Thursday, June 29, 2023

Photo Analysis (Part 4) - San Bruno Branch Local - 1951

I'm taking a left turn at Mojave and jumping way closer to MP 0.0, (aka San Francisco) and looking at a short freight on the San Bruno Branch for Part 4 of this series.  This short train from th the San Bruno Branch captured my imagination around 1997 when I first saw a couple photos from Fred Matthews in Southern Pacific in the Bay Area by George H. Drury.

SP 2669 leads the San Bruno Local with typical B-50-6 box-car caboose since 1948.

Consist Overview


This C-class has a small 7000-gallon tender (70-C-9) "switching tender".  The consist has five GS-gondolas, first car is probably an SP G-50-15 class car given the plate end and the profile of the side between the bolster and end-beam of the car.  The.second through fifth cars are standard SP G-50-9/10/11/12 class.  The tank car is probably a large 10k insulated tank car, then a C&O boxcar, and the SP B-50-6/9 box-car caboose.

SP GS-Gondola


Kitbashed Red Caboose SP G-50-15 class gondola with plate ends and grab-iron ladders.

The other photo I have of this train at the same location a few years earlier only had three all-steel GS gondolas, and seems to be typical of the job.  Currently, I don't have any of the earlier G-50-9/10/11/12 class "Enterprise" GS gondolas with the side-slopesheets, so I'd have to fill out the consist with all Red Caboose kitbashed models representing 1946-1949 delivered cars.

Insulated 10k Gallon Tank Car


CDLX 1008, kitbashed Athearn car.

This is one of my old kitbashes using the Athearn 11k "Chemical" tank cars, which I replaced the dome on.  This is roughly an 11k gallon car, but the prototypes were probably slightly shorter in length to make a 10k gallon car.  These have been produced in brass, often with large stenciling for lease to "WESTERN ASPHALT", which obviously I haven't bothered to do on this model in nearly 20 years.  I don't think the car in the prototype photo has any 'billboard' stenciling, so this one is probably a good stand-in for the one in this train.

C&O All-Steel Boxcar


Branchline Yardmaster-series (now Atlas tooling) C&O 3256 '37 AAR boxcar (closest I have)

I suspect the car in the photograph may be a different class C&O car, but I only have this C&O boxcar to use if I were to assemble a model of this consist.

SP 23486 - Boxcar Caboose


SP 23486, Westerfield B-50-6 boxcar caboose showing the refitted ends with collision posts formed from old rail.

I actually modeled my boxcar-caboose off of a nearly identical photo at the same location around 1946/47 in the "SP in the Bay Area" book.  Originally I kitbashed an MDC 36ft old-time car back around 1996 as one of my first kitbashes. 

Sideview of the SP 23486.

 Then I bought and built this much more accurate model as my first resin kit in the early 2000s.  While it didn't really have a regular assignment for the La Mesa operations, I can always use it whenever I want to put together a San Bruno Branch local consist.  These cars didn't pass the union agreements for physically meeting the requirements for road cabooses.  This means that these cars had to be used on "yard jobs" with foreman and switch men, not the union covered conductors and brakemen.

In Closing


I don't know if I'll ever actually put together this consist as I'm not modeling this area, but the Jawbone Branch nearly 500 miles away.  However, it's a fun exercise in photo analysis and having the right balance of SP freight cars in your roster to be able to do interesting consists.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:


Consist Photo Analysis (Part 1) - 1962 Lone Pine Local at Bartlett - And maybe backdating to 1949-1954...

Consist Photo Analysis (Part 2) - 1950 Owenyo Local at Little Lake - Very cool photo of SP 2751 leading the local past the small platform-station at Little Lake with the Hotel and village in the background.

Consist Photo Analysis (Part 3) - 1940 circa Owenyo Local - An interesting view of an all boxcar train with RPO-baggage and coach arriving at Owenyo.