Sunday, February 26, 2023

Modeling SP Road Engines (Part 5) - Passenger Steam

A line of SP passenger engines await their next call to service out of San Jose on the Commute pool. - Eddie Sims Collection

This post is going to be a bit of a departure from my previous posts, as I'm not going to have very many model photos.  Instead, it will be more prototype reference photos of the various types, classes, and service assignments the engines were used on.

Passenger Service Engines

A-Series Classes

The first batches of 4-4-2s built for the SP came in 1902 and were replaced in most heavy passenger service assignments by the newer and larger P-class 4-6-2 in 1904-1918.

Four A-class engines (3000-3003) were rebuilt with new trailing trucks with boosters and FWH's.  Two engines (3000 & 3001) were painted specially for the new Sacramento Daylight between Sacramento and Tracy via Lathrop in the flatlands of the San Joaquin Valley.

SP 3000 painted for the Sacramento Daylight - Eddie Sims Collection

SP 3001 painted for service on the Sacramento Daylight - Eddie Sims Collection

P-Series Classes

SP 2400 - the class engine - After Delta Trailing Truck rebuild with plated over Speedy Bypass Valves - Eddie Sims Collection

SP 2401 pulling No.55 (the Tehachapi) through Modesto in 1928. - Nolan Black Photo - Brian Black Collection

SP 2419 - Eddie Sims Collection

SP 2410 pulls No.118 (Commute) through Palo Alto CA - Nolan Black Photo (Brian Black Collection)

SP 2420 - Model rebuilt by Eddie Sims, photo by Eddie Sims

SP 2424 with No.151 - unknown photo.

SP 2434 with Stephenson valve gear - Eddie Sims Collection

Second 75, Lark, behind SP 2454 - Eddie Sims Collection


SP 4321 meets the enemy (SP 6181) at Mortmar near Indio & Yuma - May, 1952 - Nolan Black - Brian Black Collection

SP 4324 ready to leave 3rd & Townsend with Suntan Special. - Eddie Sims Collection

The GS and MT's used for the "Suntans" out of 3rd & Townsend would run only as far as SJ or Watsonville Jct, where smaller T, C, or TW class engines would take the "Suntans" to Santa Cruz.  The same would happen in reverse as the "Suntans" returned to San Francisco over the weekends.

SP 4326 No.27, Overland - Eddie Sims Collection

SP 4342, No.124 Commute - 3rd & Townsend - May 1950 - Nolan Black photo - Brian Black Collection

SP 4350 No.126 Commute - Eddie Sims Collection

SP 4350 leads No.55 through Modesto in Nov'51 - Nolan Black photo - Brian Black Collection

SP 4358 No.429, freight, Eddie Sims Collection

SP 4363 leads No.52.  Eddie Sims Collection

SP 4363 First 56 - Modesto Nov-51 - Nolan Black photo - Brian Black Collection

SP 4370, an MT-5, all dolled up with aluminum cylinder covers, smokebox, and  white tires, pre-1946 SPL paint - Eddie Sims Collection

SP 4373, Commute No.140 at 3rd & Townsend - Eddie Sims Collection

SP 4376 with Commute No.120 departing 3rd & Townsend St. - Eddie Sims Collection


The Southern Pacific's MT-2 class came from the EPSW in 1924, right after the MT-1 class was delivered and before the MT-3 class was built at Sacramento.  They are distinct with the Elesco FWD in front of the stack and the higher (rougher riding) EPSW cabs.  They all came with large square tenders.

SP 4390 after June 1946, but before the skyline casing was mounted. - Eddie Sims collection

Once on the SP the MT-2s were absorbed as much as possible mechanically by the SP.

SP 4387 MT-2 with skyline casing shortly before the end. - Eddie Sims Collection


Uncredited photos from Eddie Sim collection.


SP 4410 - Eddie Sims Collection

The six GS-2s were built with 73" drivers for the original 1937 lightweight Daylight trainsets.  However by the war and after, there were enough GS-3 and new GS-4s to downgraded the GS-2s to all-black paint, replacing the expensive 'Daylight' red and orange scheme.

SP 4411, No.43 - Californian, 1948 - Nolan Black photo - Brian Black Collection

SP 4411 working freight with First 420 - Daniel Collection

After the GS-3 and GS-4s showed up, the GS-2s were really just a slightly heavier Mountain-type engine, so found themselves working the same types of mixed freight and express services with their 73" drivers providing less slippery service than the bigger 80" drivers on the GS-4s.

