-1950 respectively.  I'll cover converting the Athearn-RTR car to those classes in other future posts.

Truck Conversion

SP 160550 closeup photo of original MDC truck, lettering, and underframe of the car showing

I'm specifically looking at replacing the original MDC generic 50-ton AAR-style U-section trucks with Tangent AC&F 70-ton A-3 trucks.  It would probably be more accurate on this series of cars to use S-2 trucks from Red Caboose/IMRC, but the bolster holes would require more modifications.  The A-3s look very similar for the normal viewing angles that the car will be seen in after the conversion.

B-End Underframe once the original MDC trucks was removed.

I hadn't remembered, but the MDC trucks with IMRC wheels actually needed a Kadee 0.015" thick (red) washer to adjust the ride height of the car.

Tangent AC&F A-3 "Ride Control" truck with Tangent 33" wheelsets.

Nothing much to say about the new Tangent trucks or the process of swapping out trucks.  They are excellent models of the 70-ton truck, with the signature 2-3-2 spring package arrangement, longer wheel base, and plain bearings.

Tangent AC&F A-3 truck with wheels painted.

The swapping of the trucks was super simple, as all I was needing to do was pull the screws holding the MDC trucks on and put the Tangent trucks on.

Right side of SP 160550 with Tangent trucks.

Left side of SP 160550 with Tangent trucks.

Despite the car being very clean, I did add some chalk marks to the body when I originally put the car into service, circa 2005.  On the left side the chalk marks show "X-LD, Kaiser Steel, LA" and on the right side is marked "To LA" suggesting the car was loaded with something that was going to Los Angeles.  Maybe pile/poles, timber, or a load coming west from the east coast.  This would suggest early assignment to steel service around Los Angeles for this car.

Weathering the New Trucks

Lastly, I'm painting the trucks SP FCR, and then doing some light weathering to the trucks to bring out the details before I put it back into service.

SP 160550's right side after trucking and weathering.

I may decide to put on some very subtle dust/dirt weathering along the lower carbody and maybe a few minimal marks inside the car, but I do want to keep the cars pretty clean. 

In Closing

SP 160550 with generic original Athearn-MDC trucks.

Doing this side-by-side view of before-and-after.  The new Tangent trucks are slightly longer wheel-base and heavier truck bolster.  The Tangent trucks have a slightly flatter top profile than the MDC's which are noticeably arched.

SP 160550's left side after retrucking and weathering.

I'll probably discuss loads for this car in a later post.  The SP tended to use these for moving long and over-length structural steel, steel shapes, and long lumber loads.  So reworking some of my loads from 15+ years ago could be fun to show here.

Jason Hill

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Friday, December 16, 2022

Consist Photo Analysis (Part 3) - 1940 circa, Owenyo Local

SP 2578 No 788 - Owenyo 1940 - Phil Serpico - owensvalleyhistory,com southern_pacific015_sml

The Owenyo Mixed, No.788 arrives at Owenyo, ducking into the siding to clear.  Notice the train has what appears to be a 60-BP-30-1 and a 60ft coach bringing up the rear of a train appearing to be solid boxcars.

Employe Timetables & Pre-war Mixed Trains

San Joaquin #158 1938-02 Owenyo Branch - SheldonPerry collection

Moving forward in time to 1938, the SP shows four scheduled trains on the Jawbone.  Nos. 802/803 were the "Searles Turn" working from Mojave to Searles to interchange with the Trona Rwy.  Nos.788/789 are shown as Mixed trains to Owenyo with flag stops as needed along the run. Running times are 6:30 eastward and 7:15 westward.

Notice that the Searles train (Nos. 802/803) is out and back to Mojave before the train from Owenyo arrives (No.789) and then departs again (as No. 788).  I find this interesting, as it basically shows that the local crew was resting each day in Oewnyo, except on Sunday when the schedule does not run.  

1941 Owenyo Branch Employe Timetable, note the telegraph codes! - SheldonPerry collection

The 1941 ETT is the last one showing Nos.788/789 as mixed trains.  My guess at this point is that they were kept until the end of the war.  Then the new ETT for 1946 changed the operations to reflect the post-war operations moving forward with no scheduled provision for a mixed train. 

The question of US Post Office and Passenger service becomes an interesting point of research.  The Highway Post Office service (which sorted en route like an RPO) on US Hwy 395 wasn't established until 1953.  So there must have been some sort of service, perhaps non-sorting US Postal Truck service that went between each of the local post offices on the route.  During the post-war years, I've heard stories of 'passengers' riding in the caboose as needed to get back and forth over the Jawbone Branch with the crew.  I don't know much more than that about how those arrangements worked.

SP C-class 2-8-0 Engine

It's clear that the engines are not assigned by ETT, but by a regular assignment based on the service and tonnage required of the train.  The Consolidation (SP's C-class) type on the SP wasn't used very often in regular passenger service, but they worked many local assignments later in their lives, before WWII this often meant working mixed train services.