SP 4412 No.56 at Modesto. - Nolan Black photo - Brian Black Collection

The GS-2s could also be commonly seen on the SP's Mail trains, such as No.56 at Modesto.

SP 4414 with black skirts - Rio Grande division coaling tower in the background. - Eddie Sims Collection

SP 4414 - Eddie Sims Collection


SP 4424 during her first couple years on the SP helping Second 824. - Eddie Sims Collection

This prewar GS-3 shows off the original SPL lettering on the tender and the forward mounted train indicators.

SP 4422 WWII with blackout visor on the headlight and class lights. - Eddie Sims Collection

During the War blackouts were ordered on the west coast at night.  Every engine operating within 200 miles of the Pacific Coast was fitted with the blackout visors to prevent Japanese aircraft, which were feared to be coming to raid the West Coast during 1942-1943.


SP 4400-series GS-4 leads No.96, the Noon Daylight, along the coast. - Eddie Sims Collection

The highest point in the GS-series was certainly the 30 GS-4 class engines (4428-4457) built during 1941 and 1942.  These engines were the first to include a signal light above the headlight.  Another improvement over the GS-3 was the change to an enclosed cab.

"Half-Daylight" Schemes

SP 4439 wearing her interim deskirting scheme "Half Daylight" scheme. - Eddie Sims Collection

Several GS-4s wore what's come to be called by the railfans "half-Daylight", which was a very short lived scheme resulting from the mechanical forces being allowed to remove the skirts and paint the engines black, but not having the time to complete the painting changes and reletter the engines.  This resulted in several cases of the shop forces cutting off the skirts and the engines going back into service immediately.  In 1954, at least one engine (4452) was put back into service with the red stripe on the boiler retained.  Most other examples had at least black paint put down the boiler jackets and on the pilot, leaving the lettered portions of the engine alone.  Several of these engines lasted up to a couple of months in this scheme before their next regular shopping allowed the shop's painting crew to complete the repaint and lettering to all-black scheme.

Westside Model GS-4 deskirted and painted partly in Daylight scheme.

One of these years, I'll finish rebuilding my GS-4...


SP 4461 - Eddie Sims Collection

The SP's GS-6s, unlike GS-2s and GS-3s which were deskirted, were really the only SP 4-8-4s that were properly known as "War Babies", ordered and delivered during the war.  The GS-6s were ordered with GS-4 equipment standards, including the enclosed cabs.  However, their mechanical dimensions were brought back to that of the smaller GS-2s with 73" drivers.  

SP 4464 No11 - Eddie Sims Collection

In a way, the GS-6 was the final development of the general service (both passenger, express, and freight service) that the SP Mt-1,3,4,5 class engines developed in the 1920s.  

SP 4465 Altamont Pass - Eddie Sims Collection

The result is that the GS-6s, GS-2, and Mts worked interchangeably on the same assignments over multiple divisions across the SP system as needed.  The SP 4464 this day handles the Beaver at Portland, Oregon.

SP 4466 1-52 cutting off at Bakersfield - Eddie Sims Collection

In the post-war years, GS-6 4466 lead the First 52, probably the regular San Joaquin Daylight, into Bakersfield before cutting off and backing down into Track 25, beside the crew office and locker rooms.


The GS-7/8s came west from the SSW in the 1953 time frame.  These were regularly seen in freight service at the end of steam years on the SP.  Unfortunately, I don't have any good photos and permission to show for these work horses at this time.  I might fix this with an edit when I do have some permissions.

In Closing

The fireman's sanding the flues on SP 4460 as she starts a heavy train. - Eddie Sims collection

Sorry for the delay in wrapping up Part 5 of this series for several years.  Hopefully it was worth the wait!

Thursday, February 23, 2023

UTLX Tank Cars (Part 2) - Tangent GA Type-17 8k Tankcar Review

So this is a new purchase coming off last week's UTLX Tank Cars (Part 1) New Models on the Market.  This model is from the third run of General American Tank Car Company (GA) Type 17 8,000 Gallon Uninsulated tank car models from Tangent Scale Models.  While I've picked up some other Tangent tank car models in the past, this is the first "unboxing" of a very new released model that I've done in a while.

UTLX 72176 - GA Type 17, 8K Gal

Tangent Scale Models UTLX 72176 in the box

As with all the previous Tangent Scale Models tank cars, the model comes in a very good box with formed plastic cradle.  

UTLX 8K GA Type 17 unwrapping from box.