SP 2850 with stock local (LMRC circa 2014, J.Hill photo)

There are multiple options for where to find an SP 2-8-0 in brass, such as Sunset Models, PSC, Balboa, etc.  Hopefully, with-in a year or two we will have some options for kitbashing Bachmann 2-8-0s into SP/UP style C-class engines.

SP Boxcars

SP 24864, B-50-10 class single-sheath boxcar from Accurail kit. (Jason Hill collection, 2022 photo)

The SP owned over 8000 single sheath cars, like B-50-10 class SP 24864 (shown above) during the 1930s-1940s.

SP 26948, B-50-12, one of only 1000 USRA boxcars.

Tichy/IMRC makes the standard USRA boxcars, which SP only had 1000 of until the Summer of 1949.

SP 20095, B-50-15/16 class car, Paul Doggett model & photo with permission

The B-50-15/16s were built during the late-1920s as the final production of composite boxcars on the SP, accounting for about 4300 cars.

SP 82992, B-50-20 class pre-war XM Boxcar.

For the circa 1940 consist, there's only one steel AAR type car at the rear of the train, possibly in some sort of L.C.L. service along the branch.  These cars would only be a couple of years old, suggesting that they're still being used in more premier services than the Jawbone Branch needed.

Foreign Freight Cars

NC&StL 15337 waiting decals... (Jason Hill, 2022 photo)

Accurail 36ft Fowler boxcar, which is going to get a set of decals from Westerfield to finish it as NC&StL 15337, to match prototype photos.

ACY 1195, Mathers boxcar

ACY was one of the larger operators of Mathers-series boxcars, which used multiple-height cars.  I'll have to renumber this car to be in a more correct number series.

FtDDM&S 14007, Mathers boxcar

Mathers pattern boxcars were leased to smaller railroads.  In the late-1990s I picked up four of these as R-T-R models from P2K, which was an easy way to get some single-sheath boxcars into my pool of cars.

PH&D 1509, Mathers Boxcar

PH&D only had about a dozen cars of the Mathers design, so a rare catch to see on the west coast.

TC 7702, Mathers boxcar

Similar to the PH&D cars, the TC only operated about 10 cars of the Mathers design.

Mixed Train - Passenger Cars

Before the end of WWII, many locals which ran on SP rails included a small RPO apartment/baggage car and a 60ft standard coach for any local passenger service requirements.  The SP and T&NO both had a number of 15 or 30 foot RPO apartments installed in either 60, 69, or 70 foot carbodies.  On the SP all of the 60 foot combined RPO/Baggage cars were fitted with 4-wheel trucks, where as all of the larger cars were fitted with higher-capacity 6-wheel trucks, which also rode better at higher mainline speeds.  This suggests that the 4-wheel truck cars would be assigned to more low-speed local assignments.

SP 60-BP-30-1 RPO/Baggage
SP 5187, a 60-BP-30-1 kitbashed from MDC parts

Express, Baggage, and US Postal Service, which included payrolls would be shipped on the mixed RPO/Baggage car.  It's hard to tell from the photos of the passenger and mixed trains on the branch if the RPO apartment was 15ft or 30ft in size.

This car is currently lettered for the post-1946 SP letterboard, after the LINES was dropped.  If I'm going to want to model a pre-1946 consist, then I'll do one painted and lettered with the SOUTHERN PACIFIC LINES version of the lettering.

60-C-Series Coach
SP 1190, an early 60-C-series coach from Ken Kidder

The 72-seat coach on the mixed train was generally more than large enough to take care of any passengers and company pass holders over the 143 mile branch.

Optional: 60-C-Series Chair (ex-Coach Conversion)
SP 1005, a refitted coach which had chair seats after 1943 until retirement.

If I want to expand the consist with a chartered chair or sleeper to Little Lake, I'll probably add SP 1005, which had been refitted during the war as a non-A/C chair car, which had fewer seats installed... making it more acceptable possibly on these local mixed train services where the passengers will be sitting for 8-12 hours as the train rattles along in the middle of nowhere.  I cover construction and history of SP 60-C-5s, (Part 1) SP 1005 here.

In Closing

I guess to say in closing, I wish the photo was a better angle to show who owned these various cars in the train.

SP 2578 No 788 - Owenyo 1940 - Phil Serpico - owensvalleyhistory,com southern_pacific015_sml

I guess I can put a cap on how to model this consist by saying, get a string of Tichy USRA single-sheath boxcars - various roads, Accurail single-sheath boxcars - various roads, SP B-50-8/10/11/13/14/15/16s, and resin single-sheath cars.  I'm guessing that probably 50-70% of the cars are SP/T&NO cars.

Jason Hill

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