The car itself is wrapped in thin plastic sheet.  The details around the tankcar make it tricky to get it out without bumping anything.  I generally grab the front and rear (as considered from the tankcar's view) of the dome.  The sides of the dome have grab irons and put your fingers close to the dome platforms.

UTLX 72176 right out of the box on my layout.

The pad-printing quality on the model is excellent.  Multiple small data blocks are printed on the underframe and even the reservoir of the AB-brake system.

Underframe with AB-Brake system, brake rigging, and outlet pipe.

Remember that tank cars like this are loaded through the top hatch and then emptied by either siphoning out the load from the top hatch or draining from the bottom pipe.  If the bottom pipe is used the hatch still needs to be unsealed/opened to prevent the car pulling a vacuum as the load tries to drain.

Weathering & Tweaks

My first step in weathering is painting the wheel faces with Apple Barrel "Pavement" acrylic paint.  I'm planning to do some light weathering on the trucks and underframe, probably a bit of dust/dirt on top of the running boards.

UTLX 72176 with wheel faces painted.

Any tank weathering I do will probably be with my airbrush, and I'll cover all that later.  For now I just want a few basic weathering bits, mostly on the wheels where the bare chemically blacked metal was showing.

Closeup detail photo of 50-ton trucks, complicated stirrup steps, and the little poling pocket on the bolster right above the truck!

I am very impressed with the small details on the car.  The bolster even has the poling pockets (front and rear) cast into the bolster.  This was done on the General American tank cars, due to the thin walkways making the normal corner frame points non-existent on these cars.  Where as AC&F tank cars (Type 21 & Type 27) had solid frames outboard of the bolsters which were strong enough to handle being poled against.

Missing Spring?  No Worries, Not Defective!

Somewhere along the line the car lost one of the knuckle springs.  That might have happened when I was taking it out of the box or when it was coupled on the track for photo on my layout.  I'm not too disturbed when a spring pops out, as I have a supply of them with my various Kadee "Scale Head" couplers that I have to put in the kits I'm building for the Jawbone Branch.

Minor Problem for Myopic Modelers

This is the first Tangent tank car that I really looked at close-up since the 3-dome GA 6k gallon cars and the 8k Acid cars from 2016.  I did just notice that all of the GA Type 17 cars that I have have 'threaded' manway covers, which were generally phased out of tank car domes by the 1940s, replaced with "approved safety manways" which were able to be unsealed while still contained by the eight bolts to keep the manway hatch from violently lifting and striking the worker opening the manway.  Cars equipped with the safety manway were marked with a diamond shaped mark on the domes.

Early 'Threaded Manway' with "Approved Safety Manway" diamond mark pad-printed on dome?

All of the cars that I have from the GA Type 17 series have the pad printing for the "Safety Manways," but the models don't have the matching detail parts installed.  I went back to Tangent's website and checked various prototype photos which are available there.  Pretty much all of the photos of cars after 1940 show the "Safety Manway" on the cars. 

Approved Safety Manway with Diamond mark on P2K AC&F Type 21 8K gallon car.

Very distinctive with the eight bolts coming up through the edges of the hatch, even at low viewing angles.  I suppose I'll be doing some careful replacement of the manways with Tichy parts or scouting around for some other suppliers.  Maybe even 3d printing some.  (I'll cover this in a future post when I get to it.)

In Closing

String of various tank cars from RC Welded ICC-103W 10k gal, Atlas ICC-105A300W LPG 11k, Tangent GA Type 17 10k,  GA Type 17 8k, GA Type 17 Insulated 8k, and GA Acid 8K tankcars.

Overall these are great additions to the HO prototype tankcar market.  Yes, I'm late to the party for these 8k and 10k gallon GA tankcar models, getting in on the third run in 2022.  The lettering is very accurate and Tangent has put in the work to do the details in different materials, including bent wire and etched parts.  I'll be breaking out of the UTLX company mold, so I can cover some of the other Tangent tank cars in more detail in future posts.  The next time I'll return to the UTLX cars will probably be for either minor surgery to change the car to the "Approved Safety Manway" on the dome or other cars entirely.  Possibly Atlas's 11K gallon LPG tankcars from the early 2000s or Rapido's X-3 10k cars which will be coming out at some point "soon".

Edit 2023-02-22:
This week I've received the shipping info from Rapido that the X-3s are on the way!  So I look forward to 

Jason Hill

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Modeling Auto Boxcars (Part 1) - Walthers 50ft Double-Door, Single-Sheath Automobile Boxcars

Freight Car Overview Index Page - Linking to other freight car modeling articles on my blog